Dissertation: Growth trajectories of established companies - effectuation and causation in focus

Posted on 17/12/18.

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The SMEs are often mentioned as sources of growth. According to Marko Matalamäki's doctoral dissertation at the University of Vaasa, not only the start-ups but also the established companies can be successful growth companies. The established companies selecting a customer-oriented approach, seem to achieve success and growth regardless of the status in their field of operations.

Scholars and politicians recognize the decisive role of SMEs as sources of growth, employment creation, and overall well-being at both national and international levels. Both new and established companies generate growth, but the potential of the established companies seems marginalized in the current economic discussion.

The study period covered a turbulent time when the entire Eurozone faced extensive changes and dealt with a recession in the years 2009–2015. Nevertheless, this period appears to have been more profitable for companies that successfully reacted to changes in their operating environments and adapted their activities to reflect the situational changes.

High expectations for growth entrepreneurship on the part of new companies and start-ups

The general economic debate sets high expectations for growth entrepreneurship on the part of new companies and start-ups. However, there is prior research claiming that this growth potential will very rarely materialize. Recently, researchers have questioned the role of high-growth companies as employment creators, because it has become evident that a large proportion of high-growth companies are more concerned with collecting investment support and maximizing profits, instead of becoming economically viable large-scale employers. Moreover, prior research reveals that the survival rate for start-ups is very low, while in established companies generating business growth it is relatively high. Therefore, it is important to shine a light back on to established companies and their growth potential, and this dissertation attempts to do that.

Matalamäki studied 134 Finnish SMEs from various industries. The study was designed around surveys and interviews of two groups; managers and higher executives, using between one and four informants from the same companies.

Understanding customers' goals -a key to success

While in the 90's, business strategies were developed for periods of five or even ten years, in the current rapidly changing world it seems that these hierarchical approaches have come old fashioned and inefficient. By the time of the 21st century, one, two, or three years were found better suited to a rapidly changing environment. In a current ever-changing and digitizing society, strategic management can be considered successful when it directs the company to renew its actions and does not restrict the company's operations.

Inventing of new and revolutionary strategizing approaches seems to have reached their saturation point, while companies seems to benefit more for understanding their customers' goals. The highlights that companies selecting a customer-oriented approach, seem to have achieved success and growth regardless of the status in their field of operations. Gathering information was associated with networking and building strategic alliances, and accordingly, these last two activities can evidently be shared when identifying opportunities for business growth. The findings of the doctoral dissertation confirm that flexibility is a key strength of SMEs.

Further information

Marko Matalamäki, tel +358 400 830 600, email: marko.matalamaki(at)seamk.fi

Matalamäki Marko (2018). Growth trajectories of the established companies – effectuation and causation in focus. Acta Wasaensia 412. Doctoral Dissertation. University of Vaasa. Vaasan yliopisto.

Publication pdf: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-476-835-1

Public defence

The public examination of M.Sc. Marko Matalamäki´s doctoral dissertation Growth trajectories of the established companies – effectuation and causation in focus” will be held on Friday 21 December at noon in Seinäjoki (SeAMK, Frami F, auditorio 110, Kampusranta 11, Seinäjoki). The field of dissertation is management.

Professor Erno Tornikoski (Grenoble Ecole de Management, France) will act as opponent and professor Marko Kohtamäki (University of Vaasa) as custos. The examination will be held in Finnish.

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