Jay Xiong defends his Ph.D. dissertation this Friday.

His Ph.D. Dissertation is entitled “Catching up and Middle Management in Emerging Markets: The Case of Chinese Hypermarket Industry“.

The oral defense will be held Friday, November 22, 2013, 1:30pm, in Room 371 (Building A).

The Defense Committee is composed of:

  • Philippe Monin (Principal Advisor, EMLYON Business School),
  • Jean-Luc Arrègle (Chair, EMLYON Business School),
  • Carole Bonanni (Committee Member, ESC Rennes),
  • Ulrike Mayrhofer (External Examiner, Université Lyon 3),
  • Eero Vaara (External Examiner, Hanken School of Economics, Finland)”.

The objective of this dissertation is to understand the catching up process and middle managers in emerging countries. In the first study, we elucidate the ‘catching up’ processes that exist when launching a novel industry in a new host country. Drawing on a longitudinal analysis of such a scenario in China, we examine the processes different groups (group of domestic firms and group of foreign entrants) utilize for catching up in the new market. We use the data gathered to develop a five-stage model illustrating the evolution of the industry in question, with an emphasis on catching up phenomena. To be specific, we theorize a staged multilevel model of catching up between domestic and foreign groups of retailers, consisted of five stages: export of a new business, birth of an industry, shift in government policy, reform and upgrade, and convergence.
In the second study, we focus on middle manager’s practices and the roles these practices are linked to. It is different from the majority of research on middle management, which has tended to focus on normative strategy implementation roles (e.g., championing, synthesizing, facilitating and implementing). Based on four longitudinal case analyses of hypermarket retailers in China (Carrefour, Walmart, RT-Mart and China Resources Vanguard), we find that middle managers enact boundary-spanning roles (e.g., roles belonging to other intra-organizational management levels) in addition to their normative roles. By comparing the practice-role linkages before and after market liberalization, we identify four ways middle managers enact various roles: namely replicating, relocating, redefining and readapting. Middle managers replicate existing practices and relocate new practices in order to enact normative roles, while at the same time redefining existing practices and readapting new practices in order to fulfill boundary-spanning roles. This study also examines the influence of organizational control systems and environment change on the process of middle managers’ practice-role management. Our lens on middle management practices in grocery hypermarket retailers extends theory on middle managers’ normative roles.
This dissertation contributes to existing research in two main perspectives. The analysis of catching up adds to extant literature by providing group level of analysis. It also extends research on the catching up practices of the technology industry with theoretical insights from other industries, thus creating new possibilities for the research domain. The second study enriches the literature with analysis of the boundary-spanning roles of middle managers, in addition to deducing four ways middle managers enact these various roles. We further draw performance implications by studying the interactions of middle managers’ normative, boundary-spanning and resisting roles with regards to organizational capability building.
Empirically, we extend the catching up process study from the focus of high technology based industries to low-tech based industries in emerging economies. Our study enriches the understanding of catching up processes and learning process along with the industry evolution in emerging countries. Meanwhile, we take a holistic view of middle managers in both subsidiaries and operational departments, providing insight into the contribution of middle management in transitional economies. Our broad consideration of middle managers’ practices and roles in both organizational control systems and different market periods of China benefit the understanding of middle management studies based on developed countries.

[UPDATE: Dr. Jay defended brilliantly! We're looking forward to seeing this in journals!]

Jay and his Defense Committee

L-R: Ulrike Mayrhofer, Jean-Luc Arregle, Philippe Monin, Jay Xiong, Carole Bonnani, Eero Vaara