Dr Shasha Yu Zhao FRSA; FHEA

Senior Lecturer in International Business and Innovation; Co-Director of Centre for Social Innovation Management; Co-President of Academy of International Business Sustainability Shared Interest Group
PhD (Alliance Manchester Business School)
+44 (0)1483 689990
08 MS 03
Email for appointment


My qualifications

PhD in International Business
Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK
MSc in Global Business Analysis
Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK
Master of Philosophy
Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK
BA (Hons) in Management
University of Leeds, UK
PGCert in Higher Education
Higher Education Academy
PG Diploma in Marketing
Chartered Institute of Marketing

Previous roles

Senior Lecturer in International Business
Middlesex University London, UK
Lecturer in International Business
Plymouth University, UK
Fellow in Asia-Pacific Studies
Royal Holloway, University of London, UK


Research interests


Postgraduate research supervision

Postgraduate research supervision



Xia Han, Tatiana Lukoianove, Shasha Zhao, Xiaohui Liu (2024)International relations in international business research: A review and research agenda, In: Journal of business research174114536 Elsevier Inc

The increasing dynamism of the international business (IB) environment has drawn greater scholarly attention to the implications of international politics for MNEs’ cross-border activities. However, a systematic overview of International Relations (IR) research which has been applied in IB studies is absent. To analyse this void, we propose a conceptual framework of the broader international context to delineate the research boundaries of the emerging IR in IB research domain and offer a critically synthesized review of the studies that have drawn on IR scholarship to explain MNEs’ behaviour. We conduct bibliometric and content analyses to understand the state of knowledge of IR in IB research and examine the main approaches to study the impact of IR factors on MNEs’ location choices, entry strategies, legitimacy and post-entry performance. By illuminating knowledge frontier issues, we derive important directions for deepening the integration of IR scholarship to advance IB research.

John Dilyard, Shasha Zhao (2023)The inconvenient truth: how business model innovation can trigger global companies to act (ir)responsibly, In: Research Handbook on International Corporate Social Responsibilitypp. 152-167 Edward Elgar

This chapter reveals the inconvenient truth that oftentimes the execution of a global corporation’s business model can cause it to act irresponsibly even though it has the desire and intent to act responsibly. The root cause of this inconvenient truth is that, essentially, the ‘old’ business models MNEs have used to become what they are simply are not compatible with what is needed to adopt a sustainability-focused way of doing business. In our view, what is needed are thoughtful innovations in those business models. To achieve this, the right mindset is necessary. We discuss some of the challenges using multiple case studies. We propose a novel view depicting the interconnectedness of corporate business model, global value chain, and sustainable development goals as three intertwining components necessary for business model innovation that simultaneously achieves firm performance and sustainable development.

SHASHA ZHAO, Xiaohui Liu, Ulf Andersson, Oded Shenkar (2022)Knowledge management of emerging economy multinationals, In: Journal of world business [e-journal] : JWB57(1)101255 Elsevier

Knowledge is critical to the survival of emerging economy multinationals (EMNEs), who are confronted by a lack of internal competitive capabilities and external challenges associated with diverse institutional environments. They thus must manage and orchestrate their knowledge globally for ultimate catch up. This article systematically reviews literature concerning EMNE knowledge management using content analysis of 93 articles in 17 leading journals across 7 major disciplines from 2000 to 2020. Applying the antecedent-process-outcome (APO) framework, we identify three major themes: knowledge-seeking strategy, knowledge transfer and innovation. We discuss knowledge frontier issues, directions for future scholarship, and avenues for greater interdisciplinary cross-fertilization.

