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The characteristics and strategies of high growth SMEs

David Smallbone (Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research, Middlesex University, Queensway, Enfield, UK)
Roger Leig (Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research, Middlesex University, Queensway, Enfield, UK)
David North (Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research, Middlesex University, Queensway, Enfield, UK)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 1 December 1995

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Abstract

Based on an empirical investigation of the development of a group of manufacturing SMEs comparing the characteristics and strategies of firms achieving high growth between 1979‐90 with the weaker performing companies. Shows that high growth can be achieved by firms with a variety of size, sector and age characteristics; such firms are distinguished more by the strategies and actions of managers than by their profile characteristics. The clearest differences between fast growth firms and other firms are with respect to their approach to product and market development. While high growth firms were above average investors they were not production‐led; instead they were characterized by an ability to make changes in production to complement an active market development strategy. To grow successfully over ten years, firms also needed to develop their internal organizational structure in ways that enabled the leader of the firm to delegate responsibility for operational tasks to become more focused on strategic level functions. Job generation was particularly concentrated in the high growth firms which also demonstrated an ability to increase labour productivity at the same time as they were increasing employment.

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Citation

Smallbone, D., Leig, R. and North, D. (1995), "The characteristics and strategies of high growth SMEs", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 44-62. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552559510100657

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 1995, MCB UP Limited