Page Loading

Case study analysis of Scottish Enterprise account management support


Scottish Enterprise’s (SE’s) account management programme has been the key vehicle through which SE has implemented its Growing Business (GB) strategy, launched in 2005. Slims Consulting and O’Herlihy & Co. were commissioned to undertake a case study analysis of SE account management support, to build upon the quantitative evidence gathered in the previous economic impact evaluation of SE’s interventions with account and client managed companies. The overarching aim of this study has been to explore the factors driving the achievement of net impacts attributable to SE. It also explores how SE could improve its account management support, leading to an increase in net attributable impact.


The methodology consisted of a review of existing evidence from the previous economic impact evaluation; and an interview programme that involved in-depth qualitative interviews with 30 SE supported companies across Scotland, which comprised representation from seven of SE’s key and other growth sectors, both positive and zero GVA impact companies, a mix of urban and rural businesses and a high proportion of SMEs.


Based on the evidence gathered in the case study research, it was found that a number of companies included in the account management portfolio do not meet the criteria for account management support. Moreover, the account management programme was designed to support companies with the highest growth potential but several examples of small companies were identified where the growth criteria had not been achieved within three years, nor was likely to be in the near future. In terms of the operation and delivery of the programme, a number of valuable insights were identified. Large and small companies expect different things from SE. Large companies tend to look for SE to provide financial support for specific projects and generally do not seek or require strategic input from the organisation, although this lack of a strategic role for SE does not impair its ability to achieve economic impact through the support it provides. It was found that although the rate of additionality from large employers may be low, the absolute value can produce the lion’s share of net GVA impacts, creating a paradox whereby the rate of additionality within small firms is potentially greater, although the financial value that this produces can be modest. Small companies on the other hand tend to look for financial support and expertise from SE and are more open to the organisation playing a strategic role in the company. The evidence suggests that the development of a strategic relationship with small companies is important in driving positive impacts. In terms of satisfaction with SE, high satisfaction levels were found amongst the companies interviewed, although this is related to company expectations of SE, rather than SE’s ability to positively impact on a company. Overall satisfaction with SE support therefore was found not to be a factor in determining positive GVA impacts.


A number of recommendations on the segmentation of support to account managed companies are offered. It is recommended that SE should: employ a different approach when engaging with large as opposed to small companies; apply the account management selection criteria more stringently; and apply the growth criteria more rigidly. A number of supporting recommendations regarding the delivery of account management are also proposed, namely that greater levels of continuity between account managers and the companies they support should be maintained, consideration should be given to the creation of a ‘super’ account manager role and account managers should be trained on the interventions which are most likely to lead to GVA impact in companies.

Author Slims Consulting
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
  • Enterprise
    Support to existing/growth businesses