chapter  5
22 Pages



Denmark is commonly seen as a country whose economic structure is shaped by SMEs. According to national fi gures, only 1,588 or 0.8 per cent of the companies employed more than 100 employees in 2002, representing 49.7 per cent of total employment (Statistics Denmark; Firm Statistics). This is also refl ected in the offi cial statistical classifi cation of fi rm size. Companies employing 100 or more employees are considered large, and no further differentiation by fi rm size is available beyond this threshold. The European comparison, however, somewhat qualifi es the proposition that SMEs generally prevail in Denmark. As Table 2.1 shows, Denmark belongs to the group of countries characterized by an above-average importance of large companies. The big multinational companies, which are among Europe’s 500 largest businesses, fi gure prominently in terms of both their number and employment. Likewise, there are relatively numerous large companies which, however, record an employment share which is below the average of the group of countries designated by large fi rms as well as below the average of the EU-15. This indicates a remarkable bifurcation between rather small and extraordinarily large units within the segment of large companies. In 2003 there were six big Danish multinationals whose employment totalled around 580,000, which was almost four times as high as the comparable fi gure for Austria. As a closer examination reveals, two companies accounted for 85 per cent of total employment of Denmark’s big multinationals. As these two companies supply services (i.e. security services and temporary agency work), the vast majority of their employees are likely to work outside Denmark. Hence, their economic weight is not very visible in their homeland. As far as SMEs (as defi ned by European standards) are concerned, micro fi rms are less numerous and represent a smaller proportion of total employment, as compared to the EU-15, whereas the corresponding fi gures for small and medium-sized fi rms are above the European average (Table 2.1).