The Impact of Regulation on Micro-Firms

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


In resource-restricted micro-firms, there is limited opportunity for owner-managers (for they are generally one-and-the-same) to maintain their regulatory awareness and implement changes as required. The challenge is achieving this while also managing almost all aspects of the business, including dealing with customers. Given that regulations are far reaching and constrain the operations of firms, regulatory understanding and compliance are essential to running a successful (legal) business. This thesis uses an (unusual) balanced approach to explore both the impact of ‘burden’ (which is widely investigated for small firms) and ‘value’ of regulation (which is not) on under-researched micro-firms. The core of this thesis comprises three papers, which each explore a particular aspect (knowledge, performance, and compliance) using multivariate techniques across several models, using newly collected survey data from English accommodation providers. From this a number of insights are made relating to the role of trade-associations in disseminating information, the accuracy of owner-manager self-assessment, the actual level of regulatory knowledge, and the role of value and burden on performance and compliance. Such findings extend and reconcile prior literature, which thus far has been limited by burden-led approaches, one-dimensional measures, and contradictory conclusions. Building upon these insights, practical recommendations are made which extend beyond a simple “more, better information” to include a cross-association campaign (for trade-associations remain best placed to address issues identified, despite their current apparent failings and in the absence of an alternative). The recommendations comprise better communication and networking, improvements to self-assessment skills, as well as a focus on the value (i.e. the benefits) of regulation, and enhancing firm performance (using an appropriate performance measure). Finally, a number of potential future directions for research, continuing to use the data collected herein and original research projects are also identified and discussed.
Date of Award2 May 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorRob Branston (Supervisor) & Phil Tomlinson (Supervisor)


  • Micro-Firms
  • Regulation
  • Trade-Associations
  • Perceived-Knowledge
  • Actual-Knowledge
  • Self-Assessment
  • Regulatory Value
  • Regulatory Burden
  • Performance
  • Compliance

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