Jin Li
Prof. Jin LI
Economics
Management and Strategy
Professor
Area Head of Management and Strategy

3917 0056

KK 936

Academic & Professional Qualification
  • PhD: MIT
  • Bachelor: Caltech (B.S) and Wesleyan University (B.A.)
Biography

Jin Li is a professor of management and strategy, with joint appointment in economics at Hong Kong University. Prior to HKU, he has taught at Kellogg School of Management and London School of Economics, where he was a tenured associate professor of managerial economics and strategy. During his tenure at LSE, Professor Li won the Management Department teaching prize.

Professor Li’s main research area lies at the intersection of organizational economics, personnel economics, and labor economics. It focuses on the dynamics of informal relationships and explores how firms can design organizations to align incentives and build trust. This research sheds light on how organizational design can be a source of competitive advantage. Recently, Professor Li has studied topics on the digital economy including causality issues in machine learning algorithms and governance of blockchain.

Professor Li has published in leading academic journals such as the American Economic Review, the Review of Economic Studies, AEJ- Microeconomics, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Labor Economics, and the RAND Journal of Economics. His works have also been featured in media outlets such as the BBC, the Economist, and Quartz, and he has written for Harvard Business Review, Caixin, and FTChinese.

Professor Li earned his BA in economics and math (with high honors) from Wesleyan University, a BSc in applied math (with honors) from Caltech, and PhD in Economics from MIT.

Teaching
  • Personnel Strategy for MBAs (Kellogg)
  • Strategy and Organization for MBAs (Kellogg)
  • Economics of Organization for PhDs (Kellogg)
  • Incentives and Governance in Organizations for Masters (LSE)
  • Capstone Project for MBAs (HKU)
Research Interest
  • Organizational Economics
  • Personnel Economics
  • Labor Economics
Selected Publications
  • Tacit Collusion in Auctions and Conditions for Its Facilitation and Prevention: Equilibrium Selection in Laboratory Experimental Markets,” (with Charles Plott), Economic Inquiry, Vol 47, No.3, (July 2009) pp. 425-448.
  • “Job Mobility, Wage Dispersion, and Technological Change: An Asymmetric Information Perspective,” European Economic Review Vol 60, (May, 2013) pp. 105-126.
  • “Managing Conflicts in Relational Contracts,”
    (with Niko Matouschek), American Economic Review, Vol 103, No.6 (October, 2013) pp. 2328-51.
  • “Relational Contracts with Subjective Peer Evaluations”
    (with Joyee Deb and Arijit Mukherjee), Rand Journal of Economics, Vol 47, No. 1 (Spring, 2016) pp. 3-28 (Lead Article).
  • “When Does Aftermarket Monopolization Soften Foremarket Competition?”
    (with Yuk-Fai Fong and Ke Liu), Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Vol 25, No.4 (Winter, 2016) pp. 852-879.
  • “Information Revelation in Relational Contracts”
    (with Yuk-Fai Fong), Review of Economic Studies, Vol 84 No. 1 (Jan 2017) pp. 277-299.
  • “A Theory of Turnover and Wage Dynamics,”
    (with Jun Yu), Economic Inquiry, Vol 55, No. 1 (Jan, 2017) pp. 223-236.
  • “Power Dynamics in Organizations,”
    (with Niko Matouschek and Mike Powell), AEJ Micro, Vol 9, No. 1 (Feb, 2017) pp. 217-241.
  • “Relational Contracts, Limited Liability, and Employment Dynamics”
    (with Yuk-Fai Fong), Journal of Economic Theory, Vol 169 (May, 2017), pp. 270-293.
  • “Managing Careers in Organizations”
    (with Rongzhu Ke and Mike Powell), Journal of Labor Economics, Vol 36, No. 1 (Jan, 2018) pp. 197-252.
  • “Multilateral Interactions Improve Cooperation under Random Fluctuations”
    (with Michael Powell), Games and Economic Behavior, Vol 119 (Jan, 2020) pp. 358-382.
  • “Negotiated Block Trade and Rebuilding of Trust”
    (with Pak Hung Au and Yuk‐Fai Fong), International Economic Review, Vol 61, No. 2 (May, 2020) pp. 901-939.
  • “Learning to Game the System”
    (with Arijit Mukherjee and Luis Vasconcelos), Review of Economic Studies, Vol 88, No. 4 (July, 2021) pp. 2014-2041.
  • “Morale and Debt Dynamics”
    (with Daniel Barron and Michał Zator), Management Science, Vol 68, No. 6 (June, 2022) pp. 4496-4516.
  • “Optimal Subjective Contracting with Revision”
    (with Xinhao He and Zhaoneng Yuan), Management Science, Vol 68, No.8 (August, 2022) pp.6346-6354.
  • “Corporate Capture of Blockchain Governance”
    (with Daniel Ferreira and Radoslawa Nikolowa), Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming.
  • “Career Spillovers in Internal Labor Markets”
    (with Nicola Bianchi, Giulia Bovini, Matteo Paradisi and Michael Powell), The Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming.
  • “Marketplace Scalability and Strategic Use of Platform Investment”
    (with Gary Pisano, Richard Xu and Feng Zhu), Management Science, forthcoming.
  • “What Makes Agility Fragile? A Dynamic Theory of Organizational Rigidity”
    (with Arijit Mukherjee and Luis Vasconcelos), Management Science, forthcoming.
Service to the University/Community

Professor Li has acted as a reviewer for 30 journals, including AER, Econometrica, JPE, QJE, and ReStud. He has also reviewed grant proposals for the National Science Foundation of the U.S. (NSF) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Professor Li served as an external PhD examiner for the Norwegian School of Economics.

