St. Petersburg University
Graduate School of Management
Master in Management Program
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ENTREPRENEURIAL ORIENTATION AND FIRM
PERFORMANCE DURING CRISIS: EVIDENCE FROM RUSSIAN FIRMS
Master’s Thesis by the 2nd year student
Research advisor: Doctor of Science,
Professor Galina V. Shirokova
ЗАЯВЛЕНИЕ О САМОСТОЯТЕЛЬНОМ ХАРАКТЕРЕ ВЫПОЛНЕНИЯ
Master Student’s Name
Daria I. Patiutko
Master Thesis Title
Relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and firm performance
Я, Патютько Дарья Ивановна, студент второго курса магистратуры направления
Russian firmsна тему
что в моей
и результатами компании
Graduate School of Management
компаний», представленной в службу обеспечения
of Study примерInternational
передачи в государственную аттестационную
Academic Advisor ’s Doctor of Science, Professor
Все прямые заимствования из печатных и электронных источников, а также из
защищенных ранее выпускных квалификационных работ, кандидатских и докторских
aim of the study is to investigate the relationship
Мне известно содержание п. 9.7.1 Правил обучения по основным образовательным
results и среднего
EO and performance образования
indicators in вcontext
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the company to
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о том, что« студент
EO is related
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из Санкт-Петербургского университета за представление курсовой или выпускной
» . of the crisis on the
development of each EO dimension and understanding the role of EO
and each of its dimensions in overcoming the crisis by companies.
Entrepreneurial Orientation is understood as a concept with
three dimensions: innovativeness, risk-taking and proactiveness. Crisis
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Entrepreneurial orientation, Crisis, Emerging market,
d tn sInnovativeness,
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Performance, Strategic orientations,
Описание цели, задач и
Дарья Ивановна Патютько
Взаимосвязь между предпринимательской ориентацией и
результатами деятельности фирмы во время кризиса на примере
Высшая Школа Менеджмента
Доктор наук, профессор Галина Викторовна Широкова
Цель работы – исследовать взаимо связь между
предпринимательской ориентацией и результатами деятельности
компании в условиях экономического кризиса на российском
рынке для того, чтобы выяснить, является ли развитие ПО
выгодной стратегией в процессе преодоления компанией
последствий экономического кризиса в стране. Обозначенная
цель достигнута через исследование взаимосвязи между ПО и
результатами деятельности фирм под влиянием различных
факторов; через анализ влияния кризиса на развитие каждого из
измерений ПО и понимание роли ПО и каждого из её измерений
в преодолении последствий кризиса компаниями.
ПО в данной работе изучается как понятие, включающее три
измерения: инновационность компании, её способность брать на
себя риск и проактивность. Кризис рассматривается как
характеристика внешней среды, влияющая на роль ПО и его
измерений. Исследовательский дизайн представляет собой
сравнительное кейс-стади 4 российских компаний из различных
индустрий. Основной источник данных для анализа – интервью с
представителями компаний. Дополнительные источники –
документация и данные с открытых ресурсов Интернет.
Результаты исследования: сочетание всех трех измерений ПО,
развитых на высоком уровне, послужило базой для развития
компаниями крупных инновационных проектов, позволивших
впоследствии достичь успехов даже в период кризиса в стране.
ПО играет важную позитивную роль в преодолении кризиса
компаниями, которые были изучены в данной работе.
Предпринимательская ориентация, Кризис, Развивающиеся
рынки, Результаты компании, Стратегические ориентации,
Инновационность, Рисковость, Проактивность
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Entrepreneurial orientation: main research directions......................................................................9
1.1 The concept of entrepreneurial orientation.....................................................................................9
1.1.1 Definitions of entrepreneurial orientation................................................................................... 9
1.1.2 Evolution of EO studies.............................................................................................................12
1.1.3 Measurement approaches of Entrepreneurial Orientation......................................................... 14
1.2 Analysis of the main directions of studies of the relationship between Entrepreneurial
Orientation and performance indicators of the firm........................................................................... 16
1.2.1 Analysis of studies of the direct relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and
performance indicators....................................................................................................................... 19
1.3 Summary of Chapter 1..................................................................................................................30
2. Crisis in the economy and its impact on the companies.................................................................31
2.1 Business performance in crisis..................................................................................................... 31
2.2 Crisis in Russia and its impact on Russian companies.................................................................36
2.3 Theoretical model of the study..................................................................................................... 38
3. The role of entrepreneurial orientation in firm’s ability to overcome the economic crisis: results of
empirical analysis............................................................................................................................... 41
3.1 Research design............................................................................................................................ 41
3.1.1 Description of the data sources..................................................................................................42
3.1.2 Choice of the research sample................................................................................................... 44
3.1.3 Process of the empirical study................................................................................................... 45
3.2 General information about the cases............................................................................................ 47
3.3 Cross-case analysis....................................................................................................................... 51
3.4 Discussion of the findings............................................................................................................ 74
Conclusions and Implications.............................................................................................................81
List of References...............................................................................................................................85
Appendix. Interview guide................................................................................................................. 91
Nowadays the focus of global economic development and therefore the focus of academic
interest are moving towards emerging economies. Some experts claim that emerging markets
became the engines of global economic development (Maxwell, 2015). Emerging markets have been
researched separately from the developed ones because of the economic, political and cultural
differences. Due to these differences emerging countries create a suitable environment to test and
improve existing theories in different contexts.
In recent research works areas of entrepreneurship and emerging markets development are
frequently intercrossed, because entrepreneurship is a necessary factor of growth and modernization
through the wide spectrum of innovations, increased competitiveness and unique combination of
resources, including both facilities and people resources (Alon, Rottig, 2013).
Businesses in emerging markets perform in a highly uncertain and unpredictable
environment. Rapid growth of emerging markets drive businesses to use not only extensive methods
of development, increasing their capabilities, but also implementation of innovative approaches to
achieve competitive advantages, get increased long-term value, maximize the profit and face
growing requirements of the market (Alon, Jiao, Kwong, Cui, 2013).
The development of effective business strategies becomes crucial in order to achieve all
these goals. Entrepreneurially oriented strategy is based on building opportunity-seeking behavior,
gaining value and creating competitive advantages of the business across the long-term period (Hitt,
Ireland, Sirmon, Trahms, 2011). Entrepreneurial orientation refers to the overall strategic
philosophy, which determines the features of firm’s behavior on the market (Covin, Slevin, 1991).
One of the earliest findings on this topic emphasizes the positive connection between acting
entrepreneurially and achieving competitive advantages.
Research gaps in entrepreneurial orientation studies
Many researchers made an input to the understanding of the concept and implementation of
entrepreneurial orientation. Research on this topic has existed for more than thirty years. EBSCO
database search on the EO topic shows more than 2000 articles in scientific journals. The interest to
the topic is increasing year by year (Miller, 2011). However, there are still some gaps in the
literature, which may be filled in with future studies.
Business environment in the world is rapidly changing nowadays, at the same time the life
cycles of products and businesses are shortening. However, as time goes by, the set of available
tangible resources for companies is not increasing tremendously. Therefore, businesses have to rely
on intangible resources and techniques to win the competition (such as anticipating consumers’
demand and involving innovative techniques (Ireland, Hitt, Sirmon, 2003, p. 57). Nowadays Russian
economy experiences severe crisis. Businesses face the question: how to create a strategy in crisis
environment in order to survive and develop? The answer to this question may be the development
of entrepreneurially oriented strategy.
There are many empirical evidences, supporting the positive relationship between the high
level of entrepreneurial orientation and firm performance in certain conditions. Although it is not
correct to assume that this relationship is positive by definition, because certain scholars have found
empirical evidences to the presence of weak relationship or even negative nature of the relationship.
The degree of the effectiveness of entrepreneurial behavior is highly dependent on different factors,
both internal and external (Shepherd, Wiklund, 2005).
Under an influence of different factors the strength and nature of relationship is different. In
some cases scholars reveal positive relationship, in some cases they are negative, sometimes they
are even non-linear (Shirokova, Bogatyreva, Beliaeva 2015). Different shocks in economy may also
shape this relationship somehow. Among the external factors, influencing the EO-performance
relationship, scholars studied hostility of the environment, organizational structure of the firm,
industry lifecycle, age and size of the firms and many other conditions. However, the effect of crisis
was considered by scholars as a factor, which may influence this relationship in the only one study,
investigating the role of EO in mitigating the crisis on Finnish market (Soininen, et al., 2012). Crisis
is defined as an unexpected, dramatic and unprecedented event that forces any system into chaos
(Seeger, Sellnow, Ulmer, 1998). Not every context suggests the scholar suitable environment for
studying the crisis.
The implementation of entrepreneurially oriented strategy requires part of scarce resources of
the firm to be spent and the effect of crisis on the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation
and firm performance and role of entrepreneurial orientation in overcoming the crisis on emerging
market is unknown.
Current study is motivated with the necessity to find empirical evidences to the effect of
crisis on the relationship between entrepreneurially oriented strategy and the performance of the
firm on emerging market. The result of the study will give business insights on whether
entrepreneurial orientation may help firm to overcome the crisis and in which way it does it. The
contribution of entrepreneurial orientation into firm’s ability to overcome the crisis is evaluated on
the base of model EO-performance relationship.
Research question and methodology
Entrepreneurial behavior of the company may transform the paradigm of crisis for the firm
from negative perspective to the environment of brilliant opportunities, promising high performance
and development to the company. On the other hand, resource-based view suggests an organization
to be perceived as a set of unique resources. The implementation of EO requires part of these
recourses to be spent on development of innovations, taking risky decisions and pursuing
opportunities. During crisis in the economy it’s especially important to allocate the recourses wisely.
Study of the chosen topic will bring evidences to business whether EO is a suitable strategic
orientation to develop on times of crisis. With the existing level of uncertainty if the outcomes of
implication of EO strategy in crisis in the specific context of Russia brings increased performance,
business owners miss the opportunity to improve the performance of their firms. Therefore, business
implications of the study are closely related to realities of nowadays situation.
The thesis aims to answer the following research question: “How does entrepreneurial
orientation help firms to improve their performance during the crisis in Russian market?” Therefore,
the main goal is to investigate the relationship between EO and performance indicators in context of
economic crisis in Russian market and understand whether EO helps the company to overcome the
crisis. The research question is divided into several sub-questions:
1) How is EO related to the performance indicators under an influence of different
2) How does crisis influence the development of each EO dimension?
3) Which role do EO and each of its dimensions take in overcoming the crisis?
The research design of the empirical part appeals to comparative multiple case-study.
Multiple sources technique is implemented with the interview as primary source of the information
and additional sources: documentation, open Internet resources and SPARK database. EO is
perceived as multi-dimensional concept, consisting of three dimensions: innovativeness,
proactiveness and risk-taking. Examined companies in the case study are Russian enterprises from
four different industries, experiencing the effect of crisis on their activity.
Chapter 1 ENTREPRENEURIAL ORIENTATION: MAIN RESEARCH DIRECTIONS
1.1 The concept of entrepreneurial orientation
1.1.1 Definitions of entrepreneurial orientation
Nowadays the topic of entrepreneurial orientation is a subject of interest for many scholars,
working on the field of managerial and business science. Large number of researchers has published
works, investigating the concept of entrepreneurial orientation from different perspectives and in
different contexts. There are numerous studies devoted to the researching of applied nature of the
entrepreneurial orientation, evidence of relationship between the features of entrepreneurial behavior
and company performance, sources and antecedents of it, influence of each of the dimensions and of
all dimensions as a single construct in one culture or in multicultural context, relationship between
entrepreneurial orientation and various factors of external and internal environment. Classical works
on the topic of entrepreneurial orientation belong to Miller (1983), Covin and Slevin (1991), Zahra
(1991), Miller and Friesen (1982), Lumpkin and Dess (1996).
For the development of any broad concept it is very important to organize an existing
knowledge in a unified system and create a theoretical framework, consistent with collected
theoretical ideas about the studied domain. The description and measurement of the concept in
universally approved terms is a way to construct a frame for the existing knowledge. The agreed
clear definition of key elements of the concept leads to its successful development (George, Marino,
2011). Therefore, to create a sufficient ground for the current study it is necessary to conduct an
analysis of existing course of works, dedicated to entrepreneurial orientation domain and as a first
step of it to bring together the most frequently used definitions of entrepreneurial orientation and
shortly analyze main differences and similarities among them.
Because of the growing popularity of the studied concept, from the moment entrepreneurial
orientation has been first recognized by the scientific world a wide variety of entrepreneurial
orientation definitions, developed by numerous scholars, has been collected (Anderson, Covin,
Slevin, 2009). Researchers in their articles express their individual perception of the entrepreneurial
orientation, highlighting particular features of the concept depending on the purpose of their study.
Most popular definitions, recognized by scholars, are collected in the Table 1.
Table 1 Definitions and dimensions of the entrepreneurial orientation
“In the entrepreneurial mode, strategy-making is
Dimensions of EO
1973, p. 45)
dominated by the active search for new opportunities;
power is centralized in the hands of the chief
executive; strategy moves forward by taking bold
decisions in the face of uncertainty; growth is the
“An entrepreneurial firm is one that engages in
product-market innovation, undertakes somewhat risky taking, proactiveness
ventures, and is first to come up with "proactive"
innovations, beating competitors to the punch.”
“EO is a strategic construct that reflects the extent to
which firms are innovative, proactive and risk taking
proactiveness, risk taking
1991, p.7-8) in their behavior and philosophies; entrepreneurial in
their strategic posture”
“EO is defined as the firm’s degree of proactiveness
(aggressiveness) in its chosen product-market unit and
its willingness to innovate and create new offerings
“EO refers to the processes, practices and decision-
making activities that managers use to act
entrepreneurially: new technologies, new product-
market opportunities, undertaking risky ventures”
“EO is defined as the sum total of a firm’s radical
innovations, proactive strategic action, and risk taking
proactiveness, risk taking
activities that are manifested in its support of projects
with uncertain outcomes”
“Strategy-making practices, management philosophies
and firm-level behaviors that are entrepreneurial in
nature… high-EO firm is expected to exhibit certain
strategic behaviors including taking risks, being
proactive in entering new market arenas, and focusing
heavily on product and process innovation”
“EO represents the policies and practices that provide
a basis for entrepreneurial decisions and actions.
Entrepreneurial strategy-making processes that key
Frese, 2009, decision makers use to enact their firm’s
organizational purpose, sustain its vision and create
“EO refers to a firm’s strategic orientation and it is
usually seen as the extent to which a firm innovates,
takes risks to compete aggressively and acts
autonomously and proactively”
The first formal definition of the Entrepreneurial orientation concept belongs to Mintzberg.
Although the scholar did not use the term “entrepreneurial orientation”, he expressed this concept as
the way of making strategy in the company. Most researchers recognize that EO is a construct,
consisting of certain dimensions. Mintzberg described main features of the dimensions, which later
has been used by Miller, pioneer of the entrepreneurial orientation studies, in his definition of the
entrepreneurial firm. The scholar named risk taking, innovativeness and proactiveness as main
inherent features of EO.
Covin and Slevin extended the definition of Miller in 1988 by incorporation of features,
named by Miller, into three main dimensions scholars use nowadays. The result of work of these
scholars was widely accepted by the scientists and is used commonly to describe the nature of
Lumpking and Dess in their article add two more dimensions to the classical view, which,
they believe, are also crucial for the completed picture of EO. Scholars add competitive
aggressiveness and independence, autonomy of the actions, proving the importance of these
dimensions in their article of 1996.
In opposite, Merz and Sauber in their research define EO as a concept with only two
dimensions, associating proactiveness with aggressiveness in the chosen product market and
eliminating the risk-taking ability (Merz, Sauber, 1995). The extended definition of Rauch, Wiklind,
Lumpkin and Frese of 2009 defines specific goals, which may be achieved by implementing the
entrepreneurially oriented strategy. In their article scholars recognize all five dimensions of
Besides these differences, there is also a disagreement in a question of a nature of EO:
whether it is an attitude of a CEO, a set of personal characteristics, a behavior of the whole company
or the combination of these conditions (Miller, 2011). Some researchers argue that EO represents the
extent to which the firm develops EO dimensions (Vij, Singh Bedi, 2012). Zahra and Neubaum are
radical and specific in their definition, claiming that EO is simply a sum of its dimensions (1998).
The analysis has shown that there is still no unified definition of EO created. Depending on
the aim of the research, on the construct of the study, there is a variation in a definition of EO,
concerning the number of dimensions, nature of the concept and other features. For the purposes of
this research the classical definition of Covin and Slevin is used. In this definition EO has three
dimensions: innovativeness, risk-taking and proactiveness. Every author, working in the field of
entrepreneurial orientation, recognizes these three dimensions.
1.1.2 Evolution of EO studies
The starting point of the development of Entrepreneurial Orientation concept by scholars is
the article of Danny Miller (1983). However, the origins of this field of study can be found in the
earlier publications of different authors. The tendency of searching for factors, which influence
entrepreneurship and antecedents, which formulate entrepreneurial behavior, has appeared during
1960s and 1970s. Features of future fundamental theories originate in the studies of these years. The
roots of exploring dimensionality of EO lay in articles of this period. Gustav Papanek in his article
argues about the importance of the entrepreneur as a determinant of economic growth, thinking
about the entrepreneurs as about decision-making innovators (1962). Henry Schloss names three
subfunctions of entrepreneurship, discussing risk-taking ability and seeing and spotting
opportunities (1969). Researchers define different factors, influencing entrepreneurial behavior:
ability to make decisions, the need for achievement, economic development (Papanek, 1962).
Henry Mintzberg, the founder of the three modes of making strategy, already in 1973 notices
that the entrepreneurial mode is working not only in the process of creating new ventures, but also
during managing the enterprises, which are already functioning. The scholar describes four main
features of the entrepreneurial mode, which will later be used by Miller in his article. Mintzberg puts
together major features of the entrepreneurial approach; he describes the entrepreneurial mode as
behavior aimed to search new opportunities in the highly uncertain circumstances with the focus on
growth (Mintzberg, 1973).
Minkes and Foxall in their work describe entrepreneur as innovator, risk-taking person, who
has a strategic mindset. They discuss the role of the entrepreneur in the economy, pointing out that
the idea of entrepreneurial mindset is applicable not only to new ventures, but also to business
corporations (1980). Later, in 1981, Lawler and Drexler raise a question of possibility to implement
entrepreneurship in the big company. On the base of their qualitative research, authors draw the
conclusion, that the degree of entrepreneurial behavior is highly dependent on the organizational
climate in the company. They highlight five main areas, which may influence entrepreneurial
activity in the company (1981). The search of mediators, influencing the utility of entrepreneurial
orientation will be continued later in the studies of Covin and Slevin (1988).
Understanding the entrepreneurship rather as a behavior and attitude than as a process leads
to the development of the concept in the work of Miller. The initial idea of the author was to discuss
the broad measure of entrepreneurship in order to show its role and drivers in different business
models and configurations. The scholar comes up with the idea of entrepreneurship, suggesting such
type of behavior, which includes taking a risk, involving the innovation into business process and
practicing proactiveness. He was the first to define entrepreneurship as a multidimensional concept
and to divide entrepreneurial organization and the “nonentrepreneurial” one (Miller., 1983, р. 771).
