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How important is growth for SMEs? Results of a survey among small and medium enterprises

This study was developed by the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IOEW) as part of the research and communication project „Post-Growth Pioneers“ („Postwachstumspioniere – Kommunikationsprojekt zur Erweiterung des Postwachstumsdiskurses um die Rolle mittelständischer Unternehmen“). It presents the results of a non-representative online survey among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The aim of the survey was to estimate how widely spread different growth orientations of SMEs are and which factors determine these growth orientations. The evaluation of 700 valid questionnaires showed that growth in size only plays a limited role on the strategic agenda of most SMEs, and for one third of respondents it is not a strategic issue at all. Five factors influencing the growth orientations of SMEs proved statistically significant: company age and size, the geographical reach and growth dynamics of their markets, and the question whether or not the company had recently used external financing. The companies most likely to state that they want to keep their current company size and thus not grow any further were the smaller and older companies active on local to national and at most slowly growing markets who currently used no external financing.