Enacting a Grand Challenge for Business and Society: Theorizing Issue Maturation in the Media-Based Public Discourse on COVID-19 in Three National Contexts

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


While today it is universally acknowledged that COVID-19 has generated immense challenges for businesses and societies worldwide, public perceptions varied significantly at the time of the pandemic’s initial appearance, even among democratic societies with comparable media systems. The growing scholarship on grand societal challenges in management and organization studies, however, tends to neglect the initial social construction of issues as complex, uncertain, evaluative, and widespread. We address this shortcoming by exploring the initial communicative enactment of COVID-19 in the media-based public discourse in Switzerland, Germany, and the United Kingdom. By applying a social problem work lens, we identify three mechanisms that explain the maturation of COVID-19 into a grand challenge, further showing how these are contextually dependent on differences in discourse quality. We add to research on grand challenges, issue maturation, and framing dynamics by theorizing how issues become constructed and acknowledged as grand challenges in the first place.

ZeitschriftBusiness and Society
Anzahl der Seiten51
PublikationsstatusElektronische Veröffentlichung vor Drucklegung - 28.07.2022

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Andreas Georg Scherer and Bennet Schwoon disclose the receipt of financial support for the research, authorship and publication of this article from the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant No. 100018_165699) and express their gratitude for this funding.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.