Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Entrepreneurship and SMEs under COVID-19 crisis: A literature review


Objective: The article aims to summarize the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on SMEs, considering both its positive and negative effects. Also, the study seeks to summarize the response approaches usable for SMEs to face a crisis.

Research Design & Methods: This article uses a critical literature review to summarize the international literature developed on the COVID-19 crisis topic. It considers scientific papers published from 2017 to February 2022 with a focus on specific keywords, English language, from the open access sources on (i) Emerald, (ii) JSTOR, (iii) ScienceDirect, and (iv) Springer, (v) IER, and (vi) EBER.

Findings: The paper sheds light on how the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 crisis can impact SMEs. The paper tries to summarize the literature on how SMEs can reverse the uncertainty caused by a crisis and benefit from it. Also, the paper reviews the fact that some SMEs cannot cope quickly enough with the changes in the environment and forcibly shut down their business. The most damaging impact of the COVID-19 crisis is also reviewed in this paper which is the business closure due to lack of resources or disconnection of SMEs from their partners.

Implications & Recommendations: This study provides an overview of the positive and negative effects that the COVID-19 crisis had on SMEs. Three approaches were reviewed, uncertainty, resilience, and opportunity, which the decision-makers can use to plan their strategies more effectively and face impending crises more efficiently. This paper also introduces gaps such as the lack of evidence of how COVID-19 affects the entrepreneurship phenomena, which is worth being studied.

Contribution & Value Added: This study summarizes the three approaches mentioned in various research papers that SMEs can take during crises and presents gaps worth researching. While many other studies study entrepreneurship at macro levels, the approach in this study is unique as it considers a particular piece of entrepreneurship area and looks at it in terms of small and medium-sized enterprises, describes why COVID-19 is a crisis to the business environment and contributes to the literature to explain how entrepreneurship and SMEs are influenced by COVID-19 situation. I summarized some of the issues SMEs face during a crisis and mentioned the approaches to be taken by business owners during such times using articles conducted in the last five years.


entrepreneurship, SMEs, covid-19, crisis, literature review, uncertainty, resilience

(PDF) Save

Author Biography

Fatemeh Gorji Zadeh

Master’s in Business Administration (2019, Alzahra University in Tehran, Iran); Data Analyst at UBS (Poland); Ph.D. candidate in Sciences of Quality and Management (2024, Cracow University of Economics, Poland). Her research interests include entrepreneurship and SMEs, Crisis Management, and International Business.


