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Business Management Competencies as the Driver of Small-Medium Enterprises' Survival during COVID-19 Pandemic

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Managerial competencies are vital in solving issues and providing quick solutions in this time of the pandemic. The capacity of top managers to manage the firm plays a critical part in the enterprise's survival. However, competency gaps among managers in this time of pandemics continue to be high. This study determined the management competencies of Managers and their impact on the survival of Small and Medium Enterprises during COVID-19. Business continuity strategies were also determined to prove managers possess the competencies to thrive in this challenging business environment. This study used a quantitative-qualitative research approach to identify the management competencies possessed by twelve SME managers in Santiago City, Philippines, as validated by the responses of five employees who directly work under each SME manager/owner. Data were collected through the drop-and-collect method. SPSS was used to process and analyze data using weighted means and Pearson-r correlation. In addition, financial accounts from SMEs were requested for triangulation to corroborate the findings on survival. Indeed, recovery planning, resilience, innovativeness, creativity, integrated decision-making, problem-solving, and analytical 297 thinking are crucial to managerial success and business survival. Business managers have deliberately designed continuity strategies to continue operating despite limits and profit from their business activities. This study increases transparency and accessibility of comprehensible and understandable information on intensified business management competencies, including its impact on business survival. Thus, SMEs may be able to adopt and implement practical approaches that were revealed. It will also allow business owners to create training, coaching, and mentoring programs that will suit the need of the managers, which may equip them with necessary competencies that can contribute more opportunities for the company's growth in the new century.
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Puissant (ISSN print: 2719-0153; ISSN online: 2719-0161)
Vol. 3, pp. 296-315
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Business Management Competencies as the Driver of
Small-Medium Enterprises’ Survival during COVID-19
Pandemic
Client William M. Malinao
College of Business and Management, Ifugao State University, Philippines
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0613-6342
(corresponding author)
Romy G. Ebi
College of Business and Accountancy, Cagayan Valley Computer and Information
Technology College Inc., Philippines
Date received: September 24, 2021
Date received in revised form: October 20, 2021
Date accepted: October 28, 2021
Recommended citation:
Malinao, C.M., & Ebi, R. G. (2022). Business management competencies as the driver
of Small-medium enterprises' survival during COVID-19 pandemic. Puissant, 3, 296-
315.
Abstract
Managerial competencies are vital in solving issues and providing quick solutions in
this time of the pandemic. The capacity of top managers to manage the firm plays a
critical part in the enterprise's survival. However, competency gaps among managers in
this time of pandemics continue to be high. This study determined the management
competencies of Managers and their impact on the survival of Small and Medium
Enterprises during COVID-19. Business continuity strategies were also determined to
prove managers possess the competencies to thrive in this challenging business
environment. This study used a quantitative-qualitative research approach to identify the
management competencies possessed by twelve SME managers in Santiago City,
Philippines, as validated by the responses of five employees who directly work under
each SME manager/owner. Data were collected through the drop-and-collect method.
SPSS was used to process and analyze data using weighted means and Pearson-r
correlation. In addition, financial accounts from SMEs were requested for triangulation to
corroborate the findings on survival. Indeed, recovery planning, resilience,
innovativeness, creativity, integrated decision-making, problem-solving, and analytical
297
thinking are crucial to managerial success and business survival. Business managers have
deliberately designed continuity strategies to continue operating despite limits and profit
from their business activities. This study increases transparency and accessibility of
comprehensible and understandable information on intensified business management
competencies, including its impact on business survival. Thus, SMEs may be able to adopt
and implement practical approaches that were revealed. It will also allow business
owners to create training, coaching, and mentoring programs that will suit the need of
the managers, which may equip them with necessary competencies that can contribute
more opportunities for the company's growth in the new century.
Keywords business management competencies, business survival, continuity strategies,
Philippines
INTRODUCTION
The worldwide connection was tested in the year 2020. The outbreak of the
coronavirus known as COVID-19 has triggered a global health disaster. The situation is
dire, and it has a significant impact on how people interact, work, produce, exchange,
consume, and live (International Trade Center, 2020). The outbreak (COVID-19) has taken
the entire economy by surprise. Individuals' lifestyles and financial activities are strictly
regulated to protect their health and prevent the spread of the disease. Quarantines have
been accompanied by travel bans, rapid closure of schools and organizations, and social
isolation. In addition, private firms have been forced to temporarily lay off people due to
reduced output and service delivery. Lack of working capital makes it difficult to continue
working. Continuation control of COVID-19 increases the danger of poor performance and
instability. Supply chain disruptions and tightening monetary circumstances are putting
small and medium-sized firms in particular in jeopardy. The Pandemic- Coronavirus has
harmed approximately 93 percent of enterprises, resulting in a significant drop in
revenue. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the firms have also had to deal with stale
goods, loan fees, laborer pay, and rental costs (Tran et al., 2020). As time passes, the
business world becomes increasingly complex, shifting conditions that inspire business
owners to develop effective and efficient methods (Johnson, 2017).
