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Self-employed people navigating difficult times: business challenges and well-being from a salutogenic perspective
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Health Sciences (HOV).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6385-1556
2024 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background

Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic presented major difficulties for many self-employed people because it caused pressures such as decreased customer demand, production stagnation, disruptions in supply chains and increased uncertainty. The vast amount of the studies of self-employed people during the pandemic have focused on traditional pathogenic effects. Hence, overall aim of this thesis is to explore how self-employed people experienced and used internal and external salutogenic resources to navigate the pandemic, from a business challenge and an individual well-being perspective. 

Methods

Different methods of data collection and analysis were employed in the thesis. For study I, a qualitative design was used to explore whether a sense of coherence was experienced, and any general resistance resources were used by small business managers in Sweden and Norway during the pandemic. For study II, a cross-sectional quantitative design was employed to investigate the well-being of self-employed people in Europe during the pandemic and whether their well-being was influenced by factors representing four socio-ecological levels. Lastly, study III applied a mixed-method design including comparative policy analysis and interviews to gain an understanding of how different governmental financial support measures aimed to aid the resilience of Swedish and Canadian self-employed people and improve their ability to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Study I was analysed through a deductive content analysis, study II was analysed using independent sample t-tests, correlations and linear regression, and study III used comparative policy analysis and inductive content analysis. 

Results

Findings from the interviews in study I demonstrated that it was important for the participants to comprehend and manage challenges during the pandemic in a resourceful manner, and to see meaningfulness in their situations. In study II, the findings highlight that the socio-ecological factors of resilience, social support, doing useful work and experiencing rules as clear affected the self-employed people’s well-being, and that these factors may be even more important for those who had difficulties running their business. Study III found that self-employed people in both Sweden and Canada who 10 were unable to telework were relatively less resilient during the pandemic. The interviews revealed that many self-employed people in hard-hit industries were dissatisfied with government financial support measures and found them to be unfairly distributed. In addition, the self-employed people who experienced difficulties running their businesses reported reduced well-being, which had a negative effect on their business survival. 

Conclusion 

While the three studies in this thesis had different foci, they collectively provide insights into the internal and external salutogenic resources that influenced how self-employed people navigated the pandemic. A sense of coherence, resilience and well-being were deemed important for handling the pandemic well, for both the individuals and their businesses. The research also indicated the interconnectedness between self-employed people and their businesses. For instance, financial difficulties may lead to increased stress and pressure to make decisions to sustain the business. Reduced well-being, in turn, made it harder to adapt and adjust positively to adversity. The importance of supporting factors at multiple socio-ecological levels was also highlighted, and these may be particularly important to those who had difficulties running their businesses.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Östersund: Mid Sweden University , 2024. , p. 119
Series
Mid Sweden University licentiate thesis, ISSN 1652-8948 ; 201
Keywords [en]
self-employed, pandemic, socio-ecological model, small business, resilience, social support, useful work, clear rules
National Category
Health Sciences Other Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-50279ISBN: 978-91-89786-52-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-50279DiVA, id: diva2:1829956
Presentation
2024-03-01, O213, Mittuniversitetet, Östersund, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
AFA Insurance, 200235Available from: 2024-02-01 Created: 2024-01-22 Last updated: 2024-01-22Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Small business managers and Covid-19—The role of a sense of coherence and general resistance resources in coping with stressors
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Small business managers and Covid-19—The role of a sense of coherence and general resistance resources in coping with stressors
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2022 (English)In: PLOS ONE, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 17, no 3, article id e0265029Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background The response of small business managers to an external event such as the pandemic canhave a profound effect on the work environment, health and well-being for themselves and their employees. Previous research on small business managers during the pandemic has mainly focused on traditional pathogenic effects, and there is a lack of studies looking at the issue from a salutogenic health promotion perspective. The aim of this study is to explore whether a sense of coherence and general resistance resources were experienced by small business managers in Sweden and Norway during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Methods A qualitative design was applied through exploratory interviews with 16 managers of small businesses in Sweden and Norway. A content analysis of the interviews was conducted using the sense of coherence concept by Aaron Antonovsky, with the three main components of comprehensibility, meaningfulness and manageability acting as a conceptual framework for the analysis process.

