Richard Ivey Building 3332
- Global strategies
- Digital innovation
- Qualitative research
- To search for publications by a specific faculty member, select the database and then select the name from the Author drop down menu.
Professor Su is an expert on design and sourcing strategies, and qualitative research methods. His work explores the interaction between technologies and organizations, markets, societies, and policies in the digital age, based on in-depth field studies in diverse sectors, including financial services, professional services, public services, art and design, healthcare, technology, and manufacturing, across the Americas, EMEA, and Asia Pacific. His research is published in top journals such as MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, and MIT Sloan Management Review.
Professor Su is the recipient of the “40 Most Outstanding Business School Professors Under 40” by Poets&Quants, MIT Sloan Management Review annual top-10 articles recognition, the inaugural Early Career Award of the Association for Information Systems, and Best Article Awards from the Decision Sciences Institute and IBM Global Research. Professor Su has taught in Denmark, Finland, Italy, China, NYU Stern, and Cornell University, and has advised a portfolio of multinational firms, startups, and public and not-for-profit organizations.
- HBA, MBA, EMBA, PhD, Exec Ed
- Executive Education
- PhD, New York University Stern School of Business
- MS, University of Toronto
- BS, Fudan University
Recent Refereed Articles
Hsu, C.; Lee, J-N.; Fang, Y.; Straub, D. W.; Su, N.; Ryu, H-S., 2022, "The Role of Vendor Legitimacy in IT Outsourcing Performance: Theory and Evidence", Information Systems Research, March 33(1): 337 - 361. Abstract: Information technology (IT) outsourcing relationships today are facing increasingly turbulent environments. With rapid changes in technological, commercial, societal, and regulatory landscapes, client firms have to closely and continually assess the desirability and appropriateness, or legitimacy, of their vendors in such dynamic settings. In this research, the focus is on client firms’ perceived legitimacy of vendors, termed “vendor legitimacy.” Specifically, building on institutional theory, vendor legitimacy is conceptualized as consisting of three dimensions—pragmatic, moral, and cognitive—and is examined through their respective impacts on IT outsourcing performance. The role of key governance strategies for managing vendor legitimacy, namely, contractual governance and relational governance, are likewise explored. Results from a multiple-sourced, matched-pair, cross-industry sample of executives and managers of 185 client firms reveal that these various governance strategies exert differential impacts on the aforementioned dimensions of vendor legitimacy, which, in turn, drive performance.
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Joshi, M.; Su, N.; Austin, R. D.; Sundaram, A. K., 2021, "Why So Many Data Science Projects Fail to Deliver", MIT Sloan Management Review, March 62(3): 85 - 89. Abstract: More and more companies are embracing data science as a function and a capability. But many of them have not been able to consistently derive business value from their investments in big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. 1 Moreover, evidence suggests that the gap is widening between organizations successfully gaining value from data science and those struggling to do so.2 To better understand the mistakes that companies make when implementing profitable data science projects, and discover how to avoid them, we conducted in-depth studies of the data science activities in three of India’s top 10 private-sector banks with well-established analytics departments. We identified five common mistakes, as exemplified by the following cases we encountered, and suggest corresponding solutions to address them.
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Su, N.; Levina, N.; Ross, J. W., 2016, "The Long-Tail Strategy for IT Outsourcing", MIT Sloan Management Review, December 57(2): 81 - 89. Abstract: Traditionally viewed as a cost-saving measure, IT outsourcing is increasingly leveraged as a strategic tool for acquiring cutting-edge innovation. Many companies are expanding their portfolios of IT suppliers to include smaller, highly innovative companies. Established companies need access to fresh ideas, new technologies, and cutting-edge expertise. In IT, these capabilities are often found among smaller, more agile suppliers. In this article, the authors introduce a long-tail strategy for IT outsourcing. This innovative IT-outsourcing model combines a few key partnerships with a dynamically changing and unrestricted number of smaller contracts with other suppliers to deliver specific value propositions beyond the capabilities of the key partners. Representing a dynamic, diversified, and yet disciplined approach toward outsourcing, the long-tail strategy embraces and even fosters a flow of new suppliers offering new capabilities that can enable the company to prosper in turbulent business environments. Five best practices for leveraging the long-tail approach to IT outsourcing are presented.
