Uncertain and unexpected circumstances such as COVID-19-driven lockdown made large number of skilled/semi-skilled people lose employment and unwillingly relocate to rural or small towns from where they hailed, we call this as workers’ exodus (Yeganeh, 2021). There is continuing interest in how this workers’ exodus could be re-engaged in economically productive activities at the place of their relocation, which also falls under goal eight “i.e. decent work and economic growth” of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. The happenstance learning theory (HLT) explains occupation choices cannot be completely planned and emerges as an outcome of unplanned and unexpected situations (Krumboltz, 2009). The workers’ exoduses amidst COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown were forced to a similar unplanned and unexpected situation. In this changed socio-economic situation, affective status (AS) of this workers’ exodus is altered due to dislocation and job loss. These people, facing occupational choice distress, are emotionally aroused with an element of anger (Thomas, 2020).

COVID-19 pandemic is not only putting an effect on workers’ exodus, but international business is also being affected (Yeganeh, 2021). The world is witnessing a change in the global economic scenario. There are reports about reducing pace of globalization which we are referring to as “de-globalization” (DG) (Gygli et al., 2019). The undesired consequences of globalization on domestic trade have been expressed by scholars over time (Georgieva et al., 2013; Chan et al. 2018; Chishti, 2020). Contributing to the conversation, many authors have also explained the positive effect of de-globalization on domestic small and micro-entrepreneurial initiatives (Petrova, 2013; Crona et al., 2015; Sindhe, 2015; Yeganeh; 2019).

The state of workers’ exodus under the COVID-19 environment and reducing globalization levels has presented such an unexpected and uncertain situation, which is certainly a reason for worry. But do these situations present any opportunity for productive engagement of workers’ exodus through micro-entrepreneurship and local innovations? This question is critically reviewed, and available opportunities are explored in this article.

Since HLT mainly focuses on external situations, occupational choices are also known to be influenced by personal characteristics (Holland, 1959; Hoyte, 2019)), so we extend HLT by adding two more components, affective status (AS) and risk propensity (RP). We propose since affective status attenuates risk judgment (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979; Li & Ahlstrom, 2020); workers’ exodus may undertake micro-entrepreneurship, an unplanned occupational choice, which otherwise they would have avoided considering as a risky engagement. Since long back and even today innovation is known to underpin entrepreneurial initiatives (Schumpeter, 1942: 83–84; Zastempowski, 2022), we also propose to examine the impact of COVID-19 on encouraging local innovations in developing countries through specific examples from India. To examine the local innovations and their impact on micro-entrepreneurial initiatives of workers’ exodus, we conducted two field interviews, one with a reverse migrated worker and the other with a person who intermediated the productive engagement of workers’ exodus. For this, purposive sampling technique was adopted, and the respondents were contacted during field visits in September and October 2021 regarding a research project on the rural population.

Finally, there is also a lack of literature on this new theme of investigation. For example, Durlauf et al. (2005) and Meyer (2004) long back in their review found a lack of articles primarily studying the relationship between foreign direct investment (FDI), de-globalization, and domestic micro-industry/entrepreneurship. When it comes to presenting the combined relationship of AS, RP, DG, and local innovations with micro-entrepreneurial initiative (MEI) in the context of unexpected events such as workers’ exodus during and post-COVID-19, to the best of our knowledge, no prominent citable study is there in extant literature. Thus, we see there is a noticeable gap in the literature.

Addressing this gap is pertinent in today’s scenario because among many measures that are expected to be taken by governments during and post-lockdown to boost domestic economic growth, one of them will be reconfiguring international trade-related policies, and another will be enhancing small and micro-entrepreneurship at the local level (Paul, 2020; Ferrannini et al., 2021). Moreover, the socio-economic benefits and subsistence-employment opportunities that micro-entrepreneurship could bring to society is so much important that it is worth studying its antecedents (Thomas & Mueller, 2000; Busenitz et al., 2003). Therefore, to address this important missing element in literature, we posit a framework expressing the relationship between the “affective status of workers’ exodus” with “intentions for micro-entrepreneurial initiatives” in the light of their risk propensity, reducing pace of globalization and local innovations. Accordingly, the following objectives are stated for this study:

  • Develop a framework based on theoretical justifications to explain the role of affective status and risk propensity in micro-entrepreneurial initiatives of workers’ exodus during and post-COVID-19 in an environment of reducing pace of globalization and local innovations.

