Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED Programme)

Project: Accelerating local growth


A LEED policy innovation project for 2013-2014

Following-up on 2011-2012 OECD LEED analysis on high-employment-growth enterprises

In collaboration with the Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry (STI)



The objective of this activity is to support national and local governments in the design and assessment of policies and programmes for the support of firms with the potential to grow rapidly and create jobs.



There is a significant body of research literature that emphasises the disproportionate role in job creation of a small subset of firms that undergo phases of rapid growth; both long-established enterprises and new enterprises (“gazelles”). High-growth firms withaverage annualised growth of at least 20% over three years and with ten or more employees at the beginning of the observation period represent around 3-6% and 8-12% of the total business population in OECD countries, depending on whether growth is measured by employment and turnover. In spite of their small number, high-growth firms create most new jobs.


This project seeks to assess public policies for high-growth entrepreneurship at local level and compare the advantages and disadvantages of different policy and programme approaches, notably in terms of the respective roles of national and local governments and agencies, the balance and integration of public and private provision, the targeting and selection of beneficiary firms, the methods of diagnosis of development needs and the types and mixes of programme support.


It will also examine the case for and against specific local initiatives for high-growth firms merit as opposed to facilitating access to broader programmes.  The project will build on previous LEED work that has developed an assessment framework to compare and benchmark high-growth programmes from different geographical and institutional contexts.


Main issues to be addressed

The work will address the following questions:


  What is the predominant profile of high-growth firms, for example in terms of size, sector, reported ambitions, innovation, international markets and management and leadership? Can local policies identify them prior to their demonstration of rapid growth?


  What are the main barriers to the emergence and growth of high-growth firms, lying in their own behaviour and in the operation of local markets and institutions? How can local policies address these barriers? 


  How can policies influence local framework conditions affecting the development of high-growth firms?    


  What policies and programmes are in place to support high-growth firms at local level? How do they compare to each other? What is the evidence on their impact and efficiency?



The project will be run through: 


 Country-level case studies of policies and programmes in place to support high-growth firms,  and benchmarking with other areas through a common assessment framework.

 Workshops on specific policy issues affecting business growth (e.g. management, internationalisation, innovation, etc.).



Countries can participate through:

 Sponsoring a case study assessment of their policies and programmes for high-growth firms.

 Hosting an international seminar examining thematic issues and policy experiences in the field of high growth.

 Submitting short papers detailing existing programmes targeting high-growth firms following an OECD template.



A report will be prepared analysing and benchmarking policies and programmes to support high-growth firms. 



For further information about the project please contact Marco Marchese and Jonathan Potter.


NOTE: Policy innovation projects address important issues in the implementation of the LEED mandate. In 2013-14, building more and better quality jobs requires us to provide ways to make our training and education systems more flexible and agile locally; make skills systems greener to facilitate the seizing of green growth opportunities; build evidence at the level of local labour markets; tackle disadvantage in a context of resource rarefaction locally; adapt local economic strategies to an ageing labour market; nurture more inclusive entrepreneurship; and accelerate local growth.


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