Jahan Ara Peerally, Claudia De Fuentes, Fernando Santiago, SHASHA ZHAO (2021)The sustainability of multinational enterprises' pandemic-induced social innovation approaches, In: Thunderbird International Business Review Wiley

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an unprecedented reaction in several multinational enterprises (MNEs). These MNEs have adopted social innovation approaches to meet the needs of vulnerable societal groups by swiftly innovating their business models; drastically changing their product offerings and customer bases; and producing COVID-19 necessities. These approaches have alleviated some key pandemic-induced social challenges related to health and sanitation. In this perspective article, we use secondary sources of information to present and exemplify the various types of MNE pandemic-induced social innovation approaches. We open the discussion on whether these approaches are transitory in nature or whether they can and should be sustained in the long-term, given the right incentives to these MNEs. We conclude by redefining MNEs’ social innovation and by suggesting avenues for scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and educators to support this momentum in MNEs which we argue, if sustainable, can be fruitful for addressing other pressing grand challenges such as climate change, food security, poverty, and inequality.

John Dilyard, SHASHA ZHAO, Jacqueline Jing You (2021)Digital innovation and Industry 4.0 for global value chain resilience: Lessons learned and ways forward, In: Thunderbird international business review.

This perspective article highlights some major implications of the recent pandemic (Covid-19) on global value chains (GVCs) and how the pandemic can accelerate the adoption of digital and industry 4.0 technologies in GVCs, with attention paid to multinational enterprises (MNEs) and small-medium enterprises (SMEs). Particularly, it discusses the potential value of digital technologies in enhancing GVC resilience for better mitigation of disruptions caused by future global shocks. It also proposes useful avenues for future policy considerations to support and direct deployment of digital technologies across key stakeholders in GVCs.

Mariana Dodourova, Shasha Zhao, Anne-Wil Harzing (2021)Ambidexterity in MNC knowledge sourcing in emerging economies: A microfoundational perspective, In: International Business Review101854 Elsevier Ltd

Innovation performance of multinational corporations (MNCs) derives from access to and utilization of a combination of explorative and exploitative knowledge across heterogeneous settings. These settings increasingly encompass flagship industries in emerging economies. There is limited research, however, that scrutinizes the processes of knowledge sourcing within such dynamic host environments, taking into account MNCs’ differing location capabilities. We draw on the concept of ambidexterity – the combination of exploration and exploitation – and the microfoundations approach to study eleven MNCs in the Bulgarian software development industry by focusing on their local R&D projects. We extend the explanatory capacity of ambidexterity at the micro level and clarify the relationship between exploration and exploitation by identifying four types of ambidexterity: global knowledge differentiator, global-local knowledge integrator, emerging local-global integrator, and local knowledge integrator. Our typology is underpinned by three specific dimensions of R&D capabilities: technical know-how, scope of expertise, and market potential.

Constantinos-Vasilios Priporas, Shasha Zhao, Marina Papanastassiou, Simon Best (2021)Cultural heritage as an engine of sustainable development in the tourism sector, In: Engines of Economic Prosperitypp. 193-208 Springer International Publishing

The term “heritage” seems to have different meanings. Hewison (The heritage industry: Britain in a climate of decline. Methuen, 1987) states that heritage is derived from past images of history transmitted into current reality. Park (Annals of Tourism Research 37:116–135, 2010) describes heritage as an essential part of national representation and linked it to symbolic foundations of the nationhood process and identityIdentity. However, heritage is not only a tangible representation of the past, as intangible heritage also plays a role by manifesting diverse symbolic meanings and spiritual embodiments (Park, Annals of Tourism Research 37:116–135, 2010). At the same time, cultural tourism refers to a segment of the tourism industry that places special focus on heritage and cultural attraction (Remoaldo et al., Tourism and Hospitality Research 14:206–218, 2014).

