How Fast Can Firms Grow?

Item Type Journal paper

Building on recent research on dynamic, high-growth firms — so called “gazelles” — this paper explores a simple question that is important both in theoretical and practical terms: what is the fastest rate at which firms can grow. Based on a sample of seven high-growth firms (Cisco, G. M., I. B. M., Microsoft, Sears, Starbucks, and U. S. Steel), we find that 162% is the maximum sales growth rate in any one year that an established company (i.e. companies that are at least a few years old) can grow without merger and acquisitions, while the rate of employee growth is approximately 115%. All of the companies in our sample attained a maximum sales growth rate of above 50%, with most hovering around 75%. Furthermore, the firms’ growth rates show similar patterns. No company experienced its maximum sales growth rate toward the latter part of its history. Every company experienced its slowest employee growth rate after attaining its maximum employee growth rate, usually within a decade of one another. Most importantly, all firms show an average sales growth that exceeded the average employment growth. This finding is an indication that successful growing firms have a superior capability to continuously improve employment efficiency and adjust organizational structure to suit an increasing workforce.

Authors Murmann, Johann P.; Korn, Jenny & Worch, Hagen
Journal or Publication Title Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik / Journal of Economics and Statistics
Language English
Subjects business studies
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
Refereed Yes
Date 3 May 2013
Publisher Lucius & Lucius Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
Volume 234
Number 2/3
Page Range 210-233
Number of Pages 23
Official URL
Contact Email Address
Depositing User Michele Kölbener
Date Deposited 18 Oct 2018 13:49
Last Modified 18 Oct 2018 13:49


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Murmann, Johann P.; Korn, Jenny & Worch, Hagen (2013) How Fast Can Firms Grow? Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik / Journal of Economics and Statistics, 234 (2/3). 210-233.

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