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Purpose Within a very short period of time, the worldwide pandemic triggered by the novel coronavirus has not only claimed numerous lives but also caused severe limitations to daily private as well as business life. Just about every company has been affected in one way or another. This first empirical study on the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on family firms allows initial conclusions to be drawn about family firm crisis management. Design/methodology/approach Exploratory qualitative research design based on 27 semi-structured interviews with key informants of family firms of all sizes in five Western European countries that are in different stages of the crisis. Findings The COVID-19 crisis represents a new type and quality of challenge for companies. These companies are applying measures that can be assigned to three different strategies to adapt to the crisis in the short term and emerge from it stronger in the long run. Our findings show how companies in all industries and of all sizes adapt their business models to changing environmental conditions within a short period of time. Finally, the findings also show that the crisis is bringing about a significant yet unintended cultural change. On the one hand, a stronger solidarity and cohesion within the company was observed, while on the other hand, the crisis has led to a tentative digitalization. Originality/value To the knowledge of the authors, this is the first empirical study in the management realm on the impacts of COVID-19 on (family) firms. It provides cross-national evidence of family firms' current reactions to the crisis.
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The economics of COVID-19:
initial empirical evidence on how
family firms in five European
countries cope with the
corona crisis
Sascha Kraus
Durham University, Durham, UK
Thomas Clauss
University of Witten/Herdecke, Witten, Germany
Matthias Breier
Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland
Johanna Gast
Montpellier Business School, Montpellier, France
Alessandro Zardini
University of Verona, Verona, Italy, and
Victor Tiberius
University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
Purpose Within a very short period of time, the worldwide pandemic triggered by the novel coronavirus
has not only claimed numerous lives but also caused severe limitations to daily private as well as business
life. Just about every company has been affected in one way or another. This first empirical study on the
effects of the COVID-19 crisis on family firms allows initial conclusions to be drawn about family firm crisis
Design/methodology/approach Exploratory qualitative research design based on 27 semi-structured
interviews with key informants of family firms of all sizes in five Western European countries that are in
different stages of the crisis.
Findings The COVID-19 crisis represents a new type and quality of challenge for companies. These
companies are applying measures that can be assigned to three different strategies to adapt to the crisis in the
short term and emerge from it stronger in the long run. Our findings show how companies in all industries and
of all sizes adapt their business models to changing environmental conditions within a short period of time.
Finally, the findings also show that the crisis is bringing about a significant yet unintended cultural change. On
the one hand, a stronger solidarity and cohesion within the company was observed, while on the other hand, the
crisis has led to a tentative digitalization.
Originality/value To the knowledge of the authors, this is the first empirical study in the management
realm on the impacts of COVID-19 on (family) firms. It provides cross-national evidence of family firmscurrent
reactions to the crisis.
Keywords Corona, COVID-19, Crisis management, Family firms, Strategic management, Business model
Paper type Research paper
Economics of
Montpellier Business School (MBS) is a founding member of the public research center Montpellier
Research in Management, MRM (EA 4557, Univ. Montpellier). Johanna Gast is a member of the LabEx
Entrepreneurship (University of Montpellier, France), funded by the French government (Labex
Entreprendre, ANR-10-Labex-11-01).
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 16 April 2020
Revised 24 April 2020
Accepted 25 April 2020
International Journal of
Entrepreneurial Behavior &
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/IJEBR-04-2020-0214
On March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic of the
highly transmissible coronavirus disease (WHO, 2020a,b,c,d,e) COVID-19, signaling its
global spread. Since then, the rapid worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has
triggered an alarming global health crisis. Many countriesgovernments have taken
measures dramatically affecting the daily life of society. To slow down the transmission and
spread of the coronavirus, the public health tactic of social distancinghas been widely
applied. Regions and even countries have been entirely locked down (ranging from contact
limitations to full curfew); schools, universities and public facilities are shut down; and public
events (including sports matches, concerts and even marriages) are currently prohibited in
most countries.
These measures not only affect the populationsdaily life, but have caused significant
economic consequences in economies around the world. Stock markets have crashed
dramatically (Baker et al.,2020), with economists consistently forecasting harsh economic
recessions (Baldwin and Weder di Mauro, 2020;McKibbin and Fernando, 2020). Governments
have set severe restrictions on firms in various industries, mandated social distancing and
health protection policies and even locked down non-essential businesses in many countries,
triggering simultaneous demand as well as supply-side issues (del Rio-Chanona et al.,2020).
Whereas demand in industries such as healthcare has skyrocketed, demand in industries such
as restaurants, air transportation and tourism has evaporated. General buying power and
consumption in private households have also been affected (Muellbauer, 2020). In just one
month, 22 million people in the United States lost their jobs, unemployment rates more than
doubled in Austria and 29% of all Swiss employees have been placed on short-term furlough
(Kurzarbeit) due to the crisis. Decreasing consumer demand and spending may even worsen
throughout 2020 with upcoming corporate layoffs and bankruptcies in many affected sectors.
At the same time, many industries face supply-side issues, as governments curtail the
activities of non-essential industries and workers are confined to their homes. Businesses
here need to contend with a number of challenges, including the implementation of required
health protection measures, reduced production and demand, supply chain disruptions. This
situation calls for academic research providing firms with valid strategies on how to cope
with the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.
This study explores how and by what means family firms are responding to the COVID-19
crisis. The majority of business worldwide are family firms, which depending on the
definition applied comprise approximately 90% of all companies in the countries
investigated for this study (e.g. Xi et al., 2015). Given their omnipresence in the business
landscape, family firmsroles in the economy as employers, wealth creators and innovators
are significant (Filser et al., 2016).
Family firms are typically vulnerable due to their autonomous, family-oriented standing
ıaet al., 2007;Lee, 2006) and their constrained financial capital and resources (Kim
and Vonortas, 2014;Sirmon and Hitt, 2003). Moreover, a crisis typically hits the owners of
family firms twice, that is once as private citizens and in a second round as business owners
(Runyan, 2006). Since the family firm represents the familys legacy, the effective management
of crises is critical for family firms, including family SMEs because their socioemotional
endowment is at stake (Gomez-Mejia et al., 2011). In addition, family firms show certain
particularities regarding their behaviors and measures during crises. It has been shown that
increased family ownership reduces the likelihood that firms follow formal crisis procedures
(Faghfouri et al., 2015) and that the emotional attachment of the family affects the performance
of family firms during a crisis (Arrondo-Garc
ıaet al.,2016). Family firms sacrifice short-term
performance and shareholder value for long-term survival (Lins et al.,2013;Minichilli et al.,
2016) and thus may also utilize specific measures in response to crises. Furthermore, family
firms usually behave moreresponsibly toward their employees as well as theenvironment, and
closely align decisions withthe values and non-economicgoals of the firm (Chrisman et al.,2005;
Dyer Jr and Whetten, 2006). And due to their particular ownership structures, family firms can
make rapid decisions and respond to changes quickly andnon-bureaucratically(Carney, 2005).
The practical relevance of family firms and their strategic responses to the COVID-19 crisis for
this research becomes evident when considering the many examples of family firms receiving
recent media1 coverage. The German manufacturer of household and commercial appliances
Miele has scaled down production, decreased operations to minimal levels and implemented
decreased working hours as of the beginning of April. The companys supply chain has suffered
from a massive disruption, with the company no longer able to acquire parts, and unable to sell
their products with retail outlets being closed. The Austrian family-owned dairy Woerle has
attempted to maintain its production to meet the increased demand for cheese products while
facing new hygiene restrictions and guidelines. Woerle as a result reorganized its production,
with its operations working day and night and its employees wearing protective masks. The
German family-owned developer and producer of microphones and headphones Sennheiser has
taken measures in production and marketing to preserve and maintain their business relations
and activities, including a minimum level of productivity. Production is now reorganized into two
separately working shifts, working from home has been implemented as much as possible, stores
have been temporarily closed and doing business with them is only possible on their website. The
global Swiss-based logistics company K
uhne þNagel International AG has been following its
business continuity plans to not only protect their employeeshealth and safety but also to ensure
uninterrupted service for its clients. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), part of the Italian multi-
industry business dynasty founded by Giovanni Agnelli, rapidly announced intensive measures
to help fight the spread of COVID-19 in Italy. The official March 11th, 2020 announcement
included the immediate temporary closure of its production plants across the country; intensive
sanitization of all work and rest areas, changing rooms and washrooms; as well as a progressive
implementation of smart working(from home) to limit social contact as much as possible.
Other examples saw family firmsmore creative responses to the crisis. The Italian family-led
Giorgio Armani Group; the German family-led lingerie manufacturer Mey; Trigema, Germanys
largest manufacturer of sports and leisurewear; and the Melitta Group, known for the production
of coffee filters and vacuum cleaner bags, all have redeployed manufacturing resources to the
production of medical overalls and face protection masks.
Despite the academic and managerial relevance of crisis management strategies in
general, and ways to deal with the COVID-19 crisis in particular, no previous academic
studies have investigated how and by what means family firms are responding to the COVID-
19 crisis. In general, only very few studies have investigated how family firms manage and
overcome crises (for exceptions see Cater and Schwab, 2008;Herbane, 2013;Kraus et al., 2013;
Faghfouri et al., 2015). The speed with which the COVID-19 crisis has erupted, the immediate
health hazards for all economic actors and the strict governmental restrictions around it
create a unique situation that to date has not been investigated in family business research.
