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COVID-19 uncertainties, dynamic capabilities and the strategic response of multinational enterprises

Adeniyi D. Olarewaju (J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, University of Galway, Galway, Ireland)
Oladipupo F. Ajeyalemi (UNILAG Distance Learning Institute, University of Lagos Distance Learning Institute, Akoka, Nigeria)

Review of International Business and Strategy

ISSN: 2059-6014

Article publication date: 10 January 2023

Issue publication date: 25 January 2023




This study aims to examine uncertainties created due to the pandemic that multinational enterprises (MNEs) had to confront. It also assesses MNEs’ response to these uncertainties through their dynamic capabilities (DCs). It relied on theories of DCs and organizational learning.


MNEs listed in Fortune Global 500 served as the population of the study, while data were retrieved from their respective corporate websites. The final phase generated 704 documents systematically analyzed for dialogic communication. Content analysis was used to make inferences.


This study found six distinct uncertainties created by COVID-19. Furthermore, it was found that irrespective of industry-type or headquarters location, organizations could transform their internal processes and remain resilient by strategically sensing and responding to exogenous shocks through DCs.

Research limitations/implications

The use of dialogic communication through website analysis could be prone to misrepresentations and data exaggeration from organizations. However, this limitation was mitigated by focusing on Fortune Global 500 MNEs, which are reputable global corporations.

Practical implications

Dealing with and coping with the uncertainties created by COVID-19 presents MNEs with valuable capabilities and experience in handling future global viral diseases when they inevitably occur.


Unlike previous shocks, COVID-19 had an immeasurable global disruption to MNEs’ business operations. Evidence was found that MNEs could remain resilient by using DCs in response to uncertainties amid an exogenous shock. It makes a theoretical contribution by extending what was previously known about DCs, uncertainties and exogenous shocks.



The authors will like to appreciate two anonymous reviewers for their insights in strengthening the original manuscript. We also thank the research assistants for their efforts.


Olarewaju, A.D. and Ajeyalemi, O.F. (2023), "COVID-19 uncertainties, dynamic capabilities and the strategic response of multinational enterprises", Review of International Business and Strategy, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 127-153.



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