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What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know about COVID-19’s Implications on Business Economics? From Bibliometric Analysis to a Conceptual Framework

School of Management, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou 310023, China
School of Management, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2022, 14(11), 6396;
Submission received: 2 April 2022 / Revised: 13 May 2022 / Accepted: 14 May 2022 / Published: 24 May 2022


This paper presents a bibliometric analysis of COVID-19-related research in business economics. The current status of research on economic management in COVID-19 is shown through descriptive statistics. The corresponding knowledge maps are obtained based on keyword clustering analysis, and research topics of interest to Chinese and foreign readers are identified. This paper finds that the impact of COVID-19 on business economics is mainly manifested in six major themes, namely COVID-19 and crisis management, COVID-19 and supply chain, COVID-19 and digitalization, COVID-19 and economic development, COVID-19 and organizational management, and COVID-19 and sustainable development. Based on these research foundations, this paper proposes a research framework for economic management under the influence of COVID-19. It describes the current research status, research directions, and future topics of six key research themes from macro, meso, and micro perspectives, to provide a knowledge base for research and practice in the field of economic management in the post-pandemic era.

1. Introduction

COVID-19 is one of the most devastating events that the world has collectively faced in recent years, severely affecting the health of all humans, and impeding the normal functioning of society as a whole. Organizations of different forms and sizes have responded to the crisis created by the COVID-19 outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) coordinated human, material, and financial resources to promote global cooperation in the outbreak to protect the lives and health of all human beings. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is concerned with the impact of COVID-19 on trade activities. In academia, scholars in different fields are also concerned with the impact of COVID-19 on various sectors of society as a whole and try to provide a knowledge base for responding to the epidemic through theoretical studies and practical case studies.
Bibliometric analysis has been developed over time and has become a popular research method. Through the bibliometric analysis of a specific field, the current research hotspots can be grasped, which helps to develop in-depth research on important topics. At the same time, it can also reflect the research field’s development trend and help develop academic frontier research [1,2]. Several research papers based on bibliometric analysis have emerged from thematic studies of COVID-19. Several scholars analyzed specific fields or topics using bibliometric literature. The use of government relief programs by construction companies in response to COVID-19 pandemic delays is necessary to achieve continued safety and productive operations [3]. As representatives of the sectors most affected by the epidemic, tourism and hospitality found sustainability perceptions therein focused on the perceptions of tourists, stakeholders, and residents. The geographical constraints of the epidemic have shifted many activities from offline to online; more specifically, within the education sector, in the post-epidemic era, more emphasis may be placed on providing more targeted and effective educational approaches to students at different academic levels [4].
The impact of COVID-19 has been broad and sustained. A growing number of scholars are aware of the enormous implications of COVID-19 on companies. This impact is manifested in various aspects such as the business environment, economic system, business operation, corporate governance, and crisis management. Because of this, the number of COVID-19-related articles related to business economics is high and still shows a significant growth trend [2]. This has attracted the attention of the business field and sparked discussions across scientific fields. Based on global management, leadership, and administration themes, COVID-19 was analyzed to promote sustainability in scientific research [5]. Corporate governance and responsible communication became essential for dealing with risk response in new contexts by maintaining social distance [6]. Educators and students face a widespread and urgent shift to online teaching and learning platforms in education. From a management perspective, educational entities should use the crisis to digitize themselves further [7]. A review of crises, including COVID-19, from 2010 to the present, thus suggest future research topics such as crisis prevention and preparedness, risk communication, crisis management education and training, risk assessment, and crisis events in the context of COVID-19 [8].
Much of the current analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on specific fields has focused on general statistical descriptive analysis of the relevant literature in English databases. Several studies showed some research hotspots and underlying themes from a bibliometric analysis of earlier data. However, there are cases where the research samples are not comprehensive enough, and the research frameworks are not well developed. Therefore, this paper will integrate relevant research publications from both English and Chinese databases to identify research topics in economic management. Based on a relatively complete sample of studies, important topics of common interest in English and Chinese journals will be summarized, and differences in attracting Chinese and international readers will be discussed. This paper will propose a research framework and suggest corresponding propositions and future research topics. The primary purpose is to make a bibliometric analysis of the Chinese and English publications containing COVID-19 to provide a knowledge base for theory and practice in the field of economic management. The first part will introduce the impact of COVID-19 and the related research background, emphasizing the need for this study. The second part will introduce the research methodology and bibliometric results. The third part will analyze the research themes in business economics in the context of COVID-19 and introduce the research framework proposed in this paper. The paper will conclude with a summary and discussion.
Much of the current analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on specific fields has focused on general statistical descriptive analysis of the relevant literature in English databases. Several studies showed some research hotspots and underlying themes from a bibliometric analysis of earlier data. However, there are cases where the research samples are not comprehensive enough, and the research frameworks are not well developed. Therefore, this paper will integrate relevant research publications from English and Chinese databases to identify research topics in economic management. Based on a relatively complete sample of studies, it will summarize essential issues of common interest in English and Chinese journals. In addition, it will discuss the differences in attracting Chinese and international readers. This paper will propose a research framework and suggest corresponding propositions and future research topics. The primary purpose is to make a bibliometric analysis of the Chinese and English publications containing COVID-19 to provide a knowledge base for theory and practice in economic management.
The specific structure of this paper is divided into four main sections. The first part will introduce the impact of COVID-19 and the related research background, emphasizing the need for this study. The second part will present the research methodology and bibliometric results. The third part will analyze the research themes in business economics in the context of COVID-19 and introduce the research framework proposed in this paper. It will conclude with a summary and discussion.

