To read this content please select one of the options below:

Towards crisis protection(ism)? COVID-19 and selective de-globalization

Layla Branicki (Macquarie University, North Ryde, Australia)
Bridgette Sullivan-Taylor (The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)
Stephen Brammer (School of Management, University of Bath, Bath, UK and Macquarie University, North Ryde, Australia)

Critical Perspectives on International Business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 4 March 2021

Issue publication date: 17 May 2021




Drawing on Wendt’s (1995, 1999) thin constructivist approach to international relations this paper aims to critically examine how the measures taken by the Australian Government to protect the country from coronavirus (COVID-19) have prompted politicians and opinion-makers to mobilize globalizing and de-globalizing discourses towards divergent conceptualizations of national resilience.


The paper examines 172 Australian political and media articles, which focus on both COVID-19 and globalization/de-globalization published between February and June 2020. The data were imported to NVivo to enable in-depth thematic analysis.


The paper develops the concept of crisis protectionism to explain how COVID-19 has been mobilized in discourses aimed at accelerating selective de-globalization in Australia. Selective de-globalization is inductively theorized as involving material structures (i.e. border closures), ideational structures (i.e. national identity) and intersubjectivities (i.e. pre-existing inter-country antagonisms).

Research limitations/implications

The paper relies upon publicly available data about Australian discourses that relate to a unique globally disrupting extreme event.

Practical implications

Crisis protectionism and selective de-globalization are important to multinational enterprises (MNE) that operate in essential industry sectors (e.g. medical supply firms), rely upon open borders (e.g. the university sector) and for MNEs entering/operating in a host country experiencing antagonistic relationships with their home country.


The paper extends Witt’s (2019) political theorization of de-globalization towards a socialized theory of de-globalization. By rejecting liberal and realist explanations of the relationship between COVID-19 and de-globalization, this study highlights the importance and endogeneity of non-market risks and non-economic logic to international business and MNE strategy.



Compliance with ethical standards: The authors declare that this research has been carried out fully to comply with the Committee on Publication Ethics ethical standards.

Disclosure statement: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Branicki, L., Sullivan-Taylor, B. and Brammer, S. (2021), "Towards crisis protection(ism)? COVID-19 and selective de-globalization", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 230-251.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles