Realization of Entrepreneurial Intentions in Global Crises: A Qualitative Study


  • Alexander Neff Ferdinand Steinbeis Institute
  • Tanja Würthner Ferdinand Steinbeis Institute
  • Patrick Weber Ferdinand Steinbeis Institute
  • Daniel Werth Ferdinand Steinbeis Institute



Entrepreneurship, Crisis, Wholesale, Collaboration, Market


Managers have at least two social roles in their job position: One is to keep the business running while the other role searches for entrepreneurial opportunities to exploit. Both roles have one aspect in common: the security of the organization’s existence, in short term as manager and in long term as entrepreneur. Our paper compares entrepreneurial intentions - the mental preparation to follow entrepreneurial goals – as well as the realization of these intentions in crises. The research question is: how do global crises affect the realization of entrepreneurial intentions? The approach is explorative, describes four directions of entrepreneurial intentions and what happened during their realization. We conducted two qualitative interview series, partly structured with two sequentially partly standardized guidelines, one in 2018/19 with 13 participants, the follow-up series in 2022/23 with 10 of the 13. The intentions of the interviews from 2018/19 were assigned to four directions: four of the wholesaling managers intended no to low collaboration in the familiar markets (direction I), four sought high collaboration in the familiar markets (II), two wanted no to low collaboration but to engage in unfamiliar markets (III), and three were looking for high collaboration in unfamiliar markets (IV). During the second interview series we confronted the participants with their intentions. The responses of 2022/23 show that global crises influenced the entrepreneurial intentions in different ways. Despite several crises between the two interview series, three wholesalers followed their intentions. All others changed directions. While some managers struggled with the situation and postponed or even discarded the intentions others saw new opportunities and exploited them. Consequently, it can be stated that crises can nevertheless maintain intentions and/or lead to new ideas. In times of a crisis, it is advisable to continue to keep both roles: the manager role must guide the company through the crisis, while at the same time ensuring its existence by exploiting opportunities as entrepreneur. For this purpose, we derived entrepreneurial paths from the results: (1) focus on existing business in familiar market, (2) expansion of the business segment in familiar market, (3) entering unfamiliar markets.