2. Methodology and Results

In this paper, we mainly use CiteSpace and VOS Viewer software as a bibliometric analysis tool to identify the current status of research and critical topics in economic management by analyzing the keyword clustering method. The methodological procedure is shown in Figure 1. This paper collects and organizes the sample data required for this study through five steps: specifying the search terms, selecting the search scope, setting the qualifying conditions, processing the search results, and identifying the sample literature.
The search terms are mainly related to COVID-19, such as 2019 novel coronavirus, 2019 Novel Coronavirus Diseases, 2019nCoV, and SARS-CoV-2. The search scope and qualifying conditions were mainly the selection of databases, research fields, and publication types. The China Knowledge Network (CNKI) is the largest Chinese database, and scholars usually choose this database as the primary data source when conducting bibliometric analysis of Chinese literature. This paper selected CNKI as the Chinese literature source. Scopus and Web of Science (WoS) were also in the core collection. Both databases are high-quality peer-reviewed online citation databases, and some studies use the former as the primary source of data for bibliometric analysis, while others use the latter as the primary source of data for bibliometric analysis. It is worth mentioning that there are similarities and differences in the literature between these two databases, and some scholars tend to use both databases as the primary data source and perform data processing, such as merging duplicates to improve the quantity and quality of data [2,7,9,10]. This paper selected Scopus and WoS core collection as the foreign language literature source.
The time limit is from 1 January 2020 to 8 March 2022, and the types of publication are mainly “Article” or “Review”. Due to the duplication of the search results and the relevance to the topic, 3854 Chinese and 15,068 English sample documents were obtained after further sorting. The number of publications showed an upward trend, with 3697 sample papers in Chinese and English in 2020, increasing to 11,235 in 2021. There is also an overall upward trend in terms of the quality of publications. With 50 publications in ABS three-star and above journals in 2020, increasing to 300 in 2021, and 72 already in the first quarter of 2022.
Analysis of the journal sources of publications shows that some representative journals have been formed in the Chinese and English fields. By distinguishing between consecutive publications in Chinese and English, it helps us differentiate between articles that appeal to Chinese or international readers. In this way, we can identify similarities and differences in the interests of Chinese and international readers. The similarities are reflected infocus on the impact of COVID-19. Still, the differences lie in the tendency of Chinese readers to discuss it in a Chinese context, focusing on institutional-related effects. In contrast, international readers tend to focus on a larger, richer perspective, focusing on operations-related impacts.
Among the Chinese journals, China Finance has the most significant number of publications with 374 articles, mainly discussing the epidemic’s impact on financial policies, financial operations, and financial practices. Much research focuses on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), calling for more excellent policy support, accelerated financial technology development, and optimized industrial layout to crack the financing and risk control challenges SMEs face under the epidemic’s impact [11,12,13].
Among the English journals, Economic and Political Weekly had the most significant number of articles, with 211 articles mainly discussing the implications of the COVID-19 on the economy. Overall, there is a concentration on Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Journal of Applied Psychology, and Tourism Management, focusing on the social, industrial, technological, and psychological impacts. The Journal of Business Research, noting the dramatic changes in business behavior and consumer behavior patterns, launched particular pandemic-related research examining various aspects of consumer behavior, business performance, and corporate social responsibility in different industry sectors, such as tourism and retail [14].
Literature citations can reflect the academic recognition and educational value of research content. We found representative publications based on citation frequency. It can be found that the primary source of these representative publications is Tourism Management. The COVID-19 epidemic has considerably impacted the tourism industry and has attracted much attention and discussion among scholars. These studies mainly analyze the effects of COVID-19 on tourism, and coping strategies call for increased attention to organizational resilience, supply chain resilience, and psychological resilience.
In this paper, co-word analysis was performed using VOS Viewer software. When analyzing the Chinese sample literature, we add the translation into English to our pre-processing process. For example, in the co-occurrence analysis of the Chinese sample literature, we will first unify the expressions such as synonyms and singular-plural in the Chinese keywords and then translate these collated keywords into corresponding English. Finally, the co-occurrence map of the keywords will be derived after setting the threshold value. In this way, we hope to present the discussion of the impact of the New Crown Pneumonia epidemic on economic management in Chinese journals to international studies and analyze the development process of economic management research in the context of the New Crown Pneumonia epidemic more comprehensively.
When the threshold value was set to 10, the keyword clustering profiles in Chinese and English journals were obtained. Figure 2 and Figure 3 reflect the hot spots of interest to Chinese and international readers, respectively. Among them, there are six research themes concerning national governance: global supply chain, global value chain, small and medium-sized enterprises, digitalization, and sustainable development in Chinese journals, and six research hotspots of COVID-19 and crisis management: supply chain, digital technology, economic development, social welfare, and organizational management in English journals.
A comparative analysis shows that the global readers’ points of interest in COVID-19-relatedtopics in the economic and business field can be divided into macro, meso, and micro levels. All of them pay great attention to supply chain and digitalization sustainability. However, the points of interest of Chinese and international readers are also different. Chinese readers focus more on the institutional impact, while international readers focus more on the operational implications. After reading the literature and analyzing the research, we summarized and obtained the research frontiers in the field of economic management under the influence of COVID-19, which are COVID-19 and crisis management, COVID-19 and supply chain, COVID-19 and digitalization, COVID-19 and economic development, COVID-19 and organizational management, and COVID-19 and sustainable development.

