Department of Strategy and Innovation

Research as a means of inspiration and reflection on the COVID-19 crisis

The world is facing a health crisis which will affect businesses and economies in a way and scale we have yet to discover. As researchers we want to put our knowledge and analytical skills into use. With this website we want to share some of our thoughts and work during this period. The site will be updated regularly with new initiatives.

SI faculty turning their research into COVID-19 solutions

The Impact of the Covid‐19 Pandemic on Firms’ Organizational Designs

Nicolas J. Foss examines the potential impact of the Covid‐19 pandemic on firms’ organization designs and speculates on how the pandemic may influence organization design researchBy organizational design, he means an organization’s optimal levels of differentiation and integration given relevant internal and external contingencies.

The work is available online

Behavioral Strategy and the COVID-19 Disruption

Nicolas J. Foss has written an article about what can strategic management research do to help to make sense of the COVID-19 disruption, and what are the implications of the disruption for the strategy field? He argues that among the streams in strategy research, behavioral strategy is uniquely situated in terms of providing a psychologically based interpretive lens that could lend great insight into decision making in extreme conditions. However, the disruption also points to weakness in current behavioral strategy thinking, notably with respect to the role of models vis-à-vis judgment in strategic decision making, the deeply social (political, institutional) nature of strategy making, and the treatment of fundamental uncertainty.

The work is available online

The Impact of the Corona Crisis on Your Business Model
Thomas Ritter et al have updated the Alignment Squared Model to develop an analysis tool for mapping the impact of the corona crisis on business models.

The tool suggests a 5-step process to gain an overview over the corona impact, leading to an action plan. While times are chaotic and unpredictable, keeping an overview and offering a frame for structured discussions is important – this is why we suggest to work with the Alignment Squared model.

The work book is available online.
Patient Innovation for COVID-19
Pedro Oliveira is part of the Patient Innovation initiative, an award-winning open and global platform aimed at facilitating the sharing of innovative solutions developed by patients, informal caregivers and collaborators, which collected has over 1200 innovations from users in more than 100 countries and has received over 1,2 million visitors in recent years.

During the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, common citizens from around the world initiated efforts of all sorts to develop innovative solutions to help the populations cope with the virus (sometimes in collaborations with companies). Over 50 COVID-19 innovative solutions were submitted to the Patient Innovation COVID-19 portal in a short period of time and the number is expected to keep growing.

The Patient Innovation Initiative has dedicated a site to solutions for COVID-19.

At the same time a consortium of partners is working towards boosting the number of innovations in the context of COVID-19 pandemic and sharing them among all those who may need them.
The partners are:
Copenhagen Business School,
Patient Innovation,
Nova School of Business and Economics,
Nova Medical School,
IESE Business School,
University of Copenhagen,
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation,
Science and Technology Foundation.
Artificial Intelligence - COVID-19 research accelerator
Christop Grimpe and Marion Pötz are working with open innovation. As part of this work they have been working with companies to develop a research accelerator, that can help understand how scientific research influence clinical practice and how published research can create new science-based innovation. They want to apply this method to COVID-19 research and are therefore applying for a grant from the Innovation Foundation Denmark under the special call for Grand Solutions on the COVID-19 crisis.

Project description:
How can widely distributed research results on COVID-19 be used more effectively and efficiently in order to speed up and improve the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of COVID-19? Marion Poetz and Christoph Grimpe have developed comprehensive knowledge and experience on how to analyze and measure the impact of scientific research on practice in their work with the LBG Open Innovation in Science Center. As part of this work, they have collaborated with an innovative company that develops and commercializes an artificial intelligence (AI) that is capable of comparing and matching the meaning of large amounts of texts, coming from different sources and written in different languages. As a result of this collaboration, they developed a novel artificial intelligence (AI)-based tool for measuring the impact of scientific research on practice, and validated this prototype tool in the context of measuring the impact of diabetes research on clinical practice guidelines. In a new project, for which funding has recently been applied from the Innovation Foundation Denmark under the special call for Grand Solutions to the COVID-19 crisis, they seek to apply their AI-based technology to published results from widely distributed research on COVID-19 in order to assess its impact on clinical practice worldwide. The project promises to (1) monitor overlaps and complementarities in study results, (2) assess the impact academic research has on clinical practice, and (3) identify health conditions that are likely to be associated with a worsened course of COVID-19 in patients. Applying their prototype technology to COVID-19 aims at generating rapid results that will increase the effectiveness and efficiency with which academic research can inform clinical practice and health policy.

