Barriers to growth and development in small firms
Abstract: The purpose of the extended summary is to develop the understanding of the existence and reasons behind barriers to growth and development in small firms. More specifically, four questions are addressed: (1) What do we know about the term barrier, how can it be defined? (2) What types of barriers to growth and development have been identified? (3) How can barriers to growth and development be addressed in a framework? and (4) How do the results of the appended papers (Papers I-V) contribute to the research field of barriers to growth and development? A literature review was undertaken to answer the first two questions. The literature review was conducted in two phases. The conceptual and operational definition of barriers was addressed in the first phase. The results reveal diverse ways of focusing on barriers, which made it necessary to address similar terms, such as problem and causes of business failure in the second phase of the literature review. The different terms used in the papers of the literature review are discussed in order to determine whether or not the understanding of their content is coherent and conceptual. Based on the conceptual understanding and definition of barriers, the different aspects focused on in the literature were discussed, which led to the second question, What are the various aspects of barriers to growth and development? The knowledge gained from the literature review and the development of the understanding of the barrier concept led to the third question, Can barriers to growth and development be addressed in a framework? The discussion takes its starting point in the studies identified in the literature review and is related to some of the appended papers (Papers I and II). Similarities and differences between frameworks used in the papers identified in the literature review are discussed and, based on this knowledge, a framework for barriers to growth and development in small firms is presented. The framework distinguishes two types of barriers, namely internal/external barriers and tangible/intangible barriers. The knowledge available in the reviewed papers within the field of barriers to growth and development in small firms in combination with the results from the appended papers (Papers I-V) resulted in the fourth question. Part of the contribution of the appended papers concerns the operational definition, for example that barriers to innovation should be categorised as either occurring or preventing firms from innovating (Paper II), while other contributions concern specific types of barriers, for example the importance of managerial skills (Paper V). Overall, the contribution focuses on conditional factors, such as strategy and planning, organisation and management, and institution and policy factors, in relation to growth and development.
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