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How entrepreneurial resilience generates resilient SMEs

Layla Jayne Branicki (Department of Marketing and Management, Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie University, North Ryde, Australia)
Bridgette Sullivan-Taylor (Graduate School of Management, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)
Sarah Rachael Livschitz (Graduate School of Management, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 9 November 2017

Issue publication date: 5 November 2018




The purpose of this paper is to investigate how entrepreneurial behaviors support small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) resilience, refine the concept of entrepreneurial resilience, and identify how SME resilience might be promoted.


Qualitative data were collected in the UK via 11 focus groups which provided a sub-sample of 19 SME participants.


Because of their experience operating in uncertain environments, their direct experience of adversity, and the informal organizational settings they inhabit, entrepreneurs are often highly resilient and possess capabilities that enable SMEs to be resilient. Entrepreneurial resilience provides a basis for SME resilience that differs significantly from best practices as understood in larger firms.

Research limitations/implications

Exploratory qualitative research on a small sample (n=19) limits the generalizability of this work. Further research could quantitatively test the paper’s findings and/or examine the link between entrepreneurial resilience and the resilience of larger firms.

Practical implications

Rather than encouraging formal planning and redundancy, policy and practice designed to promote the resilience of SMEs should pay greater attention to building capacities to cope with uncertainty, generating and leveraging personal relationships, and activating the ability to experiment and think creatively in response to crises.


This paper draws on organizational psychology research to refine understanding of entrepreneurial resilience and to empirically examine and inductively theorize the multi-level relationships between entrepreneurial resilience and SME resilience.



This research project benefited from the support of the Cabinet Office (UK) (Grant No. 02078391462).


Branicki, L.J., Sullivan-Taylor, B. and Livschitz, S.R. (2018), "How entrepreneurial resilience generates resilient SMEs", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 24 No. 7, pp. 1244-1263.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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