Modes of Firm Growth

May 2016

Modes of Firm Growth

There is a general consensus that high growth firms (HGFs) are economically important, and governments across the world have targeted resources to help firms achieve high growth. Yet while there is a large evidence base on the nature of HGFs, little research considers ‘how’ potential HGFs are trying to grow and ‘what’ is preventing firms from achieving sustained growth (i.e. the barriers firms face to sustain a longer period of rapid growth).

This report aims to better understand the nature of growth processes within high growth firms (HGFs). A HGF is defined by the OECD as ‘an enterprise with average annualised growth (in number of employees or turnover) greater than 20% per annum, over a three year period, with a minimum of 10 employees at the beginning of the growth period’ (OECD 2008, p. 61).

The report has three main components: (1) a review of the literature on HGFs and their growth paths, (2) data analysis using the ONS Business Structures Database to investigate how HGFs grow, and (3) a series of interviews with HGFs and potential HGFs about how they have achieved growth.

Client: Grant Thornton

Authors: Neil Lee, Ross Brown & Teresa Schlueter

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