  • Analyze the impact of reducing pace of globalization during COVID-19 on local innovations and to examine the potential of local innovations in providing opportunity for initiating micro-entrepreneurship by workers’ exodus.

We present this article as a concept paper, and the proposed framework, duly supported by literature and field interviews, could be a starting point for conceptualizing empirical evidence-based strong theory. The subsequent sections of the article are constructs of study, development of framework, discussion, limitations and scope for future research, followed by conclusion and implications.

Constructs of study

Affective status: emotional arousal and distress

Affect is closely approximated to emotions or subjectively experienced feelings that could be triggered by innate or external stimuli. Affect theory originally attributed to Tomkins (1962) describes nine different types of affective states clubbed into three groups called positive, neutral, and negative. People tend to maximize the positive affect and minimize the negative affect. Tomkins (2014) as part of affect theory mentioned that arousal (ager) and distress affects are part of the negative group and these are usually stimulated by a continuing unrelieved stimulus. He subsequently proposed script theory where he argued that “scenes” are the sequence of events linked to affect which are triggered by experiences that people have during certain events. Wiederman (2005) continuing the argument explained that “scripts” follow “scenes” to identify patterns and provide direction in the selection of responses and behaviors to social settings. COVID-19-driven lockdown is one such event that has brought significant change in social settings, particularly for workers’ exodus. A large number of workers (industrial/non-industrial) who lost their job due to COVID-19 had been forced to relocate from urban centers to their native place of residence mostly in rural regions. Among them, employment and dislocation-related distress as well as emotional arousal (anger), which are part of the negative group affective state, are quite visible (Yeganeh, 2021).

Risk propensity

Risk propensity is the tendency of a person to assume or deter risk while decision-making (Sitkin & Pablo, 1992). Risk researchers have presented two perspectives of risk: first variability of outcome (possibility of occurrence of unwanted outcome) (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979; Mishra, 2014) and second loss due to unwanted outcome (Fox et al., 2015). There are two prominent sources of risk propensity: one as a person’s predisposition (domain-general) (Highhouse et al., 2017; Mata et al., 2018, Zhang et al., 2019) and the other governed by situations (domain-specific) (Tversky & Kahneman, 1986; Scholer et al., 2010; Figner & Weber, 2011). A recent work by Crawford et al. (2021) and the classical work of Knowles et al. (1973) both presented risk propensity as a trait that remains stable across the domains. Authors also posited that when people are exposed to situations that are beyond their control as well as put the undesired impacts on their lives, then under these circumstances, such people exhibit high domain-specific risk propensity.

Micro-entrepreneurship initiative

Micro-entrepreneurship is sometimes also referred as subsistence entrepreneurship. The goal of micro-entrepreneurship is to provide self-employment or at the most employment to other family members mostly when they could not find suitable employment or face loss of employment (Lerner et al. 2010). Szaban & Lubasińska (2018) in their review concluded that though self-employment must be differentiated from entrepreneurship, it could also be closely approximated to micro-entrepreneurship where subsistence and income generation are the primary goal. Small and micro-entrepreneurship offers huge productive engagement opportunities around the world, and it has the potential to bring inclusive and pervasive growth in society. For example, MSME sector in India employs about 111 million people and contributed about 30.27% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) for 2018–2019 (Ministry of MSME, 2021). Another noticeable fact is, despite being just 44% of total MSMEs, micro-enterprises generate 109.6 million employments which accounts for about 97% of total employment generated in the sector and nearly half of that is generated through rural micro-enterprises. Moreover, there is a strong upward trend in the registration of new micro-enterprises in India (Ministry of MSME, 2021; Statista Research Department, 2021). Thus, there is huge potential for rural employment generation through micro-entrepreneurship initiatives by workers’ exodus at their native place.


