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Boundaries shape how markets are structured and the inter-organizational dynamics underneath. Boundary-spanning activities--namely, the transgression and extension of the agreed-upon dividing lines in the marketplace--are common across organizations in their exploratory efforts for new opportunities or territories of growth. The current research portfolio I have developed aims to advance a better understanding of organizational boundary-spanning in the context of corporate sustainability and innovation. First, I study the antecedents of organizational boundary-spanning, where I examine how market-intermediaries affect inter-organizational dynamics across knowledge domains. Second, I explore the consequences of organizational boundary-spanning to answer questions related to firm entry in nascent industries, as well as talent acquisition for strategic renewal.


1. Homophily, Setbacks, and the Dissolution of Heterogeneous Ties: Evidence from Professional Tennis

(with Shinan Wang and Letian Zhang)

Sociological Science, 2023

2. Move Fast and Break Things? The Contingent Nature of Product Acceleration in Nascent Markets

(with Hyeonsuh Lee and Ryan Coles)

Strategy Science, 2023


3. Letian Zhang, Xuege C. Lu, & Laura Huang. [activism and gender discrimination] Under Review

4. Xuege C. Lu, Shipeng Yan, & Lisha Liu. [banks and firm environmental performance] Under Review

5. Letian Zhang, Shinan Wang, & Xuege C. Lu. [collaborative managers and inequality] Under Review

6. Xuege C. Lu and Letian Zhang. [corporate hiring for sustainability professionals] Under Review


7. Xuege C. Lu and Heeyon Kim. “Market Intermediaries as Gatekeepers to Promote Domain Originality” Preparing for Journal Submission

8. Xuege C. Lu, Halil Sabanci, and Elizabeth McClean. “Gender-based Evaluations and Labor-Market Intermediaries” Preparing for Manuscript

Abstract: Why do people engage with similar others despite ample opportunities to interact with dissimilar others? We argue that adversity or setbacks may have a stronger deteriorative effect on ties made up of dissimilar individuals, prompting people to give up on such ties more easily, which, over the long run, results in people forming ties with similar others. We examine this argument in the context of Association of Tennis Professionals tournaments, using data on 9,669 unique doubles pairs involving 1,812 unique players from 99 countries from 2000 to 2020. We find that doubles pairs with players from different countries are more likely to dissolve after a setback, especially if those countries lack social trust and connections with one another; this reality further contributes to the individual player’s increased tendency to collaborate with same-country players in the next tournament. Our study has direct implications for interventions for diversity and inclusion.

Abstract: Acceleration allows firms to lock in early success upon entering a nascent market, but whether it enables firms to sustain competitive advantage after the entry is unclear. Using a granular data set on the U.S. LED lightbulb market 2010–2017, we apply an abductive approach to examine the relationship between postentry product acceleration and market acceptance. We find that, although acceleration is slightly more beneficial for firms that have accumulated greater pioneering experience, incumbents with more recognizable brands are able to achieve even greater market acceptance by slowing down their product iterations. Meanwhile, deceleration seems to be a better strategy among firms striving to build legitimacy via regulatory engagement, whereas acceleration could be more beneficial for firms competing in subproduct markets with greater technological uncertainties. We contribute to the nascent market literature by showing that the extent to which firms gain market acceptance through postentry product acceleration hinges on their abilities to assess, learn from, and shape both market and nonmarket stakeholders.

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