On September 18th, 2014, Scots will vote on whether to become independent from, or to remain part of the United Kingdom. It is a Union that Scotland has shared since 1707. As the referendum date nears, the debate over whether Scotland would be better off as an independent nation, or as part of the Union has intensified. One of the single most important determinants of any country’s future economic prosperity is business competitiveness and growth. Understanding the implications of the referendum debate outcome for business decision-making can therefore be an important guide to the economic consequences of the vote, and its implications for Scotland’s fiscal position, and wealth creating potential.
The uncertainties posed by the referendum on Scottish independence have the potential to influence any number of business decisions, such as whether to invest, re-invest, expand, withdraw, locate or relocate business activity within or out-with Scotland. There have been several studies whose aim has been to explore business attitudes towards independence, and business decision-making in conditions of constitutional and political uncertainty in Scotland and the United Kingdom. From these studies we are able to develop a broad typology that helps to give an indication of how businesses in different sectors might behave under different constitutional scenarios.
After outlining the positions of the Scottish Government and the UK Government on independence in relation to business, this chapter presents the data from over 60 interviews between November 2013 and February 2014 with senior business leaders in randomly selected medium (over 50 employees) and large (over 250 employees) companies. The chapter also draws on two other surveys of business attitudes towards independence to place the findings in a wider context. In particular, it compares its findings with Bell and McGoldrick’s survey with the Scottish Chamber of Commerce (SCC) of 759 businesses, and Ivory and MacKay’s survey with the Federation of Small Business (FSB) of 1800 small businesses. It also refers to the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) survey of oil and gas companies led by Grant Allan. The fundamental question that this chapter deals with then, is whether independence is likely to be good for business?
 See The Scottish Government. (May 2014). Outlook for Scotland’s Public Finances and the Opportunities of Independence. Edinburgh and HM Treasury. (May 2014). Scotland analysis: Fiscal policy and sustainability. London.
 Bell, D. and McGoldrick, M. (May 2014). Business attitudes to Constitutional Change. Glasgow: Scottish Chamber of Commerce.
 Ivory, S. and MacKay, B. (July 2014). Small business attitudes to constitutional change. Glasgow: Federation of Small Business.
 Grant, A. (June 2014). Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce Oil and Gas Survey. Glasgow: University of Strathclyde, www.agcc.co.uk.