My abstract has been accepted for presentation at the SME Conference to be held in Vientiane in November (http://www.laosmeconference2012.com/index.html). This is it:
Business Strategies Used by Micro-SMEs in a Bangkok Street Location: Tawanrung Market
Although a reasonable number of studies of street market vendors have taken place, in both developed and developing markets around the world, these have mostly been conducted from a sociological perspective. They have aimed to explicate issues such as the relationship between vendors and the state, the use of space in an urban setting, the resistance demonstrated by vendors against oppression and the value of street-vending in the struggle against poverty. However, there have been fewer attempts at describing street vendor systems from a business perspective and from, in particular, collaborative and cooperative means of increasing business within a particular geographical area. This study uses an ethnographic and qualitative research method to describe and analyse a specific street vending area located in and around the Ladprao 62 region of Bangkok. This area consists of several different discrete street vending regions that are distinct in terms of time of operation, type of goods sold and relationship with other vending operations. The demographic details of the street vendors also varies, to a certain extent, on these variables. Operations are managed with respect to business objectives and personal and familial circumstances: for example, seasonality of agricultural production in the home towns of migrants means there are periods when production is temporarily although predictably halted. Other halts are less predictable. In order to increase business success, street vendors will generally maintain cooperative relationships with each other and share information so as to increase aggregate sales, rather than seeking to gain short-term competitive advantage over neighbours or competitors. Since the pool of customers is comparatively limited over a fixed period of time, there is little benefit to individual vendors seeking to drive out competitors since network externalities exist, particularly in the case of takeaway meal choices. This paper describes a variety of business strategies enacted within the Tawanrung Market area and indicates how these have been changing over time and with respect to new entrants and potential substitute products. In a system of creative destruction typical of capitalism, it is found that there are both winners and losers.
Keywords: street vending, micro-SMEs, economic geography, business strategy
Area of Submission: SME Networking and dissemination of information
John Walsh, Shinawatra University, September 2012