Abstract

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are recognised as engines for job creation and economic growth (OECD 2015). Accounting for 68% of private sector employment in Ireland (CSO, 2013) SMEs face a myriad of challenges such as lack of access to finance and high failure rates (OECD 2014 CSO, 2016b; 2016c). Hence the rationale for government intervention to help SMEs address market failure which in Ireland is administered via two agencies; Enterprise Ireland (EI) and the City and County Enterprise Boards (CEBs), at a cost of approximately €200 million per annum (Forfás, 2014). Yet such assistance carries the potential for deadweight, defined as activity that would have occurred irrespective of assistance being provided. To date evidence of the prevalence of this concept has been established in Ireland (Lenihan 2003; Hart and Lenihan, 2004) and internationally (Tokila and Haapanen, 2012; Sipikal, Pisár and Labudová, 2013) which poses questions about the effectiveness of government support.

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