Professor Rekha Rao-Nicholson

EBS - Management and Marketing
Professor Rekha Rao-Nicholson



Rekha Rao-Nicholson is a Professor of Management at the University of Essex. She has a Bachelors’ degree in Electronics & Telecommunication, a Masters’ degree in Software Engineering and a doctorate degree in Economics and Management. Her PhD thesis investigated the role of business strategy in firm performance. She has also been involved in several projects as a junior researcher, namely, PRIN 2006, Azioni Italia-Spagna, Programma Vigoni Italia-Germania, and DIME – EU project. Whilst, pursuing her Post Doctoral research at Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Imperial College, she looked at development of several successful public-private partnerships in India. She has also studied successful cross-border acquisitions by several emerging economy companies; and creation of value in project-based businesses in India. Prior to joining Essex Business School, she was a Senior Lecturer in International Business at Newcastle University London, Senior Lecturer – International Management in Bristol Business School and Lecturer in International Management at University of Bath. She has had numerous grants, including from funding council like BA-Leverhulme, Royal Economic Society, ESRC. Prior to academia, she was in the industry for several years and has worked in both large MNCs as well as startups, including companies like Metaware Spa (Italy), Finmeccanica/Marconi Mobile (Italy) and Siemens (India). She also worked as a consultant on projects related to business development in emerging markets and IPR management. Her research interests are – Strategy in emerging economies, emerging-market MNCs, leadership, M&As, management, and economics of innovation in developed and developing countries. Currently, she is interested in linkages between institutional factors, firm strategy and performance in emerging markets like India, China, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, ASEAN nations, Eastern Europe, Turkey, Latin America, and Africa. She welcomes PhD applications in these areas.


  • PhD Scuola Superiore di Sant'Anna,

  • MEngg Scuola Superiore di Sant'Anna,

  • BEngg University of Mumbai,


Other academic

  • Professor of Management, Essex Business School, University of Essex (1/9/2019 - present)

  • Senior Lecturer, Newcastle University London (1/9/2016 - 31/8/2019)

  • Senior Lecturer, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England (1/9/2014 - 31/8/2016)

  • Lecturer, School of Management, University of Bath (1/9/2009 - 31/8/2014)

  • Post Doctoral Fellow, Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London (10/3/2008 - 31/8/2009)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Strategy in emerging economies and emerging-market MNCs

Open to supervise

Management and economics of innovation in developed and developing countries

Open to supervise

Economic development and sustainability

Open to supervise

M&As - Leadership and performance

Open to supervise

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Retail Management (BE426)

  • Business Strategy (BE431)

  • International Management (BE489)

  • Dissertation (BE981)

  • EBS Integrated Programmes: Dissertation (BE983)

  • Dissertation (BE988)

Previous supervision

Di Mao
Di Mao
Thesis title: Effects of Transformational Leadership and Tmt Heterogeneity on M&A Integration and Performance in China
Degree subject: Management Studies
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 11/5/2021


Journal articles (39)

Su, Y., Rao-Nicholson, R., Fan, D. and Li, R., Are Returns to R&D in the Global Services Industry Impervious to Business Environment Turbulence?. Academy of Management Discoveries

Rao-Nicholson, R. and Svystunova, L., Bridging the void: how institutional entrepreneurship can overcome institutional voids in Indian public organisations. International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management

Qiu, X. and Rao-Nicholson, R., Business Model Innovation for Inclusive Development: Case Studies of Infrastructure Development in India. International Journal of Business Innovation and Research

Khan, Z., Rao-Nicholson, R., Akhtar, P. and He, S., (2021). Cross-border mergers and acquisitions of emerging economies' multinational enterprises — The mediating role of socialization integration mechanisms for successful integration. Human Resource Management Review. 31 (3), 100578-100578

Liou, R. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2021). Multinational Enterprises and Sustainable Development Goals: A Foreign Subsidiary Perspective on Tackling Wicked Problems. Journal of International Business Policy. Online (1), 1-16