Shasha Zhao (2023)The Role of Foreign Multinational Corporations in Innovation Capability Upgrading of Subnational Peripheries, In: International Business and SDG 8 – Are we on course?
John Dilyard, Shasha Zhao (2023)Can Corporations Fill the Agenda 2030 Void Left by Governments?, In: SustainE1(1)pp. 144-146 SustainE.org
SHASHA ZHAO, John Dilyard, Elizabeth L. Rose (2022)Managing Sustainable Development in International Business: Challenges and Insights, In: AIB insights Academy of International Business
Shasha Zhao (2020)Healthy Cities and Sustainable Innovation, In: Sustainable Cities and Communities Springer

The concept of ‘healthy city’ has had a long establishment in public health management literature. It was initially used to describe the living conditions of cities in developed economies (Duhl, 1986). In late 1980s, The World Health Organization (WHO)'s European Office initiated a major new project known as ‘Healthy Cities’ – the time the term started to draw both researcher and policy-maker attentions and became widely-used. It was used to support public health promotion at the city level. The city being often the lowest administrative level is thus believed to have the power to marshal the resources as well as the political mandate and authority to develop and implement integrative approaches to health (Ashton, J., Grey, P. & Barnard, K., 1986). It was only since the 1990s that scholars and public bodies started to consider it in the context of developing countries. For example, between 1995 and 1999 the WHO Geneva undertook healthy city projects in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, Dares Salaam, Tanzania, Fayoum, Egypt, Managua, Nicaragua, and Quetta, Pakistan. These projects marked the shifting political mentality of increasing attention to peripheral regions of the world in terms of improving their living conditions (Harpham, T., Burton, S. & Blue, I., 2001; Ramaswami, A., Russell, A. G., Culligan, P. J., Sharma, K. R., & Kumar, E., 2016).

For emerging market firms (EMFs) internationalisation is as an important channel through which knowledge is gained and innovation capabilities acquired. However, rising global un-certainty and geopolitical tension make this increasingly challenging. We employed an in-depth case study approach to examine how a Chinese high-tech firm pursued innovation dur-ing the Tech Cold War. We found that the firm focused on pursuing indigenous innovation. Three organisational cultural attributes (patriotism, elitism and endurance of hardship) proved to be particularly important enabling mechanisms. We extend theorisation on EMF innovation management – particularly catching up through internationalisation – by identifying the ever more advanced capabilities that provide the basis for increased pursuit of indigenous innova-tion by EMFs. We further contribute to research on techno-nationalism by examining how techno-nationalist policies affect EMF innovation and how firms cope with such restrictions. More generally, our findings advance the emerging field of studies on geopolitics in EMF in-novation by highlighting the ever more critical role of international politics and state policies.

Shasha Zhao, Constantinos-Vasilios Priporas (2017)Information technology and marketing performance within international market-entry alliances, In: International Marketing Review34(1)pp. 5-28 Emerald

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to engage in a comprehensive review of the research on information technology (IT)-mediated international market-entry alliances. Design/methodology/approach This paper provides a theory-informed conceptual framework of IT-enabled cross-border interfirm relationships and performance outcomes. It integrates perspectives of resource-based view (RBV) and transaction cost economics (TCE) to argue that the establishment of interfirm IT capabilities enhances the marketing performance of the foreign partner in the host location by improving interfirm relationship governance. Furthermore, IT-related risks and contextual restrictions are identified as important moderators. Findings Conceptualisations of IT capabilities, IT-enhanced interfirm governance, and IT-led marketing performance improvement are suggested. Drawing on RBV and TCE, IT resources, related human resources, and IT integration between partner firms in combination enhances the ability of firms to manage the relationship more effectively through shared control, interfirm coordination, cross-firm formalisation, and hybrid centralisation. These benefits then bring about better upstream and downstream marketing performance in the host location. Additionally, IT capabilities help to mitigate possible contextual limitations and risks. Research limitations/implications The paper offers a number of theory- and literature-informed research propositions which can be empirically tested in future studies. Practical implications Top managers of firms currently in or planning to enter international alliances for market entry should carefully consider effective development of interfirm IT capabilities in terms of readiness of hardware and software, human resources, and organisational resources. Originality/value The paper provides an integrated framework and propositions which contribute to limited understanding and appreciation of IT value in international market-entry alliances.

