SMEs in B2B Markets in Times of Crisis


The Role of Relational Governance and Dynamic Capabilities, Special issue of Industrial Marketing Management; Deadline now 1 Nov 2021


Author: Selma Kadić-Maglajlić


Call for Papers

The Role of Relational Governance and Dynamic Capabilities for SMEs in B2B Market in Times of Crisis

Due to technical difficulties in the submission system

new deadline for submission is November 1st, 2021

Overview and Purpose

The central aim of this special issue of Industrial Marketing Management is to develop knowledge and generate new insights and applications of relational governance mechanisms as enablers of new dynamic capabilities for small and medium enterprises (henceforth, SMEs) in B2B context. The world is currently in crisis and an unprecedented economic lockdown is being experienced as COVID-19 takes its toll not only on societies (Pedersen, Ritter & Di Benedetto, 2020) but also on firms if not managed appropriately (Cortez & Johnston, 2020; Obal & Gao, 2020; Zafari, Biggemann & Garry, 2020). In a recent report, World Bank announced possible global economic contractions of 6.1 in U.S., 9.1 percent in Eurozone, 7.2 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and a record low growth of 0.5 percent in East Asia and the Pacific due to the current COVID-19 pandemic despite unprecedented policy support[1]. In particular, SMEs operating in emerging markets and developing economies appear to be the most vulnerable to external shocks due to their limited safety nets, access to credit and equity capital (IBRD, 2019[2]; Schiffer & Weder, 2001; Yeniaras, Kaya & Dayan, 2020).

In addition, while a 2019 United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR, 2019) report identifies an increasing number of high-risk events globally, “business-to-business marketing has not, remarkably, focused much on crisis management” (Pedersen et al. 2020, 314), both during and after the crisis, especially for SMEs, which are particularly fragile. Whilst their liability of smallness (Freeman, Caroll & Hannan, 1983) may make it difficult for SMEs in times of a global crisis (Eggers, 2020) like COVID-19, crises may also carry opportunities in (1) pre-crisis normality; (2) emergence; (3) occurrence; (4) after-crisis; and (5) post-crisis normality (Pedersen et al. 2020). Considering the small nature of SMEs, it is not always possible for them to possess the much-required resources to identify opportunities/threats in the market to exploit/neutralize them (Hoskisson et al. 2011). In addition, resource advantages of larger firms may only have enduring rents if the environments that the firms operate in does not undergo significant changes (Ambrosini & Bowman, 2009).

While some management limitations of the past may exist, many have been transformed into new opportunities and challenges. These challenges and opportunities were addressed in a previous special issue in Industrial Marketing Management edited by Di Benedetto, Lindgreen, Pedersen & Ritter in 2020 mostly in a conceptual form. For instance, Crick and Crick (2020) identified coopetition as a coping mechanism with COVID-19, Cortez and Johnston (2020) categorized crisis-comparative dimensions (i.e. formation, focus, temporality, government jurisdiction, preparedness, normality, business and operational development) and Chesbrough (2020) suggested that open innovation may be the key to surviving COVID-19. Nevertheless, these propositions are yet to be empirically tested in an SME setting. For instance, the extant literature suggests that larger firms may find it easier to circumvent and/or exploit possible threats and/or opportunities through the use of formal approaches (Hutzschenreuter & Kleindienst, 2006; Kotey & Slade, 2005) since they have considerably more access to capital equity, credit and other resources in comparison to SMEs (Shiffer & Weder, 2001). Nevertheless, an emerging stream of research has started to argue that SMEs do use formal approaches to plan against external shocks but that process is mainly informal and relies on managerial networks with external stakeholders (e.g. Verreynne, Meyer & Liesch, 2016; Yeniaras et al. 2020).

