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Mike Wright

25 November 2019

Today my dear friend, colleague, co-author, mentor and former Ph.D. supervisor Professor Mike Wright passed away after a short battle with lung cancer. I am terribly saddened by this news. He is irreplaceable not only for me but for many others that he inspired over his wonderful life. But I am also so grateful to have had worked with Mike over the last nine years.

Mike was not only a brilliant scholar and a kind person, but also a person I could trust, always giving this bit of advice that only someone who knew the world of academia inside out could give. He knew how to work with people and was often the ‘glue’ of teams of co-authors that he put together. I remember I asked him how he managed to edit 10 books and 20 special issues at a time with so many people. He just knew the whole world.

A lot of Mike’s work at the beginning of his career was done around privatization in Russia, CIS, and CEE, corporate governance, and strategy in emerging economies. Some of his most cited works – e.g., AMJ (2000) and JMS (2005) are from that period. His research reached into so many different areas – entrepreneurship (he is the most cited scholar in the field of entrepreneurship only according to Google Scholar), private equity and buyouts, university spin-outs, and many others (according to his Imperial web site, he has written over 40 books and more than 300 papers in academic and professional journals, but even that is probably an understatement!).

He agreed to become one of my supervisors shortly after he joined Imperial College in 2011. I was doing work on corporate governance in Russia and he was still interested in this field. I remember our first supervision meetings. Mike would sit in front of his computer, halfway turned towards me, and while I was bubbling away about my progress, he would listen, comment, occasionally refer to a JMS or SMJ article from a few years ago (he literally knew by heart the content of each issue) and AT THE SAME TIME write editorial decision letters, edit manuscripts, respond to emails, and many other things like arranging his train rides between Nottingham and London. I learned to share Mike’s time with many other people. This is how Mike worked, and this is why he was so prolific. After I graduated, I continued to work with Mike and published my first paper with him and Ilya Okhmatovskiy on state control in transition economies, and then published another paper with him and Ruth Aguilera originating from my Ph.D. work on Russia’s corporate governance. We went on to organize an SMS extension on state capitalism in 2018 and secured a contract with Oxford University Press for the Handbook on State Capitalism (co-edited with Geoff Wood, Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra, Pei Sun and Ilya Okhmatovskiy) and also launched a call for the special issue on State Capitalism in Journal of World Business.

As many know, Mike was a huge fan of Bob Dylan. His skype profile was Bob Dylan’s picture. He was also a BlackBerry fan. Hence he was either responding a second later or never.

I am sure there would be many aspects of Mike’s work or his wonderful personality that people would remember. This is Mike how I will always remember him. I have been lucky enough to work with him, and I will continue to work on the projects we started, for him, for his legacy.

State Capitalism SMS Extension

State Capitalism and the Firm Conference, Boston, 2019

State Capitalism and the Firm
Sunday, 11th August 2019, 08:30-19:00 Northeastern University, Raytheon Amphitheater at the Egan Research Center 120 Forsyth St, Boston, MA 02115
This mini-conference organized by Northeastern University, Loughborough University London, and Brandeis University, brings together scholars from a variety of academic disciplines to explore how capitalism works today. It will examine new forms of state capitalism that often cross the boundaries that traditionally separated state enterprises and private businesses. This separation was reflected in prior research focused on the antecedents and consequences of nationalization and privatization of companies. However, the distinction between state and private, between political logic and market logic becomes blurry when we consider some of the companies that raised to prominence during the last 10-20 years. Such hybrid organizations can be found all over the world, but they play a particularly prominent role in emerging economies. During this mini-conference, topics will be addressed, such as the internationalization of state-owned firms, state-owned business groups, investment strategies of sovereign wealth funds, the effect of state ownership on innovation patterns, and several others.
The conference is free but space is limited, please register here: https://damore-mckim.northeastern.edu/events/state-capitalism-and-the-firm-conference/
The keynote speakers at the event are leading scholars in State Capitalism, starting with Professor Ruth V. Aguilera, most known for her scholarly contribution to the development of theories of comparative corporate governance.
Professor Yasheng Huang, MIT, undeniably one of the top scholars on China’s State Capitalism will do another keynote at the event.
Also speaking at the conference is Professor Christopher Marquis, Cornell, Associate Editor ASQ Journal, known for his top research on CSR. Professor William L. Megginson, University of Oklahoma, an American economist who is most known for his earlier works on privatization will share with us his latest research on state capitalism from a financial economics perspective.
If you are interested in the recent developments of State Capitalism in Brazil, Professor Aldo Musacchio will chair a panel with an industry speaker from BNDES on the impact of development banks on Brazilian economy.
The conference also includes a preview of the forthcoming OUP Handbook on State Capitalism and the Firm, and presentations by selected contributors, on state-owned multinationals, state CSR, state innovation, hybrid governance, regional views on Latin America, East Asia and Eastern Europe etc.

