Attitude towards growth of small business owners

A qualitative analysis in Dutch food truck businesses

Master thesis research by Hugo ter Welle

In January 2016, Hugo ter Welle graduated from the Tilburg School of Economics and Management at Tilburg University. He followed the MSc Strategic Management and wrote his master thesis in the area of organizational growth.

Research about small firm growth has grown over the past decade. For a long time, growth has been seen as the obvious thing to occur within firms, however his thought is challenged nowadays. Growth may be determined for some part by the intention or willingness to grow of the small business owner. Also, numerous growth strategies exist when the firm decides to pursue growth. This study aims to get an understanding of the attitude towards growth. This means that there will be assessed if firms want to grow and how they want to pursue this growth.


This attitude towards growth will be studied within food truck businesses. There has been a huge growth of food truck businesses over the past five years. All food truck businesses are considered as small firms, following the standard of the European Commission (all firms with less than 50 employees). Despite the growth of food truck businesses, no research has been conducted on this type of firms. It could therefore be interesting to combine the study of attitude towards growth with these businesses. Therefore, this study will focus on the following question: What is the attitude towards growth of Dutch food truck small business owners?


In order to answer this question, a qualitative research has been conducted. Interviews were conducted with small business owners of food truck businesses. Prior to this, existing literature around the topic was analyzed, which resulted in the theoretical framework. The framework was used to answer some of the research question and gave guidance to the conducted interviews. In the theoretical framework, it is shown how the growth attitude can be determined. A model of Davidsson (1989) on the willingness to grow is used in order to measure the growth attitude. The model focuses on the expectations that small business owners have towards growth. These expectations, together with the need for achievement, determine the willingness to grow, which is similar to growth attitude.


Results indicated that the expectations towards growth are mostly positive and there is some need for achievement among the small business owners. Therefore, the willingness to grow is high among small business owners, which is not in line with existing literature that indicates that 40% of the entrepreneurs do not want to grow (Kolvereid and Bullvag, 1996). Food truck small business owners aim to pursue organic growth by increasing volume of current activities. When this leads to them reaching the full capacity of their current food truck, they plan to acquire a new truck to pursue further growth.  The growth will be pursued mostly in the domestic market, but some small business owners do look for opportunities to internationalize. Belgium and Germany are mentioned as the main countries to expand to.



Davidsson, P. (1991). Continued entrepreneurship: Ability, need, and opportunity as determinants of small firm growth. Journal of Business Venturing, 6(6), 405-­â��429

Kolvereid, L., & Bullvag, E. (1996). Growth Intentions and Actual Growth: The Impact of Entrepreneurial Choice. Journal of Enterprising Culture, 4(1)