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an essential role in many economies,
driving development, creating jobs, and expanding commercial opportunities. Although
SMEs are critical to economic progress, they are typically the most vulnerable when major
public emergencies occur (Lu et al., 2020). The economic consequences of the pandemic
became apparent almost immediately, with small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) at
the forefront. With workers and customers staying inside and supply networks being
tested by closures, the small companies that provide 70 percent of jobs and a significant
percentage of global financial mobility have been put under strain (ITC, 2020). COVID-19
hit small businesses the hardest because they have lower levels of preparedness, are
298
more vulnerable, rely more on the government and neighboring organizations, and have
a mental and financial impact on the owners/directors (Chen et al. 2020). Nonetheless,
despite being granted permission to reopen, many small and medium-sized firms (SMEs)
have found it difficult to maintain operations, resulting in further significant financial
losses and putting numerous firms at risk of closing permanently (McCloskey & Heymann,
2020).
Every period seems to have severe disturbances of normalcy, but the COVID-19
Pandemic's impacts on trade were unprecedented (Ketchen, Jr. & Craighead, 2020).
Micro, small, and medium-sized firms have a direct effect on public economies and global
development opportunities. Governments created plans to aid SMEs in response to the
COVID-19 pandemic. Governments are taking steps to assist small and medium-sized
businesses (SMEs) to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 flare-up (Antonescu,
2020). However, business firms still face numerous hurdles to survive in a challenging
market (Johnson, 2017).
In their study of the performance of entrepreneurial organizations during times of
crisis, Bartz and Winkler (2016) discovered that micro-organizations develop slowly during
times of crisis, showing fragility, compared to larger enterprises, which expand faster and
more adaptable. Crises, it is believed, are harmful to small enterprises; as a result,
entrepreneurs must devise ways to manage and plan for alternate techniques to mitigate
the crisis's impact on their firms. And, at this time of contagion, much emphasis must be
placed on managerial knowledge, abilities, and attitude to address problems and deliver
solutions. The COVID-19 Pandemic's unique challenges necessitate excellent abilities
(Bondarenko et al., 2021). Identifying a manager's strategy and set of decisions is critical
to a company's existence (Populova & Mokros, 2007). These businesses must adopt new
strategies to cope with the demanding environment. However, there are still issues with
how these techniques should be executed correctly and successfully, which managers
and owners must be aware of (David, 2009).
Moreover, the skillsets of today's effective managers have yet to be standardized. The
link between managerial abilities and firm survival is still a topic of discussion. As a result,
this article investigates the relevant managerial competencies of business entities in this
time of pandemic and their link to business firm survival in Santiago City, Isabela,
Philippines. Furthermore, the techniques used by managers to respond to this crisis were
identified to prove that they possess the necessary competencies to address the
changing business climate and client expectations throughout the new normal. Thus, this
study will ideally contribute to developing mechanisms for small-medium entrepreneurs
to thrive after the crisis.
Statement of the Objective
The study aimed to investigate the managerial competencies of business entities
and how such would drive the business survival among firms in Santiago City, Philippines.
299
In addition, the financial performance of the selected entities in Northern Luzon in terms
of liquidity and profitability were used to validate findings for company survival.
Statement of Null Hypothesis
1. Business Survival in this time of pandemic does not depend on Managerial
competencies among managers of SMEs in Santiago City, Isabela, Philippines.
LITERATURE REVIEW
Resource-based Theory
The company's unmatched sources and potentials act as a competitive advantage for
the organization. Companies claim to have a plethora of resources and opportunities.
