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Entrepreneurial Orientation and Organizational Flexibility of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in a Pandemic Crisis

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Tipo: Artículo
Idioma: Inglés


Entrepreneurial Orientation and Organizational Flexibility of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in a Pandemic Crisis 



The need to build a company’s competitive advantage means that the issues related to the development of entrepreneurship and increasing the flexibility of the organization are still relevant, and in the time of the SARS-CoV-2 virus pandemic it becomes even critical. Factors such as entrepreneurial personality and spirit, empathy, humility, innovation, opportunity recognition, self-efficacy, social entrepreneurship, commitment to a cause, intrapreneurship, minority entrepreneurship, new business models, and entrepreneurial resilience, to mention a few, may be relevant to dampen economic hardship during such challenging circumstances. 

Entrepreneurship concerns activities resulting in the creation of a new organization, but it can be successfully manifested in the internal activities of an existing organization (organizational entrepreneurship), leading to the business development. Organizational entrepreneurship defines the process of strategic renewal of an existing business, as well as the creation of new ventures, products or services, or new strategic positions to drive innovation. It focuses on the organization as a “leading participant” in entrepreneurial processes, not just on the entrepreneurowner. The role of the owner, although socially important, may well be performed by entire organizations that have a decentralized structure and decision-making. Within this area, the construct of entrepreneurial orientation is particularly valuable, widely regarded as one of the factors contributing to capturing the organization’s tendencies towards entrepreneurship. An organization’s entrepreneurial orientation reflects the way a company decides to compete directly or indirectly in the face of emerging opportunities and threats, which are so exacerbated in a pandemic. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of crisis management and the growing need to seek adaptive behaviour and therefore the need for organizational flexibility. Organizational flexibility in enterprises is an opportunity that allows you to flexibly respond to changing environmental conditions through i.a. internal changes in the organization and is one of the most important organizational competences that determines the level of organization’s adaptation activities to changing environmental conditions. Organizational flexibility can be expressed as the ability of enterprises to manage changes by quickly reacting to both threats and market opportunities, which ultimately affects not only the shaping of the organization, but also the competitive position of the enterprise. Organization’s features that may determine the level of organizational flexibility include the size of the company, its structure and nature, the adopted management style in the company or the level of organizational culture in the company. The need for flexible creativity in organizations, in response to the complexity and speed of changes in the social and business environment around enterprises, is required at all levels, in all its functions or in subsequent stages of the company’s life cycle. 

The unpredictability of the operating conditions of enterprises in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis caused by the restrictions related to the epidemic have emphasized the role of entrepreneurship and flexibility of the organization as an economic entity. They can be a response, at least in part, to management problems in the times of crisis. The ability or skill to adapt to the environmental conditions and entrepreneurial orientation allow for prompt adaptation to new conditions and building more effective tools for managing the enterprise and maintaining its level of competitiveness. 

In terms of management, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) differ significantly from large business entities, while their dynamics are still analysed and examined as if they were large enterprises. This paradigm has led smaller actors to adopt management principles, techniques and practices that are not adequate to their reality. Meanwhile, the specificity of SMEs creates a significant need, especially in period of market turbulence, to adjust management to the operating conditions and characteristics of these entities, which in turn justifies the need for constant research into management problems and solutions in this sector. 

Conducting research is subject to the principle of the continuity of knowledge development. The dramatic changes in the conditions for the functioning of enterprises during the Covid-19 pandemic revealed many cognitive gaps, which are currently being intensively explored by researchers in the field of management sciences. In relation to this study, the diagnosed cognitive gap is manifested in the lack of analyses of the use of the concept of entrepreneurial orientation and organizational flexibility to overcome threats, but also to take advantage of opportunities related to new market conditions in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, with particular reference to small and medium-sized enterprises. An additional component of the abovementioned gap is the lack of comparisons for countries with different socio-economic conditions, hence the in-depth research conducted in Poland and Ukraine will allow, on the one hand, a certain systematization of knowledge on the functioning of the discussed constructs in the practice of small and medium-sized enterprises, and on the other hand, indicate the directions for further research in this area. 

