ArticlePDF Available

Startups in Times of Crisis – A Rapid Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic


Abstract and Figures

Research summary: The discovery of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the spread of COVID-19 have led many governments to take drastic measures. The lockdown of large parts of society and economic life has come as an exogenous shock to many economic actors, not least innovative startups. This rapid response research combines a qualitative research design informed by entrepreneurial ecosystem actors with an analysis of policy measures called for, announced, and reportedly implemented in the international press. Interviews from an entrepreneurial ecosystem offer a first-hand account of the adversity startups face during a crisis and how by utilizing bricolage responses they cope, and the analysis of policy measures can serve as an inspiration to design support initiatives to protect startups from the consequences of the current lockdown and to alleviate the effects of future crises. Managerial summary: The lockdown measures as a response to the spread of the new corona-virus threaten the existence of many innovative startups. Our rapid response research first illustrates the challenges entrepreneurs face as a consequence of the crisis. Second, we illustrate how entrepreneurs are dealing with the effects of the crisis and what they are doing to protect their ventures. Finally, we present measures that could be utilized by policymakers to assist entrepreneurs facing challenges. The research conducted suggests that while startups are suc-cessfully leveraging their available resources as a first response to the crisis, their growth and innovation potential are at risk. Therefore, policy measures should not only provide first aid to startups by alleviating the pressure caused by constrained cashflow, but also involve long-term measures embedded in and supported by the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem to ensure rapid recovery and growth.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Startups in times of crisis A rapid response to the
COVID-19 pandemic
Andreas Kuckertz
, Leif Br
andle , Anja Gaudig , Sebastian Hinderer , Carlos
Arturo Morales Reyes , Alicia Prochotta, Kathrin M. Steinbrink , Elisabeth S.C. Berger
University of Hohenheim, Institute of Marketing &Management, Entrepreneurship Research Group (570c), Wollgrasweg 49, D-70599, Stuttgart,
Research summary: The discovery of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the spread of COVID-19
have led many governments to take drastic measures. The lockdown of large parts of society
and economic life has come as an exogenous shock to many economic actors, not least innovative
startups. This rapid response research combines a qualitative research design informed by
entrepreneurial ecosystem actors with an analysis of policy measures called for, announced, and
reportedly implemented in the international press. Interviews from an entrepreneurial ecosystem
offer a rst-hand account of the adversity startups face during a crisis and how by utilizing
bricolage responses they cope, and the analysis of policy measures can serve as an inspiration to
design support initiatives to protect startups from the consequences of the current lockdown and to
alleviate the effects of future crises.
Managerial summary: The lockdown measures as a response to the spread of the new coronavirus
threaten the existence of many innovative startups. Our rapid response research rst illustrates the
challenges entrepreneurs face as a consequence of the crisis. Second, we illustrate how entre-
preneurs are dealing with the effects of the crisis and what they are doing to protect their ventures.
Finally, we present measures that could be utilized by policymakers to assist entrepreneurs facing
challenges. The research conducted suggests that while startups are successfully leveraging their
available resources as a rst response to the crisis, their growth and innovation potential are at
risk. Therefore, policy measures should not only provide rst aid to startups by alleviating the
pressure caused by constrained cashow, but also involve long-term measures embedded in and
supported by the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem to ensure rapid recovery and growth.
1. Introduction
With the discovery of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in late 2019 (Zhu et al., 2020) and very
recently with the subsequent pandemic of COVID-19 (JHCRC, 2020), society and economies worldwide are experiencing an unprec-
edented exogenous shock (GDA, 2020). Although the occurrence of a pandemic caused by a new virus is unsurprising for virologists, the
infection control measures such as social distancing (Glass et al., 2006) taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 exert tremendous pressure
on large parts of a nations economy. Most actors central to shaping the economy would admit to the current pandemic being a
* Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (A. Kuckertz).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Journal of Business Venturing Insights
journal homepage:
Received 3 April 2020; Received in revised form 17 April 2020; Accepted 18 April 2020
2352-6734/©2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
metaphorical black swan event, that is, a surprising, unpredictable event of great signicance and severe consequences that dramatically
changes the political and economic environment (Winston, 2020). While such events could be interpreted as opportunities, the un-
precedented lockdown of large parts of society arising from the COVID-19 crisis marks the current situation out as an acute crisis.
SARS-CoV-2 triggered a twofold crisis: The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an unprecedented burden on many health systems
worldwide, and the infection control measures have caused an economic crisis by bringing a vast amount of economic activity to an
abrupt halt. Moreover, while many other past crises have hit humanity at a specic point in time and regionally (e.g., hurricanes like
Katrina in 2005) or developed over a longer period of time with global effects (e.g., the 2008 nancial crisis), the COVID-19 pandemic
has developed globally and the necessary countermeasures put in place have hurt economies suddenly.
The present rapid response paper therefore seeks to direct attention to a specic type of actor that is largely neglected in current
public debate: innovative startups. Most policy initiatives taken to protect economies during the COVID-19 crisis seem to target
established corporations, existing industry sectors, and economies as such, and in doing so those measures aim to protect employment
and the continuation of necessary economic activity. Currently, the focus is on protecting the present while the future of economic
activity receives less attention. However, innovative startups that will shape that future economic activity are one of the most vulnerable
actors in any economy (Walsh and Cunningham, 2016). Even in calmer times innovative startups face liabilities of newness and
smallness (Stinchcombe, 1968) that threaten their continued existence. This situation is likely to worsen in times of crisis and the spread
of COVID-19 thus threatens to curtail a tremendous potential for innovation that has been accumulated in recent years and was meant to
generate economic and potentially societal and ecological value in the near future.
We interviewed individuals involved with an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Germany to determine their reaction to the crisis and
opinion on the measures put in place to mitigate its economic effect. At the time of writing, measures supported by the German gov-
ernment intended to protect companies and startups affected by the COVID-19 crisis include taxation support, state support for short-
hour working, improved measures at guarantee banks, as well as loans and special programs provided by KfW, a state-owned devel-
opment bank. In addition to these loans (PWC, 2020), KfW offers other specic support programs for startups, such as growth loans and
co-investment schemes, which were not explicitly developed to address the COVID-19 crisis, but may still prove useful. Moreover, a
central measure is the nationwide COVID-19 aid package for large companies, sole-traders, and entrepreneurs. However, many of these
measures, such as the KfW loans, are not available to startups as they (especially at an early stage) simply do not meet the traditional
criteria for obtaining loans (German Startups Association, 2020a;PWC, 2020). Equally, not every startup can rely on investors who
apply to co-investment schemes. Many programs require applicant rms to be bankable, in that they can be expected to be protable
within a reasonable timeframe. The prot criterion is one an innovative startup cannot usually meet soon after inception. Innovative
startups are thus clearly under pressure (German Startups Association, 2020a,2020b).
The COVID-19 pandemic and the many lockdowns in economies worldwide combine to create a unique situation that has no
documented equivalent in the entrepreneurship literature. Nevertheless there is a body of research on entrepreneurship and crisis
management (e.g., Williams and Vorley, 2015;Smallbone et al., 2012;Cowling et al., 2012;Parker et al., 2012) that offers two research
streams in particular that could be informative in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rst could be labeled entrepreneurial crisis
management and deals with how businesses respond to a crisis. Much of the research in this stream is concerned with resilience (Doern,
2016;Doern et al., 2019). The second stream suggests which policies could nurture a rms survival during a crisis (Alesch et al., 2001;
Dahlhamer and Tierney, 1998) and what barriers exist (Runyan, 2006); that second stream could thus support policymakers in
developing appropriate interventions.
Against this background, starting on March 23, 2020 and nishing data collection on March 31, 2020, we conducted a rapid response
research project intended to produce evidence in a timely manner rather than to explain the crisis and its effects after the event. Rapid
response research lends itself to quick developments and has, for instance, been utilized to support rapid policy responses to riots
(Alexander, 2010) or earthquakes (Powell et al., 2011). The current rapid response research intends to shed light on three pressing
research questions that are linked to entrepreneurial crisis management on the micro level and to policy initiatives on the macro level.
First, we are interested in determining the forms of adversity facing innovative startups in light of an immediate lockdown (RQ1).
Second, we aim to understand what coping strategies startups employ in the course of crisis management (RQ2). Third, we want to
identify specic policy measures designed to protect startups during the COVID-19 crisis, be they called for or actioned (RQ3).
Having reviewed prior research on crisis and entrepreneurship, we provide answers to these questions for our specic context
through a mixed-methods design (Johnson and Onwuegbuzie, 2004). The methods involved are a qualitative analysis of interviews with
16 participants in various roles in a German entrepreneurial ecosystem (i.e., entrepreneurial actors, resource providers, and connectors,
see Brown and Mason, 2017) and an analysis of the international public press coverage. Following recommendations by Khan et al.
(2014), we streamlined data collection to permit rapid analysis. In doing so, we contribute to research at the interface of the entre-
preneurship and crisis elds by providing a unique view just as the situation unfolds rather than after the event.
