SMS Emerging Scholar Award

Inaugurated in 2007, the prize is awarded annually to a relatively young or new scholar, who displays exemplary scholarship that promises to have an impact on future strategic management practice.


Deadline for Nominations
Announcement of Award Recipient
SEPT. 22-25
SMS Annual Conference

Previous Award Recipients

Aaron Chatterji

Andrew Shipilov 

Gary Dushnitsky

Yan Anthea Zhang

Jeffrey J. Reuer

Exequiel Hernandez, 2018 Emerging Scholar Award Recipient

From the Award Selection Committee:

"Exequiel Hernandez is the Max and Bernice Garchik Family Presidential Assistant Professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and is the winner of the 2018 Emerging Scholar Award for the Strategic Management Society.

Exequiel (Zeke) is best known for research examining how firms can use formal external relationships (e.g., board interlocks) and informal relationships to internationalize, innovate, and enhance their performance more generally.  His work is creative in examining a new source of knowledge that firms tap into when expanding abroad – immigrants.  These informal ties can affect the firm’s key foreign expansion decisions and their success when internationalizing.  Zeke’s research seeks to identify conditions under which such informal ties, as well as more formal relationships, have an impact on the foreign expansion of firms.

In a second research stream, Zeke has examined how formal and informal institutions across countries can have a bearing on the innovative outcomes firms obtain from alliance networks.  Significant research has examined the consequences of networks for firms, and his work takes national boundaries seriously and suggests that institutions can shape firms’ abilities to engage in networks and derive benefits from them, such as the quality and quantity of innovation. 

In more recent research he is building upon these streams to consider the origins and changes in networks and the role played by competition as well as firms’ abilities to strategically modify their network positions.

In sum, Exequiel Hernandez has published eleven papers in top journals since obtaining his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2011.  The committee concluded that his strong publication record across the field’s major journals, as well as his ability to ask important questions and identify novel mechanisms to unify corporate and international strategy research, made him a worthy winner of the Emerging Scholar Award."

Exequiel will be presented with this award at the Awards Luncheon, Tuesday afternoon at the SMS Annual Conference in Paris. As a recipient of the award, he will also be organizing a session on Monday at the conference! Click here to view the session details.

Below is an interview with Zeke Hernandez and SMS Board Member Jeffrey Reuer

I was always interested in immigration as a phenomenon, in part because I’ve been an immigrant most of my life and in part because the topic is always in the news (especially nowadays). I lived in four different countries growing up because of my father’s work. I was around immigrants, expats, and people doing business in foreign countries. The interface between people and organizations of different nationalities was inherently interesting to me.

When I started the PhD program at Minnesota, I was highly interested in global strategy. In my head, I had this map of the world with dots representing the locations of foreign firms, and my goal was to be able to explain that map—why do firms expand abroad? As I went through the normal process of taking seminars and reading the literature, I started to learn about theories that could explain firm internationalization. One night, as I lay in bed stressed about an econometrics exam, another map popped into my head. It didn’t only have dots representing the locations of foreign firms, but also other dots representing the locations of immigrants across the world. It struck me that the flows of people and firms across countries had to be related. I’m not sure exactly where that thought came from, and I figured someone had already made the connection. But I wrote down about a page of potential research ideas on the relationship between immigration and firms’ global strategies and set out to see if there were any precedents. That was the beginning of one of my main research streams.

It still took years to figure out how immigration was relevant firms. I had to read broadly in our field plus in sociology, economics, and political science to understand immigration as a phenomenon connected to strategic issues like location choice, innovation, performance, knowledge transfer, etc. I still continue to find new connections and research questions, and now there’s a small but growing community of scholars on the topic from which I draw inspiration. And with the current controversies about immigration in so many countries, I’m now motivated to contribute to the debate by offering empirical evidence that the interaction between firms and immigrants plays a crucial role in increasing the stock of skilled labor, innovation, and productive capital in the economy.

Hmm… It’s always hard to choose just one, so I’ll select a fairly recent one.

In a series of recent papers, my coauthors and I have explored how acquirers pick targets to improve their position in strategic alliance networks. We’ve found that an acquisition can not only create value by affecting the assets owned by firms – the focus on prior work on M&A – but also by modifying the structure of the two firms’ external alliance networks. These changes in the network can be favorable for the acquirer (what we call “network synergy”) and produce externalities that affect other firms in the industry positively or negatively.

