Programme: PhD student at Imperial College London
Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Marketing Analyst at Advanced Analytics & Insights Division, Starcom (Publicis Groupe)
Education: BS Land Resources Management, Zhejiang University. MSc Business with Marketing, University of Warwick. MS Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern University
Maxine (Yinmiao) Yu is a doctoral candidate in the Management & Entrepreneurship Department (Strategy & Organization Behaviour). She holds an MSc in Business (Marketing) from the University of Warwick, an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University, and an MRes in Business from Imperial College Business School. She received her undergraduate from Zhejiang University, China. Prior to joining Imperial, she was a Marketing Analyst at a media agency based in Chicago.
Maxine’s research draws from organizational theory and strategic management and is embedded in the social evaluation literature including reputation, stigma, and status. Her research centers on how stakeholders react to misconduct and scandals featuring organizations and their members, especially when disagreements exist among them. Observing that similar transgressions often face different regulatory, economic, as well as social consequences, she is particularly interested in whether and what form(s) of punishment transgressors receive and the implications thereof.
Specifically, her research investigates drivers of diverse reactions among stakeholders and how, under certain conditions, such discrepancies lead to insufficient or inappropriate punishment and eventually to social issues such as recidivism. Specific topics include relational partners' reactions to organizational misconduct, reemployment of individuals with misconduct records in the labor market, deterrence effects of punishment, evaluations of misconduct and prosocial activities from the same actor, etc. Empirically, she explores these questions with quantitative methods in contexts including political and sports doping scandals, the financial market, as well as firms’ certification activities.
In general, her research aims to help the development of a more nuanced view on the punishments from various types of social evaluators such as regulators, information intermediaries, and relational partners and contributes toward a more proactive as well as efficient governing system of the behavior of organizations and their members. Her work has been presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meetings, the Strategic Management Society Annual Conferences, and the European Group of Organizational Studies Colloquiums.
Choosing the Doctoral programme at Imperial
Why did you decide to study the Doctoral programme at Imperial College Business School?
When I finally decided to apply for my PhD programme, Imperial College Business School was on top of my list for its outstanding faculties and research outputs, a great fit between some faculty members’ interests and mine, as well as the strong networks among different departments within the College. I also liked the fact that the programme is five years with the first year focusing on training on empirical methods and theoretical topics, which is quite rare among UK programmes. Sufficient training is critical for PhD students’ academic career and fully exploring their research interests.
What is your previous academic and work experience and how did this prepare you for the programme?
I have always been interested in research. During my Master’s, I had been looking for opportunities working as RAs on different projects. I also took some PhD courses and attended some seminars. I think these experiences are very helpful for my PhD study, especially during the early days. Of course, the content and methods learned through these activities are very valuable even for today, but the more important thing is that you can get an initial idea of what research is and what PhD is about. To set a research mindset and understand how to approach a topic you are interested are great lessons I have learned.
The Doctoral programme experience
What is the best thing about the Doctoral programme so far?
The greatest thing about the Doctoral programme is the openness among different departments within the Business School. It is great that Doctoral students can take their modules from finance, management as well as economic scholars, and attend seminars from other departments. I found it quite useful and inspiring to attend some of the seminars from other departments when the topic is related to my research interests.
How did the MRes prepared you for your doctoral research?
The MRes year is a great period for candidates to get a deeper understanding of what research is, how to conduct research, and whether a PhD is for you. The MRes design features empirical modules as well as theoretical modules for candidates to choose depending on their interests. It is a great time to prepare you with methodology and for you to explore which area/topic you are interested in and would like to pursue for your PhD.
What did you enjoy most about the MRes?
I enjoyed the projects the most. They were great opportunities for me to explore different fields and dive into the literature. Usually there are only a few boundaries for the format as well as content, and the projects really require you to be creative as well as practical, which are both important in future research. Even though some of the topics are quite far from my interests now, I think they helped me develop my thinking.
What have been your favourite modules?
My favourite modules are Research Methods, Empirical Corporate Finance, and Strategy. Research Methods demonstrated different research methodologies and the common issues in research design and analysis. Empirical Corporate Finance is a great module to learn different identification strategies and really goes deep into the methodology. And Strategy is most relevant to my research interests and the theoretical perspective interests me the most.
What area of research will you be doing your PhD on?
My main research interests are misconduct and social evaluations. My projects focus on exploring the variations in punishments against misconduct. Specifically, I investigate under which conditions actors can escape punishments or only receive minor punishments and further what are the implications of these punishment decisions on the actor’s future behaviour/misbehaviour.
Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
In general, I would say majority of the seminars are quite useful and interesting in different ways. Some are more inspiring in using an advanced methodology or elegant design, some tell a great story while others really emphasise the development of a theory. The professional development workshops and idea labs organised by the department are also quite useful. Through these events, we see works at different stages and how they progress.
Supportive faulty and Imperial community
How would you describe the Business School faculty and your fellow Doctoral students?
Business School faculty are very supportive to PhD students. They are always generous in their time whenever a PhD student come to them with a question or wants to discuss their thoughts. Peers are enthusiastic in research. Our peers are always willing to discuss ideas and provide valuable feedback.
Have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London community?
I have benefited a lot from discussions with Doctoral students from different departments in terms of where to look for resources, idea generation, etc. The courses provided by graduate schools also provide great training in Python, machine learning, etc. and are be a good place to start to pick up some skills.
Opportunities at Imperial
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
My future career goal is to become an impactful researcher on misconduct and social evaluation studies. I read a lot relevant literature and developed my data analysis skills through the programme during my first year. I am really happy to work with my supervisor who works in a similar area and is really inspirational and supportive. I am developing my thinking and skills via multiple discussions with faculties as well as peers casually or at evaluations, and have started collaborations with some peers.
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
I think it does help. I found it really useful to take courses from other schools. Different departments have different programme design and focus, so it is really beneficial if one can be in a city with a great network among schools. London is unique in that sense since it is the home of London Business School, Cass Business School, UCL, etc. Also, London is always been high on academics’ seminar visits due to this network. It has been chosen as the venue for several international conferences as well.
Living in London as a Doctoral student
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live in Fulham area. It is well connected to the university and other parts of London. Also, it is quite residential with great open green space, local shops, entertainments etc.
What can a weekend in London look like for a PhD student?
London provides a lot of exciting things to explore. I am interested in art exhibitions and live music performance. There are nice art museums in London and besides normal exhibitions, they do special ones as well. I have had great concert experiences in different venues for different genres of music. But of course, work and reading will always be a part of my weekend as well.
What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London for the programme? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
Benefits are that London is well connected to almost everywhere in the world. Personally, I found the renting market is a bit challenging since agencies operate with some implicit rules and terms, which can be different across countries. If a new student wants to rent a place on their own, I would definitely recommend him to speak with previous students as well as student support for tips on regions and agents.
Advice for prospective students
What advice would you share to prospective students considering the Doctoral programme in Strategy and Organisational Behaviour at Imperial?
Try to build your skillset and really develop your understandings for the main theories and research streams in your early years. This could be very helpful and save you a lot of time in the future. Second, stay true to your interests. The PhD is a long journey with a lot of ups and downs. So, it is very important that you work on a topic you are interested in. And finally, try to keep a good balance between your life and study. Work hard and enjoy life in London.