2. Challenges for innovative startups created by the COVID-19 lockdown
2.1. Prior research on challenges facing startups in a crisis scenario
Beyond the humanitarian tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus is also having a growing impact on local economies and the
global economy. Fears surrounding the unforeseeable effects of COVID-19 have already signicantly inuenced the worlds top
economies and many economists are now forecasting recession (GDA, 2020). A crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the
functioning and performance of a business (Boin, 2009;Comfort, 2002;Quarantelli, 1988;Williams et al., 2017). Turbulence affecting a
business might arise from disturbed structures, routines, and capabilities (Williams et al., 2017). Unfortunately, to manage a crisis well,
A. Kuckertz et al. Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
preparation is essential, and few startups would have been prepared for a crisis of the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic. The limited
number of studies on resilience in the context of entrepreneurship and crises mainly focus on the pre-crisis period and on the skills or
resources that entrepreneurs and organizations build up to resist or adapt to crisis events (Bullough et al., 2014;Doern et al., 2019;
Korber and McNaughton, 2018). Generally, the specic characteristics of innovative startups should enable them to be better prepared
to cope with the COVID-19 crisis than other types of rms. Being innovative is a precondition of being resilient, as innovative businesses
tend to constantly and continuously anticipate and adjust to a broad range of crises (Hamel and Valikangas, 2003;Linnenluecke, 2017).
However, businesses do not always recognize the actual threat that a potential crisis event entails (Mu~
noz et al., 2019) and the majority
of startups will not have been prepared for the events of the last four months. We know from research on the effects of hurricane Katrina
and its aftermath that a failure to prepare can have dramatic consequences, particularly for small businesses that are vulnerable to
interrupted cash ows, lack of access to capital for recovery, and face problems accessing federal assistance and also serious infra-
structure problems (Runyan, 2006).
2.2. Challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown in Germany for its innovative startups
Given that data on the immediate effects of the COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent lockdown in many economies are not available,
we resort to a qualitative research design to answer RQ1 on the adversity facing innovative startups during lockdown (see Appendix 1
for our methodological approach, Appendix 2 for our sample, and Appendix 3 for representative quotes). Our results (see Fig. 1) show
that startups face immediate and tangible consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak especially in the form of reduced sales while xed
costs remain; a combination that threatens startupsliquidity and long-term survival.
Additionally, startup founders reported the economic climate is currently unfavorable for innovation. Key partners, customers, and
investors are themselves fully engaged in responding to the crisis and the uncertainty as to how the crisis will develop discourages any
experimentation. When markets are gridlocked, startups are forced into what is known as plateau patterned growth(Bush et al., 2009,
p. 489), which in combination with barriers to accessing funding can adversely affect their onward growth trajectories. The interviewees
were aware that adversity arising from crisis can generate both opportunities and threats because it creates an external pressure to adapt
(Deb et al., 2019). Startups reported being forced to take alternative action and adopt alternative behavior, i.e., some exhibit behavioral
capabilities (Williams et al., 2017). The interviewees also reported that their rms were having to abruptly adjust their organizational
infrastructure since value generation processes are on hold and supply chains are affected by the crisis. At the same time, some founders
reported that their enterprises were not (unduly) affected by the COVID-19 crisis either because their businesses continue to be relevant
despite the crisis or owing to the rms having measures in place since before the crisis that bolster their durability (Williams et al., 2017)
and mean they remain resilient, albeit such resilience will most likely be time limited.
3. Entrepreneurial crisis management as a response to the COVID-19 lockdown
3.1. Prior research on entrepreneurial crisis management
Resilience is an essential concept in entrepreneurial crisis management (Doern et al., 2019); it not only describes an organizations
ability to continue functioning throughout a disruptive event but the conceptual aspect of the term also considers which resources were
accumulated prior to a crisis and then deployed throughout it and during the aftermath (Williams et al., 2017). Crisis management is
employed to foster resilience and will be of utmost importance during the COVID-19 crisis. Crisis management is employed to minimize
the impacts of a crisis (Spillan and Hough, 2003) and, if done well, can quickly restore functionality to organizations suffering from the
effects of disrupted or weakened systems (Williams et al., 2017). The few studies on crisis management in entrepreneurship research
predominantly assess the actions that entrepreneurs or organizations take to mitigate the potential negative consequences of a crisis
(Doern et al., 2019), among which are changes in sales, marketing, and employment practices. Small businesses in particular tend to
excel at adaptability and exibility (Smallbone et al., 2012) and we should expect them to demonstrate that in response to the COVID-19
crisis. Crisis management in the entrepreneurial context is thus closely related to the concept of bricolage (Mallak, 1998), and rather
than suggesting rigid processes to address the challenges presented by COVID-19, it seems more appropriate for innovative startups to
embrace iterative and exible approaches such as effectual logic (Sarasvathy, 2001). Findings from research on the 2012 Emilia
earthquakes in Italy (Martinelli et al., 2018) illustrate this point: The resilient entrepreneurs were those who created change and op-
portunities with the resources available at the time, thus clearly following one important effectual principle.
3.2. Entrepreneurial crisis management of innovative startups during COVID-19 in Germany
Our qualitative research (see Appendix 1) also answers RQ2 asking how innovative startups cope. To face the COVID-19 crisis,
startups reported relying heavily on what are termed relational capabilities (Williams et al., 2017). Accordingly, their response to
adversity has rst and foremost been based on purposeful bricolage (Williams et al., 2017;Gilbert-Saad et al., 2018) through combining
available internal resources and calling upon external resources from their network (Baker and Nelson, 2005), which would include the
goodwill of partners, mutual support in the startup community, and access to social capital through brokers. Moreover, founders re-
ported trying to boost their rmsnancial capabilities (Williams et al., 2017) by gathering capital through internal measures and
applying for government support. However, with regard to government support, founders reported a perceived mismatch between the
support services offered by government policy and their organizationscharacteristics, in that, startups are being excluded from policy
measures because for example they are not bankable, or the support programs are beset by bureaucratic hurdles that outweigh the
A. Kuckertz et al. Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
Fig. 1. Data structure.
A. Kuckertz et al. Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
benets. Consequently, the startupsrst response to the crisis was not founded on obtaining immediate governmental support. Finally,
founders reported that they are very cognizant of their customersshifting needs due to the COVID-19 crisis. Given the above conditions,
startups applied their bricolage crisis response to solve new problems, in that they identied and pursued new entrepreneurial op-
portunities and established new directions for their rms.
4. Economic policy responses to the COVID-19 lockdown
4.1. Prior research on economic policy responses to crises
While crisis management on the micro level is largely the task of entrepreneurs themselves, policymakers are called upon to support
entrepreneurs in their endeavors to deal with crises such as COVID-19, meaning that policymakers conduct crisis management on the
macro level as they aim to strengthen the resilience of businesses, including startups, and to support their individual crisis management
actions. Interestingly, research has shown that regions that exhibit a high level of entrepreneurship pre-crisis are well positioned to deal
with exogenous shocks (Williams and Vorley, 2015;Bishop, 2019). An entrepreneurial region is characterized by the resilience of its
enterprises and entrepreneurial activity can contribute to restructuring and adaptation in the aftermath of the crisis. Fieldwork by Grube
and Storr (2018) conducted following hurricane Katrina and the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Joplin, Missouri, illustrates how
post-disaster entrepreneurs contribute to recovery through actions such as supplying necessary resources to disaster victims while
leveraging social capital to navigate extreme uncertainty. Such people are motivated by high place attachment, and address both
commercial and societal goals. It is very likely that in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis we will see regions coping differently with the
consequences of drastic lockdown measures, and some will benet from their entrepreneurial potential. Whether this becomes possible
depends on how innovative entrepreneurs can be. From a policymakersperspective, it would however be unwise to rely solely on
entrepreneurial initiative to x the economic damage triggered by lockdown measures; instead, it should be a key priority of policy-
makers in the short-term during the COVID-19 crisis to guarantee that innovative startups can call on sufcient resources. New legis-
lation, however, might not be the method of choice. Drawing on in-depth interviews with Greek entrepreneurs, Williams and Vorley
(2015) suggest that changes to institutions have constrained entrepreneurial activity rather than enhanced it, and that effect was more
pronounced in the midst of crisis. In any case, external assistance for affected regions prior to, during, and in the aftermath (e.g. McEntire
and Myers, 2004) of the COVID-19 lockdown will be essential.
4.2. International policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic
To answer RQ 3, we conducted a quantitative analysis of the international media discourse (see Appendix 4 for our methodological
approach). The international media reports in English we identied cover policy measures being called for or implemented to support
SMEs and startups in 40 countries. Among them are countries such as Namibia or Nepal, which at the point of data collection reported
fewer than 100 cases of COVID-19. We differentiate between those measures called for by stakeholders such as entrepreneurs, scholars,
or lobbyists (40.98% of all coded measures) and policy measures announced by government or central banks (59.02%). Interestingly,
the latter outweigh the former, which suggests most governments reacted promptly and in a resolute manner to the COVID-19 crisis. We
nd a plethora of immediate responses to the COVID-19 crisis specically to support SMEs addressing the current threats around
decreasing revenues, mounting costs, and illiquidity. Fig. 2 provides an overview of the number of countries announcing the various
measures to protect SMEs and startups. Overall, most measures represent short-term aid; the most popular policy measure announced or
implemented by governments worldwide is to enhance a rmsnancial capital by reducing loan interest rates or improving loan
Fig. 2. Number of countries where the identied policy measure was announced by the government.