3. Conceptual Framework and Future Research Agenda

This paper analyzes the six research themes of COVID-19 and crisis management, COVID-19 and supply chain, COVID-19 and digitalization, COVID-19 and economic development, COVID-19 and organizational management, and COVID-19 and sustainable development from three perspectives: macro, meso and micro, and proposes corresponding propositions and future research topics.
We hope that by sorting the knowledge structure in this way, we propose a research framework that will be informative for future research and practice. To present the research themes and important topics from different perspectives more clearly, we organized them in Table 1. The discussion of these research topics will help us meet the challenges of the post-epidemic era and help us have a general direction of thinking when facing similar exceptional situations.

3.1. COVID-19 and Crisis Management

The COVID-19 epidemic is a significant public health emergency, which has caused severe impacts on life and health, social operation, and economic development, and has put forward new requirements for crisis management at macro, meso, and micro levels. It should be noted that different stages of epidemic development also have additional requirements for crisis management. In the post-epidemic era, a macroeconomic control strategy that focuses on the balance of stable growth and risk prevention should be actively promoted to achieve the goal of high-quality development [15]. With the normalization of epidemic prevention and control, attention to institutional construction needs to be enhanced and the focus on policy efficiency.
At the macro level, the government advanced the prevention and control of the new pneumonia epidemic while safeguarding economic development through macro-control measures. At the organizational level, resilience under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial. For organizations, theoretical foundations, such as organizational adaptation theory, psychological capital and relational resources, and organizational resilience help to cope with crises, and it is necessary to conduct research on organizational resilience and explore the ways of and mechanisms for building organizational resilience to help companies respond more effectively to unexpected environmental challenges [16]. The external policy environment and the internal managerial level can influence crisis management [17,18].
COVID-19 has affected a wide range of industries across the globe. We take the global tourism industry as an example. From the perspective of extrinsic impact, epidemic prevention and control measures have restricted the movement of people, causing a significant impact on industries, such as tourism, that rely heavily on the movement of people [19]. From the perspective of intrinsic impacts, the severity and susceptibility to infection of the epidemic triggered public fear of travel [20]. These extrinsic and inherent influences will not only exist during the pandemic, but even when the epidemic improves and extraneous effects such as travel policy restrictions diminish. The public may still change their travel plans due to health concerns even though they have some desire to travel. A comprehensive analysis of the factors affecting the industry during the epidemic will help target initiatives for industry recovery. Based on this research and analysis, the following future research questions are proposed in this paper.
Q1: In the post-epidemic era, how to we strengthen institutional construction and enhance policy efficiency?
Q2: What are the influencing factors, implementation paths and recovery effects of various industries in recovering from the epidemic crisis?
Q3: How do we build resilience for different types and sizes of organizations?