Against this backdrop, SME heterogeneity in firm performance during the different phases, of global crises (e.g. COVID-19), we believe, will be determined by the degree to which the SMEs are capable to purposefully create, extend or modify their resource bases (Helfat et al. 2007); namely their dynamic capabilities (Eikelenboom & Jong 2018). Dynamic capabilities are heterogeneously distributed across firms since they involve high managerial and operational costs in addition to high levels of managerial involvement (Ambrosini & Bowman, 2009). The extant literature identifies social capital as an enabler of dynamic capabilities in general because of its resource and information benefits (Blyler & Coff, 2003; Bouty, 2000; Sheng et al. 2011; Yeniaras et al. 2020). In that vein, the extant literature recognizes the bitter-sweet nature of social capital (Gao, Shu, Jiang, Gao & Page, 2017) and puts it forward as an enabler and/or inhibitor of dynamic capabilities depending on the external environment (Yeniaras, Kaya & Ashill, 2020). Nevertheless, while leveraging trusted B2B relationships in stable environments may help identify and exploit threats and opportunities (McQuiston, 2001; Weber, 2001), during and/or after a crisis situation, we argue that the SMEs may need to rely on a diverse set of individual’ social capital to evaluate which is more uniquely appropriate to acquire, integrate, recombine, and release resource at the different phases of the crisis at hand.

As such, there is a need for more understanding of whether and how SMEs can enable dynamic capabilities by exploiting their individual social capital during different phases of COVID-19 crisis so that they can sustain the external shocks during pre-crisis normality; emergence; occurrence; after-crisis; and post-crisis normality, in an emerging economy and developing markets setting. Accordingly, this special issue seeks to address the aforementioned research gaps, and welcomes high quality submissions in the form of conceptual and empirical papers. Suggested questions of interest for SMEs in B2B market include (but not limited to) the following:

  • How SMEs in B2B market enable dynamic capabilities by exploiting their individual social capital during different phases of COVID-19 crisis?
  • How can SMEs in B2B market integrate, build, and reconfigure internal competences to address, or in some cases to bring about, changes in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How do global pandemics and large-scale shocks affect collaborative ties and the establishment of integrative mechanisms between SMEs in B2B market?
  • What is the impact of crises severity on the relationship between collaborative ties and performance of SMEs in B2B market?
  • How can the alternative collaborative ties be developed for SMEs in B2B market, managed, and leveraged in the face of global health crises?
  • How can SMEs in B2B market embrace agile principles and proactive strategic flexibility to be able to survive during the COVID-19 pandemics?
  • How can SMEs in B2B market make rapid strategic decisions using different types of decision-making rules (i.e., intuitive, improvisation, and cognitive) during the COVID-19 pandemics?
  • How do multiple ties, at many levels and many functions, help SMEs in B2B market create a well-rounded picture of the value cocreation potential during the COVID-19 pandemics?
  • How can cross-sector collaboration (i.e., the collaboration between firms, government institutions, and non-governmental organizations) help SMEs in their internationalization process during the COVID-19 pandemics?

Other topics related enablers and inhibitors of dynamic capabilities in the context of SMEs and B2B market during pandemics and global shocks are also welcome for submission. Papers submitted to Industrial Marketing Management should explicitly demonstrate the contribution to industrial/B2B marketing.

Manuscript Preparation and Submission

To submit a paper please visit the IMM editorial site at  Please login, register as an author, and submit the paper as the site will instruct you. When you get to the step in the process that asks you for the type of paper, select SI: SMEs in B2B Market in Crisis. All papers will be reviewed through the standard double-blind peer review process of IMM. In preparation of their manuscripts, authors are asked to follow the Author Guidelines closely. A guide for authors, sample articles and other relevant information for submitting papers are available at

Important dates

  • Submission opens: June 1st 2021
  • New Deadline for submission: November 1st 2021

Guest Editors

All queries about the special issue should be sent to the Guest Editors.

  • Bulent Menguc, Professor of Marketing, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey. E-mail:
  • Mumin Dayan, Professor of Marketing and Innovation Management, United Arab Emirates University, UAE. E-mail:
  • Volkan Yeniaras, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey. E-mail:


Ambrosini, V., & Bowman, C. (2009). What are dynamic capabilities and are they a useful construct in strategic management?. International Journal of Management Reviews, 11(1), 29-49.

Blyler, M., & Coff, R. W. (2003). Dynamic capabilities, social capital, and rent appropriation: Ties that split pies. Strategic Management Journal, 24(7), 677-686.

Bouty, I. (2000). Interpersonal and interaction influences on informal resource exchanges between R&D researchers across organizational boundaries. Academy of Management Journal, 43(1), 50-65.

