2. SME and entrepreneurship characteristics and performance in Viet Nam

Viet Nam’s legal definition of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) follows the classification of the SME Support Law (Law 04/2017/QH14, dated 12 June 2017), which includes two criteria – the number of employees and total revenues or total capital of the business enterprise – and applies different thresholds for different sectors (Table 2.1).1

The government uses this definition for most of its policies and programmes. It is, therefore, important to keep this definition in mind for the policy chapters of the report, mostly from chapter 4 onwards. On the other hand, in this chapter, the firm-size classifications of the OECD Structural and Demographic Business Statistics (SDBS) database are followed to enable a comparison of Vietnamese SMEs with the OECD area and with other regional groups (e.g. other ASEAN countries).2 Accordingly, SMEs are herein defined as companies with fewer than 250 employed people and further broken down in the following sub-groups: i) micro-enterprises: 1-9 people employed; ii) small enterprises: 10-49 people employed; iii) medium-sized enterprises: 50-249 people employed.

The chapter also undertakes an analysis by sector, looking at the broad sectors of industry (which mostly overlaps with manufacturing), services, wholesale and retail trade and construction. In the case of Viet Nam, these categories are built by matching 2-digit sub-sector numerical codes from the Viet Nam Standard Industrial Classification (VSIC)3 to the International Standard of Industrial Classification (ISIC Revision 4) used in OECD countries.

This process of data harmonisation is applied to different databases, including the Viet Nam General Statistics Office (GSO)’s Enterprise Census, the World Bank’s Enterprise Surveys and the World Management Survey. Other datasets used in this chapter include the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)’s Adult Population Survey, the Asian Productivity Organisation (APO)’s Database, and the statistical database of the UN International Labour Organization (ILOstat).4

The comparative analysis in this chapter is limited to the formal sector, which is a likely source of bias in the context of emerging economies such as Viet Nam where informality is widespread. The 2016 GSO Enterprise Census reported over half a million registered enterprises in Viet Nam, which employed nearly 13 million workers. However, at the end of July 2017, the number of non-farm individual business establishments totalled 5.1 million (with 8.7 million workers), vastly outnumbering the half a million registered businesses5. At that time, only 25.9% of individual business establishments were operating with an Enterprise Registration Certificate (ERC - Giấy chứng nhận đăng ký doanh nghiệp), 58.6% did not have one, and the remaining 15.5% were registered but did not receive an ERC or were not obliged to have one under national regulations (GSO, 2018, p. 55[1]). In addition, labour force survey data from 2016 show that more than 75% of own-account workers, 34.9% of employers, and 47.4% of wage workers are informal, with informal workers accounting overall for 57.2% of total non-agricultural employment.

This section compares the business economy of Viet Nam to the OECD area from a sector and firm-size perspective. The OECD definition of “business economy” excludes government, agricultural and financial sector activities to better reflect the share of the economy driven by private-sector firms.

From a sector perspective, Viet Nam stands out compared to the OECD area due to the main role played by industry. This has been the outcome of a rapid process of industrialisation over the last 20 years that has turned Viet Nam into a global manufacturing hub (Figure 2.1). In 2015, Viet Nam’s industry sector accounted for 55% of national (formal) employment and 62% of national value added, compared with the OECD averages of 23% (employment) and 33% (value added). The services sector – which excludes wholesale and retail trade in this analysis – plays a small role in the Vietnamese economy both in terms of employment (17%) and value added (13%), which is a consequence of the prevailing role of industry, but also suggests that manufacturing-related services (e.g. logistics) have not yet sufficiently developed. Wholesale and retail trade (henceforth, trade) also accounts for a small share of national employment (14%) and value added (19%), although official statistics in this sector are particularly biased by a high rate of informality. Finally, the shares of construction in national employment (14%) and value added (6%) are relatively similar to those of the OECD area (10% and 8% respectively), which might point to some under-investment in infrastructure given the emerging status of the Vietnamese economy.

The 2016 GSO Enterprise Census reported a total number of 518 039 formal firms in Viet Nam. From a firm-size perspective, SMEs (companies with less than 250 people employed) were 96% of the total: 70% were micro-enterprises (less than 10 employees), 21% were small-sized (11-49 employees), and 5% were medium-sized (50-249 employees). Nearly one in ten businesses was a one-person-business (about 46 000 or 9% of the total), i.e. an enterprise that operates without any other worker than the owner.

