Figure 1. My “Space-Time-Adaptation” philosophy for
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My research streams:
1) the complexity of institutional environments
around the world
2) business strategy from a top management
3) foundations for knowledge synthesis (in search
of holistic wisdom)
Academic entrepreneurship & leadership | Working Papers | Scholarly
Publications | Publications for Managers & Policy Makers | Full
ACADEMIC ENTREPRENEURSHIP & LEADERSHIP
coordinator (2018 – Present): Global OpenLabs for Performance-Enhancement
Analytics and Knowledge System (GoPeaks.org)
A SHARED BRAIN FOR PEOPLE AND SOCIETY
The overarching goal of GoPeaks is to create and
implement an open collaborative community that accelerates and scales the
accumulation of knowledge from fragmented sources into widely accessible
and actionable wisdom concerning the well-being of all stakeholders
Official website: https://www.gopeaks.org/.
Coordinator & Editor (2011 – 2018): Emerging Market Global Players, Columbia Center
on Sustainable Investment
The Emerging Market Global Players (EMGP)
project, a collaborative effort led by CCSI, brings together researchers on
FDI from leading institutions in emerging markets to gather original data
from company surveys and additional research and to produce annual reports
based on their findings. Those EMGP reports identify the top multinationals
from each of a number of emerging markets, provide detailed information on
the key features of the firms’ activities abroad, and discuss other issues,
including the underlying policy context influencing outward investment from
those emerging markets and the impact of the MNEs on sustainable
Official website: https://emgp.org/.
SELECTED WORKING PAPERS
paper 1: Shareholder logic complexity and agency theory,
with R Aguilera
Synopsis: We seek to incorporate
social contexts of shareholder behaviors into agency theory. We develop a
general conceptual framework to analyze the social constitution processes
of the complexity of shareholder logics, and in turn prescribe the optimal
agency governance mode. We bridge an important financial economics-rooted
theory with a sociological perspective to increase its empirical validity.
Complexity and evolution of globalization, with J Cantwell
Synopsis: “Foreignness” has been
a key construct in globalization studies. However, drawing social
boundaries simply in national terms fails to capture the full range of
diversity and complexity entailed by globalization. Drawing on evolutionary
theorizing, we develop a new typology of outsidership in global business
contexts. We suggest that a series of mutually exclusive and sequential
social “replicators” jointly program individual and organizational
behaviors and give rise to distinct path-dependent social trajectories.
These replicators include genes, pre-linguistic habits, grammatical languages,
customs, writing systems, judicial systems, and scientific paradigms.
Outsidership is conceptualized as being historically outside a shared path
of these replicators.
Chen VZ, Hitt MA. 2019.
Knowledge synthesis for scientific management: Practical integration for
complexity versus scientific fragmentation for simplicity. Journal of Management Inquiry, accepted.
Abstract: Within the boundary of scientific knowledge for
management, we discuss the divergence between practical demand for
knowledge integration to solve complex problems and scientific
fragmentation of academic knowledge for simplicity. We suggest the current
incentives underlying elite scientific journals in management cause
unintended knowledge fragmentation both between management and foundation
disciplines, and within management. In the context of the overall
management knowledge ecosystem, we recommend addressing three major
constraints that limit our ability to reduce these fragmentations: First,
new technologies could be introduced to assist researchers and editors in
the development of a complete review of existing theories and evidence.
Second, new publication outlets could be designed to serve as IT-enabled,
web-based knowledge synthesis platforms. Third, business schools could
develop new incentives systems to enable and promote the use of these new
initiatives. We suggest several limitations of our recommendations and
discuss extensions into the yet untheorized/untested knowledge domain.