Chesbrough, H. (2020). To recover faster from Covid-19, open up: Managerial implications from an open innovation perspective. Industrial Marketing Management,

Cortez, R. M., & Johnston, W. J. (2020). The Coronavirus crisis in B2B settings: Crisis uniqueness and managerial implications based on social exchange theory. Industrial Marketing Management, 88, 125-135.

Crick, J. M., & Crick, D. (2020). Coopetition and COVID-19: Collaborative business-to-business marketing strategies in a pandemic crisis. Industrial Marketing Management, 88, 206-213.

Genc, E., Dayan, M. & Genc, O. F. (2019). The Impact of SME Internationalization on Innovation: The mediating role of market and entrepreneurial orientation, Industrial Marketing Management, 82, 253-264.


Di Benedetto, C. A., Lindgreen, A., Storgaard, M., & Clarke, A. H. (2019). Editorial: How to collaborate really well with practitioners. Industrial Marketing Management,82(1), 1–8.

Eikelenboom, M., & De Jong, G. (2018, July). The impact of dynamic capabilities on SME sustainable performance. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2018, No. 1, p. 11482). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management.

Freeman, J., Carroll, G. R., & Hannan, M. T. (1983). The liability of newness: Age dependence in organizational death rates. American Sociological Review, 692-710.

Gao, Y., Shu, C., Jiang, X., Gao, S., & Page, A. L. (2017). Managerial ties and product innovation: The moderating roles of macro-and micro-institutional environments. Long Range Planning, 50(2), 168-183.

Harris, L. C., & Ogbonna, E. (2006). Initiating strategic planning. Journal of Business Research, 59(1), 100-111.

Helfat, C. E., Finkelstein, S., Mitchell, W., Peteraf, M., Singh, H., Teece, D., & Winter, S. G. (2009). Dynamic capabilities: Understanding strategic change in organizations. John Wiley & Sons.

Hoskisson, R. E., Covin, J., Volberda, H. W., & Johnson, R. A. (2011). Revitalizing entrepreneurship: The search for new research opportunities. Journal of Management Studies, 48(6), 1141-1168.

Hutzschenreuter, T., & Kleindienst, I. (2006). Strategy-process research: What have we learned and what is still to be explored. Journal of Management, 32(5), 673-720.

Kotey, B., & Slade, P. (2005). Formal human resource management practices in small growing firms. Journal of Small Business Management, 43(1), 16-40.

McQuiston, D. H. (2001). A conceptual model for building and maintaining relationships between manufacturers’ representatives and their principals. Industrial Marketing Management, 30(2), 165-181.

Obal, M., & Gao, T. (2020). Managing business relationships during a pandemic: Conducting a relationship audit and developing a path forward. Industrial Marketing Management, 88, 247-254.

Pedersen, C. L., Ritter, T., & Di Benedetto, C. A. (2020). Managing through a crisis: Managerial implications for business-to-business firms. Industrial Marketing Management, 88, 314-322.

Schiffer, M., & Weder, B. (2001). Firm size and the business environment: Worldwide survey results. The World Bank.

Sheng, S., Zhou, K. Z., & Li, J. J. (2011). The effects of business and political ties on firm performance: Evidence from China. Journal of Marketing, 75(1), 1-15.

Verreynne, M. L., Meyer, D., & Liesch, P. (2016). Beyond the formal–informal dichotomy of small firm strategy‐making in stable and dynamic environments. Journal of Small Business Management, 54(2), 420-444.

Weber, J. A. (2001). Partnering with resellers in business markets. Industrial Marketing Management, 30(2), 87-99.

World Bank (2020). Global Economic Prospects. Pandemic, Recession: The Global Economy in Crisis. June 2020.

World Bank (2020). The Global Economic Outlook During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Changed World.

Yeniaras, V., Kaya, I., & Dayan, M. (2020). Mixed effects of business and political ties in planning flexibility: Insights from Turkey. Industrial Marketing Management, 87, 208-224.

Zafari, K., Biggemann, S., & Garry, T. (2020). Mindful management of relationships during periods of crises: A model of trust, doubt and relational adjustments. Industrial Marketing Management, 88, 278-286.