Against this background, the following attempts to provide the first initial real-time
snapshotevidence of how family firmsin five Western European countries (Austria, Germany,
Italy, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) have responded to the COVID-19 crisis. To our knowledge,
it is the first empirical study that addresses the consequences and coping mechanisms of
businesses in the COVID-19 crisis. We further attempt to generate more generalizable
knowledge about how family firms react and adapt in an unexpected general crisis situation.
The study contributes to the strategic and crisis management of family firms during the
COVID-19 crisis and proposes a model for changes during a crisis for short-term adaption and
long-term firm positioning. The paper further contributes to family firm research and shows
how these companies cope with a lockdown situation. Finally, the paper contributes to
innovation and digitalization research by providing insights into how external shocks may
trigger firmsinnovation and digitalization processes.
Economics of
Situation overview: the COVID-19 crisis
The origin of the COVID-19 crisis and its spread from China to Europe
In December 2019, numerous pneumonia cases in Wuhan (in the Hubei Province of China)
could not be attributed to any known cause (WHO, 2020a,b,c,d,e). The outbreak of the
pathogen was localized to a regional seafood market in Wuhan, which was closed by local
authorities on January 1st, 2020 (Huang et al., 2020;Zhu et al., 2020), immediately after their
declaration of an epidemiological alert. At that time, 41 people were already infected (Huang
et al., 2020). First investigations concluded that the diseases were caused by a novel virus that
can be transmitted person-to-person (Chan et al., 2020).
On January 21st, 2020, the WHO published its first situation report on the novel
coronavirus, outlining 282 confirmed cases in four countries including China (278 cases),
Thailand (two cases), Japan (one case) and the Republic of Korea (one case) (WHO, 2020a,b,c,
On January 25th, 2020, the first European cases of the novel coronavirus were published in
the WHOs fifth report (WHO, 2020a,b,c,d,e). Subsequently, on January 30th, 2020, after an
increased spread of the virus in China and its appearance in other parts of the world, the
newly created emergency committee declared the new coronavirus a public health emergency
of international concern (WHO, 2020a,b,c,d,e), as local viral outbreaks could quickly spread
worldwide in light of todays international mobility (Cohen, 2000). At that time, 9,826 cases in
20 countries were confirmed, including 14 cases in Europe (WHO, 2020a,b,c,d,e).
On March 11th, 2020, 118,319 cases had been confirmed worldwide, and the WHO
director-general declared the disease COVID-19 a pandemic(WHO, 2020a,b,c,d,e), that is a
worldwide epidemic affecting vast numbers of people across borders (Last et al., 2001).
Government actions to mitigate the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic
The declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic clearly emphasized the severe global threat of the
virus. Table 1 provides an overview of confirmed deaths worldwide for COVID-19, along with
other infectious diseases. As this disease was the first global threat since the 19181919
outbreak of H1N1 influenza (for which no vaccine or treatment existed (Ferguson et al., 2020)),
COVID-19 required government action based on mitigation or suppression strategies.
Mitigation seeks to slow down the spread of a disease and build up herd immunity
throughout the population. Suppression tries to decrease the reproduction number to <1
through the implementation of restrictions until the pathogen can be controlled. However,
developing a vaccine takes time (Ferguson et al., 2020); although mitigation and suppression
can help to reduce the spread of something like the new coronavirus, both strategies require
drastic restrictions with severe impacts on social life and the economy (Anderson et al., 2020).
Ferguson et al. (2020) modeled the impact of mitigation and suppression strategies on high-
income economies, outlining the importance of five non-pharmaceutical interventions,
including case isolation at home, voluntary quarantine, social distancing of risk groups,
When Epidemic Deaths
14th Century Bubonic plague 25 million
19181920 Spanish flu 50 million or more
1981ongoing AIDS >25 million
20022004 SARS 774
2009 Avian flu 151,000575,000
20142016 Ebola >11.000
2020 Corona/COVID-19 185,500 (as of April 23rd, 2020)
(Johns Hopkins University)
Table 1.
Overview of historical
diseases (Baldwin and
Weder di Mauro, 2020,
general social distancing and lockdown of schools and universities. Their results show that,
regardless of the chosen strategy (i.e. suppression or mitigation), multiple non-
pharmaceutical interventions are necessary to reduce the risk to the healthcare system
posed by the spread of the virus.
The steep increase in infections and the high reproduction numbers in Europe
(particularly in Italy and Spain) have led governments to implement strict measures to
prevent the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. European governments primarily followed the
recommendations of public health agencies regarding mitigation measures (Baekkeskov and
Rubin, 2014). These efforts generally aim at keeping the infection curveas flat as possible to
avoid overloading the capacities of the healthcare system (Lau et al., 2019). It had already been
demonstrated, for example in China that strict contact restrictions can significantly reduce
the number of infections. Their strict curfew, especially in strongly affected regions, has led to
a significant flattening of the infection curve (WHO, 2020a,b,c,d,e).
Governments imposed social distancing measures to achieve this goal in Europe (Fenichel,
2013;Ferguson et al., 2020;Nigmatulina and Larson, 2009). These measures aim to reduce
avoidable social contacts as much as possible to prevent a rapid spread of the coronavirus.
They are only regarded as cost-effective for severe pandemics (Pasquini-Descomps et al.,
2017). Table 2 provides an overview of the non-pharmaceutical interventions the investigated
countries took to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The economy during the COVID-19 crisis
The imposed non-pharmaceutical interventions have had a very negative impact on the
economy (Anderson et al., 2020;Bootsma and Ferguson, 2007;Lee et al., 2012). Research on the
economic impact of previous pandemics has shown that countries, industries and companies
suffer significantly from the consequences of a global pandemic. This is due to a
simultaneous demand and supply shock. Demand declines because consumers reduce their
purchases of non-essential goods and services such as entertainment and travel. And layoffs
reduce societys overall spending capacity (Cahyanto et al., 2016,McKercher and Chon, 2004;
Sadique et al., 2007). Supply is thrown off course because many firms are simply not prepared
to deal with the phenomenon of disrupted supply chains (Simchi-Levi et al., 2014). Many
service and manufacturing sectors as a result have had to shut down their operations (del Rio-
Chanona et al., 2020).
The COVID-19 crisis has and will have an enormous influence on businesses worldwide
(see Table 3). Governments across Europe and the US have implemented financial first-aid
and stimulus packages for businesses. While a few industries such as healthcare have faced
increased demand and are actually benefiting from the crisis, many industries have been
severely affected. Governmental restrictions caused the closure of restaurants and hotels,
along with a very noticeable drop in revenues in the hospitality and tourism industries. In the
restaurant industry, only food delivery or pickup has been allowed. The closure of leisure
Austria Germany Italy Liechtenstein Switzerland
Case isolation at home yes yes yes yes yes
Voluntary quarantine yes yes yes yes yes
Social distancing of risk groups yes yes yes yes yes
General social distancing yes yes yes yes yes
Lockdown of schools and universities yes yes yes yes yes
Closed borders yes yes yes yes yes
Face masks in closed rooms and public
yes no yes no no
Table 2.
interventions of the
countries investigated
(as of April 23rd, 2020)
Economics of
activities (cinemas, sports facilities, theatres, museums, etc.) has led to severe setbacks in this
industry. Worldwide landing and birthing bans for aircrafts and ships have created a sharp
decline in these industries.
It is already clear that the total state aid, especially in Western countries, will be at levels
exceeding those of all previous crises. By April 21st, the EU and its member states had tied
together rescue/stimulus packages worth V3.4 trillion. These enormous measures have been
taken based on first estimates of economic development; their sums predict a significant
economic downturn shaping up as the deepest dive on record for the global economy for over
100 years(Harvard economist Kenneth S. Rogoff in the New York Times).
Theoretical foundation
Organizational crises and crisis management
Literature on organizational crisis management has taken many different directions in recent
years. It ranges from different perspectives (finance, accounting, management; Hale et al.,
2005), strategic responses to a crisis (Baron et al., 2005) and handling of employees (Harvey
and Haines Iii, 2005). Some crisis literature deals with crises caused by companies (Bundy
et al., 2017), while other literature deals with the effects of natural disasters (Park et al., 2013;
Runyan, 2006). Researchers have highlighted the overall characteristics of a crisis (Runyan,
2006). These include surprising changes in a system or to its parts (Greiner, 1989), a threat to
the organizationsexistence (Witte, 1981), a large amount of involved stakeholders (Elliott
and McGuinness, 2002), low probability of occurrence and great influence and little time for
decision-making (Hills, 1998;Pearson and Clair, 1998).
Research on the outcome of a crisis deals with different areas such as the changed
relationship with stakeholders after the crisis (Coombs, 2007;Elsbach, 1994;Pfarrer et al.,
2008) or the adaptation and learning effects of companies and survival in crisis situations
(Lampel et al., 2009;Veil, 2011;DAveni and MacMillan, 1990). Crises do not always have only
negative implications for stakeholders. Research also highlights the potential positive effects
of crises and disasters. These situations help to stimulate the innovation approaches of
companies and identify new markets (Faulkner, 2001). Research shows that managements
view of whether the crisis is a threat or an opportunity is of particular importance regarding
how managers handle the situation. Managers who primarily see a danger in crises usually
react emotionally and operate with a sense of reduced opportunities in mind. On the other
hand, crises can also be perceived positively and lead to a flexible and open working approach
in management (Brockner and James, 2008;Dane and Pratt, 2007;James and Wooten, 2005).