While SMEs account for 96% of all businesses of Viet Nam, they employ 47% of the labour force and represent 36% of the national value added, which are values much lower than the OECD respective averages (70% and 60%) (Figure 2.2). This reflects the stage of industrial development of Viet Nam and the main role which large (industrial) companies play in it, but it is also the consequence of widespread informality which restrains the size of the visible SME sector.

It is also interesting to look at the average size of Vietnamese enterprises by sector, as this shows where SMEs are more likely to be found. In the whole business economy, the median number of employees is 5 and the mean is 25. In industry, however, median and mean values are respectively 8 and 84; the big gap between these two figures points to the vast presence of large companies in this sector. Conversely, in wholesale and retail trade, median and mean values are very close (4 and 9 employees), which means that trade-based companies are very small. Services and construction fall in between, with mean values of employees respectively of 15 and 27. Large companies in Viet Nam may reach very large scales. The top 1% largest firms account for 51% of total (formal) employment and the top 10% for 83% of total (formal) employment. Among the top 100 largest firms, 91 are found in industry.6

Based on 2018 data, Viet Nam’s GDP per capita was about 16% of the OECD average (USD 7 450 vs. USD 45 600) and relatively similar to those of other emerging economies such as India and the Philippines. Viet Nam has experienced a rapid process of economic convergence since the mid-1980s, when it first introduced free-market reforms through the 1986 Đổi Mới reform. Since then, annual growth in GDP per capita has averaged 5%, compared to the OECD average of 1.6%, with growth rates that have constantly exceeded those of the OECD area since 1989 (Figure 2.3, Panel A and Panel B).

Viet Nam’s labour productivity (measured as output per person employed) has quadrupled since the reforms of the mid-1980s, whereas growth in capital productivity and multifactor productivity has been more subdued (Figure 2.3, Panel C).7 Productivity has gained strength especially in the 2010s, with growth in labour productivity averaging 2.8% in the 2005-2010 period, 5.3% in the 2010-2015 period, and 7% in the 2015-2017 period (Figure 2.3 Panel D). In this last period, Viet Nam’s growth rate in labour productivity doubled the ASEAN average (3.5%) and was higher than other emerging economies such as China, India and Thailand.

At the sector level, Viet Nam’s average labour productivity (measured as value added per person employed) is similar in industry and services: USD 35 000 vs. USD 33 000 (Figure 2.4, Panel A). In industry, labour productivity is about one-third of the OECD median value (USD 110 000), while in services it is about half (USD 60 000). However, in services, which includes wholesale and retail trade, a large degree of informality is likely to inflate average labour productivity by artificially lowering the official number of employed workers.

Labour productivity levels are also very similar between mid-sized (50-249 employees) and large companies (250+ employees), while the gap is more pronounced with small companies (10-49 employees) (Figure 2.4, Panel B). One of the reasons could be that mid-sized companies, which are often foreign-owned suppliers in Viet Nam, have productivity levels that are not too dissimilar from those of their larger buyers.

Enterprise productivity is affected by factors both internal (workforce and managerial skills, business networks, innovation, ICT and digitalisation) and external to the firm (market structure, technology development, levels of education). Enhancing SME productivity is important not only to sustain economic growth, but also to reduce social inequalities by increasing the income of small business workers. The second part of this report, from Chapter 5 through to Chapter 7, looks more closely at different policies and programmes that affect SME productivity.

Based on data from the World Bank Enterprise Survey (WBES), Vietnamese SMEs appear adequately involved in innovation activities, especially compared to peers in other ASEAN countries.8 However, a significant gap between R&D spending and innovation activities suggests that most innovation is not R&D-backed and is perhaps of a “frugal nature”, that is, aimed at introducing small modifications in existing products, for example to make them accessible to a larger audience of low-income customers.

About one-quarter (22.7%) of Vietnamese SMEs (10-249 employees) undertake R&D, according to the WBES, with a median investment of VND 100 million, compared with 43.1% of large companies (250+ employees) with a median investment of VND 500 million. In addition, more than half of total SMEs (53%) have introduced at least one type of innovation, which is relatively close to the same rate for large companies (65%) (Figure 2.5).9 Both rates of “product innovation” and “new-to-market” product innovation (a sub-category of product innovation) are particularly high among Vietnamese SMEs, respectively at 33% of total SMEs and 22% of SMEs introducing product innovations. As mentioned earlier, given that the SME median investment in R&D is only VND 100 million (i.e. about USD 4 200), product innovation has probably mostly to do with small adjustments to existing products.

