Special Issue Editorial

The importance of small–medium enterprises (SMEs) in today’s economy has been widely recognized, both in regard to the role and number of such firms and to their contribution to gross national product, employment, and local economic well-being.
However the perception appears to be that system dynamics (SD), at least in terms of published works, is a methodologymostly applied to larger enterprises.
The benefits do not seem to be shared by smaller firms, for whom prohibitive costs, lack of access, and/or their focus of attention on day-to-day operations are suggested as critical barriers.
How can SD modelling help small business owners/entrepreneurs and other key company players to improve their strategy analysis/diagnosis, policymaking processes, and operational effectiveness? What role does SD have in areas specific to the challenges of the smaller enterprise; for example, the communication, analysis and debate of the ‘‘business idea’’ to the younger generation in a family business or to new incoming managers; or the evaluation processes conducted by external funders, such as banks, trusts, SME development agencies?
The above issues provide the background to this special edition of System Dynamics Review, which aims to explore the role that can be played by SD and systems thinking (ST) in helping SME entrepreneurs to make their tacit knowledge explicit, and to frame better the business context within which they operate.
Although at the time when the then Executive Editor and I first agreed to launch a special issue of System Dynamics Review on SMEs we were confident that a number of valuable and insightful contributions would be received, I could have not imagined receiving 16 submitted articles. Five of them have been selected for publication in this issue, while—because of space constraints—two others will be published later in a regular issue.
But now that it has been compiled, what is it possible to learn from the articles included in this special issue?

Pubblicato in: System Dynamics Review Vol. 18, No. 3, (Fall 2002): 403–429