Yanhua Zhou Bird - Faculty & Research - Harvard Business School
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Yanhua Zhou Bird

Doctoral Student

Yanhua Bird is a Ph.D. student in the Organizational Behavior program jointly offered by the Harvard Business School and the Department of Sociology at Harvard. Her research seeks to understand how different market governance and coordination institutions are developed and deployed, and their consequences on market participants. Her research covers topics including public regulation, industry self-regulation, social movements, and business and community relationship. In her most recent projects, she focuses on market dynamics and social consequences of platform capitalism.

Journal Articles
  1. The Paradox of Responsive Authoritarianism: How Civic Activism Spurs Environmental Penalties in China

    Christopher Marquis and Yanhua Bird

    Recognizing the need to better understand institutional change processes in authoritarian states, which play an increasingly prominent role in the world economy, we examine the efficacy of civic activism aimed at spurring governmental action concerning the environmental performance of firms in China. We highlight the paradox of “responsive authoritarianism” on display in China: to avoid needing to rule by coercion alone, the government seeks citizens’ feedback and tolerates pressures for change, but at the same time it resists the associated legitimacy threats regarding its capacity to rule. Local governments and the media play crucial and dual roles in this system: they mitigate change pressures from civic activism that takes place within the state’s systems, but they magnify change pressures from publicly visible civic activism occurring outside those systems. We test our conceptual model using a unique dataset of environmental penalties imposed on Chinese publicly listed firms from 2007 to 2011. Our findings contribute to understanding processes of institutional change and outcomes of social movements.

    Keywords: civic activism; authoritarianism; regulation; corporate sustainability; Environmental Sustainability; Government and Politics; Business and Government Relations; Social Issues; Change; China;


    Marquis, Christopher, and Yanhua Bird. "The Paradox of Responsive Authoritarianism: How Civic Activism Spurs Environmental Penalties in China." Organization Science (forthcoming).  View Details
  2. 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
Working Papers
  1. Coupling Labor Codes of Conduct and Supplier Labor Practices: The Role of Internal Structural Conditions

    Yanhua Bird, Jodi L. Short and Michael W. Toffel

    Exploitive working conditions have spurred companies to pressure their suppliers to adopt labor codes of conduct and to conform their labor practices to the standards set forth in those codes. Yet little is known about whether organizational structures such as codes are associated with improvements in supplier labor practices, especially in organizations in which they compete with productivity-driving incentive structures. We investigate under what internal structural conditions suppliers’ labor practices are likely to become more tightly aligned—or coupled—with their formal commitments to labor codes of conduct. Using data on 3,276 suppliers in 55 countries, we find that in suppliers with high-powered efficiency structures (piece-rate pay), labor codes are internally buffered and thus less tightly coupled with labor practices; yet, tighter coupling is more likely in suppliers with certain types of managerial structures (certified management system and unions). We also find important interactions between these organizational structures: managerial structures offset efficiency structures and the presence of multiple managerial structures within a single supplier hastens improvement. Our focus on the internal structural dynamics of suppliers extends the existing decoupling literature and provides the first empirical investigation of internal buffering of multiple organizational structures. Furthermore, our findings suggest important strategic considerations for managers selecting supplier factories and provide key insights for the design of transnational sustainability governance regimes.

    Keywords: organizational structure; organization theory; economic sociology; social responsibility; supply chain; sustainability; auditing; process improvement; Supply Chain; Labor; Working Conditions; Environmental Sustainability; Law; Law Enforcement; Labor Unions; Motivation and Incentives; Organizational Structure; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Electronics Industry; Manufacturing Industry; China; India; Cambodia; Viet Nam; Indonesia; Taiwan;


    Bird, Yanhua, Jodi L. Short, and Michael W. Toffel. "Coupling Labor Codes of Conduct and Supplier Labor Practices: The Role of Internal Structural Conditions." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 18-003, July 2017. (Revised April 2018. Previously titled "Organizational Structures and the Improvement of Working Conditions in Global Supply Chains: Legalization, Participation, and Economic Incentives.")  View Details
Other Publications and Materials