A. Kuckertz et al. Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
The rapidity of the outbreak and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic meant that most countries (87.80%) looked for measures to
provide immediate relief and few have progressed beyond that stage. Nevertheless, the rst calls for long-term measures resolving more
fundamental system-imminent problems are emerging (in 17.07% of the countries). An example is the Chinese call to generally secure
the accessibility of nancial capital for innovative startups. Among the measures being called for, some US opinion leaders advocate not
losing sight of sustainable development goals and thus suggest economic government aid be tied to adherence to measures to ameliorate
climate change (Kaufman, 2020). If governments succeed in providing immediate relief to entrepreneurs under pressure, in a way that
remains in line with the long-term objectives of promoting health, equity, and environmental protection(Wyns, 2020), the COVID-19
crisis may even contribute to a better future. Across all countries, we observe that the policy measures discussed or announced are
usually available to businesses in general (82.93% of the countries). In 63.41% of the countries we nd measures designed to specically
meet the requirements of SMEs. However, countries announcing policy measures explicitly addressing startups are the exception
5. What entrepreneurs and governments can do
Human life is unquestionably more valuable than economic activity, and this research should not be read as a criticism of the
measures taken to control the spread of COVID-19. We have illustrated how the economic crisis caused by infection control measur-
esand in particular the lockdown of much economic activityaffects innovative startups and the measures that could be taken to
protect them. Unlike, for instance, the crisis caused by the dotcom boom and bust (Ofek and Richardson, 2003), the COVID-19 crisis
threatens potential for innovation that could have proven viable in normal times. With respect to the fall of internet stock prices at the
turn of the millennium, it could be argued that this was a shake-out during which unviable business models were eliminated. The
COVID-19 crisis seems different; and the situation is not only about state intervention and protection of innovative startups. Table 1
translates our ndings into actionable measures for both entrepreneurs and policymakers.
In particular the qualitative part of this rapid response research suggests that some businesspeople in the entrepreneurial ecosystem
already perceive entrepreneurial opportunity in a positive sense, that is, they see an opportunity to address current issues by employing
entrepreneurial measures. We identied seven factors related to adversity and coping strategies, which, however, only constitutes a rst
step to understanding startupsreactions to crises in general and to the COVID-19 crisis in particular. Future research will have to
Table 1
Actionable measures for startups and policymakers.
Challenges Startup options Policy options
Avoid immediate startup failure
Drop in sales and mounting operating costs drive
illiquidity. Entrepreneurs perceive existential
Use resources at hand to create solutions to
new problems (e.g., creatively combine
existing technology and human capital)
Activate network resources (e.g., exible
payment options, joint sales initiatives,
exible staff rotation)
Offer payment delays, wage subsidies,
direct payments
Communicate community feeling to
stimulate mutual assistance (We can do
Adapt due to disruptions in core startup
Interruption in value generation processes,
disruptions in the supply chain and increasing
hurdles to personnel recruitment and
Restructure internally with a focus of
channeling resources only on recently
viable and value generating activities
Downsize other activities (retain the
possibility to upsize again at a later point)
Offer employee development programs
(e.g., for digitalization)
Support temporal downsizing (e.g., through
wage subsidies)
Continue startup growth against all odds
Reservations about innovation experienced
through a hostile climate for innovative
products and services (except solutions to crisis-
response) along with additional hurdles in
startup funding.
Discover opportunities creating value in
solving consequences of the crisis (e.g.,
developing hygiene or digital work
Proactively engage in broader opportunities
that may arise in the aftermath of the crisis
(e.g., shifting trends and behavior after
crisis boost in digitization)
Secure future innovativeness through mid-,
or long-term policy measures linked to
larger policy objectives (e.g., sustainability
and/or digital transformation)
Lay foundations for post-crisis recovery
(e.g., incentivize investors to provide addi-
tional growth capital)
Nurture knowledge diversity and
entrepreneurial culture in the ecosystem
Boost positive business climate for
consumption and innovation
Respond to mismatch of initial policy measures
First policy support services experienced as not
being meant for startups (we are stuck in the
middle). Additional barriers in the application
for and implementation of policy support
services specically for startups.
Gather information and best-practice
through entrepreneurial networks (e.g., ex-
change information in online crisis groups,
learn about the application and imple-
mentation of support services from similar
Support lobbying initiatives of (trade)
associations to be included in policy
decisions and programs
Provide information and support services
addressing the specic challenges of
startups (e.g., hotlines)
Communicate intention for startup specic
support early
Decrease specic barriers for startups in the
application of startup specic support (e.g.,
consider future growth trajectories instead
of past revenues) and reduce red tape
A. Kuckertz et al. Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
identify just how those factors interact, and it will be particularly interesting to determine how adverse situations can be managed to
produce positive consequences. Our key dynamics model (Fig. 3) suggests entrepreneurs responding to the COVID-19 crisis are
employing a bricolage approach as part of their initial response to turn crisis induced adversity into resilience.
The quality of an organizations response to a crisis is typically associated with resilience and depends on the capacity to enhance
improvisation, coordination, exibility, and endurance …” (Boin et al., 2010, p. 11). These are qualities that are closer to routine
behavior among innovative startups than they are among larger more-established rms. Furthermore, smaller businesses are often more
creative than large rms, and this creativity might help to ensure that those businesses remain viable in the face of adversity (Williams
et al., 2017). Many entrepreneurs adopt the bricoleur role as they attempt to spur change and create opportunities with the resources
available (Martinelli et al., 2018). Bricoleurs demonstrate that crises can nurture the development of new opportunities (Brünjes and
Revilla-Diez, 2013), innovation, and alternative products/services (Brem et al., 2020;Irvine and Anderson, 2004). As crises can also
encourage the exploitation of new opportunities (Brünjes and Revilla-Diez, 2013), they can prompt innovation and the development of
alternative products and services (Brem et al., 2020;Irvine and Anderson, 2004). In the short-term, there will be opportunities arising
from the COVID-19 crisis, such as developing hygiene or digital work solutions. The long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic
are, however, not yet foreseeable, but it seems inevitable that broader opportunities will arise. The literature suggests that for entre-
preneurs, dealing with uncertainty and failure is a normal part of business (Ucbasaran et al., 2013;Mandl et al., 2016), even when the
uncertainty is caused by a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, entrepreneurs can be expected to demonstrate exibility and
adapt their business models in response to a crisis. This would suggest startups are better prepared for crises than any other economic
actor. Some commentators will no doubt suggest that startupsexibility and the relatively low numbers they employ mean that
excluding them from governmental aid programs will not have a critical impact on the economy, but letting startups go to the wall
potentially jeopardizes a states future innovativeness. Therefore, mid-, or long-term policy measures targeting future innovativeness,
while unlikely to be the rst responses to such a crisis, nonetheless seem essential. This nding is in line with prior research suggesting
Fig. 3. Key dynamics model.
A. Kuckertz et al. Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
entrepreneurial responsiveness to crises is determined by factors such as entrepreneurial culture and knowledge diversity (Bishop, 2019;
Bishop and Shilcof, 2017), which cannot be addressed by short-term measures, but are the result of consistent policies fostering
entrepreneurship. Just as the resilience of different states health systems (Wyns, 2020) is currently proving central to their ability to
respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, countries that have established resilient entrepreneurial ecosystems will be able to resume their
pre-crisis level of activity more quickly than those that have not. The interviews conducted in support of this research show that startups
will rely heavily on the support of their entrepreneurial ecosystem to manage the crisis. Policy measures are thus only likely to be
successful if they are complemented by the wider attributes of an entrepreneurial ecosystem (Spigel, 2017). Incentivizing investors to
provide growth capital despite the crisisas called for by venture capitalists in Great Britain (M2 PressWIRE, 2020)could be a suitable
way to combine both providing short-term liquidity to pay wages and bills while laying the foundations for future recovery.
The international press analysis, for instance, has illustrated the many opportunities to protect the innovation potential of startups.
While it remains unclear what specic measures will be most effective, it seems evident that programs specically targeting innovative
startups should be mandatory. Assuming measures targeting SMEs will benet innovative startups too would be an error policymakers
must avoid. Unlike many other crises, the COVID-19 crisis has not hit every country at the same time. At least in healthcare, many
European countries were able to learn from the experiences of China and Italy and to react proactively. While the time-lag of the
economic crisis hitting countries might disappear in the long run, policy makers can nevertheless observe how measures taken to protect
startups are unfolding and adopt or discard them as appropriate to improve the knowledge derived from crisis situations (Boin, 2009).
Future research should thus not only evaluate the effectiveness of the different policy measures on the entrepreneurial activity in various
countries but could also aim to understand the effect of short response times to economic crises. It will be important to follow up on the
effects of the measures taken during the COVID-19 crisis to prepare for future comparable events.
