The process of growing in small firms: Exploring dialectic adjustments to nonroutine disruption

Ivana Milosevic, A. Erin Bass, Mary Uhl-Bien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Studies examining small firm growth have suggested that growth is complex due to the multitude of internal and external factors that disrupt it. However, in focusing mainly on external factors and paying less attention to internal factors, the process of growing–or what is happening inside a small firm as it grows–remains undertheorized. Using findings from a real-time case study of a small firm and insights from the dialectical perspective, we develop a theoretical model that illustrates growth as a dynamic process occurring through dialectic adjustments in response to disruptions that cannot be resolved with routine practices. Our findings suggest that these disruptions trigger one of two situations–potentially converging or potentially diverging–in which individuals must adjust by connecting their insights (converging) or breaking connections (diverging). As such, our findings illustrate the variability in growing, compelling small firms to complexify their internal workings through dialectical adjustments in response to ongoing nonroutine disruptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1572-1603
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Small Business Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2024


  • Dialectic adjustments
  • growing process
  • nonroutine disruptions
  • small firm growth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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