Therefore, any sources that the firm or the corporation owns and controls have a high
potential for generating competitive advantage and more extraordinary firm
performance. According to resource-based theory, the primary source of a firm's
competitive advantage is internal, as opposed to its external positioning, which is just
evaluating some environmental possibilities and risks when conducting business. With a
resource-based approach, the drivers of a firm's or company's competitive advantage and
performance must be linked to their resources and skills. If the firm's resources and
capabilities are significant, unique, and incomparable, and the firm is systematized to
harness these potentials, it has an advantage over competitors (Barney et al., 2021). The
resource-based view (RBV) ideology primarily reinforces the strategic human resource
management (SHRM) principle, which states that an organization's distinctive nature is
created by a variety of resources, including human resources (HR), and that this produces
a competitive advantage (Assensoh-Kodua, 2019)
Management competencies in this time of COVID-19 crisis
Identifying the managerial tasks, decisions, and actions that can result in the
formulation and implementation of specific performance objectives and strategies to be
implemented with adaptation to internal and external environments to execute the
chosen courses of action to achieve the organizational goals speaks about Management
competencies (Tapera, 2014). Because it is a pool of experience, knowledge, and
processes that produce and accumulate new strategic assets that constitute a firm's
existence, management emphasizes the role of competencies and resources that accrue
within an organization (Uysal, 2007). Every company's key goals in the global business
sector are to expand, excel, and survive. The ability to differentiate between mediocre
and great managers is based on the competencies they possess. As a result, managerial
competencies play a significant role in a variety of businesses. Competent managers must
have the knowledge, skills, and talents required to generate positive employee behavior
(Krajcovicova et al., 2012). The COVID-19 Pandemic, on the other hand, put
H5
300
unprecedented expectations on many managers in business and beyond. Employees and
other stakeholders are concerned about COVID-19's humanitarian impact. Executives are
finding it challenging to act due to the outbreak's colossal scale and unpredictability.
Indeed, the outbreak has all the elements of a landscape-scale crisis: an unanticipated
occurrence or series of events of enormous scope and speed, resulting in a significant
degree of uncertainty (D'Auria & De Smet, 2020). The COVID-19 necessitates a complete
rethinking of a successful manager's competency paradigm. The worldwide
environment's transition has impacted different company fields necessitating essential
professional abilities and capabilities for modern leaders, including self-development,
cognitive thinking, market turbulence adaptability, and digitization (Bondarenko et al.
2021).
In the scientific literature, universal competency models have been published.
Businesses use organizational skills for various managers at various levels and particular
capabilities for staff in critical departments. However, because the modern corporate
world is continuously changing, it is essential to pay attention to competencies to ensure
future success (Tomastika et al., 2015; Bondarenko, 2020). With the World Economic
Forum report, most work competencies will alter dramatically by 2022, particularly for
managers at all levels. Future managers' core competencies or skill groups will be formed
by the pandemic-related global recession of 2020 and the transition toward the predicted
introduction of new technology, automation, and further advances by 2025. Analytical
thinking, creativity, and ingenuity, as well as integrated problem-solving, recovery
planning, and self-management abilities like resilience, are among them (World Economic
Forum, 2020). Resilience, adaptability, and tenacity are examples of newly emerging self-
management skills (World Economic Forum, 2020). As a result, management and firms
are increasingly valuing creativity, innovation, and initiative. These skills allow firms to
adapt to change, thrive, and help shape new industries and markets (Bondarenko, 2020;
Czarnecka & Szymura-Tyc, 2016).
A corporate turnaround strategy is necessary due to a decline in SMEs' revenues due
to a drop in client demand and rising operating costs. Therefore, managers must have
recovery strategies in place and make informed decisions on many facets of company
management. In addition, businesses have been obliged to develop unique and
imaginative solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems due to the COVID-19
Pandemic (Nurunnabi et al., 2020).
Business survival through competencies
Even though many factors influence small business growth and survival, the owner-
approach manager is maybe the most important (Mazzarol, 2005). Experts believe that
managers must develop managerial competencies to achieve organizational objectives.
The capacity to leverage capabilities is critical to long-term survival (Javadin et al., 2010).
Managerial competencies should not be outmoded or incorrect; instead, they should
constantly evolve and improve to meet the demands of an ever-changing market.
301
Competency is a must to have a mark that leads to market dominance and, in turn, good
performance, as it is a sign that embodies a firm-specific way of doing business and
develops from expertise, experience, skills, systems, knowledge, capabilities, and
resources, as well as a value chain that all set the firms apart from their competitors.
Furthermore, managerial qualities are critical in small businesses' potential to grow and
survive (Uysal, 2007; Sidek & Mohammad, 2014).
METHODOLOGY
Design
The study is quantitative and qualitative in design to investigate business entity
managerial competencies as drivers for business firm survival in Santiago City, Isabela,
Philippines, during this Pandemic. Quantitative research design through descriptive and
correlational methods was employed in this study as this method is concerned with
gathering, classifying, presenting data, and the correlation between data. Additionally, to
validate information gathered in the descriptive method, the qualitative design was
utilized to develop more extensive and realistic data. Thus, the researcher used a
questionnaire and semi-structured interviews in the form of open-ended questions.
