Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Business Administration - Strategic Management

Committee Director

Shaomin Li

Committee Member

Anil Nair

Committee Member

David Selover


The changing nature of modern globalization has given rise to strategic competition between great power states, who utilize global firms and policy interventions in commercial markets to pursue state-level objectives. Multinational executives operating in global markets must contend with the consequences of great power competition between countries like the US and China, developing novel strategies and capabilities to defend firm performance in the face of trade wars and geopolitical confrontation. Through the analysis of risk factor disclosures of foreign multinational firms operating in China, as well as cases of Chinese economic and industrial espionage against US firms, this study utilizes the Dynamic Capabilities framework to better understand how executives can expand traditional asset positions to counteract strategic policy interventions and state-backed attempts at the unauthorized acquisition of intellectual property and proprietary trade secrets. In the first essay of this dissertation, findings from the textual data show the changing nature of competition within China, the influence of home-country registration for MNEs, the impact of the China, Inc., governance model of non-dyadic competition, and the emergence of a hybrid level of external analysis that combines elements of both the task and general environment of firms. In the second essay, investigating the importance of target and actor characteristics in economic and industrial espionage operations, findings from the analysis highlight the wide range of private and state-backed institutions conducting hostile interventions against modern multinational enterprises in pursuit of technology and knowledge acquisition. Under such circumstances, strict reliance on firm-specific resources to counteract these operations and the changing nature of competition may be inadequate, requiring the development of new capabilities that combine resources and abilities from non-traditional sources beyond the boundaries of the firm itself. In addition, this study highlights the theoretical implications of the development of “fusionist” capabilities, along with practical implications for executives and policymakers seeking to defend competitive advantage in the face of non-dyadic competition.


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