Dr Shasha Zhao

Senior Lecturer in International Business and Innovation
PhD (Alliance Manchester Business School)
+44 (0)1483 689990
08 MS 03
Email for appointment

Academic and research departments

Department of Strategy and International Business.


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



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.

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, 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.

SHASHA ZHAO, Fernando Santiago, Jahan Ara Peerally, Claudia De Fuentes (2022)How multinationals can leverage social innovations to tackle COVID-19 challenges, In: UNIDO
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.

SHASHA ZHAO, John Dilyard, Elizabeth L. Rose (2022)Managing Sustainable Development in International Business: Challenges and Insights, In: AIB insights Academy of International Business
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, 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, 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, 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.

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.

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.

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.

Additional publications