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

The role of public aid and restrictions’ circumvention in SMEs’ pandemic survival strategies


Objective: The article aims to find out what proactive or reactive actions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) helped them survive during the Covid-19 pandemic. This study focuses specifically on how the use of public aid and the restrictions’ circumvention impacted the outcomes of SMEs adjustment strategies.

Research Design & Methods: Adjustment strategies of small and medium enterprises representing restaurant, spa & beauty, fitness, and hotel industries were investigated. The interviews with business owners were analyzed using fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to present non-linear interdependencies between the applied measures and their outcomes.

Findings: Successful adjustment strategies were contained in a spectrum of proactive actions combined with the circumvention of restrictions and the use of public aid. Strategies on the verge of survival were characterized by reactive measures accompanied by the use of public aid.

Implications & Recommendations: Proactivity significantly boosts the probability of successful survival, but it can take both legal forms and those that by design circumvent the law.

Contribution & Value Added: This paper contributes to understanding the impact of public aid on adjustment strategies of small and medium-sized enterprises in the B2C sector and deepening the knowledge on the grounds of SMEs (non)compliance with restrictions. Proactive strategies can include an element of law circumvention with the simultaneous use of public aid measures.



COVID 19 pandemic, small and medium-sized enterprise strategies, circumvention of restrictions, external/public aid, fsQCA

