Responding to information asymmetry in crisis situations: Innovation in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic

Wendy Phillips, Jens K. Roehrich, Dharm Kapletia

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Crises test the resilience of public service organizations. Healthcare providers must respond and innovate within tight constraints to address challenges. Presenting COVID-19 as a knowable unknown (black swan event), we adopt information processing theory to investigate how healthcare providers and their suppliers address information asymmetry to support decision-making. Building on primary and secondary datasets, we demonstrate managers were innovating internal structural responses. For black swan events, in-house ‘intelligent clients’ are intrinsic not only in managing information uncertainty associated with early stages of the crisis, but also in addressing information equivocality and joint decision-making with other organizations associated with implementing solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-198
Number of pages24
JournalPublic Management Review
Issue number1
Early online date6 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

This journal is now an ABS4 journal.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under Grant EP/M017559/1 and EP/T014970/1.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Crisis situation
  • information asymmetry
  • information processing
  • innovation
  • pandemic
  • public services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration


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