In general, a crisis can be viewed from an internal and an external perspective. Three main
process steps apply here: pre-crisis prevention, crisis management and post-crisis outcomes
(Bundy et al., 2017). In their recent work, Wenzel et al. (2020) propose four strategic crisis
responses, which we use as a framework for our analysis:
(1) Retrenchment means that firms take measures to reduce their costs (Pearce and
Robbins, 1993) and complexity (Benner and Zenger, 2016). Both positive and negative
consequences can emerge from retrenchment. As a direct response to a crisis
Event Countries, year Costs
Tsunami Japan, 2011 $235 billion
Hurricane USA, 2005 $81.2 billion
Earthquake Haiti, 2010 $8 billion
Tsunami India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, 2004 $9.5 billion
Coronavirus Worldwide pandemic, origin in China, 2019 TBD
Table 3.
Overview of natural
disasters and their
costs (Park et al., 2013,
situation, cost-cutting measures have an especially positive effect on maintaining
liquidity and providing a solid foundation for long-term recovery (Pearce and
Robbins, 1994). On the other hand, retrenchment strategies are often attributed to
decreased performance (Barker and Duhaime, 1997). Especially in the case of long-
lasting crises, this strategy ensures a change in resource use and company culture
(Ndofor et al., 2013).
(2) Persevering focuses on maintaining the firms ongoing operations. Stieglitz et al.
(2016) explain the positive effects of a persevering strategy by the fact that frequent
strategic changes reduce the value of a strategic renewal. Wenzel et al. (2020)
summarize that the core of this strategy is not to start a strategic renewal at the wrong
time, and that its success is linked to the duration of a crisis. The longer the crisis
lasts, the scarcer the financial resources become.
(3) Innovating focuses on the strategic renewal of the business. A crisis enables
companies to think openly about new things (Roy et al., 2018). It may even help firms
overcome organizational inertia and reflect upon the viability of the business model
urk et al., 2011). As firms recognize which parts of their business model are
more robust than others (i.e. certain product or service lines, particular value creation
approaches, or particular revenue models, c.f. (Clauss, 2017)), opportunities for
business model innovation may be identified. Research shows that business model
innovation is triggered by external developments such as changes in the competitive
environment (Clauss et al., 2019) or new technologies (Pateli and Giaglis, 2005).
Wenzel et al. (2020) summarize that innovating is a coping strategy that has
sustainable effects and may make the company stronger for the future (e.g. for
situations where new ways to create revenue are needed). However, low liquidity
during a crisis is noted by the authors as a limiting factor. Especially as time goes by,
managers here can miss the chance to make strategic change.
(4) Exit is the last possible reaction if other strategies are deemed unsuccessful.
Nevertheless, a successful business exit can free up new resources (Carnahan, 2017)
and create fresh opportunities. Exit in other words can lead to strategic renewal and
the foundation of a new firm (Ren et al., 2019).
Family firms during the COVID-19 crisis
Family ownership reduces the likelihood that firms follow formal crisis procedures
(Faghfouri et al., 2015). Several particularities may make family firms apt to instead navigate
through crises based on their focus on family, ownership and business continuity.
Family firms usually have a long-term horizon (Miller and Le Breton-Miller, 2005), intending
to pass a clean and sustainable company onto subsequent generations(Bauweraerts, 2013,
p. 92). Consequently, family members tend to be willing to sacrifice short-term financial gains
for the long-term survival of their familyslegacy(
Lins et al., 2013;Minichilli et al.,2016).
Reflecting family firmstypical long-term orientation (Miller and Le Breton-Miller, 2005),
Giovanni Agnelli, the patriarch of the Italian multi-industry business primarily known for its
activities in the automotive industry, and owner of Ferrari, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Chrysler
states, the [family] company is an inheritance to be protected and handed on. It is the outcome
of the next and each generations commitment to the last(as quoted in Betts, 2001).
As a consequence of long-term family ownership, family members are typically
emotionally attached to their firm (Berrone et al., 2012). This may affect their performance
during a crisis (Arrondo-Garc
ıaet al., 2016). Further, they tend to build up and maintain long-
term relationships with internal and external stakeholders, including their employees
(Carney, 2005;Miller and Le Breton-Miller, 2005). They behave more responsibly toward their
Economics of
employees and their environment, closely aligning strategic decisions with their firms values
and non-economic goals (Chrisman et al., 2005;Dyer Jr and Whetten, 2006). As such, family
firms focus more on the bigger picture and long-term relations and commitments than
immediate, short-term outcomes. Put differently, family firms tend to be less driven by short-
term goals, and give priority to the longevity of the family firm (Ward, 1997).
Family firms also tend to be able to leverage their liquidity, have lower costs of debt
(Aronoff and Ward, 1995) and build on their so-called patient capital, that is, financial
resources that can be invested without any threat of liquidation (Dobrzynski, 1993). As a
consequence, during times like an economic downturn or a financial crisis, family firms can
better mobilize their resources to maintain their activities are more resilient (Amann and
Jaussaud, 2012) and tend to financially outperform non-family firms (van Essen et al., 2015;
Minichilli et al., 2016).
Furthermore, crisis situations come along with unexpected challenges that typically
require fast and decisive strategic decision-making (Heath, 1995;Ritchie, 2004). And yet,
family firms have always been particularly good at reacting quickly, decisively and
creatively (Ward, 1997) to acute situations. Stemming from family firmscentralized decision-
making and their ownerssimultaneous stock of ownership, family and business information,
procedures and processes are less complicated and decision-makers can react quickly and
discretely focus on both firm and the family interests (Tagiuri and Davis, 1996). Moreover,
owning families influence and control key decision-making processes (Carney, 2005;De
Massis et al., 2013), which leads to increased strategic flexibility through fewer formalizations
and procedures (Carney, 2005).
In this vein, many family firms have responded decisively and quickly to the ongoing
pandemic by, for example implementing preventative measures to mitigate contagion and
safeguard their business activities for the future to the best possible extent.
We conducted qualitative expert interviews to answer our research questions (Kvale, 1983;
Neergaard and Ulhøi, 2007) and obtain an understanding(Outhwaite, 1975) about family
firmsreactions to the COVID-19 crisis. Qualitative research designs are particularly suitable
for analyzing these kinds of organizational processes (Bluhm et al., 2011;Doz, 2011;Gioia
et al., 2013;Graebner et al., 2012). Including multiple cases allowed for a robust research
approach with more generalizable findings (Eisenhardt and Graebner, 2007;Yin, 2013,2017).
On the one hand, extensive research on crisis management exists, as seen in the literature
review. On the other hand, the nature and scope of this pandemic as a specific type of crisis are
unprecedented. This means that a qualitative methodology is required that can extend existing
theory (Bansal and Corley, 2012;Bluhm et al.,2011;Brand et al.,2019;Graebner et al.,2012). We
built on prior research especially by adopting the retrenchment-persevering-innovation(-exit)
framework by Wenzel et al. (2020) as a theoretical lens through which we searched for new
knowledge (Jacobides, 2005). Both deductive and inductive (Denis et al.,2001;Ferlie et al., 2005;
Pajunen, 2006), this approach between theory testing and theorygeneration is in the tradition of
theory elaborationas coined by Lee et al. (1999) and Maitlis (2005).
Employing qualitative interviews enabled us to closely capture family firm ownersand
managerssubjective experiences during the pandemic (Graebner et al., 2012). As we searched
for specific and ad hoc rather than standardized and established reactions to this crisis, the
interviews added vividness, concreteness and richness to the research phenomenon (Bluhm
et al., 2011;Denzin and Lincoln, 2008;Graebner et al., 2012).
We employed a purposive sampling technique (Guest et al., 2006;Morse et al., 2002),
interviewing key informants such as top management team members (e.g. CEOs or COOs) or
the responsible area managers (Lechner et al., 2006). This approach allowed for maximum
variation, following the principles of appropriateness and adequacy (Gaskell, 2000;
Seawright; Gerring, 2008). We were able to gain insights regarding both similarities and
contrasts among the cases (Guest et al., 2006). The respondents represented family firms
located in Austria, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
As is common in qualitative research, the data analysis started directly after each
interview until saturation was reached after 27 interviews, i.e. further data collection did not
generate new insights (Boddy, 2016;Eisenhardt, 1989;Guest et al., 2006;Morse et al., 2002).
Table 4 provides an overview of the respondentsand their firmscharacteristics.
Respondent Country
No. of
employees Industry
Year of
R1 AT 50 Accommodation and Food
Service Activities
2017 COO
R2 AT 5 Other Service Activities 2001 CEO
R3 ITA 8 Wholesale and Retail Trade;
Repair of Motor Vehicles and
1975 CEO
R4 GER 1400 Manufacturing 2012 CEO
R5 GER 45 Accommodation and Food
Service Activities
1949 CEO
R6 GER 3800 Manufacturing 1873 CEO
R7 ITA 100 Agriculture, Forestry and
1851 CEO
R8 GER 700 Manufacturing 1921 CEO
R9 ITA 1200 Manufacturing 1965 CEO
R10 ITA 7 Wholesale and Retail Trade;
Repair of Motor Vehicles and
1984 Head of Sales
R11 GER 415 Financial and Insurance
1948 CEO
R12 CH/FL 8 Financial and Insurance
1995 CEO
R13 CH/FL 5 Human Health and Social
Work Activities
2018 COO
R14 CH/FL 3 Human Health and Social
Work Activities
2017 CEO
R15 AT 40 Manufacturing 1996 Head of Sales
R16 ITA 50 Manufacturing 1986 Head of
R17 GER 1000 Transportation and Storage 1903 CEO
R18 AT 15 Other Service Activities 1976 CEO
R19 GER 1700 Manufacturing 1984 CEO
R20 GER 200 Manufacturing 1745 CEO
R21 GER 70 Manufacturing 1958 CEO
R22 ITA 100 Manufacturing 1965 CEO
R23 ITA 331 Manufacturing 1945 Head of HR and
member of the
R24 AT 107 Other Service Activities 1964 CEO
R25 AT 12 Information Technology 2016 CEO
R26 CH/FL 8 Other Service Activities 2009 CEO
R27 AT 3 Real Estate Activities 2003 CEO
Table 4.