3.2. COVID-19 and Supply Chain

The global spread of COVID-19 severely hampered the normal functioning of the supply chain. A quarter of international commerce is due to conduction through the global supply chain [21]. Under the epidemic’s impact, multiple parts of the supply chain were hindered, resulting in the dilemma of difficulty in coping with the global crisis. Under the influence of COVID-19, there is a need to rethink the construction and management of supply chain resilience. Supply chain resilience helps to cope with global public crises.
From the crisis management process perspective, we showed that maintaining partnerships, business continuity, and financial sustainability are necessary risk mitigation measures when in a crisis [22,23]. When dealing with future global situations, an integrated supply chain structure and a more interconnected approach to supply chain management can combine supply and demand markets, international management, network perspectives, and systems thinking with supply chain management to effectively respond to crises with large-scale supply chain disruptions [24].
A local disruption in the supply chain affects the entire supply chain network, the “ripple effect” that usually occurs in supply chain management. Supply chains’ forward and backward disruption propagation differ in coping strategies and network impact. Furthermore, individual firm performance, with forwarding disruption propagation, typically is mitigated by substitution and backup supply and has a more significant impact on firms serving assembly roles and supply/assembly networks, while backward disruption propagation typically is mitigated by flexible operations and distribution and has a more substantial effect on firms operating distribution roles and distribution networks with more significant impact [25].
Supply chain management at the macro level involves the cooperation of many different types of actors, such as governments, industry associations, and firms. At the meso-level, when multiple supply chain networks collaborate on short- and medium-term supply chain risks, it is characterized by self-organization and dynamism, which helps build supply chain resilience [26]. At the micro-level, supply chain firm embedding is a concept of interest. The ability of large companies to integrate smaller companies into their supply chains is often seen as valuable. It is worth noting that this value is more evident in response to a pandemic crisis [27]. Multinational firms in advanced economies mainly use flexible sustainability governance mechanisms in their supply chain management to enhance their effectiveness in responding to emergencies such as epidemics by improving their strategic agility [28]. From the perspective of internalization theory, multinational enterprises establish multisectoral partnerships and alternative supply chains as an effective management strategy. Based on this research and analysis, the following future research questions are proposed in this paper.
Q1: How do we build a global supply chain under economic globalization?
Q2: How do we build a resilient supply chain in the post-epidemic era?
Q3: How do different subjects play a role in supply chain management?

