Jennifer W. Spencer

Headshot of Jennifer Spencer

Jennifer W. Spencer

Professor of International Business and International Affairs

Full-time Faculty


Office Phone: 202-994-9858

Professor Jennifer Spencer’s scholarship focuses on the interaction among institutions, firm capabilities, and firms’ strategic actions. Her research perspective acknowledges clear opportunities for agency by firms’ managers as they seek to build capabilities, anticipate rivals’ strategic actions, and deliberately influence the development of the institutional environment to serve their firm’s best interests. Simultaneously, her theoretical perspective builds from the observation that the institutional diversity present across the world raises critical challenges for firms, whose strategic decisions and actions are often embedded in multiple national environments.

Many of Professor Spencer’s research questions focus on firm-level innovation and investment strategies—issues that are at the heart of a country’s economic growth, and contribute powerfully to the competitiveness of individual firms.  How do national institutional structures affect the dynamics of new technology emergence, the investment and innovation strategies of firms, and the effectiveness of governments’ technology policies?  In what ways do firms’ strategies affect the diffusion of technological knowledge among firms, the nature of strategic interaction among rivals, and the development of the institutional environment?  Much of her recent research centers on the institutional environments present in developing countries, with an emphasis on MNE investment and entrepreneurship in those economies.

Professor Spencer has published articles in the top journals in the management, strategy, and international business fields, including Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science and Journal of International Business Studies.

Firm Strategies in Diverse Institutional Settings; Cross-National Differences in Firms’ Capabilities; Entrepreneurship and New Industry Emergence; Enterprise Investments into Developing Countries; and Knowledge Spillovers between firms

Ph.D., University of Minnesota