U of G Prof Awarded Funding to Study How Businesses Adapted to COVID-19


How have companies adopted new business models in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and how sustainable are these new models? Those are the questions new federally funded University of Guelph research will seek to answer.

Prof. Felix Arndt, the John F. Wood Chair in Entrepreneurship in the Department of Management in U of G’s Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, has received nearly $25,000 in new funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Engage Grants through a COVID-19 special initiative competition.

Arndt’s research seeks to understand how companies have responded to the sudden societal and economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While some businesses accelerated digitalization and e-commerce plans, others pivoted their core competencies, such as distilleries that leveraged their expertise in alcohol to produce hand sanitizer,” said Arndt. “I want to investigate these adaptations and what drove them. Did companies act out of economic necessity or because of their responsibility to society in helping to overcome the pandemic?”

Prof. Felix Arndt

His research will examine how businesses reacted, why they changed their business models and how sustainable those changes will be.

He will work with the Chamber of Commerce Guelph, which has already conducted several surveys of diverse local companies. Together they will develop, distribute and evaluate the results, which will not only provide academic value but also be directly relevant to businesses in the region and beyond.

“The COVID-19 crisis has caused fundamental changes to the market and businesses have had to quickly adapt,” said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research). “This research project will increase our understanding of how businesses are managing these challenges and ultimately give them the tools they need to recover and emerge from the crisis more robust than before.”

SSHRC Partnership Engage Grants provide short-term support for research involving post-secondary researchers and non-academic organizations. They are designed to inform decision-making and to respond to immediate needs and time constraints facing non-academic organizations.

Lloyd Longfield, Guelph MP, said: “During COVID, we have seen many local businesses pivot to Canada’s buy-and-sell network to provide PPE, ventilators and supply chain expertise for made-in-Canada solutions.  Others have embraced technology faster than they had planned or found ways to reach new markets. Social enterprises, not-for-profits and charities have been equally innovative in their response.  It is great to see the University of Guelph providing its research expertise to help us with lessons learned and contribute to building back better.”


Prof. Felix Arndt