Responding to the COVID-19 crisis: the rapid turn toward digital business models
Journal article, 2024

Purpose The effects of the spread of COVID-19 across the world are devastating, both from a health and an economic perspective. However, we also see encouraging examples of collaborative and innovative initiatives, in society and in organizations. The purpose of this paper is to focus on initiatives related to digital business model innovation. The authors explore how organizational characteristics provide a variety of opportunities for digital responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss the potential consequences for the speed of digital transformation in organizations and society. Design/methodology/approach In this paper, the authors analyze how organizations attempt to mitigate the negative effects of fighting COVID-19 using digital business model responses. The authors draw on a qualitative study where they have collected data from the retail and service industries. They have analyzed the data in relation to theory to better understand this ongoing phenomenon. Findings The authors have identified four categories of organizations (crisispreneurs, accelerators, endurers and thrivers). Each category faces different challenges and shows a different intensity in their digital transformation. The authors propose that the rapid turn toward digital business models will have enduring effects, as organizations have gained transformational capabilities that will remain, and that the digital trajectory has, as a result, changed forever. Originality/value The findings in this paper point toward new challenges for leaders and policymakers in terms of how to support initiatives and meet the needs of different categories of organizations while simultaneously being conscious of the potential societal effects of this rapid digital shift. The authors hope that this paper can be of value for managing this shock and learning how to adapt for the future taking certain aspects of current business models as the departure point.

Digital transformation


Digital business models

Societal effects


Charlotta Kronblad

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Johanna Pregmark

Institute for Management of Innovation and Technology (IMIT)

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management

20534620 (ISSN) 2053-4639 (eISSN)

Vol. 15 3 451-467

Subject Categories

Business Administration

Information Science

Information Systemes, Social aspects



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Latest update

5/4/2024 4