Key features in the success of SMEs: a comparison of service and manufacturing

Povl Larsen, Alan Lewis, Robert Brown, Richard Tonge

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper reports on the research project “Identifying Best Practice Integrated Design and Management Accounting Processes” awarded for the period January 2000 to April 2001. The objectives of the research were to determine whether certain strategies could account for higher rates of growth in some SMEs, and to identify if the drivers of new product and service development were determinates of performance or the result of performance. From joint analysis of strategic factors and drivers of new product and service development it appears that strategy in both sectors and performance bands dictates the design drivers. Research also identified factors that differentiated high-growth from the sporadic-growth SMEs in both sectors. The concept behind the paper was that much previous research has sought to identify the ‘secrets of success’ of SMEs, but few studies have investigated differences between service and manufacturing sectors and has tended to concentrate only on ‘successful’ businesses; this paper compared high-growth businesses with sporadic-growth businesses in both service and manufacturing sectors. The findings of this research continue to inform the application of design in the service sector. Although the project has concluded, the data collected will continue to provide a rich source of knowledge and a basis for future comparative research. The research was a sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the Design Council, under the theme ‘Accounting for Design’. Larsen was Project Leader and was responsible for identifying SMEs to survey, content and format of questionnaires, data collection and evaluation, and eventual dissemination. Tonge, Principal Lecturer in Accounting, Portsmouth Business School provided the accounting and strategic planning content and input for dissemination. Brown and Lewis provided insights on SME design practices and dissemination The journal has an international editorial board and was subject to a double blind peer-review.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-48
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of General Management
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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