Research

Research

My research philosophy is brief: “Stay Humble” and “Keep it Simple.” Management research is not a fashion show. Fancy theories and sensational cases will disappear eventually. Only findings that can guide and improve real business will be left.

Current Research

My current study introduces motivation theories into operational risk analysis, exploring a new direction for organizational behavior studies in the risk management field. In particular, it identifies and analyzes one specific type of operational risk: motivational risk. The study asserts that organizations can never know exactly what their employees’ work motivations are.

Based on motivation theories, individuals are motivated to do their jobs; therefore, employees’ work behavior may differ from what organizations expect due to the latter’s uncertainty about the former’s motivation. Employees’ unexpected behaviors may be harmful to a business, leading to financial losses. I proposed a theoretical framework called motivational risk framework (MRF) to assess the risk caused by uncertainty of employees’ motivation (motivational risk). This framework will not only improve the assessment of operational risk caused by employees, it will also illustrate how behavior studies can be integrated into risk analysis.

Previous Research

My dissertation research was designed to identify how an individual’s work motivation affects his/her organizational commitment and job satisfaction in different countries. The research was a cross-cultural study based on data collected from the United States and China. The research concluded that employees motivated by the enjoyment of their job will have high levels of commitment to their organization and greater job satisfaction. Unlike employees in the U.S., employees in China do not regard the loss of enjoyment of their job as a consequence associated with leaving an organization. The most important finding of this research is that monetary reward is much more important in China than in the U.S. in terms of affecting an employee’s organizational commitment.

My dissertation research is in both international management and organizational behavior fields. 330 samples were collected by questionnaire from education and research institutions in the two countries and analyzed using partial least square (PLS) based structural equation modeling (SEM).

In addition to motivation theories, my research area also includes international business, operational risk analysis, leadership, and group decision-making. My international business research focuses on how corruption and economic freedom affect foreign direct investment (FDI) and international trade flow. My focal area is East Asia and the BRIC countries. Most of my research applied the gravity model. Theoretically, low economic freedom and a high level of corruption will block FDI. However, my studies found interesting results. After controlling of GDP, more FDI occurred between countries with very different levels of economic freedom than countries with similar economic freedom. As it relates to corruption, the results were mixed. Generally speaking, a high level of corruption does harm bilateral trade. However, if the trade partners have a similar level of corruption, they tend to have a higher bilateral trade volume. 

My leadership research mainly focused on how leadership style, especially charismatic leadership, affects control mechanisms and organizational outcome. For my group decision-making research, I studied the moderating effect of mutual interest in the group decision-making process. My results showed that mutual interest among group members moderates the relation between negative behavior and decision quality as well as participation and decision quality.

In another study, I added a dynamic factor into the Social Judgment Scheme (SJS) to prove the importance of information lag between group members. SJS predicts a group’s decision in the case of a group without a leader based on members’ decision similarity. I applied agent based modeling (ABM) to show that if members do not share information instantly, the information lag may significantly affect their group’s decision.

In a study on random strategic risk, I applied a computer simulation to test whether companies’ wrong/random strategy can help them survive long-term. That is, from the strategy perspective, can a company survive in a competitive environment based on pure luck? My results showed that if a company can gain enough competitive advantage in the early stage, it can survive in the long run regardless of its strategic choices. 

In the risk analysis field, I was a charter member in the Society of Risk Analysis China Branch (SRA-China) and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Risk Analysis and Crisis Response (JRACR). My previous work in the area of risk analysis mainly focused on establishing a basic framework for operational risk assessment. Operational risk is severe but highly unpredictable due to the dynamic factors of an organization’s internal environment. It also requires a large amount of historical data to conduct traditional statistical risk analysis. Unfortunately, most organizations do not maintain enough data. Instead, I proposed a very basic weighted mean model which broke business processes into different phases and allowed managers to assign risk levels in different phases based on their own judgments.