This research received no external funding.
Declaration of competing interest
CRediT authorship contribution statement
Andreas Kuckertz: Conceptualization, Investigation, Writing - original draft, Supervision. Leif Br
andle: Conceptualization, Formal
analysis, Investigation, Data curation, Writing - original draft, Project administration. Anja Gaudig: Validation, Investigation, Writing -
original draft. Sebastian Hinderer: Formal analysis, Investigation, Data curation, Writing - original draft, Visualization. Carlos Arturo
Morales Reyes: Formal analysis, Investigation, Data curation, Writing - original draft. Alicia Prochotta: Validation, Investigation,
Writing - original draft. Kathrin M. Steinbrink: Formal analysis, Investigation, Data curation, Writing - original draft. Elisabeth S.C.
Berger: Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Investigation, Data curation, Writing - original draft, Project administration.
We are indebted to JBVI action editor Pablo Mu~
noz for his guidance during this rapid response research. Moreover, we appreciate the
input from our interview partners who supported this research under very difcult conditions. We gratefully acknowledge research
support by Jenny Kowalsky, Julian Schulz, and Johanna Speckert.
Appendix 1. Method Qualitative Rapid Response Research
We relied on a qualitative research design for RQ1 and RQ2. In the past, qualitative research has proven particularly useful in the
rapid response research context (Finlay et al., 2013). Generally, qualitative research seems to dominate crisis research in the entre-
preneurial context (e.g. Buchanan and Denyer, 2013;Linnenluecke, 2017) and case studies have been successfully applied to capture
entrepreneursexperiences (Herbane, 2010;Runyan, 2006) or to investigate specic crisis events and the emergence of businesses
following crisis (Williams and Shepherd, 2016).
Data Collection
To select key informants, we adopt an ecosystem perspective (Kuckertz, 2019;Spigel, 2017). That is, rather than focusing on en-
trepreneurs alone we selected knowledgeable informants such as venture capital investors, business angels, policymakers, and entre-
preneurs to elicit data from. Accordingly, we triangulated the perspectives we collated from entrepreneurs from various angles. More
precisely, based on Brown and Mason (2017) we identied relevant entrepreneurial actors, resource providers and connectors who are
related to the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Stuttgart, Germany.
Stuttgart in the southern part of Germany is one of the most innovative areas in Europe (Kuckertz and Prochotta, 2017;Strambach,
A. Kuckertz et al. Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
2002) and thus lends itself to research on innovative startups. We invited 20 ecosystem actors to interview, of whom 16 accepted the
invitation (Appendix 2). Our sample includes ten founders of innovative startups with the oldest rm having six years in the market and
the largest employing 15 full time employees. The startups cover four different industries ranging from food to software.
We conducted and recorded semi-structured interviews with the key ecosystem informants via the video platform Zoom. In total, we
video-recorded 266:50 min with an average interview duration of 16:41 min. By asking entrepreneurs questions like 1) How is your
startup affected by the COVID-19 outbreak?and 2) How does your startup respond to these new challenges?we aimed at gaining a
deeper understanding of the adversity the rms of our informants nd themselves in and the responses they are making. We adjusted the
semi-structured interviews for different actors. For instance, investors were asked the following questions 1) How would you describe
the atmosphere in your startups?and 2) Did your startups experience any kind of support in this situation?. The professional service
provider AmberScript transcribed the collected voice recordings, resulting in 74 single-spaced pages of text.
Data Analysis
We processed the resulting interview text with MAXQDA software and applied the following steps in our analysis (see Shepherd
et al., 2020;Gioia et al., 2013). First, we employed open coding focused on entrepreneursperceived adversity and resilience to build
rst-order categories. Second, we used axial second cycle coding to generate second-order themes. Third, based on second-order themes,
the coding team built theoretical dimensions resulting in the key dynamics graph. Based on the grounded theory, codes emerge without
a predened coding scheme (Bryant and Charmaz, 2007). Following Glaser and Strauss (1967), a large number of categories were
identied, although the rst research question guided our focus in the coding process. The coding team especially looked out for signs of
adversity facing the rms of the interviewees and tried to elicit the responses actioned. In order to give respondents a voice and to their
perceptions as closely as possible, we used in vivo coding when possible (Bryant and Charmaz, 2007;Gioia et al., 2013;Salda~
na, 2015).
Following the process of Shepherd et al. (2020), one author of the coding team used three interviews with entrepreneurs to identify key
issues on the research question and built a rst version of codes by aggregating similarities. Two authors then used the code list to code
unprocessed interviews. In a subsequent iterative approach, constantly comparing data, codes, and categories (Bryant and Charmaz,
2007), the coding team discussed and agreed upon a list of rst-order codes (Locke, 2000). Based on the evolving understanding of our
codes and theory we also adjusted the semi-structured questionnaire (Strauss and Corbin, 1994). One of the authors created a rst
version of aggregated codes and rst-order categories leading to second-order themes. Two other authors assessed the categories and
themes and generated an adjusted list of second-order themes based on the consensus within the coding team (Appendix 3). The
second-order themes were then directed toward overarching dimensions relating to existing theory (Gioia et al., 2013;Strauss and
Corbin, 1994). We terminated data collection once we achieved theoretical saturation (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). The data structure
model (Fig. 1) illustrates the data development from interviews to codes, themes, and dimensions whereas the key dynamics model
(Fig. 3) provides indications for theoretical implications stemming from the data structure (in line with Shepherd et al., 2020;Nag et al.,
Appendix 2. Description of the qualitative sample
# Date of Founding Employees Sector Function Role
1 2019 3 Software Startup Actor
2 2016 3 Food Startup Actor
3 2019 0 Food Startup Actor
4 2015 15 Consulting Startup Actor
5 2018 5 Cosmetic Startup Actor
6 2018 15 Software Startup Actor
7 2015 11 Software Startup Actor
8 2019 2 Software Startup Actor
9 2014 11 Consulting Startup Actor
10 2016 10 Software Startup Actor
11 n/a Finance Corporate Resource provider
12 1998 Finance Investor Resource provider
13 2017 Finance Investor Resource provider
14 2017 Social Startup Community Connector
15 2016 General Accelerator Connector
16 2014 Public Association Connector
A. Kuckertz et al. Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
Appendix 3. Representative quotes
Theme Representative quotes
Reservations toward innovation and progress I would say in crises; our attention always shifts away from innovation to life-saving measures.
Unfortunately, innovation is always cut back very early on. (Interview 15_Accelerator)
As long as there is uncertainty about how long these restrictions will be in place, our customers will
not be willing to invest big. (Interview 10_Start-up)
Its like looking into a crystal ball. What is true today is not true tomorrow. (Interview 4_Startup)
Disruption of the in-company/in-house infrastructure And, the third major challenge is the issue of employees, i.e. to reassure them and of course to lead
them during the crisis. This is of course a challenge for a young manager or founder that we have
never had before. (Interview 7_Startup)
Disruption of the off-company infrastructure Generally speaking, meetings with potential customers are simply put back, we are noticing a huge
drop in trade shows, which is the most important source of customer acquisition for us at this stage.
(Interview 8_Startup)
[] we have two main producers: one from Taiwan and one from Korea. Whereas the Korean has
just received subcontracted parts from China. And then it started with the fact that the supply chain
had, so to speak, stopped working at one customer [ ] (Interview 10_Start-up)
Growth-impeding factors I think that a certain sensitization has already taken place, that people, the investors, are taking a
closer look and are asking for more information. Its also to point out that investors are also trying
harder to protect their investments. (Interview 11_Corporate)
We had originally planned to start our Series-A in the middle of the year (investment round). Weve
put that on hold now because the nancing terms are gonna be crazy. In other words, maybe you just
wont get anything. (Interview 10_Start-up)
What happens if, for example, nancing rounds are no longer held because investors no longer want
to invest? (Interview 12_Investor)
Illiquidity/Ruin Thats why we have lost sales down to zero, so we really dont have any sales at all right now.
(Interview 3_Startup)
The issue of liquidity is the focus of our attention right now and is having a major impact - the crisis
has reached us one hundred percent. (Interview 7_Startup)
Threat to existence And indeed, since last Monday we have existential fears, which we have just overcome through
various measures, no, we have threats to our existence, which we have to compensate by various
measures (Interview 6_Startup)
Capital accumulation through internal measures Yes, so cash-in measures are simply to ensure that invoices are generated as quickly as possible for
existing customers. (Interview 6_Startup)
Goodwill of business partners/Business Partner Goodwill Thank God the companies are also very exible, so they can cancel everything [we ordered].
(Interview 3_Startup)
Capital accumulation through government support With the tax ofce, its also about the deferral of taxes. Its also being implemented there.
