Capital structure of SMEs: a systematic literature review and bibliometric analysis

  • Satish KumarEmail author
  • Riya Sureka
  • Sisira Colombage


Capital structure is the outcome of market conditions, financial decisions taken by the firm, and credit rationing of fund providers. Research on the capital structure of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has gained momentum in recent years. The present study aims to identify key contributors, key areas, current dynamics, and suggests future research directions in the field of the capital structure of SMEs. This paper adopts a systematic literature review methodology along with bibliometric, network, and content analysis on a sample of 262 studies taken from the Web of Science database to examine the research activities that have taken place on this topic. Most influential papers are identified based on citations and PageRank, along with the most influential authors. The co-citation network is developed to see the intellectual structure of this research area. Applying bibliometric tools, four research clusters have been identified and content analysis performed on the papers identified in the clusters. It is found that the major research focus in this area is around theory testing—mainly, pecking order theory, trade-off theory, and agency theory. Determinants of capital structure, trade credit, corporate governance, and bankruptcy are also the prominent research topics in this field. Also, this study has identified the research gaps and has proposed five actionable research directions for the future.


Capital structure SME Systematic literature review Bibliometric analysis Network analysis Content analysis Co-citation BibExcel Gephi 

JEL Classfications

G32 G3 


Supplementary material

11301_2019_175_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 19 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management StudiesMalaviya National Institute of TechnologyJaipurIndia
  2. 2.Federation Business SchoolFederation University AustraliaBerwickAustralia

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