Exequiel (Zeke) Hernandez

Exequiel (Zeke) Hernandez
  • Max and Bernice Garchik Family Presidential Assistant Professor

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    2021 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: global networks, immigration, firm internationalization, innovation, knowledge management, mergers and acquisitions

Links: CV


Professor Exequiel (Zeke) Hernandez is the Max and Bernice Garchik Family Presidential Assistant Professor. He studies how firms strategically use formal and informal external relationships to internationalize, innovate, and enhance their performance. His research is motivated by a pervasive managerial challenge: firms do not own all the resources they need to be successful and thus have to reach beyond their organizational and national boundaries to get them. This leads firms to establish external relationships with collaborators and rivals, domestically and internationally. Zeke’s research explores how firms strategically access and manage these external relationships (i.e. their antecedents) and how such relationships affect globalization, innovation, and performance (i.e. their consequences).

Zeke’s research has three main themes. The first explores how immigrants function as conduits of knowledge that facilitate the foreign expansion and performance of firms. The second focuses on how networks and institutions jointly affect the innovation outcomes firms get from cross-national knowledge partnerships (e.g. R&D alliances). The third considers how firms strategically use corporate strategies (acquisitions, divestitures) to reshape the structure of their alliance networks, to enhance access to novel resources and protect existing resources. Zeke’s research has been published by top tier journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Management Science, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, and Academy of Management Journal. 

Zeke was recently selected as the winner of the Emerging Scholar Award by the Strategic Management Society (2018), the Strategic Management Division of the Academy of Management (in 2017) and the International Management Division of the Academy of Management (in 2016). These awards recognize “a relatively young or new scholar, who displays exemplary scholarship that promises to have an impact on future strategic management practice.”

In addition to these career recognitions, Zeke has received awards for papers representing each of the three themes of his research. His work on the relationship between immigration and the internationalization of firms has been recognized with multiple awards, most recently the Temple/AIB Best Paper Award by Academy of International Business. His studies on how firms can strategically use acquisitions to better position themselves in alliance networks have been given best paper awards by the Strategic Management Society and by the Academy of Management. And his research on how institutions affect firm’s ability to access global innovation networks has been nominated for a best paper award by the Strategic Management Society.

In his teaching, Zeke strives to apply cutting edge research to the current opportunities and challenges faced by managers in an increasingly complex and contentious global environment. He teaches the global strategy course in all of Wharton’s MBA programs (full-time, EMBA, and JDMBA) and has trained executives from leading companies around the world. He has been recognized for teaching excellence by three different universities, most recently receiving the “Goes Above and Beyond the Call of Duty” (2018) and the Teaching Commitment and Curricular Innovation awards (2017) in the Wharton full-time MBA program.

Zeke received his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2011. Before joining Wharton, he was a professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

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  • Exequiel Hernandez and Anoop Menon (2019), Corporate Strategy and Network Change, Academy of Management Review, conditionally accepted.

    Abstract: Networks change when either the ties or the nodes are modified. Research on interfirm networks has conceptualized network change as driven almost exclusively by modifications in ties (additions and deletions). Yet firms frequently engage in actions that modify the ownership and existence of nodes: acquisitions ‘collapse’ nodes, divestitures ‘split’ nodes, industry entries ‘create’ nodes, and industry exits ‘remove’ nodes. The literatures on corporate strategy and organizational networks have mostly overlooked the implications of node-modifying actions for network change. We explore those implications in three ways. First, we systematically analyze and compare the network-changing properties of the six node- and tie-changing actions. Second, we link the strategic objectives that boundedly rational firms pursue through each corporate action to changes in their ego network positions (openness, closure, and status). Third, we consider how these ego-network changes set off ripple effects that create externalities for the networks of the focal firm’s immediate partners and that produce unintended structural effects at the global network level. The result is a much more expansive understanding of the mechanisms driving structural change in interfirm networks.

    Description: Conditionally Accepted at Academy of Management Review.

  • Sarath Balachandran and Exequiel Hernandez (2018), Do Institutional Reforms Perpetuate or Mitigate Matthew Effects? Intellectual Property Rights and Access to International Alliances, Strategy Science (forthcoming).

