Do Leaders Prioritise Crisis Preparedness? : A study of how leaders can affect the level of crisis preparedness in SMEs

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/Internationella Handelshögskolan; Högskolan i Jönköping/Internationella Handelshögskolan

Abstract: Background: Crisis and crisis management is a research topic that since the 1980s has gotten increasing amounts of attention in research. A crisis refers to an event that may have severe effects on an organisation's survival, making it important to know how to prepare for them. Interest in research about crisis preparedness has been growing. However, literature tends to focus on crisis preparedness in an MNE (Multinational Enterprises) context, thus, leaving out SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises). Nonetheless, SMEs are a large and crucial part of the economy that may equally, if not more, be affected by crises. In SMEs, the leader has a significant impact on the strategic decisions in the business, making them a crucial part of the crisis preparedness process and an important aspect to study. Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to explore what factors could influence the way a leader prioritises to work with crisis preparedness in SMEs. Further, this research aims to understand how those priorities affect the level of crisis preparedness in SMEs. Method:  This study was conducted as a qualitative exploratory research in the form of a cross-sectional multiple case study. The data was collected through twelve semi-structured in-depth interviews, where all the participants were active as leaders in SMEs. The data collected in the interviews was subsequently analysed through a thematic analysis approach. Conclusion: It was found that besides the previously found external factors of SMEs, crisis preparedness is also influenced by the leader’s attitude about crisis preparedness. This attitude, in turn, is primarily formed through the leader’s understanding of crises and their personality. It was further found that the type of industry could be a factor in crisis preparedness due to for example, differing amounts of rules and regulations. In conclusion, the thesis was able to connect much of what has been found in previous research while adding a focus on the leader and their attitude about crisis preparedness. 

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