Staying afloat? Using a reflective cycle approach to examine the effects of crisis on the business resilience of SMEs during COVID-19

Publication Name

Journal of General Management


This study seeks to explore the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the business resilience of SMEs in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as an emerging economy, and specifically in Dubai, a thriving global business hub. Our objective is to examine the challenges experienced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in this region and how business leaders respond to the unprecedented crisis to stay afloat. We obtained rich descriptions from 26 respondents comprising SME owners and managers, using semi-structured interviews and a reflective process model to discern different aspects of business volatility, leadership roles, and financial management. All respondents endured the crisis periods by implementing numerous changes and initiatives to explore new norms of working, uncharted business territories, fulfill current projects, and develop innovative solutions and diversification in their businesses. Many have turned challenges into opportunities, progressing successfully through the three challenging periods of crisis using diverse approaches to stay resilient. The paper concludes with a discussion of theoretical and practical implications and future research directions.

Open Access Status

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