Understanding Firm Growth

Helping SMEs Scale Up

Few small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) scale up, but these few fast growing firms are the major driver of new jobs added to OECD economies. This report helps policy makers get a grip on growth of those few SMEs by considering the transformation they undergo before, during and after their high-growth phase. Based on analysis of detailed firm-level data in a pilot project implemented for Finland, Italy, Portugal, the Slovak Republic and Spain, the report shows that SMEs in all types of places, of all ages and in all sectors have the potential to scale up. The strength of the potential does, however, vary. Getting a grip on growth of SMEs can pay important dividends as scalers contribute the majority of new jobs created by SMEs during their high-growth phase, but also continue to contribute positively to aggregate job creation and aggregate growth in turnover in the following years. A closer look at the characteristics of SMEs that scale up compared to similar “peers” that do not, shows that scaling is likely a strategic choice and includes investments and other preparatory transformation in the years preceding scaling up.

Published on November 17, 2021

In series:OECD Studies on SMEs and Entrepreneurshipview more titles


Executive summary
The knowledge gap on scalers
How do scalers contribute to economic growth?
Which SMEs scale up?
How do scalers transform as they grow?
Additional charts and tables
National firm-level data sources
Methodological notes
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