Yong Li






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The overarching goal of my research is to shed light on how firms make strategic investment decisions in entrepreneurial contexts and how firms create and capture value from such decisions. My work is motivated by a pervasive business challenge: Decision making in entrepreneurial contexts is characterized by nontrivial uncertainty and information asymmetry. To meet this challenge, firms must formulate strategies to manage the relationship with their stakeholders and the environment. My research centers on analysis of these strategies and their performance implications.


The questions that intrigue me are located at the confluence of strategic entrepreneurship, innovation and internationalization. I explore these questions by using primarily real options theory, information economics and institutional theory and situating the empirical context largely in venture capital, crowdfunding, new venture innovation and international expansion. Accordingly, I have the following three interrelated research themes: 


o   How do firms make strategic entry and exit decisions in financing entrepreneurship?

o   When does financing entrepreneurship promote innovation and vice versa?

o   How do cross-border differences influence financing entrepreneurship and innovation?


My work seeks to make two broad contributions to strategic entrepreneurship. First, it helps develop a real options framework on venture capital investment, which centers on how to manage uncertainty to capture upside potential and contain downside risk in financing entrepreneurship. Second, it explores how informal institutions (as reflected in, e.g., cultural norms and human networks) and formal institutions (e.g., laws and regulations) interact to affect firm investment and performance, especially under conditions of environmental uncertainty.




o   Li, Y., E. Hernandez and S. Gwon. Accepted. When do ethnic communities affect foreign location choice? Academy of Management Journal. [Download]

o   Liu, Z., Z. Xu, Z. Zhou, & Y. Li. Forthcoming. Buddhist entrepreneurs and new venture performance: The mediating role of entrepreneurial risk-taking. Small Business Economics. [Download]

o   Courtney, C., S. Dutta & Y. Li, 2016. Resolving information asymmetry: Signaling and crowdfunding success. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. [Download]

o   Li, Y., I. Vertinsky, & J. Li. 2014. National distances, international experience, and venture capital investment performance. Journal of Business Venturing. [Download]

o   Zahra, S., Newey, L. R. & Li, Y. 2014. On the Frontiers: The Implications of Social Entrepreneurship for International Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. [Download]

o   Li, Y. & T. Chi. 2013. "Venture capitalists decision to withdraw: The role of portfolio configuration from a real options lens". Strategic Management Journal. [Download][SSRN]

o   Li, J., Y. Li, & Daniel Shapiro. 2012. Knowledge seeking and outward FDI of emerging market firms: The moderating effect of inward FDI. Global Strategy Journal. 2(4): 277-295. Lead article [Download]

o   Li, Y. & S. Zahra. 2012. "Formal Institutions, Culture, and Venture Capital Activity: A Cross-Country Analysis". Journal of Business Venturing. 27(1): 95-111. [Download]

o   Tong, T. & Y. Li. 2011. Real Options and Investment Mode Decision: Evidence from Corporate Venture Capital and Acquisition. Organization Science. 22(3): 659-674. [Download]

o   Li, Y. & J. Mahoney. 2011. When Are Venture Capital Projects Initiated? Journal of Business Venturing. 26(2): 239-254. [Download]

o   Li, J. & Y. Li. 2010. Flexibility versus Commitment: MNEs Ownership Strategy in China. Journal of International Business Studies. 41(9): 1550-1571. [Download]

o   Iriyama, A., Y. Li, & R. Madhavan. 2010. Spiky Globalization of Venture Capital Investments: The Influence of Prior Human Networks. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. 4(2): 106-127. [Download

o   Li, Y. 2008. Duration Analysis of Venture Capital Staged Financing: A Real Options Perspective. Journal of Business Venturing. 23: 497-512. Lead article [Download]

o   Li, Y. & R. Aguilera. 2008. Director Turnover in Acquired Firms: A Multi-Theoretical Approach. Corporate Governance: An International Review. 16(6): 492-503. [Download]