Accordingly, I think we can be satised, so to speak, with what is happening. (Interview 6_Startup)
Adaptation of the business model Maybe even adjust to the crisis. Well, I have already seen an extremely large number of startups that
have turned around immediately and partially redirected their technologies to Covid19 topics or
coronavirus topics wherever possible (Interview 15_Accelerator)
We are currently in the process of optimizing our own innovation process, so that we can use all the
creative potential that lies dormant in the company to move forward and emerge from the crisis even
stronger, at least on an idea level. (Interview 9_Start-up)
Consultation of the business network The crisis has led to startups exchanging ideas across disciplines and locations. In the end, I see a
positive effect in this. (Interview 6_Startup)
Broker support Fortunately, existing investors are being very cooperative they have now also created a slack
group, where they only exchange information about where the portfolio startups should exchange
information. (Interview 6_Startup)
Internal restructuring [] we have now moved to week-based capacity planning because, of course, as a result of short-
time working, we now have to look closely at how much time each employee now spends on which
topics, which we did not do at all before. (Interview 9_Start-up)
Political Support The rst thing to do now is to support the companies, and then at some point you can evaluate that
again, but at the moment its a question of who can save themselves. And I think the attitude is good,
it is communicated a little bit like that on a political level, and I think it is implemented like that
(Interview 6_Startup)
Implementation problems of political support/Barriers to
the use of political support services
Companies that are overindebted are already assessed in advance as companies in difculty and
therefore do not receive emergency aid. And which is the case with 90 percent of startups (Interview
But I also talked to KfW [German promotional bank] again this morning and the head of the KfW gave
an interview this morning in the Handelsblatt [German business newspaper], and you could read
there that the loans that they issue, that they are actually only meant for companies that would
actually be bankable without the coronavirus, i.e., those that would basically get a loan otherwise.
And we know that normally a startup company doesnt get a loan, no matter how great the business
model is, no matter how good the prospects are, but if they are not cash ow positive and the balance
sheet ratios and all those things arent right, then they just dont get a loan. (Interview 12_Investor)
[] this emergency aid program BW [federal government aid program], sounded great at rst, we
also prepared an application, until I read the guidelines on page ve or so and saw that we do not
formally meet these criteria at the moment [...] (Interview 9_Start-up)
(continued on next page)
A. Kuckertz et al. Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
(continued )
Theme Representative quotes
A priori resilience Fortunately, we had an extremely good 2019 and were able to build up many reserves. Of course, if
this goes on for more than a year, then it will be existential for many companies, but the existence of
the company is not threatened in the rst one or two months, if no sales should come in. (Interview
Financially, we have the very fortunate situation that we just got money and not yet a high burn rate,
you can calculate that yourself, ten FTEs, 1.3 million. Our survival is assured, I think. We can survive
a longer situation. (Interview 10_Start-up)
Appendix 4. Method Quantitative Rapid Response Research
Data Collection
In order to understand what immediate policy measures have been called for, announced, and implemented with the objective of
protecting innovative startups during the COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent discussion (RQ3), we retrieved 536 media reports from
the database Nexis. The search terms applied covered policy measures (search string: Policy measure*" OR policy respon*" OR
government* supportOR bail outOR government* aid) linked to the COVID-19 crisis (search string: Covid 19 OR Corona* OR
SARS CoV 2) focusing on startups and small and medium sized enterprises (search string: Startup* OR new ventureOR self employ*" OR
entrep* OR small and medium size enterprisesOR SMEsOR small rmsbased on K
ohn, 2018 and Karami et al., 2020) published
between December 31 2019 and March, 24 2020. The next step was to apply several inclusion and exclusion criteria to identify the
relevant articles, leading to 152 articles to be analyzed.
A codebook created the basis to analyze the media excerpts (MacQueen et al., 1998;Hruschka et al., 2004) concerning the policy
measures to support SMEs or startups. In the absence of appropriate concepts due to the uniqueness of the COVID-19 crisis, we
developed a codebook applying inductive content analysis in contrast to a deductive approach that requires established concepts (Elo
and Kyng
as, 2008). The inclusion and exclusion criteria and the coding according to the codebook were tested, interrater reliability was
measured after each round, discussed, and rened among three researchers with a sub-sample until the nal versions of the criteria and
the codebook were completed. The nal interrater reliability was calculated by using the average pairwise percent agreement (APPA)
(Larsson, 1993) resulting in an APPA of 83.33%, which indicates substantial agreement between the three coders. Following Colquitt
and Zapata-Phelan (2007), having established a substantial interrater reliability for each concept, three researchers coded one third of
the total volume of articles each.
The unit of analysis was all policy measures explicitly and specically mentioned in the investigated articles. In the 152 media
articles, we identied 427 non-unique policy measures in 40 countries, since different media reports might have reported on the same
measure. For each policy measure we identied its type (18 different categories and others for free text), the country concerned, the
actor calling for or announcing the measure, the status (called for or announced by the government or central bank), the types of
companies that are eligible to benet from the measure (all companies, startups, SMEs, self-employed), whether access requirements
were explicitly and specically mentioned, the time horizon for the implementation of the measure (short-/mid- or long-term) and the
targeted territory of the mentioned policy measure (regional/national/international/EU-wide). To avoid a bias toward English-speaking
countries when calculating the frequencies of the policy measures announced by governments or central banks, we considered every
unique policy measure only once per country. All variables are presented in detail in the attached codebook which is available upon
Alesch, D., Holly, J., Mittler, E., Nagy, R., 2001. Organizations at Risk: what Happens when Small Business and Not-For Prots Encounter Natural Disasters? Technical
Report. Public Entity Risk Institute, Fairfax, VA, October.
Alexander, P., 2010. Rebellion of the poor: South Africas service delivery protests a preliminary analysis. Rev. Afr. Polit. Econ. 37, 2540.
Baker, T., Nelson, R.E., 2005. Creating something from nothing: resource construction through entrepreneurial bricolage. Adm. Sci. Q. 50, 329399.
Bishop, P., 2019. Knowledge diversity and entrepreneurship following an economic crisis: an empirical study of regional resilience in Great Britain. Enterpren. Reg.
Dev. 31, 496515.
Bishop, P., Shilcof, D., 2017. The Spatial Dynamics of New Firm Births during an Economic Crisis: the Case of Great Britain, 20042012, vol. 29. Entrepreneurship &
Regional Development, pp. 215237.
Boin, A., 2009. The new world of crises and crisis management: implications for policymaking and research. Rev. Pol. Res. 26, 367377.
Boin, A., Comfort, L.K., Demchak, C.C., 2010. The rise of resilience. In: Comfort, L.K., Boin, A., Demchak, C.C. (Eds.), Designing resilience: Preparing for extreme events.
University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 112.
Brem, A., Nylund, P., Viardot, E., 2020. The impact of the 2008 nancial crisis on innovation: a dominant design perspective. J. Bus. Res. 110, 360369.
A. Kuckertz et al. Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
Brown, R., Mason, C., 2017. Looking inside the spiky bits: a critical review and conceptualisation of entrepreneurial ecosystems. Small Bus. Econ. 49, 1130.
Brünjes, J., Revilla-Diez, J., 2013. Recession pushand prosperity pullentrepreneurship in a rural developing context. Enterpren. Reg. Dev. 25, 251271.
Bryant, A., Charmaz, K. (Eds.), 2007. The Sage Handbook of Grounded Theory. Sage.
Buchanan, D.A., Denyer, D., 2013. Researching tomorrows crisis: methodological innovations and wider implications. Int. J. Manag. Rev. 15, 205224.
Bullough, A., Renko, M., Myatt, T., 2014. Danger zone entrepreneurs: the importance of resilience and self-efcacy for entrepreneurial intentions. Enterpren. Theor.
Pract. 38, 473499.
Bush, C.G., Ceru, D.J., Blackburn, R., 2009. Pathways to entrepreneurial growth: the inuence of management, marketing, and money. Bus. Horiz. 52, 481491.
Colquitt, J.A., Zapata-Phelan, C.P., 2007. Trends in theory building and theory testing: a ve-decade study of the academy of management journal. Acad. Manag. J. 50,
Comfort, L.K., 2002. Rethinking security: organizational fragility in extreme events. Publ. Adm. Rev. 62, 98107.
Cowling, M., Liu, W., Ledger, A., 2012. Small business nancing in the UK before and during the current nancial crisis. Int. Small Bus. J. 30, 778800.
Dahlhamer, J.M., Tierney, K.J., 1998. Rebounding from disruptive events: business recovery following the Northridge earthqua ke. Socio. Spectr. 18, 121141.
Deb, P., Parthiban, D., OBrien, J.P., Duru, A., 2019. Attainment discrepancy and investment: effects on rm performance. J. Bus. Res. 99, 186196.
Doern, R., 2016. Entrepreneurship and crisis management: the experiences of small businesses during the london 2011 riots. Int. Small Bus. J. 34, 276302.
Doern, R., Williams, N., Vorley, T., 2019. Special issue on entrepreneurship and crises: business as usual? An introduction and review of the literature. Enterpren. Reg.
Dev. 31, 400412.
Elo, S., Kyng
as, H., 2008. The qualitative content analysis process. J. Adv. Nurs. 62, 107115.
Finlay, I., Sheridan, M., Coburn, A., Soltysek, R., 2013. Rapid response research: using creative arts methods to research the lives of disengaged young people. Res. Post-
Compulsory Educ. 18, 127142.
