Fast-growing companies' innovation work
– A pilot study
Fast-growing companies attract much attention as regards innovation policy since a small number of fast-growing companies have proven to account for a very large proportion of new jobs.
Growth Analysis has analysed the fast-growing companies phenomenon in several different reports.¹ This pilot study has a qualitative focus and one question, among others, is what picture the fastest growing companies have of their development. How do the companies explain their rapid growth?
Few companies are fast growers
The study confirms other empirical findings that have shown that the number of fast-growing companies is very small. The method used in the survey of quantitatively picking a selection of fast-growing companies that are then followed up by means of qualitative interview methods to describe the underlying success factors has also proven to work to a certain degree.
Systematic development work at the central level but the companies do not use the term 'innovation'
The case studies indicate that the fastest-growing companies manage and organise their activities and operations more systematically. The median companies’ work is characterised by a more ad hoc approach. Given the limited selection of companies that were interviewed, we can also say that the leading companies are established in non-domestic markets to a slightly greater extent.
Implications for measuring innovation and fast-growing companies
The pilot study also has consequences for how innovation is measured in, for example, Statistics Sweden’s innovation survey. It became clear during the course of the interviews that even the most successful companies are uncomfortable with the term innovation in itself and prefer to use expressions like business development or product development.
This might mean that some of the fast-growing companies are not captured in the nation-wide innovation surveys because they do not consider their development activities to be of an innovative nature.
The companies emphasise the importance of key people in successful innovative processes, for example originators, entrepreneurs, marketing staff and sales personnel. Innovation surveys in Sweden have not previously contained questions concerning the contributions of such informal sources of information. The interviews indicate that these key people can be important to the fast growing companies’ innovative ability.
¹ See Growth Analysis’ report Snabbväxarnas dynamik – är hög företagstillväxt uthållig? [The dynamics of high-growth firms - Is high-growth persistent?]