De-globalization is the weakening of the interdependence between nations (New York University Department of Sociology, 2013; Verbeke et al., 2018). De-globalization is not some new phenomenon, and the world has witnessed de-globalization many times in the past, but two noticeable eras are 1930 and 2010 (O’Rourke, 2018; Peter & Bergeijk, 2018; Witt, 2019; Gygli et al., 2019). These authors claimed that de-globalization will be expressively noticeable in the future also. Despite these sporadic events of de-globalization, globalization kept rising sturdily until the recent past when the KOF globalization index reported globalization slowing down (Gygli et al., 2019). Now COVID-19 has severely impacted international trade (Yeganeh, 2021), and the globalization process is expected to further slowdown.

Conceptualization of framework

Taking support of existing theories to identify variables and understanding their relationship is a good way to present a new conceptual framework (Jabareen, 2009). Therefore, based on the relevant literature we seek support for the proposed framework (Fig. 1) comprising of variables such as affective status (AS), risk propensity (RP), and micro-entrepreneurship initiatives (MEI) of workers’ exodus in light of de-globalization (DG) and local innovation under COVID-19 environment. AS has two sub-dimensions, distress and emotional arousal (EA), where EA encapsulates anger. In this section, first, we present propositions based on co-integration between pairs of variables, and then, all variables are taken together to represent the complete framework.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Framework for role of AS on MEI of workers’ exodus in light of RP: in an environment of de-globalization and local innovations (authors source)

Affective status of workers’ exodus and micro-entrepreneurial initiatives

The unexpected emergent socio-economic situation such as COVID-19 and accompanying uncertainties is known to influence the occupational choices of people (Krumboltz, 2009). In India and other similar countries, large numbers of laborers and workers returned to their villages/native residences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the unprecedented complete lockdown, this exodus is facing job and dislocation-related distress and emotional arousal (Thomas, 2020; Yeganeh 2021). The negative affect (distress and anger) in workers’ exodus was rooted in COVID-19 (stimulus) which could continue unrelieved due to new strains of coronavirus and recurring waves of the pandemic. As per the script theory, in this changed social and economic setting, to minimize the “negative affect,” the sequence of events (script) will direct workers’ exodus (behavior) towards productive engagement which could be self-employment and micro-entrepreneurship (Wiederman, 2005; Tomkins, 2014). In another research, it was concluded that people facing lifestyle as well as occupation choice challenges are more receptive to self-employment and micro-entrepreneurship (Vanessa, 2020). Based on these arguments, we propose that:

  • P1: Affective status of COVID-19 workers’ exodus is a favorable antecedent to their micro-entrepreneurial initiatives.

Affective status (emotional arousal and distress) and risk propensity

Multiple qualitative and empirical studies found a significant role of affective status in risk judgment especially when affective status is underpinned by distress and anger (Johnson & Teversky, 1983; Isen & Jeva, 1987; Forgas & Bower, 1987). In situations of distress, people up to some extent are expected to compromise rationality and discount risk; hence, they are more receptive to risky behavior (Kahneman, 1973; Li & Ahlstrom, 2020). Ness & Klaas (1994) particularly found that people with aroused affect status such as anger, fear, and anxiety are known to diverge from thoughtful decision-making and exhibit elevated risk propensity. Other researchers also found distress (sadness) and arousal (anger) accentuate risk propensity and thus up to some extent suppress the sense of fear for outcomes of risky decisions such as entrepreneurship (Lerner & Keltner, 2000; Steiner & Driscoll, 2005). Notably, it has been found that the expectation of pleasantness in a distressing decision outcome could polarize the judgment and enhance the positive evaluation of decision outcome (Isen & Jeva, 1987; Mano, 1992). These findings are especially relevant in our setup where workers’ exodus is facing aroused affective status such as anger and distress due to unexpected job loss and dislocation. Under aroused affective status, they are expected to display a high domain-specific risk propensity for initiating micro-entrepreneurship. Workers’ exodus will also have a preference towards micro-entrepreneurial initiatives due to the associated pleasantness of productive engagement through their decision. Based on these arguments, we state the following proposition:

  • P2: Affective status of workers’ exodus will positively influence their risk propensity.