Respondents
The people that took part in this study were business owners/managers and
employees. A total of twelve (12) owners/managers and sixty (60) employees were
selected to participate in this study. Respondents were chosen from independent
enterprises in various industries using the convenience sample methodology (three from
the Private Academe, three from Cooperatives, three from Pharmaceuticals, three from
Sales). During this pandemic, the Licensing Department/Department of Trade and
Industry provided 12 continuously operational business enterprises. To illustrate the
study's aims, the ratio of respondents is 5:1, with five employees and one owner/manager
in each firm.
To have a bird's eye view of the respondents' profile, Table 1 and 1.2 presents the
profile of SME Managers and employees in Santiago City when grouped by Sex, Age,
Educational Attainment, and Years being employed. It can be gleaned in Table 1 that most
of the managers operating SMEs are male, ages ranging from 35 to 44 years old.
Moreover, they finished their bachelor's degree, which constitutes 91.7 % of the total
population. Thus, it is proven that a managerial position requires a candidate or employee
to have a degree related to the position. Also, they have been working within the
organization for 6 to 10 years. While Table 2 shows that most of the employee
respondents are female, 23-24 years old, college graduates, and working in the company
for 2-5 years.
302
Table 1. Demographic Profile of SME Managers
Table 2. Demographic Profile of SME Employees
Variables
Frequency
Percentage
Sex
f
%
Male
7
58.3
Female
5
41.7
Age
Frequency (f)
Percentage (%)
23-34 y/o
3
25.0
35-44 y/o
7
58.3
45-55 y/o
1
8.3
55 and above
1
8.3
Educational Attainment
Frequency (f)
Percentage (%)
College Graduate
11
91.7
Master's Degree Holder
1
8.3
Total
12
100
Years Employed
Frequency (f)
Percentage (%)
2-5 years
3
25.0
6-10 years
5
41.7
11-20 years
3
25.0
21-25 years
1
8.3
Variables
Frequency
Percentage
Sex
f
%
Male
23
38.3
Female
37
66.7
Age
Frequency (f)
Percentage (%)
23-34 y/o
29
48.3
35-44 y/o
18
30
45-55 y/o
8
13.3
55 and above
5
8.4
Educational Attainment
Frequency (f)
Percentage (%)
College Undergraduate
12
80
College Graduate
48
20
Master's Degree Holder
-
-
Years Employed
Frequency (f)
Percentage (%)
2-5 years
33
55
6-10 years
18
30
11-20 years
6
10
21-25 years
3
5
303
Data Gathering Tools
Data were collected using a modified questionnaire based on the work of other
prominent scholars. Questionnaires were divided into three parts. Part I includes the
demographic profile of the respondents in terms of age, sex, educational attainment, and
years in Service. Part II has managerial competencies. To measure managers'
management competencies in this time of the pandemic, questions were outlined or
patterned with the M-Astra method (Laguna et al., 2011) and other eminent authors. A
subjective scale derived from Adam and Alarifi (2021) was used to assess SME survival.
Expert pooling, refinement, field testing, and final refinement were used to validate the
instrument since it was derived from different sources. Cronbach's alpha (=.893) was
used to determine validity and reliability. For follow-up questions, open-ended questions
were inserted at the end of the questionnaire. Data were collected during the second
quarter of 2021 using the drop-and-collect approach to maintain health and safety
protocols.
To prevent biases, the results from the survey were interpreted using a four-point
Likert Scale (Pimentel, 2019)
Table 3.1. Evaluation Scale for Business Management Competencies
Numerical Evaluation
Range
1
1.0-1.75
2
1.76-2.50
3
2.51-3.25
4
3.26-4.0
Table 3.2. Evaluation Scale for Perceived Business Survival
Numerical Evaluation
Range
1
1.0-1.75
2
1.76-2.50
3
2.51-3.25
4
3.26-4.0
Variables of the Study
The independent variable in the study involves business
management competencies (recovery planning. innovativeness,
analytical thinking, integrated decision-making, problem-solving,
resilience), while business survival is the dependent variable. Fig.
1 displays the relationship between the variables.
304
Treatment of Data
The Pearson-r correlation and weighted means were calculated. Financial Statements
for the year 2020 were also requested to examine and support data acquired about firm
survival. 2020 Financial statements were requested as the onset of COVID-19 started on
March 16, 2020. Survey questionnaires were distributed in the second quarter of 2021. The
measurement of business survival was from the soft reopening (August 2020) to the
actual data gathering (2nd quarter of 2021).
The formulas for liquidity and profitability were employed in the financial statement
analysis, as stated in the table below: Quick ratio, Current Ratio, Overall Profitability, and
Return on Investment. Internal accountants of the SMEs prepared financial statements
that were used in this study. In addition, researchers sought the assistance of a Certified
Public Accountant to analyze financial statements.
