Research Report

Business resilience in an SME context: A literature review

ERC Research Report


Wishart, Maria, ERC,

Associated Themes
  • Management and Leadership

We define business resilience as a strategic objective intended to help an organisation survive and prosper. A highly resilient organisation is more adaptive, competitive, agile and robust than less resilient organisations and rebounds from adversity strengthened and more resourceful.
Resilience is clearly highly desirable in business organisations and as a result, business resilience is a growing field of research. To date, three main strands of business resilience research can be discerned, focusing on employees, business models, and organisational efforts to anticipate, prevent and respond to challenges. In fact, business resilience research to date has tended to focus quite strongly on large organisations, and assumed that findings are transferable to smaller businesses, which is not necessarily the case. Perhaps for this reason, resilience research focusing explicitly on SMEs is a small field, but one that is gaining momentum. This report explores academic and non-academic research into resilience in SMEs in particular, and identifies the key strands of work that have been done so far. It also identifies gaps in our knowledge which underpin an agenda for future research.