Project team:
•    Copenhagen Business School, Department of Strategy and Innovation (Marion Poetz and Christoph Grimpe)
•    ThingsTHINKING GmbH (Sven Körner and Mathias Landhäuser)
•    Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management, Department of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship (Andreas Distel)
•    Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft, Open Innovation in Science Center (Patrick Lehner)
In this crisis, a good HR could save a company—a bad one might bury it
Dana Minbaeva is heading the Human Capital Analytics research area. She has used her insight to reflect on the role of the companies' HR in a time of crisis: This is not a financial crisis—it is a human crisis. To deal with the human crisis, you must have a detailed understanding of your human capital and that capital must be handled in an outstanding way.
Preparing Your Business for a Post-Pandemic World
As a reflection on the corona crisis, Carsten Lund Pedersen and Thomas Ritter encourage businesses to prepare for their new reality on the other side by asking themselves 5 questions. The article is available at Harvard Business Review:
The Coronavirus Crisis: A Catalyst for Entrepreneurship
Thomas Ritter and Carsten Lund Pedersen together with Ivey Business School Professor Klaus Meyer comment on the current trends in business in order to try to predict how the crisis will affect society as we know it.
Read the article here:
People Analytics: COVID-19’s Silver Lining
Dana Minbaeva provides us with the arguments why navigating in uncertainty can be costly and why Human Capital Analytics can help organizations navigate in times of crisis.
Read her blog here:
Fintech, small and medium-sized enterprises and the response to the Covid-19 crisis. Challenges, opportunities and proposals for action
On 16 April the Rafael del Pino Foundation organized a live dialogue between Karen Mills and Mercedes Delgado through Karen Mills is senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and former Administrator of the US Small Businesses Administration. Mercedes Delgado is Associate Professor at SI.
You can see this interesting conversation here:
Virtual Leadership under the Corona Crisis
Dana Minbaeva has received funding from the Innovation Fund Denmark to do this project together with Employment Relations Research Center at University of Copenhagen and Confederation of Danish Industries. The research project will shed light on how managers in firms and organizations are tackling the challenges of virtual leadership during the Corona crisis. In addition, the project will investigate what permanent consequences the new experience of distance management will have in the “next normal”.

Why do we need more research on virtual leadership?
For past decade, researchers have showed increasing attention towards virtual working - work performed outside spatial and temporal organizational boundaries and enabled by information and communication technologies. A variety of terms, like remote work, telecommuting, telework, and remote work arrangements have been used, often interchangeably or with slight differences in meaning, to indicate ways of working in places that are different from traditional office spaces. However, till now virtual work has been seen as an innovative work arrangement that is complementary to the traditional work place organization and often taken up voluntarily or on a temporary basis by limited numbers of employees. None of the previous research on virtual work actually dealt with the situation we are experiencing now:  it is everyone, its mandatory, there is no face-to-face supplement and we don’t know how long this is going to last.

Even the “before-corona-crisis” research pointed out at one crucial antecedent for virtual work: leadership. Researchers agreed that it is more challenging to lead virtually than traditionally (face-to-face). In addition to ensuring task performance, virtual leaders need to proactively guide the relationship building process and hence expected to invest more time and effort to help coordinate virtual team tasks and facilitate team processes. However, it is not clear how exactly this should be done. Research and practice experience significant gaps in understanding of leadership in the context of virtual work. Furthermore, the gap is broadening when virtual leadership is put in the context of crisis situation. Unpredictability, ambiguity and insecurity of the crisis cause irrational and inappropriate reactions as diverse in nature as in-fighting, panic and apathy. People become tired, passive and disillusioned, and these create even more pressure on mental resources. This in turn will stimulate creation of hostile environment with low trust and cooperation, which makes any leadership attempt towards relationship building useless. So how does a leader get around these challenges in order to reach the desired results — both in terms of task and relationship-building? What are the best practices for leading virtual work? How can a leader sustain employee well-being and at the same time achieve an equal (if not higher) level of employee engagement when working virtually?