Miller opposed entrepreneurial firm to the nonentrepreneurial one, suggesting that the
entrepreneurial one has got three dimensions developed and non-entrepreneurial one develops none
of them. If at least one of the components is missing, the firm may not be considered
entrepreneurial: Miller notices “Theorists would not call a firm entrepreneurial if it changed its
technology or product-line … simply by directly imitating competitors while refusing to take any
risks. Some proactiveness would be essential as well” (Miller, 1983, p. 780). The first attempt to
measure entrepreneurship level was by weighting these three dimensions (Miller D., 1983).
Later studies refer to three dimensions of EO, described in the work of Miller. In 1988 Covin
and Slevin examine the influence of organization structure on the result of entrepreneurial behavior
of the management.
The next decade of the studies was devoted to deeper understanding the concept of EO and
its dimensions. Lumpkin and Dess start their article from the statement: functioning on the basis of
spotting business opportunities works for both new ventures and existing companies, bringing them
wealth and progress (1996). Numerous scholars made an effort to explain differences in
entrepreneurship in different ventures with the proportions of factors that construct the individual
portrait of entrepreneurship in each company.
In their article Lumpkin and Dess make the first attempt to formulate the difference between
the idea of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial orientation, comparing the difference between these
two concept with the difference between the sense of content and process. Scholars connect the idea
of entrepreneurship with the necessary condition – new entry. Entrepreneurial orientation, in
contrast, is the way in which this entry is undertaken (Lumpkin, Dess, 1996).
From the year of 2000 studies become more sophisticated. The scale of researches and
amount of works increase (Kreiser et al., 2002). Scholars pay their attention to development of
studies devoted to EO-performance relationship in different levels and considering different size of
companies. The researchers move further, to studying of data on international level, scholars on the
field claimed, that the next step of development of EO domain comparative works that use datasets
from multiple countries and cultures (Zahra, Jennings, Kuratko, 1999).
Nowadays there are more than 2000 articles, discovering Entrepreneurial orientation
(according to EBSCO database, using the search of articles with “Entrepreneurial orientation”
mentioned in title). The number of articles issued annually increases as time goes by. In his article,
published 28 years after introducing the concept of EO, Miller concludes, that there continue to be
arguments about EO, its drivers, nature, antecedents and its relationship with performance. The topic
is still needs to be developed further (Miller, 2011). The more complicated the world becomes, the
more open questions for future research rise.
1.1.3 Measurement approaches of Entrepreneurial Orientation
The initial studies of EO in the early works have introduced three dimensions:
innovativeness, proactiveness and risk-taking ability. Innovativeness is defined as an ability of the
firm to implement creativity despite of the challenges appearing during the course of improving
processes, procedures and products (Mbizi et al., 2013). Innovativeness of entrepreneurs is
measured by the propensity by which they innovate their business (Miller and Friesen, 1982).
Proactiveness represents the kind of behavior, which is aimed on looking for new
opportunities. Proactiveness is intended to meet future demand to shape the environment and create
changes (Lumpkin et al., 2009). It is expressed in aggressive behavior in relation to rivals and
striving business opportunities (Vij, S., Singh Bedi, H., 2012).
Risk-taking is a tendency to take bold decisions with high level of risk and at the same time
high outcomes (Lumpkin et al., 2009). It is remarkable, that early definitions of entrepreneurship
include the ability of the firms to engage in calculated business-related risks (Brockhaus, 1980). In
1996 Lumpkin and Dess published an article with introduction of two more sub-dimensions:
competitive aggressiveness and autonomy. Lumpkin and Dess describe autonomy as a key
dimension of EO. They link the independency of the enterprise with independently minded people,
who are not afraid of discussing bold ideas, acting strongly and refusing ordinary way of doing
things, realizing fresh approaches instead. Scholars discuss the indicators of autonomy: management
style, size, and right of the ownership, explaining which factors may influence the level of autonomy
in a different way (Lumpkin, Dess, 1996).
Competitive aggressiveness is an ability of an enterprise to "..directly and intensely challenge
its competitors to achieve entry or improve position, that is, to outperform industry rivals"
(Lumpkin, Dess, 1996, p.148 ).
There are two main approaches to measuring entrepreneurial orientation: unidimensional,
which recognizes the interdependence of each dimension and does not suggest the individual impact
of each of them and multidimensional, which considers the individual input of innovativeness, risktaking and proactiveness to entrepreneurial orientation of the firm.
Supporters of multidimensional approach take into account the idea that each dimension may
have different degree of influence on the final variable, therefore, they tent to measure each of them
separately (Lumpkin and Dess, 1996). In contrast, scholars, using unidimensional approach, suggest
the idea that entrepreneurial orientation appears as a result of synergy of all three factors’
combination (Covin and Slevin, 1989).
The crucial difference between these two approaches lies in a fact that multidimensional
approach, considering different levels of influence of each dimension, allows the suggestion that
firm may be entrepreneurial with one or more dimensions developed weaker than others due to the
different circumstances, if their impact is not high (Lumpkin and Dess, 1996). Unidimensional
approach considers the presence of entrepreneurial orientation of the firm is only all three
dimensions are developed on a sufficiently high level (Covin and Slevin, 2009). If one of the
dimensions is not developed, the firm cannot be defined as entrepreneurial one (Miller, 1983). The
choice of approach is determined with the aims of study. Unidimensional approach allows focusing
on the whole picture, it is applicable in the studies where EO represents the solid construct and it is
easier to notice pattern in this relationship. Multidimensional approach looks at the concept of EO in
more sophisticated way, allowing following wider variation of relationship and getting more trends
in relationship because of the increased amount of combinations of characteristics.
Figure 1 represents two kinds of measurement approaches, which are used in studies of
Figure 1 Approaches to measure entrepreneurial orientation (created by the author)
1.2 Analysis of the main directions of studies of the relationship between Entrepreneurial
Orientation and performance indicators of the firm
In 1970s, the concept of entrepreneurial orientation has been separated from the whole field
of strategic orientations and has been studied as an independent domain. Scholars researched EO
from different sides and in different context. And nowadays the whole construct of empirical studies
may be divided into three most important directions (Vij, S., Singh Bedi, H., 2012, p.19):
1) Study of entrepreneurial orientation domain with the construct model approach. In such
type of model scholars study EO as a dependent variable. The influence of EO antecedents, both
internal and external, is the topic of these researches. The main research question for studies of this
group is "how different factors are driving the development of EO on the firm level?".
2) Study of entrepreneurial orientation with respect to strategy of the firm. Scholars
determine the level of EO in different types of overall firm strategy.
3) Study of relationship of entrepreneurial orientation with different indicators of firm
performance. These studies include not only relationship of these two domains, but also the impact
of moderating and mediating variables of external and internal environment.
The topic of the current study is particularly concerned with the relationship between EO and
performance indicators of the firms, therefore, the following analysis is dedicated to the third
direction of the studies in order to achieve deep theoretical understanding of the domain and get
additional insights and suggestions on the research question.
In general, the design of studies, evaluating the relationship between EO and performance
refers to four main steps: identify the level of EO, collect chosen performance indicators, identify
the level of other factors influencing relationship, check whether there are relationship and what is
the nature and magnitude of it.
Operationalization of entrepreneurial orientation level
The most frequently used operationalization of EO, which was introduced by Covin and
Slevin in 1989, was firstly checked in conditions of US market. Later different authors aimed on the
checking of the instrument in other countries. The scale has been applied in numerous studies in
different contexts and has shown its validity and reliability (Kreiser et al., 2002). It is the nine-items
scale, containing three items measuring innovativeness, three items measuring proactiveness and
three items measuring risk-taking. According to unidimensional view, Covin and Slevin measured
entrepreneurial orientation as synergy from sum of these three dimensions. The methodology offers
respondents to evaluate their firm on each of the item on 7-points Likert scale.
Some authors during the history of EO concept development made an attempt to introduce
new instruments of EO assessment. In the article of Brown, Davidsson and Wiklund (2001), scholars
describe new instrument, developed from the point of opportunity-based view. Authors suggest the
evaluation of six parameters, which reflect the opportunity-based view of Stevenson (1983):
strategic orientation, management structure, reward philosophy, growth orientation, management
structure, and entrepreneurial culture. Authors follow the recommendations of Stevenson for scale
construction. However, scholars make a conclusion that these dimensions only partly overlap with
Entrepreneurial orientation. Therefore, nowadays, still the most reliable instrument of assessment is
the scale of Covin and Slevin.
Knight in 1997 evaluated EO of Canadian firms, interviewing both French-speaking and
English-speaking owners of the business (Knight, 1997). The scale proved to be valid and reliable in
that research, although the perception of certain dimensions may vary in different cultures. In 2002
Kreiser conducted a study of 1307 different firms in 8 countries: Australia, European countries,
Indonesia. Scholars made a conclusion, that environmental conditions have a direct impact on the
level of EO (Kreiser et al., 2002).
The methodology was also implemented to Asian market firms. Keh, Ngu and Ng in 2007
published an article with investigation of effect of EO on performance of Singaporean SMEs, where
the scale also demonstrated high level of reliability (Keh, Ngu, Ng, 2007).
Studies of the influence of entrepreneurial orientation on the different aspects of performance
of the firm originate from the assumption that firms, acting entrepreneurially, are different from
those which don’t implement entrepreneurial orientation in their strategy (Kreiser et al., 2002, p.73).
Scholars, studying the entrepreneurial orientation domain, are working on the assessment of
relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and performance because this link has a lot of
The task of finding out whether entrepreneurial orientation of firm’s strategy may be
considered as a factor, positively related to the performance outcomes of the firm and how is it
connected with the external and internal factors has been the goal of many researches from the
beginning of EO concept development. One of the issues of the topic is the possibility of biased
views on the empirical data. Dess, Lumpkin and Covin are highlighting this issue in their article of
1997. Scholars see the problem in inherent intention of some authors to prove positive impact of
entrepreneurially oriented behavior on certain results of the firm, such as profitability or growth. The
tendency is caused by overall positive opportunistic attitude to bold, entrepreneurial mindset,
developed and encouraged by popular press (Dess, Lumpkin, Covin, 1997). Therefore, searching the
empirical evidences of presence of such relationship and their nature in various contexts and in
variety of organizational designs has become the objective for many studies.
1.2.1 Analysis of studies of the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and
The discussion of relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and performance of the
firm has provided some arguments on the nature of this relationship. Theoretical rationale suggests
that firms, implementing entrepreneurially oriented strategy, have a first-mover advantage, respond
quickly to market trends, thus catching opportunities and gaining competitive advantages, which
result in an increased performance. Innovativeness allows them to be the first to implement new
techniques and products in response to growing requirements of the consumers (Wiklund, 1999).
Risk-taking ability provides increased value (including the financial value) from the undertaken
projects, because the high level of risk is approved with the higher outcomes. Therefore, there is a
reason to believe that in theory this relationship is positive in nature.
The number of authors has provided the empirical confirmation of this statement (Covin,
Slevin, 1991; Zahra, 1993; Hult, Snow, Kandemir, 2003). However, other studies suggest that the
relationship is not statistically significant or even find evidences of the negative relationship
between these two constructs (Lumpkin, Dess, 2001; Arbaugh et al., 2009).
Besides the variation in results of the relationship nature studies, there is also a variation in
reported magnitude of such relationship. Some scholars identify strong link, some of them argue that
the relationship is not so evident.
The examples of different studies, assessing relationship between EO and performance along
with the results and characteristic of the context of the research, are given in the Table 2.
Table 2 Examples of empirical studies of EO-performance relationship
Nature and magnitude of
Positive direct relationship,
increased with the influence of
Data obtained from the
questionnaire, received from
161 American small
Sample of 82 USA respondent
Under the right fit EO has
firms provided measures of the
positive relationship with the
organizational structure, strategy
Lee, et al., Questionnaire data, (analysis of
correlation of variables),
received from 137 Korean
Positive direct relationship,
statistically significant effect on
performance (sales growth).
Proactiveness has strong positive
relationship with performance.
Competitive aggressiveness, in
contrast, is not significantly
related to performance.
Positive direct relationship. The
magnitude depends on the size
and age of the firm
Positive significant direct
relationship, relationship is more
complex than main-effect
Positive direct relationship
between EO and perceived
satisfaction with the medium
Curvilinear relationship of EO
and performance with highest
level of performance indicators
related with medium levels of EO
High network centrality
strengthens the relationship
between EO and performance.
Negative direct relationship
between EO and return on sales,
no statistically significant
relationship between EO and
sales growth, positive relationship
between EO and net worth.
heterogeneous sample. Data
from 321 USA firms, obtained
Hult, Snow, Questionnaire data (analysis of
correlation of variables in
received from 764 USA SBU of
different age and size
Telephone interview with 3
years lag. Analysis of
correlation between variables
from 384 Swedish SME
Dimitratos et Data obtained from the survey
of 152 various internalized
Greek firms. Performance
indicator: perceived satisfaction
of the manager
T a n g , J . , Analysis of the data obtained
T a n g , Z . , from questionnaire, filled in by
185 Chinese enterprises. Level
Z h a n g , L i , of EO and perceived
Stam, Elfring, Survey of 125 Netherland
software firms. Measurement of
EO (Covin and Slevin scale),
network centrality (roster
Data obtained from International
Cox, Camp, Survey of Entrepreneurs of 1045
Regression analysis of variables
Rauch et al., Meta-analysis of 53 samples
from 51 studies
Moderately large magnitude of
positive relationship between EO
Positive relationship of
strategy and growth indicator
Multiple case-study of 7
Mauritius SMEs operating in
different sectors. In-depth
The review of articles, devoted to the EO-performance relationship has shown that the
absolute majority of the researches are conducted in stable environment of developed markets. The
issue is explained with the fact that the most popular instruments of EO operationalization were
developed in the United States. The big number of scholars also originates from the developed
countries. The majority of scholars are especially interested in the development of the studied
domains in the context of their country, because their area of expertise lies on the field of their
country of origin.
Most studies are focused on data from firms of certain industry, culture, size, age, country (or
several countries). Such approach allows making individual conclusions about the nature of
relationship in certain industry or inside the firms of certain age. Among the studies, revealing
strong positive relationship between EO and performance in the context of Korean firms, there is a
work of scholars Lee C., Lee K and Pennings J., which evaluate the relationship of certain
characteristics of Korean technological start-up companies with their performance, using the data
from firms with large investments into R&D and with the number of employees fewer than 300,
working in the technological sphere. Among the factors researchers evaluated was EO of the firms,
measured with Covin and Slevin approach. The results suggest that EO has a positive and
statistically significant effect on sales growth. However, scholars also highlight that it may take two
years for entrepreneurially oriented strategy to enhance performance of the firm significantly (Lee et
Some authors, in contrast, tend to use the heterogeneous sample in order to obtain highly
generalizable results. Lumpkin and Dess in 2001 publish the study of the sample with big variety of
respondents. Among the other outcomes of their multidimensional study, scholars report the results
of testing the relationship between Competitive aggressiveness and Performance along with the
relationship between Proactiveness and Performance. The study without considering the moderating
effect of the environment shows that these two dimensions have separate unique effect on the
performance, suggesting that Proactiveness shows strong positive relationship with performance,
while Competitive aggressiveness, in turn, has negative relation to growth of sales and weak
positive relation to profitability (Lumpkin, Dess, 2001).
Studies of main effect of EO on the performance by Wiklund and Shepherd revealed the
strong positive relationship between EO and performance. Scholars have evaluated the relationship
between the dependent and independent variables, getting the dependent variables data three years
after they collected independent variables data to consider possibility of the time needed for the
effect to materialize. Results demonstrate the complexity of relationship and the necessity to
consider moderate effect of other variables.
As it was said, some authors, in contrast to the most of other research, supporting positive
relationship between studied constructs, have found out that EO has no relationship with certain
indicators of firm’s performance or is even related negatively with some of them. Arbaugh, Cox and
Camp in their study of 2009 research the EO construct and its relationship with performance in the
context of six countries to find out whether the construct is generalizable outside the United States,
find evidences on the dimensionality of entrepreneurial orientation and find more empirical
evidences on the question of relationship between EO and performance. Scholars measured EO on
the base of Covin and Slevin scale and evaluated the relationship of EO with three performance
indicators: net worth, return on sales and sales growth. The results indicate that EO in chosen sample
has not relation to sales growth and is a negative predictor of return on sales. Authors indicate the
fact, that further studies of relationship should consider rather the effect of moderating variables,
than focusing on studying of the direct relationship (Arbaugh et al., 2009).
Studies of the relationship of entrepreneurial orientation and perceived by the owners
performance of the firm also give important insights on the topic. Sometimes financial performance
indicators are either not available for the scholars or may be not the best evidences of the
performance. In particular, Lumpkin and Dess highlight that satisfaction of managers with the
performance may give more valuable information in estimation of the performance of the firm
(Lumpkin, Dess, 1996). Dimitratos, Liokas and Carter in their article of 2003 studied the
international performance of companies. The study is based on a survey of Greek firms, which
perform international activities, estimating the EO as an average of three dimensions. Scholars
report, that the relationship between EO and perceived satisfaction is positive, however, not very
strong. Again, they point on such advantage of this performance indicator: it may capture the
longitudinal effect of entrepreneurially oriented behavior, while financial indicators may reflect the
results of other factors. In the conclusion authors note, that entrepreneurial behavior should be
considered as a long-run measure, rather then a short-term activity.
Qualitative studies are also used on the field of assessing EO relationship with performance.
They mostly consider the cases when authors are working with the research question, which was not
widely studied before. Bucktowar et al. in 2015 published an article, revealing the influence of
several factors on the performance of Mauritanian SMEs, suggesting the study of both direct effect
of certain orientations and indirect relationship with the mediating activity of innovations inside the
firms. Scholars perceived Entrepreneurial orientation as the combination of four dimensions,
including questions about each of them into the interview. They highlight that in consistency with
many other researches, supporting the positive relationship, firm adopting entrepreneurially oriented
behavior, survive and grow. In particularly, authors argue that the firm, demonstrating
innovativeness, grew 6% yearly, while the firm, started up with radical innovation, but later kept
with the same type of product, grew 3% annually (Bucktowar et al., 2015).
The arguments on the sustaining moderate level of EO for the best performance of the firm
were developed in some articles. Supporters of such view claim that maximized level of
entrepreneurial orientation in certain cases may become an obstacle for the firm’s growth. Tang et al.
study the curvilinear relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and performance. Sample of
185 Chinese firms filled in the questionnaire, evaluating the level of EO with 8-item scale and four
performance indicators, including perceived performance. The regression analysis revealed
curvilinear relationship. Scholars report that the result is applicable to Chinese market and it gives
the idea of possible negative outcomes from too high level of EO.
