Major changes have taken place in the attitude of governments towards small firms. Public encouragement of the small firm is not, however, without its pitfalls and in this collection of essays (first published in 1985) the contribution of small businesses to economic development is assessed in a number of different localities. The authors show that public policies designed to influence a wide variety of small businesses are doomed to failure. Entrepreneurial independence, contrasting regional prosperity and the variable rate of response to central policy initiatives are amongst the factors mitigating against the success of such a policy. The small business is not to be seen as a panacea for solving the economic development problems of areas suffering from high rates of unemployment, and their overall conclusion is that assistance to small firms should be more selective than is customarily the norm.