Rigidity in crisis: The impact of OHSAS 18001 certification on production repurposing during COVID-19

Yuxiao Ye, Shenyang Jiang, Di Fan, Baofeng Huo, Maggie Wenjing Liu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


It is important for firms to repurpose production responsively during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, to seize the market opportunity and create social value. However, occupational health and safety (OHS) can also be a concern in a crisis, and adherence to OHS management systems can undermine a firm's responsiveness in repurposing decision making. We adopt the “capability–rigidity” lens to construct a connection between OHS management standards (i.e., OHSAS 18001) and firms’ adaptation responsiveness. After sampling 734 listed Chinese manufacturing firms, our match-based analysis reveals that firms certified with OHSAS 18001 were less responsive during COVID-19 in terms of production repurposing than those without the certification. Yet, certain experience, namely, prepandemic manufacturing of related products, experience of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic, and being geographically located close to firms that produced medical supplies, could attenuate this effect. We discuss the implications of our findings in the context of and adding to the literature on safety management, certified management standards, and organizational adaptation and learning.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProduction and Operations Management
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2023


  • COVID-19
  • OHSAS 18001
  • production repurposing
  • rigidity
  • worker safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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