Mapping SME productivity research: a systematic review of empirical evidence and future research agenda

Beldina Owalla, Cristian Gherhes*, Tim Vorley, Chay Brooks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the lifeblood of economies around the world. They play an important role in productivity growth, which is crucial for developed economies as they adjust to major trends such as the industrial revolution, an ageing population and changes in the nature of work. This study maps the SME productivity research landscape by way of a systematic literature review focusing on the direct, indirect and mediating/moderating factors that enable or constrain productivity in SMEs. We review 109 empirical studies and highlight the fragmented nature of the extant research in this field. Our thematic analysis identifies six key themes, namely organisational environment, organisational capabilities, investments, types of innovation, external knowledgebase and commercialisation. By taking stock of existing knowledge, we highlight critical gaps and methodological issues that limit our understanding of SME productivity. We propose a future research agenda to address current shortcomings and advance knowledge on this topic. Implications for policy are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSmall Business Economics
Early online date27 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 27 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Productivity
  • SME policy
  • SMEs
  • Systematic literature review

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