  1. Bartik, A. W., Bertrand, M., Cullen, Z., Glaeser, E. L., Luca, M., & Stanton, C. (2020). The impact of covid-19 on small business outcomes and expectations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(30), 17656-17666.
  2. Beland, L.-P., Fakorede, O., & Mikola, D. (2020). Short-term effect of COVID-19 on self-employed workers in Canada. Canadian Public Policy, 46(s1).
  3. Bendell, B., Sullivan, D., & Ornstein, S. (2020). How Fear of “Looming Megacatastrophes” Alters Entrepreneurial Activity Rates through Psychological Distance. Academy Of Management Perspectives, 34(4), 585-602.
  4. Bourletidis, K., & Triantafyllopoulos, Y. (2014). SMEs Survival in Time of Crisis: Strategies, Tactics and Commercial Success Stories. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 148, 639-644.
  5. Branicki, L., Sullivan-Taylor, B., & Livschitz, S. (2017). How entrepreneurial resilience generates resilient SMEs. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 24(7), 1244-1263.
  6. Cepel, M., Gavurova, B., Dvorsky, J., & Belas, J. (2020). The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the perception of business risk in the SME segment. Journal Of International Studies, 13(3), 248-263.
  7. Chesbrough, H. (2019-11-28). Open Innovation Results: Going Beyond the Hype and Getting Down to Business. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 27 Mar. 2022, from
  8. Corbaz-Kurth, S., Juvet, T., Benzakour, L., Cereghetti, S., Fournier, C., & Moullec, G. (2022). How things changed during the COVID-19 pandemic’s first year: a longitudinal, mixed-methods study of organisational resilience processes among healthcare workers. Safety Science, 105879.
  9. Court, T., & Arikekpar, O. (2022). Entrepreneurial ecosystem and start-ups in Sub-Saharan Africa: Empirical evidence based on Global Entrepreneurship Monitor database. International Entrepreneurship Review, 8(1), 23-33.
  10. Davidsson, P., Recker, J., von Briel, F. (2021). COVID-19 as external enabler of entrepreneurship practice and research. Business Research Quarterly online ahead of print.
  11. Eggers, F. (2020). Masters of disasters? Challenges and opportunities for SMEs in times of crisis. Journal Of Business Research, 116, 199-208.
  12. Emma, C., & Scholtes, J. (2020). Here’s what’s in the $2 trillion stimulus package — and what's next. POLITICO. Retrieved 27 March 2022, from
  13. Engidaw, A. (2022). Small businesses and their challenges during COVID-19 pandemic in developing countries: in the case of Ethiopia. Journal Of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 11(1).
  14. European Comission. (2016). User guide to the SME Definition [Ebook]. European Union. Retrieved 27 March 2022, from.
  15. Fabeil, N., Marzuki, K., Razli, I., Majid, M., & Pawan, M. (2019). The Impact of Earthquake on Small Business Performance: Evidence from Small Accommodation Services in Ranau, Sabah. International Academic Journal of Business Management, 06(01), 301-313.
  16. Fabeil, N., Pazim, K., & Langgat, J. (2020). The Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic Crisis on Micro-Enterprises: Entrepreneurs’ Perspective on Business Continuity and Recovery Strategy. Journal Of Economics and Business, 3(2).
  17. Fairlie, R. (2020). The Impact of Covid-19 on Small Business Owners: Evidence of Early-Stage Losses from the April 2020 Current Population Survey. SSRN Electronic Journal.
  18. Ferreira, J., Fayolle, A., Fernandes, C., & Raposo, M. (2016). Effects of Schumpeterian and Kirznerian entrepreneurship on economic growth: panel data evidence. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 29(1-2), 27-50.
  19. Fisher, G., Stevenson, R., Neubert, E., Burnell, D., & Kuratko, D. (2020). Entrepreneurial Hustle: Navigating Uncertainty and Enrolling Venture Stakeholders through Urgent and Unorthodox Action. Journal Of Management Studies, 57(5), 1002-1036.
  20. Galindo-Martín, M., Castaño-Martínez, M., & Méndez-Picazo, M. (2021). Effects of the pandemic crisis on entrepreneurship and sustainable development. Journal Of Business Research, 137, 345-353.
  21. Gates, B. (2020). The first modern pandemic. GatesNotes. Retrieved 27 March 2022, from
  22. González-Tejero, C., Ulrich, K., & Carrilero, A. (2022). The entrepreneurial motivation, Covid-19, and the new normal. Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 10(2), 205-217.
  23. Grant, M., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information &Amp; Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91-108.