3.3. COVID-19 and Digitalization

With the development and application of new-generation information technology, digitalization has gradually blurred the boundary between technology and management, prompting the formation of new business models combined with digitalization in the business environment. The emergence of the COVID-19 has intensified the impact on the business environment. It triggered the thinking of digitization in the context of the epidemic. There is a consensus on the great value of big data in economic management research, which also positively influenced managers and policymakers in the global crisis response related to COVID-19 [29,30]. We suggest that there is an interaction between digitization and COVID-19. Digitization plays a pivotal role in the epidemic prevention and control process. At the same time, the crisis response to the COVID-19 has driven the digitalization process.
On the one hand, digitalization plays an active role in outbreak prevention and control. Digital infrastructure innovation helps to respond to global public health emergency governance [31]. Digital management enhances the innovation of governance models, the science of governance methods, and the timeliness of governance paths, which provides strong support for epidemic prevention and control. When considering the resumption of work and production post-epidemic, digital management capability is one of the main influencing factors [32]. Digital infrastructure provides a digital environment for digital innovation. The importance of digital innovation and digital transformation is becoming increasingly significant. Digital innovation is an emerging area in innovation management research, and epidemic-oriented digital innovations emerged in the epidemic response. In the innovation case of the “Health Code”, the division of roles in research innovation ecology is discussed, and the innovation model of “startups showing mistakes-platform companies empowering-local policy coordination” is summarized [33]. Government measures, digital technology, and social media impact consumer behavior [10]. It is not difficult to appreciate the importance of digital transformation during the epidemic response. China’s digital transformation has already achieved some milestones, and it should continue to follow the path of digital transformation in the post-epidemic era. Scholars in economics and management analyze digitalization’s theoretical contributions and practical implications through epidemic response.
On the other hand, the COVID-19 has accelerated organizational virtualization [34,35] and digital transformation [36,37].The characteristics of COVID-19, such as susceptibility and mode of transmission, have caused practitioners and scholars to think about changes in business behavior while triggering innovation and changes in business models. COVID-19 enhanced the triggers of digital engagement and accelerated the digitalization of shopping activities. Induced consumer fears and pessimism about the epidemic, thus affecting the frequency of mobile shopping and placing new demands on the transformative capacity of digital technologies and socioeconomic adaptability during crises [38,39]. In the case of retailing, the importance of interface touch for inferring product information or the pleasure of interacting with the product [40] increases the intentions to use smartphones for shopping and consumption [41]. In the case of education, for example, numerous schools around the world adopted online learning during the COVID-19 outbreak, and ICTs have been positively associated with operations management teaching practices in emerging economies [42]. The digital competency of both educators and students is becoming increasingly important [43]. Based on the social capital theory, internal and external digital knowledge sharing was a significant predictor of creative performance in work-at-home situations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and increased use of digital platforms helped improve innovative performance [44]. Based on this research and analysis, the following future research questions are proposed in this paper.
Q1: How do we implement digital governance in the normalization of epidemic prevention and control?
Q2: How can different industries and enterprises take the path of digital transformation in the post-epidemic era?
Q3: What is the role of digital technologies and digital platforms in responding to epidemic public crisis events?

3.4. COVID-19 and Economic Growth

The widespread impact and rapid spread of the COVID-19 are characteristics that disrupt the business environment, disrupt the global value chain, and hinder economic development. Under the effects of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, MSMEs face difficulties such as insufficient cash flow and problems in resuming work. Although a series of supportive policies were introduced at the government level, there is still a high risk of financial vulnerability of enterprises and a low penetration rate of credit offers. Therefore, it is imperative to improve policy efficiency in various aspects, such as demand management policy, supply service policy, income policy, and human capital reserve policy [45]. We believe that we need to pay attention to the impact of COVID-19 on economic development and the differences with different types, natures, scales, and other conditions.
The performance of financial markets during the COVID-19 crisis has been widely discussed. The inconvenient yield on treasuries, measured by the spread between the treasury and overnight indexed swap rates, and the distance between dealers’ reverse repo and repo rates, should have been highly positive [46]. The interaction of endogenous risk intolerance and monetary policy in the aftermath of a significant recessionary shock decreases the share of the wealth of risk-tolerant agents as asset prices decline. This decline reduces risk tolerance in the market and triggers a downward cycle in asset prices and aggregate demand when interest rate policy is constrained [47]. In terms of stock returns, firms controlled by families, large corporations, and governments perform better, while those with greater ownership by hedge funds and other asset management firms perform worse [48].
The epidemic’s impact is somewhat heterogeneous in geography, institutions, and industries. Epidemic shocks inspired scholars to consider the relationship between location and strategy. Firms’ choices and actions are determined by, and also influence, the spatial patterns of economic activity [49,50]. There is a positive relationship between firm disruptiveness and COVID-19 concerns, with industry dynamism acting as a negative moderator of this relationship. In the case of Chinese firms, these relationships were not significant. Further analysis using a thematic model suggests that the firm–government relationship accounts for this difference [51]. Pandemics have a significant negative impact on local credit, with soft government interventions and delayed reopening having a positive effect. In contrast, complicated government interventions and early reopening have negatively impact [52]. Market volatility and market sentiment had an unequal impact on the returns of biopharmaceutical companies before and during COVID-19, and the volatility behavior was different, with contagion effects between both companies and technology markets during COVID-19 [53]. Based on these research contents and analysis, the following future research questions are posed.
Q1: What are the impacts of the COVID-19 on the global value chain and business environment?
Q2: What degree of variation exists in the epidemic’s impact on institutions, industries, geography, and culture?
Q3: How can appropriate policies be developed to promote economic development post-epidemic?