 

235373_NU_CEM_Capitalism_Flyer_FINAL

Research visit to LUISS University, Rome, Italy

In November 2018, I visited LUISS University, the department of Business & Management, led by Professor Alessandro Zattoni. I enjoyed very much my stay at LUISS, a fantastic research environment and a vibrant student community, and as part of the research visit, I gave a  Research Seminar on ‘Independent Directors and Share Repurchases’. I hope this is a start of future fruitful research collaborations. IMG-20181108-WA0007IMG_20181108_175952_207IMG_20181108_175952_204IMG_20181108_175952_206

 

The Effects of CEO turnover under conditions of complexity

In June 2018, I visited Higher School of Economics in St Petersburg, Russia. As part of this research collaboration, Dr Aleksandrova and myself presented our joint paper with Prof Mickiewicz and Prof. Liu on “The Effects of CEO Turnover under Conditions of Complexity” during a research seminar organized on June, 13th, 2018. Further details can be found this press release.

Anna Grosman (Loughborough University)
Tomasz Mickiewicz (Aston University)
Xiaohui Liu (University of Birmingham),
Ekaterina Aleksandrova (Higher School of Economics)

Abstract. We investigate why sometimes the new CEO brings a positive effect to the firm, and sometimes the short-term effect is negative. We posit that while both effects are present simultaneously, which one will dominate is contingent on complexity. We see the latter as an overarching heuristic concept that helps us to reconcile the phenomena that have not been integrated into one theory before. We argue that CEO turnover is unlikely to be positive in the short run and under conditions of complexity, precisely organizational complexity (related to larger firms or part of business groups), relational complexity (associated with firms with state or foreign ownership), or environmental complexity (for firms in high-tech industries or engaging in international trading). We stress bounded rationality and cognitive limitations.

Strategic Management Society Extension – State Capitalism

On September 21, 2018, Loughborough University London will host the extension of Strategic Management Society Conference on State Capitalism, funded by the Society for Advancement of Management Studies.

The theme of this extension is linked to the theme of the main conference, Strategies in the Era of De-Globalization. The rapid expansion of state-owned firms from emerging economies has been perceived as a potential threat by incumbents in advanced economies. Populist politicians have presented state-owned firms as rapacious acquirers that need to be stopped. The corruption scandals associated with the relationships between the state and state-owned firms also contributed to the perceived risks associated with the expansion of state-affiliated companies. As a result, state-affiliated companies that became important players in the globalization process also emerged as the central targets for the protectionists’ initiatives.

 

During this extension, we will be holding a paper development workshop session. If you are working on a paper about state capitalism and would like to receive feedback on your paper during this workshop, please email your proposal by August 1, 2018 to the extension organizers Anna Grosman (a.grosman@lboro.ac.uk), Ilya Okhmatovskiy (i.okhmatovskiy@novasbe.pt) and Mike Wright (mike.wright@imperial.ac.uk). Your proposal should follow the SMS proposal format. After reviewing the proposals, we will get back to all authors by August 15, 2018 and invite the authors of accepted proposals to submit full papers by September 1, 2018. This PDW is especially relevant for scholars who are interested in submitting their manuscripts to the Special Issue of Journal of World Business on “State Capitalism in International Context.”

