The COVID-19 Pandemic in the 4th Industrial Revolution: A Critical Review

The COVID-19 Pandemic in the 4th Industrial Revolution: A Critical Review

Abdulrahman Abdurazzag Abu Raas, Abdurazzag Ali Aburas
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5289-9.ch005
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In this research work, the concept of corporate entrepreneurship and the fourth industrial revolution were studied and analyzed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses and organizations of all scales and across all sectors worldwide to react by introducing or updating their services and products and the way they were delivered to the consumer. A critical review was done to understand how corporate entrepreneurship could be used in the fourth industrial revolution, and it was found, through the numerous examples analyzed, that COVID-19 accelerated the use of both concepts by businesses to successfully turn challenges into entrepreneurial opportunities.
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Ever since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the entire population everywhere around the world has had to change the way they work, study, build, interact, and live. The virus created various issues and presented challenges affecting every sector of society on every continent. Everywhere around the world, countries responded to the COVID-19 pandemic using imposing lockdowns to try and limit the virus’ transmission. This, of course, proved successful in decreasing the virus’ rate of transmission and infection (Belitski, Guenther, Kritikos & Thurik, 2021). Still, it came at a hefty cost for many countries and their populations, specifically, countries with fragile economies like many countries in Africa.

With lockdowns being imposed, people had to restrict their movement. This meant that shopping malls, shops, and entertainment venues like cinemas, gyms, and parks had to shut their doors to the public. Businesses of all sizes had to stop operating as offices were seen as super-spreaders of the virus (Belitski, Guenther, Kritikos & Thurik, 2021). The restaurant and the fast-food industry could not provide their services under these restrictions as fewer and fewer people went out to eat to stay safe from the virus.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic did not show any sign of slowing down even months after it had started. Some businesses and restaurants that could not cope with the challenges created by the pandemic went out of business. They had to lay off their employees, which resulted in many people losing their livelihoods. However, many other companies, restaurants, and shops strategically and swiftly made plans to cope with the current times. They try to find new, better ways to provide their products and services to stay afloat and persevere through the pandemic. All this caused the idea of entrepreneurship and corporate entrepreneurship to rise among the youth and corporations alike even more so than before.

Corporate entrepreneurship (also known as intrapreneurship), according to (Sakhdari, 2016), is any new activity, venture, product, service, or process created within an existing business or organization to generate new revenue or create value. (Kim, Trimi, Hong & Lim, 2020) stated that businesses and organizations taking input from consumers and outside factors to improve upon a product or service or create a new one entirely (which is the essence of the concept of corporate entrepreneurship) provides them with very positive results in their performance. It provides them with a significant strategic advantage. The research identified two primary and essential factors that play into an organization’s ability to thrive using corporate entrepreneurship: visibility and flexibility.

Vision allows the organization to see challenges long before they put the organization at a disadvantage, and flexibility provides them the methods to quickly respond to the challenge. Businesses had to find new and creative ways to develop their products and deliver their services to people even with the pandemic still in full force. To do that, businesses decided to utilize the rise of the 4(fourth) Industrial Revolution (4IR). Klaus Schwab, the creator of the term “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” in his book: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” states that 4IR is a new age where people around the world can move between the offline and digital realities. It is the combination and integration of technology of all types and advances of technology, including artificial intelligence. Internet of things, and 3D printing, among many others, with different disciplines (Schwab, 2018). With the tools that the fourth industrial revolution provides, businesses and organizations can tackle and face the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic introduced. The result is new opportunities created from the circumstances through corporate entrepreneurship, which will revive businesses and make them flourish throughout the pandemic and beyond and improve their country’s economy.

Another major problem the fourth industrial revolution can possibly tackle is the issue of inequality, especially in African countries such as South Africa. According to (Olaitan et al., 2021), the amount of inequality in Africa is large and still growing. 0.0001% own a little over one-third of all the wealth in Africa. In South Africa, over 50% of the youth are unemployed and the overall unemployment rate is extremely high reaching 29.1%. These issues all lead to a greater crime rate, an economic crisis, and a drastic decrease in the quality of life (Makamase, 2022). The fourth industrial revolution, if implemented and used correctly, can dramatically improve the issues of inequality that South Africa, and the African continent as a whole, face.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Inequality: Unjust distribution of opportunity and/or resources between individuals.

Fourth Industrial Revolution: A way to describe the blurring of the boundaries between the digital and physical worlds.

Pandemic: A global epidemic.

Corporate Entrepreneurship: The process to develop newer businesses, services, and/or products for further growth.

Internet of Things: Products that transfer sensor, processing results, or other data with other devices and/or systems over the internet.

COVID-19: A contagious virus caused by SARS-CoV-2.

Artificial Intelligence: Simulating intelligence in machines.

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