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Su, N.; Levina, N.; Ross, J., 2016, "La estrategia de larga cola para la externalización de las TI", Harvard Deusto Business Review, April 255: 6 - 20. Abstract:
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Su, N., 2015, "Cultural Sensemaking in Offshore Information Technology Service Suppliers: A Cultural Frame Perspective", MIS Quarterly, December 39(4): 959 - 983. Abstract: In today’s global IT outsourcing relationships, individual employees need to operate effectively in culturally diverse environments. Such intercultural interactions can be especially challenging for members of IT service suppliers based in offshore locations. Through an in-depth qualitative case study of one of the largest China-based IT service firms with diverse clients from Japan, the United States, and China, this research elaborates the cultural sensemaking activities of the supplier’s individual employees. Specifically, drawing on the dynamic constructivist view of culture, this study develops the construct of cultural frames in the context of global IT outsourcing to characterize the knowledge structures guiding an individual’s collaboration with diverse clients. A portfolio of cultural frames emerges and evolves through the individual’s cultural sensemaking activities, which consist of the iterative enactment, alignment, and retention of cultural frames. In the cultural sensemaking process, the activity of frame bridging, in particular, creates significant value for the outsourcing relationship, and is especially salient among bicultural employees.
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Su, N., 2013, "Internationalization Strategies of Chinese IT Service Suppliers", MIS Quarterly, February 37(1): 175 - 200. Abstract: With China emerging as a new frontier of global IT outsourcing, many Chinese IT service suppliers are actively expanding in three major markets: Asia, especially Japan, the West, especially the United States, and the Chinese domestic market. Compared to multinational suppliers and established Indian suppliers, Chinese IT service firms are at a relatively early, but rapidly growing stage, which offers a unique opportunity to explore an understudied topic in the information systems literature: internationalization strategies of IT service suppliers from emerging economies. Through a three-part qualitative case study of 13 China-based IT service firms, including almost all of the Chinese suppliers recognized globally, this study elaborates the internationalization behavior and decision rationale of these suppliers. The findings show that these major Chinese suppliers include both firms that incrementally internationalize and firms that are 'born global.' For both types of firms, the entry and growth in different markets is a highly dynamic activity combining a strategically planned, resource-seeking process and a flexible, opportunistic bricolage process based on existing operation capabilities and client relationships. The suppliers dynamically oscillate between these processes to exploit and create opportunities while expanding in multiple markets.
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Su, N.; Levina, N., 2011, "Global Multisourcing Strategy: Integrating Learning from Manufacturing into IT Service Outsourcing", IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, November 58(4): 717 - 729. Abstract: 'Multisourcing' has emerged as an important strategy for global information technology (IT) service outsourcing in today's turbulent business environment. The existing literature on IT service provides only limited insights into this phenomenon. However, in the manufacturing domain, a similar concept, supply base management, has been extensively studied. In this paper, we integrate related research in IT service and manufacturing to explore how firms can successfully pursue global multisourcing strategy in IT service. Specifically, we first conceptualize a firm's multisourcing supply base along the dimensions of breadth and depth and theorize about the impact of these two dimensions on outsourcing outcomes. Second, based on this framework, we analyze four configurations of multisourcing supply base. Finally, we conduct case studies of two global financial services firms to illustrate the configurations and identify patterns of evolution of global multisourcing strategy in customized information systems development.
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Su, N.; Akkiraju, R.; Nayak, N.; Goodwin, R., 2010, "Business Transformation Under Uncertainty: Understanding the Value of Strategic Flexibility", International Journal of Services Operations and Informatics, January 5(1): 53 - 63. Abstract: Firms that grow through mergers and acquisitions often need to deal with duplicate and disparate business functions. Specifically, firms often need to transform and optimise their business processes through simplification, standardisation, consolidation, insourcing andor outsourcing. In order to decide whether and how to perform these transformation initiatives, firms need to estimate the value of different transformation approaches. Conventional valuation approaches tend to focus on foreseeable cost savings. In this study, we propose that in a turbulent global business environment, the value of strategic flexibility, which may be embedded in different business transformation approaches, should be explicitly incorporated in such valuation.