(PDF) Save


  1. Abay, K.A., Tafere, K., & Woldemichael, A. (2020). Winners and losers from COVID-19: Global evidence from Google Search. Policy Research Working Paper, 9268. World Bank, Washington, DC. Retrieved from on November 10, 2021.
  2. Alonso-Almeida, M.D.M., Bremser, K., & Llach, J. (2015). Proactive and reactive strategies deployed by res-taurants in times of crisis: Effects on capabilities, organization and competitive advantage. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 27(7), 1641-1661.
  3. Androniceanu, A. (2021). Transparency in public administration as a challenge for a good democratic governance. Administratie si Management Public, 36, 149-164.
  4. Androniceanu, A., & Marton, D.- M., (2021). The psychosocial impact of the Romanian government measures on the population during the COVID-19 pandemic. Central European Public Administration Re-view, 19(1), 7-32.
  5. Baldwin, R., & Di Mauro, B.W. (2020). Economics in the Time of COVID-19, a eBook, CEPR Press.
  6. Bapat, N.A., & Morgan, T.C. (2009). Multilateral versus unilateral sanctions reconsidered: A test using new data. International Studies Quarterly, 53(4),1075-1094.
  7. 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.
  8. Bolesta, K., & Sobik, B. (2020). Analysis of anti-crisis measures during the COVID-19 pandemic in European countries. Zeszyty Naukowe Polskiego Towarzystwa Ekonomicznego w Zielonej Góra, 13, 18-30.
  9. Bressan, A., Alonso, A.D., & Kok, S.K. (2021). Confronting the unprecedented: micro and small businesses in the age of COVID-19. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior and Research, 27(3), 799-820.
  10. Dankiewicz, R., Ostrowska-Dankiewicz, A., & Bulut, C. (2020). The attitudes of entrepreneurs of the small and medium-sized enterprises sector in Poland to key business risks. Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Eco-nomics and Economic Policy, 15(3), 511-536.
  11. Dementiev, E.V. (2021). Why Countries Differ Greatly in the Effects of COVID-19. Montenegrin Journal of Eco-nomics, 17(4), 55-63.
  12. Ding, W., Levine, R., Lin, C., & Xie, W. (2021). Corporate immunity to the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Fi-nancial Economics, 141(2), 802-830.
  13. Dragoi, A.E. (2020). Supporting the EU Economy through State Aid during COVID-19 Crisis. A Comparative Approach. Global Economic Observer, 8(1), 11-18.
  14. Dyduch, W., Chudziński, P., Cyfert, S., & Zastempowski, M. (2021). Dynamic capabilities, value creation and value capture: Evidence from SMEs under Covid-19 lockdown in Poland. Plos one, 16(6), e0252423.
  15. Eggers, F. (2020). Masters of disasters? Challenges and opportunities for SMEs in times of crisis. Journal of Business Research, 116, 199-208.
  16. Freeman, J., Carroll, G.R., & Hannan, M.T. (1983). The Liability of Newness: Age Dependence in Organiza-tional Death Rates. American Sociological Review, 48(5), 692-710.
  17. Friederiszick H.W., Roeller L.-H., & Verouden, V. (2007). European State Aid Control: An Economic Frame-work. In P. Buccirossi (Ed.). Handbook of Antitrust Economics (pp. 625-669). MIT Press.
  18. Garcia, J.A., & Neven, D. (2005). State aid and distortion of competition, a benchmark model. HEI.
  19. Gittins, T., Freész, G., & Huszák, L. (2022, forthcoming). The response of Hungarian SMEs to the Covid 19 pandemic: a Resilience Adaption Model. Journal of Eastern European Management Studies. (Special Is-sue: Challenges of Management in the COVID-19 Reality), 49-70.
  20. Gruszewska, E. (2012). Transformacja instytucji nieformalnych w Polsce. Gospodarka Narodowa. The Polish Journal of Economics, 254(3), 61-83.
  21. Herbane, B. (2010). Small business research: Time for a crisis-based view. International Small Business Jour-nal, 28(1), 43-64.
  22. Im, J., Kim, H., & Miao, L. (2021). CEO letters: Hospitality corporate narratives during the COVID-19 pandem-ic. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 92 [102701].
  23. Jepperson, R.L., & Meyer, J.W. (2021). Institutional Theory: The Cultural Construction of Organizations, States, and Identities. Cambridge University Press.
  24. Kinnunen, J., Georgescu, I., Hosseini, Z., & Androniceanu, A.-M. (2021). Dynamic indexing and clustering of government strategies to mitigate Covid-19. Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 9(2), 7-19.
  25. Kolodko, G.W. (2001). Globalization and catching-up: from recession to growth in transition economies. Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 34(3), 279-322.
  26. Kopeć, A. (2021). Pomoc publiczna w dobie pandemii COVID-19. Internetowy Kwartalnik Antymonopolowy i Regulacyjny, 10(1), 81-99.
  27. Kraus, S., Clauss, T., Breier, M., Gast, J., Zardini, A., & Tiberius, V. (2020). The economics of COVID-19: initial empirical evidence on how family firms in five European countries cope with the corona crisis. Interna-tional Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 26(5), 1067-1092.
  28. Kryeziu, L., Bağış, M., Kurutkan,M.N., Krasniqi, B.A., & Haziri, A. (2022). COVID-19 impact and firm reactions to-wards crisis: Evidence from a transition economy. Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management, and In-novation, 18(1), 169-196.
  29. Kubinec, R., Lee, H.N.K., & Tomashevskiy, A. (2021). Politically connected companies are less likely to shut-down due to COVID‐19 restrictions. Social Science Quarterly, 102(5), 2155-2169.
