Entrepreneurial Strategy Model Of Start-Ups in Response To Emergency conditions (Case Study: Covid-19 Crisis)

Document Type : Original research


1 Faculty of Entrepreneurship, University of Tehran

2 corporate entrepreneurship Department of entrepreneurship Faculty

3 entrepreneurship faculty at the University of Tehran


Abstract: The Covid-19 crisis has had major negative impacts on the economic growth of countries and the closure of many businesses new ventures. The effects are twofold, especially for our country, Iran, which is also subject to unfair economic sanctions. Given the current economic challenges, the purpose of this study is to analyze the behavioral pattern of Iranian start-ups that have survived and even grown in emergency conditions (like Corona crisis). This research with a qualitative approach and using a case study method of template-based research design, examined 12 start-ups in different industries with in-depth semi-structured interviews. The results show that the adoption of preventive, problem-oriented and opportunity-oriented entrepreneurial behaviors before and during the crisis along with exploratory behaviors of questioning, observation, networking and experimentation increases the likelihood of start-up survival in emergencies. These results provide valuable insights for researchers and potential entrepreneurs regarding the behavioral patterns effective for emergency conditions.


پژوهشکدۀ آمار (1399)، تأثیر ویروس کرونا در کسب‌وکارهای ایرانی
Statistical Research Center (2020). Impact of Coronavirus on Iranian Businesses. https://srtc.ac.ir/analytical-reports/ID/5133 {in persian}
Aldrich, H. E., and Yang, T. (2014). “How do entrepreneurs know what to do? learning and organizing in new ventures”. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 24(1), pp. 59–82.
Allison, G. T., and Zelikow, P. (1971). Essence of decision: Explaining the Cuban missile crisis. 327. Little, brown and company.
Alves, J., Lok, T. C., Luo, Y., and Hao, W. (2020). Crisis Management for Small Business during the COVID-19 Outbreak:Survival, Resilience and Renewal Strategies of Firms in Macau. https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-34541/v1
Bartik, A., Bertrand, M., Cullen, Z., Glaeser, E., Luca, M., and Stanton, C. (2020). How Are Small Businesses Adjusting to COVID-19? Early Evidence from a Survey. https://doi.org/10.3386/w26989
Bartz, W., and Winkler, A. (2016). “Flexible or fragile? The growth performance of small and young businesses during the global financial crisis - Evidence from Germany”. Journal of Business Venturing, 31(2), pp. 196-215.
Batra, D. (2020). “The Impact of the COVID-19 on Organizational and Information Systems Agility”. Information Systems Management, 37(4), pp. 361-365. https://doi.org/10.1080/10580530.2020.1821843
Beraha, I., and Đuričin, S. (2020). “The impact of COVID-19 crisis on medium-sized enterprises in Serbia”. Economic Analysis : EA, 53(1), pp 14-27.
Block, J., and Sandner, P. (2009). “What is the effect of the financial crisis on venture capital financing? Empirical evidence from US Internet start-ups”. Venture Capital, 11(4), pp. 295–309.
Bullough, A., Renko, M., and Myatt, T. (2014). “Danger Zone Entrepreneurs: The Importance of Resilience and Self-Efficacy for Entrepreneurial Intentions”. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 38(3), pp. 473-499.
Cucculelli, M., and Peruzzi, V. (2020). “Post-crisis firm survival, business model changes, and learning: evidence from the Italian manufacturing industry”. Small Business Economics, 54(2), pp. 459–474.
Davidsson, P. (2015). “Entrepreneurial opportunities and the entrepreneurship nexus: A re-conceptualization”. Journal of Business Venturing, 30(5), pp. 674–695.
Davidsson, P., and Gordon, S. R. (2016). “Much Ado About Nothing? The Surprising Persistence of Nascent Entrepreneurs Through Macroeconomic Crisis”. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 40(4), pp. 915–941.