    Abstract: Institutional reforms can profoundly alter the competitive positions of firms. Yet there has been limited research on which firms benefit most from these reforms: are the opportunities they create seized primarily by the most prominent firms, thus perpetuating a ‘rich get richer’ dynamic, or by previously peripheral firms, thus leveling the playing field? We address this question by exploring how intellectual property rights (IPR) reforms affect firms’ access to international alliances, a valuable channel of resources for firms in emerging markets. We find a significant increase in the number of international alliances formed by firms from the reforming countries corresponding precisely with the timing of IPR law improvements. This increase is strongest for firms that were ‘peripheral’ pre-reform: those that were of low status in the global alliance network and those located outside major cities in the reforming countries. Peripheral firms also benefitted the most from IPR improvements in terms of the quality of their alliance portfolios, gaining partners of higher status, from technologically stronger countries, and from a wider diversity of countries. Our study suggests that institutions play a role in mitigating Matthew effects in global alliance networks.

  • Sarath Balachandran and Exequiel Hernandez, Mi Casa es Su Casa: Immigrant Entrepreneurs as Pathways to Foreign Venture Capital Investments.

    Abstract: Venture Capital Firms are increasingly investing outside their home countries, however there is substantial heterogeneity among otherwise similar firms in the extent to which they invest abroad and the locations in which they choose to invest. Though prior research has identified factors such as institutional quality and cross-national connections through cultural, linguistic, or immigration based ties as being important drivers of the volume of cross country venture capital flows, it does not explain firm level heterogeneity in these choices. We propose that the degree to which venture capital firms invest in immigrant entrepreneurs in their home countries is an important differentiator in terms of their subsequent foreign investments. We show that investments by US VC firms in Indian immigrant entrepreneurs is associated with these firms making subsequent investments in India. We find no such effect for non-immigrant entrepreneurs of Indian ethnicity. We also find a correspondence between the regional origins of these Indian immigrant entrepreneurs and the regions of India in which the VC firms subsequently invest. VC firms with Indian partners are more susceptible to these effects. The presence of immigrants as connectors in facilitating these investments also appears to limit the need for a local, i.e. Indian co-investment partner. Through these findings, the study contributes to research on global strategy, immigration and interfirm relationships.

  • Yong Li, Exequiel Hernandez, Sunhwang Gwon (2018), When Do Ethnic Communities Affect Foreign Location Choice? Dual Entry Strategies of Korean Banks in China, Academy of Management Journal (forthcoming).

    Abstract: Research shows that firms tend to expand into foreign locations with sizeable co-ethnic communities. Yet many cases exist in which the same firm chooses to co-locate with an ethnic community in one location but not in another. We offer an institutional lens to explain this heterogeneity in location choice. Ethnic groups function like informal institutions by facilitating exchange between a foreign firm and customers, suppliers, and information providers in the host location. We argue that relying on ethnic communities to mediate transactions in foreign markets is valuable but limited because the number of possible exchanges is confined by the scale of these communities. In contrast, relying on formal institutions allows firms to expand more broadly into the foreign market because formal governance relies on impersonal exchange, which is more scalable. This is manifested in ‘dual entry strategies’ by which ethnic communities have a significant positive influence on location choice in places with reliable formal institutions but not in places with unreliable formal institutions. We test these ideas with a unique dataset covering the locations of all South Korean banks across Chinese provinces during 1992-2013. Taking advantage of a historical migration that created a quasi-random distribution of ethnic Koreans across provinces, we find support for our ideas. Our work contributes to research on foreign expansion, ethnic communities, and institutional theory.

  • Exequiel Hernandez and Anoop Menon (2018), Acquisitions, Node Collapse, and Network Revolution, Management Science, 64 (4), pp. 1652-1671.

    Abstract: Research on networks emphasizes the addition or deletion of ties as the primary mechanism through which firms alter their networks to obtain valuable positions. This overlooks another mechanism of network change that is at least equally important: the ability of a firm to acquire another firm and inherit its network ties. Such ‘node collapse’ can radically restructure the network in one transaction, constituting a revolutionary change compared to the evolutionary effect of tie additions and deletions. Moreover, acquisitions occur in competitive markets, making it crucial to account for multiple firms simultaneously seeking to reach advantageous network positions. We explore how these issues affect the dynamics of the network at the firm and industry levels through a simulation in which actors acquire one another to span more structural holes. We find that acquisition-driven change affects the distribution of individual firms’ performance and the structural properties of the industry-wide network.