Risk propensity and micro-entrepreneurial initiative

Though there is no dearth of literature explaining that entrepreneurship inherently involves risk and high-risk propensity leads to strong entrepreneurial intentions (Stewart & Roth, 2001; Laurent, 2012), there is little research that relates risk propensity directly with micro-entrepreneurial initiatives. Since risk propensity, the tendency of a person to assume or deter risk while decision-making, is an inner psychological character (Sitkin & Pablo, 1992) and considered a personality trait, it could be studied through theories of personality and occupation choices. Therefore, we seek support from the classical vocational/career choice theory by Holland (1959) which explicitly explains that people with “enterprising personality” are attributed with high-risk propensity. Such people have a strong inclination towards self-employment and entrepreneurship. Another noticeable recent work by Nieß & Niemann (2014) specifically argued for the positive causal type relationship of RP with self-employment tendency. Because self-employment and micro-entrepreneurship both are related to subsistence (Lerner et al. 2010; Szaban & Lubasińska, 2018), we could reasonably extend the positive relationship of RP with MEI also. After establishing the relation between RP and MEI, the question arises about its applicability to workers’ exodus context. For this, the arguments and framework by Norton & Moore (2002) and McMullen & Shepherd (2006) are worth considering. Both presented significant theoretical models explaining the risk propensity of people towards small and micro-entrepreneurship is underpinned by the skills that they possess and the availability of relevant information that they have. These theories from extant literature strengthen the proposition that skills and prior knowledge of workers due to their productive employment in urban centers positively influence their specific risk propensity which in turn could accentuate their micro-entrepreneurial initiative, thus giving strength to the proposed framework. Based on these arguments, we present the following proposition:

  • P3: The risk propensity of COVID-19 affected workers’ exodus will positively influence their micro-entrepreneurial initiatives, and this relationship is positively moderated by the skill and knowledge they gained through their pre-COVID-19 productive engagement in urban centers.

De-globalization, local innovations, and micro-entrepreneurship opportunities

In contrast, to mainline globalization propagators, de-globalization has been presented by some researchers as conducive to both developed and developing economies (Petrova, 2013; Yeganeh 2019). Cherry (2020) expressed the negative impact of globalization on developed and exporting countries through an example of the tight current financial situation in Europe that was linked to the high dependence of the European economy on exports to emerging markets than internal consumption. Some studies have specifically explained the detrimental role of high globalization on small and micro-entrepreneurship in host countries. In a study conducted by Asiedu & James (2007) in America, globalization was found to be negatively impacting small and medium entrepreneurial ventures of non-whites. Many authors noticed a positive impact on small and micro-industries of host countries when the business of MNCs and the flow of FDI get constrained (Caves, 1996; Petrova, 2013; Yeganeh, 2019). Liu et al. (2013) and Crona et al. (2015) described the negative impacts of globalization as “tele-connected vulnerabilities” that affect economies, livelihood, culture, and the environment. Muralidhar & Mamatha (2011) and Sindhe (2015) in their study found that as Indian trade policy became liberal to globalization, the cost of agriculture input increased, but output cost did not. They further explained that agriculture-based employment in India has been found to decrease and at the same time indebtedness of farmers increased. Cornelia (2007) expressed that activities of MNCs may lead to contrived inflation and allow easy availability of ready-made solutions, thus mitigating economic growth opportunities and loss of appetite for technological innovation among research and development institutes of developing countries. High financial interdependence among nations has also been noticed as a reason for global economic crises such as the one witnessed in 2010 (Georgieva et al., 2013). In times of global economic crisis, the funding by the banks to small and micro-enterprises in host countries dries up, and these local enterprises face credit difficulty (Bruno, 2010). Therefore, it could reasonably be derived that de-globalization strengthens self-employment and micro-entrepreneurial opportunities in the host country.

Innovations that occurred in India during COVID-19

COVID-19 posed challenges to the global supply chain, and many countries had to find alternate local sources to meet emergent demands. Moreover, one of the main challenges that reverse migrant workers as well as the administration faced during and post-COVID-19 was ensuring productive engagement of these workers. Under such a situation, during and post-COVID-19, many countries witnessed local innovations that could encourage entrepreneurial initiatives over there. In the following section, we present certain examples from India to support this view.

Some innovations that reverse migrant workers did for productive engagement at their native place (from field interviews):

  1. a.

