Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 21, 2023

Davids and Goliaths: Hidden Champions in an Age of Industrial Policy

  • Bernardo de Melo Pimentel ORCID logo EMAIL logo and Guillermo Ramírez ORCID logo
From the journal The Economists’ Voice


We review the state of the current industrial champions debate and make the case for nimble, innovative ‘Davids’, rather than resource-hungry ‘Goliaths’. These export-based firms have shown robust performance in recent years and may help economies increase their resilience in times of significant uncertainty. They are more autonomous than traditional champions and they are already in our midst. The challenge for policymakers is how to foster an environment that supports Davids while keeping an eye on national strategic interests.

JEL Classification: F52; F68; L52

Corresponding author: Bernardo de Melo Pimentel, Forward College, ISEG Lisbon, and Nova SBE, Rua das Flores, 71, Primeiro andar, Lisbon, Portugal, E-mail:
Early-stage note.


Audretsch, D. B., E. E. Lehmann, and J. Schenkenhofer. 2018. “Internationalization Strategies of Hidden Champions: Lessons From Germany.” Multinational Business Review 26 (1): 2–24, in Google Scholar

Bahoo, S., I. Alon, and J. Floreani. 2021. “Corruption in Economics: A Bibliometric Analysis and Research Agenda.” Applied Economics Letters 28 (7): 565–78. in Google Scholar

Bardt, Hubertus, Klaus-Heiner Röhl, and Christian Rusche, et al.. 2022. “Bardt, Hubertus, Klaus-Heiner Röhl, and Christian Rusche. "Subsidizing Semiconductor Production for a Strategically Autonomous European Union?” Economist’s Voice 19 (1): 37–58, in Google Scholar

Baumers, M., and M. Holweg. 2019. “On the Economics of Additive Manufacturing: Experimental Findings.” Journal of Operations Management 65 (8): 794–809. in Google Scholar

European Commission, Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry, Maincent, E., and L. Navarro. 2006. A Policy for Industrial Champions: From Picking Winners to Fostering Excellence and the Growth of Firms. Publications Office. Also available at in Google Scholar

Falck, O., C. Gollier, and L. Woessmann. 2011. Industrial Policy for National Champions. The MIT Press. Also available at in Google Scholar

Friis, K., and O. Lysne. 2021. “Huawei, 5G and Security: Technological Limitations and Political Responses.” Development and Change 52 (5): 1174–95. in Google Scholar

Gnangnon, S. K. 2018. “Multilateral Trade Liberalization and Economic Growth.” Journal of Economic Integration 33 (2): 1261–301. in Google Scholar

Johann, Matthias, Jörn Block, and Lena Benz, et al.. 2021. “Financial performance of hidden champions: Evidence from German manufacturing firms.” Small Business Economics 59 (1): 873–92, in Google Scholar

Kammer, A., J. Azour, A. A. Selassie, I. Goldfajn, and C. Rhee. 2022. How War in Ukraine Is Reverberating Across World’s Regions. Washington: IMF. Also available at in Google Scholar

Kaska, K., H. Beckvard, and T. Minárik. 2019. Huawei, 5G and China as a Security Threat, 28. Tallinn, Estonia: NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Center for Excellence (CCDCOE).Search in Google Scholar

Macron, E. 2022. Transcript of Speech Delivered by French President Emmanuel Macron’s Speech at the European Parliament. Also available at in Google Scholar

Mina, A., A. Di Minin, I. Martelli, G. Testa, and P. Santoleri. 2021. “Public Funding of Innovation: Exploring Applications and Allocations of the European SME Instrument.” Research Policy 50 (1): 104–31. in Google Scholar

Moens, B., and P. Tamma. 2020. Macron and Merkel Defy Brussels with Push for Industrial Champions. Politico. Also available at in Google Scholar

Musacchio, A., S. G. Lazzarini, and R. V. Aguilera. 2015. “New Varieties of State Capitalism: Strategic and Governance Implications.” Academy of Management Perspectives 29 (1): 115–31. in Google Scholar

Porter, M. E. 1998. “Clusters and the New Economics of Competition.” Harvard Business Review 76 (1): 77–8.Search in Google Scholar

Rodrik, D. 2014. “Green Industrial Policy.” Oxford Review of Economic Policy 30 (3): 469–91. in Google Scholar

Schenkenhofer, J. 2022. “Hidden Champions: A Review of the Literature & Future Research Avenues.” Management Review Quarterly 72: 417–82, in Google Scholar

Simon, Hermann. 1992. “Lessons from Germany’s midsize giants.” Harvard Business Review 70 (2): 115–23.Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2022-07-13
Accepted: 2023-02-13
Published Online: 2023-03-21

© 2023 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 5.3.2024 from
Scroll to top button