Pathology and physiology of business ‘dwarfism’ as a structural growth disengagement condition

This paper focuses the subject of growth disengagement, in the perspective of those firms who have been keeping their structures, processes and relational systems unchanged for a very long time, for at least three generations. In Italy such phenomenon is commonly referred as nanismo aziendale, i.e. “business dwarfism”.
The implicit hypothesis commonly adopted by socio-economic and political debate, according to which so called ‘dwarf’ businesses are meant as affected by a structural weakness and characterised by similar features, is critically discussed. An analysis of the phenomenon in the business growth and dynamic resource-basedview, allows us to demonstrate how the current approach to the problem context cannot be accepted.
In order to propose a different perspective, based on a case-study analysis, a first attempt taxonomy is sketched, according to two factors, i.e.: 1) the level of entrepreneur’s inclination to change business status quo, and 2) business strategic assets’ consistency level.
It is demonstrated how, although different business categories defined in the taxonomy are only sequential stages into an ideal ‘dwarf’ business life-cycle, both crisis and success patterns can be envisaged in any of them.


2004_Piccola Impresa_Bianchi et al