GDA (Global Data Analysis), 2020. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Executive Brieng. Global Data.
German Startups Association, 2020a. Ein ganzheitlicher Schutzschirm für Startups: Liquidit
asse verhindern, Zukunftsperspektiven erhalten (A holistic
protection shield for start-ups: Prevent liquidity bottlenecks, preserve future opportunities). Accessed March 31th 2020 from.
German Startups Association, 2020b. Auswirkung der Corona-Krise auf das Startup-
Okosystem (Impact of the corona crisis on the startup ecosystem). Report
Bundesverband Deutsche Startups e.V.
Gilbert-Saad, A., Siedlok, F., McNaughton, R.B., 2018. Decision and design heuristics in the context of entrepreneurial uncertainties. J. Bus. Ventur. Insights 9, 7580.
Gioia, D.A., Corley, K.G., Hamilton, A.L., 2013. Seeking qualitative rigor in inductive research: notes on the Gioia methodology. Organ. Res. Methods 16, 1531.
Glass, R.J., Glass, L.M., Beyeler, W.E., Min, H.J., 2006. Targeted social distancing design for pandemic inuenza. Emerg. Infect. Dis. 12, 16711681.
Glaser, B., Strauss, A., 1967. The Discovery of Grounded Theory. Weideneld &Nicolson, London.
Grube, L.E., Storr, V.H., 2018. Embedded entrepreneurs and post-disaster community recovery. Enterpren. Reg. Dev. 30, 800821.
Hamel, G., Valikangas, L., 2003. The quest for resilience. Harv. Bus. Rev. 81, 5263.
Herbane, B., 2010. Small business research: time for a crisis-based view. Int. Small Bus. J. 28, 4364.
Hruschka, D.J., Schwartz, D., John, D.C.S., Picone-Decaro, E., Jenkins, R.A., Carey, J.W., 2004. Reliability in coding open-ended data: lessons learned from HIV
behavioral research. Field Methods 16, 307331.
Irvine, W., Anderson, A., 2004. Small tourist rms in rural areas: agility, vulnerability and survival in the face of crisis. Int. J. Entrepreneurial Behav. Res. 10, 229246.
JHCRC (Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center), 2020. Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering. (CSSE) at Johns
Hopkins University (accessed March 31, 2020).
Johnson, R.B., Onwuegbuzie, A.J., 2004. Mixed methods research: a research paradigm whose time has come. Educ. Res. 33, 1426.
Karami, M., Wooliscroft, B., McNeill, L., 2020. Effectuation and internationalisation: a review and agenda for future research. Small Bus. Econ.
Kaufman, A.C., 2020. If We Bail Out Airlines, it Better Come with Climate Rules. Newstex Blogs - the Hufngton Post. Retrieved from.
Khan, S., Moore, J.E., Gomes, T., Camacho, X., Tran, J., McAuley, G., Juurlink, D.N., Paterson, M., Laupacis, A., Mamdani, M.M., 2014. The ontario drug policy research
network: bridging the gap between research and drug policy. Health Pol. 117, 392398.
ohn, A., 2018. The determinants of startup valuation in the venture capital context: a systematic review and avenues for future research. Manag. Rev. Q. 68, 336.
Korber, S., McNaughton, R.B., 2018. Resilience and entrepreneurship: a systematic literature review. Int. J. Entrepreneurial Behav. Res. 24, 11291154.
Kuckertz, A., 2019. Lets take the entrepreneurial ecosystem metaphor seriously! J. Bus. Ventur. Insights 11, e00124.
Kuckertz, A., Prochotta, A., 2017. Kreative Gründungsf
orderungwo Startups die Politik in der Picht sehen (Creative start-up supportwhat start-ups expect from
politics). Hohenh. Entrepren. Res. Brief 3.
Larsson, R., 1993. Case survey methodology: quantitative analysis of patterns across case studies. Acad. Manag. J. 36, 15151546.
Linnenluecke, M.K., 2017. Resilience in business and management research: a review of inuential publications and A research agenda. Int. J. Manag. Rev. 19, 430.
Locke, K.D., 2000. Grounded Theory in Management Research. Sage.
M2 PressWIRE, 2020. Raise Tax Reliefs to Give Start-Up Businesses a £2bn Lifeline - Government Told. Accessed April 2, 2020 from:
MacQueen, K.M., McLellan, E., Kay, K., Milstein, B., 1998. Codebook development for team-based qualitative analysis. Cult. Anthropol. Methods 10, 136.
Mandl, C., Berger, E.S.C., Kuckertz, A., 2016. Do you plead guilty? Exploring entrepreneurssensemaking-behavior link after business failure. J. Bus. Ventur. Insights 5,
Mallak, L., 1998. Putting organizational resilience to work. Ind. Manag. 40, 813.
Martinelli, E., Tagliazucchi, G., Marchi, G., 2018. The resilient retail entrepreneur: dynamic capabilities for facing natural disasters. Int. J. Entrepreneurial Behav. Res.
24, 12221243.
McEntire, D.A., Myers, A., 2004. Preparing communities for disasters: issues and processes for government readiness. Disaster Prev. Manag. 13, 140152.
noz, P., Kimmitt, J., Kibler, E., Farny, S., 2019. Living on the slopes: entrepreneurial preparedness in a context under continuous threat. Enterpren. Reg. Dev. 31,
Nag, R., Corley, K.G., Gioia, D.A., 2007. The intersection of organizational identity, knowledge, and practice: Attempting strategic change via knowledge graft ing. Acad.
Manag. J. 50, 821847.
Ofek, E., Richardson, M., 2003. DotCom mania: the rise and fall of internet stock prices. J. Finance 58, 11131137.
Parker, S.C., Congregado, E., Golpe, A.A., 2012. Testing for hysteresis in entrepreneurship in 23 OECD countries. Appl. Econ. Lett. 19, 6166.
Powell, F., Harding, A., Thomas, J., Mora, K., 2011. Rapid response research in Christchurch: providing evidence for recovery decisions and for future theoretical
research. Australas. J. Disaster Trauma Stud. 2, 2634.
PWC (PricewaterhouseCoopers GmbH), 2020. Finanzielle Unterstützung in der Covid-19 Krisenlage - Factsheet für Startups und KMUs (Financial support in the Covid-
19 crisis situation - Factsheet for start-ups and SMEs). Accessed March 31th 2020 from.
Quarantelli, E.L., 1988. Disaster crisis management: a summary of research ndings. J. Manag. Stud. 25, 373385.
Runyan, R.C., 2006. Small business in the face of crisis: identifying barriers to recovery from a natural disaster. J. Contingencies Crisis Manag. 14,1226.
na, J., 2015. The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. Sage.
Sarasvathy, S.D., 2001. Causation and effectuation: toward a theoretical shift from economic inevitability to entrepreneurial contingency. Acad. Manag. Rev. 26,
Shepherd, D.A., Saade, F.P., Wincent, J., 2020. How to circumvent adversity? Refugee-entrepreneursresilience in the face of substantial and persistent adversity.
J. Bus. Ventur.
A. Kuckertz et al. Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
Smallbone, D., Deakins, D., Battisti, M., Kitching, J., 2012. Small business responses to a major economic downturn: empirical perspectives from New Zealand and the
United Kingdom. Int. Small Bus. J. 30, 754777.
Spigel, B., 2017. The relational organization of entrepreneurial ecosystems. Enterpren. Theor. Pract. 41, 4972.
Spillan, J., Hough, M., 2003. Crisis planning in small businesses: importance, impetus and indifference. Eur. Manag. J. 21, 398407.
Strambach, S., 2002. Change in the innovation process: new knowledge production and competitive citiesthe case of Stuttgart. Eur. Plann. Stud. 10, 215231.
Stinchcombe, A.L., 1968. Social structure and organizations. Adv. Strat. Manag. 17, 229259.
Strauss, A., Corbin, J., 1994. Grounded theory methodology. Handb. Qual. Res. 17, 273285.
Ucbasaran, D., Shepherd, D.A., Lockett, A., Lyon, S.J., 2013. Life after business failure: the process and consequences of business failure for entrepreneurs. J. Manag. 39,
Walsh, G.S., Cunningham, J.A., 2016. Business failure and entrepreneurship: emergence, evolution and future research. Found. Trends in Entrepren. 12, 163285.
Williams, N., Vorley, T., 2015. The impact of institutional change on entrepreneurship in a crisis-hit economy: the case of Greece. Enterpren. Reg. Dev. 27, 2849.
Williams, T.A., Gruber, D.A., Sutcliffe, K.M., Shepherd, D.A., Zhao, E.Y., 2017. Organizational response to adversity: fusing crisis management and resilience research
streams. Acad. Manag. Ann. 11, 733769.
Williams, T.A., Shepherd, D.A., 2016. Building resilience or providing sustenance: different paths of emergent ventures in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. Acad.
Manag. J. 59, 20692102.
Winston, A., 2020. Is the COVID-19 Outbreak a Black Swan or the New Normal? MIT Sloan Management Review. March.