Chen VZ, Hobdari B, Zhang Y. 2019. Blockholder
heterogeneity and conflicts in cross-border acquisitions. Journal of Corporate Finance, 57(SI):
86-101. (Special issue on “Corporate governance of multinational
Abstract: We investigate the
principal-principal (PP) conflicts between large blockholders in the
context of cross-border acquisitions (CBAs). We focus on the conflicts
between family blockholders and two groups of financial institutional
investors – banks and mutual funds. We hypothesize that different types of
blockholders have heterogeneous preferences with respect to the CBA
decision and outcomes. We suggest that the PP conflicts in CBA differ
across the blockholders. Banks are pressure sensitive and cooperative with
the management because of their clientele relationship with firms, while
mutual funds are subject to more financial scrutiny and independent from
the management, making them pressure resistant. When in conflict with more
powerful family blockholders, mutual funds will choose to exit after a CBA
decision, whereas banks are more likely to stay. With an equally distributed
voting power, family and mutual fund blockholders will be more motivated to
monitor over each other and jointly discipline the management, leading to
more careful selection of CBAs and higher overall shareholder value.
However, such effects are weak in the case of family and banks. We find
support for these conjectures using data on CBAs undertaken by US public
firms over the period 2003-2016.
Chen VZ, Musacchio A, Li
S. 2018. A principals-principals perspective of hybrid Leviathans:
Cross-border acquisitions of state-owned MNEs. Journal of Management, in press.
Abstract: We propose a
private-government principals-principals (PP) approach to understand
corporate governance of state-owned multinationals. We explain how the
conflicts between large government and private blockholders may affect
managerial decisions in the propensity of completing a cross-border
acquisition and its dollar value. We argue that conflicts among different
blockholders make it difficult to pursue large-scale, cross-border deals
because such conflicts may lead to a less coherent objective function and
to reject deals that do not satisfy these groups’ conflicting objectives.
Finally, we show that such blockholder conflicts are moderated by the salience
of the government’s “dual influence” on the firm in question, related to a
state’s soft-budget constraint and/or diplomatic advantages in countries
where the host and the home markets do not enjoy a bilateral investment
treaty. Empirically, we have found highly supportive evidence based on a
global sample of 7,564 cross-border acquisitions between the years of 2004
Chen VZ, Sun SL. 2018. Barbarians at the gate of
the middle kingdom: The international mobility of financing contract and
governance, Entrepreneurship Theory
and Practice, 43(4): 802-837.
Abstract: Focusing on equity ratchet
as a practice, we study how foreign private equity (PE) investors
interacted with local agents in the process of legitimation and
legalization of foreign financing contract and governance in the Chinese PE
industry, while it was underdeveloped. Based on seven cases in China, we
propose a three-stage micro-process model of international institutional
entrepreneurship in an emerging field with high ambiguity: framing a
motivational vision to promote a new practice; early adoption by local
non-mainstream agents who gain legitimacy from diverse sources of
institutional logic; and dominant mainstream adopters seeking legal
protection to sustain their benefits. Our theory extends the emerging
discussion on the transfer of corporate governance and institutional entrepreneurship
J, Newenham-Kahindi A, Shapiro DM, Chen VZ. 2013. The two-tier bargaining model
revisited: Theory and evidence from China’s natural resource investments in
Africa. Global Strategy Journal, 3, 300-321.
Abstract: In recent years, foreign direct investment (FDI)
in natural resource industries by Chinese firms in Africa has increased
rapidly. The strategic importance of the natural resource sector to host
country governments produces considerable bargaining over entry and
operating terms, with attendant political risks. Using case studies in
Tanzania, we find that the Chinese government and firms engage in a
bargaining model different from the traditional models. Specifically, they
engage in a modified one-tier bargaining model in which the Chinese
government represents the collective interests of Chinese natural resource
firms to negotiate with the host country government. In exchange for
investment deals in the natural resource sector, the Chinese government
offers a package with loans that support multiple-purpose development
projects in various sectors, with a focus on infrastructure. Chinese firms
act as a group to fulfill the Chinese government’s commitments to the host
country government. We discuss the boundary conditions for this Chinese-style
bargaining model and its relationship to political risk. We conclude that
the Chinese model has unique elements, although they are likely limited to
resource investments in developing countries.
SELECTED PUBLICATIONS FOR
MANAGERS & POLICY MAKERS
Chen VZ, Li Y. &
Hambright S. (2016). Regulatory institutions and Chinese outward FDI: An empirical review. Multinational Business Review, 24(4), 302-333.
Abstract: This paper seeks to review the effects of home
regulatory institutions on outward FDI (OFDI) in the context of China and
discuss the extent to which they can be extended to other emerging markets.