  24. Guerrero, M., Liñán, F., & Cáceres-Carrasco, F. (2020). The influence of ecosystems on the entrepreneurship process: a comparison across developed and developing economies. Small Business Economics, 57(4), 1733-1759.
  25. Gumbau Albert, M. (2017). Entrepreneurship, innovation and regional performance: application for the Spanish regions. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 29(3-4), 271-291.
  26. Hamani, A., & Boudjema, L. (2013). A Generic Model Helps to Transit from Crisis Management to Natural Disasters Risk Management and Stabilize Sustainable Development. Energy Procedia, 36, 977-984.
  27. Hopp, C., & Martin, J. (2017). Does entrepreneurship pay for women and immigrants? A 30 year assessment of the socio-economic impact of entrepreneurial activity in Germany. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 29(5-6), 517-543.
  28. Hossain, M., Akhter, F., & Sultana, M. (2022). SMEs in Covid-19 Crisis and Combating Strategies: A Systematic Literature Review (SLR) and A Case from Emerging Economy. Operations Research Perspectives, 9, 100222.
  29. Ignat, R., & Constantin, M. (2020). Multidimensional Facets of Entrepreneurial Resilience during the COVID-19 Crisis through the Lens of the Wealthiest Romanian Counties. Sustainability, 12(23), 10220.
  30. Irvine, R. (1997). What’s a crisis, anyway? – Free Online Library. Retrieved 27 March 2022, from
  31. Jovanovic, B. (2019). The entrepreneurship premium. Small Business Economics, 53(3), 555-568.
  32. Kraus, S., Burtscher, J., Vallaster, C., & Angerer, M. (2018). Sustainable Entrepreneurship Orientation: A Reflection on Status-Quo Research on Factors Facilitating Responsible Managerial Practices. Sustainability, 10(2), 444.
  33. Krishnan, C., Ganesh, L., & Rajendran, C. (2022). Entrepreneurial Interventions for crisis management: Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic’s impact on entrepreneurial ventures. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 72, 102830.
  34. Kuckertz, A., Brändle, L., Gaudig, A., Hinderer, S., Morales Reyes, C., & Prochotta, A. (2020). Startups in Times of Crisis – A Rapid Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. SSRN Electronic Journal.
  35. Lambert, L. (2020). More than 40 million people are unemployed. Fortune. Retrieved 27 March 2022, from
  36. Larsson, J., & Thulin, P. (2018). Independent by necessity? The life satisfaction of necessity and opportunity entrepreneurs in 70 countries. Small Business Economics, 53(4), 921-934.
  37. Lestantri, I., Janom, N., Aris, R., & Husni, Y. (2022). The perceptions towards the digital sharing economy among SMEs: Preliminary findings. Procedia Computer Science, 197, 82-91.
  38. Loan, L., Doanh, D., Thang, H., Viet Nga, N., Van, P., & Hoa, P. (2021). Entrepreneurial behaviour: The effects of the fear and anxiety of Covid-19 and business opportunity recognition. Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 9(3), 7-23.
  39. Low, M., & MacMillan, I. (1988). Entrepreneurship: Past Research and Future Challenges. Journal Of Management, 14(2), 139-161.
  40. Lu, W., Lakonishok, M., Liu, R., Billington, N., Rich, A., & Glotzer, M. (2020). Competition between kinesin-1 and myosin-V defines Drosophila posterior determination. Elife, 9.
  41. Luthra, S., Kumar, A., Sharma, M., Arturo Garza-Reyes, J., & Kumar, V. (2022). An analysis of operational behavioural factors and circular economy practices in SMEs: An emerging economy perspective. Journal Of Business Research, 141, 321-336.
  42. Maheshwari, G., & Maheshwari, A. (2021). Growing inequalities in the Covid-19 pandemic and their effect on women entrepreneurship: A case of Vietnam. International Entrepreneurship Review, 7(4), 65-73.
  43. Markowska, M., Grichnik, D., Brinckmann, J., & Kapsa, D. (2018). Strategic orientations of nascent entrepreneurs: antecedents of prediction and risk orientation. Small Business Economics, 53(4), 859-878.
  44. Miguel, C., Pechurina, A., Kirkulak-Uludag, B., Drotarova, M., Dumančić, K., Braje, I., & Giglio, C. (2022). Short-term rental market crisis management during the COVID-19 pandemic: Stakeholders’ perspectives. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 102, 103147.
  45. Minh, T., Kim, V., & Ngoc, A. (2021). Political connections, government support and SME tax payments: A note from fixed-effect quantile regression. Finance Research Letters, 40, 101771.
  46. Moghimi Esfandabadi, H. (2017). Analysis Concept of Entrepreneurship on Emphasis Reflexivity Approach. Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration, 1(2).