Devece, C., Peris-Ortiz, M., and Rueda-Armengot, C. (2016). “Entrepreneurship during economic crisis: Success factors and paths to failure”. Journal of Business Research, 69(11), pp. 5366–5370
Doern, R. (2016). “Entrepreneurship and crisis management: The experiences of small businesses during the London 2011 riots”. International Small Business Journal: Researching Entrepreneurship, 34(3), pp. 276–302.
Doern, R., Williams, N., and Vorley, T. (2019). “Special issue on entrepreneurship and crises: business as usual? An introduction and review of the literature”. In Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 31(5–6), pp. 400–412.
Dyer, J. H., Gregersen, H. B., and Christensen, C. (2008). “Entrepreneur behaviors, opportunity recognition, and the origins of innovative ventures”. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 2(4), pp. 317–338.
Fisher, G. (2012). “Effectuation, Causation, and Bricolage: A Behavioral Comparison of Emerging Theories in Entrepreneurship Research”. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36(5), pp. 1019–1051.
Fox, C., Davis, P., and Baucus, M. (2020). “Corporate social responsibility during unprecedented crises: the role of authentic leadership and business model flexibility”. Management Decision, 58(10), pp. 2213–2233.
Gajdzik, B., and Wolniak, R. (2021). “Influence of the COVID-19 Crisis on Steel Production in Poland Compared to the Financial Crisis of 2009 and to Boom Periods in the Market”. Resources, 10(1), p. 4.
GDA. (2020). Covid-19 Executive Briefing (Issue October).vailable in: https://www.business.att.com/content/dam/attbusiness/briefs/att-globaldata-coronavirus-executive-briefing.pdf
Giones, F., Brem, A., Pollack, J. M., Michaelis, T. L., Klyver, K., and Brinckmann, J. (2020). “Revising entrepreneurial action in response to exogenous shocks: Considering the COVID-19 pandemic”. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 14, e00186.
Giotopoulos, I., Kontolaimou, A., and Tsakanikas, A. (2017). “Drivers of high-quality entrepreneurship: what changes did the crisis bring about?” Small Business Economics, 48(4), pp. 913–930.
Guo, H., Yang, Z., Huang, R., and Guo, A. (2020). “The digitalization and public crisis responses of small and medium enterprises: Implications from a COVID-19 survey”. Frontiers of Business Research in China, 14(1), pp. 1–25.
Herbane, B. (2010). “Small business research: Time for a crisis-based view”. International Small Business Journal: Researching Entrepreneurship, 28(1), pp. 43–64.
Herbane, B. (2013). “Exploring Crisis Management in UK Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises”. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 21(2), pp. 82–95.
Hong, P., and Jeong, J. (2006). “Supply chain management practices of SMEs: From a business growth perspective”. Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 19(3), pp. 292–302.
Ireland, R. D., Covin, J. G., and Kuratko, D. F. (2009). “Conceptualizing Corporate Entrepreneurship Strategy”. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 33(1), pp. 19–46.
Korber, S., and McNaughton, R. B. (2018). “Resilience and entrepreneurship: a systematic literature review”. In International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, 24(7), pp. 1129–1154.
Kraus, S., Rigtering, J. P. C., Hughes, M., and Hosman, V. (2012). “Entrepreneurial orientation and the business performance of SMEs: A quantitative study from the Netherlands”. Review of Managerial Science, 6(2), pp. 161–182.
Kuckertz, A., Brändle, L., Gaudig, A., Hinderer, S., Morales Reyes, C. A., Prochotta, A., Steinbrink, K. M., and Berger, E. S. C. (2020). “Startups in times of crisis – A rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic”. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 13, e00169. Available in: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbvi.2020.e00169
Langley, A. (1999). “Strategies for theorizing from process data”. Academy of Management Review, 24(4), pp. 691–710.
Leung, G. M., Ho, L.-M., Chan, S. K. K., Ho, S.-Y., Bacon-Shone, J., Choy, R. Y. L., Hedley, A. J., Lam, T.-H., and Fielding, R. (2005). “Longitudinal Assessment of Community Psychobehavioral Responses During and After the 2003 Outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Hong Kong”. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 40(12), pp. 1713–1720.
