A Typology of Emerging Market SMEs’ COVID‐19 Response Strategies: The Role of TMTs and Organizational Design

Pushyarag Puthusserry, Timothy King, Kristel Miller, Zaheer Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
128 Downloads (Pure)


The unique challenges posed by COVID‐19 call for new insights into how firms respond to multiheaded and multistage evolving global crises. Whilst prior research acknowledges the potential role flexible organizational designs and top management teams (TMTs) have for crisis management, these bodies of literature have evolved separately with limited cross‐fertilization. In this study, we seek to provide a contextualized explanation of research phenomena by drawing upon multiple layers of context – namely the environment, TMT and organisational context. Our findings provide vital insights into how emerging market Indian SMEs’ organizational designs and TMT configurations led to differential COVID‐19 crisis response strategies. We develop a typology that identifies four strategic responses and illustrate that not all emerging market SMEs are vulnerable at the time of crisis. Our findings extend knowledge on how emerging market SMEs can navigate external shocks such as those caused by COVID‐19. In particular, our research has implications for policymakers and emerging market firms seeking to understand and implement effective organizational designs and policies that can weather the current COVID‐19 pandemic, as well as future multiheaded and multistage black swan crises.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-633
Number of pages31
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue number2
Early online date16 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We got financial support from the [UK] government in the form of interest‐free loans or other incentives. It is a huge relief. That will help me run for 1 year. However, the situation in India is different. The majority of our employees are in India. We are only five people in the UK. We will have to lay off people in India if the situation worsens. Redundancy is a huge risk as it will be difficult to rebuild in the post‐COVID situation. (CEO, Case 1)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. British Journal of Management published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Academy of Management


  • COVID-19
  • SMEs
  • emerging markets
  • strategic response to crisis
  • top management teams
  • board capital
  • organizational design
  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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