Doctoral Student

Yanhua Zhou

Yanhua Zhou is a doctoral candidate in the joint program in Organizational Behavior and Sociology at Harvard University. She studies how external institutions and social/legal environments, organizational structures, and organizations’ identities influence corporate social practices and corporate sustainability.Empirical contexts include global supplier factories' labor conditions, American Credit Unions' investment behaviors, and Chinese public firms' environmental penalties, etc. Yanhua holds a M.A. in Organization & Management, a B.A. in Sociology and a B.A. in Economics from Peking University.

Journal Articles

  1. Scrutiny, Norms, and Selective Disclosure: A Global Study of Greenwashing

    Christopher Marquis, Michael W. Toffel and Yanhua Zhou

    Under increased pressure to report environmental impacts, some firms selectively disclose relatively benign impacts, creating an impression of transparency while masking their true performance. We identify key company- and country-level factors that limit firms' use of selective disclosure by intensifying scrutiny on them and by diffusing global norms to their headquarters' countries. We test our hypotheses using a novel panel dataset of 4,750 public companies across many industries and headquartered in 45 countries during 2004–2007. Results show that firms that are more environmentally damaging, particularly those in countries where they are more exposed to scrutiny and global norms, are less likely to engage in selective disclosure. We discuss contributions to the literature that spans institutional theory and strategic management and to the literature on information disclosure.

    Keywords: disclosure strategy; disclosure; environmental performance; environmental strategy; environment; symbolic; reporting; Corporate Disclosure; Integrated Corporate Reporting; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact;


    Marquis, Christopher, Michael W. Toffel, and Yanhua Zhou. "Scrutiny, Norms, and Selective Disclosure: A Global Study of Greenwashing."Organization Science 27, no. 2 (March–April 2016): 483–504. (Formerly titled "When Do Firms Greenwash? Corporate Visibility, Civil Society Scrutiny, and Environmental Disclosure.") View Details
  2. Regulatory Uncertainty and Corporate Responses to Environmental Protection in China

    Christopher Marquis, Jianjun Zhang and Yanhua Zhou

    We develop a framework to analyze the closing gap between regulation and enforcement of environmental protection in China and present a number of resulting implications for doing business there. We identify three major dimensions that characterize change in regulatory systems generally: priorities and incentives, bureaucratic alignment, and transparency and monitoring. Using these dimensions, we first unpack the mechanisms that characterized China's prior period, during which enforcement of environmental protection was decoupled from regulation. These mechanisms include (a) the intense emphasis on economic growth leading to misaligned incentives and regulatory competition across regions, (b) fragmented bureaucratic organization, and (c) lack of transparency and monitoring, all of which undermined enforcement. Then we show how, in each of these dimensions, regulation and enforcement are becoming realigned or recoupled over time. We show how this results from (a) a change in national development strategy to focus more on sustainable development and a harmonious society, (b) reorganization of the bureaucracy, and (c) an increase in monitoring by both the government and the general public. Correspondingly, we advance managerial implications that stem from these recent changes, illustrated by recent MNC and Chinese domestic firm successes. To address changes in policies and incentives, firms should align with governmental signals and embrace environmental innovation. Regarding bureaucratic alignment, firms should avoid regulatory shopping and integrate local and global standards. Finally, to address transparency and monitoring issues, firms should be transparent and compete on reputation. We conclude with a more general discussion of the contributions of our framework to understanding managerial practice in emerging-market regulatory contexts.

    Keywords: Framework; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Law Enforcement; Growth and Development Strategy; Emerging Markets; Business Ventures; Alignment; Risk and Uncertainty; Natural Environment; Motivation and Incentives; Management Practices and Processes; Competitive Strategy; China;


    Marquis, Christopher, Jianjun Zhang, and Yanhua Zhou. "Regulatory Uncertainty and Corporate Responses to Environmental Protection in China."California Management Review 54, no. 1 (Fall 2011): 39–63. View Details

Other Publications and Materials