Tectonic shifts in society and business occur when unexpected events force widespread experimentation around a new idea or problem. During World War II, for instance, when American men went off to war, women proved that they could do “men’s” work and do it well. Women never looked back after that. Similarly, the Y2K problem demanded the extensive use of Indian software engineers, leading to the tripling of employment-based visas granted by the U.S. Fixing that bug enabled Indian engineers to establish their credentials, and positioned them as world leaders in addressing technology problems. Alphabet, Microsoft, Google, IBM, and Adobe are all headed by India-born engineers today. Similarly, The Covid-19 pandemic has been labeled as a black swan event that caused a ripple effect on every aspect of human life. Therefore, Covid-19 will be the catalyst of several long and short-term policy changes that require theoretical and empirical attention of researchers.
The Corona virus disease is a human, social and economic crisis that has attacked the core of human existence. The pandemic has affected all segments of the population, especially vulnerable groups such as the elderly person, working age, medical professionals, public servants and poor people of the society. In response to the pandemic outbreak, the government of many countries decided to save lives before saving the economy, declaring sudden or phased lockdowns in their countries. Policies like “social distancing” and “stay-at-home” were implemented overnight, which severely damaged many businesses across the world.
According to the World Trade Organization (WTO,2020), global trade was already experiencing a downturn in 2019, and then the pandemic further precipitated a global financial crisis. Initial estimates have predicted that major economies will lose around 2.4 to 3.0 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) during 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic (WTO,2020). It has become extremely challenging for several businesses across the world to keep their businesses going, given reduced sales and the high level of uncertainty. It is therefore, utmost important for businesses to conduct genuine assessment and feasibility study of their business models. Covid-19 has also pushed businesses across the world to rapidly operate in newer and more resilient ways. As companies change their priorities in response to previous challenges like real-time decision-making, productivity of people, business growth, and security risks; newer challenges introduced by the pandemic are testing businesses’ resilience as they attempt to lay a foundation for the future.
Impact of Covid-19 in Management Practices
The Covid-19 spread across the world has heightened uncertainty regarding consumption and investment among different stakeholders, like consumers, trade partners, suppliers, and investors. Increasing the duration of the lockdown and travel restrictions in several parts of the world are severely affecting the general economy. The Covid-19 crisis is generating spillover effects throughout global and regional supply chains, disrupting demand and supply. In Addition to that social distancing policies have almost destroyed service industries, like travel and tourism and hospitality, which could further trigger a recession. The lockdown has also increased the risks associated with investments by households and businesses. Many companies are either facing bankruptcy or reducing their production capacity, which has led to higher unemployment and job cuts. A prolonged lockdown period also increases the risk of massive increase in corporate and governmental debts, leading to basic financial crisis that could prolong the recovery period from the Covid-19 crisis.
During the Covid-19 crisis, management of the company are working faster to ensure a competitive advantage. In order to solve emerging problems, firms are embracing management practices and processes that are responsive rather than reactive to the crisis, and they are switching to new operating models focused on the customer and supported by the appropriate governance. They are faster to decide where to invest and reallocate their resources. Additionally, management of the firms are pushed to create new product and services and radically adapt to emerging situation in order to remain visible, agile, and productive in the business.
Digital innovations quickly became the defence for personal and professional life against covid-19 pandemic. Connected digital devices enable both remote work and online education. Additionally, chat bots are providing instant life-saving information, partially relieving overwhelmed health systems. Further, geolocation information systems are helping health workers and researchers to track and map the spread of the virus. Firms and governments are designing and piloting fast, responsive frameworks to implement emerging technologies, like data policy, digital trade, IoT, AI, drones, autonomous vehicles, block chain, telemedicine, and environmental innovations to cope up with the situation.
The big data and advanced analytics are helping to detect surface indicators related to the pandemic. Specifically, real-time big-data-driven insights have helped management practitioners, policymakers and researchers to comprehend and forecast the reach and impact of Covid-19 outbreak. Real-time Covid-19 trackers are helping epidemiologists, scientists, health workers, and policy-makers make more informed decisions to fight the pandemic by aggregating and synthesizing incident derived from big data. Further, real-time analysis of GPS data, such as Aryogya Setu Apps in India, indicating people’s movement within a certain locality is helping the government understand the peoples compliance with social distancing norms and altering people existence of nearby Covid patients. Big data analytics are also helping many corporate executives to make difficult decisions that affect staff, customers, and operational capacity. For example, firms are leveraging their internal and external data e.g., customers’ contact history, employees’ data, business operations monitoring, and social media to understand different scenarios for sustainable development during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The public health emergency of Covid-19 confronting world healthcare systems has prompted the development of digital health solutions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. These digital healthcare systems include tele-health, robust surveillance systems, technology-driven diagnostic and clinical decision-making tools; wearable tracking devices to measure physiological parameters such as temperature, heart rate, saturation level, and sleep-duration; and interactive chat services providing information about Covid-19. Telemedicine administered through virtual chat bots and web bots is emerging as a viable option for communication and safe medical care. Digital healthcare solutions are helping to detect, report, and provide surveillance and rapid response for Covid-19 cases. Further, they are helping with the creation of geospatial dashboards that display pertinent information at the national and international scales to track Covid-19 statistics in real time.
The impact of Covid-19 on business and management is continuously attracting researchers, who are bringing new perspectives on research. Although, the diversity of research areas is increasing, a few broad core research topics are emerging more significantly. These core topics include the impacts of Covid-19 on the economy, value chain, innovation, service industry, employment, management challenges and practices.
As the Covid-19 crisis continues to impact businesses in the next few years, economic, social, and technological changes will become inevitable for survival. There are several theoretical, conceptual, and empirical research opportunities to understand the development of a new paradigm and advancement of existing theories within the business domain due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Additional empirical research opportunities have been created by the emergence of a body of knowledge regarding Covid-19 and subsequent modifications to this knowledge.
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