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The National Small & Medium Sized Business Surveys

The first of these national SME surveys was carried out in 1991, in the CBR's previous incarnation as the Small Business Research Centre.

More than 2000 independent firms with up to and including 499 employees in manufacturing and business services responded to this first survey. This first panel of firms were resurveyed in 1993, 1995 and finally in 1997. In 1997 we started a second panel of more than 2,500 firms. These firms were in the same sectors and size group as the first panel. The second panel was surveyed again in 1999 and 2002. A third panel was created in 2002.

The surveys have included questions on general business characteristics; workforce and training; innovative activity, R&D and other innovation expenditure; commercial activity and competitive situation; factors affecting expansion and efficiency including business advice; capital expenditure and finance; executive structure; and acquisition activity. The surveys have varied in length with the first one for each panel containing around 50 questions, resulting in about 400 variables, and the follow up surveys being shorter.

First panel

1991 Survey

Dates of survey: April to September 1991

Number of responses: 2,028

Publication: Small Business Research Centre (1992) The state of British enterprise. Cambridge: Small Business Research Centre, University of Cambridge. (out of print)


1993 Survey

Dates of survey: October to November 1993

Number of responses: 1,341


1995 Survey

Dates of survey: July to October 1995

Number of responses: 1,018

Publication: Cosh, A.D. and Hughes, A. (eds.) (1996) The changing state of British enterprise: growth innovation and competitive advantage in SMEs 1986-95. Cambridge: ESRC Centre for Business Research. (price £5, paperback, 103 pages)

Datasets: Cambridge Centre for Business Research SME Dataset, 1987-1995 (SN4156) (comprises the complete 1991 dataset, and the combined datasets from the 1991, 1993 and 1995 surveys)

Second panel

1997 Survey

Dates of survey: June to September 1997

Number of responses: 2,520

Publication: Cosh, A.D. and Hughes, A. (eds.) (1998) Enterprise Britain: growth, innovation and public policy in the small and medium-sized enterprise sector 1994-1997. Cambridge: ESRC Centre for Business Research. (price £5, paperback, 135 pages)


1999 Survey

Dates of survey: June to August 1999

Number of responses: 1,309

Publication: Cosh, A.D. and Hughes, A. (eds.) (2000) British enterprise in transition: growth, innovation and public policy in the small and medium-sized enterprise sector 1994-1999. Cambridge: ESRC Centre for Business Research. (price £5, paperback, 112 pages)

Dataset: Cambridge Centre for Business Research SME Dataset (Second Panel), 1997 (SN4431)

Third panel

2002 Survey

Dates of survey: June to October 2002

Number of responses: 2,130

Publication: Cosh, A.D. and Hughes, A. (eds.) (2003) Enterprise challenged: policy and performance in the British SME sector 1999-2002. Cambridge: ESRC Centre for Business Research. (price £5, paperback, 132 pages)

Fourth panel

2004 Survey

Dates of survey: November-December 2004

Number of responses: 2,137

Publication: Cosh, A.D. and Hughes, A. (eds.) (2007) British enterprise: thriving or surviving? SME growth, innovation and public policy 2001-2004. Cambridge: ESRC Centre for Business Research. (price £50, paperback, 124 pages)


2008 Survey

Dates of survey: November-December 2008

Number of responses: 855

Publication: Cosh, A.D., Hughes, A., Bullock, A. and Milner, I. (2009) SME finance and innovation in the current economic crisis. Cambridge: Centre for Business Research.

This section provides links to other surveys of small and medium sized enterprises in the United Kingdom and internationally. The CBR cannot take any responsibility for their content.

If you would like to link your SME survey to this site, please contact Anna Bullock.

The CBR has produced a number of surveys. View our survey output

Principal investigators

Andy Cosh
Alan Hughes
David Keeble
Barry Moore
Frank Wilkinson
Michael Kitson

Survey & database manager

Anna Bullock

Assistant database manager

Isobel Milner

Project status

Ongoing