Does slack always affect resilience? A study of quasi-medium-sized Italian firms


Entrepreneurship and Regional Development

2016, vol. 28, n°9-10, pp.768-790

Départements : Stratégie et Politique d’Entreprise

Mots clés : SMEs profitability, SMEs growth, crisis, organizational slack, Italian firms

Research on organizational slack, which has focused mainly on its effect in large, publicly traded firms and on transitional economies, has found that slack functions as a buffer in periods of crisis. However, little work has been done on the value of slack resources for smaller firms in mature industries. This study contributes to the resource-based literature with a quantitative analysis of a broad sample of Italian SMEs that operate in the traditional ‘Made in Italy’ industries. The purpose of the paper is to use longitudinal data from before and after the 2008 world financial crisis to determine whether slack resources drive growth and profitability in organizations with limited resources that operate in mature industries in periods of recession. The results of two-stage least squares regression indicate that, similar to their larger counterparts, small firms must secure high levels of profitability in order to achieve sound growth during recessions. Potential financial slack is equally important in driving profitability in these periods, although it is not related to higher growth. Investing in R&D does not affect small firms’ ability to be profitable and grow during recessions.