Targeted support for high growth firms: theoretical constraints, unintended consequences and future policy challenges

Ross Brown, Suzanne Mawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)
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High growth firms are now a major focus within enterprise policy. This paper provides a theoretically informed analysis of the rationale and effectiveness of targeted public sector support designed to develop these firms. Drawing on empirical research undertaken in the UK, this paper challenges the appropriateness of the theoretical assumptions embodied in these state-backed support instruments. It outlines the nature of these programmes and provides a critique of some of their inherent weaknesses, revealing that the assumptions underpinning these programmes are often flawed. The paper examines the limitations of their selection procedures, the thematic nature of support and exit dynamics. It found that offering early stage firms intensive levels of resources may have important (and detrimental) unintended consequences previously overlooked by policy makers. The paper offers some suggestions for how policy instruments could be better attuned to the needs of these growth-oriented firms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)816-836
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Government and Policy
Issue number5
Early online date24 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • entrepreneurship
  • high growth firms
  • incubation
  • accelerators
  • enterprise policy

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