Gwen Yu is an associate professor of business administration in the accounting and management unit at Harvard Business School. She teaches the second year MBA “Business Analysis and Valuation” class and occasionally, in HBS’s Executive Education programs (“Strategic Financial Analysis for Business Evaluation”). Previously, Gwen taught the first-year M.B.A. course “Financial Reporting and Control.”
Gwen’s research focuses on the role of information frictions in the global economy. Globalization has led to a series of events that lowered information barriers around the world. Despite the falling communication costs, firms continue to face information problems when they expand abroad. Gwen’s research investigates the cross-border frictions that cause differences in information quality to persistent around the world. She also examines how these differences have real effects on various economic outcomes.
Her work dissects the underlying drivers of cross-border information frictions. She identifies three sources of information frictions (i.e., formal barriers, informal barriers, and innate barriers) and examines how each barrier affects various economic outcomes. Also, her work delves into settings (e.g., cross-listing) where firms attempt to overcome these cross border frictions and examines the challenges therein. The common theme throughout her work is that simply reducing formal barriers, such as rules and regulations, does not necessarily lead to harmonized information quality across countries. This is because transparency is a complex outcome of numerous institutions that shape the information environment. Thus, simply transplanting the rules of one country to another may not be the most efficient way to achieve global integration.
Another area of work is the globalization process of emerging countries such as China. The rapid, yet controlled, globalization process of China offers an interesting laboratory setting for examining how countries can better leverage their local institutions in this process. In a series of papers and cases, she argues that successful globalization can be achieved not only by overcoming but also by exploiting the differences in its local institutions. Her findings have implications for local regulators, investors, and managers, who are at a crossroads in designing a new economic system that will shape one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies.
Gwen's work has been published in academic and practitioner journals such as the Journal of Financial Economics,The Accounting Review, American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, Review of Accounting Studies and the World Financial Review, and it has been cited and discussed in The New York Times, in The Financial Times, CBS Money Watch,The Wall Street Journal, and in other outlets of the financial press. She is on the Editorial board of The Accounting Review.
Gwen holds a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Michigan, where she also earned a master’s degree in applied economics. Her undergraduate degree is from Yonsei University in Seoul. Before pursuing her graduate studies, she worked at McKinsey & Company and the global reinsurer Swiss Re.