Organizational Behavior

The Corporate Political Transparency and Accountability in the U.S.

Scholars from sociology, political science, management, and economics have long debated the causes and consequences of business in politics.This controversy of corporate money in politics was amplified by the Supreme Court’s landmark 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commissions (FEC) decision that reverses the ban on corporate political spending. Policymakers, the publics, and activists are worried that this might open the corporate campaign spending floodgates and corporate America may abuse its political power over democracy. Many concerned shareholder and stakeholder activists have tried to pressure corporate political transparency and accountability.

My current research uses computational, statistical and network methods to study shareholder activism against corporate political activities (i.e., shareholder political activism) and its influence in the U.S. Specifically, I will address three sets of research questions: 1) Why some U.S. corporations are more likely than others to be targeted by shareholder activists? 2) How do firms respond to shareholder political activism? 3) What are the financial and political consequences of shareholder political activism? This project will contribute to several scholarly debates such as the business unity debate and corporate political spending as an agency problem debate.

The Configuration of CPA and CSR

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is political and contentious. den Hond et al. (2014) argue that the configurations of a firm’s CSR and corporate political activities (CPA), such as alignment, misalignment, and non-alignment, affect the firm’s reputation. This ongoing project will examine the antecedents and consequenes of the CPA and CSR configuration.


Cohabitation, and Divorce in China

The sexual revolution movements since 1980 have shaped the life-course of individuals in China. The topic of this research specifically focused on the emerging trend of cohabitation in contemporary China, which carries important consequences for how family life is structured in the country. Following feminist movements in the Western world, the sexual revolution movement in China successfully lobbied for non-traditional ideals regarding family-life and effectively reshaped the subjective meaning of intimate relationships for younger individuals. Additional work in progress goes further to explore how these subjective meanings were transformed in recent years.

Yongjun Zhang. 2017. “Premarital Cohabitation and Marital Dissolution in Postreform China.” Journal of Marriage and Family 79, 1435–1449 [Link]

Yongjun Zhang. 2018. “The Subjective Meaning of Cohabitation in China: An Alternative or Prelude to Marriage?” In Progress.

School Desegregation and Resegregation

How do the U.S. school segregation and desegregation trends vary? School segregation can be understood in light of movement-countermovement dynamics that reflect the development of the U.S. civil rights movement and the subsequent reactionary responses to it.

Jeremy Fiel and Yongjun Zhang. 2017. “Three Dimensions of Change in School Segregation: A Grade-Period-Cohort Analysis.” Demography 55(1), 33-58.

Jeremy Fiel and Yongjun Zhang. 2018. “With All Deliberate Speed: the Reversal of Court-Ordered School Desegregation, 1970-2013.” American Journal of Sociology (Invitation to Revise and Resubmit).

Big Data and Computational Methods

How can social scientists use computational methods to study social phenomena? How can computational methods such as topic modeling and machine learning contribute to our field?

Topic Modeling

Alexander Kinney, Andrew Davis, and Yongjun Zhang. 2018. “Theming for Terror: Organizational Adornment in Terrorist Propaganda.” Poetics 69, 27-40.

Machine Learning

Charles Seguin and Yongjun Zhang. 2018. “When is Culture Coherent: Evidence from Gendered Naming Practices in the U.S. 1880-2016.” Under Review.

Big Data and Web Scraping

Charles Seguin, Thomas Maher, Andrew Davis, and Yongjun Zhang. “Institutional Allies, Public Attention, & Protest Tactics: Civil Rights Organization’s Representation at Congressional Hearings 1900-2000.” This Social Movement Impact on Policy Outcomes project is funded by NSF(Award No.: 1824092)

Download Zhang-Vita Here.