Jacob, D., Svystunova, L. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2021). MNE post-entry institutional strategies in emerging markets: An organizational field position perspective. European Management Review

Rao-Nicholson, R. and Cai, C., (2020). The effects of ownership identity on corporate diversification strategy of Chinese companies in foreign markets. Asia Pacific Journal of Management. 37 (1), 91-126

Rao-Nicholson, R., Khan, Z., Akhtar, P. and Tarba, SY., (2020). The contingent role of distributed leadership in the relationship between HR practices and organizational ambidexterity in the cross-border M&As of emerging market multinationals. The International Journal of Human Resource Management. 31 (2), 232-253

Khan, Z., Lew, YK. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2020). The role of dynamic capabilities in global strategy of emerging economies’ multinationals. International Studies of Management & Organization. 50 (1), 1-4

Rao-Nicholson, R., Carr, C. and Smith, S., (2020). Cross-Cultural Leadership Adjustment: A Strategic Analysis of Expatriate Leadership at a British Multinational Enterprise. Thunderbird International Business Review. 62 (6), 675-687

Fan, D., Rao-Nicholson, R. and Su, Y., (2020). When tough get going: Performance of R&D in the adverse economic conditions. Long Range Planning. 53 (3), 101867-101867

Rao-Nicholson, R. and Svystunova, L., (2020). Assessing the role of host country human rights protection on multinational enterprises' choice of investment strategy. Management International Review. 60 (2), 177-209

Khan, Z., Wood, G., Tarba, SY., Rao-Nicholson, R. and He, S., (2019). Human Resource Management in Chinese Multinationals in the UK: The Interplay of Institutions, Culture and Strategic Choice. Human Resource Management. 58 (5), 473-487

Liou, R. and Rao‐Nicholson, R., (2019). Corporate name change: Investigating South African multinational corporations' postacquisition performance. Thunderbird International Business Review. 61 (6), 929-941

Liou, RS. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2019). Age Matters: The Contingency of Economic Distance and Economic Freedom in Emerging Market Firm’s Cross-Border M&A Performance. Management International Review. 59 (3), 355-386

Rao-Nicholson, R., Khan, Z. and Akhtar, P., (2019). Nature of technology and location effects on firm performance in the US medical device industry. Economics of Innovation and New Technology. 28 (5), 498-517

Rao-Nicholson, R., Khan, Z. and Marinova, S., (2019). Balancing social and political strategies in emerging markets: Evidence from India. Business Ethics: A European Review. 28 (1), 56-70

Su, Y., Fan, D. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2019). Internationalization of Chinese banking and financial institutions: a fuzzy-set analysis of the leader-TMT dynamics. The International Journal of Human Resource Management. 30 (14), 2137-2165

Khan, Z., Rao-Nicholson, R., Akhtar, P., Tarba, SY., Ahammad, MF. and Vorley, T., (2019). The role of HR practices in developing employee resilience: a case study from the Pakistani telecommunications sector. The International Journal of Human Resource Management. 30 (8), 1342-1369

Tarba, SY., Cooper, SCL., Ahammad, MF., Khan, Z. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2019). Resilience in Organizations: An Editorial. Applied Psychology. 68 (4), 579-582

Jacob, D., Svystunova, L. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2019). An Organizational Field Position Lens on MNCs’ Post-Entry Strategies in Emerging Markets. Academy of Management Proceedings. 2019 (1), 18025-18025

Ayton, J. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2018). Cross-border arbitrage and acquirers’ returns in the Eurozone crisis. Journal of Economics and Business. 95 (C), 87-102

Khan, Z., Rao-Nicholson, R. and Tarba, SY., (2018). Global networks as a mode of balance for exploratory innovations in a late liberalizing economy. Journal of World Business. 53 (3), 392-402

Rao-Nicholson, R., Rodgers, P. and Khan, Z., (2018). Bridging the gap between domain of research and locus of impact. Journal of Management Development. 37 (4), 341-352

