Frank Jiang believes business isn’t just about business; it’s about understanding human behaviour. Since joining the team at Sprott in 2016, Jiang has built his research program around this belief and much of his work aims to understand the factors that affect decision-making.

Portrait of Frank Jiang

Frank Jiang is an Associate Professor of International Business at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business.

Specifically, Jiang’s research examines how multinational enterprises (MNE) make choices and formulate strategies when they are looking to expand into other markets. “Multinational enterprises are the most important set of organizations that have the biggest impact on international trade.” Yet, the economic theories are often limited in explaining how firms behave because there are so many moving parts—decisions are made at many levels for many different objectives and with many variables playing a part. For these reasons, Jiang’s research is highly contributory to helping better understand what strategic factors are important to consider in order to improve expansion success. Jiang is intrigued by this perplexing puzzle and his most recent work sees him analyzing 27-years of data from multinational Japanese firms to tease out how and why decisions are subject to managerial cognitive bias. For example, when firms experience sub-par performance, they may alter their internationalization trajectory by either taking more risk, or by being more conservative. Either reaction could be argued that it is not rational or consistent with the standard economic model because behavioural bias is playing a part.

Additionally, having published in many leading management journals, Jiang’s work includes a bit of an eclectic look at the socio-economic conditions of foreign markets, such as how host-country religious diversity is associated with a higher risk of overseas operation; how host-country income inequality influences expansion strategies; how firms learn from other foreign investment experiences to improve their own strategies; as well as how corruption may play an important role in the success of overseas projects in developing markets. Jiang’s data analyses are challenging because of the complexity of the business environment, but his findings do demonstrate that inadequate institutional infrastructure, such as corruption, increases costs of doing business and threatens the performance of foreign investments. Moreover, the relationships revealed through Jiang’s extensive analyses of one subset of multinationals can be used to help any MNE around the world.

Frank Jiang

“We can extrapolate to Canadian businesses for example, because it’s about how people make choices, how people react to changes, and how organizations react to incentives and risks. Overall, the fundamental economics are quite universal.”

Jiang is expanding his own research to include studies on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) within multinational firms. He is particularly interested in elucidating whether CSR has a positive impact on performance of foreign subsidiaries—both from the perspective of its corporate headquarters management of CSR, and how subsidiary firms manage their own CSR in their unique environment. “I’m highly interested in CSR in multinationals because there is a big social movement, and this will make big impacts on firms’ decision-making processes.” Jiang is making “one small step” for business-kind to discover the connection between corporate-level CSR and subsidiary performance and future work sees him teasing out the mechanisms that can be used to explain this association.

Before Jiang entered the academic world, he got his undergraduate degree in the sciences, thinking chemistry would be his future. But, after many years working in the corporate world for multinationals such as Kao, GE, and Hyundai in various marketing and sales roles, he never did put on that lab coat. Instead, he was highly intrigued by the business world and decided he wanted to learn more, moving to Canada to earn his MBA from Western University in London, Ontario. The plan was to return to the corporate world, but he loved learning, sharing knowledge, and the world of academia so much more, so it was in academia he stayed earning his PhD in Business Administration, also from Western University.

“Business is a window into human behaviour. Sociology, economics, psychology, anthropology—they all interweave in helping us better understand the nature of business. For this reason, I find my research fascinating and why I’m always excited to teach and mentor students, particularly through an experiential learning platform using case studies and business simulations. It’s really interesting to see what decisions students make and how they learn from them.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 in , , ,
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