More details can be found on http://www.lborolondon.ac.uk/institutes/innovation-entrepreneurship/strategic-management-society-state-capitalism/

To register for the event, please follow the link

Global world state capitalism

Extension organisers

Anna GrosmanLoughborough University London

Ilya OkhmatovskiyUniversidade Nova de Lisboa

Mike WrightImperial College London

Panellists

Alvaro Cuervo-CazurraNortheastern University

Jonathan DohVillanova University

Anna GrosmanLoughborough University London

Aldo MusacchioBrandeis University

Pei SunFudan University

Geoff WoodUniversity of Essex

 

 

An exciting guest lecture not to be missed! CEO and Founder of Azoomee, Douglas Lloyd | 3rd May, 1-2pm | LDN.1.03 |

azoomee-teaserAs part of Small Business Finance Module I am lecturing, I am hosting CEO and Founder of Azoomee, Douglas Lloyd.

Azoomee is an app designed to provide safe TV shows, games and audiobooks for children. Since its inception, the company has raised over £2.3m and recently raised £800,000 via Crowdcube (77% over its target).

Douglas has 12 years’ experience working in corporate finance and private equity in London, Paris and New York. Prior to Azoomee, Douglas co-founded, funded and built VB Research, a digital media business focusing on the renewable energy and cyber security sectors.

This guest lecture is open to all current students, staff and alumni.

 

The Good, the Great and the Independent: The Impact of Board Composition on Blockholder Appropriation

25.01.2017

I will present the paper “The Good, the Great and the Independent: The Impact of Board Composition on Blockholder Appropriation ” co-authored with Ruth Aguilera (Northeastern University) and Mike Wright (Imperial College) at a research seminar hosted by the UCL SSEES Centre for Comparative Studies of Emerging Economies.

Wednesday 25 January 2017, 12:30-14:00.

Location: UCL SSEES, 16 Taviton Street, London, WC1H 0BW. Room: 431

Convenor: Dr Elodie Douarin

Lunch refreshments will be provided. All Welcome.

http://bit.ly/2iMmIJs

 

 

30.09.2016

In September 2016, I took on a new lectureship position in the Glendonbrook Institute for Enterprise Development at Loughborough University London, located in the heart of Olympic Village in Stratford, London. I am excited to be part of this dynamic and growing research team, led by Prof. Wilfred Dolfsma.

I will teach core finance modules on the new Entrepreneurship, Finance and Innovation MSc programme in February 2017.

State Capitalism 2.0: Implications for international business and corporate governance

Global world state capitalism

What can we say about state capitalism in the 21st century? The term “state capitalism” used to refer primarily to state-owned enterprises competing with privately-owned companies on an unlevel playing field. More recently though, state capitalism has evolved and now includes more sophisticated and subtle means of state involvement, which we call “state capitalism 2.0”. It relies on new organizational forms that represent innovative hybrids of state and private capital, spanning both local and foreign domains, oftentimes used by the state to exercise its foreign policy goals alongside conventional social and financial objectives. As defined in Wood and Wright (2015), it “… involves an increase in the role of the state, but in a non-Keynesian direction, with the role of national governments shifting, delegating the exercise of key state functions to private players, but retaining active financial support and the means to sustain firms whose profits may depend less on market competition, superior services, or innovation, than the ability to secure government contracts and patronage”. This new role pushes states into the Schumpeterian world of growth-by-innovation beyond the traditional scope of the state, such as funding innovation in the private sector, engagement in cybersecurity and data intelligence, to name a few. These developments raise fundamental questions about the extent and cross-national differences in state capitalism and its implications for international business and corporate governance research.