Liguori, E., and Winkler, C. (2020). “From Offline to Online: Challenges and Opportunities for Entrepreneurship Education Following the COVID-19 Pandemic”. Entrepreneurship Education and Pedagogy, 3(4), pp. 346–351.
Maliszewska, M., Mattoo, A., and van der Mensbrugghe, D. (2020). “The Potential Impact of COVID-19 on GDP and Trade: A Preliminary Assessment”. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, (9211). Available in: https://doi.org/10.1596/1813-9450-9211
Manolova, T. S., Brush, C. G., Edelman, L. F., and Elam, A. (2020). “Pivoting to stay the course: How women entrepreneurs take advantage of opportunities created by the COVID-19 pandemic”. International Small Business Journal: Researching Entrepreneurship, 38(6), pp. 481–491.
Mashavira, N., Chipunza, C., and Dzansi, D. Y. (2019). “Managerial interpersonal competencies and the performance of family-and non-family-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in Zimbabwe and South Africa”. South African Journal of Childhood Education, 17(0), pp. 15.
Mayr, S., Mitter, C., and Aichmayr, A. (2017). “Corporate Crisis and Sustainable Reorganization: Evidence from Bankrupt Austrian SMEs”. Journal of Small Business Management, 55(1), pp. 108–127.
McKibbin, W. J., and Fernando, R. (2020). “The Global Macroeconomic Impacts of COVID-19: Seven Scenarios”. SSRN Electronic Journal. Available in: https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3547729
Moore, G. A., and McKenna, R. (1999). Crossing the chasm. available in: https://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Chasm-Marketing-High-Tech-Mainstream/dp/0060517123
Moore, G. A. (2007). “Dealing with Darwin: How Great Companies Innovate at Every Phase of their Evolution”. Strategic Direction, 23(9), pp. 413–417.
Nath, H. K. (2020). Covid-19: “Macroeconomic impacts and policy issues in India”. In Space and Culture, India, 8(1), pp. 1–13.
OECD. (2020). “Coronavirus (COVID-19): SME Policy Responses”. Available in: http://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/coronavirus-covid-19-sme-policy-responses-04440101
Oravský, R., Tóth, P., and Bánociová, A. (2020). “The Ability of Selected European Countries to Face the Impending Economic Crisis Caused by COVID-19 in the Context of the Global Economic Crisis of 2008”. Journal of Risk and Financial Management, 13(8), pp. 179.
Peeters, J., and Drucker, F. (2020). “Challenges during crises, an opportunity to build trust?” available in: http://lup.lub.lu.se/student-papers/record/9011989
Robinson, D. A. (2008). “Keeping pace with change in SMEs: Creating and maintaining congruence and consistency in SMEs in transition economies”. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 8(3), pp. 272–285.
Runyan, R. C. (2006). “Small business in the face of crisis: Identifying barriers to recovery from a natural disaster”. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 14(1), pp. 12–26.
Sakhdari, K. (2016). “Corporate Entrepreneurship: A Review and Future Research Agenda”. Technology Innovation Management Review, 6(8), pp. 5–18.
Sakurai, M., and Chughtai, H. (2020). “Resilience against crises: COVID-19 and lessons from natural disasters”. European Journal of Information Systems, 29(5), pp. 585–594.
Seetharaman, P. (2020). “Business models shifts: Impact of Covid-19”. International Journal of Information Management, 54, 102173. Available in: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2020.102173
Shane, S. (2011). “ECONOMIC COMMENTARY The Great Recession’s Effect on Entrepreneurship”. Economic Commentary, 2011–04. Available in: www.sba.org
Shepherd, D. A., and Williams, T. A. (2019). “Spontaneous Venturing”. In Spontaneous Venturing. The MIT Press. Available in: https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/11470.001.0001
Smallbone, D., Deakins, D., Battisti, M., and Kitching, J. (2012). “Small business responses to a major economic downturn: Empirical perspectives from New Zealand and the United Kingdom”. International Small Business Journal, 30(7), pp. 754–777.
