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Public policy responses to COVID-19 and the survival of ethnic minority businesses (EMBs): does entrepreneurial orientation (EO) matter?

Ibrahim Kabir (School of Business and Economics, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam)
Yazid Abdullahi Abubakar (Department of Management, College of Business Administration (COBA), University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 23 September 2022

Issue publication date: 31 March 2023




The global economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused the closure of countless ethnic minority businesses (EMBs) worldwide, partly due to the public policy responses. This paper investigates whether EMBs’ entrepreneurial orientation (EO) mediates the impact of public policy responses to COVID-19 on their survival.


Utilizing institutional theory, the authors developed a novel conceptual framework that divides policy responses to COVID-19 into aggressive (imposing restrictions on movement, e.g. lockdowns) and less aggressive policy responses (not imposing restrictions on movement, e.g. social distancing). The authors then surveyed intra-regional EMBs, specifically businesses owned by ethnic minorities in the Kano and Katsina provinces of Nigeria, and analysed the data using structural equation modelling and analysis of variance (ANOVA).


The authors found that intra-regional EMBs in developing countries are very vulnerable to the public policy responses imposed by governments to curb COVID-19. Aggressive policy responses have a more significant negative effect on the survival of intra-regional EMBs than their less aggressive counterparts. Furthermore, the authors found that EO as a crisis response strategy significantly supports intra-regional EMBs in managing their vulnerability to the hostile institutional environment, reduces the adverse effect of public policy responses and stimulates their survival during the COVID-19 pandemic.


This paper contributes to the institutional theory of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)/entrepreneurship and the literature on EMBs by showing the role of EO in mediating the effects of COVID-19 institutional policies on the survival of intra-regional EMBs.



This paper forms part of a special section “The effect of COVID-19 on the performance of ethnic-minority firms in the UK and worldwide”, guest edited by George Saridakis, Bochra Idris and Paul Jones.


Kabir, I. and Abubakar, Y.A. (2023), "Public policy responses to COVID-19 and the survival of ethnic minority businesses (EMBs): does entrepreneurial orientation (EO) matter?", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 561-586.



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