Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
The business climate of today, with increasing globalization, has resulted in structural changes in the commercial and industrial sectors. As a result, many large companies have moved their production abroad. Therefore the smaller companies have become increasingly important for growth and employment nationally. Small businesses are a significant contributor to the well-being of nations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an important role for Sweden, both in terms of economic contribution and employment.
Success has been discussed and investigated for a long period of time and the question is how it should be defined and measured. Many theories have been produced including different definitions and research methods. For this thesis, however, success is defined as the growth and financial performance of a firm measured in volume growth, relative change in net turnover, and value growth, relative change in equity. As a side condition, profit margins must be positive for a company to be classified as successful. This thesis hence aims to determine which factors influence the success of small and medium-sized enterprises in Sweden and how they influence the success of these enterprises.
Eleven manufacturing SMEs, seven successful and four unsuccessful, were investigated and analyzed separately and then compared with one another in an attempt to determine which specific factors contributed to their respective performance. The four unsuccessful companies were included in the investigation for comparison to be able to identify the specific factors for successful companies. The analyses resulted in the following areas: Organization, Vision and Strategy, Characteristics of the CEO, Core Competences, Recruiting, Product Development and Innovations and Market. Among these factors Vision and Strategy, Core Competences and Customer Interaction were identified as the factors that have the greatest impact on success. Additionally, two clear relations between factors could be determined, i.e. between Clear vision and strategy and Defined culture as well as a relation between Flexibility and Customer Interaction.
The conclusions are generalizable to all manufacturing SMEs in Sweden since the sample selection is representative for the target population. Furthermore, the success factors could be applied to companies abroad as well if the business climate and the conditions are similar. Whether the factors can be applied to firms that act within different SNI-codes (Swedish Standard Industrial Classification) besides manufacturing is yet to be proved.
For further research we suggest a deeper investigation, where the information is obtained from more than one sources within the company. Also, the external networks of the company could be of interest to interview. Other aspects to investigate further would be potential differences between small and medium-sized firms and whether or not the results are applicable for other industries.
2008. , 167 p.