Keyan Lai Headshot

Lecturer in International Human Resource Management

+44 (0)131 651 1069


I received my PhD from Cardiff Business School in 2017 and joined the University of Edinburgh Business School in July 2019 following two years at the University of St Andrews as an Associate Lecturer.

My research focuses on identity and legitimacy issues of multinational corporations from emerging markets.  I investigate how, for example, Chinese and Russian firms are perceived and evaluated by the Western societies, and how they tackle the common illegitimacy problem they face in the West. My research seeks to generate a better understanding of the behaviours of these firms, and provide insights to governmental organisations in the area of foreign direct investment policy, e.g. how to make a balance between maintaining openness to foreign direct investments and ensuring national interest not undermined by such openness. Some of the research projects I have been working on include:

  1. Identity regulation in a Chinese MNC (published in Organization Studies)
  2. Discourse on national security and FDI screening in USA, Germany, Australia and the UK.
  3. Organisational identity of Chinese firms
  4. Legitimacy evaluation and legitimation strategies of three stigmatised Chinese and Russian firms

I am primarily a qualitative researcher and I am particularly interested in discourse analysis and historical organisation studies.

Before embarking on an academic career, I worked with HSBC, management consultancy Towers Watson and game developer Ubisoft. Previously I also worked as an editor in a Shanghai-based publishing house for several years. I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students whose research interests are related to the followings.

Research Taxonomy

Research Interests

  • Organisational legitimacy and legitimation 
  • Organisational identity 
  • FDI policy making and policy change 
  • Media discourse
  • Internationalisation of emerging market firms

Research Area

Publication Type Actions