Small Business Economics

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 183–195

What holds back high-growth firms? Evidence from UK SMEs


DOI: 10.1007/s11187-013-9525-5

Cite this article as:
Lee, N. Small Bus Econ (2014) 43: 183. doi:10.1007/s11187-013-9525-5


High-growth firms are seen as vital for economic growth. It is important for policy and theory to consider the barriers faced by firms achieving high growth and those with the potential to do so. This article uses data for 4,858 UK SMEs to investigate the obstacles perceived by two sets of firms: (1) firms in periods of high growth and (2) potential high-growth firms, which are observationally similar but are not achieving high growth. The results suggest high-growth firms perceive problems in six areas: recruitment, skill shortages, obtaining finance, cash flow, management skills and finding suitable premises. Potential high-growth firms feel held back by the economy, obtaining finance, cash flow and their management skills, but are less likely to perceive regulation is a problem. The results have implications for theory on high-growth firms and policies focussed at them.


High-growth firms Barriers to growth Gazelles SMEs Entrepreneurship 

JEL Classifications

L0 D21 L2 L10 L26 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and EnvironmentLondon School of EconomicsLondonUK

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