Overview of
interviewed companies
Economics of
Data collection
We conducted semi-structured interviews with the respondentsbetween March 26th and April
10th, 2020, i.e. during the current peak of the crisis in the countries under investigation. These
were based on an interview guide which allowed the interviewers to spontaneously react to the
respondentsstatements (Eisenhardt and Graebner, 2007;Guest et al., 2006;Neergaard and
Ulhøi, 2007). Due to the social distancing measures or even general quarantine, the interviews
were conducted by telephone and the digital communication tools Skype, Zoom and Loop Up.
The interviews were recorded with the respondentsconsent, lasting on average 35 min.
Data analysis
The interviews were transcribed word for word, ignoring special linguistic and phonetic
characteristics such as slang and gap fillers (uh,hmm, etc.) to focus on the interview
content alone. We independently read the transcripts and coded the data in an open manner
(Miles et al., 2014;Corbin and Strauss, 2014) to determine how family firms were affected, the
specific measures family firms take and which additional changes within the firms emerged
due to the COVID-19 crisis. We iteratively analyzed the data until common themes emerged
and could be verified through feedback loops. To ensure reliability and validity of the
findings (Kirk et al., 1986;Morse et al., 2002;Sousa, 2014), we read and coded the data
independently and compared, discussed and revised our codes iteratively before we
consolidated them. Regarding the measures firms took, we used Wenzel et al. s (2020)
framework to categorize them as retrenchment, persevering or innovation measures and as
short- or long-term oriented. We did not find examples of exit strategies.
Our interviews showed that not all companies are affected equally by the COVID-19 crisis,
and that the different timings in the respective countries did not create significant differences.
In addition, a marked difference between large and small family firms was seen. The issue of
liquidity was much more important for large than for small companies. Although liquidity is
in fact relevant for the latter, the topic took up significantly less time in the interviews and
was less directly addressed by the interviewees.
The analysis of our interview data from the 27 interviews led to a number of key insights
when respondents talked about their family firms reaction to the COVID-19 crisis. These can
be subsumed under five overarching topics which form the main focus of the following
analysis and results presentation:
(1) Safeguarding liquidity
(2) Safeguarding operations
(3) Safeguarding communication
(4) Business models
(5) Cultural changes
Safeguarding liquidity
Liquidity safeguarding emerged as one of the key issues during the crisis. Only two
interviewees did not address the issue at all (R25, R11). While the topic was only casually
addressed in small companies, it comprised a large part of the interview time in many large
The topic had very different significance in the interviews. For a number of family
firms, liquidity has not been a major issue so far (R12, R16, R19, R23, R26), as they can even
reinvest profits (R7) and are prepared for these kinds of situations: As a company in the
financial sector, we are experienced in crises and assume that they will always come around.
We are prepared for this and have sufficient liquidity to get through a prolonged crisis
(R12). Others have just started to or already implemented specific measures to ensure
liquidity (R1, R4, R6, R14), such as taking advantage of state aid measures and reducing
fixed costs.
The governments in which our study took place have taken numerous measures to limit
the crisiss economic consequences as much as possible, including financial support for
companies. In addition to direct subsidies, these measures include shortened work hours and
the repayment of income tax. Out of 27 interviewed family firms, 11 are using reduced-hour
working models in particular (R1, R2, R4, R5, R10, R13, R15, R17, R20, R23, R24).
The family firms we talked to also started discussions with stakeholders, including
employees, landlords and banks, to identify the potential for reducing their fixed costs. For
many, personnel costs and rent are important cost units which need to be reduced to ensure
liquidity. Layoffs were rarely mentioned by the family firms as a measure used during the
early phases of the COVID-19 crisis. Instead, they relied on their employees and their
commitment to the firm to find possibilities to reduce fixed costs. As one CEO described: We
used an intensified interaction with employees to ask them about cost-saving potentials. This
gave us a list of cost drivers that have not been used for a long time. The employees have clearly
helped to reduce the costs of the company(R17). Other family firms are cutting back on and
postponing investments (R1, R21).
Safeguarding operations
Although the mitigation of the transmission risk of COVID-19 within the company is a major
goal for the interviewed family firm owners/managers, they simultaneously highlighted the
need to safeguard their operations, at least to a certain degree. As social contacts within the
firms had to be reduced as much as possible, family firms have allowed and supported
working from home, and closed social meeting points. They additionally have taken
advantage of free office space, and reorganized operations into two shifts.
Most family firms have implemented work from home and supported their employees in
equipping their home offices, purchasing extra smartphones and laptops (R11) or computer
monitors (26). Nevertheless, a few firms were not willing or able to allow for work from home
(R5, R13, R14, R16, R17, R19, R23), most notably those employees that work with special
infrastructure. This situation mainly affected companies in the production and hospitality
sector. To reduce social contacts within offices, companies closed meeting points like
cafeterias or coffee machines (R6) and encouraged their employees not to eat in groups (R18).
Furthermore, firms created more distance among the individual employees by using their
existing space in the best possible way (R6, R8, R18, R20): We have converted our meeting
rooms into offices. They are not needed at the moment anyway(R18). While shift work is
generally widespread in production departments, this form of work is in fact often new in
administration, with some companies implementing shift work throughout all segments of
their operation to prevent the spread of the disease (R6, R19, R21). This organizational change
has created a minimum level of flexibility in the organization.
In order to be able to continue to run the company in the best possible way, some companies
have set up crisisteams or restructured the management (R11, R15, R20) so that the necessary
competencies for overcoming the crisis are clearly distributed: We have defined four necessary
areas and assigned each to a responsible person(R15). However, this distribution of
competencies wasnt only observed at the management level. In one company, a deputy was
Economics of
appointed for each management task in order to immediately have the best possible
replacement in case of illness (R20).
The crisis is also showing effects and potential for change on the ownership level.
Although the current situation calls for quick decisions, the management of a company feels
significantly restricted. With many important decisions, care must currently be taken to
ensure that the majority of the owners support them. On a related note, some owners find it
perfectly acceptable for owner meetings to take place (R8).
Safeguarding communication
The interviews showed that safeguarding communication is important for keeping mutual
interactions with employees, customers and suppliers going despite social distancing. When
it comes to employees and COVID-19, two central fears are at the heart of employeesworries.
First, they fear the disease caused by the novel coronavirus and its consequences for their
family and friends. The managing director of a large family firm (R6) for instance described
this fear as follows: The first corona case in the company led to the employees packing their
things within 10 min and going to their home office. Some even unplugged their PCs and
installed them at home.Second, employees fear for their jobs, as the COVID-19 crisis is likely
to have economic consequences for their firms (R1, R5).
Most interview partners addressed these fears through intensive and proactive
communication with their employees. The frequency and way of doing this varies among
the companies. Reaching all employees meant the family firms proactively used a number of
ways of communication because not all employees have access to the intranet of a company or
their own e-mail address. Here they provided FAQs on their websites (R6), while others
officially communicated with their employees using regular mailings (R12), WhatsApp
messaging (R8, R18), an information blog or podcast (R4), a service hotline (R20) or a daily
employee newsletter written by the CEO in a very personal style (R19): I write a letter to my
employees every day about the current situation. This goes far beyond the economic aspect. I am
also addressing personal issues very strongly here.
This increased need for communication seemed particularly challenging within larger
family firms with more complex organizational structures and employees. Here, owners have
suddenly observed that existing information flows are no longer simple for several reasons.
First, the implementation of work from home and shortened work hours is completely new to
many of the interviewed firms (R8, R17). It is now more difficult than ever to reach their
employees and diffuse critical information among all internal stakeholders.
In this situation, some firms communicate with the department heads first, who then pass
on the information to their employees: We have online meetings with our department heads,
and they inform the employees using WhatsApp(R8). Other companies communicate directly
and on a very regular basis with employees, generating unexpected advantages (R17), with
the employees suggesting possible cost reductions to the CEO, often mentioning that they
have in fact addressed their respective issues before, but that they never reached the CEO.
Due to the changes emerging from firmsoperations safeguarding and governmentsnon-
pharmaceutical interventions, communication with customers only takes place via digital
communication channels. Typically on-site customer contacts have now shifted to the digital
world while contacts with new customers are even more difficult and sometimes no longer
take place at all. Interviewees (R2, R20, R25, R26) pointed out that initial contact and
confidence building with customers will probably continue to take place on a personal level in
the future. The general acceptance of digital communication has increased, even among more
late-adopting customers.
The interview partners pointed out several advantages of digital meetings: better
scalability for digital workshops (R25), easier to get the necessary experts into the call than
directly to the customer (R15), enormous potential to save time considering the fact that not
all meetings are actually necessary (R20). The CEO of a larger enterprise (R20) has to travel to
Singapore on a regular basis and plans to reduce these trips now: I spend so much time on the
plane getting there, and the jetlag also has a negative effect on my work. I really appreciate the
digital meetings.
Business models
The respondents presented different scenarios in this category. Eight family firms (R1, R5,
R9, R14, R20, R24, R25, R26) stated that they had already started to change or extend their
existing business models because of the COVID-19 crisis. Although one of them has lost more
than 80% of its typical revenue streams, it has taken advantage of the high demand for toilet
paper, using their vacant premises to sell it (R5). A clothing company identified mask
production as an opportunity and changed its production accordingly (R9). Business model
adjustments also play a role for companies that continue to be successful during the crisis
with their existing models. Due to the greater flexibility of customers, a family firm used the
possibility to digitalize their workshops (R25). Another company started to include only
digital meetings in its standard prices and charge additional costs for on-site support and
workshops (R26).
