SDI: 2013 Student Profiles

The following Ph.D. candidates participated in the 2013 Summer Doctoral Institute.

Jie Li


Jie Li is a Ph.D. candidate in Retailing from Michigan State University. She was formerly a senior market researcher with Synovate (now Ipsos) Shanghai office. Then she served as an Outward FDI specialist in Ministry of Commerce, PRC in Beijing, where she spent four years specializing in Chinese MNEs' OFDI research. She attended or led major nationwide research projects on China OFDI during 2003-2007. Her current research focuses on MNEs' international expansion in emerging markets and subsequent performance, with a particular interest in MNEs from emerging economies. Jie has seven research papers presented at national and international conferences. Jie received her MA (Marketing) and BA (Economics) from the University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China. She also served as an active reviewer for journals and conferences.

Research Project:
Cross-border M&As of Emerging Market Financial institutions: the Case of Chinese Financial Sector
In recent years there has been a surge in cross-border M&A activities of financial institutions from emerging economies (EMEs). Cross-border banking is usually achieved via acquisition. Generally, previous research on determinants of cross-border banking finds that large efficient banks (from developed financial systems) are more likely to be engaged in overseas expansion. Cross-border M&A activities of EME financial institutions (from underdeveloped financial systems) are less studied. To fill the research gap, we investigate the motives and patterns of EME financial sector cross-border M&As in relative to those of advanced economies. To test our hypotheses, we use data on Chinese financial sector cross-border M&A deals from 1985-2012. Our findings should provide new theoretical insights into financial sector cross-border M&A and emerging market FDI research. They should also have implication on strategy building and executing for EME financial institutions engaging in cross-border M&As.

Mentor: Jiawen Yang

Kelsey Syvrud


Kelsey is currently a doctoral student at Florida State University. Her concentration is Finance, with a support area in Econometrics. Her expected graduation date is May 2015. She graduated with a B.S. in Finance with a minor in Mathematics and an M.S. in Finance from Florida State University as well. Her research interests include international corporate finance, initial public offerings, threat financing, and government procurements. Her current works investigates the benefits and costs of international investors to both public and private corporations.

Research Project:
US Political Contributions and Foreign Stock Returns
The recent outcome of Citizens United has raised questions on the role of foreign firms in U.S. Politics. Using a sample of 122 foreign-connected firms, we examine whether there is a wealth effect to firms from being connected to U.S. politicians. We specifically examine the benefits following political contributions made by their corporate PACs over the 1980-2012 election cycles. Wealth effect, in this case, is represented by the abnormal return of the firm or the number of government contracts received over each November t through October t+1. The investigation of the relationship between foreign political contribution and foreign firm performance will help determine whether these international corporations are truly deriving benefits by investing in the US political infrastructure. We are further interested in whether there are varying degrees of "benefits" based on the relationship between the foreign nation and the U.S, specifically looking at the bilateral political relations across countries. Current media focuses on the fact that these international firms are gaining advantage by contributing to U.S. politics. We wish to determine whether or not this advantage exists as a step in determining if foreign firms can establish political connectedness across country borders.

Mentor: Meghana Ayyagari

Kyoung Yong Kim


Kyoung Yong Kim is a doctoral candidate in Management at the C.T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston. He received his Master's degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations from the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. His research interests focus on organizational behavior. Specifically, he is interested in organizational support theory, leadership, and gender issues in organizations. His academic research from his M. A. work was published in Career Development International.

Research Project:
International training, knowledge management, and MNC innovation
This study seeks to investigate how international training influences the development of MNC knowledge management capabilities and consequently its innovation. Our study integrates ideas from the innovation and human resource management literature. We propose that international training allows the employees within the MNC to successfully learn from and share knowledge with each other, enhancing innovation. We further propose that the communication culture of the MNC moderates the relationship between learning and innovation. We test our hypotheses using survey data on a sample of Korean firms. Our preliminary results demonstrate support for our hypotheses.

Mentor: Anupama Phene

Mark Silinsky


Mark Silinsky is a 30-year veteran of the defense intelligence community. He has served as a senior analyst in US Army intelligence; an Army civilian foreign area officer (FAO) for Eurasia, Russian language; an Africa analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency; an action officer for the Joint Staff, J5; and a research fellow as part of the Exceptional Analyst Program. He was graduated, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Southern California; received an M. Phil. in International Relations from Oxford University, under the supervision of Sir Michael Howard, and took an MS in International Development from Tulane University. He was graduated from the National Intelligence University; the Naval War College, and the National Defense University. He is also a 2008 graduate of the Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Academy, located near Kabul.

