Boards of directors in SMEs: A review and research agenda. A re-examination of the topic 15 years after Morten Huse (ERD 2000) review.


  • Chanut-Guieu Cécile
  • Guieu Gilles


  • Governance
  • Boards of directors
  • SMEs
  • Family firms
  • Review
  • Research agenda

document type



Morten Huse was invited editor for an Entrepreneurship & Regional Development special issue on ‘Boards of directors in SMEs’, gathering four papers on the topic (Fiegener et al., 2000; Gabrielsson and Winlund, 2000; Johannisson and Huse, 2000; Sapienza et al., 2000). In the first sentence of his introducting review article, Huse noted: “While boards of directors in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) received little attention in research, teaching and practice a few years ago, this has now changed” (Huse, 2000: 271). How far has it changed between 2000 and mid-2016? This is the question we raised in order to examine the literature published from the beginning of the century to now (June 2016). Has research on boards in SMEs expanded, could we identify a growing trend, as suggested by Huse in 2000? If the answer is positive, what are the main traits of this literature? Are publications and their authors tightly linked (what could be considered as a field) or, as Huse noted in 2000, are papers only loosely connected? Drawing on Huse objectives in his review, the objectives of our paper are (1) to identify what has been published in the main SME (but also general management and corporate governance) journals, (2) to analyse the methods, theories, and contributions of publications about boards in SMEs, (3) to draw a cartography of references used by these publications and, (4) present the intellectual changes on the topic in the period. Of course, as Huse did, we also want “to stimulate and direct further research about boards of directors in SMEs. For that purpose, we gathered 107 “boards in SMEs or family firms” articles published from 2000 to 2016 in peer-reviewed journals, and present here the first results of our analysis.

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