One company (R8) felt significantly strengthened by the initiated change and therefore
continued to adhere to it. A second group of family firms (R1, R5, R11, R13, R17, R23, R27)
started to think about new business models, although for several reasons, these have not yet
been implemented. The COO of one company (R1) explained this situation: Our daily business is
greatly reduced, so we have free time that we can use for strategic discussions.A group of three
family firms (R1, R5, R20) have already made initial changes directly and were planning long-
term changes as well. It was noticeable that both companies from the hospitality sector have
implemented new business models in the short-term to keep some revenue streams going, while
working on further concepts in the long-term to diversify their company and reduce risks.
A total of seven companies (R2, R3, R7, R10, R16, R22, R23), mainly in Italy (six of these
seven), have not changed anything to date. They are however aware that if the situation does
not improve within the next one to three months they will have to change their overall
One final group of seven companies did not think about changing their business model or
general strategy. They are planning to push through this crisis, as a CEO of an automotive
supplier said: We will not adapt our business model. We have to navigate through the crisis
because we have just made a lot of investments in electric mobility(R4).
Cultural change
A major point repeatedly touched upon in the interviews was cultural change. This takes
place mainly in two sub-categories. On the one hand, the crisis is creating a strong sense of
solidarity among employees and suppliers, and on the other hand, there is strong pressure to
digitize. The CEO of a company with over 1700 employees described the situation with the
following sentence: It is unbelievable and it really leaves me speechless how this strengthens the
cohesion(R19). Another CEO emphasized above all the issue of digitalization through
cultural change: There is a noticeable cultural change. Even older employees cannot deny the
digital opportunities(R6).
The topic of strengthened solidarity was present in almost all the interviews in Austria,
Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein (R1, R4, R6, R8, R11, R12, R13, R14, R15, R19, R20,
R21, R25, R26, R27). One Austrian firm for instance makes all decisions based on the
employeesinterests, first and foremost striving for employee solutions (R1).
Economics of
In Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, family firmsCEOs were fascinated
by the employeessolidarity and commitment to the company. Employeescommitment is
manifesting itself through increased motivation, teamwork, cohesion and team spirit (R4, R6,
R12, R14, R19, R20, R21, R26, R27) guided by the vision of facing this crisis together (R8, R12,
R15, R21). Also, employees are showing an understanding for the exceptional measures taken
by the family firms to safeguard liquidity and operations, including shortened work hours
(R21) as a means to safeguard the firmssurvival. One CEO of a company that is affected by
seasonal changes and is fully booked at the moment stated: We are currently in a special
situation. We have a lot of work to do. The staff approached me to suggest that we work through
the Easter holidays(R19). In another company, employees are trying to create new ideas and
identify potential for the company to survive and get stronger: Our employees all think
individually about how they can help the company to keep the jobs(R20).
In many companies, the effects of the crisis are leading to a strong push for digitalization.
The cultural perspective in particular is being emphasized by the companies. One interviewee
described the situation as follows: We have had the technical possibilities for a long time. But
they have not been used a lot. Now the employees are using the tools(R6). Another interviewee
that manages 50 employees in restaurants and bars supported this statement: The crisis
encourages even the cook, who still does orders by hand, to use digital tools(R1). The CEO of a
medium-sized company that produces lights for malls described the quick change in the
organization to digital tools: For us, the crisis is a kind of forced digitalization(R21). In total,
15 of all 26 interview partners mentioned the topic of digitalization.
Discussion and conclusion
Our paper represents the first empirical study in the management field providing initial
evidence of the economic impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on family firms in five
Western European countries. Based on a sample of 27 family firms, our findings contribute to
three main research streams:
First, they contribute to the fields of strategic management and crisis management by
integrating our findings into the proposed crisis responses of Wenzel et al. (2020). Our
findings not only support but also advance the authorsproposed categorization of strategic
responses in crisis situations, showing that these strategies are rarely applied on their own,
but instead are combined by using a set of different interventions. Second, contributing to
family firm research, we point out family firmssense of securing liquidity and solidarity.
Third, in the context of innovation and digitalization, we highlight the current crisisimpact
on strategic changes in business models and the operational use of digital tools as well as the
(positively) forced culture of digitalization. This last point also provides another insight, i.e.
the distinction between planned changes initiated by the company and unintended changes
as a result of the crisis.
Contribution 1: strategic management and crisis management
Our analysis shows that family firms follow different approaches to deal with a crisis. These
different strategies can be traced back to the varying starting situations of the companies.
The decisive factor seems to be above all the firmssector, which dictates the degree to which
the firms are affected by the health crisis. Firm size also appears to play a significant role.
Some firms are hardly affected at all, and yet still follow a strategy of crisis management that
goes far beyond persevering. Here we see that the entrepreneurial orientation of the
management team helps to see the situation as a business opportunity.
Our empirical findings can confirm and extend the crisis response strategies of Wenzel
et al. (2020). We particularly respond to their call for more work on crisis management
strategies in the COVID-19 crisis, as we substantiate these with the actual portfolio of coping
mechanisms utilized in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis. Our research identified
various mechanisms that can be related to three of the four crisis management strategies. We
did not find an exit case in our interviews, which may be due to the early phase of the crisis.
In contrast to the more separate strategies described by Wenzel et al. (2020), our findings
highlight how most companies utilized a combination of different coping mechanisms
directly after the crisis started (Table 5). In the empirical context, each of the three strategies
was illustrated by several operational measures which are mostly combined. Persevering is
the only strategy used as a single strategic response to the crisis. Eight companies are
following this strategy and are mainly waiting for the situation to change. What these
companies have in common is that they already had sufficient liquidity before the crisis, and
therefore did not require cost-saving measures. In addition, some of the companies will need
to make strategic changes in the future if the crisis lasts longer. This behavior fits the
statement by Wenzel et al. (2020) noting that persevering is a good strategy, although if the
crisis lasts too long, it cannot be pursued further.
The adjustments made in the companies have both short-term and long-term
consequences and were usually made for two reasons. The first reason is safeguarding
liquidity in the crisis. The second reason is to improve the long-term survival and viability of
the company. Because not one single generic strategy might be suited to address both
objectives simultaneously, the mixed strategies of family firms in our study may describe an
ambidextrous crisis management(Schmitt et al., 2010). On the one hand, these companies
have kept operational daily business alive and secured the jobs and liquidity of the business
by handling the existing operations accordingly. On the other hand, they simultaneously
have started to explore opportunities for long-term strategic changes that may secure the
survival and viability of the firm.
Based on the integration of the interview findings into the paper of Wenzel et al. (2020),we
propose a model (Figure 1) of strategic responses that family firms may utilize during a crisis
situation from a short-term to a long-term perspective. This combination results in a matrix
which, on the one hand, takes up the response strategies from the existing literature and, on
the other hand, considers temporal perspectives. The model is based on six fields within
which firms can react.
One major intervention during a crisis is the controlled shutdown. Here a family firm
reduces fixed costs and safeguards liquidity. Practical examples are the implementation of
shortened work hours. Although family firms cannot stay in the locus of a shutdown long-
term, they can however engage in process streamlining, reducing unnecessary complexity
within the organization and identifying inefficiencies (Benner and Zenger, 2016).
Every crisis brings specific managerial challenges (see Bundy et al., 2017) that are
combined in operative crisis management. These challenges have to be addressed to allow the
family firm to maintain the status quo. In general this involves the creation of a separate team
to handle the crisis, and in the specific pandemic situation involves social distancing. Once the
Strategic response Number of companies
Pure Retrenchment None
Pure Persevering 8
Pure Innovation None
Retrenchment þPersevering 6
Retrenchment þInnovation 1
Persevering þInnovation 6
Retrenchment þPersevering þInnovation 6
Table 5.
Combination of
measures of strategic
Economics of
low point of a crisis has been overcome, it is important for companies to start a reflection,
training their employees to adapt processes based on what they learned during the crisis; this
process additionally includes organizational learning (Wang, 2008).
In the short run, family firms engage in temporary business model adjustment because they
only can react within their existing business model and strategy (Casadesus-Masanell and
Ricart, 2010). Despite this limitation, they can in fact identify opportunities based on the
changed environment the crisis creates, altering or adapting their business model for a period
of time to exploit these opportunities. Examples here include producing masks or changing
from a classic dine-in restaurant to food delivery. In the long run family firms engage in
business model innovation to overcome a crisis and create a more sustainable foundation for
the future, making a change to the strategy necessary. While the temporary business model
adjustment is basically only new to the firm and not to the industry, the business model
innovation in the long run can be more complex (see Foss and Saebi, 2017).
This study provides first insights into the six crisis interventions and their bundles of
measures. These packages of measures should however be further reconsidered. Due to the
timing of the study, they may still change significantly if/as the crisis goes on. Companies
furthermore have a different view of the situation after a crisis. Another possibility is to
research combinations of strategies. In this case, only persevering was pursued as a single
strategy. Research will have to show whether this is an exception to this situation. A focus
here should be on research into the medium- to long-term change and adaptation of the
strategies. The question arises whether companies that provide information on their
strategies during the crisis will continue to pursue the same strategies after it is over [1].
Contribution 2: family firm research
Focusing on family firms and how they are affected by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we
identify several special features of family firmscrisis reaction. First, we find that family
firmstypical long-term orientation (Miller and Le Breton-Miller, 2005) manifests itself in a
Figure 1.