Process innovation is also common among Vietnamese SMEs. Thirty-four percent of Vietnamese SMEs have introduced new production processes, the second-highest value within the ASEAN region only behind the Philippines. The gap between SMEs and large companies in process innovation is about 10 percentage points, slightly more than for product innovation (8.7 percentage points), but less than the ASEAN average (17 percentage points).

Automation is one type of process innovation, one which is particularly important for a country like Viet Nam that is highly integrated in manufacturing global supply chains. Unsurprisingly, the rate of automation among Vietnamese SMEs (30%) is the highest in the ASEAN region. Surveys by the International Labour Organization (ILO) (2016[3]) show that automation is likely to have a strong impact in the ASEAN region, with 75% of low-skilled workers in electronics and 86% of workers in textile, clothing and footwear at risk of losing their job due to automation. Policies aimed at improving the value-chain position of SMEs, notably by strengthening their skills and innovation capacity, will therefore play a particularly important role in the near future of Viet Nam (see chapter 6 of this report).

Viet Nam performs less well in organisational innovation, which involves the introduction of new methods in business practices, workplace organisation or the external relations of a company. This might reflect Viet Nam’s stage of industrial development and, in particular, the fact that capital investment continues to be its main source of growth. Only 19% of Vietnamese SMEs have introduced organisational innovations, which is in line with the ASEAN average, although a survey of Vietnamese firms finds that innovation in business practices and workplace organisation has the potential to enhance enterprise performance also in Viet Nam (Phan, 2019[4]). On the other hand, Vietnamese SMEs have higher rates of marketing innovation (31%), even higher than large companies (29%), and half of them (50%) make use of a business website, a figure which is in line with the ASEAN average (Figure 2.5). Interestingly, however, the use of a website among large Vietnamese companies is one of the lowest in the ASEAN region, i.e. 75% compared with Thailand’s 92% and Indonesia’s 91%, which might reflect the fact that some of them only work for a few multinational companies in closed buyer-supplier relationships.

Based on data from the GSO Enterprise Census (2015 edition)10, exporting companies account for 8% of the total business population (i.e. about 35 000 enterprises) and for nearly half (47%) of total employment, which indicates a large average size.11 The comparison between the mean (162) and median (16) values of employees at exporting companies also shows that this employment is concentrated in a few large companies. SMEs (less than 250 employees) account for 88% of the total number of exporting firms, 19% of employment in exporting companies, and half of the export volume (50%) (Figure 2.6, Panel A and Panel B).12 By way of comparison, in the OECD area, SMEs account for between 20% of export volumes in France and Germany and nearly 50% in Italy and Austria, with peaks of 67% in small open economies such as Latvia and Estonia. Viet Nam’s performance is, therefore, within the OECD range in terms of SME share of export volumes. However, 70% of Viet Nam’s SME export originates from foreign-owned SMEs, which have relocated to Viet Nam to be closer to multinational enterprises (MNEs) acting as their lead buyers.

Industry and trade account respectively for 40% and 51% of exporting companies.13 However, industry takes the lion’s share both in export-oriented employment (86%) and export volume (68%). In the case of industry, the exporting companies (about 20% of the total) account for a disproportionate share of sector employment, significantly outpacing employment in non-exporting companies (76% vs. 24%) (Figure 2.6, Panel C and Panel D), which is an outcome of most FDI in Viet Nam serving foreign markets (see also chapter 3). The main exporting activities are respectively clothing (12%), plastic products (6%) and wooden furniture (5%) in industry; transportation (15%) and computer programming (8%) in services; and wholesale of machinery (14%), chemicals (5%) and electronic equipment (4%) in trade.