Table 4. Formulas on Liquidity and Profitability ratios
Liquidity Ratios
Profitability Ratios
1. Quick Ratio
1. Overall Profitability
Cash + Receivables
Current Liabilities
______Net Surplus_____
Revenue from all Sources
2. Current Ratio
2. Return on Investment
Current Assets
Current Liabilities
Net surplus after Statutory Funds
Average Share Capital
Source: Lafuente & Maria (2005).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Business management competencies
Table 5. Management Competencies of Owners/Managers of Small Medium Enterprises in
Santiago City as perceived by Managers/Owners and Employees
Management Competencies
Managers
Employees
Mean
D.I
Mean
D.I
Recovery Planning
3.58
H
3.21
A
Resilience (Adaptability)
3.56
H
3.33
H
Innovativeness and Creativity
3.57
H
3.00
A
Analytical Thinking
3.53
H
3.39
H
Integrated Decision-making and
Problem Solving
3.57
H
3.38
H
Overall Mean
3.56
H
3.30
H
Legend: 1.0- 1.75= Very Low (VL); 1.76-2.50= Low (L); 2.51-3.25= Average (A); 3.26- 4.0= High (H)
305
The table above shows the mean of managerial competencies possessed by
managers/owners among SMEs in Santiago City in this pandemic. With the overall mean
of 3.56 with a qualitative description of "High" on a four-point Likert scale, it can be
shown that managers/owners are confident in their ability to keep the company afloat
during this crisis with the competencies they possess. According to the data presented,
managers feel they are good crisis planners, resilient enough, innovative, decision-
makers, problem solvers, and analytical thinkers. Furthermore, employees strongly agree
that the owners/managers of the organizations they work for have management
capabilities essential in this time of crisis, with a general mean of 3.30 and a qualitative
description of "High" on a four-point Likert scale.
According to the respondents, managers took extra and strenuous attempts to keep
their businesses afloat during the pandemic. Actions and plans were reviewed and re-
evaluated in light of the current circumstances. Owners and managers studied various
strategies to suit consumer demand while following health norms mandated by the
authorities. According to the respondents, owners/managers' knowledge and
imagination are challenged in conveying fresh and unique ideas in this age of advanced
technology. Firm owners/managers are open to new ideas for their businesses to survive.
Respondents constantly anticipate many scenarios that may develop during a pandemic.
Owners/managers approach problem-solving and decision-making from a broad, long-
term perspective, including objective analysis, foresight, and planning. Owners and
managers think in different time frames, identifying what they aim to achieve over time
and what needs to happen now, in six months, a year, and three years. Business
owners/managers in Santiago City can also anticipate new opportunities while
considering the uniqueness of tactics or solutions relevant to various pandemic-related
difficulties for the organization's betterment and survival. The pandemic has altered the
business environment, necessitating multiple adaptive systems. Organizations must
invest more in establishing managerial competency, particularly among their leaders, to
thrive in this type of climate.
Business Survival and Continuity Strategies during COVID-19
The graphs above show the general mean of SMEs' survival from 2020 to the first
quarter of 2021, as perceived by their owners/managers and employees. According to the
findings, the COVID-19 downturn affected SMEs, followed by social isolation and a
statewide lockdown. SMEs said that no matter how well-established they are, they have
suffered and continue to incur significant consequences. SME sales, earned profit, assets,
capital, output, and market share all declined significantly in the year 2020, according to
both managers/owners and staff, when compared to the performance of SMEs before
COVID-19.
306
Legend: 1.0- 1.75= Largely Decreased (LD); ); 1.76-2.50= Decreased (D); 2.51-3.25= No Change (NC); 3.26- 4.0= Increased (I)
Figures 2.1 and 2.2. Business Survival of SMEs during COVID-19 Pandemic as perceived by
managers/owners and employees for the year 2020 and first quarter of 2021.
In August 2020, the city of Santiago, Philippines, began to relax its prohibitions.
Temporary measures such as solid restriction on people's mobility and transportation,
strict management of running industries, food, and essential services, an increased
presence of uniformed officers to enforce community quarantine rules are loosened and
less necessary. According to the respondents, the pandemic had a significant impact on
them because they were compelled to close their firm temporarily during the Enhanced
and modified community quarantine periods. The majority of SMEs stated that they had
only restarted operations in the fourth quarter of 2020.