Model of short-term
and long-term
strong focus on liquidity safeguarding. Although liquidity safeguarding represents an
important issue while facing the COVID-19 crisis for all family firms, not all currently suffer
from severe liquidity problems. This is in line with prior literature proposing that, even
during crisis situations, family firms benefit from their controlling familiesfinancial support
to secure investments and employment in the case of reduced market demand and
competitiveness (Villalonga and Amit, 2010). The firms suffering from liquidity problems
during the early phases of the current COVID-19 crisis preferred to use state support and
reduced their fixed expenses, including personnel costs, rent and investments. This reaction
may be explained as the COVID-19 crisis in contrast to, for example the financial crisis of 2008
is impacting both the demand and supply sides simultaneously (del Rio-Chanona et al., 2020),
limiting the opportunities for family firms to safeguard liquidity on their own.
Existing literature and prominent media examples (e.g. FCA) show that family firms may
react faster in crisis situations than their non-family counterparts (de Vries, 1993;Ward,
1997). Our investigation however finds that this does not necessarily have to be the case in all
family firms, and that family ownership is not always a pure advantage. Family firms in
particular with a large number of shareholders and external directors may end up in greater
trouble than non-family firms in crisis situations as family ownersinterests may diverge
from those of non-family managers (Mustakallio et al., 2002). Family settings often do not
provide the opportunity for digital meetings everywhere, even though during times when
social distancing is a legal requirement, larger meetings cannot be held in any other setting.
From this arises the question about (1) whether the rapid decision-making abilities of families
apply to companies in all constellations, (2) which portion of shareholdersdecisions are
significantly slowed down or otherwise impacted and (3) what consequences external
managers have.
Our findings also reveal family firmsextraordinary solidarity with employees as well as
external stakeholders facing this crisis. The investigation clearly shows that family firms
count on their employees to overcome the crisis period together and support them in facing
the COVID-19 crisis. Family firms seek to make sure that employees can work efficiently at
home, i.e. by means of equipment purchases, while also emphasizing the importance of
personal and frequent communication and interaction with employees. This strong sense of
belonging and commitment can help companies to overcome employee conflicts and avoid
turnover in the long run (Gomez-Mejia et al., 2011).
Contribution 3: innovation and digitalization
Our findings support previous research (e.g. Archibugi et al. (2013),Seeger et al. (2005))
showing that external shocks may trigger adaptation and innovation by organizations.
The findings of our study point to two mechanisms that foster the adoption of digital tools
(Venkatesh et al., 2003). First, the situation and restrictions make personal interaction
impossible and force even late-adopting employees and managers of family firms to adapt to
new digital workflows and technologies (e.g. virtual meeting technologies). Second, this
forced adaptation allows the opportunity to prove a technologys functionalities and
advantages and may therefore convince previously resistant employees of the benefits of
digital technologies in daily business. As this individual conviction spreads into a company,
cultural changes that were often described as necessary but difficult to achieve for digital
transformation in incumbent firms get rolling (e.g. Warner and W
ager, 2019). The pure use of
digital technologies changes the way employees think and allows family firms to identify new
and unexpected strategic opportunities (Nambisan et al., 2017;Tilson et al., 2010).
Previous studies have shown that changes in the environment are a determinant of
business model innovation (e.g. Clauss et al., 2019). We provide two explanations for this
previously identified effect. First, in situations where the short- and long-term survival of the
Economics of
firm is at stake, companies need to find creative ways to utilize their core competences, even
stretching the boundaries of their established business model (e.g. producing face masks
instead of clothing). Second, freed-up resources and the organizational breathing space
created as a result might suddenly give companies the opportunity to reassess their
established business model and engage in strategic business planning.
Moreover, our findings highlight a higher acceptance of digital communication on the
customer side. Companies are expecting a drastic reduction in travel (even though some
expect this to not last long). Therefore, the time should be used to show customers on short
notice the benefits of digital communication such as virtual meetings and the involvement of
several experts simultaneously when attending them. Research even shows that one of the
outcomes of a crisis is a changed relationship with stakeholders (Coombs, 2007;Pfarrer
et al., 2008).
We suggest an investigation of whether the initial discussion of a business model
innovation during a crisis will lead to its actual implementation in the long run. Further
research projects should examine the developmental status of the intended innovation over
time and show whether the firms that claim to innovate their business model actually
implement this.
Managerial implications
The findings of this study provide important and timely implications for family firm owners
and managers. Family firms can follow the model developed to respond quickly and
efficiently to a crisis. The aim is not only to survive the crisis but also to emerge from it
stronger (see Figure 2).
In a first step, companies must ensure liquidity, reducing their costs and using shorter
working hours or other government support. These short-term effects should be extended by
identifying inefficiencies in the company, which can also help achieve long-term effects. The
companies we studied above all are applying the ideas of employees in this situation to
quickly achieve a cost reduction.
Family firms that have the opportunity to continue operating in the wake of the crisis
should take advantage of this opportunity and create the appropriate framework conditions.
This includes situation-specific adjustments which, in the case of COVID-19, above all enable
social distance and ensure improved hygiene. In addition, communication with employees
plays an essential role. Employees want to have their fears calmed and need to be kept
informed about the ongoing situation. From a long-term perspective, continuing education is
a key factor. If financial means are available, free time for employees can be used to hold
further training without hindering the employee in his or her operational tasks.
In addition to these safeguards for ongoing operations, family firms also take advantage of
short-term opportunities and adapt business models. For many companies, crisesprovide these
opportunities for adjustment. Innovations can also be external (Chesbrough, 2020). These
include the numerous companies that now produce medical protective clothing or restaurants
that are creating new ideas to continue generating sales. Short-term opportunities may also
give rise to long-term ones. Therefore, companies should be thinking now about the long-term
effects of the crisis and the potential business models that will emerge in the future. One main
focus of these long-term considerations is to improve the companys resistance to crises.
Limitations and future research
Twenty-seven family firms in a total of five countries were qualitatively examined in the
context of this study. The study design was carefully selected to objectively evaluate the
findings. Despite its important early contribution to business research and management in
the realm of the COVID-19 crisis, our exploratory study only provides preliminary findings. It
will hopefully trigger future studies that investigate their underlying mechanisms and
procedures as well as the consequences of the coping mechanisms identified here. We look
forward to a multitude of subsequent further research on the specifics of this crisis.
We encourage future research that investigates how family managers as well as the business
families related to the firm perceive and assess the current as well as any crisis situation, and
how decision-making about coping mechanisms is utilized in various family situations. We
particularly consider this an important research area, with one interviewee mentioning that if
there are serious conflicts in the family, handling a crisis becomes a nightmare.
Due to the fact that this study took place immediately after the onset of the crisis, and that
it cannot be said at this time which companies will emerge stronger from it, it is not possible
make conclusion about the success of the coping mechanisms and crisis management
strategies described. The special situation and time in which this study was created leaves
open a comparative assessment of the usefulness of these mechanisms. Large-scale empirical
assessments may be suited to continuing this research effort. Due to the forecasted enormous
long-term impact of the COVID-19 crisis, our study should be followed up with longitudinal
analyses to investigate the long-term strategic responses of family firms to it.
We finally would like to encourage researchers to do further studies in other countries as
well to achieve a global picture of the outcomes.
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... Much of the literature considers FFs to be particularly vulnerable to financial crises, defined as situations that threaten a firm's liquidity (Gilson, 2012). Thus, FFs' long-term survival (Miller and Le Breton-Miller, In recent years, crisis management measures have received significant academic attention (Kraus et al., 2020;Le Breton-Miller and Miller, 2022). In particular, numerous recent articles on the COVID-19 pandemic have investigated how FFs can effectively manage financial crises to mitigate the impact and ensure their long-term survival Eckey and Memmel, 2022). ...
... Prior literature shows an ambivalence, highlighting that the unique dynamics of FFs (Sirmon and Hitt, 2003) significantly shape their crisis management (Cater and Schwab, 2008;Faghfouri et al., 2015;Mitter et al., 2022). Crisis management can be divided into operational measures (restoring the firm's performance and profitability) and financial measures (restoring the firm's solvency) (Couwenberg and de Jong, 2006), both demonstrating the heterogeneity of FFs (Cater and Schwab, 2008;Kraus et al., 2020). Thus, several scholars such as De Massis and Rondi (2020) advocate for further research to understand FFs' crisis management better. ...
... Crisis management may demonstrate a unique context for exploring religion in FF research, promising original empirical evidence to facilitate understanding of religion in FFs. Furthermore, prior research shows mixed evidence on how FFs approach and implement operational and financial measures (Cater and Schwab, 2008;Kraus et al., 2020). The extant research has largely neglected how these measures are reasoned by FDMs. ...
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Purpose - The unique dynamics of family firms (FFs) shape the management of financial crises. Religious and secular reasons, as a defining characteristic of this type of firm, provide a reference system for key management decisions. This paper aims to explore the under-researched topic of differences in FFs' crisis management between religious and secular family decision-makers (FDMs), considering secularization in developed countries. Design/methodology/approach - The paper draws on a qualitative-empirical study of 14 large FFs from the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), through both a media analysis and semi-structured interviews with FDMs who have significant influence on key management decisions. Findings - Despite secularization, religion continues to influence managerial decisions such as crisis management in the DACH region. The findings show that crisis management differs across religious and secular FDMs, demonstrating the substantial impact of religious and secular reasons on operational and financial measures. Thus, religious and secular reasons may partially explain the complex and ambivalent crisis management of FFs. This indicates that religion shapes FF's key management decisions in the increasingly secularized DACH region. Religious FDMs are accountable to both the firm and to God, which fosters their own personal and financial resources during crisis management. Originality/value - This paper contributes to the existing literature by exploring the impact of religion and secularization within developed countries. Further, it offers deeper insights into FF's crisis management and is one of the first studies to assess the impact of religion and secularization on operational and financial measures. This research derives five propositions for further research and discusses a broad range of original implications for theory and practice.