Vietnamese enterprises, including SMEs, are already highly integrated in global markets, although this mostly happens through participation in global value chains (GVCs) which allows SMEs to specialise in certain segments of the production process. Going forward, the government could consider building future export strategies on two pillars. First, SMEs which are already part of GVCs could be supported in improving their value-chain position, for example by shifting production towards the manufacturing of more complex components. This might involve general policy support in the form of workforce and managerial skills upgrading, mostly at the firm level, but also more specific interventions such as the creation of intermediate technology institutes helping SMEs to apply new technologies in the production process. Second, there is room for increasing direct exports by SMEs, thus reducing the reliance of local SMEs on single global buyers. This would in turn call for a more comprehensive export policy that stimulates an export culture, offers export training opportunities and provides export finance solutions.

Managerial skills are a major driver of firm-level productivity growth14; based on some empirical evidence, they account for about one-quarter of cross-country and within-country gaps in multifactor productivity (Bloom et al., 2014[5]). Data from the World Management Survey, which only focuses on mid- and large-sized firms in manufacturing, show that Viet Nam’s manufacturing mid-sized firms do better than their peers in other emerging-market economies such as Brazil, China and India, and that the gap with OECD countries is not wide (0.27 percentage points from the simple OECD average). Interestingly, the gap in managerial skills between Viet Nam’s mid-sized and large firms is much narrower than in the OECD area (0.3 vs. 2.76 percentage points). Similarly to SME export statistics, these figures are also likely to be affected by the presence of many mid-sized foreign-owned suppliers in Viet Nam. A breakdown of managerial skills into different categories shows that managers in Viet Nam perform better at talent management, perform in line with the average in operations management and target setting, and perform worse than the average in performance monitoring (Figure 2.7).

Programmes that aim to upgrade managerial skills need to take into account the sector and knowledge-intensity of participant companies. Programmes targeting low-tech small companies, for example in retail trade, should be short in duration, offer basic skills and be able to reach as many companies as possible, whereas programmes targeting larger SMEs, especially in manufacturing, should focus on more complex managerial topics such as operational efficiency (Marchese et al., 2019[6]).

Based on 2017 data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) research consortium15, nearly half (46.4%) of the Vietnamese adult population perceives good opportunities to start a business in the area where they live, which is similar to the simple OECD average (45.9%), but lower than in most other countries in Southeast Asia. However, the “fear of failure” rate – the share of the adult population perceiving a “good opportunity” in the local market but indicating that a fear of failure would prevent them from seizing such an opportunity – is higher in Viet Nam (46.6%) than the OECD average (37.9%) and most countries in the region, except for Thailand (58.9%) and India (50.1%) (Figure 2.8, Panel A).

GEM’s Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) rate measures the share of the adult population involved in an entrepreneurial activity, either as a nascent entrepreneur or as a new business owner. Viet Nam’s TEA rate was 23.3% in 2017, the highest in the region and more than twice the OECD average (10.9%). However, Viet Nam’s TEA rate with high job creation expectations – i.e. those early-stage entrepreneurs who expect to create 6 or more jobs in the following 5 years – was 9.1%, less than most ASEAN countries and far lower than the OECD average (23.5%) (Figure 2.8, Panel B). This figure, however, contrasts with the high rates of high-growth firms and gazelles in Viet Nam (see below), both of which come from national enterprise surveys and deal with actual business growth rather than business growth expectations.

Viet Nam’s self-employment rate, i.e. the proportion of employers and own-account workers in total employment, is exceptionally high by international standards. In 2019, 56% of the total workforce was self-employed, 30 percentage points below the peaks of the early 1990s, but still remarkably higher than the OECD level (15%) (Figure 2.9, Panels A and B). While self-employment denotes an entrepreneurial spirit, exceptionally high self-employment rates also point to lack of other job opportunities in the labour market. Contrary to most other countries, Viet Nam’s female self-employment rate (61%) is higher than the male rate (51%),16 which is in line with other main labour market indicators (e.g. participation rate and employment rate) and is the result of longstanding government policies to promote gender equality in education and the workplace.

Widespread business ownership implies that business creation and business destruction are also common in Viet Nam. In 2016, Viet Nam’s enterprise birth (entry) and death (exit) rates were respectively 23% and 15.3%, both much higher than the OECD median values (10.4% and 8.7%) (Figure 2.9, Panel E). Enterprise birth rates have been constantly higher than death rates in recent years, leading to a doubling in the total stock of active companies between 2010 and 2017 (Figure 2.9, Panel C). Overall, these figures suggest that business creation in Viet Nam is easy, but business survival is not.