We especially compare these empirical studies with theoretical discussions
in each category, identify research gaps, and suggest future research
ideas. It focuses specifically on three categories of regulatory
institutions, including overall institutional development, liberalization
of OFDI policies, and state ownership (and its closely approximate forms).
Using a systematic review, this paper has reviewed 26 empirical studies (23
quantitative and 3 qualitative studies) published in peer-reviewed
journals. These studies suggest that overall institutional development
towards a market economy in general leads to increased OFDI, but this effect
is contingent on the stage of such development and the capabilities of
Chinese multinationals. Liberalized and supportive OFDI policies also
facilitate OFDI activities, but only into selective areas. Findings on
state ownership have been mixed. This review offers a full picture of
empirical evidence on how multiple levels of regulatory institutions affect
OFDI from China. In this way, we can identify the research gaps between
theoretical discussions on home institutions and OFDI and empirical
evidence. Thus we make suggestions for future directions of studies.
Chen VZ, & Johnson
LL. (2014). Emerging market multinationals and social responsibility: An
institutional pressure perspective (Editorial summary). Transnational
Corporations, 22(3), 1-4.
Abstract: While there is a growing body of literature
focusing on EMNEs (for reviews, see Gammeltoft, Barnard, and Madhok, 2010;
Luo and Tung, 2007; Ramamurti, 2012), many issues about these firms’
development effects remain underexplored. It is for this reason that we
organized this special issue. The three articles that are part of this
collection highlight the most salient and pressing issues regarding EMNEs:
In what sectors and locations are EMNEs investing, and what impacts might
these investments have on sustainable development? Are EMNEs dedicating
efforts to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and if so, through what
types of activities? What is driving the firms’ engagement with CSR? And
how can and should institutions in home countries, host countries, and many
initiatives targeting MNEs – e.g., the IFC Performance Standards, the
Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, and the OECD Guidelines
for Multinational Enterprises – have typically been launched and influenced
by developed countries and their firms, emerging markets and EMNEs are
increasingly playing a role; and with initiatives such as the BRICS New
Development Bank, that role will continue to expand and become even more
crucial for ensuring the contribution of international investment to
Sauvant KP & Chen
VZ (2014). China needs a “going in” strategy to complement its
“going out” strategy”. Columbia FDI Perspectives, No. 121.
Abstract: China’s rising outward
foreign direct investment (OFDI) faces rising skepticism abroad. This is
partly the result of the leading role of state-owned enterprises in her
OFDI (and the fear that it serves non-commercial purposes), the speed with
which this investment has grown, the negative image of the home country in
some quarters, and the challenges it poses to established competitors.
Moreover, Chinese multinational enterprises (MNEs) may not always keep in
mind that host countries see FDI as a tool to advance their own development
and hence seek maximum benefits from it.
Sauvant KP & Chen VZ (2013). China’s regulatory
framework for outward foreign direct investment. China Economic Journal,
7(1), 141-163. (Listed on Taylor
& Francis most read articles in 2014 in Social Sciences)
Abstract: China has become the world’s third largest
outward investor, behind the United States and Japan. A growing body of
literature suggests that China’s regulatory framework for outward foreign
direct investment (OFDI) is a determinant of the country’s rising OFDI.
This paper presents a holistic review of that framework, including some
possibilities for its improvement. Overall, China’s framework serves two
objectives: to help Chinese firms become more competitive internationally
and to assist the country in its development effort. In pursuing these
objectives, the regulatory framework has moved from restricting, to
facilitating, to supporting, to encouraging OFDI; but there are still
strong elements of administrative control that make it cumbersome.
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) seem to benefit particularly from the
current framework when internationalizing through FDI.
Globerman S & Chen
VZ (2010). Best policy practices for
promoting inward and outward foreign direct investment. Ottawa, Canada:
Conference Board of Canada.
Abstract: This report identifies and discusses best
practices to attract and promote inward and outward foreign direct
investment. To better inform Canadian policy-making at various levels of
government, this report provides an extensive and systematic review of the
empirical evidence on the public policies and other factors that influence
foreign investors. The report also evaluates which policies and other
factors affect the degree to which foreign direct investment improves
productivity and leverages other benefits in the economies receiving the
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