Zhi Cao

Assistant Professor, Management and Organizations
Zhi Cao

Room 405EE
McClelland Hall
1130 East Helen Street 
P.O. Box 210108 
Tucson, Arizona 85721-0108 


Areas of Expertise

Behavioral Theory of the Firm
Organizational Learning
Technical Innovation

Dr. Cao is a scholar on business strategy. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He joined the Eller College of Management in 2023. Before that, he served as an Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His research interests include behavioral strategy, organizational learning, entrepreneurship, and innovation. He is particularly interested in how firms, both incumbent ones and new ventures, learn from experience and performance feedback, adapt their behaviors, and gain a competitive advantage.

Selected Publications

Li, M., Cao, Z., & Terjesen, S. 2024. Venture governance, CEO duality, and new venture performance. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. Forthcoming.

Cao, Z., Jiang, F., & Wang, D. 2023. Performance shortfalls, response directions, and belief in the effectiveness of responses. Academy of Management Journal. Forthcoming.

Cao, Z., & Posen, H. E. 2023. When does the pre-entry experience of new entrants improve their performance? A meta-analytical investigation of critical moderators. Organization Science, 34(2): 613-636.

Posen, H. E., Ross, J.-M., Wu, X., Benigni, S., & Cao, Z. 2023. Reconceptualizing imitation: Implications for dynamic capabilities, innovation, and competitive advantage. Academy of Management Annals, 17(1): 74-112.

Cao, Z., Li, Y., Jayaram, J., Liu, Y., & Lumineau, F. 2018. A meta-analysis of the exchange hazards–interfirm governance relationship: An informal institutions perspective. Journal of International Business Studies, 49(3): 303-323.

Cao, Z., & Lumineau, F. 2015. Revisiting the interplay between contractual and relational governance: A qualitative and meta-analytic investigation. Journal of Operations Management, 33–34: 15-42.

Awards and Honors

Finalist, Douglas Nigh Award, International Management Devision, Academy of Management (2020)

Ambassador Award, Journal of Operations Management (2019)

Best Reviewer Award for Academy of Management Annual Meeting (2016, 2019)


  • Ph.D., Strategy and Entrepreneurship, University of Wisconsin-Madison