MOR Special issues

MOR SI CALL FOR PROPOSALS:Heterogeneity among Chinese SOEs(updated in May 1 2022: deadline postponed for three months)

Heterogeneity among Chinese SOEs

Guest Editors

David Zhu,1 Kenneth G. Huang,2 Runtian Jing,3 Jun Xia,4

Cyndi Man Zhang,and Weiguo Zhong6

1Arizona State University, 2National University of Singapore, 3Shanghai Jiaotong University, 4University of Texas at Dallas, 5Singapore Management University, and 6Peking University

Although state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in China account for nearly a quarter of Fortune Global 500 corporations and play increasingly important roles in the global economy, only limited research has examined Chinese SOEs (e.g., Jia, Huang, & Zhang, 2019; see review by Bruton, Peng, Ahlstrom, Stan, & Xu, 2015). Among existing studies, the majority has focused on comparing Chinese SOEs with non-SOEs, leaving the heterogeneity among Chinese SOEs largely unexplained. The limited knowledge about sources and consequences of SOEs’ differences reflects a crucial gap in Chinese management theory and research, which has produced limited insights into differences in one of the most influential organization forms in business history. Without addressing this issue, management scholars also have limited abilities to contribute to managerial practices and public policies about the management of SOEs. 

While Chinese SOEs were traditionally managed by the government as administrative units, most of them transitioned to become corporations following passage of the Company Law. These corporations include those that are funded solely by the state, mainly controlled by the state, or partially owned by the state. According to the division of state-owned assets management authorities, SOEs can be further categorized into central enterprises (SOEs supervised and managed by the central government) and local enterprises (SOEs supervised and managed by local governments at all levels). Although these different types of SOEs follow different goals, pursue diverse strategies, interact with different agencies of government, and play different roles in Chinese society, little systematic research has examined their differences, leaving many important phenomena about SOEs largely unexplained. This special issue seeks to advance research on differences in major organizational practices and outcomes among all types of Chinese SOEs.     

As the current administration in China promotes a greater role of SOEs in the Chinese economy, scholars and policymakers have shown increasing interest in various versions of state capitalism and the effects of competing institutional logics (e.g., market versus state logics) on SOEs. The implementation of China’s major SOE reform policies offered historic opportunities for management scholars to evaluate the effectiveness of these policies and the associated institutional logics and forms of capitalism. In many ways, understanding the differences among SOEs in terms of their goals, strategies, corporate governance, internal processes and structures, and social, environmental, financial, and innovation performance becomes a major responsibility of management scholars. 

Potential Topics

This special issue welcomes both qualitative and quantitative studies about heterogeneity among Chinese SOEs in major organizational practices, decisions, and performance outcomes, especially studies that address major issues faced by SOEs and explain key sources of heterogeneity among them. We welcome studies that seek to develop indigenous theories about Chinese SOEs (Bruton, Zahra, Van de Ven, & Hitt, 2021), significantly advance existing theories, or offer a theoretical explanation for important phenomena, including but not limited to the following topics:

  1. Soft versus hard budget constraints; stakeholder relations; social, environmental, and financial performance; sustainability; corporate social responsibility
  2. Differences between central versus local SOEs
  3. Differences between SOEs that are fully vs. partially controlled by the state; SOE’s mixed-ownership reform; antecedents and consequences of SOEs’ mixed ownership
  4. Corporate governance and strategic leadership of SOEs (e.g., boards of directors and supervisors of SOEs, influence of the Chinese Communist Party, executive compensation, and executive turnover and succession)  
  5. SOEs’ mergers and acquisitions
  6. SOEs’ strategic alliances, especially with small- and medium-sized non-SOEs that are identified by the government to be leading niche players (专精特新小巨人、单项冠军)
  7. Innovation and knowledge management; research and development (R&D) and other technology management issues
  8. Corporate entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial strategy of SOEs
  9. Competition; competitive dynamics; multi-market competition 
  10. Strategic human resource management 
  11. Institutional innovation of SOEs; institutional transformation of SOEs; institutional complexity of SOEs
  12. Business ecosystem; business-model innovation; platform strategies
  13. Digital transformation of SOEs
  14. SOEs’ crisis management (e.g., in response to significant disasters and adversities)
  15. SOEs’ roles in key national undertakings
  16. Geopolitics, international relations, and SOEs’ globalization; geographic and international diversification; global strategies; CSR of SOEs in the global market 

A Highly Developmental Process

This special issue features a highly developmental process. We will first invite interested authors to submit initial proposals that describe ideas to be studied empirically. Accepted proposals will then be included in a paper development workshop, during which authors will present their proposals and receive developmental feedback from established scholars. Proposals will then be developed into full papers and submitted to this special issue. Papers that are invited for a revision will be included in another paper development workshop, which will provide development feedback from the editor who handles the paper and other established scholars. NOTE: A rejection by the special issue will not prevent you from submitting to a regular issue of MOR later. 

A Responsible Research Approach to Studying Chinese SOEs

We encourage research proposals and papers that follow or exemplify the seven principles of responsible research (Tsui, 2019). Specifically, we encourage studies that present rigorous and replicable findings while addressing major issues faced by Chinse SOEs. We encourage quantitative studies to pre-register hypotheses on a designated website, require authors to be able to share their data with the handling editor when requested, and publish studies with or without significant results. Our overall goal is to produce useful, credible, and novel knowledge about why Chinese SOEs differ in major organizational practices, decisions, and performance outcomes. Interested authors should seek to provide a scientific account of what has happened to these firms and a management perspective of what could and should occur in the future. In addition to emphasizing academic rigor, this special issue gives high priority to studies that have clear and major implications for policymaking, strategic management, or managerial practices. 