Su, N.; Akkiraju, R.; Nayak, N.; Goodwin, R., 2009, "Shared Services Transformation: Conceptualization and Valuation from the Perspective of Real Options", Decision Sciences, August 40(3): 381 - 402. Abstract: In today's volatile global economy, where many organizations face severe pressure to downsize, the "shared services" model, in which a firm merges common functions performed by multiple units into a single service delivery organization, provides an innovative approach to make business more efficient and effective. To successfully implement shared services, firms need to strategically decide whether and how to pursue various service transformation alternatives such as simplification, standardization, consolidation, insourcing, or outsourcing. In this study, we develop the notion of real options into a unique theoretical lens for conceptualizing service organizations and their transformation in an uncertain business environment. Specifically, we view service organization as a set of strategic options that give the firm preferential access to future transformation opportunities. We create a taxonomy of these options, and introduce a decision methodology for valuing alternative shared services transformation approaches. We illustrate this methodology by applying it in a real business case to justify a global firm's decision regarding the transformation of its finance organization.
Levina, N.; Su, N., 2008, "Global Multisourcing Strategy: The Emergence of a Supplier Portfolio in Services Offshoring", Decision Sciences, August 39(3): 541 - 570. Abstract: In today's global services outsourcing arena, increasing numbers of companies adopt "multisourcing," that is, they select and combine information technology (IT) and business services from multiple providers. The literature on IT outsourcing and supply chain management has identified critical tradeoffs involved in increasing the number of suppliers and has strongly recommended focusing on a handful of strategic partners to balance these tradeoffs. Committing to a few strategic partners, however, may prevent a firm from discovering new suppliers, or even supply regions. Such missed opportunities may be particularly limiting in the context of offshoring professional services, which has exhibited rapid changes in supplier markets in the last decade. Thus, firms may want to engage in a more intensive multisourcing in services. If they do so, their success will depend on a global sourcing process that effectively addresses the critical tradeoffs involved. To explore how a global sourcing process can support multisourcing, we conducted a qualitative longitudinal case study of a large financial services institution that developed a varied global supply base to obtain offshore professional services. Our analysis results in a theory that emphasizes (i) advantages of a multiple provider strategy in rapidly changing global supply markets (ii) the critical role of middle managers in enabling continuous innovation in the supplier structure and (iii) the importance of the global sourcing process combining topdown and bottomup decision making in multisourcing.
Su, N., 2007, "Towards Integrated Service Innovation: From Strategic Goals to Organisational Structures", International Journal of Services Operations and Informatics, December 2(4): 357 - 370. Abstract: Service innovation is emerging as a critical source of competitive advantage for firms in the 21st century. The success of service innovation requires an integrated approach that can align abstract service strategies with specific organisation and information structures. This paper proposes a methodology that can systematically guide the creation and concretisation of new service strategies. Specifically, by integrating theories, techniques and heuristics from the fields of service innovation, strategic management and organisation modelling, we create a service-oriented organisational ontology and a process model for service strategy analysis and design. We illustrate the methodology with a real-life based case study and preliminarily evaluate the effectiveness of the methodology with a small behavioural experiment.
Honours & Awards
- MIT Sloan Management Review Top-10 Articles of 2021
- Association for Information Systems (AIS) Special Interest Group in Advances in Sourcing (SIG Sourcing) Inaugural Annual Best Paper Award, 2022
- The 40 Most Outstanding Business School Professors Under 40, Poets&Quants, 2017
- Strategic Management Society (SMS) Teaching Community Rep-at-Large, 2018, 2021, 2022
- Administrative Sciences Association of Canada (ASAC) Conference Organization Theory Division Best Paper Award Runner-up, 2019
- International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) Outstanding Associate Editor Award, 2017
- Inaugural Early Career Award of the Association for Information Systems (AIS)
- Industry Studies Association Giarratani Rising Star Award Runner-up
- Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Prize
- IBM Research Best Paper in Service Science Award
- Decision Sciences Journal Best Article Award
- Decision Sciences Journal Featured Article, Special Issue “Decision Making in Service Innovation”
- Ivey Early Career Impact Award
- J.J. Wettlaufer Faculty Fellowship
- Ivey Business School Dean’s Commendation for Teaching Excellence
- Western University Teaching Honor Roll Award of Excellence
- Principal Investigator (PI), Canada Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Grants (two)
- Co-PI, National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) Research Grant
- New York University Stern School of Business Commendation for Teaching Excellence
- New York University Stern School of Business Joseph Taggart Fellowship
- IBM, New York
- STAR, now part of Disney, Hong Kong
- Investment Consulting, Mainland China and Europe