... The COVID-19 pandemic presented alarming challenges at the organizational level. Regardless of the nature, size, type and geographical origin, majority of the corporations are negatively influenced by the introduction of new rules and regulations in correlation to controlling the infection (Kraus et al., 2020;Stuart, Spencer, McLachlan, & Forde, 2021). Firms have to be prudent in choosing strategies while tackling this novel crisis as these strategies can serve as a doubleedged sword. ...
... An occurrence can have both positive and negative sides. Rather than treating the pandemic as a disaster or chaotic situation, the organizations can treat it as an opportunity to learn, grow and change (Kraus et al., 2020). In Figure 4, it is shown that the pandemic has provoked organizations to develop such HRM strategies and practices that can be used to enhance pro-activeness, preparedness and adjustment capabilities of organizations to respond to challenges arising from such crisis (Adikaram et al., 2021;Kutieshat & Farmanesh, 2022). ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a number of challenges that influenced economic conditions and social behaviors of individuals, and also organizational operations in an adverse manner. This study is a critical literature review that aims to highlight the pivotal role of Human Resource Management (HRM) in devising strategies and practices that can be used to alleviate the hindrances that resulted from the current global health crisis. For this purpose, relevant articles published between December 2019 and April 2022 were retrieved from different databases, some of which include: Scopus, Science Direct, and Web of Science. Only 27 articles were chosen for this study due to a higher degree of relevance. The study concluded that HRM was competent enough to devise varied strategies and practices that enabled organizations to continue its routine operations while ensuring health, safety, psychological well-being, motivation and productivity of personnel at the workplace in prevalence of the global pandemic. Furthermore, limitations of the study and recommendations for future research are also included.
... Family businesses are generally characterised as vulnerable because of their autonomous, family-oriented standing and their constrained financial capital and resources (Bartoloni et al. 2021;Srhoj et al. 2021). In addition, they show certain particularities regarding their behaviours and measures during crises (Kraus et al. 2020). Globally, family farming is estimated to account for 80% of the world's food production, occupying 75% of agricultural land (FAO 2014), which proves its central role in food self-sufficiency and security, in the protection of the environment, and in achieving sustainable development (Graeub et al. 2016;FAO 2019). ...
... [9, [33][34][35][36] Study findings on SMEs' adaptive capacities against pandemic risk remain inconclusive and mixed. Absence of comprehensive taxonomy of COVID-19 risk impacts and coping strategies. ...
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Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are particularly vulnerable to pandemics. Therefore, resilience and adaptation to shocks from pandemics such as COVID-19 are urgently needed. However, despite some coping strategies already in place among SMEs, research on their nature and effectiveness is limited. Thus, it remains unclear how effectively and sustainably documented coping strategies reduce SMEs' vulnerability and increase their resilience to pandemic risk. This article reviews academic literature for evidence of pandemic risk impacts on SMEs, coping strategies in response to these impacts, and the degree to which these strategies reduce SMEs' vulnerability and increase their resilience. According to the literature review, seven essential pandemic risk impacts were identified for SMEs-human movement restrictions, financial constraints , operational challenges, logistics difficulties, delayed business reopening, short-term policy focus and tacit knowledge workers. The study also outlined eleven critical coping strategies , notably structural or physical and behavioural changes. Study analysis reveals that resilience research among SMEs is predominantly conceptual with limited empirical evidence. To conclude, this study urges more adaptation research focused on developing new forms of pandemic risk education for SMEs addressing their complexities.
... The closure of several sport-training facilities has led to a change in training methods for many athletes. Similarly, industries face supply chain challenges at the industrial level because of the number of employees locked inside their homes (Kraus et al., 2020). As a result, restrictions on some industries led to disruptions in the supply chain. ...
In Wuhan, China, and by the end of 2019 until the first half of 2020, the world experienced the proliferation and destruction of the new coronavirus discovery. Many infections and deaths caused by the virus, the collapse of the health care system, and the economic impact have few modern analogs. Many countries present a reaction to the pandemic; however, it arises when a heated debate ensues over which political system’s democracy versus authoritarianism is best suited to reply to the pandemic. As global efforts to contain the virus continue, this article aims to examine how the COVID-19 crisis has had many effects on the cultural lifestyle and social entrepreneurship of every country in the world. This current lack of integration between crisis management, entrepreneurship, and COVID-19 literature are the main points to be discussed. The summary of this analysis is consistently clear in the current literature through the connection of key notions within emergency management and entrepreneurship. Due to COVID-19, a dramatic effect has reached the global society. In fact, and academically speaking, this survey is among the first to study these consequences at different levels, including the cultural, social, and lifestyle entrepreneurship context. As a result, micro, macro, and meso environmental impacts deriving from the COVID-19 crisis can be better understood in the entrepreneurship literature area. At present, the impact of COVID-19 on entrepreneurship has not been studied. That is why this article tries to provide a broader and more comprehensive framework.
... According to data on the daily stock returns of listed companies in Italy, family-owned companies have outperformed their nonfamily counterparts during the pandemic (Amore et al., 2020). The survey conducted by Kraus et al. (2020) indicates that liquidity is vital for family firms. The family's financial support is aimed at securing investments and employment. ...
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This paper analyses literature related to the impact of COVID-19 on family firms' financial decisions. Presenting their distinctive characteristics and their responses to both past crises and the current one, the aim is to single out the key factors that ensure these firms' economic continuity. The analysis of the key factors shown in the studies makes it possible to identify and understand behavioural aspects, such as those relating to business resilience, employed by owners of family firms, which take precedence over traditional financial management decisions. The analysis of the financial impact of the current crisis on family firms will help improve their resilience to future exogenous impacts.
... Currently, there is intense competition amid uncertain business conditions, making it difficult to improve efficiency and maintain a competitive advantage for sustainable growth (Yoo et al., 2018). Additionally, the consequences of COVID-19 have required every organization to make significant efforts to endure the pandemic's effects (Rapaccini et al., 2020;Kraus et al., 2020). As a result of marketing globalization, technological advancement, shorter product life cycles, and new innovative development, there are currently many studies on advantage retention strategies in sustainable competition, including work performance improvement in rapidly changing and unpredictable business conditions (Choi, 2016;Bayraktar, 2016;Teece, 1997). ...
The purpose of this research was to study the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation, innovation and financial performance, through the mediating role of absorptive capacity and technological innovation capability. The study used a quantitative research method to collect data via questionnaire from the executive officers of 156 startup organizations in Thailand. Respondents were selected using a simple random sampling method and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). The results demonstrate that entrepreneurship orientation is a variable directly and significantly correlated with innovation and financial performance. However, it was found that entrepreneurship orientation does not correlate indirectly with innovation or financial performance via the mediation of absorptive capacity and technological innovation capacity. The results of the study can enable startup businesses in Thailand to create and pay attention to the behavior of entrepreneurship orientation to improve the organization’s innovation and financial performance.
The business units of Islamic boarding schools known as pesantren in local terminology as part of the engines of the local economy in Indonesia are among the social enterprises hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Theoretical and practical observations in the Indonesian social enterprise sectors indicate that business model innovation (BMI) proves to overcome and recover the business during the pandemic whereby they have successfully transformed their business models. This study analyzes why and how changes in this BMI are conducted by those social enterprises by conducting case studies of three Islamic boarding schools’ business units. To explore the questions, this study conducted in-depth interviews with administrators, especially religious leaders (kyai) and business managers for each case, which we triangulated with secondary data for analysis. The results show that BMI has been employed during the crisis to create new sources of income and ensure sufficient levels of liquidity, with the key role of business unit managers and staff with the support of religious leaders. This research contributes to the scarcity of innovation-based model in the context of social business in developing countries like Indonesia.
Purpose This study aims to explore the patterns and transformational dynamics of the executive–interpreter network in the innovation processes of small- and medium-sized enterprises in hospitality. Design/methodology/approach Grounded in social network theory and adopting a case-based approach, this study features a multi-case design focusing on three Chinese boutique hotels. Data were collected through Web page and document reviews, participant observations and semistructured interviews. Findings Results capture how executive–interpreter network dynamics contribute to innovation in small- and medium-sized hotels. Key factors in social networks (e.g. size, scope and strength) shift throughout innovation. This study presents a design-driven approach as a means of innovation. Findings also delineate the network development conditions under which innovation dynamically occurs in boutique hotels. Practical implications Practical implications center on how network dynamics help small- and medium-sized hotels innovate more effectively. These insights can assist hotel operators and prospective market entrants in improving their hotels’ performance and competitiveness. Originality/value This study blends social network theory with a design-driven approach to explore innovation mechanisms in small- and medium-sized hotels. It offers empirical evidence for practitioners regarding design-driven innovation. Findings enrich the body of knowledge on both design-driven innovation theory and hospitality innovation.