At the same time, data from the World Bank Doing Business survey also show that there are more serious constraints to setting up limited partnership companies (see chapter 3), which are typically larger and more structured legal entities than sole proprietor companies.

Finally, based on WBES data, Viet Nam shows a high rate of high-growth firms, i.e. firms which grow rapidly over a short period of time:17 6% compared with the regional average of 3%. Viet Nam also displays a high rate of gazelles, i.e. high-growth firms that are aged less than five years at the beginning of the observation period: 3.5% compared with the regional average of 1.6% (Figure 2.9, Panel D). These figures are the result of a fast-growing economy which creates opportunities both for foreign investors and domestic entrepreneurs.

Altogether, the high TEA rate, enterprise birth rate and rates of high-growth firms and gazelles all point out that Viet Nam is a highly entrepreneurial economy in which a large share of the population is involved in business creation.

This chapter has looked at the characteristics and performance of SMEs and entrepreneurship in Viet Nam from an international comparative perspective. The chapter started by showing how Viet Nam is an economy driven by industry, which accounts for 55% of total employment and 62% of national value added, both much higher values than the respective OECD averages (23% and 33%). At a first glance, SMEs play a smaller role in Viet Nam than in OECD countries, accounting for 47% of total employment and 36% of national value added. However, these figures do not take into account the large domestic informal sector in which mostly micro-enterprises operate: for example, more than three-quarters of own-account workers are estimated to be informal in Viet Nam.

Viet Nam experienced rapid growth in labour productivity in the 2010s: 5.3% in the 2010-2015 period and 7% in the 2015-2017 period. Compared to OECD countries, Viet Nam displays small differences in labour productivity levels by sector (between industry and trade) and by firm size (between medium and large enterprises).

With respect to SME performance, Vietnamese SMEs appear to be quite involved in product and process innovation, including in the adoption of automation. However, limited R&D spending suggests that most innovation is of a “frugal nature”, such as making small changes in existing products to make them more accessible to a wider customer base. SMEs are also adequately represented in export activity, representing about half of national export volumes, although most of them are foreign-owned. Survey-based results also highlight good managerial skills in Viet Nam’s manufacturing mid-sized firms.

Finally, population survey data and business statistics offer a picture of Viet Nam as a highly entrepreneurial economy. Viet Nam has a very high self-employment rate, although this might also mean a lack of other job opportunities in the labour market. Above all, Viet Nam has a high total entrepreneurial activity rate (population survey data), a high business churning rate (business birth and death rates combined) and high rates of high-growth firms and gazelles. Strong entrepreneurial dynamics are the result of a fast-growing economy which creates new business opportunities both for the local population and for foreign investors.

Based on this analysis, the following broad policy recommendations are formulated to strengthen SME and entrepreneurship performance; these suggestions are further detailed in the other thematic chapters of the report.


[5] Bloom, N., Lemos, R., Sadun, R., Scur, D. and Van Reenen, J. (2014), “The New Empirical Economics of Management”, NBER Working Paper No. 20102.

[7] Eurostat/OECD (2007), Eurostat-OECD Manual on Business Demography Statistics, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/ramon/statmanuals/files/KS-RA-07-010-EN.pdf.

[1] General Statistics Office (GSO) (2018), Results of the 2017 Economic Census, Statistical Publishing House.

[8] GSO/ILO (2018), 2016 Report on Informal Employment in Viet Nam, https://www.gso.gov.vn/default_en.aspx?tabid=515&idmid=5&ItemID=18951/.

[3] International Labour Organisation (ILO) (2016), ASEAN in Transformation: How Technology is changing Jobs and Enterprises, Jae-Hee Chang, Gary Rynhart and Phu Huynh: International Labour Office, Bureau for Employers’ Activities, Working Paper No.10. International Labour Organization.

[6] Marchese, M., Giuliani, E., Salazar-Elena, J. C., and Stone, I. (2019), Enhancing SME productivity: Policy highlights on the role of managerial skills, workforce skills and business linkages, OECD Publishing, Paris. https://doi.org/10.1787/f493861e-en.

[2] OECD (2019), OECD Compendium of Productivity Indicators 2019, OECD Publishing, Paris. https://doi.org/10.1787/22252126.

