APPENDIX 3 RSA CASE STUDY TOPIC GUIDE
RSA SCOTLAND CASE STUDY: TOPIC GUIDE
Thank you for agreeing to meet me.
A research team led by the SBRC Kingston including Aston and Warwick has been commissioned by the Scottish Executive to conduct a study looking at the impact of RSA Scotland. You have already participated in the national telephone survey undertaken between June and July of this year. The purpose of our visit now is to probe in more detail on the precise nature of the services and support provided the way it has influenced the development of your business and to gauge your overall experience of the RSA Scheme. Rather than simply looking for 'yes/no' answers, the questions allow you to give your answers at length if you wish. Your replies will, of course, be treated in the strictest confidence.
At the end of the study we will send you a summary of the research findings so you can compare your own experiences with those of other business owners.
Name of respondent (with position)
Name of business
Date of interview
Value of the Grant:
Date of Assistance:
Nature of Project:
Appropriate warm up questions - e.g. about the nature of the business? When was it established? Future aims for the business? About the interviewee - e.g. background and role in negotiating the RSA package.
- What have been the major events since <2004 or date of assistance> which have altered the firm's growth pattern?
- Were they unforeseen?
- How did the business react to them?
- What was the outcome?
- Was the performance of the business better or worse than expected in that period?
- What are your reasons for saying that?
2. Contact with RSA
- How did you first find out about RSA?
Probe: When was this?
- Had you received financial assistance under that Scheme?
- When, what for and how much
- What was your reason for seeking assistance under the Scheme? (expectations and motivations)
- What was the outcome for the business?
- Thinking back, what were your motives for seeking financial assistance from RSA?
- Did you initiate the contact?
- Was the business growing or declining?
- facing tough competition?
- struggling to maintain sales/market share?
3. The process of gaining RSA Assistance
- Can you tell me something about your experience of the process of gaining RSA support?
Probe: Ease of application process; appraisal process; time from application to decision; conditions/claw back - level of eligible assistance. How did the Case Officer handle the application?:
- as a bureaucratic exercise?
- was the process transparent?
- given the need to protect public funds did you think the process was reasonable?
- How did you decide on the particular project that you put forward for RSA funding?
- The nature of the project
- How did the project satisfy the rules? ( GVA, Skills, jobs created and safeguarded - how figures arrived at for the latter?)
- How did you prioritise with your Case Officer, which issues to tackle?
- What were the balance of reasons for and against the project prior to RSA and what effect did the grant (or potential to get a grant have on this) - was the project mainstream (i.e. core to the activity of the business)? Could you have shelved the project or was it critical to the continuing operation of the business?
- What alternative sources of finance were available?
- Parent company/ HQ relationship if not a single-plant
- Were you aware of these alternatives at time?
- Did you try to use these alternatives? - if so what was the outcome?
- How do you think RSA compared to these other sources of finance? (e.g. conditions, amount offered)
- Would you have preferred financial assistance in the form of equity/loans?
4. Impact on the Business
- In what ways has the support provided by RSA impacted upon your business?
Probe: See questionnaire responses for the range of possible areas we are seeking to cover here - important to cover 'hard' and 'soft' outcomes - the latter picking up on aspects of changing the way the business operates
- How critical was the RSA support to these changes?
- Why do you say that?
- Have all the benefits been realised? - why not?
… and then leading into the additionality question …..
- You said on the telephone survey that the following statements best described your view on the contribution the support you have received from RSA has made, or will make, to your firm/plant?
- We would have achieved similar business outcomes anyway
- We would have achieved similar business outcomes, but not as quickly
- We would have achieved some but not all of the business outcomes
- We probably would not have achieved similar business outcomes
- We definitely would not have achieved similar business outcomes
- (None of these)
Probe: What was your reason for saying that? - need to explore the response in detail here - seeking precise examples of timing and scale - if all outcomes not achieved which ones? How has this affected the performance of the business? If 'zero' additionality need to probe on why they say that and relate to earlier responses on RSA and their motivations for going to it in the first place. Did the RSA financial assistance lead to the diversion of resources into other projects activities of the firm that would not otherwise have been possible without assistance from RSA.
… and then leading into the displacement question …..
- Which ONE of the following statements best describes your view of the impact of your competitiveness on other firms?
- We took business from other local firms (under 20 miles)
- We took business from other regional firms
- We took business from other national firms
- We took business from other multinational firms
- We increased our business but expanded the market
- We increased our business but this had little effect on other firms because we were in a niche market
- We improved our efficiency but did not increase our sales
- (None of these)
Probe: What is the reason for saying that? Develop the discussion in the context of the various markets the firm/plant is operating in
5. Wider Benefits
- Can you provide an overview of the linkages that the firm has with other firms in the local area/region?
Probe: Nature and Value and whether they assisted before receiving assistance from RSA
- Did the RSA funded project lead to increased skills within the existing workforce and/or the increased demand for particular types of worker in the region?
Probe: precise nature of the skills - connections with organisations providing skilled workers - local colleges etc
- Did the RSA funded project lead to exchange of technical know-how from your business to other firms in the region (through supply chains)?
Probe: what type of 'know-how' and nature of the transfer process - e.g. role of parent/ HQ in introducing this know-how into the region in the first instance through the funded project. Also probe on KTP Scheme - awareness and use.
- Can you indicate some of the wider benefits of the funded project in terms of 'best practice'?
Probe: - e.g. work practices, energy efficiency, environmental considerations - waste management
- Can you outline if there are any links between the firm/plant and other regeneration schemes in the region?
Probe: location of firm/plant within a regeneration scheme - and the influence of that scheme on location decision of firm/plant (if applicable)
- What improvements would you suggest could be made to the nature and delivery of the RSA programme?
Probe: What are your general perceptions of RSA? Were there any unmet needs from the assistance?
- Have you made (or plan to make) any subsequent investment leading on from the project that obtained RSA funding?
Probe: When and what for? - too soon to say ( NB will only have had financial assistance since April 2004)
Any other comments?
Thank you and close interview.