Resilience at the Base of the Pyramid: Digital Technologies and Entrepreneurial Response to Crisis in Indian Micro-Ventures

Aparajita Agarwal, PhD Candidate, The Wharton School and Tyler Wry, Management, The Wharton School

Abstract: Micro-ventures in emerging economies are often highly vulnerable to shocks. They neither have the slack resources nor a supporting organization structure to buffer them from disruptions. Academic enquiry into the response and resilience of such enterprises in emerging economies is fairly limited. In this paper, we examine how new digital technologies affect the learning and adaptation process of these ventures, their search for alternative courses and formulation of potential responses in response to disruptions. Through a field-survey across 200 villages in India, we study the access to and usage of digital technologies and response of over 1000 micro-entrepreneurs to business disruptions caused by COVID-19. We show that new technologies can affect allow entrepreneurs to pursue opportunity seeking behavior that results in wider and deeper information search leading to more pivots and greater resilience in the face of crisis.