In many studies, revealing the direct relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and
performance the issue of the necessity to study the influence of other variables appear.
theoretical evidences and empirical experience insist that studied relationship may be dependent on
various factors of external and internal environments. Therefore, studying of EO-performance
relationship with consideration of other factors making an impact to this relationship, gives
additional insights to existing findings.
The big range of results, obtained from analyses of relationship, is explained with the
consideration that this relationship is context specific (Lumpkin, Dess, 1996). The nature and
strength of relationship is suggested to be highly dependent on the various environmental and
internal factors, which moderate the existing relationship between EO and performance. These
factors appear in research models as moderators. The choice of moderator in particular study is
based on the theoretical assumption that the nature of certain factor may in some way shape the
relationship between EO and performance due to its special characteristics. Some features of
external and internal environment may be an appropriate fit for EO implementation, strengthening
the positive relationship with performance. Some features may not be beneficial to EO strategy and
may weaken the relationship or even cause additional negative consequences for the company. The
role of moderating variables in relationship between EO and performance has been extensively
researched by scholars (Wales et al., 2013).
The place of moderating variable in the model of EO-performance relationship is reflected
on Figure 2.
Figure 2 Moderating factor in EO-performance relationship model
The analysis of existing works has shown, that both internal and external factors may play a
role of moderators in this relationship.
Factors of the internal environment
Internal moderators include different factors, related to the company characteristics. Hult et
al. studied the relationship of entrepreneurial orientation with performance in the firms of different
age and size. Scholars evaluated 10 possible models of relationship including direct and indirect
effects and created a matrix of results, divided according to the combination of the two parameters:
size of the firm and the number of years it’s functioning. They report that EO plays important role
relative to performance, but the level of this relation depends on the place company takes in this
matrix and the moderating role of firm’s age and size is significant. Results of the research suggest
that focus on entrepreneurial behavior gives the most significant impact for Large and Young
organizations, allowing them faster development. Large and Old organizations should take the
entrepreneurially oriented strategy as complementary one. The results for Small and Young
organizations demonstrate strong significant relationship between EO and performance and Small
and Old organizations’ performance, in turn, tend to be less strongly related (Hult et al., 2003).
Organizational structure has also been an important moderating factor utilized in the studies
of EO-performance relationship. The structure of the company varies on the scale from organic to
mechanic. These two opposite characteristics include the combination of certain levels of
centralization, formalization and flexibility (Kreiser, Davis, 2010). Mechanic structures are those
that implicate high level of formalization of all processes, bureaucracy and centralization.
Communication is provided through formal channels, job is formalized through instructions, and
autonomy is limited. The organization is not flexible and it often resists changes. Organic structures,
in contrast, are highly decentralized, formalization is low, and communication is flexible (Slevin,
Covin and Slevin argue that entrepreneurially oriented strategy may be most positively
related to the performance when it is managed by an appropriate organizational structure. Scholars
associate the appropriate structure with decentralization, flexible and transparent communication,
minimum hierarchy. Authors make a proposition about more positive relation of EO to firm
performance in firms with organic structure in comparison with the mechanic one (Covin, Slevin,
Khandwalla (1977) also indicates that organic orientation of the company enables all three
dimensions to relate with performance on an increased way, explaining it with the fact the inflexible
organization is not able to adapt fast to the situation. The increased ability to take risks requires the
company to be able to act before full understanding of all actions, which have to be taken
Covin and Slevin in 1988 got empirical evidences of the propositions stated above. The
scholars studied moderating effect of organization structure on the relationship between
entrepreneurially oriented strategy and organizational performance, collecting the data by survey
from 80 randomly selected US firms from different industries. Authors measured organization
structure with 5-item scale, developed by Khandwalla. The study has provided strong support for the
argument that organically-structured entrepreneurial firms are the high-performers. The study also
gives an emphasis to contingent approach, which claims that the highest performance may be
achieved through the fit among elements in the organizational system and context. The theory of
contingent relationship applies to the study of the way EO dimensions are configured under the
influence of different factors. Covin and Slevin notice that mechanically-structured conservative
firms are also the high-performers in the sample. The main finding of the study suggests that
entrepreneurially-oriented strategy requires the firm to be organically structured for the best
performance. (Covin, Slevin, 1988).
Other internal variables, studied by the scholars, are: strategies (Tang, Tang, 2012); family
involvement (Casillas, Moreno, 2010); firm life cycle (Si, 2013); managerial power (Davis, et al.,
2010) and other factors.
Factors of the external environment
External moderators include factors, which construct the environment company is
functioning in and which are taken into consideration when making the decision in the organization.
Environmental dynamism and munificence (which refers to the big amount of resources and
opportunities available) have played a fundamental role in the understanding of EO-performance
relationship (Kreiser, Davis, 2010). In many works authors focus their attention on the relationship
of EO and performance of the firm in hostile environment in comparison to the same relationship in
benign environment. The rationale of such interest is the fact that hostile environment gives fewer
opportunities to the players of the market and it may be supposed that the behavior, directed on
aggressive pursuing opportunities and competitive advantage, allows getting more of these
opportunities in comparison with passive behavior of classic firms. In turn, the benign environment
may result in weaker relationship between EO and performance, because entrepreneurial behavior
involves higher level of the risk, which may be not necessary in the market with the high level of
Many studies have aligned positive impact of entrepreneurial strategic posture in hostile
environments. Covin and Slevin in their study of 1989 compared the level of EO and subjective
performance indicators of small firms in hostile environment. 161 small manufacturing firms,
functioning for at least five years were included in the study. Scholars evaluated the level of
environmental hostility for each firm with three-item scale, developed by Khandwalla; strategic
posture with their own scale and financial performance of the firms with five-point Likert scale. The
results claim that small firm with higher level of entrepreneurial orientation perform better in hostile
Some studies claim, in turn, that EO is positively related with the performance of the firm in
benign environment, rather than in the hostile one. Kreiser et al. in their work of 2002 evaluated the
impact of environmental hostility on each dimension of EO, concluding that the environment has
significant impact on the process of creation of the strategy inside the firm. Scholars claim that
proactiveness and innovativeness are negatively related with the environmental hostility, while the
risk-taking ability demonstrates curvilinear relationship. These findings explain complex
relationship between EO and firm performance in hostile environment (Kreiser et al., 2002).
Some authors evaluate separate relationship of each of the dimensions with the performance
considering moderating effect of environmental dynamism and hostility. Kreiser and Davis in their
article of 2010 evaluate individual impact of each sub-dimensions of the EO in the model. In
particular, scholars highlight that innovativeness may be beneficial in dynamic and munificent
environments, because hostile environment suggests limited financial resources, which should not
be spent on radical innovations. Proactiveness dimension’s positive relationship with performance is
strengthening in dynamic environment, where anticipation of rapidly changing consumer needs is
crucial. The same logic is applicable for the risk-taking dimension: environmental dynamism results
in stronger relationship between risk-taking and performance. However, taking too much risk is not
beneficial in hostile environment with lack of opportunities and resources, which make additional
risk non-affordable (Kreiser, Davis, 2010).
The study of moderating effect of the environment by Lumpkin and Dess, which was
mentioned above, gives more insights than considering the same relationship without appealing to
the context. Authors claim that, according to the contingency approach, the results are dependent on
combination of different circumstances, namely, industry life cycle in a way that in more mature
industries constant search for the new opportunities is associated with increased costs, which are not
likely to be always paid off. Furthermore, scholars study the moderating effect of environment,
proving empirically that Proactiveness indeed has strong positive relation to performance in both
dynamic and hostile environment (Lumpkin, Dess, 2001).
Another variable, which may be affecting EO-performance relationship, is an industry
company is operating in. Highly technological industry with frequently changing technology and
consumer preferences may be a pre-condition for the entrepreneurially oriented strategy to be
positively related to performance. Meta-analysis of Rauch et al. (2009) confirmed statistically
significant difference in relationship strength between companies, working in high-tech industries
and the ones that work in other industries. Scholars conclude that business in high-tech industry
benefit more from EO strategy.
Another external factor, considered by the scholars as influential in EO-performance
relationship, is social capital, which is defined as the resources, available to firm through its net of
relationships. One of the works on this topic was developed by Stam and Elfring in 2008. Scholars
claim, that wide access to network allows firm quick identifying and mobilizing external resources,
which are necessary to attract in process of developing EO strategy. By analyzing the sample of
software companies of Netherlands, authors found empirical evidences to the hypotheses that
network centrality strengthens the relationship between EO and performance of the firm.
Some studies combine the influence of moderating effect of both external and internal
factors. The configurational approach, in contrast to the theory of contingency, suggests studying
multivariate configurations of strategy and environment with organizational processes (Dess,
Lumpkin, Covin, 1997). Both contingency and configurational approaches were used in the article
of Dess, Lumpkin and Covin, where scholars study moderating effects of environmental uncertainty,
heterogeneity and strategy of the firm on relationship between EO and performance. Authors find
the empirical evidence to the fact that EO has the strongest relationship with performance when it is
combined with both an appropriate strategy and appropriate environmental conditions. The results
claim that entrepreneurial strategy making is associated with high performance when the
environment is uncertain and when the company postures low cost strategy.
Naman and Slevin in their work of 1993 study the fit of entrepreneurially oriented strategy
with combinations of various factors of external and internal environment, evaluating the influence
of organicity of the internal structure, turbulence of the external conditions, EO and the mission of
the strategy. Scholars put together the scales of different authors, creating the instrument of
assessment of each of the variables. Authors claim that the fit among all these variables matters in
achieving an overall success (Naman, J., Slevin, D, 1993).
Considering the presence of moderating factors gives researcher deeper insights on the
nature of the studied relationship. This fact is especially important for the case study, which is
intended to gain detailed understanding of the main conditions, able to change the paradigm of
relationship between the components of entrepreneurially oriented strategy and performance of the
firm. Taking into account the number of studies, devoted to the organizational structure of the firm
and its impact on studied relationship, which prove the presence of moderating effect of
organizational structure; the questions on the organicity of the firm are included into the interview.
Mediating variables, in contrast to the moderating ones, serve as condition, revealing the
relationship between EO and performance. Mediating variable refers to the reason of why the
relationship takes place. Researches on the influence of mediating variables aim to evaluate the
conditions, under which entrepreneurial orientation influences performance of the firm (Wales et al.,
2013). The place of mediating variable is reflected on Figure 3.
Figure 3 Mediating factor in EO-performance relationship model
The range of works devoted to the role of moderating variables in the relationship of EO and
performance of the firms is wider compared to the field of mediating variables studies. One of the
examples of the works, evaluating mediating effect of certain factor is a work of Kollmann an
Stöckmann, addressing the issue of innovation as mediating variable. Scholars have divided the
definitions of exploratory and exploitative innovation and studied the sample of 228 German
technological companies and compared the direct model of EO-performance relationship with the
indirect one, considering mediating effect of innovations. Scholars suggest that dimensions of EO
are acting as antecedents to the entrepreneurial behavior and innovations are mediating the studied
relationship (Kollmann, Stöckmann, 2014).
Wang in 2008 has published an article, where she reports on result of 213 UK SMEs
analysis, evaluating the mediating effect of learning orientation on the studied relationship. The
scholar suggests that there is a number of studies, evolving positive effect of both EO and LO on the
performance of the firm. However, the interaction of these two orientations has not been studied
before. Along with the studying of EO-LO relationship, the author is also considering the
moderating effect of firm’s strategy. Wang concludes that the studied relationship is mediated by the
learning orientation with innovativeness having the most significant relationship with LO (Wang,
Other factors, considered as mediators, include: market orientation (Todorovic, 2008),
quality management (Al-Dhaafri et al., 2016), network, knowledge management and other variables.
1.3 Summary of Chapter 1
Entrepreneurial orientation refers to the strategic policies and practices that provide a basis
for entrepreneurial decisions and actions of the firm. Entrepreneurial orientation construct has been
developing since the second half of 20 century and got its conceptualization in 1983 with the work
of Denny Miller.
Entrepreneurial orientation has been widely acknowledged as a construct, consisting of three
dimensions: innovativeness, proactiveness and risk-taking. Alternative view suggests also presence
of two additional dimensions: autonomy and competitive aggressiveness. The range of studies,
devoted to EO domain, may be divided into two groups according to the measurement approach:
uni-dimensional, which suggests EO to be a solid construct, consisting of three highly developed
dimensions and multi-dimensional, which studies EO as a combination of three or more separate
Three main directions may be identified among the articles, studying EO concept: construct
model approach, which is devoted to the influence of EO antecedents; study of EO with respect to
strategy of the firm and study of relationship of EO with different indicators of firm performance.
Current research implies to the third stream of works. Studies of relationship between the EO
and performance indicators consider EO to be an independent variable, having a relationship with
different performance indicators of the firm. Studies of direct relationship between two variables
report different results, including positive relationship of different magnitude, negative relationship,
absence of significant relationship and curvilinear relationship. However, most of the studies
recognize positive direct relationship between two variables.
Studies of moderating and mediating effects of different variables of external and internal
environment on the relationship between EO and performance prove that this relationship is
context-dependent. Moderating variables, which are used in articles, may be external and
internal for the company. The most frequently-studied factors of internal environment are:
organizational structure, age of the firm, size of the firm. Studies of moderating effect of external
environment consider such factors as: industry life-cycle, hostility and dynamism of the
environment, social capital. Studies of mediating effect of environment evolve the influence of
strategic orientations, innovation, network and other factors. Current study considers the effect
of crisis in Russian economy, expressed in the increased hostility of the environment, turbulence,
dynamism and overall impact of the crisis on the business
Chapter 2 CRISIS IN THE ECONOMY AND ITS IMPACT ON THE COMPANIES
The following chapter is evolving the influence of crisis on businesses in the world, the main
directions of studies of the crisis environment, characteristics of crisis as and external environment
for the firms and peculiarities of current crisis in Russia. Different results of the studies of
businesses in crisis are discussed.
2.1 Business performance in crisis
Crisis is defined as a time of unexpected and undesired shock in the external environment,
which impacts economy in general and organizations in particular (Vaaler, McNamara, 2004). The
shock in the environment, caused by crisis, may have different impact on economic agents. The
influence is hard to predict and manage. Since the crisis impacts different firms in a different way, in
the studies, devoted to its conceptualization, it is necessary to estimate crisis influence in the context
of certain firm. The basic principle of crisis operationalization is to control for firm’s performance
before crisis events occur and during the crisis to customize the individual effect of crisis events on
the particular company (Grewal, Tansuhaj, 2001).
The question of whether businesses are affected by crisis in negative way, or are they
fostered by it, is revealed by number of scholars, because at the certain point any economy
experiences cyclical crisis (Bartz et al., 2015). Many articles are devoted to the study of the global
financial crisis of 2009, because it influenced most of the world economies. Results of these studies
are differentiated; some scholars claim that the crisis is a trigger for aggressive strategy, which
allows companies not only surviving, but also developing on increased pace, others disagree,
highlighting that stability is a necessary condition for entrepreneurship development.
Different companies approach crisis environment differently. For some companies it may
play a positive role in their development due to their inner features, for some of them crisis
environment may represent the source of difficulties. And if the effect for the big, well-developed
companies is relatively predictable due to their access to wide range of resources, required for
surviving in such environment, the influence of the crisis on small and medium businesses still seem
unclear. On the one hand, small firms may maintain high level of flexibility; on the other hand, they
don’t have enough strength to face severe crisis events. The examples of studies of businesses in
crisis are discussed in the table 3.
Table 3 Examples of empirical studies of businesses in crisis
Study of the 29,374 German firms,
Entrepreneurship is mediating the
revealing the relationship between
relationship between crisis and firm’s
crisis and growth with the influence
growth, making it negative in nature. Risk-
averse firms demonstrate no significant
relation between crisis and growth rate
Study the effect of crisis on growth
Positive effect of entrepreneurial growth
of 3,506 UK SMEs with the
orientation on the growth of firms,
influence of human capital, personal
although, this effect is neglected by the
characteristics of entrepreneurs and
access to financing
Lettice, et al.,
Case study of the law firm with 25
Market orientation plays an important role
offices worldwide to test the impact
in law firms. It is increasingly important in
of marketing orientation on
times of crises or market dynamism
performance in crisis
Multiple regression of data, achieved
In time of crisis events different
from sample of 200 Finnish SMEs in
dimensions of EO are related differently to
order to find out the role of EO in
the performance of the firm. Scholars
overcoming the effects of recession
suggest that risk-taking is detrimental for
on the base of comparison of
the company in crisis. In contrast,
financial and operation indexes. The
innovativeness and proactiveness provide
study is longitude in nature
firms the ability to mitigate crisis outcomes
Study of the sample of 53 UK
Certain strategies reveal firm’s ability to
enterprises, evaluating the
survive and develop in crisis. The strategy
multidimensional performance and
of cost-leadership and differentiation is
various factors of strategic success
applicable for highly-dynamic external
Study of 184 Chinese SMEs,
Marketing innovation is applicable in crisis
revealing the role of marketing
for cost leadership strategy. Competitive
innovation, market orientation and
advantage, developed in crisis, gives the
competitive advantages in crisis in
firm more abilities to survive through the
crisis. Innovation is moderating
relationship between MO and performance
of the firm
Study of the effectiveness of market
Market orientation development during the
orientation and strategic flexibility in
crisis is an appropriate measure if there is a
approaching the influence of crisis
high demand uncertainty. Ability to quickly
on the companies in the context of
predict new consumption-patterns is
valuable instrument in crisis environment.
Strategic flexibility is a useful feature for
the company in times of crisis
Bartz and Winkler in their research of 2015 examine the tradeoff between small firms’
fragility and flexibility. In theoretical review scholars argue, that crises cause financial instability
and uncertainty, creating the circumstances preventing the management from seizing new
opportunities. Moreover, financial crises shorten the access to financial resources, thus depriving
firms of the capital to implement innovations. By studying a longitudinal German sample of 29,374
firms, scholars prove that crisis is negatively related with the growth indicators. Moreover, scholars
study entrepreneurship as an additional influencing variable between crisis and growth, measuring
entrepreneurship as composition of several factors. According to the research, firm tends to be more
entrepreneurial if its owner is managing the company by himself, if the company is targeting
international markets and if it is not risk-averse (Bartz, Winkler, 2015).
The findings of this study give additional reason to suggest that entrepreneurship is related to
crisis. Scholars claim, that entrepreneurship is mediating the relationship between crisis and firm’s
growth, making it negative in nature. The results may be explained with the fact that entrepreneurial
firms tend to take many risks in order to benefit from increased outcomes from risky projects. And
crisis environment, being risky itself, increases the level of risk of all projects. Therefore, the losses
from the risky projects are affecting companies’ results. The logic suggests, that choosing a riskaverse strategy, entrepreneur provides safety and steady growth for the company. However, the
results indicate that risk-averse firms demonstrate no significant relation between crisis and growth
rate (Bartz, Winkler, 2015).
Cowling et al. studied the effect of crisis on SME growth in the context of UK market. The
scholars treat growth as multidimensional concept, also considering the effect human capital,
personal characteristics of entrepreneurs and access to financing. The dataset of 3506 UK SMEs was
analyzed. Scholars have found out the positive effect of entrepreneurial growth orientation on the
growth of firms, although, this effect is neglected by the recession (Cowling et al., 2015).
