Research makes Zhang an expert on Alibaba’s record-breaking IPO

Yan A. Zhang PhotoProfessor of strategic management at the Jones Graduate School of Business Yan “Anthea” Zhang’s extensive research on emerging markets and IPOs led to her in-depth understanding of myriad complex factors, both technical and cultural, related to Alibaba’s IPO. And her insight gave her the ability to predict the company’s record-breaking success.


Growing up in China may have provided Zhang with a competitive advantage when studying businesses there, but add to that her research on emerging market strategy and you have an expert that media from around the globe sought regarding the recent Alibaba IPO, the world’s largest. The massive Chinese e-commerce company went public on the New York Stock Exchange on September 19, 2014.


In the months leading up to the public offering, Zhang was queried on topics ranging from what made Alibaba so successful in China, what concerns investors should have about Alibaba, and how Alibaba might use the capital raised and publicity generated in the IPO for its global expansion, to what it means for other Chinese companies if Alibaba’s IPO is successful. Alibaba and its IPO also make an excellent case study for the classroom, says Zhang.


Zhang and her coauthors have extensively researched emerging market strategy. In a recent paper, she and her coauthors examined underwriting fees paid by issuing firms in China’s stock market. They found that the underwriting fees ranged from 1.8 percent to 12.1 percent of the offering size and that a higher fee ratio (than industry peers) was used by institutional investors as a signal of poor quality of the issuers, which led to lower valuation and higher price discount.


One of Zhang’s earlier papers, published in the Strategic Management Journal, in 2010, examined how the country origins of foreign-invested firms in China may affect China’s domestic firms, a phenomenon called “Spillover Effect.” Zhang and her co-authors argued that domestic firms have the opportunity to learn from foreign firms, and that learning grows exponentially with the diversity of foreign-invested firms’ country origins. The greater the diversity, the greater the exposure to the variety of technologies and management practices brought in by the foreign investors.


The paper, “FDI spillovers in an emerging market: The role of foreign firms’ country origin diversity and domestic firms’ absorptive capacity,” advanced knowledge on the role of foreign direct investment in emerging markets and is an example of the substantive investigations that make Zhang’s perspective so valuable.


Additional areas of Zhang’s specialization include CEO succession and dismissal, and corporate governance in publicly listed companies in the United States and China and are available at


Zhang’s research on these issues has made her an expert commentator for news outlets across the globe. A sampling of media coverage featuring her commentary: