The main objective of my research is to better understand how firms manage their political and social environments across different national and institutional settings. My most recently published work focuses on how firms respond to political and nonmarket risks, examining aspects of strategy such as firm location, divestitures and maintaining operational performance. I have also published research on the design of international institutions and the international legal regime governing the cross-border activities of multinational firms.
My current projects examine a range of related topics including how firms manage challenges associated with the rise of populism, as well as the institutional drivers of corporate political influence across countries.
2021. Risk is Relative: Heterogeneous Responses to Institutional Risks for Foreign Investment. International Studies Quarterly. 65:3, 594-605. (co-authored with Quintin H. Beazer).
Abstract: Are economic actors equally sensitive to institutional conditions? While existing research recognizes that institutions can have varying effects on actors’ interests, the implicit assumption is that actors are homogeneous in how sensitive they are to their institutional environment. We investigate this assumption in the context of foreign direct investment, arguing that actors from countries with weaker institutions will be less affected by information about host country institutional conditions—both good and bad. We test this argument using survey data from a diverse group of managers-in-training at an international business school. We find that when asked to evaluate a potential foreign investment location, respondents from developing countries are significantly less sensitive to information about the host country’s courts than their counterparts from developed economies. In contrast, we find that economic actors from both developed and developing countries respond similarly to information about the stability of economic policies. The findings suggest that sensitivity to the risks and safeguards of certain institutional conditions vary systematically across actors, depending on both the home environment to which economic actors have been exposed and the type of host institution.
2019. Managing Policy Reversals: Consequences for Firm Performance. Strategy Science. 4:2, 111-128. (Co-authored with Srividya Jandhyala)
Abstract: The recent revival of populism and nationalism across many parts of the world threatens to unravel the market-oriented reforms of the previous era. We examine the impact of the reversal of a previously adopted market-expanding policy on organizational performance. We argue that these policy reversals are contested; affected firms undertake a broad range of political and nonmarket activities to alter the implementation of the policy and buffer themselves from adverse consequences. However, these activities can increase policy uncertainty while making new demands on management, leading to diminished investment and a reallocation of finite managerial resources. The result is that firm performance on operational parameters suffers, including in locations that are not directly affected by the policy reversal. To empirically isolate this effect, we exploit an unexpected policy reversal in the context of telecommunications firms in India. Through an example caselet, we first outline the political and nonmarket activities of one firm affected by the unexpected policy reversal. We then empirically examine the performance of affected and unaffected telecommunication firms using a difference-in-differences approach to provide support for our arguments.
2019. The Organizational Implications of Brexit. Journal of Organization Design. 8:6, doi.org/10.1186/s41469-019-0047-8. (Co-authored with Caterina Moschieri)
Abstract: This point-of-view article examines the organizational implications of the UK’s exit from the European Union (Brexit). We identify the effects of Brexit on firms’ transaction costs in cross-border trade within Europe and highlight the importance of EU residency to secure licenses to operate. We also address how access to skilled labor may be affected by rising restrictions to immigration. Finally, we discuss the possible implications of Brexit for the organizational design of British firms and
foreign firms operating in the UK.
2018. The Conditional Nature of Political Risk: How Home Institutions Influence the Location of Foreign Direct Investment. The American Journal of Political Science. 62:2, 470-485. (Co-authored with Quintin H. Beazer)
Abstract: What determines whether countries' institutions attract or deter investment? Although existing theories predict that multinational enterprises (MNEs) will avoid locations where institutions cannot constrain the opportunistic behavior of public and private actors, we argue that the attractiveness of host country institutions depends on the institutions that investing firms have encountered at home. By shaping firms' practices and capabilities, home country institutions help determine the institutional environment that firms are best prepared to deal with when investing abroad. Applying this argument specifically to judicial independence, we test our predictions using multiple datasets at different levels of analysis: firm-level data on MNEs' foreign subsidiaries, data on bilateral foreign direct investment (FDI) positions, and longitudinal data on bilateral FDI flows. We find that states with independent judiciaries are particularly attractive to investment from countries also possessing independent courts. Similarly, FDI from countries with low judicial independence goes disproportionately to host countries lacking independent judiciaries.
2017. Policy Risk, Strategic Decisions, and Contagion Effects: Firm-Specific Considerations. Strategic Management Journal, 38:3, 732–750. (Co-authored with Caterina Moschieri)
An earlier version of this article received the Best Paper Award at the 2015 Reading University-UNCTAD International Business Conference
Abstract: What is the impact of change in the firm-specific environment on firm strategy? We argue that when firms directly experience a negative change in their policy environment that is specific to them, they negatively reassess their exposure to policy risk and their ability to manage their policy environment, which makes them more likely to undertake a divestiture. We analyze formal disputes between firms and governments that arise from adverse changes in policy and find that following a dispute firms are more likely to divest in the country where the dispute occurs and in other countries in the same region. However, the impact of disputes on divestitures is firm specific as it applies only to firms directly involved in a dispute.
2016. Frame or Get Framed: The Critical Role of Issue Framing in Nonmarket Management. California Management Review, 58:3, 66-87. (Co-authored with David Bach)
Abstract: How a social or political issue is framed shapes the 'nonmarket' context that surrounds it. Issue frames are not random; rather they are the product of strategic behavior by firms, government agencies, NGOs, and similar actors. Frames are not fixed and issues can be reframed over time. Framing is a powerful strategic tool that enables firms to shape the structure of the nonmarket environment to their advantage. The article identifies and illustrates five distinct pathways through which firms can shape different dimensions of the nonmarket environment.
2015. Balancing Design Objectives: Analyzing New Data on Voting Rules in Intergovernmental Organizations. The Review of International Organizations, 10:3, 377-402. (Co-authored with Autumn Lockwood Payton)
Abstract: This article presents a new data set on one of the most visible features of institutional design - voting rules. The data set covers 266 intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) that vary in size and substantive scope and includes data on IGO issue area and founding membership characteristics that complement the measures on voting rules. The article outlines the characteristics and categorization of voting rules in the data set and establishes the broader importance of voting rules by illustrating how they help states achieve four core institutional design objectives: control, compliance, responsiveness, and effective membership. The utility of the data set and patterns in the relationships between its variables are identified through the evaluation of preliminary propositions connecting institutional context and voting rule selection. The preliminary findings emerging from this analysis establish a platform for further analyses of voting rules in IGOs, as well as other dimensions of the design and function of IGOs.
2013. Thinking Ahead: Government Time Horizons and the Legalization of International Investment Agreements. International Organization, 67:4, 797-827.
Abstract: International institutions help governments make credible commitments to other state and non-state actors by raising the costs of commitment violation. However, in doing so these institutions generate sovereignty costs for national governments by constraining the autonomy they have to develop and implement policy. In this paper, I argue that governments respond to this trade-off between the credibility of commitments and policy autonomy differently depending on their time horizons and this shapes their preferences over the design of credibility enhancing institutions. Governments with long time horizons expect to govern in the future, anticipate that conditions may shift over time, and therefore they seek institutional designs that will afford them greater freedom to modify policies in response to changing economic and political conditions. Governments with shorter time horizons, on the other hand, do not anticipate being in power long into the future and therefore are less concerned about maintaining greater “room to move”. This argument is developed in the context of bilateral investment treaties (BITs), focusing in particular on the legalization of obligation in national treatment commitments, and it is tested using an original data set of the design of national treatment obligations in a random sample of 342 BITs. I find that net importers of FDI with longer time horizons are more likely to build in greater policy autonomy in their BITs by scaling back the legalization of their national treatment obligations and that this relationship is robust to controlling for selection into investment treaties.
Current projects & working papers