Urban connections with rural areas in home-based business : implications for sustainable rural development in Saskatchewan
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The past two decades have witnessed significant growth in home-based work (HBW), particularly home-based business (HBB) activity and self-employment. These phenomena are attributed to factors such as flexible organization of production. While some empirical accounts on HBW and HBB activity in Canada do exist, they have mostly been conducted at the national or urban level rather than in rural areas. This thesis, therefore, places greater emphasis on rural HBBs in Saskatchewan where out-migration of people is threatening the viability and sustainability of rural and small communities. It is argued that rural sustainability largely depends on economic viability. The study area for the research includes the City of Saskatoon and the countryside surrounding this city. The overall goal of this research is to contribute to the discussion of rural sustainability by considering HBBs as a potential strategy to achieve sustainability in rural areas and small communities. Therefore, the primary objectives of the dissertation are to examine the nature and degree of relationships of home business activity between rural, rural-urban fringe and urban areas, and the implications on links for sustainability of rural households and communities; to examine the relationship of HBB activity to the concept of rural entrepreneurship and business development; and to assess the contributions of rural and small town HBBs to the sustainability of households and communities in Saskatchewan. A combination of the concept of “sustainable community development”, the von Thunen model and the competitive strategy model (i.e., cost-leadership, differentiation, focus) provide the theoretical framework of the thesis. Through snowball sampling and mail questionnaire surveys, primary data on HBBs were obtained from Saskatoon and its surrounding regions in Saskatchewan for micro-level analysis. Both qualitative and quantitative techniques were employed to analyze the data. Major findings of the thesis include the linkages that HBBs create among places and the impact of links on community sustainability; and the apparent spatial variations in HBBs, motivations, competitive strategies, and benefits of home businesses from the urban core to the limits of the rural hinterland. It was also found that home businesses contribute positively to the sustainability of households and communities in rural Saskatchewan. Specifically, they generate significant revenue and employment opportunities for people, while supporting local economies through their networks, purchasing and selling of goods and services locally as well as keeping managers and members of their households in rural areas and small communities for considerable number of years. Indeed home-based occupation is a vital component of the mechanisms for rural sustainability. Also, this thesis proposed a rural-urban HBB model for future social science research. Major conceptual underpinnings of the research include rural-urban relations; regional and community economic development, sustainable community development; rural entrepreneurship, home-based work, home business, self-employment, competitive strategy, and the von Thunen Isolated State model.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorRandall, James E.
CommitteeReed, Maureen; Peters, Evelyn; Bone, Robert M.; Anderson, Alan B.
Copyright DateApril 2005
von Thunen model
competitive business strategy
new rural economy
sustainable community development
community economic development
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