Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship
Carlson School of Management
University of Minnesota
321 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis MN 55455
Office: Rm 3-416
Email: luoj "at" umn "dot" edu
My research is at the intersection of organization theory and non-market strategy. Building on the notion that non-market activities may benefit firm performance, my work addresses the question of why firms engage in these activities, under which conditions might nonmarket activities benefit shareholders, and what may be the impact of firms' nonmarket actions on society separate from the impact on firms. My research contexts include both corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities and collective governance arrangements.
Peer Reviewed Journals
We explore transposition–bringing ideas from one context to a distant other context–as a mechanism for institutional change, and we study the conditions under which institutional actors successfully undertake it. Prior work on transposition has emphasized the paradox of embedded agency: actors embedded in a context may struggle to effect change because they lack exposure to fresh ideas. We complement this work by arguing that transposition is also subject to a paradox of peripheral influence: actors not embedded in a context, who may be a source of fresh ideas, can struggle to effect change because of their peripheral or outsider status. We suggest that these dual paradoxes can be overcome by actors who simultaneously have exposure to alternative institutional environments and are sufficiently embedded in the focal field to gain trust and buy-in from other decision makers. Such actors can both see the potential of new ideas and navigate their implementation successfully. We identify returnees from abroad, who have studied or worked elsewhere and then emigrated back to their home country, as one such type of actor. Using data on publicly listed Chinese companies from 2000 to 2012, we show that the presence on firms' boards of directors of returnees with relevant exposure abroad significantly raises firms' participation in corporate social responsibility, specifically in the form of making corporate donations. Supporting our theorizing about the two paradoxes, the effect of returnees is stronger when they or their board allies have greater exposure to foreign experience and greater embeddedness in the local context. The effect is also stronger when field conditions, such as insufficient economic development, present greater need for change.
We connect two distinct streams of research on categories to study the role of within-category typicality in the context of legitimacy shocks. We argue that, following a legitimacy shock, member organizations of the tainted, focal category suffer equally, irrespective of their typicality. However, only the typical members of the newly favored, oppositional category benefit. Therefore, the effects of legitimacy shocks are asymmetrically influenced by typicality. We argue this pattern is the result of a two-stage process of categorization by audiences, whereby audiences prioritize distinctions between organizations in a newly favored category, and spend limited efforts considering distinctions in the tainted, focal category. We examine our theory in the context of the U.S. financial services industry, where four different kinds of organizations engage in competition: traditional commercial banks, community banks, single-bond credit unions, and multi-bond credit unions. Consistent with our theory, we show that both traditional commercial banks and community banks suffer in terms of deposit market share following the legitimacy shock of the 2007 financial crisis, but the relative gains to credit unions are strongest for single-bond credit unions.
with A. Kaul, 2019, Strategic Management Journal, 40(4), 476-502
We develop a theoretical framework to define the comparatively efficient organizational form for dealing with a social issue, based on the market frictions associated with it. Specifically, we argue that for-profits have an advantage in undertaking innovation and coordinating production economies, nonprofits in playing a fiduciary role given ex post information asymmetry, self-governing collectives in dealing with bounded externalities through private ordering, and state bureaucracies in governing general externalities. We build on these arguments to develop a mapping between combinations of these market frictions and the comparatively efficient arrangements to govern them, including a variety of hybrid arrangements such as private-public partnerships, social enterprises, corporate social responsibility, and so on. Our framework thus contributes to research in strategy, organizations, and public policy.
We study the use of corporate philanthropy as a form of reputation insurance, developing a formal model of such insurance to examine how the terms of insurance in equilibrium change under different assumptions about the firm and its stakeholders. We then test the predictions from this model in the U.S. petroleum industry and find that philanthropic donations offer insurance-like benefits, but are also positively associated with subsequent oil spills–firms that give more, spill more–with this association being stronger for spills that are under firms' control and in states with low civic capacity. These results are consistent with an adverse selection/moral hazard equilibrium and suggest that the use of philanthropy as reputation insurance may benefit firms at the cost of society.
with A. Kaul, 2018, Strategic Management Journal, 39(6), 1650-1677
We develop a formal model of CSR, with both a for-profit and a non-profit organization providing social goods to needy recipients and competing for resources from consumers. We show that CSR results in financial benefit if it is either related to the firm's core business, or non-overlapping with non-profit efforts, but only leads to social benefit if both conditions apply, with these relationships being moderated by the firm's core business capabilities. Our article thus makes a case for CSR based on the comparative efficiency of for-profits in providing social goods relative to non-profits, while also highlighting the potential divergence between the financial and social impact of CSR. In addition, it offers new insights into the heterogeneity of CSR, and the role of non-profits and hybrids.
with C. Flammer, 2017, Strategic Management Journal, 38(2), 163-183
This study examines whether companies employ corporate social responsibility (CSR) to improve employee engagement and mitigate adverse behavior at the workplace (e.g., shirking, absenteeism). We exploit plausibly exogenous changes in state unemployment insurance (UI) benefits from 1991 to 2013. Higher UI benefits reduce the cost of being unemployed and hence increase employees' incentives to engage in adverse behavior. We find that higher UI benefits are associated with higher engagement in employee-related CSR. This finding suggests that companies use CSR as a strategic management tool–specifically, an employee governance tool–to increase employee engagement and counter the possibility of adverse behavior. We further examine plausible mechanisms underlying this relationship.
