The Gazelle mini study

The mini-study on gazelles served as input for an INNO-Views workshop which took place in April 2007. This mini-study set the scene for the first part of the workshop, which focused on the role and importance of gazelles for innovation and competitiveness and the question of how to stimulate their development further. The study was presented in a ‘questions and answers’ format in order to emphasise key issues in recent debate on policy and to offer a clear and concise introduction to this important and contemporary issue for innovation policy.

Section 1 introduces the concept of a gazelle, putting it in context within the current EU priorities in economic policy. Section 2 examines the issue of definitions.  This is a key issue as small firms are in a state of change, growing in sales, manpower and capability development. Understanding what gazelles are is a key issue if appropriate action to support them is to be provided. Section 3 explores the economic role and significance of gazelles and the contribution they make to the key EU policy goals of competitiveness, innovation, employment and growth, looking at the best ways to them. Here we asked why we should support them; what is the rationale; how do we decide which firms should be supported and what are the drivers and barriers to development?  

Taking the perspective of gazelles we aim to achieve a better understanding of what they and their representative organisations want and need to help them achieve their objectives.

The study raised a number of important issues, and participants at the Tallinn workshop were asked to consider the following points, where there appears to be a need for further research:

  • What is the relationship between gazelle firms and other SME businesses?
  • Does gazelle firm growth lead to declines in other smaller firms operating in the same and related areas?
  • Does gazelle growth lead to synergistic and complementary effects amongst other firms and sectors?
  • Does support for gazelles give them an unfair advantage in competing with other SMEs?

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