Christopher Mabey, Shasha Zhao (2017)Managing five paradoxes of knowledge exchange in networked organizations: new priorities for HRM?, In: Human Resource Management Journal27(1)pp. 39-57 Wiley

The life‐blood of most organizations is knowledge. Too often, the very mechanisms set up to facilitate knowledge flow militate against it. This is because they are instituted in a top‐down way, they are cumbersome to manage and the bridges of trust fail to get built. In their thirst for innovation, the tendency is for firms to set up elaborate transmission channels and governance systems. As a result, staff are drowned in a deluge of mundane intranet messages and bewildered by matrix structures, while off‐the‐wall ideas and mould‐breaking insights are routinely missed. Added to this is the challenge of operating across professional, cultural, regional and linguistic boundaries, where ways of sharing knowledge differ markedly, even within the same project team. Drawing upon extensive research with scientists in the ATLAS collaboration (a high‐energy particle physics experiment comprising 3,500 scientists from 38 countries), we explore five paradoxes associated with knowledge exchange in global networks. Each paradox leads to a proposition which takes the theory and practice of knowledge management in a fresh direction. We conclude by outlining a number of HRM priorities for international knowledge‐intensive organizations.

Shasha Zhao, Marina Papanastassiou, Robert D. Pearce, Chie Iguchi (2020)MNE R&D internationalization in developing Asia, In: Asia Pacific Journal of Management Springer

In line with the recent shift of R&D internationalization towards developing Asia, this Perspective paper reviews, contextualises, and evaluates the evolving patterns of creation, transfer, and assimilation of knowledge in multinational enterprises (MNEs). A typology is proposed consisting of four stylized nodes: West (industrialized mature economies), East One (emerging industrializing economies of developing Asia), East Two (Asian economies at an earlier stage of industrialization), and East Three (Asian economies with limited visible signs of industrialization). Within these nodes, this paper applies an institution-based view to discuss their diverse national innovation environment (with particular attention paid to governments, indigenous firms, and institutional conditions), and the network perspective to propose an intra-regional knowledge hierarchy, reflecting dynamic knowledge links.

Shasha Zhao, Hui Tan, Marina Papanastassiou, Anne-Wil Harzing (2020)The internationalization of innovation towards the South: A historical case study of a global pharmaceutical corporation in China (1993–2017), In: Asia Pacific Journal of Management37(2)pp. 553-585 Springer

Intensified competition means that multinational enterprises (MNEs) are increasingly concerned with locating innovation activities in the most appropriate locations. This had led to emerging economies in the South becoming an important destination of R&D-related foreign direct investment (FDI), departing from their traditional role as low-cost production sites. Thus far, however, our understanding of this transformation process is limited. The purpose of this article is therefore to explore the process by which foreign MNEs’ low-value-adding operations in the South are transformed into high-value-adding R&D operations. Drawing on the current literature, we construct a framework of evolution consisting of four major waves of R&D internationalization and corresponding R&D objectives. To better understand how these waves have evolved over time, we focus on the South and trace the process of change using a single historical case study: AstraZeneca in China between 1993 and 2017. We find evidence of idiosyncratic location-bound conditions offering both opportunities and resources. The gradual development of these favourable conditions, along with AstraZeneca’s deepening local knowledge, triggered a transformation process in their operations in China. Our study thus offers important historical insights, which present a platform for future research providing more nuanced theoretical explanations of the four waves of R&D internationalization.

Shasha Zhao, Sarah Ku, John Dilyard (2022)Global Waste Crisis and the Role of Innovations by Global Corporations, In: Creating a Sustainable Competitive Position: Ethical Challenges for International Firms Emerald Publishing

This chapter offers novel insights into on how global corporations can innovate to tackle the global waste crisis and gain sustainable competitive positions. Using the two of the most prominent types of global waste crises - food and plastic wastes - we discuss the dilemma of food and plastic waste, why innovations in global firms are needed to address them, and argue that a different perspective among those firms is needed, one which conceptualizes the development, dissemination, and use of innovations in waste management, and one which recognizes that innovations thus created contribute to advancing the creation of economic, environmental, and social value. We conclude using an overarching conceptual framework that depicts the complexity of the new perspective.