The question of creating the strategy is highly important especially in crisis time. The current
study is particularly motivated with the necessity of finding the suitable strategy for the firm to
survive and develop. The number of scholars has made attempts to evaluate the most important
features of the strategy in crisis. Kunc and Bhandari have studied the sample of 53 UK enterprises,
evaluating the multidimensional performance and various factors of strategic success. The results
claim that certain strategies reveal firm’s ability to survive and develop even in crisis. The strategy
of cost-leadership and differentiation is applicable for highly-dynamic external conditions. Scholars
also notice, that the goals should also perceive the long-term perspective in order to survive in postcrisis period. Another important conclusion suggests that the companies with proactive position are
achieving significant advantages in times of crisis compared to reactive ones. Crisis environment,
being highly unstable and dynamic, shrinks the opportunities for firms on the market. And proactive
behavior may increase companies’ chances to strive the opportunity, which would help the firm to
Scholars also conclude that crisis leads to such negative consequences for the company as
higher costs, decreased revenues, low resources for the innovation (Kunc, Bhandari, 2011). The
same idea is reflected in the work of Yu, Insead and Lester: the scholars study the possible negative
impacts from the crisis. Authors particularly highlight that the resources for research and
development are shortened in times of crisis (Yu et al., 2008).
This fact is explained with the prioritization in the process of strategy-creation. During the
crisis events most economic agents experience the shortage of resources. Crises are perceived as
times of decreases in real output. Therefore, the shortened resources of the company are mostly
directed on the short-term survival goals. At the same time crisis is characterized with the
technological uncertainty (Grewal, Tansuhaj, 2001). All these factors together create an assumption
that crisis is influencing innovativeness of the companies, at the same time strengthening the
positive magnitude between innovativeness and performance of the company.
Grewal and Tansuhaj in their work of 2001 discussed the effectiveness of market orientation
and strategic flexibility in approaching the influence of crisis on the companies in the context of
Thailand market. Scholars treat crisis as multi-dimensional concept, discussing different sides of this
event. Authors argue that market orientation development during the crisis is an appropriate measure
if only there is a high demand uncertainty. The scholars indicate that ability to quickly predict new
consumption-patterns is a highly valuable instrument in crisis environment. Scholars also notice that
strategic flexibility is highly useful feature for the company in times of crisis.
The impact of developed competitive advantage of the firm in crisis is revealed in the study
of Chinese enterprises by Nadoo in 2010. Scholar claim that Chinese firms, which developed and
retained competitive advantage of any type, are more likely to survive through the crisis. Moreover,
author evaluates the role of market orientation and influence of innovations in firm’s survival in
crisis, arguing that marketing innovation takes crucial role, moderating relationship between market
orientation and performance (Naidoo, 2010).
The special value for the current study holds a work of the Finnish authors, dedicated to the
evaluation of each dimension of EO in overcoming the recession effects. In contrast with this study,
the work of Soininen et al. is quantitative in nature. Authors evaluate the data from 200 Finnish
firms, estimating the impact of each dimension separately, basing this strategy on the assumption,
which is discussed in the work of Lumpkin and Dess (2001). The work does not consider the
individual effect of the crisis on each dimension; however, it gives the evidence to the relationship
of each dimension with the performance of the firm in crisis. Authors conclude, that high risk is not
bearable for the companies in crisis; therefore, the results from their sample suggest that risk-taking
dimension is negatively related with the performance of the firm. Scholars explain this result with
the fact that firms with high risk-taking ability operate in the environment with increased risks.
Crisis effect adds uncertainty to this environment, making the risk too high to bear. In contrast,
innovativeness and proactiveness play positive role in the process of overcoming the crisis by
companies. Authors suggest that the explanation for this conclusion is the fact that these two
dimensions represent the mean of getting new business opportunities by companies. In general,
according to this study, firms with the high level of EO have more chances to maintain successful
during the crisis because of the mitigating effects of proactiveness and innovativeness (Soininen et
Different studies, conducted on the field of crisis interaction with companies, reveal different
factors, making an impact on this interactions and helping to mitigate the negative consequences of
the crisis. Among the studies, dedicated to the processes of overcoming the consequences of crisis in
the country by companies, the study revealing the role of EO in this process was discovered. Current
study will add to this topic the features of the process in emerging market. Moreover, it will provide
the estimation of the impact of crisis on development of each dimension of EO. Additional
evidences to existing theories will either confirm them or demonstrate that this relationship is more
complex than it was described before.
2.2 Crisis in Russia and its impact on Russian companies
Crisis in economy creates new economic agenda for economic and managerial theories
(Mau, Ulyukaev, 2015).
The starting point of crisis in Russian financial market is determined as December of 2014,
when the Russian ruble has collapsed. The fact that Russian economy relies on oil exports makes the
economy sensitive to oil price fluctuations. Due to the overproduction in the oil market, the price of
oil has declined significantly, causing the fall in revenues of export-oriented companies. It resulted
in decreasing confidence of investors in the economy of the country, which caused them to sell off
Russian assets, increasing capital outflow. As a combination of many factors, taken together,
Russian crisis has evolved the real scale of problems in economy, which has been growing for
several years (Eberhardt, Menkiszak, 2015). The study of Urbanovsky, published in 2015, proved
empirically current turbulence in the economy of Russia, connecting it to the price of oil and
appreciation of the dollar (Urbanovsky, 2015).
The crisis events of 2014-2015 are not likely to be similar with previous crises in Russian
economy in terms of nature and mechanisms. The financial crisis of 1998 was classified as standard
debt crisis. Events of 2008-2009 are linked with a global economic crisis in financial system. That
years Russia faced the decrease in global demand for main items of Russian export: raw materials
and their processing products.
In contrast, the crisis of 2014-2015 contains three characteristics at the same time: structural,
cyclical and external. Crisis in structural growth rates has been developing for last 10 years of
maintaining high unemployment rate and declining GDP growth paces. Being internal and cyclical,
current crisis includes the decrease in the growth rates of investments, reduction of SMEs,
slowdown in the growth of bank loans. And last, the crisis is connected with range of external
factors, namely, price of the oil and tensions in political situation (Mau, Ulyukaev, 2015). The main
outcomes of the crisis, which are affecting businesses in Russia, are described below.
Depreciation of the Russian currency is one of the main factors, making an impact on
condition of both large and small companies. The sharp declining in the price of ruble influences
negatively on import-dependent industries, which sell in the domestic market. The industry, which is
concerned the most with the increasing price of importing of products for domestic market, is a
technological branch. High level of dependence from imported technological products is applicable
even for the raw material production in Russia. In the short term it is expected that the cost of
production for many industries will become higher (Berezinskaya, Vedev, 2015).
For the companies having the foreign debt outstanding, servicing of the debt has become
more expensive. Capitalization of the companies, denominated in foreign currency, has decreased.
As a result of monetary policy, held by Central Bank in order to strengthen the currency, the interest
rate was increased as a temporary measure to survive (www.cbr.ru/eng, 2015). Therefore, the price
of foreign financing increased because of the currency fluctuation; at the same time these
fluctuations caused the domestic financing to become more expensive in a way that the interest rate
of credits from both commercial and retail banks increased dramatically.
Wide-ranging sanctions, imposed by foreign countries due to the complicated political
situation. Foreign sanctions, imposed by US, EU, Japan and Australia are directed on limitation of
certain cross-border lending to Russian companies. As a result, international credit dried up, big
companies experienced difficulties with the financing, required to service debt outstanding and with
the attraction of foreign capital. Capitalization of the many companies, especially energy giants,
sharply fell down as a result of currency depreciation, oil price decrease and shrinking of the
financing (Eberhardt, Menkiszak, 2015). All these factors cause the outflow of potential investors,
which are concerned with higher risks, associated with the investing in Russian firms. Declining
investments represent significant problem for Russian economy, because investments take 20 % of
Russian GDP (info.minfin.ru, 2015).
Sanctions, imposed by foreign countries, caused the government to come up with counter
measures, namely, embargo on import of certain categories of food commodity. The embargo, along
with the growing inflation, caused many companies to increase their prices due to the growing costs
(tass.ru, 2015). Taken together with the 10% decrease of consumption of commodities by the
population, the pace of growth of SMEs in Russia has been significantly slowed down (The bulletin
of social-economic crisis in Russia, 2015). According to the information from Russian Federal State
Statistics Service, the volume of GDP in the first half of 2015 declined at roughly 4% compared to
the corresponding period of 2014. The biggest decline corresponds to manufacturing, wholesale and
retail trade, financial institutions, construction. The gross domestic product, produced by household
activities, declined at 10% (www.gks.ru, 2016).
As an external environment for Russian economic agents, crisis of 2014-2015 may be
characterized with the following features:
High level of uncertainty, which affect the processes of decision-making and creating a strategy.
The uncertainty includes both uncertainties about future income because of the increased price
sensitivity of consumers and about the cost of financing, causing businesses to concern about
their future and admiring to save rather than invest the capital.
Decreased amount of opportunities and resources, which is expressed in limited access to
technology transfer from abroad, reduction in foreign investments, and limitation of possible
Increased intensity of competition, caused with the shrink in consumer demand and the
consumption of households.
All these features change the features of external environment, therefore causing changes in
the nature and magnitude of relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and performance
2.3 Theoretical model of the study
The impact of crisis on different businesses has been studied by scholars under the influence
of different factors. The studies reveal that certain factors, such as market orientation, may help the
firm to mitigate the effect of crisis and are especially important in turbulent environments (Grewal,
Tansuhaj, 2001). Some of the studies reported, that there are certain features, which are negatively
related with the performance of the firm in crisis, such as risk-tolerance (Bartz, Winkler, 2015).
Scholars have discussed the different types of strategies and strategic orientations, applicable
for the crisis environment; however, the role of entrepreneurial orientation in crisis has been
revealed in the only one study, which is quantitative in nature and considers the context of Finnish
market. The specific of quantitative approach doesn’t allow to concentrate on detailed investigation
of EO role in crisis, which is necessary in order to understand the mechanism of studied
relationship. Crisis of 2014-2015 in Russia combines the features of structural, cyclical and external
crises. It has touched most of the businesses in the country and has provided increased level of risk,
dynamism and uncertainty to the environment, decreasing the resources, available to Russian firms.
The fact that entrepreneurially oriented firms achieve different results, than the nonentrepreneurial ones, provides the rationale for the assumption that EO may play certain role in the
process of Russian firms overcoming the crisis, which has to be examined. The development of EO
dimensions is defined by various factors of external and internal environment. Being the important
part of external environment, which gives this environment certain unique features, the crisis may
influence the level of dimensions of EO, developed by Russian firms.
Finally, the overview of the theory suggests that each dimension of EO may have different
relationship with performance indicators of the firms. The same way, suggestively, different
dimensions of entrepreneurial orientation play different role in firm’s ability to overcome the crisis
being more important and worth to be invested in and less important and not worth to be invested in.
High risk-taking ability, developed in the company, leads the firm to engaging in risky
projects with uncertain outcomes. Crisis impacts the level of uncertainty in the environment, making
the external conditions turbulent and unstable. The influence of the crisis for each particular
company is different; therefore, the level of uncertainty in the environment may be different for each
firm. Thus, risky decisions may either lead to the significantly increased results due to the high
profitability of risky projects or provide the unaffordable losses to the company, which in crisis may
destabilize the firm and bring irrecoverable damage, decreasing the revenue and holding the growth.
Moreover, the investment into risky projects may also make no significant impact for the company
compared to the risk-averse strategy. Thus, it may appear that risky projects are not damaging the
company, at the same time they don’t bring highly successful results, therefore the company is not
benefiting from the implementation of risk-tolerant strategy and risk-taking is not an important
factor in overcoming the crisis.
High level of proactiveness suggests that firm would seize big number of opportunities, try to
move ahead of its competitors and develop different directions of activity. Crisis decreases the
amount of opportunities to the different extent in certain markets. High level of proactiveness may
bring additional value for the firm due to the increased amount of projects it is engaged to, providing
natural growth and increase of the financial results. On the other hand, customers in crisis may be
more attracted by the decreased price or useful innovation rather than by the variety of the offered
services or amount of partners of the company. In this case the efforts and investments, directed on
seizing more opportunities, may appear worthless for the firm, shrinking its resources without
bringing the increased performance.
High level of innovativeness is observed in the firms, implementing innovations to the
products, processes or markets. For this dimension crisis may reflect positively in a way that useful
innovations are attractive for the customers in certain industries, especially in time when other
companies prefer to save scarce resources instead of spending them on the innovations. Innovations
may also provide growth to the company, increase the number of clients and markets the company is
presented in and provide cost efficiency to the firm. From the other point of view, most innovations
involve high costs for the companies and, again, in certain industries may not represent the value for
the customers. Thus, high level of innovativeness may possibly involve large spending of resources,
limited by the crisis, which may be not influential for the growth, profitability and other results of
the company. Theoretical model of the study is represented on the Figure 4.
Figure 4 Theoretical model of the study
Theoretical model suggests the presence of influence of the crisis on level of development of
each EO dimension. The effect of crisis may be positive, increasing the level of certain dimension;
negative, decreasing it; the absence of effect may be reported. The presence of unusual relationship
between each dimension of EO and performance indicators of the firm in crisis is assumed, as well
as the relationship between EO of the firm and its performance. Empirical research, conducted
further, must shed the light on the nature of the relationship between dimensions of EO and
performance of the firm, giving the evidences on how these dimensions are related to the results in
practice and providing insights on how does EO contributes to the firms’ ability to overcome the
crisis. As a result the role of each dimension of EO in overcoming the crisis must be evaluated. Each
dimension may play important role, make no impact, moderate impact or the negative one.
Chapter 3 THE ROLE OF ENTREPRENEURIAL ORIENTATION IN FIRM’S ABILITY TO
OVERCOME THE ECONOMIC CRISIS: RESULTS OF EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS
The following chapter contains the description and reasons for research design chosen,
information about the cases, main steps of empirical research and outcomes of the analysis. The
analysis of the cases is structured as follows: general data about all companies and their short
history, analysis of companies’ activity in crisis and their performance indicators, discussion of the
role of each dimension in overcoming the crisis, the influence of crisis on each of the dimensions
and conclusions on how entrepreneurial orientation and each of its dimensions relate to performance
of the firm in crisis. The chapter is followed by cross-case comparison table, which highlights the
main differences and common features of the cases.
3.1 Research design
The aim of the research is to determine whether entrepreneurial orientation helps Russian
firms to overcome the economic crisis and how does it relate to firm performance during the crisis in
The research methodology is based on the qualitative methods. The choice of research
methodology is explained with the questions of research. Detailed analysis of each case and
comparison of the results will help to understand the nature of relationship between the EO and
performance in period of crisis and will give the evidence if this relationship is any different from
the results obtained in other studies on the impact of EO.
Case study approach to phenomenon allows getting deeper information about different
human behaviors, opinions, and relationships. At the same time in comparison with the survey it
provides the higher level of flexibility and adaptability for the interviewer to get additional
information and focus an attention of the respondent on the issues that matter for the research
(Miles, Huberman, 1984). Moreover, the case study approach is highly applicable for the study of
new topic areas with no publications available on the topic (Eisenhartd, 1989).
The case study is a strategy of research, which makes an emphasis on analyzing the
dynamics present within single settings (Eisenhardt, 1989). According to Yin, a case study should be
aimed on investigation of a contemporary phenomenon in depth and within its real-life context (Yin,
2009). Therefore, the first strong point of case study is a possibility to study phenomenon in details
and with its connections with external factors.
The purpose of the case study is to generalize back to theoretical assumptions, not to the
population (Yin, 2009). According to the Yin, case study method is the most appropriate research
design for “How?” and “Why?” types of question.
The study uses multiple-case design. The advantage of such kind of design is represented
with the fact that the evidence from multiple cases is considered to be more robust. The rationale
behind the choice of multiple-case design lies in a fact that relationship between EO and
performance in crisis is not a unique or rare case, it is applicable to many companies. Therefore, the
evidence from several studies will give a bigger range of possible options of crisis influence of this
relationship, in such way widening the practical implications of the study. The developed framework
will represent an attempt to understand how crisis environment influences studied relationship.
The research uses inductive approach, which starts with collecting the data and studying of
individual cases with further generalization of theories. The inductive approach mostly applies to
qualitative researches, because it suggests developing a theory from the analysis of existing
phenomenon. In contrast, deductive approach suggests creating hypotheses and checking them with
quantitative data. Regarding the chosen research question, there is a lack of literature observed,
therefore there are no existing theories of how entrepreneurial orientation will relate to the
performance in the crisis time. So these theoretical assumptions must be outlined from the results of
a case study.
3.1.1 Description of the data sources
Case studies may get evidences from many sources. The design may combine such sources
of data collection as interviews, questionnaires, observations, archives, documents (Eisenhartd,
1989). Any of the types may represent a sole source of data collection. However, such approach is
not recommended for the case study research design (Yin, 2009). The recommended principle
follows the data triangulation idea. Any case study conclusion tends to be more accurate and
convincing if the fact, serving as a rationale for such conclusion, is achieved from several sources.
As a method of deep, detailed investigation case study approach allows getting more information
from different sources than any other design. Current study uses this advantage in order to get more
reliable conclusions. The study refers to multiple sources data, which allows addressing a wider
range of issues.
The primary source of information is interviews with the members of the firms, which are
highly involved into strategy-creating processes and competent in the details of current situation.
The use of interviews applies to gathering valid data relevant to the study. The interview guideline
uses open questions, directed at gaining the broad range of information, relevant for the topic of the
The interview is aimed to get information about four main sections: the dimensions of EO in
the company, influence of external environment, influence of the crisis, and performance of the
company. Open questions are directed on the construction of the dialog, revealing the situation in the
company concerning three dimensions of EO, influence of the crisis, strategic moves, aimed on the
prevention of crisis, performance of the company comparing to the competitors, overall influence of
the external environment. The list of questions is included to the appendix.
The type of interview utilized in the current study is semi-structured. It uses the list of
possible topics and questions to cover, however, the number of questions varies from interview to
interview (Saunders et al., 2007). The choice of such type of interview applies to the theoretical
conclusion that EO-performance relationship is dependent on the context and crisis may not be the
main factor, which is influencing this relationship. The choice of questions is specified partly before
the interview with the documentation investigation and partly during the interview basing on the
answers to the previous questions. The semi-structured interview usage is appropriate for
exploratory research category (Saunders et al., 2007).
The interviews are conducted in verbal way in order to avoid insufficiency of answers and
misunderstanding. To prevent bias and inaccuracies in reported answers, all interviews are recorded
on the audio with the permission of respondents. In general interviews take 60 to 90 minutes. Notes
are taken along with the recording of the interviews to prevent losing of the important nonverbal
signals and reactions of the respondents.
The additional sources of the information are documentation, open Internet resources and
SPARK database. Different kinds of documents are available both on the Internet and on the
personal request from the respondents. Prior to the interview, the web-pages of the companies are
studied in order to demonstrate sufficient knowledge about the company for the useful conversation.