Liou, R-S., Rao-Nicholson, R. and Sarpong, D., (2018). What is in a name? Cross-national distances and subsidiary’s corporate visual identity change in emerging-market firms’ cross-border acquisitions. International Marketing Review. 35 (2), 301-319

Akhtar, P., Khan, Z., Frynas, JG., Tse, YK. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2018). Essential Micro-foundations for Contemporary Business Operations: Top Management Tangible Competencies, Relationship-based Business Networks and Environmental Sustainability. British Journal of Management. 29 (1), 43-62

Bi, J., Sarpong, D., Botchie, D. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2017). From imitation to innovation: The discursive processes of knowledge creation in the Chinese space industry. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 120 (C), 261-270

Liou, RS. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2017). Out of Africa: The role of institutional distance and host-home colonial tie in South African Firms’ post-acquisition performance in developed economies. International Business Review. 26 (6), 1184-1195

Rao-Nicholson, R., Vorley, T. and Khan, Z., (2017). Social innovation in emerging economies: A national systems of innovation based approach. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 121, 228-237

Rao-Nicholson, R. and Khan, Z., (2017). Standardization versus adaptation of global marketing strategies in emerging market cross-border acquisitions. International Marketing Review. 34 (1), 138-158

Rao-Nicholson, R. and Ayton, JS., (2016). Euphoria in financial markets: How Indian companies generate value in their cross-border acquisitions. Research in International Business and Finance. 38 (C), 494-508

Lew, YK., Khan, Z., Rao-Nicholson, R. and He, S., (2016). Internationalisation process of Chinese SMEs: the role of business and ethnic-group-based social networks. Int. J. of Multinational Corporation Strategy. 1 (3/4), 247-268

Rao-Nicholson, R., Khan, Z. and Stokes, P., (2016). Making great minds think alike: Emerging market multinational firms’ leadership effects on targets’ employee psychological safety after cross-border mergers and acquisitions. International Business Review. 25 (1), 103-113

Akhtar, P., Tse, YK., Khan, Z. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2016). Data-driven and adaptive leadership contributing to sustainability: global agri-food supply chains connected with emerging markets. International Journal of Production Economics. 181 (PB), 392-401

Rao-Nicholson, R., Salaber, J. and Cao, TH., (2016). Long-term performance of mergers and acquisitions in ASEAN countries. Research in International Business and Finance. 36 (C), 373-387

Rao-Nicholson, R., Khan, Z., Akhtar, P. and Merchant, H., (2016). The impact of leadership on organizational ambidexterity and employee psychological safety in the global acquisitions of emerging market multinationals. The International Journal of Human Resource Management. 27 (20), 2461-2487

Rao-Nicholson, R. and Salaber, J., (2016). Impact of the Financial Crisis on Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions and Concentration in the Global Banking Industry. Thunderbird International Business Review. 58 (2), 161-173

Rao-Nicholson, R. and Salaber, J., (2015). Impact of the Financial Crisis on Banking Acquisitions: A Look at Shareholder Wealth. International Journal of the Economics of Business. 22 (1), 87-117

George, G., Rao-Nicholson, R., Corbishley, C. and Bansal, R., (2015). Institutional entrepreneurship, governance, and poverty: Insights from emergency medical response servicesin India. Asia Pacific Journal of Management. 32 (1), 39-65

Conferences (2)

Akhtar, P., Khan, Z., Rao-Nicholson, R. and Zhang, M., (2019). Building relationship innovation in global collaborative partnerships: big data analytics and traditional organizational powers

Olie, R. and Rao-Nicholson, R., (2018). Examining the Role of Institutions in Strategic Leadership Structures using Configurational Analysis

Grants and funding


Improving NGO-Hospital links to deliver affordable healthcare to underprivileged sections of the society in India

University of Essex (GCRF)


An examination of Chinese acquisitions in the UK: does governance structure of the acquirers and targets explain the target identity change?

British Academy

+44 (0) 1206 873450


EBS.3.6, Colchester Campus