Recent research indicates variability in outcomes of state involvement. It all depends on how the state decides to be involved – indirectly or via state-owned enterprises (SOEs), with majority or minority stakes, via sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), military industrial complexes, public-private partnerships (PPP), or state-owned multinational companies, and the list goes on. The institutional context also plays a role in determining what works and what does not. For example, when it comes to state capitalism’s features, China’s Party Committees, township and village enterprises, Confucian ethics, quanxi networks or Russia’s oligarchic-state network structures are deeply rooted in the historical and cultural heritage and would not be easily deployable in another context. The institutional context also affects the choice of international transactions that involve state-owned assets – exporting when the state is keen to maintain whole ownership, setting up joint ventures with foreign partners in the home country, or investing in businesses in host countries. In many occasions states promote internationalization of SOEs to achieve political or economic security objectives, such as facilitating political relationships between countries, obtaining foreign exchange for the home country, or extending the sphere of influence exercised by the home country government.

Below we explore new forms of state capitalism emerging in international context: state-owned multinational companies, sovereign wealth funds, state-business networks, SOEs corporate boards, and analyze implications for their corporate governance and performance.

State-Owned Multinational Companies

The globalization of SOEs led to the emergence of state-owned multinational companies (SOMNCs) with state becoming a cross-border investor in a variety of ways, as highlighted in research by Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra and colleagues (2014). The pro-market reforms of the 1970s that led to the privatization of many SOEs and the transition of communist countries to capitalism not only reduced the number of SOEs drastically but also changed their nature. Many of the remaining SOEs became partially state-owned or were subject to indirect influence via government loans, SWFs or implicit regulation. At the same time, they were given mandates to behave more like private firms and exposed to more competition. As a result, many became SOMNCs, but exhibited behavior that differed not only from private investors, but also from non-international SOEs. Thus, SOMNCs have become an interesting phenomenon to study.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) have become key players in the global economy, collectively managing $6 trillion in 2014 and with their total assets having surpassed that of hedge funds and private equity combined in less than a decade. SWFs differ from traditional SOEs as their activities are oftentimes cross-border as they invest outside their country of origin for a complex range of motives, from serving as a financial tool of diplomacy through to mitigating the negative consequences of the oil-dependent economies. They are primarily large investment organizations without pension liabilities that pursue long-term investment strategies. In his recent research, Mike Wright explored the implications of these different types of SWFs for the governance and performance of the firms in which they invest (Wood and Wright, 2015). Their portfolio organizational structure allows SWFs to have a better separation of management and control. However, SWFs are reluctant to engage in active governance, especially when the portfolio firm is foreign. To some extent this lack of involvement alleviates concerns that SWFs may pursue objectives other than profit maximization, such as political objectives or even tunneling.

Networks of private and state actors

State capitalism in emerging economies is characterized by extensive and dense state-business networks, in which business organizations develop and manage multifaceted relations with government organizations, politicians, and their cronies. Pei Sun researches China (Sun, Mellahi, Wright and Xu, 2015; Sun, Hu and Hillman, 2016) as an example of how country-specific institutional conditions determine which forms of state control emerge in a country where the role of state is particularly prominent. His research shows a mixture of state capitalism and crony capitalism in China and explores how value is created and captured in state-business networks.

The governance of SOEs: board composition and independence

The adoption of best corporate governance practices in state-controlled firms remains quite limited. The work of Anna Grosman focuses on board composition in SOEs and oligarch-owned firms (Grosman, Aguilera and Wright, 2015) in Russia. SOEs in Russia lack expertise in entering foreign markets and also in developing new markets. Are foreign board members attractive because their networks and human capital facilitate foreign entry, i.e. do they perform a value-adding rather than monitoring function? Based on a unique dataset of Russian listed firms, Grosman investigates how board composition may affect investment behavior. She finds that SOEs with foreign listings benefit less from independent directors, having adopted a large number of governance mechanisms to gain legitimacy prior to listing. Conversely, in SOEs listed only locally, independent directors engage in monitoring to a greater extent, to compensate for the institutional voids created by the lack of state monitoring. Across all firms, foreign independent directors are found to be influential, while foreign affiliated directors exercise little influence on investment behavior.

