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RSM Seminar | Dr Weiting Zheng

RSM Seminar | Dr Weiting Zheng

Presenter: Dr Weiting Zheng, Senior Lecturer, the School of Management, UNSW Business School.

Keep up with the Joneses: Awards, Officials’ Incentives, and Corporate Participation in Poverty Alleviation in China


How to mobilize corporations to alleviate social poverty is a persistent challenge for governments across the globe, as engagement in this activity is beyond corporate scope. We develop a theory to understand how the state influences corporate behavior by bestowing awards. By designing and promoting status-conferring awards that trigger social comparison among firms, the state can induce organizational espousal of state-desired behavior. Given that poverty alleviation does not intrinsically enhance corporate objectives, government officials’ career-based incentives play a critical role in making the award-based social comparison salient for firms. We test our theory in the context of the state-initiated poverty alleviation program in China. Our analysis of Chinese publicly listed firms between 2016 and 2018 (inclusive) show that poverty alleviation awards won by peer firms trigger the focal firms to level up their engagement in poverty alleviation, and that this effect is stronger when local officials have a higher prospect of career advancement or when they face greater competition for promotion. This study contributes to the literature on the role of the state and the impact of awards by revealing how officials’ incentives and social comparison triggered by awards jointly shape corporate behavior


Dr Weiting Zheng is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Management at UNSW Business School. In her research, she investigates corporate non-market strategy, trying to understand organizations' actions in managing their political and societal contexts. Her current research projects focus on topics related to corporate political strategy in emerging markets, the role of the state in influencing firm behavior, and managing diverse stakeholder relationships. Weiting has published in leading academic journals such as Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Management, and Research Policy. Weiting is Associate Editor at the Australian Journal of Management, and serves on the editorial board of other leading journals including Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Business Research, and Management and Organization Review.

Updated:   6 November 2020 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team