    Market innovation through product extension to a new market: We interviewed a person from Sirsi village in Sonbhadra district, Chatra block of Uttar Pradesh Province, India, who innovated by introducing a cuisine (considered to be of a fast-food category) popular in Indian cities to a rural market where it was almost unknown. This person was working with a fast food restaurant in Mumbai. While interacting with him, we came to know that, based on his prior skill and knowledge, he has started his own food point in Chatra.

    “When I reached my village in May 2020, I was feeling helpless with no job and no hope of a future. I could manage to get ration in July under a government scheme. I was constantly worried for my family, with whom I returned to my village. I noticed that local people were fond of ‘Chinese’ food (a group of fast food in India, which is popularly believed to be of Chinese origin). Since I was working with a fast food restaurant that also served ‘Chinese’ food, believing in my cooking skills, I felt, I could serve new and better tastes to locals. So, I decided to start my own fast food joint with help from family and some savings that I had. Now my stall is quite popular and I am doing well. I do not plan to go back.”

  2. b.

    Process innovation: One example of innovative practice for productive engagement was witnessed in the Basti district of Uttar Pradesh Province in India. In an interview with a local block development officer, a first-line officer for rural development in India, we were told that the local administration engaged some reverse-migrated workers to dig ponds on their land under a guaranteed government employment scheme. This led to immediate earnings for these workers. Then, those who dug the ponds were encouraged and guided, with the help of a government research institute, to undertake fish farming in those ponds. Among those who initiated fish farming, some workers, due to their previous work exposure, had an understanding of market dynamics and took charge of selling fish in nearby markets or attracting clients from nearby cities. The officer further told us that these migrants were happy with their engagements and had no intention to leave their village in the future in search of a job. We found some media reports that also substantiate the findings of our interview (Hindustan Times, 2020).

Some other instances of local innovations due to pandemic-driven stressed global supply chain and concurrent lockdown:

  1. a.

    Drones: Engineers are coming out with plenty of innovative applications for drones made locally. Be it food delivery, grocery delivery, fumigation, or monitoring compliance with lockdown, drones are being used everywhere. Many rural reverse migrant workers are using drones for drone camera shooting of private and public events, which was almost unknown in rural regions prior to the pandemic (NDTV, 2020).

  2. b.

    Testing kit: When India was struggling to get testing kits for COVID-19 and imports were also not available, a firm in Noida named DNA Xperts has come out with a testing kit that was quick as well as cheap. It could perform a coronavirus test in about 50 min at one-third cost, whereas earlier, a similar test would take 10 to 12 h to complete (Gupta, 2020). Similarly, another NOIDA-based firm New Life Company got approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for a rapid testing kit at a cost of about 7.5 USD. Big companies also contributed to innovation; for example, Bangalore-based biotechnology firm has come out with a strip-based testing kit that was clinically tested and evaluated by ICMR as a deployable solution (Puri et al., 2020).

  3. c.

    Ventilator: IIT, Roorkee (a Technology institute from India) in collaboration with AIIMS, New Delhi (a medical science institute), innovated a ventilator called “Praan-Vayu” suitable for Indian conditions and costs as low as 300 USD, much lower than any available ventilator in the market. It could work well in open spaces, thus deployable at many makeshift hospitals that were developed across the country to tackle corona pandemic (Design and Development-team, 2020; Puri et al., 2020).

  4. d.

    Robotics: Kerala, Bangalore, NOIDA, and Delhi along with many other Indian states deployed robots to aid health workers at hospitals. Fortis Hospital, Bangalore, deployed a “Mitra” robot for screening every visitor to the hospital including medical staff for COVID. The Kerala government has deployed Robots named “Nightingale-19” at its hospital in the Kannur district to aid medical staff in attending COVID patients. Nightingale-19 is designed by a local engineering college in support of the health department. Also, Indo-Tibet Border Police have taken robotic services from a Gurgaon-based local robotics company Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz to provide robots that could support food and medicine dispensing to COVID patients (Puri et al., 2020).

  5. e.