Recent Publications
Economic Moat and The Rise and Fall of Companies

無論是投資者或是經營者,都希望自己參與的企業在市場競爭中立於不敗之地。一間公司的內在價值,取決於其維持自由現金流的能力。能做到歷久不衰、長期獲利的企業,通常都具備可持續競爭優勢(sustainable competitive advantage),也就是畢非德(Warren Buffett)口中的「經濟護城河」(economic moat)。

Economic Moat and The Rise and Fall of Companies

無論是投資者或是經營者,都希望自己參與的企業在市場競爭中立於不敗之地。一間公司的內在價值,取決於其維持自由現金流的能力。能做到歷久不衰、長期獲利的企業,通常都具備可持續競爭優勢(sustainable competitive advantage),也就是畢非德(Warren Buffett)口中的「經濟護城河」(economic moat)。

Optimal Subjective Contracting with Revision

We study the optimal contracting problem with subjective evaluation when the principal can ask the agent to revise his work. The possibility of revision benefits the principal by providing the option value of making another attempt at the work. However, it also introduces a new type of incentive problem for the principal: she may ask for revision even if it is inefficient to do so. This new incentive issue for the principal also affects the incentive of the agent: he may procrastinate his effort in anticipation of excessive revision. This results in a trilemma: The optimal contract cannot simultaneously provide for efficient revision, efficient effort, and minimal ex post surplus destruction. The optimal contract will of necessity contain at least one of the following problems: revision, the principal asks for excessive revision; procrastination, the agent shirks in the early stage; or punishment, excessive surplus destruction at low-quality final output.

The Economics of Musical Chairs: Involution, Lying Flat and the Management of Opportunities

今年哈佛大學的畢業典禮上,校長巴科(Lawrence Bacow)提到由於受疫情和供應鏈影響,校內摺椅短缺,要不是員工足智多謀,可能一半畢業生得坐在地上。巴科以椅子作為比喻,目的是向畢業生提出希望和挑戰。

The Economics of Musical Chairs: Involution, Lying Flat and the Management of Opportunities

今年哈佛大學的畢業典禮上,校長巴科(Lawrence Bacow)提到由於受疫情和供應鏈影響,校內摺椅短缺,要不是員工足智多謀,可能一半畢業生得坐在地上。巴科以椅子作為比喻,目的是向畢業生提出希望和挑戰。

Morale and Debt Dynamics

This paper shows that debt undermines relational incentives and harms worker morale. We build a dynamic model of a manager who uses limited financial resources to simultaneously repay a creditor and motivate a worker. If the manager can divert or misuse revenue, then debt makes the manager less willing to follow through on promised rewards, leading to low worker effort. In profit-maximizing equilibria, the firm prioritizes repaying its debts, leading to gradual increases in effort and wages. These dynamics can persist even after debts have been fully repaid. Consistent with this analysis, we document that a firm’s financial leverage is negatively related to measures of employee morale, wages, and productivity.

The Challenges and Opportunities in the Post-COVID-19 Era

網上流傳這樣一條選擇題:「疫情過後,誰在主導你公司業務的數碼轉型?」答案並非行政總裁或技術總監,而是2019冠狀病毒。這個答案雖聽上去頗具玩笑意味,但卻甚具現實意義。

The Challenges and Opportunities in the Post-COVID-19 Era

網上流傳這樣一條選擇題:「疫情過後,誰在主導你公司業務的數碼轉型?」答案並非行政總裁或技術總監,而是2019冠狀病毒。這個答案雖聽上去頗具玩笑意味,但卻甚具現實意義。顧問公司麥肯錫(McKinsey & Company)對899位高管進行了調研,受訪者中絕大部分表示新冠肺炎疫情是促使其公司業務數碼化的催化劑,而數碼化進程也較之前的預期更快速。公共衞生危機尚未爆發之際,受訪者公司普遍以為「需超過一年時間才有望實現遠程工作」,但實際上疫情後這些公司「平均只需11天就能制定可行方案」。

Building a Strong Post-pandemic Recovery

迄今為止,2019冠狀病毒病(COVID-19)的疫情還遠未結束。儘管病毒仍在世界各地肆虐,香港仍需依賴嚴格的旅遊限制和檢疫措施來阻止病毒變種的流入,但我們建議政府,應提早研究後疫情時代的新常態,並根據研究制定相關政策,從而讓本港經濟得益。

Building a Strong Post-pandemic Recovery

迄今為止,2019冠狀病毒病(COVID-19)的疫情還遠未結束。儘管病毒仍在世界各地肆虐,香港仍需依賴嚴格的旅遊限制和檢疫措施來阻止病毒變種的流入,但我們建議政府,應提早研究後疫情時代的新常態,並根據研究制定相關政策,從而讓本港經濟得益。