On the 15th of April 2020 we launched a new research project with the immediate goal is to explore answers to the above questions and in longer terms increase our understanding the antecedents of virtual leadership that make it effective in managing people in crisis situation.  The project is carried out by the Department of Strategy and Innovation at Copenhagen Business School and the Employment Relations Research Center (FAOS) at University of Copenhagen, in cooperation with the Confederation of Danish Industries (DI). The project is financed by the Innovation Fund Denmark. Please follow the LinkedIn Group to get live updates and learn the most recent findings.

Go to the website of the project to see the various outputs of the research project:

The Future of B2B Customer Solutions in a Post-COVID-19 Economy: Managerial Issues and an Agenda for Academic Inquiry

Thomas Ritter is co-author of this article in Journal of Service Research. The article focuses on goods-centered companies’ recent foray into the solution business and the pressing managerial questions regarding the evolution of solutions as the world begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the key characteristics of solution offerings, the authors identify seven potential downsides of customer solutions that are revealed by the current global crisis and develop promising research avenues mirroring these challenges. In each area, they propose three illustrative sets of research questions that may guide scholars and provide insights to practitioners for positioning solution businesses in the post-COVID-19 “next-normal” world.

Get access to the articles through this link:

Optimism saves the day
Orsola Garofalo is co-author on this paper about how an optimistic disposition might not be a bad thing in a time of crisis.

Covid-19 creates unprecedented challenges for the business sector. What affects the ability of entrepreneurs to overcome these challenges? Here, we study how dispositional optimism shaped entrepreneurs’ actions and beliefs during the Covid-19 outbreak. Evidence from 1,632 UK firms shows that entrepreneurs who score high on dispositional optimism were more likely to innovate and make organizational changes to their firms. This finding holds controlling for the heterogeneous impact of Covid-19 on firms and a large set of firm- and individual-level variables. Next, we find that optimistic entrepreneurs hold more positive expectations about their ability to withstand the Covid-19 shock, and expect a more generous rebound for the whole UK economy. Collectively, our findings helps explain which firms will prosper and which others will struggle in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read the paper here: The Relationship between Dispositional Optimism and Business Recovery during the COVID-19 Pandemic by Mario Daniele Amore, Orsola Garofalo, Victor Martin-Sanchez :: SSRN
Risk, Uncertainty, and COVID-19 Strategies
As a reflection on the Covid-19 crisis Timo Ehrig and Nicolai Foss offer their perspective on how to manage uncertainties in a crisis situation. For them, this crisis is a reminder that democratic, free societies require individuals who are empowered to form their own deliberate viewpoints, and cooperate to create and protect society and one another. Managing knowledge needed to inform policy responses and individual behavior is an important component of such empowerment. The current crisis has highlighted the risks associated with untamed uncertainty, as well as those associated with under- or overestimating the impact of measures intended to combat COVID-19.
Read the article in the Quilette
Forced experiment shows limits of a digital university
Carmelo Cennamo and Michael Mol have asked teachers and students at business schools how they have experienced the transformation to online teaching during the Covid-19 lockdown. Read about their reflections in this letter in the Financial Times.
International HRM insights for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for future research and practice
Dana Minbaeva is co-author of this editorial in the the Journal of International Business Studies. The field of International HRM has long accounted for the challenges associated with remote work. This academic knowledge is particularly useful for HR managers today, as they face new challenges and difficult decisions during this pandemic.
Managing through a crisis: Managerial implications for business-to-business firms
Thomas Ritter is co-editor of this special issue of Industrial Marketing Management on managerial implications for business-to-business firms.
You can find the special issue here:




The page was last edited by: Department of Strategy and Innovation // 02/09/2024