3.5. COVID-19 and Organization Management

The impact of COVID-19 on organizational management is extensive and profound. On the one hand, new scenarios for organizational management due to the effects of the epidemic, new thinking about increased uncertainty in international business, and new forms of organizational management, mainly virtual teams, have been formed. In a post-COVID-19 world, global virtual teams are critical to companies’ international success due to the increasing reliance on virtual work. A fundamental challenge for companies in this new remote work environment is the need to measure the performance of individuals in global virtual teams, yet in contrast to objective measures of individual skills, the prestige of the countries in which team members are based must also be considered. Economic development can affect the performance assessment of global virtual teams [54].
On the other hand, it gives new connotations to traditional topics in organizational management, such as organizational performance, organizational cooperation, internationalization strategy, responsible innovation, entrepreneurship, etc. COVID-19 created a huge crisis for many companies, and it is a great challenge for both leaders and employees. Of course, not all companies will have difficulty meeting the challenges posed by COVID-19. The impact of an outbreak on firm performance is primarily through consumer perceptions of risk and the resilience of supply chain networks [55]. Organizational cooperation is a classic topic in organizational management research. This not only helps to optimize the theory of cross-organizational cooperation but also helps to improve the practice of emergency management. There is the potential role of flexible organizational design and top management teams for crisis management [56]. It is essential to take prompt and effective measures in the early stages. Based on attribution theory, compensatory actions by the company and care by the CEO help stakeholders build positive emotions [57].
Entrepreneurship is closely related to economic and social development and has a vital role and significance, yet it was hindered in the COVID-19 crisis [58]. Responsible innovation helps companies address the COVID-19. Corporate governance models for responsible innovation and sustainability are an important topic. Alternative participatory and reflective governance forms can help address social and environmental challenges facing society [59]. The relationship between CSR and stock returns during pandemic-related crises is much more positive when CSR is aligned with the institutional environment of the company [60].
COVID-19 has significant long-term implications for globalization, and the reconfiguration of global value chains will lead to a less globalized world economy [61]. A partial slowdown in globalization growth, caused in part by de-industrialization, could exacerbate anti-globalization thinking and create uncertainty about international business in a post-pandemic era [62]. MNEs can respond to risks through alternative cross-border business strategies and emerging technologies [63]. MNEs have had to change or develop new country- and firm-specific advantages, reshape their FDI, focus on supply chain networks, and emphasize regional strategies and localization [64].
Drawing on the theoretical perspective of stakeholders, we selected four typical stakeholders, namely government, hotel managers, hotel employees, and consumers, to discuss and analyze organizational management in the tourism industry. Government support not only helps to improve the business’s financial situation but also contributes to the recovery of tourism by enhancing the perception that overall organizational justice will have a positive effect [65,66]. For hotel managers, active corporate social responsibility to help the government solve accommodation problems during the epidemic prevention and control also helps to improve the reputation of the hotel [67]. For hotels and their staff management, the association between job satisfaction and organizational commitment is significantly negatively affected by the ethical climate of the hotel [65]. Through negativity bias, travel restrictions negatively affected behavioral preferences, and consumers’ behavioral intentions were significantly influenced by negativity bias [66]. Stakeholder solidarity is highly relevant during an epidemic [67]. Based on the content and analysis of these studies, the following future research questions are posed in this paper.
Q1: What are the implications of the COVID-19 for the theory and practice of organizational management in digital globalization?
Q2: What are the new reflections on traditional topics in organizational management in the post-epidemic era?
Q3: What insights have emerged from the cases of organizational management under the impact of the epidemic?

