Growth determinants in small to medium firms : a study of growth firms in the Scottish plastics supply industry : Aberdeen's oil and gas related industry, and Glasgow's financial services
This thesis shows the small-medium firm as being vital to wealth and employment creation in the UK economy. It examines the mechanisms by which firms can achieve growth and discusses contemporary empirical research into the growth performance of small-medium firms in the UK. Previous conceptualisations of firm growth, drawn mainly from the fields of economics and business studies are critically reviewed. The review concluded that Porter's model of competitive advantage, a holistic conceptualisation , appeared to be the plausible theoretical explanation of sectoral and firm growth. Porter's model is tested using both quantitative as well as qualitative research methodologies, and applied to three sectors of the Scottish economy that experienced growth during the late 1980s: the plastics supply sector; the oil and gas related sector, and the financial services sector. The quantitative research methodology was conducted at the simplest level of statistics, employing chi-square analysis of cross-tabulations of growth with single variables. The preliminary nature of this statistical analysis did not provide strong support for Porter's model in any of the sectors examined. From the qualitative research material, using case studies of growth firms aspects of Porter's model did appear to explain to aspects of sectoral and firm growth in all three sectors. The oil and gas related sector seemed to provide the strongest qualitative support for Porter's model. In the conclusion, the deficiencies of Porter's model are addressed with an alternative model of firm growth and alternative models of sectoral growth for each of the surveyed sectors, loosely derived from the main elements in Porter's model. Finally, the findings of the survey results are used to produce a number of policy recommendations targeted at each of the surveyed sectors and for small-medium firms in general.