Papers in Refereed Journals
We model consumer preferences for conventional, hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), and battery electric (BEV) vehicle technologies in China and the U.S. using data from choice-based conjoint surveys fielded in 2012–2013 in both countries. We find that with the combined bundle of attributes offered by vehicles available today, gasoline vehicles continue in both countries to be most attractive to consumers, and American respondents have significantly lower relative willingness-to-pay for BEV technology than Chinese respondents. While U.S. and Chinese subsidies are similar, favoring vehicles with larger battery packs, differences in consumer preferences lead to different outcomes. Our results suggest that with or without each country’s 2012–2013 subsidies, Chinese consumers are willing to adopt today’s BEVs and mid-range PHEVs at similar rates relative to their respective gasoline counterparts, whereas American consumers prefer low-range PHEVs despite subsidies. This implies potential for earlier BEV adoption in China, given adequate supply. While there are clear national security benefits for adoption of BEVs in China, the local and global social impact is unclear: With higher electricity generation emissions in China, a transition to BEVs may reduce oil consumption at the expense of increased air pollution and/or greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, demand from China could increase global incentives for electric vehicle technology development with the potential to reduce emissions in countries where electricity generation is associated with lower emissions.
A vast literature has attempted to understand the factors that accelerate experimentation and innovation in technologically-sophisticated emerging industries — but less is known about these processes in the context of industrializing nations. We apply inductive, grounded theory-building techniques to characterize and explore the origins of divergent innovation trajectories in once such context: the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) industry in China. Triangulating annual vehicle make and model sales data for 2003-2014 (plus monthly data for the most recent five years); 112 English and Mandarin archival documents from industry, academic, and news outlets; and 51 semi-structured interviews across industry, government, and academic stakeholders, we develop four in-depth case studies. We find that in contrast to the innovation trajectories of the multinational and Chinese arms of joint venture (JV) firms, independent domestic Chinese firms (those with no historic JV partnerships) are undertaking significant innovation and experimentation in China’s PEV industry. Our results suggest that national institutions — specifically the formal JV and local content requirements — which discouraged PEV innovation in multinational firms and inhibited the capabilities of Chinese JV partners to independently develop their own PEVs resulted in a protected PEV market for independent domestic firms. The influence of these national institutions has combined with local institutional support in the form of additional market protection and subsidies to turn regional markets into protected laboratories for independent domestic firms to experiment with a variety of innovations. That said, for these domestic firms to grow beyond their early, protected regional markets, China will need to develop paths to national market integration.
Pooled discrete choice models combine revealed preference (RP) data and stated preference (SP) data to exploit advantages of each. In pooled models, SP data has often been treated with suspicion because consumers may respond differently in a hypothetical survey context than they do in the marketplace. However, models built on RP data can also suffer from endogeneity bias when attributes that drive consumer choices are unobserved by the modeler but correlated with observed variables. Using a synthetic data experiment, we test the performance of pooled RP-SP models in recovering the preference parameters that generated the market data under conditions that choice modelers are likely to face. Specifically, we explore the implications of pooling when (1) there are potentially endogenous parameters in RP data and when (2) consumer response to attributes is different in the survey context than in the market context. We identify situations where pooling RP and SP data does and does not mitigate each data source's respective weaknesses, and we show that efforts to correct endogeneity in the RP data reduce RP information content and shift pooled estimates toward SP estimates, effectively discarding the RP data. We also show that the likelihood ratio (LR) test, which has been widely used to determine whether pooling is statistically justifiable, is unreliable when the number of RP markets is small, the variation in attributes across choice sets is low, or when the RP data suffers from endogeneity. In these situations, the LR test has rejection rates that are far above the nominal level for typical size data sets; that is, the LR test will often reject pooling even if the true parameters that generated the data are the same. We provide new guidelines for understanding under what conditions pooling data sources may or may not be advisable for accurately estimating true market preference parameters, including consideration of the context and conditions under which the data were generated as well as the relative balance of information between data sources.
