Organisational resilience and COVID lockdown : a multi-case study from restaurants in Wuhan, China

Zhang, J. and Liu, L.X. and Tyfield, D. (2022) Organisational resilience and COVID lockdown : a multi-case study from restaurants in Wuhan, China. In: Transforming food systems : ethics, innovation and responsibility. Wageningen Academic Publishers, pp. 101-106. ISBN 9789086863877

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At the beginning of 2020, Wuhan was attacked by the outbreak of Covid-19 and experienced severe lockdowns lasting for 76 days. Along with its supply chains, the urban food system has survived COVID, but many businesses in the food system were significantly impacted, and the restaurant industry was among the most impacted ones with a 65.8% annual revenue reduction. In this study, we look into the organisational resilience of SMEs in the restaurant business. Nine semi-structured interviews were conducted one year after the lockdown was lifted, covering a wide range of restaurant types and scales. By examining the experiences of restaurants via the theoretical lens of dynamic capabilities, we focus on whether and how they sensed the threats and opportunities around the outbreak of Covid-19, seized opportunities by absorbing threats and adapting during and managed threats and transformed after the lockdown. The analysis highlights that reconfiguring resources to react rapidly has compensated for unpreparedness, which relies heavily on the operators’ ability to access resources and collaborate with traditional and non-traditional supply chain actors. The cumulative effects of dynamic capabilities on organisational resilience at the sensing, seizing and transforming phase further underline the significance of keeping up and responding promptly to developments. However, inequality in access to resources has affected the dynamic capabilities of restaurants, with self-employed and independent restaurants tending to absorb the change and maintain the status quo, while restaurants with professional management are more willing to seize opportunities and transform. These findings reflect several worrying aspects around the recovery and transformation of China’s urban restaurant sector in the post-Covid age. From an ethical view, the environment for independent restaurants has generally deteriorated, with prominent players gaining overwhelming advantages over small competitors in terms of capital resources, access to finance supports, advertising ability and technology accumulation. This paper contributes to resilience theories and managerial insights and sheds light on how the dynamic capabilities of restaurants have affected their organisational resilience, through which we also explore the implications of organisational resilience to achieve food system resilience.

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13 Sep 2022 10:50
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27 Jun 2024 01:29