“100 years and counting” – Longevity of Swiss SMEs

Numerous Swiss SMEs can look back on a long corporate history. Some companies have been successful in their respective markets for more than a century and have successfully navigated a multitude of economic, political, technological, and societal changes.

David Karrica & Jonas Hefti & Julia Rawyler & Nina Stolz, 2023

Projektarbeit/Praxisprojekt, Institute for Finance, HSW FHNW
Betreuende Dozierende: Frank Graef
Keywords: Swiss SMEs, Corporate Longevity, Survival Factors of Businesses, Swiss Market, SME Longevity
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As existing research on corporate longevity primarily focuses on large organizations and solely on countries other than Switzerland, this project work aims to lay the foundation for more in-depth research in identifying the success factors enabling long-standing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Switzerland to adapt continually to changing conditions. Furthermore, it intends to describe what they do differently compared to their less successful peers.
In contribution to closing an important research gap, a database with a representative sample of traditional Swiss SMEs incorporated before 1930 is created and descriptively evaluated, and a literature review covering the Swiss SME landscape and current research on ten related studies in the United States and Europe is compiled. Furthermore, to complement the research, three expert interviews with two relevant businesses and an SME association are conducted, as well as a survey with 34 traditional Swiss SME respondents.
The main findings indicate that possible success factors enabling long-established Swiss SMEs to survive over a century are the ability to keep pace with technological trends and digitization, identification and exploitation of new innovative opportunities, employment of qualified and satisfied employees, maintenance of strong cost management, and rigorous succession planning, provided that the company is family-owned. Lastly, despite a potential lack of core business innovation, corporate agility, and thus, the ability to re-adapt to changes in the internal and external business environment, appears to additionally account for the continued success of the companies under analysis.
Studiengang: Business Administration International Management (Bachelor)
Fachbereich der Arbeit:
Vertraulichkeit: vertraulich
Art der Arbeit
Institute for Finance, HSW FHNW, Basel
Autorinnen und Autoren
David Karrica & Jonas Hefti & Julia Rawyler & Nina Stolz
Betreuende Dozierende
Frank Graef
Sprache der Arbeit
Business Administration International Management (Bachelor)
Standort Studiengang
Swiss SMEs, Corporate Longevity, Survival Factors of Businesses, Swiss Market, SME Longevity