Grand Challenges and Emerging Market SMEs: The Role of Strategic Agility and Gender Diversity

Nadia Zahoor* (Corresponding Author), Huda Khan, Francis Donbesuur, Zaheer Khan, Tazeeb Rajwani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the role played by strategic agility and gender diversity in enabling the creation of value for grand challenges (VCGCs) by small and medium-sized enterprises originating from emerging markets (ESMEs). ESMEs face significant challenges due to the dynamic environments in which they
operate and the limited support they receive from formal institutions. In such contexts, strategic agility enables ESMEs to drive VCGCs through responsible collaborative innovation. We further argue that gender diversity is an important boundary condition that influences the effect of strategic agility on VCGCs via responsible collaborative innovation. Utilizing 228 survey responses from ESMEs
originating from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), our findings shed light on the vital role played by strategic agility in enhancing ESMEs’ VCGCs. Specifically, our findings indicate that responsible collaborative innovation acts as an important mediating mechanism between strategic agility and VCGCs. In addition, gender diversity emerges as an important moderating factor in that, in the presence
of more heterogeneous senior management teams, the effect of strategic agility on VCGCs through the mediating mechanism of responsible collaborative innovation is higher. These findings contribute to the literature on dynamic capabilities, upper echelons, and grand challenges by providing important
insights into the mechanisms and boundary conditions of VCGCs in the context of emerging market firms.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Product Innovation Management
Early online date13 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Feb 2023


  • emerging markets
  • gender diversity
  • grand challenges
  • responsible collaborative innovation
  • SMEs
  • Strategic agility


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