Annual reports of the companies are utilized as sources of exact evidences of companies’ activity.
Articles about the most important events in companies’ activities are studied to get detailed picture
of described situations.
3.1.2 Choice of the research sample
The sample of cases is chosen on the basis of purposive criteria (Curtis et al., 2000). The size
of companies varies from small to large. The choice of cases for the study is explained with several
The replication logic
In multiple-cases study each case “..must be carefully selected so that it either predicts
similar results or predicts contrasting results but for anticipatable reason” (Yin, 2009, p.54). The four
companies, pre-selected for the interview, were all able to develop at least one of the dimensions of
entrepreneurial orientation in their strategy for the previous two years. Therefore, the results
obtained from the each case are expected to be more or less similar. Expected differences should be
explained with the industry the company is working in and with the other factors, revealed in the
process of interview.
The choice of four different industries provides evidence from different spheres, allowing
following the effect of crisis on relationship in different context. The outcomes of theoretical
overview suggest that studied relationship may be different due to the special features of each
industry. Case study design allows following these special features and considering the EO and its
relationship with the performance within the overall situation in the industry, avoiding the utilizing
of same criterions to different industries.
The effect of crisis
Since the research question appeals to the effect of the crisis, one of the necessary conditions
of the case is the presence of any influence of the crisis on the company’s activity. All chosen cases,
suggestively, experience certain influence of the events occurring with the crisis. The preliminary
research of documentation about these companies proved this fact, so these particular cases
represent the appropriate field to study of the chosen research question.
The interviewees, chosen for the dialogue, are deeply involved into the process of the
strategy creation in the company and have been inside the company either from the very beginning
or long before the crisis. The speaker from Petro-Stimul Expert is Stanislav Kulikov, the founder
and CEO of the company. Due to the small size and flexibility of the company, all of the processes,
happening in the company, are subjects of Stanislav’s decision; therefore, the interviewee is highly
competent in the topic of the dialogue and has provided a lot of valuable information for the
research. The same logic refers to the respondent from Open World Consult – Olga Bondarovets.
The interviewee is an administrative director of the company and she has found the firm together
with her two business partners.
The respondent from Yota is the director of marketing department Karina Kuvshinova. She
has been working in Yota from the first year the company had been established. The respondent has
been making all the decisions of the marketing policy basing on the overall strategic view of the
company, therefore, Karina has also provided enough data for the researcher to get insights.
The respondent from TJ – Nikita Likhachev – is its editor-in-chief, which has been working
in the company from the very beginning of its history, developing the strategy of the journal and
implementing the experimental features together with the owners from the first day of TJ.
The companies, studied in the research, along with the names of interviewees are listed in
Table 4 Companies, chosen for the case study
Name of the
Position in the
Open World Consult
Entrepreneurial orientation has been evaluated on the base of interviewees’ evidences and
additional factors, evolved from the web-pages, advertising prospects, annual reports and articles
about the company. The level of each dimension of EO is evaluated compared to the competitors of
3.1.3 Process of the empirical study
The overall research process consists of four parts. First part is preliminary one, its aim is to
develop instruments of the research and prepare the ground for the future interviews. The interview
guide is created in a way that the conversation will provide most part of the information, required to
answer the research question. The process of the sample choice is based on the investigation of the
cases, applicable for the requirements of the empirical research design. The search of organizations
is conducted with the assistance of GSOM career center and through the personal links of the
researcher, obtained during the internship. The initial list of 10 companies is checked on the subject
of replication of the industries and on the question of crisis events influence. Two companies are
eliminated from the list on the base of these criterions. The successful arrangement is achieved with
4 companies, agreed to become a subject of the study. The analysis of documents is conducted to
provide deeper understanding of firm’s activity and features. The second part represents the process
of interviewing. Examples of the main questions are sent to the interviewees prior to the interviews
in order to establish the expectation from the conversation and give the respondents an opportunity
to recall the brightest examples, illustrating the main issues touched by the interview. The third part
is devoted to the preliminary analysis and obtaining the missing information through companies’
representatives. The last part includes classification and analysis of the overall data, cross-case
analysis and making theoretical conclusions.
The stages of the study are represented on the figure 5
Figure 5 The stages of study of EO-performance relationship in crisis
The preliminary analysis of all collected data provided the understanding of the structure,
which would reflect the results in the most representative way. In order to understand main
differences and similarities among the cases, the initial cross-case table is created. In the process of
comparison of all four cases the structure of initial description is developed. Then the table is
extended to include all information obtained and main conclusions achieved and the structure of
empirical research is created.
The following section is presenting the main information about the cases to sum up general
evidences and prepare the ground for empirical analysis. The structure of the description includes
short history of the company, description of its main activities and clients and short overview of
3.2 General information about the cases
All four cases, studied in the current research, have a lot of differences from each other,
providing a field for studying of the role of EO in crisis in different conditions. Sizes of the
companies were determined in terms of the market and the industry, independently from each other,
because each industry provides its own criteria of the size. Thus, there are 2 small, 1 medium and 1
large company in the current study.
There is one company, providing its services to other businesses and government, one
company directed on individuals and two combining both services for companies and customers.
The first case - Petro-Stimul Expert - is a small Saint Petersburg based company, offering wide
range of services, connected with electrical and thermal energy sphere. The clients of the company
are businesses and governmental organizations. The work of the company is project-based, which
suggests hiring technical specialists on the contract for single project. Such structure corresponds to
the small size of the company and allows making economies on personnel. The company was
founded in 2010 by the interviewee Stanislav Kulikov. The initial idea was to anticipate the demand
for auditing the energy systems of the firms. According to the Russian law of 2010, all companies
with total consumption of any type of natural resources higher than 10’000’000 rub have to receive
energetic passport: document with description of the consumption, length of wires, etc. The main
business idea of the firm was to provide such kind of service. As the result of energetic audit, there
is a technical report created for the client and recommendations for optimization of the wire.
However, nowadays the company has extended the list of services it provides in order to develop
The second company, Scartel ltd., is the part of Russian telecommunication market. It is the
only large company in the study. The ownership of the company belongs to the other big Russian
firm – Megafon, however, it creates its strategy independently of its mother company. Yota offers
the market two products: LTE modems for computers and sim-cards for tablets and cell phones. The
main principles of the company are fast speed, simplicity and honesty. The approximate number of
subscribers is 1,2 millions of people. The company allows users to create their own special career
terms individually through the phone application. Each Yota career plan has unlimited Internet
access for smartphones.
The company was founded as a small start-up of two entrepreneurs nine years ago in St.
Petersburg. Russian market was already requiring the next generation of the internet-connection
with the higher speeds and its founders were the first to see this opportunity and to launch the
project - first in Europe network, working on the Wi-Max technology. After two years Yota
announced reorganization of existed network for making it work on LTE standards. In 2014 Yota
launched a voice-services and nowadays this product is successfully enthralling Russian market.
There are two cases in the study with the geographical market reaching the whole country – Yota
TJournal is a company, working on the base of Internet-platform, which generates the news
and articles about the latest events and trends in the focus of interest of Internet users. The company
was founded in 2011 and has experienced many changes for last 4,5 years. The nature of its activity
suggests that the platform serves two categories of users: individuals, reading the articles and
providing visibility of the page by their attention and interaction with the platform and advertisers –
companies, interested in the usage of the platform as a space to get attention from individuals.
Advertisers provide around 70-80% of the revenue, and 20-30% is provided by individuals, paying
for subscription. However, the main focus of the platform is to get attention from its users, because
the ability to get valuable partnerships from advertisers is determined with the amount of the views
of the page. This model is unique for the study, because other three cases get their revenue from
their target audience.
The fourth case is also serving to both B2C and B2B segments of its market. However, the
model is different from TJ. Open World Consult, founded in 2013, is providing the services of
intermediary in the insurance sphere. The main direction of company’s activity nowadays is
corporate segment of clients. The retail sales direction is maintained to provide stable stream of
small revenue. The clients’ portfolio mostly consists of premium segment. Olga Bondarovets – the
interviewee – and her three colleagues, founded Open World Consult Ltd in order to deal with
massive employment layoffs in the big insurance company. The main asset for the company in the
very beginning was the clients’ portfolio established by employers of the insurance company. Due to
the fact that insurance has to be renewed annually, the clients, willing to renew their contracts,
would return to their agents directly. Olga and her business partners have seized this opportunity and
offered these former employees a partnership.
For all of the cases the external environment may be characterized as dynamic. Petro-Stimul
Expert is working in very hostile and unpredictable environment. The market is frequently redivided according to the objectives of new management of big clients, which is changed rapidly. The
initial business idea of the company was successful at the beginning, however, due to the crisis
many companies prefer to get cheaper passports, even if they are fake or hide the amount of their
consumption. Nowadays there are fewer competitors on the market due to the crisis. But the
competition itself became tougher, because many clients are also shrinking the amounts of orders.
Tough competition is also the case for the market of telecommunication. It is highly
overloaded; the relation of mobile users to the whole population is 116%. In order to increase the
revenues, companies have to increase the prices or entice subscribers from the competitors, offering
better deals and better quality of the link. However, unlike two other companies in the study, Yota
may predict the actions of competitors. TJ may also easily forecast the actions of competitors. Crisis
has a moderate effect on the telecom market because the consumers are not ready to refuse on the
connection, but at the same time they are looking for the better deals. However, the prices of
equipment have increased, because the materials are ordered abroad.
OWC is also working in dynamic and unstable environment. The crisis has influenced the
market, causing many companies to leave not only because of the overall decrease in consumption
in this sphere, but also because the Central Bank withdrew the licenses from many insurance
companies, so the risk increased a lot. Moreover, the tariffs for obligatory auto insurance increased
twice for the previous year, causing many loyal clients of premium auto insurance to switch to the
ordinary one. Being the big part of the market, auto insurance influenced on general profitability of
insurance companies and brokers.
For TJ the crisis has changed the relationship with advertisers and affected its growth. The
desires of individuals are quite visible, although they are changing rapidly. Advertisers behave more
cautiously, since with the crisis they don’t have an opportunity to invest a lot of resources into their
advertisement, they have to sharply decrease their costs and they don’t contact so easily with the
unfamiliar spaces. The main features of all four cases are presented in Table 5.
Table 5 General information about the cases
Open World Consult
Electrical and thermal energy
Insurance broker services
Installation of electrical wires,
measuring of electrical rates
and indexes, auditing of the
communication services: sale
of 4G modems for
computers, sim-cards for
smartphones and tablets
Range of services, connected with
insurance: consultations and
choice of the most suitable
insurance company for the client
to full support of transaction
Internet masspage, providin
articles about l
Size and number
Small, 12 employees.
Contracts with the rest of
required specialists for single
projects; many operations
realized on outsource
Large, around 1200
employees; the ownership
belongs to Megafon, many
operations realized on
Small, 15 employees, the
company works as the community
of individual insurance agents
Medium, 50 em
thanks to the r
many articles a
the users of the
B2B, B2G Saint Petersburg
B2C, 74 regions of Russia
B2B, B2C, SPb and Moscow
B2C, B2B, Ru
unstable due to the changing
tariffs on the electricity and
high dependence of the
companies on the
governmental orders. Crisis
has a significant effect on the
Dynamic with frequent
changes of competitor’s
actions, although, rather
predictable. The competition
on the market is tough. Crisis
has a moderate effect on the
Dynamic, unstable. The crisis
influenced the market; many
companies left it. The tariffs for
primary activity - obligatory auto
insurance - increased twice
causing many loyal clients of
premium auto insurance to switch
to the ordinary one
users of the pla
Stable and pre
the side of adv
Crisis has an e
making it mor
Moderate to high. The
company is undertaking risky
projects to survive; striving
every opportunity it gets. The
company is not implementing
many innovations, because the
industry is traditional
High. The company is an
innovator among the
competitors; It is constantly
innovating the product and
processes, striving new
directions of development
and taking risky decisions
Low to moderate. It has one
dimension of EO, which is not
developed enough due to the
features of the environment. The
company is proactive, it
implements innovations in its
strategy, but it is avoiding risks
High. The com
ways of comm
3.3 Cross-case analysis
The chosen research design implies to the comparison and analysis of details of the cases,
studied by the author. To address the sub-questions, stated in the current research, the following
section contains comparison of the cases on the following structure: the factors of success for each
company, the influence of crisis on each of the dimensions and the relationship between
performance and each of the dimensions. The discussion is finished with cross-case table, containing
the conclusions about the analyzed questions.
Factors of success and performance during the crisis
Theoretical background, developed in the current research, suggests that crisis has a different
influence on different companies. Therefore, the factors, providing stability and development to the
companies, are also different for each case. Moreover, the criteria of successful performance are also
unique for each firm; that is why as one of the indicators of firm’s performance current research
utilizes perceived measures. The basis for indicator of satisfaction with firm’s performance is
subjective perception of the interviewee, which allows following not only financial indicators, but
also the wider overview of real situation in the company. The financial indicators are included to the
comparison as well in order to provide the additional evidence for the conclusions made.
For Petro-Stimul Expert the success is measured with the fact that the company survived
through last two years, which were complicated for the all players of the industry. Stanislav notices:
“Our revenues are growing, although the profit maintains stable, because we invest into new
directions of the development. But in crisis time, I would say that the fact that we survived, is a big
success already, especially comparing to our competitors”. The numbers, presented by the director
of PSE support this statement. The revenue for 2014 was rub 1,5 million. Although the revenue
decreased from 2013, the owner of the company admits, that all in all the industry has suffered a lot
from crisis, many competitors had to close their business, because small companies like PetroStimul Expert in their segment are highly dependent on the big clients, such as Lenenergo, which
has many problems with the financial liquidity and doesn’t pay out its debts to stakeholders. The
owner of the company is satisfied with the profit indicator comparing to the competitors, but he
notices that the crisis has influenced the growth of the company negatively, which is also reflected in
the information from SPARK.
Different companies deal with crisis in different ways. Petro-Stimul Expert is relying on
organizational structure, financial policy and proactiveness of the company. The organizational
structure is fully based on the outsource practice. The owner reports: “We don’t keep a big team of
employees, we rather outsource most of our functions: for example, we use the system, which is
popular abroad: hire the team for only one project, so our work is more project-based. The fact that
at beginning of our activity we have been paying to employees even for the time they did not have
any projects in current work brought us a lot of unnecessary costs”. Being of a small size, the
company is making use of its flexibility. The financing of the company is based on the own
resources; Petro-Stimul Expert doesn’t have any debts outstanding. Due to the currency fluctuations
it has become more expensive to service the debt, therefore maintaining the activity based on the
own finances provides the company higher stability.
In contrast, Scartel marketing director remarks that crisis did not influence the activity of
Yota to the great extent. The management of the company is satisfied with the growth rate and
revenues of the company, the latest available numbers also indicate that 2014 was highly successful
for Yota business department. The latest annual report was published in July of 2015. It was the first
annual report after the acquisition of Scartel by MegaFon in 2013. It was the first report after
launching the mobile operator as well. Since MegaFon owns 100% shares of the company, its
financial results are now available as a part of MegaFon reports. According to MegaFon annual
report, revenue of Scartel in 2014 was rub 10,4 billion. Profit is 37% of the revenue – rub 3,8
billion. MegaFon reported that the revenue of Scartel makes 10% of the overall company revenue
(retrieved from annual report on the web-page of Megafon). The interviewee admits, that due to the
crisis, the results of 2015 are not as outstanding as it was for 2014, but in general in comparison to
the competitors the profit, the growth rate and the revenue are suggested as highly satisfactory.
The key to success for the company lies in a fact that the negative effect of crisis was
covered with the rapid development of the new business line. The introduction of the voice-product
to the market went successfully due to the complex of reasons. Positioning itself as the new mobile
operator, Yota has created the strategy, based on the analysis of competitors. The company has
created its own market of active young subscribers, which use Internet on their smartphones a lot
instead of targeting the same market as its three competitors, which have been dividing this market
for decade. In contrast, the company set the higher price for its tariffs and allowed users to surf the
Internet without limitations and use the sim-card throughout the whole country without additional
fares. This strategy was implemented at the time when competitors offered 1 to 3 Gbs of the Internet
and high roaming fares. This move attracted new users to get a sim-card and made a buzz around
Yota. Nowadays the competitors have to adjust their offerings to compete with the company: all of
the players on the market are using the same features in their strategy, adjusting the tariffs, offering
large amounts of the GBs and decreasing the roaming fees.
Another reason for the rapid growth of this business line refers to the marketing positioning
of the product, which takes a niche for young, active up-to-date trendsetters. Such targeting pushed
the whole group of progressive youngsters to switch to Yota in order to stay “in stream”. The
interviewee suggests that the rapid development of new business line is the main factor of success of
Additional factors contribute to the overall situation: as Petro-Stimul Expert, Yota is
decreasing its costs with sending the part of its functions on the outsourcing. In particular, the
professionals outside the company create the advertising campaigns; Megafon provides the
accountant functions; part of the technical support is made outside of the company.
Unlike the two previous examples crisis has influenced the business of OWC both in
negative and positive ways. The fact that the Central Bank withdrew the licenses from many
insurance companies increased the overall level of risks in the industry a lot. Several big insurance
companies either became bankrupts or have been closed (web-page of CBR, 2015). This fact has
changed the perception of risks by the clients in a way that they became nervous about their
insurance and would prefer rather to use broker services to get professional expertise and to get
insurance for different objects from several companies rather than from one. Thus, the demand on
the services provided by the insurance brokers has increased. On the other hand with the crisis
events on the market, the risk premiums for insurance of automobiles have been increased twice.
Another feature of Russian business refers to the attitude of clients to their insurance. If the
client decides to purchase the premium insurance, he has to be sure that the risky situation occurs
and he will get the compensation for this insurance. If this situation did not occur, the illegal
intentional damage takes place. Therefore the profit from premium auto insurance was predicted to
decrease. At the beginning of OWC history the auto insurance (especially the premium one) has
been the core activity of the company. The situation became dangerous for the company.
The interviewee reports that after the first year of the work the results were not satisfactory,
the newly established company has not brought the profit. Reputational risk to which the company
has been engaged damaged the clients’ portfolio. Narrow choice of offered services and insurance
companies has limited the market segment of OWC. Based on the opinion of the interviewee, the
company was not developing active strategy.
The instrument, which helped the company to stay on the market, is human resources. Olga
says: “Our agents have been working in this sphere for more than 20 years already, they all are
highly experienced, have a lot of knowledge about different insurance products of our partners and
may immediately come up with the creative customized solution for the client, combining perfect
selling abilities and deep knowledge. The company is highly evaluated among the clients
particularly because of the high expertise of our agents. Sometimes they know more about the
products of insurance companies we work with, than employees of these companies”.
With the crisis in Russian market, which started with the beginning of the second year of
OWC history the management decided to radically change the strategy. Management of the
company invested a lot into market research and anticipated the demand for new popular services
and established partnerships with 12 more insurance companies during the first months of the crisis.
