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Shifting gears amid COVID-19: information availability, pandemic imprints and firms’ PPE production

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Liu, Y 
Marquis, Christopher  ORCID logo


We examine the role of available information in imprinting processes and investigate how a significant environmental shock can have long-lasting effects on the future decision-making of corporate leaders. We argue that information about local infection rates of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 left a pandemic imprint on those who were young adults at that time. The more strongly imprinted corporate leaders would then be more alert to and respond faster to the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, a new but similar infectious disease. We study this connection by examining a sample of Chinese publicly traded firms’ initiation of personal protective equipment (PPE) production. We further argue that past informational factors, such as media sentiment regarding the SARS outbreak in 2003, and more recent contemporary informational factors, such as media sentiment about COVID-19 and online-reported population mobility from Wuhan, China, where the COVID-19 outbreak started, influenced the strength of the imprinting effects. Results support our hypotheses, and we discuss contributions to imprinting theory as well as the literature on media in authoritarian regimes.



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Journal of Management Studies

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