On a lighter note, small businesses thought their operations were improving in the
first quarter of 2021 compared to their performance in 2020. In addition, managers and
staff believe that sales, profit, and production have improved slightly compared to the
fourth quarter of 2020. However, their assets, capital, and market share all remained
unchanged.
The restart of operations coincided with a significant shift in how business was
conducted before the pandemic. Various organizations have tried and tested a variety of
continuity solutions. In industries like pharmaceuticals and general sales, SMEs use
multiple techniques to keep their businesses running during the loosened community
quarantine. For example, SMEs reduced the supply chain, developed new items to fit
current customer needs (essential foods, cleaning, and sanitary goods), automated
market access and delivery schedules, and promoted products and services using mobile
applications and digital marketing. In addition, all SMEs used various payment options for
product sales to reduce face-to-face transactions, including mobile apps (Gcash, Paymaya,
Paypal), credit, and debit cards.
307
The use of technology, innovation, product diversification, market exploration, and
multiple channels in distributing goods to customers through distributors, mobile apps,
and physical stores, according to studies conducted by Papadopoulos et al. (2020),
Palmatier et al. (2019), Alves et al. (2020), and Cabellero (2021), is more beneficial.
Liquidity and profitability were determined based on financial statements submitted by
SMEs for the year 2020 to substantiate the claims of managers and staff that enterprises
survive.
Table 6. The measure of Liquidity - Quick & Current ratio
Entity
Quick
ratio
Interpretation
Current
ratio
Interpretation
A- Academe
.51:1
Not Liquid
.54:1
Not Liquid
B- Cooperative
1.47:1
Liquid
1.53:1
Not Liquid
C- Pharma
1.16:1
Liquid
1.46:1
Not Liquid
D- General Sales
.9:1
Not Liquid
1.08:1
Not liquid
The quick and current ratios of the firm's A, B, C, and D are shown in the table above
that measures their ability to pay their debts as they become due and mature. According
to Lafuente and Marie (2005), the quick ratio rule of thumb is 1:1, which means that for
every 1 peso of current liabilities, there must be a comparable 1-peso quick asset to cover
the current liabilities. At the same time, the current ratio is calculated by dividing current
assets by current liabilities. Thus, the 2:1 rule states that for every one peso in current
liabilities, there must be two pesos in current assets.
Only B and C, the cooperative and pharmaceutical companies, exceeded the quick
ratio rule of thumb among the four entities. It indicates that this entity's liquid assets,
cash, and receivables are sufficient to satisfy its short-term obligations. It could be due to
the assumption that adequate money is earned and receivables are recovered promptly
because the business continued to operate during General Community Quarantine. It is
not the case for entities A and D, as their quick ratios are less than the rule of thumb
(1.1:1), at.51 and .90, respectively. These findings suggest that during the peak of the
COVID-19 pandemic, these entities did not meet their current obligations when they came
due.
On the other hand, Entity B has the highest current ratio (1.53:1), whereas entity A's
current ratio is non-liquid. Thus, the findings indicate that none of the four organizations
met their existing obligations at maturity.
Liquidity management has been a critical cause of concern for corporate managers,
particularly in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. It is becoming too expensive to
sustain due to tightening in both the local and worldwide financial markets. Companies
308
must retain adequate liquidity; failure to do so puts a company's survival in jeopardy. In
addition, the public's unwillingness to invest in company shares due to the capital market
crash can be a concern if the company is discovered to be non-liquid (Edem, 2017).
Table 7. The measure of profitability Overall Profitability & Return of Investment
Company
Overall
profitability
Interpretation
Return of
investment
Interpretation
A-Academe
(.27)
Loss
(33.93)
Negative
B-Cooperative
.36
Profit
.15
Positive
C-Pharmaceutical
.45
Loss
.33
Positive
D- General Sales
.05
Profit
.02
Positive
Entities A, B, C, and D's overall profitability and return on investment are shown in the
table above. The overall profitability is used to assess a company's ability to produce a
profit from its assets. An upward trend in the percentage is considered a favorable trend.
Thus, a high percentage indicates a beneficial outcome from operations. On the other
hand, return on investment is the return on invested capital, calculated by dividing net
surplus by investment (Lafuente & Maria, 2005).
Entity C had the highest return of 45 percent among the four entities, followed by
entity B with 36 percent. However, it can be shown that entity A had suffered a 27
percent loss. A positive return suggests two things: the revenues generated are adequate
to cover both costs and expenses. Therefore, the total costs and expenses incurred have
been kept to a positive return level even if the revenue is insufficient. Conversely, a
negative return indicates that costs and expenses are not under control at the intended
level, and revenues are inadequate to cover the costs and expenses.
