Creating good public policy to support high-growth firms

Colin Mason, Ross Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

334 Citations (Scopus)


Writing in Small Business Economics Scott Shane argues that policy-makers should stop subsidising start-ups and instead focus on supporting the small subset of new businesses with high growth potential. However, both Shane and other scholarswho havemade the same argument only offer broad-brush proposals to achieve this objective. The aim of this article, in contrast, is to engage in a detailed discussion of how to create appropriate policies for high-growth firms (HGFs). Drawing on research in Scotland, we argue that policy-makers are looking for HGFs in the wrong places. The heterogeneous nature of HGFs in terms of sector, age, size and origins makes in impractical to target support on particular sectors, technologies or types of firms (e.g., new or R&D intensive). The article proposes a reorientation of HGFs, both in terms of
appropriate targeting and forms of support. Public policy also needs to focus on the retention of HGFs which are acquired by non-local businesses. Finally, policy-makers need to properly reflect upon the specificities of their entrepreneurial environment when
devising appropriate policy interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-225
Number of pages15
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number2
Early online date27 Sept 2011
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • entrepreneurship
  • high-growth firms
  • gazelles
  • regional development
  • policy


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