3.6. COVID-19 and Sustainable Development

The health and economic threats posed by the COVID-19 have limited trade, product transactions, service transactions, capital flows, and population movements [68], severely impacted consumer and market responses [69,70], and unemployment and inflation rates have a negative impact [71], with a drastic effect on already elusive equality. Therefore, while consolidating epidemic prevention and control, attention should also be paid to inequality under the epidemic from the perspective of sustainable development, seeking to address the relationship between economic development and social well-being in the post-epidemic era.
COVID-19 prevention and control enhanced social well-being and mitigated the damage caused by the epidemic. COVID-19 has shifted a great deal of work from telecommuting and learning to online education, changing the paradigm in people managing work and home life [72]. However, these new paradigms have also revealed some new problems. For older populations, long-term specific care needs are challenging to meet in outbreak prevention and control, leading to unequal outcomes in the health crisis following the COVID-19 outbreak [73]. For adolescents, unconventional management systems, living environments, and learning styles may impact health development and require a high level of attention to the mental health of adolescent populations. For the female population, the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on female academic productivity, especially in the early years of the pandemic, when the dramatic increase in teaching and administrative workloads, as well as the traditional family roles women assume when working from home, led to a significant decline in female research output [74].
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the global economy is occurring in the context of slowing growth and widening inequality. A new approach to environmentally sustainable and inclusive development is urgently needed [73,75], and an integrated government response policy underpinned by containment health measures and economic relief is essential to gaining public trust and support. When developing a strategic plan for risk management in nonprofit organizations, attention needs to be paid to financial, interpersonal, and alliance vulnerabilities. It comes from nonprofit organizations attracting and retaining human and physical resources and collaborative building relationships in local contexts that help nonprofit managers deal with complex inter-organizational factors and uncertainty in program contexts to ensure the social impact desired by stakeholders [76].
Based on these research contents and analysis, this paper poses the following future research questions.
Q1: How do we address the relationship between economic development and social well-being after the epidemic’s impact?
Q2: How do we alleviate the inequalities generated or exacerbated in epidemic prevention and control?
Q3: How do we enhance social well-being in the post-epidemic era?

4. Discussion and Conclusions

This study conducted a bibliometric analysis based on a sample of 18,922 documents from representative databases in Chinese and English using VOS Viewer software. Based on the general statistical descriptive analysis, this paper focuses on six major research themes in the field of economic management under the influence of COVID-19, namely COVID-19 and crisis management, COVID-19 and supply chain, COVID-19 and digitalization, COVID-19 and economic development, COVID-19 and organizational management, and COVID-19 and sustainable development.
In the research of each topic, there are usually three perspectives: macro, meso, and micro. This paper proposes a research framework that integrates six themes and three perspectives and suggests topics that need to be focused on in post-epidemic research. We should learn valuable lessons from the crisis response in the crisis management theme. These lessons demonstrate the need to continuously improve policy efficiency and organizational resilience so that we can better contribute to industry recovery in the post-epidemic era. In the COVID-19 and Supply Chain theme study, there is an increased focus on supply chain resilience and strategic agility. In the COVID-19 and digitalization study, we need to focus on the interactions between the two. In the COVID-19 and Economic Development theme, we found the message that uncertainty in the business environment is inevitable, with a particular focus on the development of SMEs. IntheCOVID-19 and Organizational Management study, we need to consider both the new context of organizational management created by the epidemic’s impact and strengthen new thinking on classic topics. In COVID-19 and sustainable development, the focus should be on increasing inequality or emerging inequalities.
Of course, there are still some limitations to this study. First, the results of the bibliometric analysis are not comprehensive enough. Considering that this is an emerging research field, some literature focused on bibliometric analysis. WoS and Scopus were used in this paper, and while bibliometric studies are widely and commonly available databases, there are a few more options for peer-reviewed online citation databases. For example, in Chinese, there is the Wanfang Database. Other databases in English are Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier, Wiley Online Library, SpringerLink, Proquest Dissertations & Theses, etc. The data sources are constantly updated, so this paper has fewer descriptions of the bibliometric results and fails to fully demonstrate the current research status. Second, there is a particular subjectivity in the distillation of the research topic. We are aware that the impact of COVID-19 on business is not only discussed in journals in the field of economics and business but also the discussion of the effects of COVID-19 on other fields, involving research perspectives such as in business management and business operations. The addition of cross-disciplinary knowledge is still enhanced in the follow-up. Finally, the research framework has not been sufficiently justified. This aspect can be improved and discussed in future studies.
Overall, this paper describes the current state of research in economic management under the impact of COVID-19 and identifies and analyzes six crucial research themes. On this basis, this paper proposes a framework for future research. It describes the research directions and topics that need to be focused on in the post-epidemic era. It will help provide a knowledge base for economic management research and epidemic impact research and valuable references for related theoretical development and practice.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, Z.Z.; Formal analysis, Z.Z.; Funding acquisition, H.X.; Methodology, Z.Z.; Visualization, Z.Z.; Writing—original draft, Z.Z.; Writing—review & editing, H.X. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China grant number 71772163, Guangzhou Social Science Planning Project grant number 2020GZYB94, and Guangdong Provincial Philosophy and Social Science Planning Project grant number GD20CGL49. And The APC was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71772163).

