Group objectives

The Growing New Zealand Businesses (GNZB) research group seeks to establish an evidence-based knowledge core to generate a statistically robust holistic picture of New Zealand SME business growth and innovation.

GNZB provides analysis and help to address New Zealand’s widely-discussed under-performance in terms of economic growth relative to other countries, especially Australia.

Initial research has thrown up many questions in need of investigation. Among them:

  • Why some businesses grow/internationalise and not others, in the same industry?
  • Why relatively few micro and small businesses grow into medium-sized businesses? Meaning New Zealand has relatively few mid-market (or Mittelstand) businesses.
  • The extent to which finance is a constraint on growth or whether businesses lack the capabilities to secure it?
  • Whether NZ owner-managers are less ambitious than their counterparts in Australia and the UK; less innovative; pursue different competitive strategies; collaborate differently?
  • Whether there are distinctive characteristics of family businesses in NZ?
  • What distinguishes high performing NZ businesses from non-high performing NZ businesses in manufacturing and business services?

Taken as a whole, this research will provide an empirical base to prepare for future longitudinal research, and a foundation from which to extend the study to partner institutions beyond NZ, Australia and the UK to include Japan and potentially other countries. In answering these questions comparatively, this study will shed new light on the growth challenges faced by New Zealand businesses and establish a solid platform for policy advice, teaching, future researchers, and especially for interaction with owner-managers.

“The capacities of the existing managerial personnel of the firm necessarily set a limit to the expansion of that firm in any given time period…” (Edith Penrose, 1959)

Research timeline

Following piloting of the survey, the survey itself was carried out in late 2010. In total 1,911 completed questionnaires were returned. Data was coded and entered into a database in early 2011. An initial analysis of the survey is being carried out with a view to producing an executive summary by 30 June 2011. In addition, interviews will be carried out in approximately 30 businesses, selected from almost 1,000 survey participants who have agreed to be interviewed during the second phase. Our selection will be made with a view to size and business sector composition, and potentially growth and innovation features.

More in-depth analysis and outputs will develop from late 2011. The combined data set and analysis will provide material for owner-manager short courses, MBA and other courses, PhD theses, cases, possible consulting, practitioner-oriented publications (2012-2013), academic journals (2011-2013), and book(s) (2012-2013).


Specific outputs will be:

  • Public talks and seminars.
  • Media release documentary (under consideration).
  • Materials for teaching, owner-manager short courses, both existing courses (MBA, other postgraduate, undergraduate and short courses) and potentially new courses on entrepreneurship, growth and innovation.
  • Journal publications, practitioner-oriented and other academic publications.
  • Book(s) – an edited book with contributions from all the researchers focusing on New Zealand but with some international comparison; potentially a separate book more directly comparing New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
  • Business cases through the University of Auckland Business School's Case Centre.
  • A foundation for PhD theses and other postgraduate research. PhD students, who are an integral part of this research, in many cases will draw directly on the survey and interview data for their PhDs.