Wyns, A., 2020. How Our Responses to Climate Change and the Coronavirus Are Linked. Accessed April 2nd 2020 from. 20/04/
Zhu, N., Zhang, D., Wang, W., Li, X., Yang, B., Song, J., Zhao, X., Huang, B., Shi, W., Lu, R., Niu, P., Zhan, F., Ma, X., Wang, D., Xu, W., Wu, G., Gao, G., Tan, W., 2020.
A novel coronavirus from patients with pneumonia in China, 2019. N. Engl. J. Med. 382, 8.
A. Kuckertz et al. Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13 (2020) e00169
... Therefore, COVID-19 affects not only individual businesses but also all those operating in the modern market. One of the groups most vulnerable to the effects of the crisis COVID-19 is startups [Kuckertz et al., 2020]. As their operation involves testing and introducing new solutions to the market, startups are high-risk companies. ...
... The above components are particularly important in organizations that are most exposed to environmental turbulence. Undoubtedly, startups are such organizations because, due to their relatively short presence in the market and the new solutions they offer, they are sensitive to external threats [ Kuckertz et al., 2020]. In this respect, it should be remembered that there are many definitions of startups in the literature. ...
Full-text available
The paper is theoretical and empirical. Its basic purpose is to examine the resilience of organizational startups during the post-COVID-19 pandemic. The basic research method used in the study was CAWI. The group of surveyed companies consisted of startups operating in Zachodniopomorskie, Wielkopolskie, and Lubuskie voivodeships. The survey covered 62 enterprises in 2022. The research revealed that owing to their organizational resilience the startups were able to adapt to the changes in the market. Thus, on the one hand, they were able to quickly tailor their offer to the current needs of customers, and on the other hand, they could modify the processes taking place inside the company. As a result of these measures, the startups increased their revenues, which may directly determine the future competitiveness of the surveyed companies.
... Más allá de la tragedia humanitaria de la pandemia de COVID-19, el virus también está teniendo un impacto creciente en las economías locales y la economía global (Kuckertz et al., 2020). ...
... The economic crisis triggered by the spread of the Covid-19 is radically different from past economic and financial crises: this time the shock did not originate in the financial sector and was not the result of financial intermediaries or companies behaving irresponsibly due to ex-ante moral hazard (Kaminsky & Reinhart, 1999, Reinhart & Rogoff, 2009). The uniqueness of the current crisis has led to label it a metaphorical 'Black Swan event' for entrepreneurship (Kuckertz et al., 2020), as it encompasses virtually every sector and every country spanning the entire global economy simultaneously (Goodell, 2020). ...
Full-text available
We present a new indicator of economic-financial solidity (EFSI) of Italian firms, considering profitability, solidity and firm liquidity, all evaluated in terms of their sustainability over time. On the basis of EFSI values, we classify firms in four classes, according to their degree of exposure to income and financial risks: Healty, Fragiles, At-risk, Highly at-risk. This indicator shows that in 2011-2020 a tightening process of economic and financial structure took place in the Italian business system, a trend that surprisingly continued also during the pandemic year. To investigate this, we consider the entry of firms into the Highly at-risk class (“downgrades”) in 2019-20. Through a matching technique, we run two counterfactual exercises, estimating at a sector-firm size level what the downgrade rates would have been during the crisis of 2019-20 had the business system had the same economic-financial structure prevailing in 2011 (i.e. at the eve of 201112 crisis) or in 2019 (i.e. the last year of economic growth). By this way, we can evaluate whether, and to what extent, the financial support to firms during 2020 contributed to the resilience of the Italian business system. Our results show that, with respect to pre-Covid year, firm aids limited the negative consequences of the pandemic especially on the smaller firms (those more severely hit by the crisis); with respect the 2011-12 crisis, in several sectors support measures more than fully compensate for the negative effects of the pandemic notwithstanding its stronger economic impact on GDP than the previous crisis episode. JEL Classification: G01; H12; H81; H84; L60; L80
... With the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in late 2019 (Zhu et al. 2019; Kuckertz et al. 2020; Kraus et al. 2020; Al-Awadhi et al. 2020) and subsequent development of the COVID-19 pandemic (JHCRC, 2020), societies, economies and global inter-organizational networks experienced an unprecedented exogenous shock (GDA, 2020). In addition to the humanitarian tragedy, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had an increasing impact on local economies and the global economy. ...
Full-text available
Innovation networks such as the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) are an important element supporting the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from various economic sec-tors. Their operations focus mainly on organizing brokerage events, business mission conferences, etc. These events are to facilitate networking, learning about new industry trends, or exchanging experiences. The global COVID-19 pandemic has significantly curbed the effectiveness of innovation networks, forcing them to look for new forms of contact. Entrepreneurs from the energy industry who have so far actively participated in events organized by the EEN have also been affected. The article analyzes the impact of EEN pandemic on the activities of the EEN and its effectiveness, focusing mainly on the quantitative aspect of the impact of the crisis. In particular, it shows how the number of events organized, their structure and the effectiveness of EEN’s activities have changed, which is reflected in the number of cooperation contracts between entrepreneurs participating in the events. The paper compares the impact of the pandemic on the organization of all types of promotional events for companies in the energy industry. Furthermore, based on a case study, the article discusses the problems faced by innovation networks during the pandemic and those faced by companies in the energy industry. The results of the study clearly show a decrease in the number of events organized by innovation networks in times of crisis, but the decrease in energy-related events is not as significant as in events related to other industries. At the same time, the effectiveness of organized events increased.
... Particularly heavy impacts have been registered by small and medium firms, given the extremely high levels of resilience required to overcome such crises, which are often unsustainable for these players. On the other hand, smaller enterprises can count on higher flexibility, which may help them in surviving during crises (Eggers, 2020;Kuckertz et al., 2020). The Covid-19 pandemic also had different implications regarding the hospitality industry based on different business models, with the traditional accommodation industry (i.e. ...
Full-text available
Crowdfunding campaigns have recently promoted a range of new business models in different contexts. This study investigates crowdfunding in the accommodation realm from a socio-cultural perspective and across its international dynamics. Drawing on complexity theory, the study explores the successful case of CleanBnb, the leading crowdfunded company in the Italian short-term rental market, and informs hospitality actors on the coping strategies implemented to challenge the Covid-19 pandemic. The study adopts a case study approach, combining primary data collected through an in-depth interview of the CEO and the analysis of secondary data from different company reports. The results highlight the importance of (1) business diversification, (2) grouping opportunities and (3) widening of service range as key factors in pandemic business survival for start-ups operating in the accommodation realm. The study finally discusses post-pandemic scenarios for both the traditional hotel industry and sharing economy operators by offering managerial insights.
... It was followed by stakeholder theory, grounded theory, theory of bottom of pyramid (BOP), and they were common in accordingly 8.1%, 6.5%, and 4.9% of the chosen articles. In the post-COVID world, enterprises need agility and speed to support their human capital and knowledge base while reducing costs (Kuckertz et al., 2020). Speed of learn-ing can help identify new market niches, define products to develop, and find new ways to communicate with customers (Zahra, 2021). ...
Full-text available
A tanulmány célja annak a szakirodalomnak az áttekintése, amely a digitalizáció, a közös értékteremtés és a társadalmi vállalkozások metszetében helyezkedik el, rávilágítva a területek kapcsolódására. A szerzők szisztematikus irodalomáttekintést végeztek, melynek során 61 cikket tekintettek át összegezve, szintetizálva azok főbb eredményeit. Az áttekintés során azonosították a kutatási hézagokat, illetve a három szakirodalmi irányzat (digitalizáció, a közös értékteremtés és a társadalmi vállalkozások) közötti összefüggések további kutatást igénylő területeit, különös tekintettel a COVID-19 fókusz hiányára. Végezetül, elméleti következtetéseket fogalmaztak meg, illetve a digitalizáció, a közös értékteremtés és a társadalmi vállalkozások kutatásaival kapcsolatosan javaslatokat tesznek a jövőbeli kutatási irányokra.
... In March 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 virus as a pandemic, causing, in addition to the effects directly related to human health, impacts on different economies and financial markets due to the abrupt interruption in the daily activities of the nations, as well as the perception of uncertainty related to this scenario (Kuckertz et al. 2020;Zhang et al. 2020;Shaikh 2021;Chen and Yeh 2021;Umar et al. 2021a;Yousaf 2021). As the months have passed, the uncertainty in the markets caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has aligned with the different cycles / waves of the coronavirus, marked by the increase in infections and human deaths (Zhang et al. 2020;Chen and Yeh 2021;Shaikh 2021;Yousaf 2021). ...
Full-text available
The main purpose of this paper is to analyze the risk-adjusted performance of Brazilian commodity metal-related funds considering the Covid-19 pandemic. The database is comprised of Brazilian investment funds during the period from January, 2005 to June, 2021. Using daily returns, each quarter, we employed the Return Based Style Analysis to identify metal-related funds. The study hypothesis was tested through panel data regressions. On one hand, the main results suggest that, during Covid-19 pandemic, metal-related funds performed better in comparison to the other investment funds. This result was also persistent considering different measures for fund performance. On the other hand, the performance of metal-related funds was equivalent to the performance of the other funds during the Global Financial Crisis. The quantitative analysis also considers the effects of number of confirmed cases for Covid-19 and total vaccination on fund’s daily returns.