Car sharing firms such as Zipcar and Car2go rent personal vehicles for brief periods, usually measured in minutes to hours. By sharing a fleet of vehicles across many users, car sharing businesses help reduce the overall social costs of driving by reducing road congestion and overall vehicle emissions. While the majority of car sharing firms operate traditional gasoline vehicles, new Chinese car sharing firms have begun operating battery electric vehicle (BEV) fleets, which pose different constraints and opportunities such as higher upfront cost but lower operating costs and automated refueling. Within just two years, an electric car sharing ecosystem has emerged in China and now comprises the largest fleet of shared electric vehicles in the world. In this study, we aim to understand the factors that have led to this rapid emergence by comparing four car sharing firms (three Chinese and one multinational) operating in China with respect to four aspects of their business models: operations, infrastructure, investment, and local government relations. Our findings suggest that the rapid growth and development of EV sharing firms in China is associated with the alignment between firms’ business strategies and local policies. Across diverse business models, firms that have aligned their EV sharing services with the goals of local governments have thrived while those that have not have quickly failed. In addition, we find that “heavier” asset business models with larger up-front investments and greater control over charging infrastructure build-out and operations have been more successful in survival and expansion (but not necessarily profitability) compared to “light” asset models. These findings suggest that relationships between policy and business strategy are a critical component for enabling growth in the electric car sharing industry, and China’s distributed local governance structure may be facilitating greater opportunities for experimentation with new electric car sharing business models.
Emerging automobile technologies such as hybrid and flex fuel vehicles are providing drivers a choice beyond gasoline and diesel fuels, but less is known about how consumers perceive these fuel sources. Whether drivers find them affordable, safe, “green,” reliable, or even as a source of social status could impact the choices consumers make. We measure and model consumer preferences for different automobile fuels by estimating discrete choice models on data from choice-based conjoint surveys fielded online and in-person at refueling stations in 2016. We find that on average respondents prefer gasoline to ethanol and natural gas and prefer diesel fuel the least. Respondents also prefer more locally-sourced fuel to imported fuel, though this preference is much smaller than the difference between different fuel types. Significant preference heterogeneity exists amongst respondents. On average, respondents strongly prefer the fuel type they currently use; while gasoline users view all alternatives relatively negative, only diesel users do not value diesel fuel significantly differently from gasoline, and only flex fuel users do not value E85 fuel significantly differently from gasoline. Results also suggest that on average respondents may be willing to pay as much as 1.5 to 2 times their current cost of fuel to reduce per-mile emissions by 1 kg of CO2. While this willingness to pay for reduced per-mile emissions does not appear to be significantly different by fuel type, results suggest that respondents with more liberal political views and greater concern for the environment are willing to pay as much as double to reduce per-mile emissions compared to respondents with more conservative political views and less concern for the environment.
Papers in Non-refereed Journals
This dissertation is a collection of three papers that assess how characteristics of China's domestic environment, including consumer preferences, national and local institutions, market characteristics, and policy, are associated with the development and adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in China. PEVs are at the forefront of sustainability in the global automotive industry with promising opportunities to reduce oil consumption and harmful emissions from passenger cars. The first study measures and compares consumer willingness-to-pay for different plug-in vehicle technologies in China and the United States using a conjoint survey fielded in each country. Results show that the current subsidy environments in China and the U.S. yield different outcomes; while Chinese consumers may be more willing to adopt today’s full-electric vehicles, American consumers have stronger preferences for lower-range plug-in hybrids. The second study builds upon the methods of the first. I use a simulation experiment to critique methods for pooling market sales and survey data together in discrete choice models, providing new guidelines for understanding under what conditions pooling data sources may or may not be advisable for accurately estimating true market preference parameters. Finally, the third study uses sales data, archival data, and 51 qualitative interviews to examine the diverse experimentation among independent domestic firms in China's the plug-in vehicle sector. By developing four case studies of domestic Chinese PEV automakers, I demonstrate how the configuration of national and local institutions in China can shape not just the direction of innovation in the PEV industry but also who engages in it. National institutions—specifically the formal Joint Venture (JV) and local content requirements—which have discouraged PEV innovation in multinational firms and inhibited the capabilities of Chinese JV partners to independently develop their own PEVs resulted in a protected PEV market in which independent domestic firms have dominated. This phenomenon, combined with local institutional support in the form of additional market protection and subsidies, has helped turn regional markets into protected laboratories for independent domestic firms to experiment with a variety of innovations. As these domestic firms begin to grow beyond their protected regional markets, national institutions may need to evolve to support national standardization of policies and plug-in infrastructure.
- Presenter: "The Institutional Origins of Domestic Experimentation in China's Plug-in Electric Vehicle Industry" The Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy. October 9-11, 2017. Atlanta, GA.
- Invited Presenter: "Vehicle Electrification in China: Preferences, Policy, and Technology Trajectories" Harvard Kennedy School Energy Policy Seminar Series. October 2, 2017. Cambridge, MA.
