SME Growth in a Recession: Glimmers in the Dark

Milan Gyanwali

    Research output: Published contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

    30 Downloads (Pure)


    Objectives: The objective of this article is to investigate the management strategies and internal and external organisation works that helped small business to grow in a recession.

    Prior Work: Recessionary periods are tough times for small businesses to survive and grow, yet some do. The growth in the SMEs is discussed associating with different factors such as internal and external barriers, entry and exit barriers, business and the owner-manager characteristics, networking and marketing, consolidating and managing resources, advice the owner-managers buy-in, strategies the owner-managers implement, and the intentions and lifestyle of the owner-manager. Prior studies have a significant contribution in exploring aggregate SME growth phenomena but there is a gap in empirical real-life research.

    Approach: This study used a pluralist methodology with action research as the main approach, combining the participant action research (Lewin, 1946) and the problem-centred action research (Stringer, 2007). Qualitative data were sought gathered from different areas including business process, management strategy formation and implementation, and owner-manager's perspectives. These data were collected from a series of informal interviews with the owner-manager and employees, as well as through observation. Similarly, quantitative data such as business records, financial information, and policy and procedure documents were gathered from primary and secondary sources.

    Results: The case study firm had implemented several different management strategies to grow the business during the last recession. These included formal and informal learning, restructuring the organisation and consolidating resources, simplification of business processes and customer focus, and networking and marketing. Precise quantification of these strategies on the degree of effect challenging. However, formal and informal learning, and restructuring the organisation had a higher impact on business performance.

    Implications: The study investigates the effective strategies associated with growth in a recessionary period. The key finding is that small businesses need specific and contextual support rather than standardised 'ready-to-use' and 'one size fits all' kind of policies. This paper indicates what dimensions SME growth-supportive policies should have.

    Value: This paper will be of interest to all the people who are involved in achieving sustainable growth of the SMEs including universities, government-backed support agencies, investors and financial institutions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    Dive into the research topics of 'SME Growth in a Recession: Glimmers in the Dark'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this