  30. Kwiotkowska, A. (2014). Qualitative comparative analysis as a methodological concept in management sci-ences. Prace Naukowe Uniwersytetu Ekonomicznego we Wrocławiu, 340, 65-77.
  31. Leiva-Leon, D., Perez-Quiros, G., & Rots, E. (2020). The Global Weakness Index–reading the economy’s vital signs during the COVID-19 crisis. ECB Research Bulletin, 72, Retrieved from on November 20, 2021.
  32. Lewandowska, A. (2021). Interactions between investments in innovation and SME competitiveness in the peripheral regions. Journal of International Studies, 14(1), 285-307. doi:10.14254/2071-8330.2021/14-1/20
  33. Louka, E. (2006). Międzynarodowe prawo ochrony środowiska: sprawiedliwość, skuteczność i porządek świato-wy. Cambridge University Press.
  34. Łasak, P. (2022). The role of financial technology and entrepreneurial finance practices in funding small and medium-sized enterprises. Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management, and Innovation, 18(1), 7-34.
  35. Marjański, A., & Sułkowski, Ł. (2021). Consolidation strategies of small family firms in Poland during Covid-19 crisis. Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 9(2), 167-182.
  36. Mello, P.A. (2021). Qualitative Comparative Analysis: An Introduction to Research Design and Application. Georgetown University Press.
  37. Mishchuk, H., Štofková, J., Krol, V., Joshi, O., & Vasa, L. (2022). Social Capital Factors Fostering the Sustainable Competitiveness of Enterprises. Sustainability, 14(19), 11905.
  38. Motta, M., & Peitz, M. (2020). State Aid Policies in Response to the COVID-19 Shock: Observations and Guid-ing Principles. Intereconomics, 55(4), 219-222.
  39. Mutinda Kitukutha, N., Vasa, L., & Oláh, J. (2021). The Impact of COVID-19 on the economy and sustainable e-commerce. Forum Scientiae Oeconomia, 9(2), 47-72.
  40. Pisar, P., & Mazo, M. E. (2020). Controlling, communication and corporate culture – the opportunity for SMEs. Economics and Sociology, 13(3), 113-132. doi:10.14254/2071-789X.2020/13-3/8
  41. Ragin, C.C. (2000). Fuzzy-Set Social Science. The University of Chicago Press.
  42. Ragin, C.C. (2018). User's Guide to Fuzzy-Set/Qualitative Comparative Analysis. Irvine: Department of Sociolo-gy, University of California.
  43. Ragin, C.C., & Davey, S. (2016). Fuzzy-Set/Qualitative Comparative Analysis. Irvine: Department of Sociology, University of California.
  44. Seeger, M.W., Ulmer, R.R., Novak, J.M., & Sellnow, T. (2005). Post-crisis discourse and organizational change, failure and renewal. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 18(1), 78-95.
  45. Sokol, M., & Pataccini, L. (2020). Winners and losers in coronavirus times: Financialisation, financial chains and emerging economic geographies of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie, 111(3), 401-415.
  46. Song, H.J., Yeon, J., & Lee, S. (2021). Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from the US restaurant industry. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 92[102702].
  47. Stępień, B. (2011). Rola instytucji nieformalnych w kształtowaniu ładu gospodarczego-przykład transformacji w Polsce. Zeszyty Naukowe/Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny w Poznaniu, 190, 325-343.
  48. Streimikiene, D. (2022). COVID-19 effect on energy poverty: Lithuanian case study. Montenegrin Journal of Economics, 17(4), 215-223.
  49. Svabova, L., Tesarova, E. N., Durica, M., & Strakova, L. (2021). Evaluation of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the development of the unemployment rate in Slovakia: counterfactual before-after com-parison. Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, 16(2), 261-284.
  50. Teja Kusuma, G. A., Setia Sapta, I. K., Dauh Wijana, I. M., Paulus Tahu, G., & Putu Indiani, N. L. (2022). Build-ing SMEs’ passion for utilising digital media: a study of SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Forum Sci-entiae Oeconomia, 10(3), 151-168.
  51. Tominc, P., & Rebernik, M. (2007). Growth aspirations and cultural support for entrepreneurship: A compar-ison of post-socialist countries. Small Business Economics, 28(2), 239-255.
  52. Weber, P.M., & Stępień, B. (2020). Conform or challenge? Adjustment strategies of sanction-torn companies. The World Economy, 43(11), 3006-3024.
  53. Wenzel, M., Stanske, S., & Lieberman, M.B. (2020). Strategic responses to crisis. Strategic Management Jour-nal, 42(2), O16-O27.
  54. Zadeh, F. G. (2022). Entrepreneurship and SMEs under COVID-19 crisis: A literature review. International Entrepreneurship Review, 8(3), 23-35.
  55. Williams, C.C., & Martinez, A. (2014). Entrepreneurship in the informal economy: a product of too much or too little state intervention? The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 15(4), 227-237.
  56. Żak, M., & Garncarz, J. (2020). Coronavirus epidemic management and economic policy towards the chal-lenges associated with the COVID-19 epidemic in selected European Union countries. International En-trepreneurship Review, 6(4), 21-34.
  57. Żochowski, W. (2021). Pomoc publiczna dla przedsiębiorców przed oraz w okresie trwania pandemii COVID-19. Pracownik i Pracodawca, 6(1), 67-82.
  58. Žižek, S. (2020). Pandemic! COVID-19 shakes the world. OR Books.


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.