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The IfM Bonn adopts an applied research approach and examines Mittelstand and SME-related research topics by applying state-of-the-art (empirical) research methods. Moreover, the institute provides expertise on current policy issues relevant to SMEs, entrepreneurship, self-employment and family businesses. Though the main focus is on the Mittelstand in Germany, the scope of the institute is international, which is reflected by collaborations with international experts and institutions. The IfM Bonn also conducts third-party funded projects and writes expert and evaluation reports.

Projects in the programme area "Economic monitoring" focus on the general situation, development and macroeconomic importance of Mittelstand enterprises, while those in the programme area of "Mittelstand (SMEs), society and state" analyse the interaction between these three groups. Studies in the programme area "Enterprise development" deal with the various phases in the life cycle of a company (e.g. start-up, growth, reorganisation, business transfer and insolvency). Finally, within the programme area "Strategic management", studies focus on various management aspects and company-specific issues.

Please visit the following websites for further details (in German).

34 Results


Mittelstand (SMEs) and society / government | 2023 Women as founders and entrepreneurs - causes of persistent under-representation

Women have always been underrepresented among the self-employed. Although their share has risen steadily in parallel with their increasing participation in the labour market, it has remained static at one-third for some time. The self-employment rate, which indicates the propensity of the labour force to be self-employed, fluctuates over time. However, the gap between the self-employment rate of women and men has hardly narrowed.


Mittelstand (SMEs) and society / government | 2023 Mittelstand-friendly reorientation of public procurement

In the 2021 Coalition Agreement of the German federal government, coalition partners agreed to redesign public procurement procedures with the aim of making them more economic, social, ecological and innovative - without jeopardising the legal certainty of award decisions or increasing access barriers for the Mittelstand.


Mittelstand (SMEs) and society / government | 2023 Determinants of regional start-up activity - what makes a region strong in start-ups?

Research into regional start-up ecosystems has made considerable progress in recent years. Nevertheless, it is still not fully understood how the various elements of the start-up ecosystem affect start-up activity, what interactions exist between the elements and what influence start-up activity has on these elements over time.


Mittelstand (SMEs) and society / government | 2023 Impact of climate-friendly regulatory measures on the Mittelstand

The economic framework conditions are currently being adapted with the aim of limiting climate change. In Germany and at the EU level, corresponding regulatory projects are being initiated, and others are being planned. These projects also affect Mittelstand enterprises.


Cross-sectional projects | 2023 Crisis, Structural Change and the Mittelstand (SMEs)

The current, overlapping global crises are exacerbating existing resource bottlenecks and placing an unprecedented burden on the Mittelstand. This multi-layered problem situation is putting the hitherto successful Mittelstand-model of the German economy to the test.

Enterprise management | 2022 Adapting to climate change: exploring the specific challenges for SMEs

The effects of climate change increasingly represent a challenge for companies concerning their business and value creation models. This is particularly true for SMEs, whose business models are often based on specialised products, target groups, and/or regions embedded in closely networked supply and value chains.


Enterprise management | 2022 The impact of SMEs' innovation activity on their economic development in times of crisis

Companies typically respond to an external shock like the COVID-19 pandemic by adjusting, including innovating. However, companies were affected to varying degrees and in different ways by the constraints imposed by the pandemic.

Enterprise management | 2022 SME Financing in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are predominantly financed from their own funds, followed by bank loans, and only then finance instruments such as trade credits, leasing, or factoring.


Start-up research | 2022 Start-ups by minors - their prevalence, characteristics, and as routes to employment

Start-ups founded by minors only play a minor economic role. At the same time, for many years, various initiatives sought to introduce schoolchildren to the idea of entrepreneurship and encourage them to (later) start a business.


Mittelstand (SMEs) and society / government | 2022 Development trends of global value chains from the perspective of Mittelstand companies

In 2016, IfM Bonn researchers examined the challenges and opportunities for Mittelstand companies arising from their involvement in (global) value chains. At that time, a trend toward advancing globalisation became apparent.


Ongoing economic monitoring | 2022 The volume and distribution of company sales

To date, business succession took place mainly within the family, while sales to members of the company's workforce, executives of other companies, or companies have been of lesser importance.


Ongoing economic monitoring | 2021 Updating of data and facts relevant to the Mittelstand

One of the permanent tasks of the programme area Current Economic Monitoring is to determinate and prepare data and facts specifically considering start-ups and enterprise sizes


Zukunftspanel Mittelstand | 2021 Zukunftspanel Mittelstand

In 2014, 2017 and 2020, the IfM Bonn surveyed both entrepreneurs and experts on the challenges facing the Mittelstand in Germany as part of its Future Panel. These surveys will be continued at regular intervals.

Cross-sectional projects | 2021 Entrepreneurship during the Corona Crisis

In times of crisis, the Mittelstand can have a stabilising effect, even though they themselves come under pressure. It is, however, yet not possible to assess the intensity and scope of the consequences of the Corona pandemic on and for the Mittelstand in their entirety.

Mittelstand (SMEs) and society / government | 2021 The determinants of regional start-up activity - a feasibility study

The NUI regional ranking issued by the IfM Bonn annually clearly shows that the regions in Germany can differ greatly in terms of start-up activity. However, little is known about the determinants of start-up activity and what makes a good regional start-up ecosystem.

Enterprise management | 2021 Development of digitization among SMEs in the manufacturing sector (follow-up study)

The spread of digital value creation activities and the (internet-based) integration of all parties involved in the value creation process has gained considerable dynamism in recent years.

Mittelstand (SMEs) and society / government | 2021 The societal impact of German Mittelstand

Oftentimes, the societal contribution of Mittelstand companies is linked to concepts such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Corporate Citizenship (CC).

Mittelstand (SMEs) and society / government | 2021 Challenges and opportunities of climate change for Mittelstand

The consequences of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, and calls for greater efforts in climate protection are growing louder and louder.

Ongoing economic monitoring | 2021 Business succession Business life cycle Family business

Due to the lack of official statistics, the IfM Bonn has been estimating the number of forthcoming business transfers in Germany in regular intervals since the mid-1990s.

Mittelstand (SMEs) and society / government | 2020 Offensive Mittelstand

Theoretische Erkenntnisse praktisch umsetzbar gestalten, um so kleine und mittlere Unternehmen zu stärken – unter dieser Prämisse agiert seit 2006 das deutschlandweite Netzwerk "Offensive Mittelstand".