Business Strategy
Leading in a VUCA World: Lessons from Covid-19

Article Details
Pub. Date : June' 2021
Product Name : The IUP Journal of Business Strategy
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJBS40621
Author Name : Neeraj Singhal
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Strategic Journals
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 6



The Wuhan Municipal Corporation reported the first case of coronavirus in China on December 31, 2019. After that, the virus spread across the globe. And as the pandemic caused by the coronavirus continues to spread, governments across the globe are having a difficult time in analyzing and predicting the course of the evolving situation. The first case of coronavirus in India was reported on January 30, 2020, post which the virus gradually spread its tentacles, forcing the government to declare a stringent lockdown on March 24, 2020. While the pandemic is a global problem, it is all the more severe in India given the large population base of 1.3 billion people. The other challenge is limited medical resources per capita population base. The leadership has to contain the spread of the virus and at the same time upgrade its medical infrastructure to deal with the disease. This paper is an effort to map leadership initiatives in the context of VUCA, an acronym which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, to fight the coronavirus.


The coronavirus originated from Wuhan in China, and the first case was reported on December 31, 2019. Till date, 215 countries have reported coronavirus cases, and India is one of them. The first case in the country was reported on January 30, 2020. And even now, the pandemic remains uncontrolled. Presently India has the largest number of infection cases in Asia and second after the US across the globe with 8 million reported cases. More than 7 million patients recovered, but 1 lakh deaths were also reported. India has reported the highest number of tests conducted on a daily basis by mid-2020 across the globe. The government faces a two-pronged problem: one, to reduce the spread of the virus and two, to upgrade the medical infrastructure to provide patient care.

The origin and impact of coronavirus can be interpreted using the acronym VUCA, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Bennis and Nanus (1985) describe VUCA and explain it using the Leadership theory. The term was first used in the context of Army War College in 1987; the point of reference was how leaders describe chaotic, turbulent, and rapidly changing environment and strategize to overcome uncertainties.

VUCA in the Context of the Coronavirus
Bennett and Lemoine (2014) explained VUCA in the business context and also suggested leadership action in the same context. The coronavirus remains a mystery to the entire globe; VUCA can be used to shed light on it; the same is described in Table 1.