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. Methodological procedures.
Figure 1. Methodological procedures.
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Figure 2. Keyword co-occurrence knowledge graphs in Chinese journals.
Figure 2. Keyword co-occurrence knowledge graphs in Chinese journals.
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Figure 3. Keyword co-occurrence knowledge graphs in English journals.
Figure 3. Keyword co-occurrence knowledge graphs in English journals.
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Table 1. Conceptual framework and agenda in business economics on post-COVID-19 era.
Table 1. Conceptual framework and agenda in business economics on post-COVID-19 era.
COVID-19 and Crisis Managementinstitution building,
policy efficiency
industry impact,
industry recovery
organizational collaboration,
organizational resilience
Proposition 1a: COVID-19 has triggered crises at macro, meso and micro levels, and specific strategies for crisis management need to be proposed from multiple levels, perspectives and subjects to reduce the negative impact of the epidemic crisis.
Proposition 1b: COVID-19 has similarities and differences in crisis response at macro, meso and micro levels, and the evaluation system of crisis management needs to be strengthened to improve the management level of crisis response.
COVID-19 and Supply Chainsupply chain resilience,
global supply chain
overall supply chain network,
supply chain dynamics
enterprise embeddedness,
strategic agility
Proposition 2a: The outbreak of the COVID-19 has severely impacted the global supply chain, requiring rethinking and adjusting the layout, construction and management of the supply chain to meet the long-term needs of social and economic development.
Proposition 2b: In the post-epidemic era, the layout of the supply chain should combine the dual advantages of globalization and localization, and strengthen the resilience, dynamism, and agility of the supply chain to enhance supply chain performance.
COVID-19 and Digitalizationdigital governance,
digital infrastructure
digital innovation,
digital transformation
digital technology,
digital platform
Proposition 3a: Digitalization plays an active role in preventing and controlling the COVID-19.
Proposition 3b: The COVID-19 has accelerated the process of digitalization.
COVID-19 and Economic Growthglobal value chain,
business environment
industry characteristics,
geographical distribution
corporate finance,
business loans
Proposition 4a: COVID-19 affects economic development, and in the post-epidemic era, attention should be paid to the differences in economic development at different levels and for different targets.
Proposition 4b: Economic development affects epidemic prevention and control, and targeted development initiatives are needed in the post-epidemic era to achieve harmonious development.
COVID-19 and Organization Managementresponsible innovation,
digital globalization
virtual team,
corporate social responsibility
corporate performance,
corporate governance
Proposition 5a: A new context of organizational management has emerged under the epidemic’s impact, requiring a rethinking of the generalizability of organizational management theory.
Proposition 5b: New requirements have emerged under the epidemic’s impact, and the feasibility of organizational management practices needs to be rethought.
COVID-19 and Sustainable Developmentinequality,
social well-being
online education,
work from home
digital literacy,
digital skills
Proposition 6a: The COVID-19 jeopardizes social well-being and requires a global response to public crisis events to safeguard social well-being.
Proposition 6b: The COVID-19 exacerbates the existing divide and requires a targeted response to enhance social well-being.
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Zhu, Z.; Xie, H. What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know about COVID-19’s Implications on Business Economics? From Bibliometric Analysis to a Conceptual Framework. Sustainability 2022, 14, 6396.

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Zhu Z, Xie H. What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know about COVID-19’s Implications on Business Economics? From Bibliometric Analysis to a Conceptual Framework. Sustainability. 2022; 14(11):6396.

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Zhu, Zhuoyue, and Hongming Xie. 2022. "What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know about COVID-19’s Implications on Business Economics? From Bibliometric Analysis to a Conceptual Framework" Sustainability 14, no. 11: 6396.

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