    Solar drier: A young student after completing an internship at a non-government organization (NGO) in Indore district of Madhya Pradesh Province decided to help farmers to reduce the wastage of their fresh produce and subsequently designed a portable solar drier that could dry the fresh farm produce such as rose petals and some vegetables, at very affordable cost, thus increasing their shelf life for more than a year. This innovation, which is portable and easily installable, helped many farmers to save their farm produce during the lockdown by enabling them to sell it later on when the markets opened. This innovation which supported farmers during the pandemic subsequently became a popular product as a micro-food processing unit. The farmers claim that by using solar driers, they have the flexibility to sell their produce out of season and get a better price for their produce (Agarwal, 2022).

Thus, based on these illustrations, P4 is stated as follows:

  • P4: De-globalization and local innovation enhance the domestic micro-entrepreneurship opportunities and serve as positive independent moderators (Montoya, 2019) in the proposed framework which strengthen the effect of AS on MEI.


A massive workers’ exodus was witnessed in emerging economies such as India during COVID-19. This workers’ exodus had an altered affective status in terms of emotional arousal and distress due to dislocation, job loss, and livelihood issues. However, if these workers’ exodus could be productively engaged in rural entrepreneurship, this situation also presents an opportunity (North & Smallbone, 2006). We found literature support for a positive criteria-predictor type relationship between affective status and risk propensity (P2) as well as between risk propensity and micro-entrepreneurial initiatives (P3). Extant literature also supports (P1) that the affective status of workers’ exodus which is related to employment and livelihood distress is in favor of their micro-entrepreneurial initiatives (Lerner & Keltner, 2000; Steiner & Driscoll, 2005). From the literature, we also infer that some domain-general risk propensity preexists in workers’ exodus and domain-specific risk propensity is stimulated due to COVID-19; thus, both the contexts of risk propensity (situation independent and context-specific) are relevant for workers’ exodus (Highhouse et al., 2017; Mata et al., 2018; Ness & Kjess, 1994), and it has a potential mediating effect on the relationship between AS and MEI. This implies that distressed and emotionally aroused workers’ exodus whose risk propensity is also elevated are more likely to initiate micro-entrepreneurship, an unplanned occupational choice. Since the occupational choice is unplanned and emerged from unexpected situations, the proposed framework is in confirmation with extended HLT.

These workers before COVID-19 lived in urban centers and had productive engagement over there. Their productive engagement indicates they possess certain skills and knowledge, which underpin their entrepreneurial risk propensity (McMullen & Shepherd, 2006). Therefore, in the framework (Fig. 1), we presented prior skills and knowledge of workers’ exodus as moderators (M1) for the relationship between RP and MEI.

While examining the literature on de-globalization and local innovations, it is visible that de-globalization accentuates opportunities for small and micro-entrepreneurship. Similarly, examples of local innovations witnessed in India during COVID-19 present evidences indicating opportunities for micro-entrepreneurship in a de-globalizing and stressed global supply chain environment. It is visible that, where AS of workers’ exodus positively influences their MEI, the exogenous factors, de-globalization, and local innovations also play independent positive moderator roles in the process. Furthermore, the field interviews also indicate that local innovations are providing opportunities to workers’ exodus to initiate micro-entrepreneurship. Therefore, based on these inferences, we get strength for P4 and conclude that de-globalization and local innovations positively influence the MEI. Thus, through propositions P1 to P4, it is the epistemological conclusion that the framework proposed is valid and explains the productive engagement of reverse migrant workers through micro-entrepreneurship.

During our interaction with reverse migrant workers, although it was short and brief, we found a mixed response from them; some were able to get a productive engagement for themselves and adjust to the conditions at their native place, while many others intended to return to cities. To meet this challenge, government took many steps; for example, the central government announced a long-term measure to integrate reverse migrant workers with productive engagement by earmarking Rs 50,000 crore (USD 6.9 billion) “Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyan” (poor welfare employment mission). Under this scheme, to enhance the employment opportunities of migrant workers, they are to be connected with self-help groups for which their skill mapping is being done (Ministry of Rural Development, 2020). The government has also announced certain schemes for providing financial support to migrant workers, such as providing a loan of Rs 10,000 under the prime minister’s street vendor “AtmNirbhar Nidhi” (self-reliance fund) popularly known as “PM-SVANidhi” to those who want to work as a registered vendor ( and micro-unit development and refinancing (MUDRA) loan under “prime minister mudra scheme” to start occupation of their choice (

In our view, a lot more needs to be done for proper productive engagement to reverse migrant workers; simultaneously, we also see a promising prospect in this context. Therefore, the framework presented in this study could play an important role in furthering our understanding of this challenging and complex domain of knowledge pertaining to the productive engagement of reverse migrant workers.

