How can rural businesses thrive in the digital economy? A UK perspective

Pattanapong Tiwasing*, Beth Clark, Menelaos Gkartzios

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Unlocking the digital potential of the UK’s rural areas is important for the future of rural businesses, rural communities and the UK economy as a whole. The use of digital technologies is yielding new opportunities for businesses, including those located rurally, to enhance business growth and economic development, which significantly contributes to UK prosperity. However, businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in rural areas are often digitally disconnected due to inferior digital connectivity and digital exclusion, including lack of internet access and lower levels of digital literacy. Therefore, this paper provides a better understanding of the rural digital economy, highlighting key digital challenges and opportunities for rural businesses in the UK. An extensive review of both academic and non-academic literature is conducted to identify key digital challenges, digital opportunities, and solutions to overcome the digital disadvantage for rural businesses in the UK in the digital age. Our review emphasises the effectiveness of public sector market interventions in developing broadband infrastructure and smarter digital training and skills development to help address digital deprivation in rural areas. A series of policy recommendations is then formulated to support rural business growth in the digital age and contributing to debates regarding smart rural development in rural areas. This paper has potential limitations due to a non-systematic literature review. Therefore, we recommend applying a systematic review as well as empirical and place-based research to explore the emerging themes of this study for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberE10745
Number of pages28
JournalHeliyon
Volume8
Issue number10
Early online date25 Sep 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Digital economy
  • Digitalisation
  • Rural businesses
  • United Kingdom

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