Faculty Research Fellows
Lavin Center Affiliated Faculty
Congcong Zheng, Ph.D.
Lavin Center Research Fellow
Congcong Zheng joined San Diego State University in August 2005 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Management. She received her Ph.D. from London Business School, focusing on entrepreneurship and international business issues. Prior to academia, Dr. Zheng was a consultant at BDA China Ltd., specializing in advising clients on market entry and investment decisions in Chinas Internet and Telecom sector. She holds a BS in Business Administration from the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in China.
Dr. Zheng researches decision making process, top management team dynamics, and related firm behaviors among international entrepreneurial firms. She works on the behavioral theory of the firm (March and Simon, 1958; Cyert and March, 1963) and is interested in pushing the theoretical fronts in the international business and entrepreneurship field. The questions that she explores in her research include: What are the motivations of a particular type of strategic behavior (such as internationalization, branching, product diversification or acquisition) among young entrepreneurial firms? How do firms learn from environmental, social and organizational experiences? How do managers previous experiences, biases, and the political dynamics among management teams affect the decision making process and subsequent firm behavior? How do entrepreneurial firms allocate managerial attention among various activities and how does such allocation affect the firms short-term performance and long-term survival? Among other things, she is currently working on projects investigating the behavior of entrepreneurial firms from four countries South Africa, Mexico, India, and China.
Recent theoretical developments in the international entrepreneurship field emphasize the learning advantage of newness and the positive effect it has on firm growth. The learning advantage of newness argument proffers that young firms have advantage in terms of leverage opportunities to grow internationally. It is argued that the learning advantage of newness is constrained to certain types of international expansions. The learning advantage of newness will be most evident for firms that expand into a dissimilar international environment and for firms that change their routines to adapt to such a dissimilar environment. In other words, the effect of the learning advantage of newness depends on the environmental and routine relatedness. A cross-country database of international firms is used to test these hypotheses. The study contributes to International Entrepreneurship literature in that it investigates the theoretical boundaries of the learning advantage of newness argument. It also has implications for the broader capability development literature in that it investigates the timing of a particular strategic action of the firm (e.g., internationalization) and the performance consequence of such action.
On becoming interested in this particular topic:
A central debate in the international entrepreneurship (IE) literature has been whether it is advantageous for entrepreneurial firms to enter international markets early on or later in their life cycle. The learning advantage of newness (LAN) argument proposes that firms should [become] international early on in their lifecycle since early entry would offer firms structural, cognitive, and positional advantages. In other words, in entering international markets early, young firms would face few existing routines and competency traps from their domestic operation. Young firms would also learn better from the shared experience of internationalization and encounter less political resistance from domestic partners and customers to internationalize. Although the LAN argument has received some empirical support, theoretically it is at odds with established concepts such as experiential learning and absorptive capacity, which stipulates that firms learn better and perform better if they can draw on their existing experience. Such theoretical discrepancy interests me and prompts me to work on this paper to investigate the boundary conditions of LAN.
Our model and related discussions have several managerial implications. The paper cautions young firms to determine their speed of internationalization based on their idiosyncratic conditions. Early initiation of internationalization does not always lead to higher firm growth unless firms satisfy a set of antecedent factors. While early entry into international markets sometimes gives firms learning benefits and creates growth opportunities, there are major risks for early internationalization. We believe that managers need to give special attention to creating those mechanisms that allow new ventures to learn and gain new knowledge. Learning is not always an automatic process and managers need to be vigilant in observing and capturing what the firm learns. Advantage accrues to firms that harvest LAN, and managers need to create the systems and processes that deploy and leverage any learning advantage new ventures might reap in international markets.