Creating resilient SMEs: why one size might not fit all

Bridgette Sullivan-Taylor, Layla Branicki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is a first step towards addressing a gap in the field of organisational resilience research by examining how small and medium enterprises (SME) manage the threat and actuality of extreme events. Pilot research found that the managerial framing of extreme events varied by a range of organisational factors. This finding informed further examination of the contextual nature of the resilience concept. To date, large organisations have been the traditional focus of empirical work and theorising in this area; yet the heterogeneous SME sector makes up approximately 99% of UK industry and routinely operates under conditions of uncertainty. In a comparative study examining UK organisational resilience, it emerged that SME participants had both a distinctive perspective and approach to resilience when compared to participants from larger organisations. This article presents a subset of data from 11 SME decision-makers. The relationship between resilience capabilities, such as flexibility and adaptation, is interrogated in relation to organisational size. The data suggest limitations of applying a one-size-fits-all organisation solution (managerial or policy) to creating resilience. This study forms the basis for survey work examining the extent to which resilience is an organisationally contingent concept in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5565-5579
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number18
Early online date19 Apr 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • extreme events
  • strategic uncertainty
  • SME
  • organisational resilience


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