Together with the growth of demand on the insurance brokers and development of the services for
private individuals this strategy has brought the growth in client portfolio, satisfactory revenue and
profit for the owners of the firm.
Therefore the second year of the company has been highly satisfactory for its owners. With
the same strategy retained in the third year, Olga reports that 2015 was also successful for OWC.
TJ is the second case out of this study, which, as Yota, reports excellent performance during
the crisis. The situation, observed in TJ, is similar with Yota experience. The effect from the new
project, launched by the company, has doubled paces of growth during the last year compared to
2014. However, the influence of crisis is still significant for this case. Nikita admits: “With the crisis
it became more complicated to achieve our main providers of income – companies willing to place
their advertisement on our web page. Clearly, we would have much higher pace of growth if the
crisis would not affect our partners. Advertisers behave more cautiously, since with the crisis they
don’t have an opportunity to invest a lot of resources into their advertisement, they have to sharply
decrease their costs and they don’t contact so easily with unfamiliar spaces. For most of the big
advertisers we are still new and unknown company, because for a long time we have been out of
their focus and when we offer them our partnership they refuse, saying that they have spent their
entire budget on other more famous spaces for advertising. When the environment is stable,
advertisers may cope with many new spaces. In crisis their budget is decreased and they prefer to go
with the famous and proven partners”.
Therefore, the company is experiencing shortage of partners with crisis. Due to the fact that
big advertisers have big budgets, each partnership with big players for TJ reflects in increased
earnings, in contract, the refuse of big companies to work with TJ makes the company spend
resources on search of partnerships with small advertisers to substitute at least part of these earnings.
The interviewee names several examples of competitors, which had have to leave the market
because of the crisis events, however, since the market of competitors includes numerous projects of
different categories, it is hard to estimate how many competitors had to close their projects. The
company competes with any resource, which may take the time and attention of Internet users. The
data, obtained from the from financial database SPARK, suggests that for 2014 the revenue was rub
11 million, which is several times more than the revenue of 2013.
As for the factors, helping the company to overcome the crisis, the interviewee names such
features as company’s willingness to experiment, its tolerance to risk, innovative approach to
managing the platform, organizational changes. The commercial department was reorganized in
2015: many new people were hired in order to create strong commercial department able to show
stable growing indicators of sells. Before the reorganization there were no clear plans of sales and
motivational systems. The department is planning optimistic and pessimistic plans, it controls the
progress and fulfillment of these plans, annual forecasts are corrected due to the external events.
Risk-taking is described as “the degree to which managers are willing to make large and
risky resource commitments – for example, those which have a reasonable chance of costly failure”.
(Miller, Friesen, 1978, p. 923). High risk is associated with high level of uncertainty concerning the
result of the project or its process. For Petro-Stimul Expert the examples of risky projects include
the purchase of electro-laboratory for the price, relative to the company’s revenue for several
months. The objective for such decision was to develop the new direction of services. The company
has studied the demand for such equipment, sent employees for trainings to learn how to operate it
and started to offer the service of measuring and reporting different electricity indexes such as
amperage and resistance of the wire. Stanislav admits: “This project was risky, because the sphere
was completely new for us, the result was very unpredictable, but we hoped that the demand for this
service would be growing”. The project is working nowadays and it brings good results, so the risk
Another risky project of Petro-Stimul Expert was the big package of services for one
unstable company. According to the opinion of the owner, in crisis every project in this industry
becomes very risky, because crisis has influenced the clients of this sphere. The clients are mainly
represented with construction firms and governmental companies. For them the crisis environment
brings sharp drop of the revenues. Constructions collapse, simultaneously the energetic services are
not highly demanded. Now with the crisis, the clients have problems with financing and they keep
many debts to their stakeholders.
In the case of Petro-Stimul Expert crisis plays a role of antecedent to risk-taking. In stable
environment companies like Petro-Stimul Expert tend to decrease the amount of risky project they
take and demonstrate the high risk-averse, because there are enough certain projects with low to
moderate outcomes, but less risks. But in crisis environment Petro-Stimul Expert has to take on
every order they get, even the risky ones and crisis transforms it to the survival factor. Moreover, the
crisis increases the level of risks associated with the projects due to the high influence on the
Stanislav admits, that now they have more debtors than ever. He says: “We were not very
certain about this project, because we have never worked with this company before and the sphere
was very new for us. So the risk was very high, but crisis did not leave us any other chances to
survive and we decided to agree on this order. Luckily, the client has paid out all the services we
made and it helped us to continue working, while many of our competitors did not manage to
survive. Of course, we lost a lot with this project, because there were many unexpected difficulties,
but in the end we earned more on this project, so all in all I am satisfied with this result, at least for
the short term”.
In this case it appears that the only way to survive and maintain profitability for Petro-Stimul
Expert is to take on risky projects. The rationale for this conclusion is in the fact that company is
financing itself and it doesn’t have debts outstanding to serve them. In case of the negative event of
risky project occur – the client does not pay off the bill – the company only loses profit for the short
term, but it does not fall into the debt hole. If the company tries to avoid risks, it would not have a
chance to maintain profitable, because the majority of projects in this sphere become risky in crisis.
Before the crisis events occurred, the company had managed to avoid high risks, refusing highly
uncertain projects and maintaining stable relationship with their loyal customers. Along with
proactiveness, this strategy has leaded the company to the stable medium revenues and steady
growth. But now crisis has changed the paradigm of the industry, providing positive relationship
between risk-taking and performance of Petro-Stimul Expert.
In Yota risk-taking ability is dictated by its overall strategy of being the first-mover on the
market. The strategy is demonstrating features of risk-taking both on the overall company level and
on the level of each department. It is remarkable, that, according to the opinion of Karina, which is
supported by the annual reports of the company for the last four years, the company has been
implemented risky strategy long before the crisis and with the beginning of the crisis events of 2014,
although the perception of risk has been slightly changed. Karina says: “We are trying to create the
image of the company, which is different from our competitors in every possible way. In Yota we do
things with completely different attitude, we face the same problems as our competitors do, but the
approach is different, creative and smart. Maintaining of this strategy is already the risk itself,
because being pioneers in any sphere is associated with high level of risk”. The influence of the
crisis on the relationship between risk-taking and performance of the company may be clearly
followed through the fact that risky decision has helped the company to demonstrate highly
satisfactory performance during the crisis. The company has decided to launch the new unusual
product with the beginning of the crisis. Although the price of the tariffs was higher than the
competitors’ one, the company has stated on a cast of innovativeness, which was risky in conditions
of decreasing purchasing power of consumers. It was also uncertain whether the consumers would
switch to Yota, attracted by the unlimited Internet access or they would prefer to stay with their
carrier plans. Another example of risk-taking in process refers to the channels of distribution: the
company had pioneered on the field of on-line sale of sim-cards. The product may be ordered
through the Internet and transported to the client the same day by the courier. The implementation of
this process cost company a lot and it was unclear whether customers would use it. According to
Karina, nowadays courier transportation of the sim-card is used by roughly half of the new clients
and is perceived as competitive advantage of the company. The interviewer admits, that with the
escalation of crisis events, all of the risks are calculated even more precisely and accurately,
however, the policy of active risk-taking is still developed in the company on each level of decisionmaking. In the example of Yota high risk-taking ability was achieved both before the crisis and crisis
events didn’t influence this dimension of EO in the company. Risk-taking has helped the company to
retain loyal customers and to launch the new business line with unusual strategy with uncertain
results. All in all the outcomes of this strategy have covered the effect of crisis for the company,
helping it to grow and develop even in crisis time.
Open World Consult represents the example of risk-averse company. Olga says: “In our
industry the biggest risk refers to the choice of insurance companies. If we partner with unreliable
company and it lets our client down, the client refuses to work with us immediately, taking away all
of his transactions with the company. Due to the fact that we are working with the big clients, each
loss of the client reflects in the immediate loss of revenue”. The opinion is supported by recent
article of Finn, K., revealing the process of insurance brokers’ work and trends of the industry. In the
article she is discussing the relationship between clients and insurance brokers, confirming that
partnership with unstable insurance company damages reputation of the business a lot (Finn, 2015).
Olga brings the example of unsuccessful partnership, which was quite risky for OWC. With
the launching of new strategy in 2014 management was widening the chain of contacts with
insurance companies. One of the agents established good relationship with doubtful company and
was offering Olga to make this company an official partner. Although Olga and her colleagues were
not sure of this suggestion, they decided to go for this risk to retain their employee. However, after a
few successful transactions with the clients, this company disappeared with money gained from the
contracts. Deceived clients blamed OWC in their losses and refused the services of OWC
immediately. The negative consequences from this evidence ensured the management of the
company to choose the less risky partners, because, according to the study of 2014 one of the most
important factors, influencing the choice of insurance company, is reputation and stability of the
company (Mathur, Tripathi, 2014). Therefore, according to the evidences from Olga and overview
of the process of choice of the partners, the company is trying to avoid risks.
The situation is worsening with the growing level of cheating on the brokers’ market. The
situation of illegal enrichment among brokers is very common, therefore the willingness to engage
to risky projects is influencing the performance of the company in negative way. Crisis is increasing
the overall risk, even more insurance companies are leaving the market. It makes the company
choose its partners in even more cautious way. The high level of risk-taking is damaging the
reputation of the company, affecting its revenue in negative way and it certainly is not the factor,
helping the company to recover from crisis.
In contrast, TJ is evaluating risk as a necessary element of its development. Nikita claims:
“We are constantly experimenting with the format of the platform and not trying to avoid risks”. The
employees of the company are mostly young progressive Internet-users with high level of risktolerance. According to the informational prospect of the company, the average age of its employees
is 27 years. Every year the company re-views the model of the platform and renews the structure
and principle of the strategy, which changes the concept of the project. The interviewee reports, that
they can’t forecast the effect from these changes, but for the moment these changes have been
showing the good results, expressed in increased amounts of views and overall growth, therefore
these risks have been approved.
Risk tolerance has allowed the company to implement the important feature, which further
has helped it to maintain successful activity and double the growth. The company has evolved the
function of paid comments for users under the articles. After this change, people, willing to share
their opinion, have had to buy the subscription. For several years there was negative opinion in this
sphere about the idea of paid subscription for access to commentaries of users. Interviewee brings
the example of popular columnist, which wrote about the idea of paid subscription for the
commentaries as something ridiculous and inconsistent. The risk to lose many users because they
would not be paying for expression of their opinion was very high; therefore nobody else before has
tried this system.
When the Russian government has passed the law, allowing Russian Service of Supervision
to restrict web pages even for the abusive commentaries of users, the management of TJ decided that
the time for paid subscription for comments has come. Eventually the idea appeared to be
successful: subscription serves as filter for the undesired aggressive users and provides more value
for each commentary, transforming the platform from the space for random viewers thoughts and
spam to the community of interested people, willing to share their opinion. The function of
commenting under the article has started to be used more than before the paid subscription, the
interest to discussions, hidden under the condition of getting the subscription, has increased and total
number of viewers became bigger. Nowadays there are several thousands subscribers, although it
has not been widely promoted and emphasized by the platform.
This feature is one example of major risky projects company implements. TJ is facing the
same kind of risks on a regular basis, since each renewal and experiment is quite risky in terms of
reputation and the thread is loss of the users, therefore, loss of the partnerships with advertisers.
Nevertheless, the management is implementing changes and risky moves, because it is willing to
experiment. And for the moment these changes mostly bring TJ positive outcomes in terms of views,
quality of content, subscribes and offerings from advertisers, according to the opinion of its editorin-chief, which is supported with data from Yandex-metric. The crisis has not changed the
perception of risk by the company, since the number of risky moves, implemented by TJ, has not
The summary of the analysis of risk-taking in four companies is presented in the table 6.
Table 6 Cross-case comparison of risk-taking dimension before and during the crisis and its role in overcoming the crisis
Low. Due to the variety and big number of The company has chosen orders and projects
orders the company could choose the less with certain moderate outcomes and it leaded to
risky ones and engage to more or less the stable steady growth and moderate profit
High. The crisis has increased the level of
risk of each project and caused many clients
to leave the market. The company has to
take risky projects in order to survive,
because there are no orders with low risk
High. The company has been engaging to
risky projects and has been developing risktolerance in its employees, however, the
scale of risky decisions before 2014 was
The performance was moderate until 2014.
Right before the crisis highly risky project was
implemented. It leaded the firm to the
Low. The company has tried one risky
partnership once. The whole year before the
crisis all risky and uncertain projects were
Single case of risky partnership in 2013
damaged the reputation and portfolio of clients.
Each client brings many products for insurance,
loss of each client causes significant losses
Low. The management maintained cautious
attitude to risk, because reputation is the
most important asset in this sphere. The
overall level of risk in the industry
increased, many insurance companies has
left the market, cases of cheating has
Risk-tolerance in the industry results in risky
partnerships, causing more negative results than
positive ones. Positive outcomes from risky
decisions don’t lead to significantly higher
results comparing to the non-risky partnerships.
Risk is not associated with increased
High. The team of young progressive
employees is willing to experiment and
implement risky changes to the platform.
Big risky changes are conducted annually,
the small ones – on the regular basis
Risky projects have shown highly positive
outc ome s , the fie ld is a pplic a ble for
experiments. The number of views has been
growing on the fast pace, the attractiveness of
platform for advertisers has increased
High. The crisis has not significantly
influenced the level of risk-taking. During
crisis the company implemented highly
risky change: paid subscription for the
commentaries and changed the concept of
the platform. However, risks are calculated
Level of Risk-taking
Level of Risk-taking and performance (in
comparison with competitors)
Role of Risk-taking
The crisis has transf
taking ability into th
firm prevents it from
debt hole if the negat
Increased outcomes from risky projects help the risky project occur, s
company to maintain stable profitability and projects the compan
helped it to survive
keep development on stable pace
Taking risky dec
helped the company
the negative influen
Shortage of resource
crisis has been fu
High. The crisis has not influenced the New risky business line and variety of further with the outcome
attitude to risk in the company, however, projects provided the firm increased profitability p r o j e c t s t h e c
implemented for last
the accuracy of risk calculation has been while other competitors were not so successful
Risk-taking is not
role of crucial reco
Nor risk-averse ne
tolerance leads to
company to avoid
environment of incr
of sudden downfa
partners with the con
tolerance has provi
possibility to imple
of bold changes, whi
many new users an
Major risky changes have doubled the pace of overall interest to th
company’s growth in crisis compared to the multiplying its chan
previous years. The outcomes of risky projects partnership with adv
are positive, they increase the performance of TJ helping to retain g
through the crisis
Proactiveness in literature is expressed as the ability to “act in anticipation of future
problems, needs or changes” (Lumpkin, Dess, 1996, p. 146). Petro-Stimul Expert is emphasizing its
willingness to establish various directions of development and policy of engagement to completely
different projects as its competitive advantage. Therefore, the level of proactiveness maintained by
the company is high. While talking about different directions company tries to develop, Stanislav
says: “From the past summer we also started to think about other opportunities to survive, we started
to install electrical wires. This sphere is rather predictable and stable, but the problem was in the fact
that we’ve never done it before, although we said to the client that we offer this kind of services. So
our policy may be described in one sentence: If we have an order – we do it, no matter if we’ve done
it before or not. We mostly never refuse the orders and try our best to organize the project even in
the completely new sphere”. The company is actively seizing the opportunities and the owner
believes, that this policy allowed surviving of Petro-Stimul Expert and its steady growth comparing
to the competitors.
According to the prospects of the company, it had started trying new directions long before
the crisis events occurred and the majority of services they launched attracted increased range of
clients and therefore increased revenues. Dynamism is a special feature of Russian business.
Companies are actively searching for the different ways to decrease costs, including the creative and
unusual solutions. And B2B market has to respond quickly to these requirements. Petro-Stimul
Expert was founded as a product of niche, created by the new law, obligating the clients of the
company to become a subject of the energy-auditing, and the firm was developing steadily.
However, if the owner would not anticipated the sharp fall in demand due to the decision of many
firms to hide their consumption and order cheap fake technical passports and if the firm would not
bought the equipment for new business line, the company would not manage to survive. Therefore,
for this firm proactiveness is crucial characteristic.
The crisis did not change the perception of proactiveness and its role in the strategy of the
company. The wide variety of projects company is engaging to and its willingness to constantly
offer new services to anticipate market’s requirements is positively influencing its growth and
profits. Stanistav says: “Our willingness to learn and take any order we get plays its positive role.
We almost never refuse the projects and we start from the determining the demand. We base services
we offer on the demand to the full extent”. The more opportunities company takes, the more chances
it has to survive, because crisis is a time of shrank opportunities. In crisis time proactiveness of
Petro-Stimul Expert helps the company to survive and develop, but it is also true for the stable
environment. The overview of the web-page of the company has confirmed the words of the owner:
the company is offering 14 different types of services.
The marketing director of Yota also reports that proactiveness is a characteristic, allowing the
company maintaining to be successful on their market. It would be fair to say that the overall market
is highly proactive and sensitive to the desires of consumers, because the revenue fully depends on
the average revenue per user and the technology is developing rapidly. To stay attractive, the mobile
operator in Russia needs to keep tracking smallest changes in desires of consumers. The
proactiveness of the company may be followed on the numerous examples. The overall launch of
sim-cards had placed the company ahead its competitors. The conclusion is supported with the fact
that nowadays each of the three competitors is offering tariff options with similar features as Yota
implemented two years ago, because the company has raised consumers, which are willing to have
unlimited access to the Internet and free roaming options.
Karina also mentioned the list of projects, company has recently been engaged to: “We are
organizing concerts in our branded space in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, we are holding lectures
with world-famous speakers for everyone who is willing to come, we are sponsoring interesting
events. Yota is making partnerships with key players of the future: the company is an official
provider of sim-cards for the car of the future – Tesla. There are also some interesting projects in the
nearest future, however, I can’t disclose this information, but all in all I may say that we realize a lot
of important and interesting projects on the regular basis”.
Proactiveness of the company is possible due to the accurate studies of the market on weekly
basis. The company is analyzing offerings of the competitors, news of the market and big data from
its subscribers, revealing the future trends and trying to anticipate them. Before crisis the profit of
the company was modest in spite of the variety of projects it have been engaged to. With the
beginning of the crisis this characteristic became crucial in development of the company, enabling to
get revenue stream from the new product line it implemented from the first months of crisis.
Proactiveness provided the company with the possibility to cover the negative effect of crisis,
therefore, crisis is moderating relationship between proactiveness and performance, strengthening its
OWC experience provides another example of the company, trying to build its strategy in a
proactive way. Low performance indicators, demonstrated by OWC after the first year of
functioning as a company with only three partners and single profile of services made the
management of the company rapidly change the strategy. The management has invested into the
deep market analysis in order to track changes and to develop the required services rapidly.
