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Strategic response to COVID-19: how do social enterprises navigate crisis situations?

Sushanta Kumar Sarma (Department of OB and HR, Institute of Rural Management Anand, Anand, India)
Kunal Kamal Kumar (Department of OB and HRM, Indian Institute of Management Udaipur, Udaipur, India)
Sushanta Kumar Mishra (Department of OB and HRM, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, Bangalore, India)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 16 June 2022

Issue publication date: 21 November 2022




Social enterprises (SEs) have experienced unprecedented uncertainty due to COVID-19, and it has challenged the fundamental assumptions underlying the SEs. Little is known about the strategic response of SEs when their fundamental characteristics are being challenged. The purpose of this paper is to explore – how do SEs respond to a crisis caused by the pandemic?


This paper adopts a case study approach and reports the response strategy of impulse social enterprises (ISE) from India. Data were collected through interviews, Webinars and organizational reports. To analyze the data, the authors examined the fundamental assumption on SE that was challenged by the pandemic.


The response strategy of ISE is driven by social and substantive rationality focusing on the relationship with the community and doing what is good for them. The role of communication was vital in gathering support and resources to continue with their function. ISE adapted a mindset of mission agility and created an alternative market for its product.


This study highlights the response strategy of SE in an emerging economy like India, which experienced one of the stringent lockdowns. It is probably one of the few studies that examined the responses of SE under a crisis that challenged their fundamental attributes by adopting the framework of Bacq and Lumpkin (2021).



Sarma, S.K., Kumar, K.K. and Mishra, S.K. (2022), "Strategic response to COVID-19: how do social enterprises navigate crisis situations?", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 626-642.



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