COVID-19 as Industry Forcing Function: Challenges for Entrepreneurship in the Post-Pandemic Future

Olga Belousova, Steven Walsh, Aard Groen

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The COVID-19 crisis has changed how firms and industries do business – at least for now. What is uncertain, is the duration of that change. Will the industry change induced by the COVID-19 crisis persist and, if so, for how long? Can a crisis, and particularly the COVID-19 crisis, act as a more permanent change agent and create an environment that mimics the entrepreneurial opportunity that industry forcing functions create? If yes, then there is cause to consider the entrepreneurial opportunity that the COVID-19 crisis provides. In this paper, we review the changes that the pandemic has brought to business practices. Furthermore, we discuss the differences between crisis-based opportunity and entrepreneurial opportunity created by industry forcing functions in order to illuminate the ability of a COVID-19 crisis–induced Low Touch Economy to sustainably create entrepreneurial opportunities. We show examples and list the attributes of industry forcing functions that have already provided sustainable entrepreneurial opportunity. Then, we match these attributes with the factors related to the COVID-19-related Low Touch Economy. We find that the COVID-19 crisis has similarities and differences to traditional industry forcing functions started by disruptive technologies. However, unlike traditional industry forcing functions, the COVID-19 crisis acts in a pan-industrial manner, making the impact of the pandemic more profound. Furthermore, the timing of the pandemic is important: the COVID-19 crisis struck during the emergence of a Schumpeterian wave of Industry 4.0 and accelerated the adoption of its most important harbingers. We provide researchers and practitioners a lens through which to review not only the COVID-19 crisis's possibility of lasting effects, but also how it will affect entrepreneurs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-41
Number of pages9
JournalForesight and STI Governance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Crisis
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Industry forcing function
  • Low touch economy
  • Pandemic

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