Olga admits, that the environment is rather dynamic, thus, the company has to react quickly
on every slight change. It mostly refers to the new editions of laws passed by the Government
regularly. OWC was the first company on the market to offer the service of insurance for migrants
when the law was passed. “Even the employees of our partner insurance companies did not know
how to do it, while we were already negotiating to push the service. We have to be the first to know
what is changing in the environment to be ready for implementation of new practices and services,”
Another example of company’s proactivity is its attempts to raise the market of life
insurance. Olga says, that the service is extremely popular abroad, because people tend to think in a
long term, while in Russia the question of life-insurance is not so common, because Russian
mentality suggests the short-term planning, considering the insurance of life as a bad sign. The
evidence from USA market confirms this information. Rishel in his overview of life insurance
mentions such factors, contributing to popularity of life insurance services, as growing risks of
chronic illness, shift in demographic situation and insufficient retirement income (Rishel,, 2015).
In OWC they are sure that the time for development of this line of insurance has come for
Russia due to the analysis of the market. Agents have been offering this service from the last
summer and Olga admits that at the beginning people were reacting negatively and even
aggressively, but now, after half a year many clients started to ask about this service to protect the
future of their family. Several insurance programs include medical expertise, money support in case
of dangerous disease and guidance of doctors from the very beginning of the disease. Olga reports
that now these services have started to gain popularity and the company emphasizes this direction of
insurance. This evidence supports the proposition that the company is shaping the market and
seizing new opportunities.
Along with these examples, the company has established contracts with 12 more insurance
companies and developed the list of services offered, investing a lot into the development of
corporate segment. Olga says: “Our company is different from competitors with the fact that now we
combine services for retail, selling insurance for people and services for corporate segments. In our
country there are only two players, working with the corporate segment and both of them are
international companies. Therefore we have a possibility to get wider range of clients”.
Before the crisis OWC has maintained low level of proactiveness, getting the unsatisfactory
results. With the beginning of the crisis the company has started to develop proactive strategy. As a
result the portfolio of the clients was increased, profits for the previous two years has been reported
as highly satisfactory comparing to the competitors even despite of the crisis.
As a company, willing to experiment and amuse Internet users with new features, TJ
demonstrates the high level of proactiveness as well. Nikita especially emphasizes the fact that TJ
has many different opportunities for growth and these experiments mostly refer to trials of TJ in
different direction. The company is actively searching for the latest trends concerning both the
content of the platform and the way of its organization, basing their analysis on numbers of users
and views, analysis of the articles.
At the very beginning, the project was positioned as a platform for aggregation of the news.
The idea was not to publish original articles, written by the editors of TJ, but to aggregate news from
different sources in a useful and comfortable for the viewers way. Later on the articles of the own
editors were added and it has attracted more attention than simple aggregator. In 2013 the project
was changed to full source of original articles written by TJ editors. Nowadays the platform
combines the articles, written by the editors and generated by the users with the correction by
editors. All these changes were possible because of the high level of proactiveness, since the
company is actively seeking for the most demanded ways of presenting the information.
In December of 2014 the new innovative feature, which made the company a first-mover on
this market, was launched on the platform. The company has developed the section on its web page,
allowing users to write articles by themselves on the base of existing subscription system. Before the
implementation of this project the company had a classic system of publication, including only
articles written by the editors of the company. Readers of the journal could only comment and share
these materials with their friends in social media. When the company revealed the opportunity for
users to write, they started to generate enormous amount of material besides the comments. The
price of subscription initially was 33 rubles, but with the devaluation of ruble the price increased to
75 rubles. Paid subscribe opens for user the access to writing articles and comments. Such mixed
type of editorial process helps the magazine staff to achieve bigger variety of news and
differentiation of views on the important events. This system brings value for users and attract they
attention as a space for realization of their potential and decreases costs for the journal, emphasizing
its attention on the topics, which are important for readers, broadening the channels of getting the
information and providing the relationship with users. The project decreases time for writing the
article and search of informational causes, at the same time bringing money for the subscription,
which is 10-20% in the structure of income.
The users write articles for the journal and send it for evaluation of editors. The editors write
articles, choose and correct articles sent by the users and form the objective and full picture of the
day on the main page of resource.
The level of proactiveness, achieved by the company, has not changed during the crisis. It is
positively related with the main performance indicators of TJ.
This project, appearing as a combination of risk-tolerance, proactiveness and innovative
approach, has brought popularity to the platform and has provided growth and attention of
advertisers even in crisis time. The main conclusions of the analysis of proactiveness in four
companies are presented in the table 7.
Table 7 Cross-case comparison of proactiveness before and during the crisis and its role in overcoming the crisis
Level of Proactiveness
Level of Proactiveness and performance (in
comparison with competitors)
Moderate to high. The company has tried
various directions of development, even if
they are brand new. It almost never refuses
the orders from clients, trying to reach the
larger segment of the market
The revenue of the company has been steadily
growing, allowing purchases of new equipment
for further development. The variety of services
company has been engaged to has provided
stable moderate profit
High. The company has been ahead of its
competitors in terms of the offered services
from the very beginning, developing the
market of communications in Russia
The results of the company have been moderate
and stable. The profit index was low, revenues
moderate, however the growth was rapid. The
variety of small projects company has been
engaged to did not result in increased
High. The crisis did not make direct impact
on the proactivity of the company. The
number of different projects, implemented
by Yota has increased due to the new
branch of products launch
The beginning of the crisis has aligned with the
new product line implementation, increased
number of projects and synchronization of the
activity with newly appeared ownership with
Megafon. All these factors together boosted the
profit and revenue and provided increased
geographical expansion of the company
Low. The company has been basing its
competitive advantage on the existing
portfolio of clients, brought by individual
agents. It did not offer the wide variety of
insurance services and developed
partnership with only 3 insurance
The company did not get profit after the first
year of functioning. The revenue was not
satisfying the owners, many clients have left the
company because OWC could not satisfy the
demand in variety of insurance companies
High. The unsuccessful results of the first
year along with the outcomes of starting
crisis made the owners change their
strategy. Partnership with 12 more
companies was established, the focus has
been moved to corporate segment, number
of services has been increased three times
High. The management is constantly
seeking for the new ways for development.
The platform has been changed on the
regular basis from the very beginning
The strategy of constant changes has been
attracting new viewers and retaining the loyal
ones. The company shown stable moderate
growth and satisfactory profit from advertisers
High. During the crisis TJ implemented the
unusual project, combining the articles
written by TJ editors and articles, written by
subscribed users. The crisis has not
influenced the firm’s willingness to seize
opportunities and be ahead of the
The project, implemented by the company, has
decreased time costs of the editors, attracted
more users and provided doubled growth, which
has helped to maintain successful during the
crisis. Proactiveness is positively related to the
performance of TJ
Role of Proa
owner reports th
of loyal clients
company are inte
High. The crisis has decreased the amount The company has survived the crisis unlike services added.
of orders, therefore the company has coped many of its competitors partly because of its has helped the co
with 6 new types of services in order to proactiveness and willingness to provide wider loyal customers
increase its field and get more clients
range of activities than competitors. The revenue n e w o n e s , p r
has been growing, the profit maintained stable
during the crisis
be ahead of its c
features to its pro
the company to t
of new busines
the negative effe
overcoming the c
overcoming the e
crisis in the com
The owner reports increased revenue, growth of for new segment
clients’ portfolio and first profit in the history of would not manag
the company in 2015. Proactive strategy has two years
leaded to the increased performance and
satisfying results while many competitors have
left the market due to the crisis
level of risk-tak
the company to
effect of crisis a
growth even wh
projects had to le
because of the
interesting for Int
Innovativeness refers to the company’s ability to innovate in different parts of the business
model: innovation of the product, of the processes, managerial techniques, markets and ways of
promotion (Lumpkin, Dess, 1996).
Petro-Stimil Expert is operating in the traditional, stable sphere. The interviewee admits, that
the industry in Russia has not been changing for the last ten years. Therefore, the level of
innovativeness company maintains is low. The only innovation Petro-Stimul Expert managed to
implement during the crisis is digitalization of the reports. Usually, firms in the industry write down
all of the rates and indexes obtained from the analysis on the piece of paper by hand. Then the
employee would put it all in the computer also by hand and then he would print it and send the
report to the client. In order to reduce the time of processing, the engineer of the company has
created simple software, which allows sending these rates and indexes right from the measuring
equipment to the computer through the Internet. The equipment was ordered, software was installed
and now Petro-Stimul Expert is able to create the report right away. Stanislav says: “It gives us
certain competitive advantage, but I would not say that this innovation is huge. Although, relative to
the whole market and competitors, it is a big deal already”.
The owner also notices, that it was not crucial for the development; however, this innovation
certainly improved the overall process and decreased the costs. The crisis has influenced the firm’s
ability to innovate, the owner of the company reports, that he would like to implement some other
techniques to rationalize the process, but with the lack of resources the company has now, it is
impossible. Prior to the crisis, the company has tried to base its competitive attractiveness on the
purchase of innovative equipment, allowing measuring the high-voltage wires’ indexes in a modern.
However, this innovation was not very successful, because clients have preferred to conduct all the
measures in traditional way. Innovativeness in this sphere requires the whole market to be willing to
innovate, but due to the inertness of the players in this industry (such as construction firms), it will
take a lot of time and efforts to implement even small innovation. The crisis is influencing firm’s
ability to innovate; decreasing it with the lack of resources it offers. However, all in all
innovativeness does not lead to the increased performance in energy sphere both before and during
the crisis, because the industry is mediating this relationship, making it insignificant.
Completely contrast situation has evolved on the market of telecommunications. For Yota
innovativeness represents one of the main strategic features both in its image, created for all of the
stakeholders and in its actual strategy, implemented by CEO and key managers. Innovations,
promoted and developed by Yota help the company to sustain its attractiveness even after the initial
buzz from launching the sim-product, which has been descended over time. Karina notices:
“Innovations for Yota is not just a nominal feature. It is the heart of our strategy. The company has
been founded out of the need for innovations in Russia and it still keeps being interested in
innovations even out of the telecommunication sphere”. The company has launched the project
named “Yota Future Proof”. The project represents series of public experiments with the aim to test
and evaluate the effectiveness of innovations for business. One of the recent experiments is called
“Yota delivers”, it represents the attempt to transport sim-cards with the help of drones. Another
experiment sets 3D printing technology into motion. The company provides its customers an
opportunity to test 3D printer by printing fully customized case for the modem on the point of sale.
The interest around these experiments attracts attention of journalists to Yota and contributes to its
image of innovator. The analysis of web-page, dedicated to this project, has provided the
information about the number of unique viewers of the page for the previous year, which is almost
13’000’000 people. The project is attracting attention of many people. The target audience of the
company is appreciating new technologies and this project allows Yota making a relationship with
its customers. Speaking about innovations in crisis, Karina claims that, although the crisis is
affecting company’s opportunity to invest into these projects, if the innovation was implemented, it
gives multiplied effect comparing to the stable environment. “We have experienced the rapidly
growing interest to the company after launching “Yota Future Proof” program, therefore, I am sure
that crisis gives the best field for innovative projects”. Crisis is affecting company’s ability to
innovate in negative way, although it is moderating the relationship between innovativeness and
performance of the company, making it highly positive.
The market of insurance does not give so much space for implementation of innovations.
However, the fact that clients emphasize computerization and online transactions along with the
speed of transactions and ease of online communication with the insurance brokers and insurance
companies as main factors of choice of the insurance company makes OWC concerned with
innovative development of the firm (Mathur, D., 2014).
Olga claims that the approach of the company, combining services for several groups of
customers, is an innovation itself. As for the tangible implementation of technical innovations, last
year the company has invested into the development of application for a smartphone, which allows
ordering the insurance without physically going to the office. Olga says: “As far as I know, none of
our competitors use the applications for contacting with their clients, so I would say it is quite of the
innovation”. For the target clients of the company this innovation has added the value to the overall
process, because they belong to the busy segment, valuing the time a lot. Ease of the communication
through the application has also revealed informational and promotional functions, since the clients
start their search of applicable broker from the Internet.
The management of the company believes that the growth of clients’ portfolio is provided
partly by the innovative approach of the company. As for the influence of the crisis, Olga claims: “I
strongly believe that the crisis is a perfect time for accurately predicted and evaluated innovation,
because it is contrasting with the overall market, which is investing most of its resources into
survival. Implementation of wise innovations immediately brings a lot of attention to the company”.
Olga also mentions the importance of development of the web page and constant update on the latest
techniques of selling the insurance and being on the edge of the most up-to-date insurance products.
The evidence from third case suggest that innovativeness has moderately positive
relationship with performance of the company and in times of crisis brings more attention and adds
to the growth of the company, therefore the relationship become strongly positive.
For TJ innovativeness is important feature as well, although their innovative approach refers
not to the direct technical or business innovations, but to way of organizing the platform and
approaches to communication with users. The project, implemented by the company with the
beginning of the crisis, represents creative approach and it has become an innovation among the
similar platforms, as well as the idea of paid subscription for the access to commentaries and
possibility to write articles. Some similar projects make users pay for the full access to the articles;
some of them make certain articles restricted to free users. But none of them implement the same
feature, while it allows clear division between users according to their purposes and does not make
users, which are willing to only read articles, pay for the access to the latest news. At the same time,
the desire to become part of the community makes users buy the subscription.
Another unique feature, which was implemented by TJ, is the automatic analysis of the most
popular tweets in the Internet and aggregation of the most interesting ones on the one section of the
platform. Interviewee reports that competitors don’t offer such kind of services, although this
section of the platform is popular among the users, it takes 3rd place among all sections for the
amount of views. Since the company’s innovations refer to processes, they don’t require many
investments; therefore the crisis has not influenced TJ’s ability to innovate. Both before and during
the crisis innovative features have attracted new users and provided attention to the platform, thus it
is positively related with TJ’s performance.
The summary is presented in table 8.
Table 8. Cross-case comparison of innovativeness before and during the crisis and its role in overcoming the crisis
Level of Innovativeness
Level of Innovativeness and performance (in
comparison with competitors)
Low. The industry is not offering many
opportunities to innovate. Moreover, the modest
attempts to innovate are not met by the market with
enthusiasm. The only innovation implemented by
the company did not get appreciation from clients
Since the market is not seeking for the innovations,
in case of PSE innovativeness does not result in
high performance, and the opposite situation of low
level of innovativeness is not making the company
Crisis has influenced the firm’s ability to innovate,
reducing the resources company may invest to
innovations. The owner would like to implement
some innovative techniques, but he can’t provide
enough investments. Small innovation was
implemented, but it didn’t appear to be competitive
advantage of the firm
Crisis has not changed the perception of
innovations by the market. For many companies
and clients the priority is survival, therefore the low
prices are the main factor they seek from companies
l i ke PSE. Sm a l l i nnova t i on, whi c h wa s
implemented didn’t attract new clients and didn’t
result in increased performance
High. The company is working closely to the
technological sphere and its target audience is
interested in innovations. Innovations, implemented
by Yota refer not only directly to the product, but
also plays a role of separate activity, aimed on
overview of world innovations
By emphasizing innovations as core interest of the
company, Yota gets an increased attention from the
society, which is confirmed with the number of
viewers of the separate web-page of the company,
dedicated to the innovative projects. It is one of the
several factors which result in increased number of
subscribers and revenue
not be ca
as a signi
of the th
High. For the large company, having a significant The policy of admiring innovations resulted in product w
revenue streams due to its proactiveness, the effect innovative approach to the features of new business similar of
of crisis is different from the small one. It has line, which attracted the big segment of people to
enough resources to innovate and ability to be the purchase sim-cards of Yota, increasing the revenue
only innovator on the market
streams to the company
Low. The company has not developed innovations Unsatisfying results of the company have been a
due to the conservative strategy and lots of result of reactive strategy. Low innovativeness
investments into initial activities of the company.
made a small input into overall weak performance,
because there were more important factors,
affecting the results of the company
Medium. The company has been revising its
attitude to innovations because of the requirements
of the clients. The economic crisis has not
significantly influenced the innovativeness of the
company, although the interviewee claims that
crisis is the best time to innovate
High. Innovativeness refers to processes: Innovative features of the platform attract attention
aggregation of the most popular tweets, paid of new viewers, providing moderate growth to the
subscription for the commentary function, platform and attracting new advertisers
experiments with the directions of development
The interviewee believes that the growth of clients’ d i r e c t e
portfolio is partly caused by innovations, which pr oa c t i v
played also an informational role for new clients. innovativ
However, all in all innovativeness did not play
significant role in overall success
High. The crisis didn’t influence the ability to The outstanding growth appeared as a result of platform,
innovate, because implementation costs are combination of innovativeness, risk-tolerance and two othe
relatively low. In crisis the mixed system of proactiveness, therefore, the innovativeness is possibilit
publications was implemented
positively related with the growth as a part of project, w
overall entrepreneurially oriented strategy
3.4 Discussion of the findings
The aim of the research was to investigate the relationship between EO and performance
indicators in context of economic crisis in Russian market and understand whether EO helps the
company to overcome the crisis. The work was directed on explaining how EO and its dimensions
may help Russian firms to overcome the crisis. The aim was achieved by investigation of the
relationship between EO and performance indicators before the crisis and in context of crisis in
Russian market in experience of four Russian firms. The main objectives of the study were to
investigate how EO is related to the performance indicators under the influence of different factors,
to examine the influence of crisis on the development of each EO dimension, to evaluate the role of
EO and each of its dimensions in overcoming the crisis by investigating how does the crisis
influence the relationship between EO and performance of the firm.
The design of the research refers to multiple case-study with cross-case comparison. Four
sources of information were used in order to achieve more accurate conclusions: semi-structured
interviews with members of the companies, which are highly involved into the process, the variety
of documents, provided by interviewees, information retrieved from the Internet sources and
financial data obtained from SPARK database. Four Russian companies, which experience the
influence of crisis to different extent, were studied: Petro-Stimul Expert, Yota, Open World Consult,
TJournal. All four companies are functioning in different spheres and serve different segments of
To address the first objective, the analysis of different directions of studies EO-performance
relationship model was conducted. It was concluded that there is a massive course of studies,
reporting positive relationship between EO and performance of different magnitude (Lee, et al.,
2001; Covin, Slevin, 1989; Naman, Slevin, 1993). Some scholars revealed non-linear nature of this
relationship (Tang, Tang, Marino, Zhang, Li, 2008), while some authors have come to the
conclusion that this relationship may be negative under certain conditions (Arbaugh, Cox, Camp,
2009). Further analysis has shown that the relationship is context-specific, meaning that the
influence of different factors of external and internal environment may change the relationship
between EO and firm performance (Lumpkin, Dess, 1996). This theory has brought the assumption,
that in crisis EO may behave differently and the relationship between entrepreneurially oriented
strategy and performance of the firm may be different comparing to stable before-crisis
environment. Thus, EO may either help firms to overcome the crisis or become the source of
additional costs for the company. There are studies, reporting that each dimension of EO may have
different relationship with performance indicators (Lumpkin, Dess, 2001), therefore, the effect of
crisis on each of the dimensions was studied. Three dimensions, utilized in the current study,
represent the most frequently used conceptualization of EO, developed by Covin and Slevin: risktaking, proactiveness and innovativeness. The analysis of studies of the crisis has confirmed that the
crisis itself has different influence on firms’ performance, depending on the industry, size and other
factors (Yu et al., 2008; Kunc, Bhandari, 2011; Cowling et al., 2015). Theoretical overview has
demonstrated that most of the studies, developed by scholars, are dedicated to examination of EOperformance relationship model in context of developed countries and non-crisis environment. The
analysis of studies of the crisis also revealed one study, dedicated to the evaluation of the role of EO
in overcoming the effect of recession by companies. The study has been conducted in the context of
developed market, while the current study discusses the role of EO in crisis on emerging market.
