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Christian Kjær Monsson

The chapter examines different perspectives on resilience in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are often argued to be sensitive to shocks, but have likewise been suggested to be a source of economic resilience owing to their flexibility and their ability to change after a shock. The chapter argues that one must distinguish between the ability of SMEs to resist to external shocks and the ability of SMEs to recover from such shocks. These two abilities are labelled as the vulnerability and adaptability of SMEs. Both abilities can be managed through strategic and operational actions, but SMEs face several trade-offs, as they must balance concerns over short-term profits with the need for robustness and flexibility as well as innovation and learning. The chapter further includes an analysis of a sample of Danish SMEs in the period following the recession of 2009. The analysis demonstrates that, while SMEs may be vulnerable, many SMEs are also able to recover from a major shock to their economy. It is thus suggested that the vulnerability of SMEs to shocks should not be seen by policymakers as a sign of permanent decline. Recovery and renewed growth may follow at a later stage.