[9] OECD/Eurostat (2005), Oslo Manual: The Measurement of Scientific and Technological Activities, OECD Publishing, Paris. https://doi.org/10.1787/19900414.

[4] Phan, T. (2019), “Does organizational innovation always lead to better performance? A study of firms in Vietnam”, Journal of Economics and Development, Vol. 21/1, pp. 71-82, https://doi.org/10.1108/JED-06-2019-0003.


← 1. The SME Support Law came into effect in January 2018 through Supplementary Decree 39/2018/ND-CP.

← 2. OECD Structural and Demographic Business Statistics (SDBS - https://www.oecd.org/sdd/business-stats/structuralanddemographicbusinessstatisticssdbsoecd.htm).

← 3. The sector classification is based on Viet Nam Standard Industrial Classification 2007 (VISC - https://www.gso.gov.vn/Modules/Doc_Download.aspx?DocID=8067)

← 4. The data sources for this chapter are: i) the GSO Enterprise Census of 2016, which contains information for 518 039 active firms; ii) three waves (2005, 2009, 2015) of the World Bank Enterprise Surveys, each of which has data from about 1 000 firms in the case of Viet Nam (https://www.enterprisesurveys.org/en/survey-datasets); iii) World Management Survey, which has information on 151 Vietnamese firms; 34 countries surveyed (https://worldmanagementsurvey.org/survey-data/download-data/download-survey-data/); iv) two waves of GEM Adult Population Surveys for Viet Nam (2015, 2017) as well as data for six other countries in the region (https://www.gemconsortium.org/). Finally, productivity statistics are also extracted from the Asian Productivity Organisation’s Database (https://www.apo-tokyo.org/wedo/measurement/).

← 5. “Individual business establishments” are defined in Viet Nam as places where production/business activities are conducted, notably household businesses that are not eligible to register or have not registered according to the laws, such as the Law on Enterprises or Co-operatives Law (GSO/ILO, 2018, p. 8[8]).

← 6. The largest companies reported in each sector in 2016 were: Industry – a Taiwanese-owned footwear firm with 79 231 employees; Construction – an industrial construction company with 11 873 employees; Trade – a mobile-phone distribution company with 15 467 employees; Services – a passenger transportation company with 16 151 employees. (Data from the GSO Enterprise Census).

← 7. Multifactor productivity reflects the efficiency with which labour and capital are combined in the production process.

← 8. This section relies on data from the World Bank Enterprise Survey (WBES), which was conducted in Viet Nam between November 2014 and April 2016 and covered 996 enterprises both in manufacturing and services. Firm-size categories in the WBES are 5-19 employees (small), 20-99 employees (medium), and 100+ employees (large). Micro data from the WBES database have been regrouped following the OECD SDBS classification: SMEs (10-249) and large (250+). It should be noted that this approach might cause a loss in the representativeness of the sample, since firm size classes may no longer fully reflect the distribution of enterprises in the total business population. Micro-enterprises have not been included in the count due to the very small number of them in the WBES sample.

← 9. The WBES follows the definition of innovation of the OECD/EUROSTAT Oslo Manual, which categorises innovation in four main types: product, process, marketing, and organisational (OECD/Eurostat, 2005[9]).

← 10. This section draws on data from the GSO Enterprise Census from 2015, rather than 2016, due to the availability of export statistics.

← 11. Exporting companies, based on the GSO definition, are companies with a positive record of export volume at the year of the survey.

← 12. Also in the case of exporting companies, employment in SMEs is likely to be underestimated due to Viet Nam’s large informal sector. This may explain the significant and unusual gap in the contribution of domestic SMEs to export employment and export volume.

← 13. The high percentage of exporting companies in the trade sector is predominantly due to the wholesale/distribution of machinery, chemicals and electronic equipment.

← 14. This section draws on data from the World Management Survey (WMS), which only covers mid-sized (50-250 employees) and large companies (251+ employees) in manufacturing.

← 15. This section draws on data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) research consortium, which undertakes annual surveys of the adult population (18-64 years old) on entrepreneurial attitudes and activity.

← 16. By way of comparison, in the OECD area as a whole, the male self-employment rate is 17% and the female rate is 12%.

← 17. The official OECD definition of a “high-growth firm” is “a company whose employment grows at an annualised average rate of 20% over a three period, starting from a base of at least 10 employees”.

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