Limitations and scope for future research

The primary limitation of this article is a simplified representation of relationships between the variables, but in real world rarely, it is so monocausal. Therefore, it will be worthwhile to substantiate the arguments through quantitative data to strengthen our understanding of the interaction among variables. Globalization is studied as a detrimental factor in this article for the development of micro-entrepreneurship in developing economies such as India; however, future research could bring forth a comparative outlook on this aspect. Another limitation worth mentioning is that though the proposed framework does explain the possibilities of growing micro-entrepreneurship in current the COVID-19 environment, methods for growing micro-entrepreneurship are not covered. Hence, it could be an agenda for future work. We presented the cases of reverse migrant workers who have adjusted to local conditions and started their micro-enterprises. Despite these encouraging findings, there are cases of workers going back to urban centers. The opinion and sentiments of those who returned back to cities could shed more light on the migrant workers’ issues. Therefore, to address a larger generic issue, future research could extend the proposed framework beyond COVID-19 caused workers’ exodus to migrant workers in general by changing the content and criterion of affective status and risk propensity constructs.

Implications and conclusion

Social implications

Indian laborers and workers flouted the COVID-19-driven lockdown preventive measures and outrageously traveled from cities to their villages. These workers’ exodus now presents many opportunities in rural areas to grow local micro-entrepreneurship by leveraging their skills and economic potential. The framework proposed (Fig. 1) presents a scenario of transforming the workers’ exodus into potential micro-entrepreneurs in their native place. Keeping in mind that the main beneficiaries of rural micro-entrepreneurship are local communities, the adoption of micro-entrepreneurship could change the socio-economic structure of rural regions. Moreover, it will reduce the load of rural immigrants on urban infrastructure; thus, urban societies will also be benefited from this, whereas, in the absence of suitable employment/self-employment opportunities at the local level, workers will be forced to return back to cities, and ultimately, an opportunity to boost rural micro-entrepreneurship and community development will be lost.

Industry implications

Since workers’ exodus may undermine the associated risk in undertaking micro-entrepreneurship, capacity-building intermediation by microfinance institutions/NGOs would be vital in making the process successful. This situation brings responsibility as well as a business opportunity for the microfinance and NGO sector. In a scenario of de-globalization, it has been noticed that institutions and companies put great efforts to be creative, innovative, and productive, thus supporting micro-entrepreneurial initiatives. Moreover, by making cost-effective input supplies to mainstream enterprises and, in turn, achieving greater purchasing power, micro-entrepreneurial initiatives by workers’ exodus could help in building a virtuous macroeconomic environment. Additionally, the framework presented by us paves a roadmap to boost micro-entrepreneurship at the local level, in other situations similar to COVID-19, causing large-scale reverse migration of workers.

Academic implications

There are elaborate discussions in the literature on the role of affect in consumer decision-making (Sofi et al., 2020); however, its role in entrepreneurship is not much known. At the same time, there is a continued interest in academia to understand the diversity of determinants of entrepreneurship intention among reverse migrant workers. Therefore, there is a need to address these requirements of academia. The framework presented in this study is a step in this direction by augmenting our initial understanding of the role of affect in micro-entrepreneurship-related decisions. Additionally, those researchers and academicians focusing on perspectives of inclusive development through micro-entrepreneurship could also conceive fresh scholarly ideas by looking through the prism of the framework presented here. This article could also be a starting point for a fresh academic discourse on a critical examination of the role of globalization and MNCs towards small and micro-entrepreneurship, especially in the context of emerging economies.

The challenge of unemployment and laborer migration lies mainly in rural areas, and alongside the maximum consumption, economic growth potential also lies over there. Taking into consideration the challenges that rural economy faces and the potential it possesses, as a concluding remark, we recommend that economic policy in India and similar countries must promote and propagate local industries as much as possible. They must tap the entrepreneurial potential of workers’ exodus in the current COVID-19 environment and let the micro-enterprises play a significant role in economic growth.