    Description: Finalist for the Best Conference Paper Award at the 2015 SMS Annual Conference.

  • Exequiel Hernandez and Sarath Balachandran (2018), Networks and Innovation: Accounting for Structural and Institutional Sources of Recombination in Brokerage Triads, Organization Science, 29 (1), pp. 80-99.

    Abstract: Research linking interorganizational networks to innovation has focused on spanning structural boundaries as a means of knowledge recombination. Increasingly, firms also partner across institutional boundaries (countries, industries, technologies) in their search for new knowledge. When both structural and institutional separation affect knowledge recombination, aggregate characterizations of ego network attributes mask distinct recombination processes that lead to distinct types of innovation outcomes. We address this issue by focusing on triads as the locus of recombination in networks. We partition firms’ networks into three configurations of open triads—foreign, domestic, and mixed—based on the distribution of the broker and its partners across or within institutional boundaries. We argue that each configuration embodies distinct recombination processes, with foreign triads offering high access to novel knowledge, domestic triads facilitating relatively efficient knowledge integration, and mixed triads balancing the two. We apply this approach to a global research and development alliance network in the biotechnology industry, using countries as institutional boundaries. The results show that domestic triads affect innovation volume (i.e., the productivity of innovation) more strongly than mixed or foreign triads. In contrast, foreign triads have a greater impact on innovation radicalness (i.e., the path-breaking nature of the innovation) than mixed or domestic triads. The findings suggest that different brokerage configurations embody unique recombination processes, leading to distinct innovation outcomes. Our research provides a deeper understanding of how networks and institutions jointly influence distinct aspects of innovation.

  • Emilie Feldman and Exequiel Hernandez (Working), Synergy in Mergers and Acquisitions: Typology, Lifecycles, and Value.

  • Exequiel Hernandez and Mauro Guillen (2017), What’s Theoretically Novel About Emerging Market Multinationals?, Journal of International Business Studies, 49 (1), pp. 24-33.

    Abstract: We review the classic theory of the MNE and past attempts to use it to understand the internationalization of firms from emerging markets. We offer two criteria to determine whether EMNEs modify classic theory or not: (1) establishing appropriate theoretical reference points and (2) distinguishing between theoretical constructs and empirical variables. We suggest that the literature can benefit from moving beyond comparing EMNEs to DMNEs and focusing instead on more fruitful issues. Specifically, emerging markets offer the opportunity to observe the origin of the capabilities of MNEs in general and the development of the institutional ecosystem that supports internationalization.

  • Exequiel Hernandez and J. Myles Shaver (2017), Network Synergy, Administrative Science Quarterly.

    Abstract: Acquisitions can dramatically reshape interorganizational networks by combining previously separate nodes and allowing the acquirer to inherit the target’s ties, potentially creating network synergy. Network synergy is the extent to which combining an acquirer’s and a target’s networks through node collapse results in a more favorable structural position for the combined firm as the acquirer gains control of the target’s existing ties. We hypothesize that the likelihood  of selecting a target increases when the expected network synergy is greater. Using data from the biotechnology industry (1995–2007), we find support for this hypothesis by showing that acquirers prefer targets that generate greater expected increases in network status and greater expected access to structural holes—even when we control for other known sources of synergies. We further show that these effects are driven by complementary combinations of the acquirer’s and target’s networks that go beyond the attractiveness of the target’s network per se. By integrating the networks and acquisitions literatures, we introduce a novel source of synergies, provide evidence of a previously unexplored mechanism of network change, and show how firms can exert agency in the process of network change.

  • Exequiel Hernandez Uber Growth: The Globalization of a Startup (Teaching Case).


