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Economic recessions, strategy, and performance: a synthesis

Scott Latham (College of Management, Falmouth, University of Massachusetts‐Lowell, Lowell, Massachusetts, USA)
Michael Braun (Department of Management & Marketing, University of Montana‐Missoula, Missoula, Montana, USA)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Article publication date: 17 May 2011



Despite the episodic pervasiveness of recessions and their destructive impact on firms, a void exists in the management literature examining the intersection between recessions, strategy, and performance. This paper seeks directly to address this research void by reviewing relevant literature spanning the past 20 years and building an integrative framework for future research efforts.


The paper systematically reviews and compartmentalizes articles on the intersection between firm strategy and economic recession published between 1991 and 2010 in widely recognized management and entrepreneurship journals. Concurrently, a theoretical framework is proposed which identifies distinct constructs and linkages related to economic recessions, strategy, and performance.


The findings are twofold. First, the review distils disparate scholarly works on firm behavior and recessions to provide a systematic appraisal and review of what people know and do not know about managing firms through economic downturn. Second, the conceptual framework points to numerous opportunities to scholars interested in conducting research on this timely and important topic.

Practical implications

The paper answers a call by scholars for research that fills a void on systematic diagnosis, prescription, or prophylaxis that can guide managers through recessions.


This paper represents the only research initiative to systematically bring a comprehensive overview of firm strategy in the context of recessionary environments. In effect, it addresses the larger research question: “What do we know about the interplay between firm strategy and recession?”



Latham, S. and Braun, M. (2011), "Economic recessions, strategy, and performance: a synthesis", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 96-115.



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