Jing Li of SFU's Beedie School of Business is investigating how multinational companies can find opportunities in uncertain markets.
SFU’s Jing Li is an emerging leader in strategic management research whose evidence-based contributions are giving multinational corporations an edge when it comes to weathering uncertain political environments and markets.
Specifically, her investigations into where and how firms originating from emerging markets (in Li’s case, China) invest, and which factors contribute to successful global investment, promise to strengthen Canada’s innovation and investment environments and the performance of firms in an open market, that is, areas that are proving themselves to be increasingly relevant in a post-globalization landscape.
Li completed her doctoral work at Indiana University under the late Alan M. Rugman, a vanguard scholar in the field of international strategic management research. Together, they spearheaded a novel research approach that advanced the field by applying a “real options” lens to reveal new insights about how multinational enterprises make decisions in response to uncertain markets, political environments and technological conditions. They tested and refined the practical applications of this approach, utilizing advances in game theory and computer modeling, the results challenging the assumption that uncertainty equals risk, suggesting that it can also offer opportunities which firms can take advantage of via flexible international investment strategies.
In 2004, Li joined SFU’s Beedie School of Business as an assistant professor lecturing on global investment strategies. She is also associate director of the Jack Austin Center for Asia Pacific Business Studies at SFU, a partnership with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada) whose goal is to carry out research, outreach and training activities on business issues relevant to Canada’s interests in the Asia Pacific region.
In the latter role, she has worked with APF Canada to develop seminars that help newly immigrated Chinese entrepreneurs integrate, and she is also collaborating with the China Canada Chamber of Commerce on the first systematic study on Chinese firms in Canada. While the research is still in the early stages, Li says, “From conducting interviews with Chinese business managers, we’ve found that many of them face great challenges in terms of gaining legitimacy or acceptance in Canada due to substantial differences between the two countries’ institutions, cultures, norms, and business practices. CEOs of local Chinese subsidies in Canada play a critical role in bridging the differences, but they need to be able to both have a deep understanding of the local environment and they need to communicate effectively with headquarters in China. This represents one primary challenge facing Chinese firms that are eager to integrate into the Canadian business environment.”
In 2015, Li was named Canada Research Chair in Global Investment Strategy to continue her study of the global investment strategies of emerging market firms. And this year, she was named to the Royal Society of Canada College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, a collegium of scholars who have demonstrated an exceptional level of achievement at an early stage in their career.
In a little more than a decade, Professor Li has built an impressive research record of peer-reviewed research and is on track as an emerging leader in her field. Her influence reaches far beyond SFU to the international research community, and beyond the academy where she has helped build a community of stakeholders who are engaged in sharing best practices.
“I have benefited significantly from the strong research atmosphere at SFU, from the exchange of ideas and collaborations with my colleagues,” says Li. “I also benefit a great deal from being involved in the Jack Austin Center for Asia Pacific Business Studies because it provides me with important links to business communities and government agencies, which improves the practical relevance of my research.”
Dr. Jing Li joined the Beedie School of Business in 2004 where she is both an associate professor and associate director of the Jack Austin Center for Asia Pacific Business Studies. Her research interests include international investment strategies of firms, emerging market multinational enterprises, management of international joint ventures, and innovations in emerging markets. She has published over 20 articles in various international business and strategy journals and sits on the editorial review boards of ten journals, including Strategic Management Journal and Journal of International Business Studies. She also serves as Senior Editor for the Asia Pacific Journal of Management and Management and Organization Review. She is both a Canada Research Chair in Global Investment Strategy and a member of the Royal Society of Canada College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.
Q & A with Jing Li
If you could sum up the value of university research in one word, what would it be?
What motivates you as a researcher?
To create knowledge that improves business performance and government-policy effectiveness, and ultimately the betterment of the world.
How important is collaboration in advancing research?
Collaboration brings in new, complementary perspectives, which are critical to produce creative knowledge.
Putting one’s work out into the world often requires a leap of courage. Where do you find your courage?
Academic research becomes more valuable and impactful when we communicate our work with others and in some way change their minds. Such communications also help me find new research directions.