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The importance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for the development of national economies is undeniable and it is in many works stand out as a generally accepted position. In this paper, attention is focused at a specific segment of SMEs which comprise particularly dynamic companies that are characterized by fast and steady growth, ability quickly to adapt to market conditions and continuously to function at a high level of performance. These firms are now known as gazelles, the name which was in the 80s of last century first coined by British author David Birch. Gazelles represent relatively small part of total and according to number of studies their share in the total number of companies in national economies is accounting from 3% to the most 5%. Interest for this companies, both at macro level by the creators of economic policy, as well as at micro level by businesses, in recent years is exceedingly increased because of their high potentials for resolving the issue of (un)employment and creating multitude of new products and services and added values which they are created for the society as a whole. In the paper the definitions of these companies are elaborated, the basic features and key factors of their business operation are analyzed, as well as their state (level of development) and their future development prospects in the European Union and the Republic of Serbia. The authors of the paper have used research methods in accordance with the specifics and complexity of the subject of the analysis, relying on the current domestic and international literature and internet sources. The research results clearly showed that gazelles can be an important part of the answer to deep and comprehensive economic and social crisis with which modern societies face today in the world.
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