Myth-busting and entrepreneurship policy : the case of high growth firms

Brown, Ross and Mawson, Suzanne and Mason, Colin (2017) Myth-busting and entrepreneurship policy : the case of high growth firms. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 29 (5-6). pp. 414-443. ISSN 0898-5626 (

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Promoting high growth firms (HGFs) has become a strong fixation within enterprise policy. This is a debate article seeking to examine and challenge the mythology perpetuated by policy makers and embedded within high growth entrepreneurship policy frameworks. Within the article we argue that a number of distinctive ‘myths' have become deeply embedded within these policy frameworks. Such myths have been built on misconceived preconceptions of HGFs, which has resulted in policy-makers taking a myopic view of these firms. A key aim of the paper is to highlight how false perceptions of HGFs translate into inappropriate policy interventions. The paper challenges some of the most commonly held myths about these firms (that they are predominantly young, small, high-tech, VC-backed, university spin-outs, who grow in an orderly organic fashion, operating similarly irrespective of location) and identifies a clear mismatch between how policy makers perceive HGFs and what they actually look like in reality. Suggestions for the design of future policy approaches are forwarded.