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Many bankruptcy experts suspect that the substantial costs and hurdles of reorganizing under chapter 11 are especially burdensome for small businesses and may significantly impair small businesses' ability to reorganize and survive. It should not be surprising, then, that bankruptcy practitioners, scholars, and judges agonize over the treatment of small businesses in reorganization; conferences are organized to consider the particular problems of financially distressed small businesses; Congress singled out small businesses for attention in the 1994 Bankruptcy Code amendments; and the National Bankruptcy Review Commission recommended reforms applicable to small business reorganization cases.

Much of the debate concerning the treatment of small businesses in bankruptcy swirls around the decision embraced by the drafters of the 1978 Bankruptcy Code to unite diverse business relief chapters into the current chapter 11. As a consequence of this one-size-fits-all approach, small, closely-held businesses face the same complicated reorganization processes as large, publicly held businesses. Although few would openly advocate a return to the type of strategic behavior that characterized the superceded Bankruptcy Act's segregation of "corporate reorganizations" and "arrangements" under former chapters X and XI, many would advocate reforms that modify the one-size-fits-all treatment of small businesses.

Reform proposals range from (i) doing nothing and allowing chapter 11's elegant flexibility to accommodate the needs of small businesses in reorganization, (ii) encouraging bankruptcy courts to accommodate small business cases through specialized case management procedures, and amend the Bankruptcy Rules and Bankruptcy Code in minor ways if necessary to facilitate these procedures, (iii) creating a separate reorganization chapter for small businesses, or otherwise amending the Bankruptcy Code in significant ways to make chapter 11 easier for small businesses, and (iv) amending the Bankruptcy Code to make chapter 11 harder for small businesses in order to force the liquidation of businesses that are not viable.