Results Within the three main sense-of-coherence categories, six general resistance resources were identified as being important for the managers to handle uncertainty during the pandemic. These were understanding rules and regulations, social support, optimism, proactivity, problem-solving and flexibility and cooperation.

Conclusions The small business managers handled the pandemic in a way that worked well in their contexts, and the pandemic generally did not have a negative effect on their businesses orthemselves. A salutogenic approach, through which the managers focused on identifying and using resources, was an important factor for managing stressors and adversity during the pandemic. Hence, the concept of salutogenesis may be used as an intervention to foster better health in small businesses, both at a personal and organisational level in order to handle future challenges effectively.

National Category
Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-44614 (URN)10.1371/journal.pone.0265029 (DOI)000784220200051 ()35302995 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85126689658 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2022-03-19 Created: 2022-03-19 Last updated: 2024-01-22Bibliographically approved
2. Socio-Ecological Factors and Well-Being among Self-Employed in Europe during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Socio-Ecological Factors and Well-Being among Self-Employed in Europe during the COVID-19 Pandemic
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2022 (English)In: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, ISSN 1661-7827, E-ISSN 1660-4601, Vol. 19, p. 1-13, article id 7840Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: The self-employed are at increased risk of negative well-being outcomes when facing adversity such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies that examine socio-ecological factors that may protect their well-being are warranted.

Methods: Data were drawn from a cross-sectional survey of European self-employed people (n = 1665). The WHO-5 Well-being Index was used to examine the impact on well-being of factors at four socio-ecological levels. Independent sample t-tests, Pearson correlations and linear regression were applied to analyse differences between groups of self-employed and interactions between variables using SPSS.

Results: Well-being and the socio-ecological factors of resilience, social support, useful work and finding the rules clear were positively correlated with well-being. For self-employed who reported that it was challenging to run their business during the pandemic, social support and finding rules clear were of significantly greater importance to their well-being.

Conclusions: The findings highlight that the socio-ecological factors of resilience, social support, doing useful work and finding the rules clear affect well-being. The results also indicate that it is vital to consider factors at multiple socio-ecological levels to improve the well-being of the self-employed during adversity.

Keywords
self-employed, pandemic, socio-ecological model, small business, resilience, social support, useful work, clear rules
National Category
Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-45380 (URN)10.3390/ijerph19137840 (DOI)000824530600001 ()35805499 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85132822116 (Scopus ID)
Funder
AFA Insurance, 200235
Available from: 2022-06-27 Created: 2022-06-27 Last updated: 2024-01-22Bibliographically approved
3. A comparative study of governmental financial support and resilience of self-employed people in Sweden and Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A comparative study of governmental financial support and resilience of self-employed people in Sweden and Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic
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2024 (English)In: International Journal of Circumpolar Health, ISSN 1239-9736, E-ISSN 2242-3982, Vol. 83, no 1, article id 2298015Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Globally, self-employed people were among the hardest hit by the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and faced hardships such as financial decline, restrictions, and business closures. A plethora of financial support measures were rolled out worldwide to support them, but there is a lack of research looking at the effect of the policy measures on self-employed people. To understand how different governmental financial support measures enhanced the resilience of the self-employed and improved their ability to manage the pandemic, we conducted a mixed-method study using policy analysis and semi-structured interviews. The documents described policies addressing governmental financial support in Sweden and Canada during the pandemic, and the interviews were conducted with Swedish and Canadian self-employed people to explore how they experienced the support measures in relation to their resilience. The key results were that self-employed people in both countries who were unable to telework were less resilient during the pandemic due to financial problems, restrictions, and lockdowns. The interviews revealed that many self-employed people in hard-hit industries were dissatisfied with the support measures and found them to be unfairly distributed. In addition, the self-employed people experiencing difficulties running their businesses reported reduced well-being, negatively affecting their business survival.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Informa UK Limited, 2024
Keywords
Self-employed, Canada, Sweden, resilience, well-being, COVID-19, financial support
National Category
Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-50186 (URN)10.1080/22423982.2023.2298015 (DOI)001133803300001 ()38157432 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85181480927 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2023-12-29 Created: 2023-12-29 Last updated: 2024-01-22Bibliographically approved

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