Proposal Submission Requirements

  1. Research proposals should not exceed 5000 words, include the research questions, a brief and relevant literature review, disciplinary perspectives for the study, hypotheses or research questions, sample, measures, data, and analytical plan.
  2. Quantitative studies should pre-register hypotheses on a designated website depository (e.g.,
  3. All authors need to sign an agreement to share their data and coding with the handling editor upon request.
  4. Proposals should include a short version of all authors’ academic vitas. The vitas should be less than five pages long, highlighting authors’ educational background, professional experience, and academic achievements.  
  5. Proposals should include a timeline to complete the project from the date the project is approved.

Special Issue Timeline

  1. Proposal Submission (deadline July 31, 2022): The preliminary proposal should specify the targeted data source, format, develop intended research questions, and justify the motivation. Please submit proposals to David Zhu ( with the subject line: ‘MOR Heterogeneity among Chinese SOEs Proposal’. 
  2. Paper Development Workshop for Accepted Proposals (October 31, 2022): Accepted proposals will be invited to a developmental workshop to further refine the focused research questions based on the secured data source. At the end of the workshop, we will extend invitations to some promising proposals to submit a revised version of the proposal. 
  3. Paper Submission Deadline (March 31, 2023): Please submit full papers via the MOR submission website:
  4. Paper Development Workshop for R&R Papers (July 31, 2023): Further revise the Paper with known results and findings. 
  5. Publication of the Special Issue (October 31, 2024)

Guest Editors

David H. Zhu is a Professor in Management and Entrepreneurship and Dean’s Council Distinguished Scholar at the Arizona State University. His research builds on behavioral theories to examine strategic decision making of top executives and entrepreneurs, innovation and entrepreneurship, corporate governance, and corporate strategy. He also studies the structure of corporate elite networks and resource exchange networks. His work has been published in Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, Corporate Governance: An International Review,Organization Science, and Strategic Management Journal. He is a Deputy Editor of Management and Organization Review, a Senior Editor of Organization Science, and an editorial board member of ASQ and SMJ. He also serves as the Program Chair of the Strategic Leadership and Governance group of the Strategic Management Society

Kenneth G. Huang is an Associate Professor (with tenure) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in the Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Management and Department of Strategy and Policy, NUS Business School. He is the Academic Director of the Master of Science in Management of Technology at NUS. His research focuses on innovation and technology management, entrepreneurship, intellectual property management and strategy, global strategy, science and technology policy, open science/innovation, and institutional change particularly in emerging economies like China and ASEAN. His research has been published in leading journals such as ScienceAcademy of Management JournalOrganization ScienceJournal of ManagementJournal of International Business Studies,Research PolicyNature BiotechnologyProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS)Industrial and Corporate Change, and Journal of Management Studies. He is the incoming Senior Editor of Management and Organization Review and was a co-editor of Journal of Management Studies (for a special Issue). He also serves on the editorial boards of AMJSMJ, and JIBS. He earned his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Runtian Jing is Professor in Organizational Management at the Shanghai Jiaotong University. His research focuses on organizational change, leadership behavior, and cross-cultural management. In recent years, he is especially interested in developing indigenous theories of organizational change based on the Chinese cultural or institutional context. He currently serves as the vice president of the International Association for Chinese Management Research, and Deputy Director Member of Organization and Strategy Division of China Academy of Management. His work has been published in Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Management Studies, and many other English and Chinese journals. He has won four research projects granted by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), and a number of awards including Yangtze River Scholars Distinguished Professor, and the Outstanding Youth Award of Management Research in China. 

Jun Xia is a professor in management and strategy at the University of Texas at Dallas. His research interests include resource dependence and power, institutional theory, social networks, and corporate strategies. His work has been published in or accepted by the Strategic Management JournalAcademy Journal of ManagementOrganization Science, and Organizational Research Methods. He is an incoming Senior Editor of Management and Organization Review and a review board member of AMR and JIBS

Cyndi Man Zhang is an Associate Professor of Strategic Management at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University. Her research builds on the intersection of behavioral theories and institutional theories to examine the influence of institutional logics on firms’ strategic choices, the impact of corporate governance on innovation performance, the power struggle and coalition building in strategic decision making, and the pursuit of multiple goals in firm’s decisions of change. Her work has been published in the Academy of Management JournalJournal of Management, and Advances in Mergers and Acquisitions. She currently serves on the editorial board of the Academy of Management JournalStrategic Management JournalStrategic Organization, and Management and Organization Review

Weiguo Zhong is Associate Professor of Strategy in Guanghua School of Management at the Peking University. His research interests include firm innovation, non-market strategy, innovation ecosystem, and internationalization strategy of multinational companies from emerging markets. His work has been published in Academy of Management Journal,Journal of International Business Studies, and Journal of Management. He is an incoming Senior Editor of Management and Organization Review


Bruton, G. D., Zahra, S. A., Van de Ven, A. H., & Hitt, M. A. 2021. Indigenous theory uses, abuses, and future. Journal of Management Studies, DOI: 10.1111/joms.12755 

Bruton, G. D., Peng, M. W., Ahlstrom, D., Stan, C., & Xu, K. 2015. State-owned enterprises around the world as hybrid organizations. Academy of Management Perspectives, 29(1): 92–114.

Jia, N., Huang, K. G., & Zhang, C. M. 2019. Public governance, corporate governance and firm innovation: An examination of state-owned enterprises. Academy of Management Journal, 62(1): 220–247.