Stattev, S. V., Boiarchuk, A., Portna, O., Dielini, M., and Pylypiak, O (2019). “Formation of a System of Anti-Crisis Entrepreneurship of Services Companies”. Journal of Entrepreneurship Education22, 1-6.
Stinchcombe, A. L. (2004). “Social structure and organizations”. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 17, pp. 229-259. Available in: https://doi.org/10.1016/s0742-3322(00)17019-6
Williams, C. C., and Kedir, A. M. (2017). “Evaluating the Impacts of Starting up Unregistered on Firm Performance in Africa”. Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, 22(3). Available in: https://doi.org/10.1142/S1084946717500170
Williams, N., and Vorley, T. (2015). “The impact of institutional change on entrepreneurship in a crisis-hit economy: the case of Greece”. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 27(1-2), pp. 28–49.
Yang, C., and Liu, H. M. (2012). “Boosting firm performance via enterprise agility and network structure”. Management Decision, 50(6), pp. 1022–1044.
Yin, R. K. (2017). “Case study research and applications: Design and methods”. Sage publications. available in: https://www.scirp.org/%28S%28351jmbntvnsjt1aadkposzje%29%29/reference/referencespapers.aspx?referenceid=2914980
Martinelli, E., Tagliazucchi, G., and Marchi, G. (2018). “The resilient retail entrepreneur: dynamic capabilities for facing natural disasters”. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research. Available in: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJEBR-11-2016-0386/full/html.
Al-Fadly, A. (2020). “Impact of COVID-19 on SMEs and employment”. Entrepreneurship and sustainability issues, 8(2), p. 629.
Nurunnabi, M. (2020). “Recovery planning and resilience of SMEs during the COVID-19: experience from Saudi Arabia”. Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change. Available in: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JAOC-07-2020-0095/full/html.
Le, H., Nguyen, T., Ngo, C., Pham, T., and Le, T. (2020). “Policy related factors affecting the survival and development of SMEs in the context of Covid 19 pandemic”. Management Science Letters, 10(15), pp. 3683-3692.
Juergensen, J., Guimón, J., and Narula, R. (2020). “European SMEs amidst the Covid-19 crisis: assessing impact and policy responses”. Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, 47(3), pp. 499-510.
Lim, D. S., Morse, E. A., and Yu, N. (2020). “The impact of the global crisis on the growth of SMEs: A resource system perspective”. International Small Business Journal Researching Entrepreneurship, 38(6), pp. 492-503.
Lu, Y., Wu, J., Peng, J., and Lu, L. (2020). “The perceived impact of the Covid-19 epidemic: evidence from a sample of 4807 SMEs in Sichuan Province, China”. Environmental Hazards, 19(4), pp. 323-340.
Vidmar, M., Rosiello, A., and Golra, O. (2020). “Resilience of new space firms in the United Kingdom During the early stages of COVID-19 crisis: The case for strategic agility”. New Space, 8(4), pp. 172-178.
Thorgren, S., and Williams, T. A. (2020). “Staying alive during an unfolding crisis: How SME ward off impending disaster”. Journal of Business Venturing Insights. Available in: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352673420300433
Akpan, I. J., Soopramanien, D., and Kwak, D. H. (2021). “Cutting-edge technologies for small business and innovation in the era of COVID-19 global health pandemic”. Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 33(6), pp. 607-617.
Ibarra, D., Bigdeli, A. Z., Igartua, J. I., and Ganzarain, J. (2020). “Business model innovation in established SMEs: A configurational approach”. Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity, 6(3), pp. 76.
Casalino, N., Żuchowski, I., Labrinos, N., Munoz Nieto, Á. L., and Martín, J. A. (2019). “Digital strategies and organizational performances of SMEs in the age of Coronavirus: balancing digital transformation with an effective business resilience”. Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming.
Csath, M. (2020). “Crisis situations: how should micro, small and medium enterprises handle them with a long term view?”. Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal. Available in: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/DLO-04-2020-0086/full/html.
De Falco, S. E., and Renzi, A. (2020). “Benefit corporations and corporate social intrapreneurship”. Entrepreneurship Research Journal, 10(4). pp. 1-05.