The table also shows that entities A did not derive a favorable return on their
investments as reflected in their negative 33.93. Instead of obtaining favorable results on
their investments, it turned unfavorable and, therefore, a loss. However, entity C's return
on investment is 33%, showing a favorable result of investments. Likewise, entities B and
D made a 15% and 2% return on their investment, respectively.
The academe incurred loss and negative investment return because the COVID-19
pandemic necessitated the immediate closure of in-person instruction to adhere to social
rules. It has resulted in the most extensive disruption of educational systems in history,
affecting about 1.6 billion people. Closures of academies and other learning places have
impacted 94% of the world's student population, with rates as high as 99 percent in low
and lower-middle-income countries. The COVID-19 outbreak caught the higher education
system off guard. It has had a widespread impact on the higher education sector
worldwide (United Nations, 2020). The new normal of instruction posed challenges for
various delivery structures, particularly in the rapid digitalization of educational programs,
which impacted private institutions' revenue (Perez, 2020).
309
Table 8. Pearson-r correlation on the Management Competencies of Managers and
Business Survival of SMEs in Santiago City, Philippines during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Variables
Sig. (2-
tailed)
Correlation
Coefficient
Interpretation
Decision
Recovery
Planning
Business
Survival
.01
.59
Moderate
positive
correlation
Reject Null
Hypothesis
Resilience
(Adaptability)
Business
Survival
.00
.62
Moderate
positive
correlation
Reject Null
Hypothesis
Innovativeness
and Creativity
Business
Survival
.02
.67
Moderate
positive
correlation
Reject Null
Hypothesis
Analytical
Thinking
Business
Survival
.00
.68
Moderate
positive
correlation
Reject Null
Hypothesis
Integrated
Decision-
making and
Problem
Solving
Business
Survival
.00
.68
Moderate
positive
correlation
Reject Null
Hypothesis
*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).
The findings show a moderate positive association between management qualities
such as recovery planning, resilience, innovativeness and creativity, analytical thinking,
integrated decision making, and problem-solving and business survival in the COVID-19
crisis, with all p-values below .05. The significance level is set at.05. Thus, all of the null
hypotheses appear to be rejected as a result of the findings.
The competencies required to do the majority of workers were altered dramatically
throughout the pandemic. Managers were obliged to think outside the box to survive the
new normal of doing business. Managers must develop clear goals consistent with
agreed-upon strategies, identify priority activities and assignments, adjust priorities as
needed, foresee risks, allow for contingencies, monitor and adjust plans and actions as
required, and use time efficiently due to the challenging business environment brought
on by the coronavirus2019. Managers in the new normal are more actively seeking
solutions to improve programs or services to accommodate changing client demands and
wants while complying with the new normal's established principles for conducting
business. They are willing to take measured chances with novel and unique concepts.
According to the United Nations (2020), the quality of our employees and managers is the
key to corporate success, growth, and survival.
The essential managerial skillsets were honed. They were thinking beyond the box,
originality, innovativeness, and effective adaptation to the global environment's
instability (Caballero-Morales, 2021). Because managers must make informed decisions on
310
numerous elements of firm management, critical thinking will become even more crucial.
Moreover, complex business processes necessitate non-standard solutions. Therefore
firm executives' necessary talents will include innovative thinking. Given these trends in
the dominance of cognitive skills over fundamental management abilities, it's important
to stress that general managing abilities don't become obsolete (Bondarenko et al., 2021).
Managers are now working in a more complicated, dynamic, uncertain, and
competitive environment than ever. Competencies aid in overcoming and adapting to the
global economy's issues in today's environment. A manager's competencies should be
explained in three dimensions: a cognitive dimension (the ability to think, analyze, select,
and interpret information based on relevance, reliability, and suitability); a technological
dimension (managers' ability to explore and solve problems in novel ways using digital
technology); and a social dimension (the ability to think, analyze, select, and interpret
information based on relevance, reliability, and suitability) (the ability to teach and upskill
employees, constructively and responsibly, and the ability to be a leader-motivator and
generator of change and innovation) (Czarnecka & Szymura-Tyc, 2016). Only firms led by
capable managers have a chance of surviving in today's competitive market (Aslan &
Pamukçu, 2017).
Knowledge is a valuable resource for organizations, and it is generated mainly by
people (able ones). Nonetheless, effective utilization of this knowledge necessitates
skilled people who understand how to obtain and apply it appropriately (Assensoh-
Kodua, 2019).
