Researchers Mattias Axelson at Handelshögskolan (the Stockholm School of Economics) and Joakim Netz at Jönköping University are studying eight different companies, including H&M, Essity and Lantmännen, with the focus on how they managed to adapt so rapidly. There is a great deal of interest from the companies in taking part in the research.
”Just like the rest of society, companies’ initial reaction when the crisis struck was one of shock. This created a motivation to want to help. A consistent pattern was that these companies began using small, innovative teams in which management was strongly engaged. We believe that was a recipe for success,” says Mattias Axelson.
Several of the companies already had products that could be adapted to the new needs, but in many cases there was a different regulatory framework to consider. Producing nappies for the consumer market is not the same thing as making face masks for medical use, which have to conform to certain safety standards. Or, for that matter, the difference in regulations for making vodka and hand sanitiser.
”The companies saw this as a way of helping out during the crisis, and did so without even covering their costs. In the longer term, though, some business viability must be in place so we can rely on companies’ inclination to adapt in future crises as well,” says Joakim Netz.
The researchers have now turned their attention to interviews and analyses. Further workshops will be organised in the autumn, as well as a bigger concluding seminar during next year. The project is one of seven coronavirus-related projects that were ”fast-tracked” to realisation by MSB Research in the spring.