Journal of Business Ethics
Call for papers
Co-evolution of Strategy, Innovation and Ethics: The China Story and Beyond

Submission deadline: 
June 1, 2020
Guest Editors:
Dr. Justin Tan, [log in to unmask]
Newmont Chair in Business Strategy and Professor of Management,
Schulich School of Business, York University, Canada
Dr. Liang Wang[log in to unmask]
Associate Professor of entrepreneurship and strategy,
School of Management, University of San Francisco, USA


Journal of Business Ethics is pleased to invite submissions to a special issue on Co-evolution of Strategy, Innovation and Ethics: The China Story and Beyond.

As an emerging economy, China has made astonishing achievements in innovation and technology in a wide variety of areas, including mobile commerce, high-speed railway, innovative solution to environmental problems (e.g., the restoration of Kubuqi desert), etc. Shenzhen, a former fishing village, is emerging as "the global hub of innovation in hardware and manufacturing" (The Economist special report, 2017). Evidences like these indicate China's progress in turning itself into an "innovation society" (Lewin et al., 2016; Yip and McKern, 2016). What accompanies these achievements are the growing awareness of, and calls for, a higher corporate social responsibility (CSR) standard in China, because this emerging economy is still facing wide-spreading ethical, social and environmental challenges, including but not limited to air pollution, poor labor standard, corporate scandals, weak intellectual property protection, regulatory loopholes, privacy infringement, etc. Unlike the advanced economies, China has witnessed rapid advancements in technology and innovation in a unique and changing institutional environment. As The Economist recently posited, "ethical governance has long been the Achilles' heel of China's scientific endeavor" (2018).


How should academic researchers, business practitioners, and policy makers account for such paradoxical phenomenon? We posit that theoretical explanations could benefit from a co-evolutionary perspective (Tan, 2009; Tan and Litschert, 1994; Tan and Tan, 2005; Tan and Wang, 2011), which emphasizes the temporal co-evolution and co-alignment between a changing environment, transitional institutions, strategic adaptations, and the performance implications (financial, social and environmental). From this perspective, the practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) (Jamali and Mirshak, 2007; Garriga and Melé, 2004; Snider et al., 2003; Aguinis and Glavas, 2012; Tan and Wang, 2011) evolves over time, and at each point of time strategic choices of firms are shaped by, and will reshape, the changing environment (Tan and Tan, 2005).


For example, domestic firms in China like DJI more recently started calling for stronger intellectual property protection in China as their intellectual property outputs rapidly grow (Peng et al., 2017), potentially leading to a stronger intellectual property protection system in the future. Similarly, Alibaba as a technology giant in China is also leading social innovation (Mirvis et al., 2016; Osburg, 2013; Jenkins, 2009; Prahalad, 2006) by using its technology and platform to help poor people in remote area become entrepreneurs and sell products to the global market (Mirvis et al., 2016; Osburg, 2013; Jenkins, 2009; Prahalad, 2006). On the other hand, the country also witnesses social and environment problems created by technological innovation. For example, the bike-sharing business initially was a solution to environmental problems of urban congestion, yet it turned into both an environmental problem as hundreds and thousands of bicycles ended in bicycle graveyard, and a social problem as millions of users find it hard to get their deposit money back. Examples like these show that co-evolution as a powerful theoretical perspective will help us explain and predict the interplay and alignment between strategy, business ethics, technology innovation, and institutions in transitional China. China offers a laboratory setting to test existing theories and to build new ones.


Inspired by a deep curiosity about these profound development, this special issue aims at exploring the theories and practices of the co-evolution and co-alignment between strategy, business ethics, technology innovation, and institutions over time in China from a co-evolutionary perspective. The unique co-evolutionary pathways of China, in comparison to the other economies, will have profound implication to the business ethics literature. Topics of Special Interest include but are not limited to:



The topics listed are meant to be illustrative; submissions on any topic that relates to the theme of the interplay between technology, innovation and business ethics in China are encouraged. Submissions should be prepared in accordance with Journal of Business Ethics style guide and submitted to by June 1, 2020.


Be sure to indicate that it is for the special issue, "Co-evolution of Strategy, Innovation and Ethics: The China Story and Beyond". Selected authors of submissions will be invited to attend a Journal of Business Ethics special issue workshop in Tianjin, China, in late 2020. At this conference, authors will receive developmental feedback from the editorial team and invited discussants. Detail about the conference will be announced later with sufficient advance notice. Participation in the workshop is not a necessary condition for paper submission and editorial decision. Similarly, invitation to the workshop does not guarantee acceptance.


Please note that as a journal policy, an article submitted to this Special Issue is considered a submission to Journal of Business Ethics and therefore cannot be resubmitted to a regular issue of the journal.

For more information, please refer to the attached document or visit JBE website at

Liang Wang
Associate Professor
University of San Francisco
San Francisco CA
[log in to unmask]  

Dr. Liang Wang 王亮

Associate Professor & Department Co-Chair
Department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Strategy
School of Management, University of San Francisco
Associate Director, China Business Studies Initiative
Special issue Co-editor, Journal of Business Ethics, Co-evolution of Strategy, Innovation and Ethics: The China Story and Beyond
Special issue Co-editor, Thunderbird International Business Review, China Belt & Road Initiative
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