The main research goal is: Diagnosis, understanding, description and explanation of the significance of the influence of entrepreneurial orientation and organizational flexibility on management in small and medium-sized enterprises in a pandemic crisis. Research questions that are planned to be answered on the basis of the collected and analyzed research material are:

RQ1: What are the differences in implementation and influence on management of entrepreneurial orientation in small and medium-sized enterprises in Poland and Ukraine?

RQ2: What are the differences in implementation and influence on management of organizational flexibility in small and medium-sized enterprises in Poland and Ukraine?

The monograph consists of four chapters which constitute a coherent whole. The first chapter “The Specificity of the Activity of the SME Sector” contains quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the SME sector. Initially, the definitions of small and medium-sized enterprises used in Poland on the basis of regulations adopted in the European Union and in Ukraine are presented. The quantitative structure of the SME sector in both countries and changes in the number of active enterprises in individual size groups in recent years are also presented. The next point indicates the economic and social role of the SME sector in Poland and Ukraine. The share of SMEs in generating the GDP of a given country and in employment of the workforce was discussed. Then, the share of particular size groups of enterprises in the export and import of goods and services was indicated. The role of SMEs in building an innovative economy was also emphasized. The last point of the first chapter discusses the specificity of managing small and medium-sized enterprises compared to large economic entities, from the point of view of the effectiveness and barriers of the management process, as well as the creation of effective management tools.

The second chapter titled “Entrepreneurial Orientation of Small and Mediumsized Enterprises” provides a comprehensive discussion of the construct of entrepreneurial orientation of an organization. In the first section, the subject is located in the area of knowledge – organizational entrepreneurship, and more broadly in management sciences. Then, the definitions of entrepreneurial orientation are introduced and compared, taking into account the multidimensionality of the construct. The individual dimensions in the 5-dimensional approach to entrepreneurial orientation have also been characterized, i.e. autonomy, proactivity, risk taking, innovation and competitive aggressiveness. The last part of the second chapter relates to a specific approach, opportunities and threats to the functioning of entrepreneurial orientation in small and medium-sized enterprises.

The third chapter “Organizational Flexibility in the Activities of Enterprises” reflects the multifaceted approach to the flexible functioning of modern enterprises. After introducing the necessary definitions of organizational flexibility, along with its specific features and the results of its implementation in the enterprise, the authors characterized the individual dimensions of organizational flexibility, indicating that it is not a uniform construct. The functioning of organizational flexibility at the strategic, operational and functional levels in the organization is marked and discussed. Due to the fact that the monograph focuses on management problems of small and medium-sized enterprises, the last part of the chapter presents considerations on the specific conditions of flexible functioning of this group of enterprises.

The fourth chapter titled “Case study in the Sector of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises” presents a discussion of the results of qualitative own research. The research in the form of an in-depth interview was conducted in eight enterprises, including four small and four medium-sized enterprises. The research was international in nature, i.e. half of the surveyed entities are companies operating in Poland, and the remaining companies are based in Ukraine. Such a research approach allowed for the observation of differences in the approach to entrepreneurial orientation and organizational flexibility of enterprises in countries with different socio-economic development. The method and scope of the conducted research have been discussed in detail in the research methodology. The last part of the chapter is a summary of the results of qualitative research, indicating the observed regularities, limitations along with potential solutions for a more effective functioning of small and medium-sized enterprises. The monograph is supplemented with an introduction and an ending, summarizing the authors’ scientific considerations, and bibliography.


Małgorzata Okręglicka

Anna Lemańska-Majdzik

Maryna Pichugina

Lina Artemenko


ISBN 978-83-7193-833-7 

Año: 2021

Aportado por: José Carlos Sánchez García.

AFIDE (Asociación para la Formación, Investigación y Desarrollo del Emprendimiento) no se hace responsable de las consecuencias que se puedan derivar respecto a la difusión de contenidos no autorizados por sus autores y expuestos en esta sección por terceros, siendo estos últimos, en todo caso, los responsables de los contenidos subidos a la plataforma o expuestos, de algún modo, en ella.