Introduction and overview - small and medium sized enterprises: sectoral and regional dimensions
This is the last of a four volume series on the role of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the economic growth and development of economies in the East Asian region. Earlier volumes highlighted the contribution that SMEs make to income, exports, employment, poverty alleviation, economic empowerment, and the wider distribution of wealth and economic opportunities in such economies. Their relatively small size, however, can often act as a significant disadvantage across key operational and strategic dimensions that inhibits the potential role that they play - for example, in terms of lack of purchasing power in the acquisition of resource inputs or of economies of scale in production; an inability to take advantage of market opportunities that require large production quantities, homogenous standards and regular supply; restricted access to finance and narrow profit margins that impede expansion and investment in innovation and product and process improvement, and participation in new market opportunities that include access to the supply chains of trans-national corporations (TNCs); and restricted ability to implement and take advantage of efficiencies from an improved internal division of labour. Such impediments are a key reason why governments, in both developed and developing countries, have implemented a range of policies designed to offset such perceived disadvantages that SMEs face.