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

7 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


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
Pages (from-to)473-500
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Product Innovation Management
Issue number2
Early online date13 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

This research was supported by Queen Mary University of London, UK.

Data Availability Statement

Additional supporting information can be found online in the Supporting Information section at the end of this article.


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


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