Wales’ hidden global economy: Uncovering the transnational networks of small town SMEs

Jesse Heley, Michael Woods, Laura Jones, Marc Welsh, Anthonia Ijeoma Onyeahialam

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Discussion about Wales’s place in the global economy tends to focus on the contributions of large transnational corporations such as EADS and Tata, and high profile entrepreneurial export businesses, especially in the food and drink sector and in creative industries. In this paper we contend that the internationalisation of Welsh business is far more extensive than is often credited, with many apparently local small and medium enterprises integrated into transnational networks for supplies or sales. The paper presents analysis of businesses in Newtown, Powys, undertaken as part of a larger study of everyday globalization in Newtown funded by the European Research Council, and particularly draws on a questionnaire survey of 48 businesses and follow-up semi-structured interviews. The analysis reveals not only the extent and geography of firms’ international networks, but also explores questions around the local and external factors that have shaped the emergence of these global connections. As such, the paper concludes by considering what the research tells us about how the economies of small towns such as Newtown are contingent on global factors, and the strengths and vulnerabilities that follow.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2015
EventWISERD Annual Conference 2015 - Wales, Cardiff, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Duration: 30 Jun 201502 Jul 2015


ConferenceWISERD Annual Conference 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Period30 Jun 201502 Jul 2015


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