As a key part of the new evidence base on mid-sized businesses (MSBs), the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) commissioned a qualitative study on MSB growth. This was carried out by Middlesex University Business School.
Using a case study approach, the aim of the research was to better understand:
- the factors influencing the growth plans and potential of mid-sized businesses (MSBs)
- the factors affecting management strategies
- decisions about the scale and future direction of investment
The primary focus of the research was on companies that potentially appear to be in a strong position to grow in that they are profitable and financially healthy and have an appetite for growth. However, some of these companies may have been under-achieving in growth over the last three years, with their managers not being totally satisfied with performance. Other companies may have done comparatively well, but objectively given certain measurable factors (eg quality of management or strength of balance sheet) ought to have done or be doing even better.
For comparative purposes, the research also included a number of MSBs that have been struggling to grow and that have been more concerned with survival than growth. This was to ensure that the research took account of whether or not ‘non-growth’ MSBs share many of the same characteristics (eg in terms of sector, ownership, investment) as ‘growth’ MSBs.
Structured interviews were conducted with a sample of 35 MSBs (defined as having a sales turnover between £25-£500 million); the sample included a range of firms from different sectors, regions, and size categories within MSB. The firms were also chosen to reflect different categories of growth orientation:
- seeking growth and achieving it
- seeking growth but having difficulties achieving it
- those that were survival orientated
Interviews were carried out during August and September 2011.