Selected Publications

With supply chains now extending into developing countries, time and again, working conditions in supplier factories have been found to be unsafe. In this study, we focus on factories in the Bangladesh ready-made garment industry that supplies North American and European retailers. These retailers have adopted an innovative approach toward improving the working conditions of supplier factories by forming consortiums. The consortium of North American retailers is the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (“Alliance”). The consortium of European retailers is the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (“Accord”). The central question addressed in this study is the following: How do working conditions in a supplier factory impact the supplier’s trustworthiness from a retailer’s perspective? We characterize supplier factory working conditions in terms of three types of risks, namely, structural risk, fire risk, and electrical risk. Next, we examine the implications of each type of risk for supplier trustworthiness measured as the number of retailers contracting with the supplier factory. The empirical analysis is conducted using archival data on safety inspections from the Alliance and Accord. The results support the contention that retailers are sensitive to working condition risks in a supplier factory; that is, as working condition risks in a supplier factory increase, the supplier’s trustworthiness decreases. However, these associations vary with the type of risk. Specifically, fire and electrical risks are associated with decreased supplier trustworthiness, while structural risk has a marginal effect. Furthermore, the negative associations between working condition risks and supplier trustworthiness are moderated by the size of the supplier factory such that the negative associations are significantly attenuated for larger-sized supplier factories compared to the smaller-sized factories. The study findings, taken together, provide nuanced insights into the marketplace implications of working condition risks in supplier factories and highlight the sensitivity of the retailer–supplier relationship to such risks. These findings also provide actionable guidance on how to manage working condition risks.
In Manufacturing and Service Operations Management (MSOM),2018

The development of innovative technology products is both costly and risky, and their economic value is highly uncertain. Based on a sample of 312 innovative technology products introduced between 1987 and 2006 in the U.S. and a long-horizon event study with control firms, we study the impact of innovative technology products on the long-term financial performance of a firm. In particular, we examine how the knowledge characteristics of the firm, which embrace its knowledge absorptive capacity, knowledge impact, and knowledge diversity, moderate such an impact. We find that on average an innovative technology product increases the firm’s return on assets (ROA) (relative to control firms) by 2.18% in the second year after product introduction. However, the value of an innovative technology product varies with the knowledge characteristics of the firm that invented it. We find that the financial impact of technology products is stronger when firms have higher knowledge absorptive capacity, and more impactful and less diversified knowledge (as measured by patents). We classify firms into three categories based on their knowledge characteristics. We find that firms with a high knowledge fit increase their ROA by 4.55% after product introduction, while those with a low knowledge fit receive no benefit from the innovative technology products at all.
In Journal of Operations Management (JOM),2014

Projects

How does social orientation influence firm innovation?

  • With R. Chao
  • $5,000, Batten Institute Fellows Program, University of Virginia, 2016-2017.

Sustainable and responsible design and management of global supply chains: Designing work and improving working conditions in supplier factories in developing countries.

  • With A. Mishra, S.M. Goldstein, K.K. Sinha
  • $30,500, Wells Fargo Foundation - Sustainability Research Grant Program, University of Minnesota, 2015-2016.

Contact

  • xliu22@vcu.edu
  • 301 West Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23284-4000, USA