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Academic entrepreneurship | Selected Publications





Founder (2018 – Present): Global OpenLabs for Performance-Enhancement Analytics and Knowledge System (


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Global Coordinator (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 development.


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Chen VZ., & Hitt MA. 2021. Knowledge synthesis for scientific management: practical integration for complexity versus scientific fragmentation for simplicity. Journal of Management Inquiry, 30(2), 177-192.


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 enterprise”).


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.



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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 and 2013.



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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 across borders.



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Li 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.



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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 investment.



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