The Phenomenon of High-Growth SMEs (Gazelles), Part 2: A Conceptual Model and Research Agenda

The Phenomenon of High-Growth SMEs (Gazelles), Part 2: A Conceptual Model and Research Agenda

Redouane Guilmi (Hassan Premier University, Settat, Morocco & ENCG-Settat, Settat, Morocco), Bouchaib Mokhtari (Hassan Premier University, Settat, Morocco & ENCG-Settat, Settat, Morocco) and Badia Oulhadj (Hassan Premier University, Settat, Morocco & ENCG-Settat, Settat, Morocco)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSMET.2017040106
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The primary objective of this paper is to advance the theoretical knowledge on the phenomenon of gazelles by integrating the findings of previous studies into a conceptual model that would account for a sustainable high growth. A theoretical explorative and deductive method is adopted. A number of published works on gazelles were systematically reviewed. Based on this review, the paper attempts to identify the key factors that have been found to explain the high growth of the gazelles and its discontinuity, and integrate them to form a conceptual model. The proposed model illustrates the linkages between Entrepreneurship and Marketing disciplines. Five building blocks of the model are identified. It is developed based on previous studies on gazelles which are majorly mixed sector studies. Therefore, to refine the understanding of the phenomenon of HG-SMEs, future research suggestions would be to enrich the concepts obtained from the literature by gathering the data from the field and to test the new model in HGSMEs operating only in the service industry.
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1. Introduction

It is widely recognized that High Growth SMEs are principal engines of the economy and of growth (Acs & Mueller, 2008; OECD, 2002; Julien, 2000; Deschryvere, 2008; Almus, 2000) but only few of them achieve and sustain their high growth for long periods of time (Daunfeldt & Halvarsson, 2015; Barbero et al., 2011; Gabrielsson et al., 2014). High Growth Firms (HGFs) or Gazelles, a term coined by Birch (1981), are found in all industries (Gabrielsson et al., 2014; Daunfeldt & Johansson, 2015), represent in any country a small portion (3-12%) of the totality of all firms (OECD, 2010; Julien, 2000) and contribute disproportionately to social and economic wealth through the creation of (all) new jobs (Acs & Mueller, 2008; Julien, 2000; OECD, 2002). The outstanding performance of these firms makes one understand why they recently become the major focus of many researchers and policy makers.

There is no general agreement among researchers on how a gazelle is defined (Henrekson & Johansson, 2010; Harms, 2009; Perez, 2010; Janczak & Bares, 2010; Mitusch & Schimke, 2011; Carrington & Huot, 2006) and the consideration of a particular definition is dependent on the objectives pursued by the researchers and on the available data (Carrington & Huot, 2006). Coad et al. (2014) note that there are two ways for defining a High Growth Firm (HGFs): Defining them as the top x% of firms in a population in terms of chosen growth indicators or as firms growing at or above a particular rate between a start and end year. For example, OECD defines high growth firms as follows: “All enterprises with average annualized growth greater than 20% per annum, over a three year period, and with ten or more employees at the beginning of the observation period” (OECD, 2010, p. 18). This definition, recently criticized by Daunfeldt et al. (2015), remains the standard approach for operationalizing the concept of HGF (Coad et al., 2014) and it is even expected, for some reasons that many future studies on HGF will apply it (Daunfeldt et al., 2015).

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