Small, Medium, Strong. Trends in SME Performance and Business Conditions

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SMEs and entrepreneurs play a key role in national economies around the world, generating employment and income, contributing to innovation and knowledge diffusion, responding to new or niched demands and social needs, and enhancing social inclusion. However, SMEs are often more affected by business environment conditions and structural policies than larger firms.

This report presents comparative evidence on SME performance and trends, and on a broad range of policy areas and business environment conditions that are important for small businesses. The analysis takes into account the multi-dimensionality of SME policy objectives and the significant heterogeneity of the SME population, within and across countries. Data and indicators on framework conditions are complemented with information on recent policy trends in OECD countries. This publication addresses a growing demand by governments for tools to monitor the business environment for small and medium-sized enterprises, and benchmark the effectiveness of policies in creating appropriate conditions for them to flourish and grow.



SME trends in a globalised economy

This chapter provides an overview of the SME population across OECD countries and of trends in their performance relative to larger firms. The analysis considers different performance indicators to reflect the multi-dimensionality of SME policy objectives. The analysis highlights the heterogeneity of the SME population within and across countries, reveals performance patterns since the global financial crisis, and where possible, over a longer period, and describes the performance of SMEs in global markets.


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