Moreover, the current study provides evidences on the effect of crisis on each dimension of EO.
The evidences on how EO behaves in conditions of crisis and conclusions on the role of EO
in overcoming the crisis were elaborated from experience of four companies. Two of the companies
have shown highly satisfactory performance, two of them demonstrated moderate satisfaction of
management with the results during the crisis. The possible outcome for each of the dimensions was:
positive impact in overcoming the crisis, negative one and no influence.
The results have shown that proactiveness takes positive and important role in overcoming
the crisis for these four companies. In all four cases seizing the opportunities and willingness to be
ahead of the competitors with implementation of different tactics led the companies to positive
performance indicators of different extent. This conclusion is consistent with the results, obtained by
Lumpkin and Dess in 2001. Authors reveal the positive role of proactiveness, studying the model of
EO-performance relationship in hostile and dynamic environment. They find evidences for the fact
that proactiveness has strong positive relation to performance (Lumpkin, Dess, 2001). The roots of
this conclusion lay in the work on Covin and Slevin of 1989, where scholars conclude from the
study of relationship in hostile environment that proactiveness is beneficial for the firms (Covin,
Slevin, 1989). This result is also consistent with the outcomes from the study of Soininen et al.
Scholars suggest that proactiveness results in increasing number of opportunities, leading the firm to
successful results in conditions of crisis in the country (Soininen et al., 2012).
In two cases, which showed moderate performance, proactiveness was boosted by the crisis,
in the rest two cases the company has already developed high level of proactiveness before the crisis
and events of 2014-2015 in Russia have made the level of this dimension, achieved by the
companies, even higher.
In three cases the beginning of the crisis has aligned with either turnaround in the strategy or
implementation of new project, which brought the company increased results. This finding supports
the outcomes of Naidoo, based on the study of factors of Chinese firms survival through the
economic crisis. The scholar claims that competitive advantage of the firm, developed and retained
in crisis, provides the firm a greater ability to survive through the crisis, no matter what kind of
advantage it is (Naidoo, 2010). For two highly successful companies – TJ and Yota – these projects
appeared as competitive advantage, which places the company ahead of the market.
The evidence from the current study provides support for unidimensional view of
entrepreneurial orientation, introduced by Miller and developed by Covin and Slevin (Miller, 1983;
Covin, Slevin, 1989). For both Yota and TJ these advantages appeared as a result of combination of
three dimensions sustained on the sufficiently high level. The significantly increased performance
for these two companies was achieved when they implemented projects, resulted from combination
of the high level of all three dimensions in the strategy of the firm. Complete positive effect from
entrepreneurially oriented strategy may be achieved through the synergy of proportionally high level
of all three dimensions. In general, high level of EO has helped these two companies to overcome
the crisis and has been positively related to the perceived performance, as it is reported in studies of
Covin and Slevin (1989, 1991), Hult et al. (2003), Wiklund et al. (2003), Dimitratos et al. (2004).
The discussed study of Soininen et al. also supports the idea that EO is positively related with the
performance of the firm in crisis; however, the authors’ results did not indicate the synergy of three
dimensions. They rather suggest that the positive effect from high level of innovativeness and
proactiveness covers the negative effect of high level of risk-taking and brings increased results to
the firm (Soininen et al., 2012). In contrast, current study provides the evidence to the fact that even
though risk-taking alone is negatively related to the performance in the one case, taken together with
the high levels of two other dimensions; it leads to the successful performance in certain conditions.
The study of Lumpkin and Dess, mentioned above, indicate that dimensions of EO are often
perceived as positively related to the performance in any environment. However, scholars claim that
in some circumstances certain dimensions may not necessarily play positive role relating to
performance (Lumpkin, Dess, 2001). This consideration explains the appearance of negative
relationship between risk-taking and performance in the case of insurance broker. Moreover, the
results of risk-tolerant and risk-averse companies in crisis were studied by Bartz and Winkler. The
situation, demonstrated in the case of OWC is consistent with the conclusion of these scholars.
Authors highlight that, according to their study, the losses from risky projects are critical for the
companies in crisis, and therefore high level of risk-taking is negatively related to growth and
profitability. However, similar with the OWC experience outcomes, the study of Bartz and Winkler
suggests that risk-averse is not related with the growth of the companies. OWC is cautious while
making decisions on risky projects and the level of risk-taking in this company is low both before
and during the crisis, although its negative perception of the risk doesn’t contribute to the overall
process of overcoming the crisis by OWC and doesn’t bring growth to the company (Bartz, Winkler,
2015). The work of Soininen et al. provides evidences to the fact that for the majority of the
companies in the study risk-taking dimension during the crisis was negatively related with the
performance (Soininen et al., 2012).
It is necessary to highlight that the study of Bartz and Winkler utilizes the dataset of young
and small firms. Therefore, the results are highly applicable to OWC, but go in contrast with three
other cases either because of their age or because of their size. In Yota and TJ the high level of risktaking was not affected by the crisis, as well as it led these companies to highly satisfactory
performance. In case of PSE the level of risk-taking was radically changed from low to high by the
crisis and risk-tolerance has led the company to the survival, while other competitors experienced
the damaging influence of the crisis to the full extent.
The weak relationship between innovativeness alone and performance of the company in
crisis, evolved in the current study, were also described and explained by Kreiser and Davis in 2010.
Scholars claim that innovativeness may be applicable for the dynamic, but munificent environments.
In contrast, hostile dynamic environment, suggesting limited resources, is not offering beneficial
conditions for positive relationship between innovativeness and performance and for the
development of innovativeness itself (Kreiser, Davis, 2010).
Current analysis has shown that, along with the other factors, the industry is highly
influential for the company’s ability to take risk and innovate and moderates studied relationship.
This outcome contributes to the course of external moderators’ studies. In particular, the conclusion,
developed in meta-analysis of Rauch et al., arguing that industries, connected with high
technologies, strengthen the positive relationship between EO and performance, is supported in this
study. Moreover, scholars suggest that companies, working in technological sphere, have EO
developed on the higher level, than firms of the other industries (Rauch et al., 2009). Two companies
out of four, analyzed in this research, work in technological spheres and have innovativeness
sustained on the high level and EO, developed in these firms, is directly related with their successful
Crisis has not influenced their ability to implement innovative projects due to the different
reasons. Yota, as a large company, has a lot of resources to innovate, which were not significantly
decreased by the crisis. TJ implements innovations, requiring spending time resources, which is
affordable for the company. The same idea is reflected in the study of Bartz and Winkler, suggesting
that large companies are more persistent to crisis effect and have more abilities to innovate in crisis,
than the small ones (Bartz, Winkler, 2015).
For both companies innovativeness plays an important role in overcoming the crisis. Two
other companies of the study demonstrate low level of innovativeness, but their owners report the
desire to innovate, limited by decreased resources. The majority of the small and medium
enterprises, studied in the work of Soininen et al. demonstrate the positive relation between
innovativeness and performance. The advantages of comparative case-study allows to discuss in
details the reasons why innovativeness may be beneficial for some companies, while others don’t
experience the significant positive outcome from innovativeness. The main difference refers to the
features of industry company is operating in.
In general it is possible to highlight that the relation between dimensions of EO and
performance of the firm were either not affected by the crisis, or even strengthened by crisis events,
as it occurred in case of OWC: risk-taking dimension was negatively related to the performance,
while in crisis the amount of overall risk in the environment has been increased, therefore, the
magnitude of negative relationship has also become higher.
The nature of relationship has been changed by the crisis in the only one case: firm, working
in the energy services sphere. The relationship between risk-taking and performance had been
negative before the crisis events occured. However, during the crisis risk-averse would lead the
company to the absence of clients, therefore, bringing negative results. The company has changed its
paradigm concerning risk-taking and was able to survive through crisis with moderate performance.
This case is considered as an outlier of the study because it goes in contrast with the ideas,
developed in theoretical background; however, the situation may be explained with the special
features of the industry, business environment in Russia and unique characteristics of the firm’s
In this study the only large company has experienced the influence of the crisis to the less
extent, than medium and small companies. That is also consistent with the outcomes of Bartz and
Winkler, who claim that small firms are damaged by the crisis to the high extent due to their fragility
(Bartz, Winkler, 2015). Two small firms, studied in the current research have been affected by the
crisis more than the large one and the medium one. The same statement is true for the influence of
the crisis on dimensions of EO developed, by the companies. Three of four companies indicate
entrepreneurial orientation as one of the main recovery factors. Among other factors the most
important were: bringing some expensive functions on the outsource basis, proactiveness alone,
highly professional employees.
Taking into account all the findings, the theoretical model can be built. The results are
grouped according to the two most important factors, influencing studied relationships: size of the
firm and industry it is operating in. As it was assumed from the theoretical overview, EO consists of
three dimensions, each of them have separate effect on the ability of the firm to overcome crisis.
Proactiveness appeared to be highly important factor for all four companies. Risk-taking has been
moderately important in one case, negatively influencing in the other one and brought increased
results for the rest two companies. Innovativeness alone is not contributing a lot into recovery of the
firms in the majority of cases, however, taken together with other two dimensions, it increases the
company’s ability to overcome the crisis with highly successful performance in two cases. In the
cases of companies, working in non-technological industries, it appeared to be not important in
overcoming the crisis. In general, entrepreneurial orientation as a combination of three highly
developed dimensions plays role of the important factor in overcoming the crisis.
The influence of the crisis is different for all three dimensions and for all four companies. It
slightly increases the level of proactiveness, which is high already, in two cases; decreases the level
of risk-taking to the different extent in different companies (with the exception of the outlier – PSE)
and has different effect on innovativeness for small, medium and large firms, making no impact in
cases of medium and large companies, because they have enough resources to maintain high level of
innovativeness and decreasing the possibilities of small firms to innovate. The results for small
firms, working in non-technological sphere and medium and large firm, working in technological
sphere, are reflected in two separate blocks.
The theoretical model is presented on Figure 6.
Figure 6 Theoretical model: Entrepreneurial Orientation and its Dimensions in firm’s ability to
overcome the crisis
Overall, the theoretical view of positive outcomes from development of entrepreneurially
oriented strategy in hostile and dynamic environment, developed by Covin and Slevin, was
supported. Entrepreneurial orientation plays important role in firm’s ability to overcome the crisis.
The relationship between different dimensions and performance in crisis are dependent on the
industry and size of the firm.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
The main goal of the research was to investigate how entrepreneurial orientation and its
dimensions may help Russian firms to overcome the crisis. In order to achieve this goal, several subquestions were developed in current study. Theoretical investigation of how EO is related to the
performance indicators under the influence of different factors was conducted, the comparative
multiple case study was completed in order to examine the influence of crisis on the development of
each EO dimension, and to make conclusion on the role of EO and each of its dimensions in
overcoming the crisis by investigating how does the crisis influence the relationship between EO
and performance of the firm.
Theoretical research has shown that the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation and
performance indicators of the firm has been studied by different scholars. The majority of studies
report positive relationship of different magnitude, dependent on the factors of internal and external
environment. Some scholars reveal non-liner relationship, absence of significant influence and even
negative relationship between EO and performance under certain circumstances. Theoretical review
of studies of the crisis influence on businesses has shown that in most cases crisis events damage the
performance of the firms, however, the negative influence may be mitigated by different factors.
The comparative multiple case-study has been utilized in order to find the evidences on
whether entrepreneurial orientation may take a role of such factor. The cases of four Russian
companies were investigated trough semi-structured interviews and analysis of documents.
The influence of the crisis on each of the dimensions of EO was evaluated along with the
analysis of the overall contribution of each of the dimensions of EO in the firm’s ability to overcome
The results have supported the theory of Lumpkin and Dess (2001), emphasizing the positive
relationship between proactiveness and performance of the firms in hostile and dynamic
environments, such as crisis. Besides that, the evidences, suggesting the positive relationship
between EO and performance in crisis, described by many authors on the field of entrepreneurial
orientation, were obtained in the current study. The destructive influence of the crisis on
innovativeness, emphasized by such authors as Bartz and Winkler (2015), Kreiser and Davis (2010)
together with the idea of absence of significant relationship between innovativeness and
performance in crisis, were also spotted in the analysis. The idea of higher affection of the crisis on
the small companies, rather than on the large ones, suggested by Bartz and Winkler, has also found
the empirical proof in the current study. Certain case has demonstrated the consistent pattern, offered
by Lumpkin and Dess, revealing the negative relationship between risk-taking and performance in
hostile environment. The conclusion of meta-analysis of Rauch et al., suggesting that development
of the different dimensions and the relationship model is dependent on the industry, has found the
reflection in this study. Overall, the view of Covin and Slevin, claiming that entrepreneurial
orientation, developed on the high level as a uni-dimensional concept is positively related to the
performance of the firm in hostile, turbulent environment, was supported by the evidences from the
current study, due to the fact that crisis appears as an environment, combining these features. All in
all several conclusions are consistent with the outcomes from the work of Soininen et al., claiming
that EO is important in the process of overcoming the crisis by firms. However, some evidences
from the current study are different from the data, received by Soininen et al. from Finnish sample,
therefore, the studied relationship are context-dependent and complex, meaning that the number of
factors must be considered when studying the EO-performance relationship in crisis, namely, the
industry firm operates in, the size of the firm, special features of the market and current situation on
the market in general.
Theoretical and practical implications
The thesis contributes to studies of the EO domain on Russian market, revealing the role of
entrepreneurial orientation for businesses in the context of crisis environment. The study has shown
how crisis influences the development of EO dimensions, how each of the dimensions help firms to
retain satisfactory performance even during the crisis and what is the role of EO in strategies of
Russian firms from different industries.
The outcomes of the study contribute to one of the statements of the theory of
unidimensional conceptualization of entrepreneurial orientation by finding evidence to the more
significant positive effect from synergy of high level of all three dimensions compared to the effect
from the sum of dimensions, developed on different levels. Evaluating each dimension of EO
individually, the study contributes to the multidimensional view of EO. The work provides
additional witnesses to the model of entrepreneurial orientation – performance relationship and
contributes to the course of studies, revealing moderating effect of the external environment of the
firm. Empirical evidences to the theories of crisis management in different companies were added.
The general contribution to the studies of special features of entrepreneurial orientation and each of
its dimensions in the context of emerging market was made.
Besides the theoretical contribution, the thesis results can be applied to the business practice.
From the practical point of view the results of the study are holding value for the owners of the
small and large businesses, which work in time of economic crisis. Decision-makers are seeking for
the effective ways of managing the company in conditions of economic crisis in the country and
current analysis of the experience of four firms, working in different industries, give evidences for
the issues of utilizing entrepreneurially oriented strategy during the crisis. In general, high level of
entrepreneurial orientation plays important role in overcoming the crisis. From the current study the
owners of the small firms, working in non-technological industries, can get support for the decision
to invest in proactiveness by trying different ways of development of the company and seizing each
opportunity the market offers.
The experience of two small firms in the study suggests that in crisis time implementation of
radical innovation would not be beneficial for the company, thus the scarce resources should rather
be directed on the implementation of large number of sure and reliable projects, able to satisfy
desires of the bigger part of the market. The crucial advantage may be achieved by anticipating the
demand, which would appear in the nearest future as a result of forthcoming changes in the external
environment, such as laws or competitors’ moves. The experience of studied companies suggests
that being the first to foresee these changes and address them by changes in the strategy in crisis
becomes especially important for the survival of the firms.
Additionally the decision-makers should consider the special features of the industry and the
main values of their customers in order to determine whether the risky decision should be taken, but
in general the reputational risk is not affordable for businesses in crisis, therefore, it is not
recommended to take risk-tolerant position.
However, for the large and medium stable companies the development of all three
dimensions both before and during the crisis leads to the increased performance. The experience of
the one case proves that this development may not necessarily be expensive for the company in
terms of financial investments. Risk-taking and innovativeness for technological companies is
highly applicable in time of the crisis. All in all, the study suggests that implementation of the bold
carefully calculated project, which combines features of innovativeness, risk-taking and
proactiveness, provides the firm increased performance, able to mitigate the negative effect of the
crisis and enables further long-term revenue increase and lead the firm to successful results even
despite of the effect of recession.
Limitations and further research development
This research has certain limitations. The most important one is getting the data from single
person in each company. It may result in an increased level of subjectivity of answers. Furthermore,
potential concern is that one person may not be competent enough in every single part of the
strategy. However, according to the opinion of Lumpkin, Dess and Lyon, expressed in their study of
2000, such research with the only one respondent from the company can be an appropriate way of
getting reliable results if it is performed in a careful way (Lumkin, Dess, Lyon, 2000). Since the
respondents, chosen to express the strategy of the company, are highly involved into the activity of
the companies and most of them are working in the company from its very beginning, this limitation
is not likely to influence reliability of results significantly.
Besides that, the results of the current study cannot explain longitude relationships between
studied concepts, because the data is considered from one point of time. Longitude research design
would be interesting to implement in future research to follow long-time trends in the studied
domain. Also it would be interesting to discover after-crisis effects of Entrepreneurial orientation
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APPENDIX. Interview guide
What is the name of the company?
How many years it was founded?
How many people are working in the company?
How would you characterize the industry company is working in?
What is your position in the company and how long are you taking it?
Level of EO:
Could you bring the examples of risky project the company has been engaged to for the
previous two years?
What were the results of these projects?
Do you consider risk-tolerance as applicable feature in time of economic crisis?
Could you bring the examples of innovations implemented for the last two years? What were
the results of these innovations?
What do you think about the implementation of innovations in crisis? Is it applicable and
What strategy does the company perceive in terms of competitors?
Could you bring the examples of situations when the company was ahead of its competitors
and took innovative position?
What instruments does the company use in order to anticipate the demand on its product or
How long this has this strategy been used?
The level of crisis influence:
What has changed for the company with the crisis? Could you bring the examples?
How many competitors had to leave the market because of the crisis?
What is the main factor of success for your company?
Which measures have helped the company to overcome the crisis?
Could you bring the examples of large changes in the company for the last two years? What
were the results?
Dynamism of the environment:
How often do the changes in the external environment happen? Could you bring the
examples of such changes?
Could you bring the examples of the situations when the company had to change the features
of the product (service) to fit the changes in desires of the consumers?
Is your product a subject of physical or moral obsolescence? How often does it happen?
How would you characterize the competition in your industry? Is it easy to predict the
actions of competitors and why?
How did the competition change for the last two years?
Performance of the company
How would you estimate the results of the company for the last two years compared to the
How did the demand for the product of the company change for the last two years compared
to the competitors?
How did the revenue change for the last two years compared to the competitors?
How would you estimate the growth of the company for the last two years compared to the