In this chapter, insights from prospect theory and institutional theory are used to explore how societal-level well-being and inter-personal trust interplay with political stability of the country to facilitate re-entry of entrepreneurs who have exited because of an economic crisis. The conceptual model presented suggests that informal institutional conditions of societal well-being, inter-personal trust, and their interplay with political stability of the country are key to subsequent entrepreneurial intensions by entrepreneurs who have exited unfavourably during an economic crisis. The suggestions of the model are used to discuss implications related to the present COVID-19 pandemic and survival of entrepreneurship after the pandemic.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The article deals with the scheme of financial assistance to small businesses in Slovakia, whose business activities were affected and negatively affected by the restrictive measures taken by the government to protect the population during the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis focuses on self-employed persons in Slovakia (hereinafter referred to as "self-employed persons") and the national programme of support for entrepreneurs called First Aid, which was implemented and coordinated within the framework of the Human Resources Operational Programme by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic. The aim of the article is to critically evaluate the state support for self-employed persons during the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of the conditions for its use and the procedural aspects of its provision in the Slovak Republic and to discuss the system of state support for self-employed persons in the event of further crises. The results of the analysis showed that the support to entrepreneurs during the pandemic had a positive impact on the development of entrepreneurship in the form of self-employment. Despite the positive results, the support to the self-employed during the pandemic in Slovakia had a number of systemic shortcomings that prevented the assistance from reaching all the entrepreneurs who needed it.
Full-text available
In December 2019, a cluster of patients with pneumonia of unknown cause was linked to a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, China. A previously unknown betacoronavirus was discovered through the use of unbiased sequencing in samples from patients with pneumonia. Human airway epithelial cells were used to isolate a novel coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV, which formed another clade within the subgenus sarbecovirus, Orthocoronavirinae subfamily. Different from both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, 2019-nCoV is the seventh member of the family of coronaviruses that infect humans. Enhanced surveillance and further investigation are ongoing. (Funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China and the National Major Project for Control and Prevention of Infectious Disease in China.).
Full-text available
Effectuation theory has been increasingly applied in research examining the internationalisation of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This study systematically reviews the SME internationalisation literature to clarify the ways effectuation theory helps international entrepreneurship (IE) scholarship respond to key questions of how international opportunities are developed. The review identified central topics of limited resources, networking, and an unplanned approach, which connect effectuation with extant internationalisation research. In so doing, the study offers two contributions. The first is an articulation of effectual mechanisms at work in IE opportunity development. The second offers insights back to effectuation theory regarding the context of IE and potential areas for improving the application of effectuation to IE research. We close with implications and an agenda for future research.
Full-text available
The notion of entrepreneurial ecosystems (EEs) has garnered considerable attention in the academic discourse. However, quite often this notion is treated as just a biological metaphor that should not be taken too seriously. I challenge this view and ask in a thought experiment what could be learned from the management of natural ecosystems to assist the development of EEs. The outcome is a novel, service-based definition of EEs and five suggested principles for the management of EEs that might advance theorizing on them and future empirical analysis.
Full-text available
Although the behavioral theory of the firm posits that performance shortfalls trigger problemistic search, the actual performance consequences of problemistic search remain an open question. We argue that certain cognitive, affective, and behavioral mechanisms triggered by performance shortfalls make managers more aware, attentive, motivated, and disciplined, resulting in adaptation, learning, and enhanced firm value. Furthermore, differences in the extent to which managers feel pressured to adapt, and have the ability to adapt, can shape managerial awareness, motivation, and capability, and hence firm value. Our empirical analysis, using data for a sample of US manufacturing firms (1994–2013), confirms that problemistic search enhances firm value, and this association is strengthened when firms face greater pressure to adapt or have a greater ability to adapt.
Full-text available
This article reviews the literature on entrepreneurship and crises, capturing where we have been and where we are now, and begins to discuss where we might go next. It centres around how we have come to understand the relationship between entrepreneurship and crises through the application of certain crisis definitions, concepts, typologies, the crisis event sequence, methodologies and empirical settings. It also examines how crises affect entrepreneurship and how entrepreneurship affects crises. The article then introduces in some detail the five manuscripts selected for the special issue and the contributions they make towards developing our understanding of the relationship between entrepreneurship and crises. It notes the advances, gaps and opportunities that emerge from the literature review and special issue papers, and concludes with a way forward for developing further our understanding in this area.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on innovation, as measured by the emergence of dominant designs. A negative impact is substantiated theoretically and empirically, based on longitudinal patent data from the OECD. This study also finds evidence for the moderating impact of globalization on the relationship between innovative performance and the emergence of dominant design. Thus, globalization is more important with regard to the establishment of dominant designs than it was before the financial crisis of 2008. Further, it is found that following the crisis, science-based industries tend to have more dominant designs than other industries.
Executive summary People face adverse events in a variety of forms. Some individuals are resilient to adverse events in that they are able to maintain positive functioning while others experience considerable disruption. In explaining heterogeneity in resilience, research has emphasized people's resource endowments and pre-adversity organizing prior to the adverse events as well as people's cognitive and behavioral responses to such events. Therefore, for most resilience studies, adversity is an event. Although it is critically important to understand resilience to these short- to medium-term adverse events, there is a need to understand resilience over an extended period. In this regard, we focus on Palestine refugees who were born in refugee camps and as adults have known nothing other than being a refugee. When it comes to substantial and persistent adversity, entrepreneurial action likely plays a central role in resilience to such adversity. To explore these relationships, we conducted an extensive data-collection effort over 15 months on refugee entrepreneurs (in refugee camps and not in camps), including 110 interviews. We find the importance of direct, indirect, and recursive relationships among actions (i.e., entrepreneurial action and integration activities), multiple identities, and resilience outcomes under conditions of substantial and persistent adversity. Furthermore, we find important differences between refugee entrepreneurs who live in refugee camps and those who live outside these camps—differences in affiliation, language use, and social capital development—which enable those refugee entrepreneurs living outside the refugee camps to achieve resilience outcomes not accessible to those living inside the camps. Overall, this study makes a number of contributions to the entrepreneurship literature. First, research has investigated resilience in terms of resources, endowments, and capabilities before an adverse event. The implicit assumptions in this research are that capabilities matter and that adversity has a beginning and subsides over time. In this study, we focus on resilience outcomes in the context of refugees facing substantial adversity over a substantial period and extend the capability argument of resilience in the following ways: (1) the “social” capability for resilience, not as an endowment but created through activities that build a social basis for resilience outcomes, (2) social integration activities are initiated and facilitated by engaging in entrepreneurial action with non-similar others, and (3) resilience outcomes help individuals both engage in integration activities and build a social capability of resilience. Therefore, in the context of substantial and persistent adversity, refugee entrepreneurs need to act in order to build (rather than simply deploy) their social capability for resilience outcomes. Second, resilience has been explored as either a process or as an outcome. In this study, we find that resilience outcomes are both a consequence and an antecedent of entrepreneurial action—a mutually dependent relationship. Specifically, we find the dimensions of resilience outcomes to include proactive problem solving, moral gains as a broader purpose in life, self-reliance, realistic optimism, and multiple sources of belonging. What is interesting is that these outcomes are also important inputs to entrepreneurial action and the resilience process. Finally, there has been an important stream of research on the role of identity in recovery from adversity. We find that refugee entrepreneurs' actions provide a basis for changing the mix of their multiple identities. Therefore, we enrich the entrepreneurship identity literature through the insight that in this persistently adverse context, the relationship between entrepreneurial action and identity is not one way and static but bidirectional and dynamic. Furthermore, over and above refugee entrepreneurs' prosocial motivation of compassion, we find a new form of prosocial motivation for entrepreneurial action—the motivation to promote solidarity: “You are not alone; we are in this together as part of a broader purpose in life.”
This article argues that the ability of entrepreneurs to facilitate regional adaptation to economic crises is mediated by the size and diversity of local knowledge stocks. The specific research question addressed is the hypothesis that, in the aftermath of a crisis, the birth rate of new firms will recover more rapidly in regions with a strong and diverse knowledge stock. It is theorised that unrelated knowledge diversity is of particular importance in stimulating new entrepreneurial opportunities and structural change, whilst the incentive to exploit opportunities differs according to region-specific factors. In addition to this theoretical contribution, the article develops spatial econometric models to test these research hypotheses using data on sub-regions of Great Britain for 2004–2014. The results support the central theoretical hypotheses and emphasise the positive significance of unrelated knowledge diversity and employment in knowledge intensive services to regional recovery from an economic shock. A key implication for policy-makers wishing to facilitate regional adaptation to crises is that it is important to focus on fostering entrepreneurship by developing a region’s stock of knowledge intensive services and the diversity of the knowledge creating sector, rather than relying on specialised clusters of firms.