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Risk management in SMEs: a systematic review of available evidence

Eva Maria Falkner (Risk Control Department, Oberbank AG, Linz, Austria)
Martin R.W. Hiebl (Institute of Management Control and Consulting, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Linz, Austria)

Journal of Risk Finance

ISSN: 1526-5943

Article publication date: 16 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to provide a systematic literature review of available research evidence on risk management in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The authors aim to reveal ambiguities, gaps and contradictions in the literature, and to sketch avenues for further research.


The authors follow the tenets of Tranfield et al. (2003) for conducting a systematic literature review. Following a key word search and an assessment of fit for this review, 27 papers were analyzed with respect to bibliographical information, research design and findings.


The review identified various types of risks that may occur in SMEs. In addition, the publication analysis demonstrates the importance of a risk management process in SMEs and that the characteristics of SME owners have a significant impact on their business strategies.

Research limitations/implications

Additional empirical research on risk identification, risk analysis, strategy implementation and control in the SME risk management process is needed.


This paper is the first comprehensive review of the body of literature on risk management in SMEs.



The authors would like to thank Birgit Feldbauer-Durstmüller and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of the paper. The authors are also grateful to Ingrid Abfalter for outstanding support in language editing.


Falkner, E.M. and Hiebl, M.R.W. (2015), "Risk management in SMEs: a systematic review of available evidence", Journal of Risk Finance, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 122-144.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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