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“Micro” versus “small” family businesses: a multinational analysis

Robert N. Lussier (Department of Business Management, Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA)
Matthew C. Sonfield (Department of Management, Entrepreneurship and General Business, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY USA)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 17 August 2015




The purpose of this paper is to compare “micro” enterprise (0-9 employees) to “small” enterprise (10-49 employees) family businesses with regard to 12 important managerial characteristics in eight countries: Argentina, Croatia, Egypt, France, Kosovo, Kuwait, Serbia, and the USA (n=601).


The research methodology was survey research. To statistical test 12 hypotheses, MANCOVA was run to compare differences between micro and small family business, while controlling for years in business.


Six significant differences were: “small” firms are more likely to employ non-family member managers, are more likely to engage in the formulation of succession plans, are more likely to utilize outside advisory services, make greater use of sophisticated financial management methods, and have a more formal management style than “micro” firms; but the influence of the founder is greater in “micro” firms.

Practical implications

For practitioners and consultants the findings of this study should enable family business owner/managers, and their advisors, to better understand the possible impacts of moving from a “micro” level to a “small” size level, and thus lead to more effective family business management.


This research fills a gap in the literature, as there has been minimal prior research with the specific focus of comparing “micro” vs “small.” Thus, it develops a foundation for further study in this area.



The authors acknowledge data collection by Mohsen Bagnied, American University of Kuwait Robert J. Barbato, Rochester Institute of Technology, USA, Mamdouh Farid, Hofstra University, USA, Silvia Inés Monserrat and Claudia D′Annunzio, Centro de Estudios en Administraciòn, Argentina, Sanja Pfeifer, Univ. of Josip Juraj Strossmayer Osijek, Croatia, Nina Radojevich-Kelly, Metro State College of Denver, USA, Louis Verdier, and Loïc Maherault, Ecole de Management, France.


Lussier, R.N. and Sonfield, M.C. (2015), "“Micro” versus “small” family businesses: a multinational analysis", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 380-396.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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