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We provide quantitative predictions of first-order supply and demand shocks for the US economy associated with the COVID-19 pandemic at the level of individual occupations and industries. To analyse the supply shock, we classify industries as essential or non-essential and construct a Remote Labour Index, which measures the ability of different occupations to work from home. Demand shocks are based on a study of the likely effect of a severe influenza epidemic developed by the US Congressional Budget Office. Compared to the pre-COVID period, these shocks would threaten around 20 per cent of the US economy’s GDP, jeopardize 23 per cent of jobs, and reduce total wage income by 16 per cent. At the industry level, sectors such as transport are likely to be output-constrained by demand shocks, while sectors relating to manufacturing, mining, and services are more likely to be constrained by supply shocks. Entertainment, restaurants, and tourism face large supply and demand shocks. At the occupation level, we show that high-wage occupations are relatively immune from adverse supply- and demand-side shocks, while low-wage occupations are much more vulnerable. We should emphasize that our results are only first-order shocks—we expect them to be substantially amplified by feedback effects in the production network.
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The outbreak of coronavirus named COVID-19 has disrupted the Chinese economy and is spreading globally. The evolution of the disease and its economic impact is highly uncertain which makes it difficult for policymakers to formulate an appropriate macroeconomic policy response. In order to better understand possible economic outcomes, this paper explores seven different scenarios of how COVID-19 might evolve in the coming year using a modelling technique developed by Lee and McKibbin (2003) and extended by McKibbin and Sidorenko (2006). It examines the impacts of different scenarios on macroeconomic outcomes and financial markets in a global hybrid DSGE/CGE general equilibrium model. The scenarios in this paper demonstrate that even a contained outbreak could significantly impact the global economy in the short run. These scenarios demonstrate the scale of costs that might be avoided by greater investment in public health systems in all economies but particularly in less developed economies where health care systems are less developed and popultion density is high.
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Covid-19 has severely tested our public health systems. Recovering from Covid-19 will soon test our economic systems. Innovation will have an important role to play in recovering from the aftermath of the coronavirus. This article discusses both how to manage innovation as part of that recovery, and also derives some lessons from how we have responded to the virus so far, and what those lessons imply for managing innovation during the recovery.
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Research summary The pandemic spread of the coronavirus COVID‐19 is rightly focusing policy‐makers’ attention on saving people's lives. At the same time, the pandemic crisis is threatening the survival of firms at a global scale, with potentially devastating societal and economic outcomes. In this Virtual Special Issue, we gather and discuss key papers published in the journals of the Strategic Management Society that provide insights into firms' potential strategic responses to crisis. Based on our overview, we identify four types of responses: retrenchment, persevering, innovating, and exit. Awareness of these responses has implications for managers and strategy scholars alike. Managerial summary How can firms respond to crises such as the current pandemic spread of the coronavirus COVID‐19? This Virtual Special Issue begins to provide answers to this question. Based on a select overview of papers published in the journals of the Strategic Management Society, we advance four types of strategic responses to crisis: retrenchment, persevering, innovating, and exit. Awareness of these responses has implications for managers and strategy scholars alike. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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The outbreak of coronavirus named COVID-19 has disrupted the Chinese economy and is spreading globally. The evolution of the disease and its economic impact is highly uncertain which makes it difficult for policymakers to formulate an appropriate macroeconomic policy response. In order to better understand possible economic outcomes, this paper explores seven different scenarios of how COVID-19 might evolve in the coming year using a modelling technique developed by Lee and McKibbin (2003) and extended by McKibbin and Sidorenko (2006). It examines the impacts of different scenarios on macroeconomic outcomes and financial markets in a global hybrid DSGE/CGE general equilibrium model. The scenarios in this paper demonstrate that even a contained outbreak could significantly impact the global economy in the short run. These scenarios demonstrate the scale of costs that might be avoided by greater investment in public health systems in all economies but particularly in less developed economies where health care systems are less developed and population density is high.
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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.).
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Background: An ongoing outbreak of pneumonia associated with a novel coronavirus was reported in Wuhan city, Hubei province, China. Affected patients were geographically linked with a local wet market as a potential source. No data on person-to-person or nosocomial transmission have been published to date. Methods: In this study, we report the epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, radiological, and microbiological findings of five patients in a family cluster who presented with unexplained pneumonia after returning to Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China, after a visit to Wuhan, and an additional family member who did not travel to Wuhan. Phylogenetic analysis of genetic sequences from these patients were done. Findings: From Jan 10, 2020, we enrolled a family of six patients who travelled to Wuhan from Shenzhen between Dec 29, 2019 and Jan 4, 2020. Of six family members who travelled to Wuhan, five were identified as infected with the novel coronavirus. Additionally, one family member, who did not travel to Wuhan, became infected with the virus after several days of contact with four of the family members. None of the family members had contacts with Wuhan markets or animals, although two had visited a Wuhan hospital. Five family members (aged 36-66 years) presented with fever, upper or lower respiratory tract symptoms, or diarrhoea, or a combination of these 3-6 days after exposure. They presented to our hospital (The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen) 6-10 days after symptom onset. They and one asymptomatic child (aged 10 years) had radiological ground-glass lung opacities. Older patients (aged >60 years) had more systemic symptoms, extensive radiological ground-glass lung changes, lymphopenia, thrombocytopenia, and increased C-reactive protein and lactate dehydrogenase levels. The nasopharyngeal or throat swabs of these six patients were negative for known respiratory microbes by point-of-care multiplex RT-PCR, but five patients (four adults and the child) were RT-PCR positive for genes encoding the internal RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and surface Spike protein of this novel coronavirus, which were confirmed by Sanger sequencing. Phylogenetic analysis of these five patients' RT-PCR amplicons and two full genomes by next-generation sequencing showed that this is a novel coronavirus, which is closest to the bat severe acute respiatory syndrome (SARS)-related coronaviruses found in Chinese horseshoe bats. Interpretation: Our findings are consistent with person-to-person transmission of this novel coronavirus in hospital and family settings, and the reports of infected travellers in other geographical regions. Funding: The Shaw Foundation Hong Kong, Michael Seak-Kan Tong, Respiratory Viral Research Foundation Limited, Hui Ming, Hui Hoy and Chow Sin Lan Charity Fund Limited, Marina Man-Wai Lee, the Hong Kong Hainan Commercial Association South China Microbiology Research Fund, Sanming Project of Medicine (Shenzhen), and High Level-Hospital Program (Guangdong Health Commission).
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Background: A recent cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, was caused by a novel betacoronavirus, the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). We report the epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, and radiological characteristics and treatment and clinical outcomes of these patients. Methods: All patients with suspected 2019-nCoV were admitted to a designated hospital in Wuhan. We prospectively collected and analysed data on patients with laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection by real-time RT-PCR and next-generation sequencing. Data were obtained with standardised data collection forms shared by the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium from electronic medical records. Researchers also directly communicated with patients or their families to ascertain epidemiological and symptom data. Outcomes were also compared between patients who had been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and those who had not. Findings: By Jan 2, 2020, 41 admitted hospital patients had been identified as having laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection. Most of the infected patients were men (30 [73%] of 41); less than half had underlying diseases (13 [32%]), including diabetes (eight [20%]), hypertension (six [15%]), and cardiovascular disease (six [15%]). Median age was 49·0 years (IQR 41·0-58·0). 27 (66%) of 41 patients had been exposed to Huanan seafood market. One family cluster was found. Common symptoms at onset of illness were fever (40 [98%] of 41 patients), cough (31 [76%]), and myalgia or fatigue (18 [44%]); less common symptoms were sputum production (11 [28%] of 39), headache (three [8%] of 38), haemoptysis (two [5%] of 39), and diarrhoea (one [3%] of 38). Dyspnoea developed in 22 (55%) of 40 patients (median time from illness onset to dyspnoea 8·0 days [IQR 5·0-13·0]). 26 (63%) of 41 patients had lymphopenia. All 41 patients had pneumonia with abnormal findings on chest CT. Complications included acute respiratory distress syndrome (12 [29%]), RNAaemia (six [15%]), acute cardiac injury (five [12%]) and secondary infection (four [10%]). 13 (32%) patients were admitted to an ICU and six (15%) died. Compared with non-ICU patients, ICU patients had higher plasma levels of IL2, IL7, IL10, GSCF, IP10, MCP1, MIP1A, and TNFα. Interpretation: The 2019-nCoV infection caused clusters of severe respiratory illness similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and was associated with ICU admission and high mortality. Major gaps in our knowledge of the origin, epidemiology, duration of human transmission, and clinical spectrum of disease need fulfilment by future studies. Funding: Ministry of Science and Technology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China, and Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission.
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The innovation of products, services, and business models is key to firm survival, performance, and growth in today’s turbulent business environments. However, accelerating environmental dynamics also require speeding up the innovation process. A suitable solution may be the use of agility, especially at the front end of innovation. In this study, we aim to identify agility enablers in this first stage of the innovation process. We follow a two-step procedure. First, we review existing agility frameworks and find that several agility enablers are already discussed, but no holistic framework exists yet. Second, we conduct qualitative expert interviews to obtain a better understanding of additional enablers and enabler attributes. By comparing the theoretical and managerial sources, we find gaps in each side’s attention. As a result, we introduce a novel, agile front end of innovation framework that helps firms pay attention to agility enablers that can speed up the innovation process.
No previous infectious disease outbreak, including the Spanish Flu, has affected the stock market as forcefully as the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, previous pandemics left only mild traces on the U.S. stock market. We use text-based methods to develop these points with respect to large daily stock market moves back to 1900 and with respect to overall stock market volatility back to 1985. We also evaluate potential explanations for the unprecedented stock market reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. The evidence we amass suggests that government restrictions on commercial activity and voluntary social distancing, operating with powerful effects in a service-oriented economy, are the main reasons the U.S. stock market reacted so much more forcefully to COVID-19 than to previous pandemics in 1918–1919, 1957–1958, and 1968.