- Invited Presenter: "Development and Adoption of Plug-in Electric Vehicles in China." Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, The Fletcher School, Tufts. September 18, 2017. Medford, MA.
- Presenter for best dissertation award: “Development and Adoption of Plug-in Electric Vehicles in China: Markets, Policy, and Innovation.” Industry Studies Association Conference. May 24-26, 2017. Washington, D.C.
- Presenter: “Innovating Up, Down, and Sideways: The (Unlikely) Institutional Origins of Experimentation in China's Plug-in Electric Vehicle Industry.” Industry Studies Association Conference. May 24-26, 2017. Washington, D.C.
- Presenter: “Policy, Strategy, and the Emergence of Electric Car Sharing in China.” Industry Studies Association Conference. May 24-26, 2017. Washington, D.C.
- Invited Presenter: “Development and Adoption of Plug-in Electric Vehicles in China: Markets, Policy, and Innovation.” Tsinghua University Technology Policy Research Center (清华大学中国科技政策研究中心) (presented in mandarin). May 12, 2017. Beijing, China.
- Invited Presenter: “Development and Adoption of Plug-in Electric Vehicles in China: Markets, Policy, and Innovation.” State Information Center (国家信息中心) (presented in mandarin). May 5, 2017. Beijing, China.
- Invited Presenter: “Innovation in China’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle Industry.” Chinese Politics Research Workshop. March 8, 2017. Cambridge, MA.
- Symposium Chair & Organizer: “Innovation in China From an Individual, Firm, and National Perspective.” Academy of Management Annual Meeting. August 09, 2016. Anaheim, CA. [Submission 14779]
- Presenter: “Up, Down, and Sideways: Innovation in China and the Case of Plug-in Electric Vehicles.” Academy of Management Annual Meeting. August 09, 2016. Anaheim, CA. [slides]
- Presenter: “Up, Down, and Sideways: Innovation in China and the Case of Plug-in Electric Vehicles.” DRUID Annual Conference. . June 13-15, 2016. Copenhagen, Denmark.[slides]
- Invited Presenter: “Up, Down, and Sideways: Innovation in China and the Case of Plug-in Electric Vehicles.” Consortium For Cooperation And Competition (CCC). June 10-12, 2016. Milan, Italy. [slides]
- Presenter: “Up, Down, and Sideways: Innovation in China and the Case of Plug-in Electric Vehicles.” Industry Studies Association Conference. May 24-26, 2016. Minneapolis, MN. [slides]
- Invited Presenter: “Electric Vehicles in China: A Nexus of Consumer Preferences, Policy, Innovation, and the Environment.” Shanghai Jiaotong University. June 2015. Shanghai, China.
- Symposium Chair & Organizer: “Tensions Between Government, Industrial Innovation, and Energy Efficiency in China.” Academy of Management Annual Meeting. August 05, 2014. Philadelphia, PA. [Submission 16754]
- Presenter: “Will Subsidies Drive Electric Vehicle Adoption? Measuring Consumer Preferences in the U.S. and China.” Academy of Management Annual Meeting. August 05, 2014. Philadelphia, PA. [slides]
- Invited Presenter: “Electric Vehicles in China: A Nexus of Consumer Preferences, Policy, Innovation, and the Environment.” Beijing Energy Network. June 2014. Beijing, China. [slides]
- Presenter: “Will Subsidies Drive Electric Vehicle Adoption? Measuring Consumer Preferences in the U.S. and China.” Transportation Review Board Annual Meeting. January 15, 2014. Washington, D.C. [slides]
- Presenter: “Consumer Preferences for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in China and the U.S.” INFORMS Annual Meeting. October 7, 2013. Minneapolis, MN. [slides]
- Poster: “Consumer Preferences for Electrified Vehicles in China and the U.S.” 32nd Annual USAEE / IAEE North American Conference. July 29, 2013. Anchorage, AK. [poster]
- Presenter: “Who is more willing to adopt electrified vehicle: China or the U.S.?” Technology Management and Policy Consortium. June 17, 2013. Boston, MA. [slides]
- Presenter: “Comparing Consumer Preferences for Electrified Vehicles in China and the U.S.” Industry Studies Association Conference. May 30, 2013. Kansas City, MO. [slides]
- Presenter: “Consumer Preferences for Electrified Vehicles in China and the U.S.” Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making, Carnegie Mellon University. May 21, 2013. Pittsburgh, PA. [slides]