In search of gazelles using a research DNA model

Martin A. Sims*, Nicholas O'Regan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Though considerable attention in the extant literature has been devoted to growth and performance of firms, there is a dearth of research on rapidly growing and high-performance companies or gazelles, in small to medium sized firms. This paper examines the drivers of rapid growth in manufacturing SMEs. In addition, the paper develops and tests a new approach to multi-variate analysis based on the conditional formatting of spreadsheets and the use of nested logical operators for complex comprehension. When analysing the results of most searches/studies, it is usually quite difficult to fully gain an understanding of the whole picture (i.e. the results in context). Using this new technique, we identify gazelles using a ranked database in a spreadsheet to create complete (non-loss) analysable visual patterns. Firms were ranked in terms of their 'growth footprint', using changes in employee numbers, profits, turnover and margin to calculate their individual growth performance/potential. 

The results of the study indicate that gazelles are less than 15 years old, have a CEO who is less than 50 years of age. They have a good financial performance (measured by gross profit per employee) and are privately owned and managed by their owners. The CEOs of the identified gazelle companies were further interviewed and it was found that self-organization and agility are key drivers of success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-954
Number of pages12
Issue number8
Early online date16 Sept 2005
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2006


  • Gazelles
  • Growth
  • Organizational performance
  • SMEs


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