Research Project:
Insurgency and Development in Afghanistan
The purpose of my dissertation is to assess the success or failure of Afghan insurgents' strategy of attacking civilians to lower national morale, which, in turn, could unseat the current government in Kabul, Afghanistan. There are several groups of insurgents, and they share common strategies, which includes targeting civilians. This dissertation will examine the extent to which Afghan civilian deaths and injuries eroded the national morale.
National morale is defined by a set of indices that measure security and quality-of-life in different ways. Those indices will be assessed twice. Once in the year just before a year of heavy insurgent activity that killed and harmed many civilians, and second in the year following those attacks. These indices measure: national mood/direction of country; agreement of citizens with government's reconciliation efforts; economic prosperity; confidence of citizens in institutions, organizations, and officials; and security. These are the dependent variables, and the independent variables are the insurgent attacks.

Mentor: James Lebovic

Marketa Sonkova


Marketa Sonkova is a doctoral candidate at Boston University in the School of Management's Strategy & Innovation department. She has a B.A. in Business Administration and an M.B.A. from the University of Iowa, with strong interdisciplinary training in Finance and Strategy. She is a native of the Czech Republic, but grew up in the United States as the daughter of two academics. Her professional background includes five years spent in the financial services industry, where she gained first-hand insights about the operation of multinational companies in the region of Central & Eastern Europe. The experience motivates her research interests, which focus on multinational companies' utilization of strategic human capital. Specifically, Marketa is interested in studying how multinational companies use the appointment of managers to the executive teams of foreign subsidiaries to resolve the main tension that MNCs face – that of maintaining organizational consistency, while simultaneously being responsive to the needs of each foreign market.

Research Project:
CEO succession in foreign subsidiaries: Exploring the dynamics of human capital allocation following a performance shock
This study seeks to explore CEO succession in foreign subsidiaries of multinational companies, which is a setting that has not received adequate attention in the literature. The foreign subsidiary context is important and useful for the study of turnover and subsequent CEO selection, because subsidiary executives not only exercise considerable influence over the organization, but the varieties of their human capital attributes are more nuanced and complex than those under consideration in stand-alone firms. To test the relationship between antecedent firm performance and turnover and preference for successors' human capital attributes, we exploit the effects of the 2008 global financial crisis, and analyze succession events which occur in the foreign subsidiaries of multinational banks during the period 2005-2012. We find that while broad environmental shocks and subsidiary performance shocks both incite turnover in the top subsidiary leadership post, they prompt different preferences with respect to successors' human capital attributes. Specifically, economic crisis promotes a preference for subsidiary-specific human capital, while performance shocks limited to the subsidiary are associated with a preference for MNC-specific human capital and for successors with broad international experience.

Mentor: Hein Bogaard

Wendy Wang


Wendy D. Wang is a doctoral student in International Relations at the Department of Political Science, Texas A&M University. Prior to coming to Texas, Wendy worked as a research analyst at a government-affiliated think tank, the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. She also worked as a Sovereign Wealth Fund Initiative Affiliate at the Tufts University. Her research interests include international trade and WTO, foreign direct investment, and issues regarding sovereign wealth funds. Wendy has presented regularly at professional meetings, and published several coauthored papers in journals such as World Economics, China & World Economy, and Journal of Defense Studies. She has also contributed op-ed articles to Strait Times, Business Times, and China Daily. Wendy holds a Master's degree in International Political Economy from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Research Project:
Domestic Politics of Sovereign Wealth Fund Investment
Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) have become important new players in global capital markets. Definitions of SWFs are legion, but the term generally refers to state-owned foreign capitals that are primarily invested abroad. As state-owned entities, SWFs are organized and managed in a different way from large private-owned investment funds, and many observers claim that the funds have non-commercial objectives such as promoting home-country economic development or pursuing national strategic interests. As a result, it is possible that SWFs make investment decisions differently from other large investment vehicles. Such claim, however, lacks convincing empirical support. Therefore, this project seeks to address whether SWFs invest differently from private-owned institutional investors. In particular, it analyzes how domestic institutions and international/geopolitical factors affect their investment decisions.

Mentors: Robert Weiner, Srividya Jandhyala