CONCLUSIONS
This study summarizes the managerial competencies among managers of SMEs in
Santiago City, Isabela, Philippines, and its relationship to business survival in this
pandemic. Data were gathered from twelve (12) small and medium-sized businesses in
Santiago City, Isabela, Philippines in the second quarter of 2021. The quantitative-
qualitative methodology was used to investigate the managerial capabilities of
managers/owners and how such would drive the survival of commercial organizations in
Santiago City. According to the findings, managers put in a lot of work on their
responsibilities and duties to survive the pandemic's harsh business climate. Managers
firmly agree that they have the competencies to allow the organization to operate
continuously. Recovery planning, resilience, innovativeness and creativity, analytical
thinking, integrated problem solving, and decision-making are among the skills necessary
in the new normal. Managers of SMEs in Santiago, Philippines, claim to be competent as
they can formulate immediate solutions to the problems brought by the pandemic in
their operations. SME managers are resilient enough as they are able to create and
implement plans even when confronted with challenges. Their employees who work
under their supervision support this claim as they used various continuity measures,
which has proven to be true. These competencies should not be disregarded because
they are critical to the company's survival. However, due to a lack of liquidity and
311
profitability ratios, some businesses cannot meet current obligations and profit from their
operations, as revealed in the financial statement analysis.
RECOMMENDATIONS
Everything in business has been altered due to the pandemic, and there is no going
back. Transformations in the industry occur in the new future triggered by COVID-19 and
how to survive in the aftermath as firms worldwide explore how to recover from the
anguish brought by the coronavirus. Changes in operations will be more rapid, with a
decrease in manual and repetitive work and increased demand for analytical and
technical support. This transformation will necessitate significant labor participation and
new skill training, given via digital means. In addition, more automation and technology
will be deployed regularly. COVID-19 has accelerated the process. Managers and owners
are debating whether or not to accept the new normal's challenge. A series of planning,
analyzing, and problem-solving activities will be assessed, as well as complicated decision-
making. Every day, managers and employees should be equipped with the competencies
required by the future. Improving competencies is a continuous process. Managers learn
from experiences, thus, improving performance when confronted by challenges.
The post-crisis stage, also known as the restoration phase, may take two to three
years after most people have been vaccinated. During this stage, entrepreneurs are likely
to have had more experience, expertise, and resources to recover from the crisis. The
business recovery plan is now based on this understanding. Some solutions are presented
below to assist managers/owners in sustaining their businesses following the COVID-19
epidemic.
People- In the end, we're all human. Companies should reconsider the modification
of business models based on how their employees like to work. In circumstances
where physical reporting in the workplace is required, businesses must protect
workers from limiting the direct consequences of the coronavirus. Occupational
safety and health measures, including social distance, supply of protective
equipment, hygiene practices, and work organization, should be improved by
business owners and management (supported by information and awareness
campaigns). Encourage suitable flexibility in the workplace, such as teleworking
and staggered hours. Improve and assure that all people, especially uninsured
employees and their families, have access to publicly funded health care. To
promote income security, expand access to collectively-financed paid benefits.
Process- Technology, automation, and analytics are all advancing at a rapid pace.
The COVID-19 dilemma has hastened the digital transition. On the other hand, the
top organizations are going above and beyond by upgrading and expanding their
digital platforms. Digital technologies used to modify the present business model,
alter how work is done, add a new dimension to contacts with customers,
312
contractors, and government agencies, and create new revenue and product
prospects are known as digitalization. Managers can advance digital capabilities by
increasing adoption of digital consumer tools (e-commerce, digital payments,
entertainment, and so on); equipping and attracting digital talent; investing in fast,
universal, terrestrial (e.g., fiber optics) and mobile broadband internet access; and
using policy tools and regulation to ensure inclusive access to digital capabilities
and protect consumers from privacy violations.
Product and Profit- To recoup from present revenue losses, consider renewing the
product differentiation approach to a cost-leadership plan. Make a list of revenue
prospects and rank them in order of importance. The company may attempt to
restructure its business model/concept and plan (especially cash flow and
budgeting). Try investing in new business and client preferences as well. For
example, the shift to automation may necessitate frequent updates to the client
database. Managers might devise ways for improving client experiences that are
centered on improved health and safety.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
We owe our gratitude and respect to those who provided general support, helpful
encouragement, and other contributions toward accomplishing this work. But, above all,
we praise our Almighty God for guiding, protecting, and bestowing all wisdom and insight
onto us.
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Scholars have highlighted the role of Digital Technologies (DT) in enhancing productivity and performance in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). However, there is limited evidence on the use of DT for dealing with the consequences of extreme events, such as COVID-19. We discuss this gap by (i) outlining potential research avenues and (ii) reflecting on the managerial implications of using DT within SMEs to deal with the repercussions of COVID-19 and securing business continuity.