Surviving or thriving: the role of learning for the resilient performance of small firms

Martina Battisti, Malcolm Beynon, David Grant Pickernell, David Deakins

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    Building on a longitudinal dataset of 245 small firms covering the period of the Global Financial Crisis, this study uses, in combination with fuzzy clustering, the N-State Classification and Ranking Belief Simplex (NCaRBS) technique. This technique, able to deal with ambiguous outcome variables, small datasets, incomplete data and relationships that have the potential to be non-linear, is used to explore the relationship between learning and the resilient performance of small firms. Our findings provide a fine-grained picture of the complex relationships between strategic, cognitive and behavioural learning mechanisms and three resilient performance clusters – sustained performance, stability, and survival – which has implications for theory, as well as practice. By examining learning at the level of the individual owner-manager and also the organisation, we contribute to a better understanding of the role of specific learning mechanisms, a role that is still not well understood.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)38-50
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of Business Research
    Early online date15 Mar 2019
    Publication statusEarly online - 15 Mar 2019


    • SMEs
    • fuzzy clustering
    • NCaRBS
    • learning
    • global financial crisis
    • cognition


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