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Responding to pandemic challenges: leadership lessons from multinational enterprises (MNEs) in India

Paul C. Hong (Department of Information Operations and Technology Management, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA)
Nitya P. Singh (Department of Management and Marketing, Franklin P Perdue School of Business, Salisbury University, Salisbury, Maryland, USA)
N. Elangovan (School of Business and Management, Christ University, Bangalore, India)
Guydeuk Yeon (Department of Economics, Christ University, Bangalore, India)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 7 June 2022

Issue publication date: 15 June 2022




The business sector plays a major role in achieving comprehensive economic development goals in emerging economies. Consequently, the effects of business responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are receiving increasing research attention from an organizational management development perspective. This article aims to examine the role of leadership in charting the course in an extraordinary crisis context.


Using institutional leadership theory, leadership contingency theory and dynamic leadership capability theory, the authors present a research framework that defines macrochallenges and organizational level responses and outcomes. The article adopts a case study approach, which includes the identification of four target companies and conducting in-depth interviews with senior management professionals within those companies at different time periods.


Based on the interviews, the steps that Indian companies adopted to respond to the COVID-19 challenge are identified. Expanding the insight from the case study, the findings suggest that although feeling overwhelmed at first, organizational leaders combine prudent (i.e. timely and speedy actions for survival first) and bold (i.e. future envisioning for expansion and growth) actions enabling these firms to weather two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in India.


These multiple case studies are unique in exploring MNEs from different industries. This study also highlights the dynamic relationships between leadership practices, risk management strategies and performance outcomes based on a sound theoretical model and rigorous study methods.



Hong, P.C., Singh, N.P., Elangovan, N. and Yeon, G. (2022), "Responding to pandemic challenges: leadership lessons from multinational enterprises (MNEs) in India", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 41 No. 4, pp. 205-222.



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