– This review investigates the extent and content of research into rural firm growth, and identifies and describes various approaches to studying firm growth.
This review investigates the extent and content of research into rural firm growth, and identifies and describes various approaches to studying firm growth.
The paper is guided by the systematic literature review framework which, combined with a qualitative assessment, ensures a rigorous review. An initial set of 200 peer reviewed articles was included in the review. During the quality assessment stage this set was reduced to 50 articles which were analysed in depth.
Three approaches to firm growth are identified and explored, focusing on the output, process and context of firm growth. The results further indicate increasing interest in rural firm growth and identify six themes constituting the research field.
Firm growth is advocated as a solution to development challenges, especially in rural settings. However, the firm growth literature is dominated by outcome-based research, often focused on technology-based businesses in dynamic urban regions, whose results are not easily transferable to rural contexts. This review contributes by mapping the current state of knowledge in the field, by articulating and discussing taken-for-granted assumptions with regard to firm growth and by identifying three approaches to firm growth, of which the context approach is the least common but which may prove valuable to further increase in the understanding of rural firm growth.