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Forms of growth: How SMEs combine forms of growth to achieve high growth

  • Jose Luis Barbero Navarro (a1), Jose Carlos Casillas (a2) and Bruce Barringer (a3)


The majority of the literature on high-growth firms focuses on two main aspects: growth factors and rates of growth, but little information exists on how SMEs grow. Past research has implicitly considered high-growth firms as a homogeneous category of businesses, however, in reality, they use different forms of growth: domestic and international geographical expansion, the launch of new related and unrelated products, product improvement, client retention and the acquisition of new clients. This work attempts to identify how high-growth SMEs benefit from different combinations of forms of growth to perform successfully. A sample of 89 high-growth SMEs was selected – with an annual growth rate of more than 10% over a 5-year period – and, by means of a cluster analysis, we found four significantly different combinations of forms of growth. To externally test the robustness of those combinations, a group of demographic variables was considered (size, age, sector), as well as a set of variables related to the growth strategy (personnel involvement, the extent to which growth is a priority, perceived growth with respect to competitors), which support the existence of significant differences between the groups.



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