Shasha Zhao (2017)The Problem of Constructive Misalignment in International Business Education: A Three-Stage Integrated Approach to Enhancing Teaching and Learning, In: Journal of Teaching in International Business27(4)pp. 179-196 Taylor & Francis

Past evidence suggests that constructive misalignment is particularly problematic in International Business (IB) education, though this paradigm has received limited research attention. Building on the literature of three independent teaching methods (threshold concept, problem-based learning, and technology-based learning), this study contributes to the IB education literature by integrating the three existing methods in a co-complementary and co-supporting manner, and carefully implementing them across three subsequent stages spanning across the length of the IB course. Empirical evidence on student satisfaction and assessment performance shows its usefulness in reducing the negative effects of constructive misalignment among the sampled students. The approach provides practitioners with refreshed insights into how the three independent methods can be integrated to create greater value for learners.

Constantinos-Vasilios Priporas, Yan Chen, Shasha Zhao, Hui Tan (2019)An Exploratory Study of the Upper-middle Class Consumer Attitudes towards Counterfeiting in China, In: Journal of retailing and consumer services53 Elsevier

Although counterfeiting has been discussed in the literature, research focusing on the newly-emerged upper-middle class from emerging economies remains scarce. The aim of this exploratory study is to uncover the new upper-middle class consumers' attitudes towards counterfeiting in China. Qualitative research method was adopted to provide richer and deep information on the research questions. Through semi-structured in-depth interviews with members of the Chinese upper-middle class in Beijing, this study reveals that upper-middle class consumers present a distinctive view in counterfeiting in that they believe counterfeiting not only causes grave welfare related consequences and loss of trust in the legal system, but also seriously interferes with the order of the market.

Shasha Zhao, Marina Papanastassiou, Yiannis Bassiakos, Evis Sinani, Robert D. Pearce (2019)Chapter 8 Unfolding the Intra-Organizational Perception Gap in Decision Making between MNE Headquarters and Subsidiaries, In: Contemporary Issues in International Business: Institutions, Strategy and Performance Palgrave Macmillan

This chapter explores the dyadic relationship between headquarters and in terms of their perceptions of decision-making loci and associated organisational structure . By comparing the responses of parents of Greek Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) and their subsidiaries, we find evidence in favour of a perception gap in terms of decision-making between headquarters and subsidiaries. We argue that future research needs to carefully consider and account for the perception gap and point out the importance of the role of MNE managers in removing such barriers in order to achieve effective decision-making .

Si Zhang, Shasha Zhao, Ioannis Bournakis, Robert D. Pearce, Marina Papanastassiou (2018)Subsidiary Roles as Determinants of Subsidiary Technology Sourcing: Empirical Evidence from China, In: Economia Politica35pp. 623-648 Springer

Emerging economies have become new destinations for knowledge sourcing, forcing Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) to reconfigure their global innovation strategies and structure. While foreign subsidiaries located in emerging economies were conventionally viewed as having market or efficiency seeking roles, they have started to evolve towards knowledge-seeking roles. We argue that the conventional wisdom shall be reassessed considering this recent shift. We empirically investigate 129 manufacturing MNE subsidiaries of Fortune 500 companies in China, in terms of their roles and sources of technology. Our results indicate that market and knowledge seeking subsidiaries located in China tend to have a positive impact on the generation of new knowledge, either through locally established MNE R&D laboratories or through collaborations with local firms and scientific institutions. 2

Shasha Zhao, Paul N Gooderham, Anne-Wil Harzing, Marina Papanastassiou (2021)Do MNEs contribute to or reduce global inequality? An introduction to the special issue, In: Critical Perspectives on International Business17(1)pp. 1-7 Emerald Publishing Limited
SHASHA ZHAO, Fernando Santiago, Jahan Ara Peerally, Claudia De Fuentes (2022)How multinationals can leverage social innovations to tackle COVID-19 challenges, In: UNIDO

Additional publications