Current Courses

  • WH 297 - Wh Industry Exploration

    WIEP features short-term courses that focus on various industries and feature visits to businesses, lectures, extracurricular activities, and networking opportunities with alumni. Students must apply online: https://undergrad-inside.wharton.upenn.edu/wiep/

    WH 297002

Past Courses


    The management of large, established enterprises creates a range of multi-facet challenges for the general manager. A general manager needs to understand the internal workings of a firm, how to assess and create a strategy, and how to take into account increasing, globalization. While these issues are distinct, they are very much intertwined. As a result, this course will provide you with an integrated view of these challenges and show you that effective of an established enterprise requires a combination of insights drawn from economics, sociology, psychology and political economy.


    Emerging enterprises, the focus in this course, are small, new, fast-growing organizations. Their founders and managers face multifaceted challenges: how to assess the competitive position of their business model and develop a strategy; how to develop the internal organizational structure, culture, and policies for selecting and managing employees; and how to pursue global opportunities. We cover these challenges in separate modules on strategy, human and social capital, and global issues. The human and social capital module covers classic management challenges of aligning interests of the individual and the organization; managing individual psychological needs and social influences; and developing employee capabilities that provide competitive advantage. Also covered are unique challenges that yound organizations face, i.e. building an effective culture; recruiting, selecting, and retaining talent; building systematic approaches to motivating employees; coping with the stresses of rapid growth; and leveraging the benefits (and avoiding the liabilities) of the founder's powerful imprint. The strategy module covers fundamental issues central to the competitiveness of the enterprise. Because the strategy field is broad, MGMT 612 emphasizes topics and frameworks that are most relevant for younger firms, such as innovation, disruption, managing resource constraints, and building capabilities. However, a key insight of the module is the importance of seeing the playing field from the perspective of the competition. Thus, by the end of this section, students will have a robust grounding in strategy that will allow them to succeed, whether their career path leads to a Fortune 100 firm or a garage start up. The global module covers the emerging firm's decision about when (and whether) to internationalize. This decision must address which foreign markets to enter; the mode of entry; the sequence of moves to develop capabilities; what organizational form to choose; where to establish HQ; and how to adapt to the unique economic and institutional features of different markets. In all these issues, the emphasis is on how young, resource-constrained firms can position themselves profitably in globally competitive markets. For the final project, student teams provide integrated analysis across the modules for an emerging enterprise of their choice.


    This class is designed to develop world class, globally-minded managers. Many of the most important business issues of today are global in nature. Both "macro" phenomena (e.g. nationalism, protectionism, demographic change) and "micro" trends (e.g. competition within and from emerging markets, distributed talent and innovation, digitization and automation) are inherently international issues. They require firms and managers to think, innovate, and organize globally. This class offers a comprehensive set of tools to evaluate opportunities and challenges in global markets, to leverage cross-country differences to enhance innovation and performance, to manage the complexities of a business spread across multiple countries, and to win against foreign rivals. The course will focus on both the formulation and execution of global strategy, with a heavy emphasis on current events and hands on activities. Sample topics include: Quantifying opportunites and risks of foreign investments; Formulating and executing strategies that balance local responsiveness, global efficiency, and innovation; Evaluating and executing cross-border M & A and partnerships; Exploiting differences across countries to enhance innovation while protecting intellectual property; Managing organizational structure, culture, and people in multinational organizations; Structuring and managing cross-national and cross-cultural team; Developing a global mindset among managers and employees. This course builds on the global management portion of MGMT 611 or MGMT 612, but taking those classes is not a prerequisite for MGMT 871.


    WIEP features short-term courses that focus on various industries and feature visits to businesses, lectures, extracurricular activities, and networking opportunities with alumni. Students must apply online: https://undergrad-inside.wharton.upenn.edu/wiep/

Awards and Honors

In the News

Knowledge @ Wharton


Latest Research

Exequiel Hernandez and Anoop Menon (2019), Corporate Strategy and Network Change, Academy of Management Review, conditionally accepted.
All Research

In the News

Why Strong Intellectual Property Laws Matter in a Globalized World

Does globalization help or hurt companies? Wharton research shows that it lifts all boats, especially weaker firms.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2018/08/29
All News

Awards and Honors

Core Teaching Award, “Goes Above and Beyond the Call of Duty,” 2018 MBA Program, Wharton 2018
All Awards