Small business in a time of crisis: a five stage model of business grief

Simon Stephens, Christopher McLaughlin, Katrina McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper we examine the implications that a crisis such as that created by COVID-19 has for the psychological well-being of small business owners. We use the psychological literature on grief, specifically, the Kübler-Ross (1969) Five Stage Model of Grief to examine the impacts. Our review of the literature indicates that although there are critics of a stage based approach there are also advocates for the use of stages to help us frame and understand the manifestations of grief. Data was collected from forty small business owners based in Ireland. Data was collected five times over a period of six months (March-September 2020). The outcome is a five-stage model of business grief. The findings provide insights into the emotional relationship between an owner and their small business. We propose that a business closure can cause small business owners to grieve in a manner that aligns with a series of stages and that these stages can be modelled and illustrated.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00282
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Business Venturing Insights
Early online date8 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
the authors wish to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of the associate editor and the reviewer. Their guidance and recommendations have resulted in significant improvements to this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


  • Business crisis
  • Kübler-Ross
  • Business Grief
  • covid-19
  • SME's


Dive into the research topics of 'Small business in a time of crisis: a five stage model of business grief'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this