Irish SME Coping Strategies Emanating from the 2008 Economic Recession

  • Joanne Miller

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


SMEs over the past few decades have received considerable interest; however fewer studies have investigated SMEs in the context of recession. This thesis explores the coping strategies that Irish SMEs adopted to help them survive the Great Recession of 2008. Despite the importance placed on SMEs contribution to the economy, the literature remains mostly under developed in terms of what strategies should be adopted to navigate turbulent times. With the use of strategic management theories such as RBV and dynamic capabilities, this research is positioned to explore recession opportunities and threats, to discern strategies selected while identifying barriers to strategy implementation and the impact of them as well as support available.
Methodologically, a two-phase, sequential, mixed methods approach is taken. Utilising a quantitative online survey instrument, the findings are presented and discussed from 269 SMEs. Qualitative exploration and explanation of emerging themes is conducted, presented and discussed through 31 semi-structured face to face interviews.
A number of important findings resulted from this investigation. Firstly, this research significantly contributes to the understanding of the strategies selected by SMEs based in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Thus far, these locations have been largely neglected within the literature. The investigation also outlines the impact of the various
approaches adopted by SMEs. A number of factors have emerged which have helped explain why certain strategies were selected, in particular the role of the business owner and the firms resources. Through confirmation, disconfirmation and extension of knowledge, theoretical and contextual contributions are made to the key area of SME strategic management performance in the context of recession. As a result, the research recommends that attention should be
shown to the distinctiveness of SMEs, and the particular location and context before advocating certain strategies. This study provides useful findings for practitioners and policy makers.
Date of AwardJun 2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPatrick Ibbotson (Supervisor) & Elaine Ramsey (Supervisor)


  • Recession
  • SME
  • Strategy

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