The implications are pretty important. For those interested in corporate strategy, this research suggests a need to pay more attention to how M&A affect external relationships (e.g. with alliance partners, non-market stakeholders, etc.). Changes in these relationships caused by M&A can be an unexpected source of value creation or destruction. For those interested in networks, this work offers a novel lens to understand structural change: corporate actions that fuse or split nodes (acquisitions or divestitures, respectively) as distinct from the more commonly studied tie additions or deletions. Plus, acquisitions and divestitures (node changes) are more radical means of network change than tie changes. I see a promising opportunity to integrate the literatures on corporate strategy and networks.

I’m pushing along three fronts at the moment. The first is to continue exploring how immigrants affect the global strategies and performance firms, and the mechanisms by which this happens. The second is the relationship between corporate actions (acquisitions, divestitures) and the structure of firms’ alliance networks, as described in answer to the previous question. And the third has to do with how national institutions (e.g. intellectual property rights, competitive vs. cooperate approaches to business) affect the innovation benefits firms get from knowledge alliances (e.g. R&D) with foreign partners. The common thread is an interest in how firms strategically manage external collaborations, both formal and informal.

I associate key moments with wonderful people who have taught and supported me along the way. Deciding to get a PhD and pursue an academic career was the first milestone, and Gerry Sanders from my undergraduate institution played a tremendous role in helping me cut my teeth in doing research and navigate the application process. My training at the University of Minnesota was not only excellent but also more enjoyable than I ever could have imagined. For that I have to thank my co-advisors, Myles Shaver and Aks Zaheer, who have remained as mentors, coauthors, and friends. I’ve had supportive colleagues in the institutions in which I’ve worked, as well as in the profession more generally, who created a collaborative environment in which I could learn and grow into my role as a scholar and teacher. And I’ve been fortunate to have good coauthors, capable and hardworking. There are too many individuals to mention one by one – and I’m afraid I’d leave someone out! But I’m grateful to each one for their role in helping me love this profession.

I would pass along what my mentors taught me: focus on producing good research more than on getting a publication. The second is usually a byproduct of the first, but the opposite isn’t always true. This may be idiosyncratic, but to me good research is the convergence of an important question, an interesting and credible answer to that question (what we typically call theory), and convincing methods that support the proposed answer. The first two elements are the most important but the hardest to learn. I’m grateful for those who constantly reminded me of this early on, because the rookie bias is often to prioritize methodological skills over critical thinking. Most of us come into the profession knowing how to read and thus think we know how ask questions and craft arguments, while we usually lack the requisite “hard” methodological skills. This is reinforced by some paradigms that emphasize methodological rigor above all else. And it leads underinvesting in learning other essential research capabilities that have to do with reading broadly and critically, asking questions, connecting ideas across literatures and disciplines, writing persuasively, etc. I don’t want to be misunderstood: methodological rigor is crucial, but it’s not why we do research. We do it to address important questions, and the most impactful research is so because it poses novel questions or offers original answers to existing questions.

Award Criteria and Details

Criteria for Selection: 

The criteria for this award recognizes a portfolio of work that suggests the candidate will make fundamental contributions to the way we think about knowledge essential to achieving durable organizational success. Especially considered are contributions that complement existing strategic management theory with ideas from the arts and sciences. Eligible to be nominated are members of the SMS. The likely winner of the award will:

  • be within 5-8 years of active academic work from the date of his/her dissertation
  • have a record of publication and professional activity that has demonstrated their work to be significant and with impact

Award Details: 

The recipient of the SMS Emerging Scholar Award will be recognized at an appropriate, significant event at the SMS Annual Conference and receives prize money of US$ 5,000. In addition, the recipient is invited to present their research in a prominent setting at the SMS Annual Conference and will be recognized and featured in one of the SMS journals.

Nomination Details: 

To nominate an individual, please provide the following: 

  • a letter of nomination by another SMS member, who is not a faculty member at the same university as the nominated individual
  • two additional letters of recommendation
  • a full vita from the nominated individual

*Nominations are accepted throughout the year. The deadline for this award is March 31st of each year. To submit a nomination, please email the materials to the SMS Executive Office at