In this paper, we develop an account of the failure of private market-governance institutions to maintain market order by highlighting how control of their distributional function by powerful elites limits their regulatory capacity. We examine the New York Clearing House Association (NYCHA), a private market-governance institution among commercial banks in Manhattan that operated from 1853 to 1913. We find that the NYCHA, founded to achieve coordinating benefits among banks and to limit the effect of financial panics, evolved at the turn of the twentieth century into a device for large, elite market players to promote their own interests to the disadvantage of rival groups that were not members. Elites prevented the rest of the market from having equal opportunities to participate in emergency loan programs during bank panics. The elites' control not only worsened the condition of the rest of the market by allowing non-member banks to fail; it also diminished the influence of the NYCHA and escalated market crises as bank failures spread to member banks. As a result, crises developed to an extent that exceeded the control of the NYCHA and ended up hurting even elites' own interests. This paper suggests that institutional stability rests on a deliberate balance of interests between different market sectors and that, without such a balance, the distributional function of market-governance institutions plants the seeds of institutional destruction.
with H. Seo, A. Kaul, 2018, Academy of Management, STR Division Best Paper Proceedings, Chicago, Illinois
with D. Chen, J. Chen, 2016, Academy of Management, OMT Division Best Paper Proceedings, Anaheim, California
with A. Kaul, 2015, Academy of Management, BPS Division Best Paper Proceedings, Vancouver, Canada
with L. Q. Yue, P. Ingram, 2009, Academy of Management, OMT Division Best Paper Proceedings, Chicago, Illinois
Selected Work Under Review/In Progress
with A. Kaul
with A. Kaul
with P. Ingram
with P. Ingram, J. P. Eshun, 2010, in W. D. Sine and R. D. Robert (eds.), Research in the Sociology of Work, 21, 127-155
MGMT3010 Introduction to Entrepreneurship
MGMT3004 Strategic Management
Cornell University (AEP/SBE seminar); Duke University (Fuqua: Strategy); Georgetown University (McDonough: Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy); INSEAD (Strategy); National University of Singapore (Business School: Strategy & Policy); Nanyang Technological University (Business School: Strategy, Management & Organisation); Northwestern University (Kellogg: Social Movement/Enterprise Workshop); Peking University (Guanghua: Strategic Management); Rice University (Jones: Strategy); Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Antai: Organization Management); Singapore Management University (Lee Kong Chian: Strategy and Organisation); Temple University (Fox: GBM); University of California, Berkeley (Haas: Management & Organizational Studies); University of Michigan (Ross: Management & Organizations); University of Michigan (Ross: Strategy); University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler: Strategy & Entrepreneurship); University of Pennsylvania (Wharton: Management); University of Texas Austin (McCombs: Management); University of Western Ontario (Ivey: General Management); University of Wisconsin-Madison (School of Business: Management & Human Resources); Washington University in St. Louis (Olin Business School: Strategy and Entrepreneurship)
2019 Responsible Research in Business & Management Award, Finalist
Community for Responsible Research in Business and Management & International Association for Chinese Management Research
2018-2019 Best Reviewer Award
Strategic Management Journal
2017-2018 Best Reviewer Award
Strategic Management Journal
2018 Distinguished Paper Award
Academy of Management STR Division
2018 Outstanding Paper Award
Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability Conference
2016 Best Paper on Environmental and Social Practices Award, Finalist
Academy of Management Conference, OMT Division
2016 Founders Day Teaching Award
Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota
2015 SMS Best Conference Paper Prize, Honorable Mention
Strategic Management Conference
2010 TADC Best Paper Award, Strategy Track
London School of Business Transatlantic Doctoral Conference
2009 Donald C. Hambrick Award for Excellence in the Ph.D. Program
Columbia Business School
Associate Editor, Strategic Management Journal, July 2020 -
Editorial Review Board, Organization Science, July 2020 -
Editorial Review Board, Administrative Science Quarterly, January 2020 -
Editorial Review Board, Academy of Management Review, March 2018 -
Executive Committee, Academy of Management, Strategic Management (STR) Division, 2019 - 2021
Representative-at-large, Strategic Management Society, Competitive Strategy IG, 2018 - 2020
Representative-at-large, Strategic Management Society, Stakeholder Strategy Strategy IG, 2018 - 2020
Research Committee Member, Academy of Management, Organization and Management Theory (OMT) Division, 2017 - 2019
Research Committee Member, Academy of Management, Strategic Management (STR, formerly BPS) Division, 2016 - 2018
Ad-hoc Reviewer, Academy of Management Discovery; Academy of Management Journal; American Sociological Review; California Management Review; Journal of Business Ethics; Journal of Economics & Management Strategy; Journal of Management Studies; Management Science; Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes; Organization & Environment; Strategic Organization; Sustainability; Academy of Management Annual Conference; Academy of International Business Conference; Strategic Management Society Annual Conference; Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability Conference; INFORMS Organization Science Dissertation Proposal Competition; SMS Annual Conference PHD Paper Prize