o   Li, Y., & E. Yao. 2017. All ties are not created equal: Institutional equity ties, IPO performance, and market growth of new ventures. In D. Cumming & S. Johan (ed.). Oxford Handbook of IPO. [Download]

o   Li, Y., S. Zahra & L. Sai. 2015. Heterogeneity in New Venture Formation Rates across Nations: The Schumpeterian and Institutional Economics Views. The World Scientific Reference on Entrepreneurship. Lead article. [Download]

o   Li, J., Y. Li & A. Rugman. 2012. Real options theory and international investment strategy. In A. Verbeke & H. Merchant (eds.). Edward Elgar Handbook of Research on International Strategic Management. [Download]

o   Li, Y. 2012. Venture capital staging: Domestic VC- versus foreign VC-led investments. In D. Cumming (ed.). Oxford Handbook of Venture Capital. Oxford University Press: 354-372. [Download]

o   Wu, J., E. Yao, Y. Li & H. Du. 2009. Theory and evidence of social influence on NBA officials decision making. International Journal of Information and Decision Sciences. 2(4):340-351.

o   Li, Y., B. James, R. Madhavan, & J. Mahoney. 2007. Real Options: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead. Advances in Strategic Management, 24: 31-66. Lead article [Download]




o   Li, Y. & J. Zhu. 2018. College Entrepreneurs and New Venture Milestones. Academy of Management Conference Proceedings.

o   Courtney, C., S. Dutta & Y. Li. 2016. Resolving Information Asymmetries: Influence of Media and Crowd Sentiment on Crowdfunding Success. Academy of Management Conference Proceedings.

o   Li, Y., E. Hernandez and S. Gwon. 2015. When do ethnic communities affect foreign location choice? Academy of Management Conference Proceedings.

o   Li, Y., J. Li, & I. Vertinsky. 2010. National Institutional Differences and Performance of International Venture Capital Syndicates. Academy of Management Conference Proceedings.

o   Iriyama, A., Y. Li, & R. Madhavan. 2009. Spiky Globalization of Venture Capital Investments. Academy of Management Conference Proceedings.




Deans Faculty Fellow, SUNY Buffalo, 2017-present

Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016

Finalist, Carolyn Dexter Award, Academy of Management, 2010

Deans Fellowship in Research, SUNY Buffalo, 2010

Finalist, 3rd Israel Strategy Conference Best Paper Award, 2010

Nominated for SMS Best Paper, Strategic Management Society, 2007, 2009




Associate Editor, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal

Editorial boards, Academy of Management Review

Journal of Business Venturing

Journal of International Business Studies


Ad Hoc Reviewer

Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Journal of Management Studies

Organization Science

Research Policy

Strategic Management Journal

Conference Manuscript Reviews

Academy of International Business Conference

Academy of Management Conference

Strategic Management Society Conference

Grant Reviews

External Examiner, Hong Kong SAR Research Grants Council, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

Grant Reviewer, Research Council of Canada for Social Sciences and Humanities, 2015




Summer research grant, SUNY Buffalo, >$9000 per year on average, 2007-2018

Small grant, SUNY Buffalo, 2010-2014

Scholars in Creativity, Innovation and Research Fund, University of Illinois (with Joe Mahoney), $10,000, 2008-2009

UUP small grant, $480, June 2009

Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, SUNY Buffalo, $913, June 2008

Kauffman Foundation Fellowship, PhD Seminar in Entrepreneurship, Case Western Reserve University, $1200, August 7-11, 2006

Graduate Scholars Fund, Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, $5000, 2005

Illinois CIBER PhD Dissertation Research Grants, $2600, 2004-05; 2005-06

Kauffman Foundation Scholarship, AOM Entrepreneurship Doctoral Consortium, $750, 2005

University of Illinois Travel Grants, $400, 2005

Illinois CIBER Professional Development Award, $500, 2005