Growing a small firm:experiences and managing difficult processes

Tunberg, Maria and Anderson, Alistair (2020) Growing a small firm:experiences and managing difficult processes. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 16. 1445–1463. ISSN 1554-7191

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Contrary to a simple model of small firm growth where increased inputs produce greater outputs, we consider growth is a complex and difficult process. Accordingly, the paper is concerned with how small firms grow, especially how they make sense of the growth process.  We collected narratives of the experiences of small firm growth in an extended case study to draw out how growth is understood and managed.  We saw how owners became entangled in the process of growing, especially where a change in one aspect led to problems in other dimensions of growth. Their narratives were about trying to make sense, and give some sense to the complexity of growth and some direction to what they should manage. We identified a repertoire of narrative forms: Growth is understood through output indicators, growth is treated as the internal development of the firm and finally, growth is taken to be inevitable - a necessity to which the firm has to conform. These illustrate how growth can be understood as processes of growing, bound up in the context, created in space and time, and contingent on how growth is understood and experienced. Far from a smooth trajectory, enacting growth reflects the experience of the moment, it is shaped by reactions rather than strategy and it is messy rather than ordered. This study contributes to the literature by complementing the functionalist and output oriented view by understanding firm growth as a social phenomenon constructed and reconstructed in the interactions between people and experiences of context.

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Journal Article
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International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal
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30 Jan 2020 11:05
Last Modified:
22 Sep 2023 00:43