  47. Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J., & Altman, D. (2009). Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: The PRISMA Statement. Plos Medicine, 6(7), e1000097.
  48. Montenero, V., & Cazorzi, C. (2022). Virtual management during the Covid-19 era: Changes in leadership and management. International Entrepreneurship Review, 8(1), 77-94.
  49. Naidoo, V. (2010). Firm survival through a crisis: The influence of market orientation, marketing innovation and business strategy. Industrial Marketing Management, 39(8), 1311-1320.
  50. Neumeyer, X., Ashton, W., & Dentchev, N. (2020). Addressing resource and waste management challenges imposed by COVID-19: An entrepreneurship perspective. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 162, 105058.
  51. OECD. (2020). Coronavirus (COVID-19): SME policy responses. OECD. Retrieved 27 March 2022, from
  52. Pelle, A., & Tabajdi, G. (2021). Covid-19 and transformational megatrends in the European automotive industry: Evidence from business decisions with a Central and Eastern European focus. Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 9(4), 19-33.
  53. Pham, M. (2022). Management connection and firm performance: Evidence from Global Financial Crisis. Journal Of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, 34, 100636.
  54. Portuguez Castro, M. & Ross, C. & Gomez Zermeño, M. (2020). Entrepreneur profile and entrepreneurship skills: Expert’s analysis in the Mexican entrepreneurial ecosystem. 10.1109/ICTE-V50708.2020.9114372.
  55. Ratten, V. (2020). Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the entrepreneurship education community. Journal Of Enterprising Communities: People and Places In The Global Economy, 14(5), 753-764.
  56. Reinicke, C. (2020). Goldman Sachs now says US GDP will shrink 24% next quarter amid the coronavirus pandemic — which would be 2.5 times bigger than any decline in history. Markets Insider. Retrieved 27 March 2022, from
  57. Riley, C. (2020). Europe has a rescue package. But who’s going to pay for its coronavirus recovery? CNN. Retrieved 27 March 2022, from
  58. Saunders, M.N., & Lewis, P. (2012) Doing Research in Business & Management: An Essential Guide to Planning Your Project. Pearson Education, Canada.
  59. Seetharaman, P. (2020). Business models shifts: Impact of Covid-19. International Journal of Information Management, 54, 102173.
  60. Shane, S., & Venkataraman, S. (2000). The Promise of Entrepreneurship as a Field of Research. Academy Of Management Review, 25(1), 217-226.
  61. Sharma, P., Leung, T., Kingshott, R., Davcik, N., & Cardinali, S. (2020). Managing uncertainty during a global pandemic: An international business perspective. Journal Of Business Research, 116, 188-192.
  62. Smallbone, D., Saridakis, G., & Abubakar, Y. (2022). Internationalisation as a stimulus for SME innovation in developing economies: Comparing SMEs in factor-driven and efficiency-driven economies. Journal Of Business Research, 144, 1305-1319.
  63. Sun, Y., Zeng, X., Zhao, H., Simkins, B., & Cui, X. (2022). The impact of COVID-19 on SMEs in China: Textual analysis and empirical evidence. Finance Research Letters, 45, 102211.
  64. Turkyilmaz, A., Dikhanbayeva, D., Suleiman, Z., Shaikholla, S., & Shehab, E. (2021). Industry 4.0: Challenges and opportunities for Kazakhstan SMEs. Procedia CIRP, 96, 213-218.
  65. US Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy. (2019). Small Businesses Generate 44 Percent of U.S. Economic Activity. SBA’s Advocacy Office. Retrieved 27 March 2022, from
  66. Veronica, S., Manlio, D., Shlomo, T., Antonio, M., & Victor, C. (2020). International social SMEs in emerging countries: Do governments support their international growth? Journal Of World Business, 55(5), 100995.
  67. Vodă, A., & Florea, N. (2019). Impact of Personality Traits and Entrepreneurship Education on Entrepreneurial Intentions of Business and Engineering Students. Sustainability, 11(4), 1192.
  68. Wach, K. (2020). A Typology of Small Business Growth Modelling: A Critical Literature Review. Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 8(1), 159-184.
  69. Xia, Y., Qiao, Z., & Xie, G. (2022). Corporate resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of digital finance. Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, 74, 101791.
  70. Xiang, D., Zhao, T., & Zhang, N. (2022). How can government environmental policy affect the performance of SMEs: Chinese evidence. Journal Of Cleaner Production, 336, 130308.


Download data is not yet available.

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.