Cross-national differences in corporate governance of SOEs

In his recent research, Ilya Okhmatovskiy investigates how corporate governance of SOEs reconciles interests of the state and private investors across institutional contexts. Modern state capitalism is characterized by crossing the boundaries between state and private ownership. Mixed private-state ownership is associated with the tension between shareholder value maximization goals of private investors and socio-political goals of the state. SOEs with partial state ownership need corporate governance that can resolve this tension by providing both the state and private investors with certain mechanisms to exercise influence but also by creating constraints to curb excessive influence. Cross-national differences in corporate governance of SOEs demonstrate how this tension is resolved in different countries. In China and Russia, the state is actively involved in corporate governance of partially privatized enterprises through such mechanisms as state representatives on the board of directors and state control over CEO appointments. In contrast, SOEs in Western Europe are often intentionally protected from excessive state interference in their corporate governance. Corporate governance of SOEs in Brazil is somewhere in between the model that ensures management autonomy as well as minority shareholder protection and the model that provides minimum constraints for politically motivated state interference. These national models of corporate governance of SOEs are evolving over time and the situation is further complicated by foreign listing of SOEs that forces them to adjust their governance practices to meet the requirements of foreign stock exchanges.

Performance implications of state ownership

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) remain widespread despite privatization reforms and the prediction that they should underperform comparable private firms in terms of profitability and efficiency. The research of Sergio Lazzarini is built on a novel dataset of listed SOEs, both majority- and minority-owned, covering 22 industries and 66 countries (1997-2012) to evaluate performance of SOEs across countries with different institutional environments (Lazzarini and Musacchio, 2015). He finds that SOEs are not universally inferior to private firms, but typically exhibit performance gaps when faced with negative environmental conditions that expose their constraints to optimize and adjust. These gaps are less frequent in the case of minority SOEs, and majority-owned SOEs generally have larger gaps especially during economic crises.

 

The emergence of new forms of state control poses many interesting research questions that scholars of international business and corporate governance are only starting to explore. Future research should go beyond traditional views of state control to enrich our understanding of new, subtle forms of state capitalism from both national and comparative perspectives.

 

This blog is based on research presented during the Personal Development Workshop at the Academy of Management Conference in Anaheim, US on 6th August 2016, conjointly with Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra, Sergio Lazzarini, Pei Sun, Ilya Okhmatovskiy and Mike Wright.

References

Cuervo-Cazurra, A., Inkpen, A., Musacchio, A., & Ramaswamy, K. 2014. Governments as owners: State-owned multinational companies. Journal of International Business Studies, 45(8): 919-942.

Grosman, A., Aguilera, R., & Wright, M. 2015. The good, the great and the independent: Implications of board and ownership structures on investment, Academy of Management Proceedings, 1: 11451.

Lazzarini, S. G. and Musacchio, A. 2015. State ownership reinvented? Examining performance gaps between state-owned and private firms, Academy of Management Proceedings, 1: 14457.

Sun, P., Mellahi, K., Wright, M., & Xu, H. 2015. Political tie heterogeneity and the impact of adverse shocks on firm value, Journal of Management Studies, 52(8), 1036-1063.

Sun, P., Hu, H. W., & Hillman, A. J. 2016. The dark side of board political capital: Enabling blockholder rent appropriation, Academy of Management Journal,  DOI:10.5465/amj.2014.0425.

Wood, G., & Wright, M. 2015. Corporations and new statism: Trends and research priorities. Academy of Management Perspectives, 29(2), 271-286.