Information will be updated throughout the summer and fall.

Business Economics

Alexander Chernyakov

Abstract forthcoming
Abstract forthcoming
Faculty Advisor(s):

Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham

Household Debt Relief and the Financial Crisis
We use 3.5 million individuals’ credit reports and plausibly exogenous variation in state laws to assess the impact of debt relief policies during the Great Recession. We find that both bankruptcy and non-recourse protections helped individuals reduce their debt levels, but while bankruptcy protections raised regional consumption and employment, non-recourse protections lowered both. These contrasting results can be explained by the fact that non-recourse protections created a negative externality on surrounding homeowners’ housing wealth through increased mortgage defaults and foreclosures, while bankruptcy protections did not.
Faculty Advisor(s): D. Scharfstein, A. Shleifer, and G. Imbens

Rezwan Haque

Abstract forthcoming
Abstract forthcoming.
Faculty Advisor(s):

Benjamin Hebert

Moral Hazard and Debt
Debt is the optimal contract in a security design problem with a flexible form of moral hazard. I assume that the seller of a security can alter the distribution of the underlying cashflows in arbitrary ways. When the cost of this alteration is described by the Kullback-Leibler divergence, the security designer seeks to minimize the variance of the security payout, while maximizing the mean payout. Debt securities are mean-variance optimal, balancing the goals of encouraging the seller to increase the expected value of the cashflows, discouraging the seller from risk-shifting, and realizing gains from trade. I motivate the relative entropy cost function based on a continuous-time model of effort by the seller. I also consider alternative cost functions, and show that a broad range of security design problems can be approximated as mean-variance tradeoffs. These results offer an alternative theory for the prevalence of debt contracts.
Faculty Advisor(s): E. Farhi, D. Laibson, D. Scharfstein, J. Campbell, and P. Aghion

James Lee

Essays on the Development of the American Economy
Faculty Advisor(s): E. Glaeser, C. Goldin, R. Hornbeck, and W. Kerr

Assaf Romm

An Approximate "Law of One Price" in Random Assignment Games
Assignment games represent a tractable yet versatile model of two-sided markets with transfers. We study the likely properties of the core of randomly generated assignment games. If the joint productivities of every firm and worker are i.i.d bounded random variables, then with high probability all workers are paid roughly equal wages, and all firms make similar profits. This implies that core allocations vary significantly in balanced markets, but that there is core convergence in even slightly unbalanced markets. For the benchmark case of uniform distribution, we provide a tight bound for the workers' share of the surplus under the firm-optimal core allocation. We present simulation results suggesting that the phenomena analyzed appear even in medium-sized markets. Finally, we briefly discuss the effects of unbounded distributions and the ways in which they may affect wage dispersion.
Faculty Advisor(s): A. Roth (Chair), I. Ashlagi, D. Fudenberg, and A. Hassidim

Martin Rotemberg

Competitive Spillovers: Evidence from a Policy Change in India
Abstract forthcoming
Faculty Advisor(s): R. Hornbeck (Chair), M. Kremer, R. Pande, and S. Cole

Ran Shorrer

Consistent Indices
In many economically interesting decision making settings, it is useful to have a complete order over choices that does not refer to the particular preferences of an individual decision maker. I introduce an approach which requires, however, that rankings be consistent with comparisons of preferences. Applications in four settings are introduced: two in risk (the riskiness of gambles and portfolios), time preferences (the delay embedded in investment cashflows) and information acquisition (the appeal of information transactions). In all cases, a unique index is derived, and all indices share several attractive properties. Three of the indices have been introduced elsewhere, based on other approaches, but the index of delay is novel.
Faculty Advisor(s): E. Maskin (Co-chair), A. Roth (Co-chair), and I. Ashlagi

Thomas Wollmann

Trucks Without Bailouts: Endogenous Product Characteristics for Commercial Vehicles
In differentiated product markets, the entry and exit of individual product models--rather than of firms--often serve as the primary equilibrating force. Since market structure changes that lead to high prices also tend to encourage entry, partially offsetting their impact, accurate predictions of welfare and profit changes resulting from a merger or bankruptcy should incorporate this behavior. I develop a model of equilibrium product characteristics in an oligopoly and describe a scheme to set identify the sunk costs of offering them. I apply these methods to a unique dataset of all US commercial vehicle offerings from 1987 to 2012 and assess their importance in the context of the $85B bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. In the case where both firms are liquidated, the entry and exit of product models moderates the welfare losses and markup increases for the most affected consumers and products by over 50%. There is, however, little impact on the median buyer and model in the market. I also consider counterfactuals where these firms are acquired by a rival, which yields similar results.
Faculty Advisor(s): A.Pakes (Chair), J. Alcacer, G. Lewis, and D. Yao

David Yang

Abstract forthcoming
Abstract forthcoming
Faculty Advisor(s):


Elizabeth Altman

Platform and Ecosystem Transitions: Organizational and Strategic Implications
“Joining an Ecosystem: Organizational and Strategic Implications”
With the increasing worldwide popularity of products that include open interfaces such as smartphones, tablets, and personal computers, individuals are becoming increasingly comfortable with complementary products where a product becomes more useful when it is combined with other products, such as applications and accessories. Organizational theory and strategy research on platforms and ecosystems address these dynamics, but tend to center on organizations competing at the core of ecosystems. This paper focuses on organizations at the edges of these systems that join ecosystems and must follow rules determined by others. Based on a three year qualitative longitudinal inductive field-based study, this research investigates organizational and strategic changes experienced by a firm as it joins an ecosystem and strives to balance maintaining its independence and growth aspirations with its need to operate within an ecosystem. I find organizational identity implications driven by asymmetries in power, communication challenges, and loss of control. As the organization experiences increased interdependence, it balances maintaining independence and growth aspirations with ecosystem compliance. This paper contributes to research on organizational identity, resource dependence, and asymmetric inter-organizational relationships, and also complements burgeoning strategy and organizational research on ecosystems and multi-sided platforms.
Faculty Advisor(s): M. TushmanA. Hagiu, M. Tripsas, and K. Kellogg

Luciana Silvestri

Identity as an Organizing Principle
Luciana’s dissertation seeks to illuminate the relationship between organizational identity, role identity, and organizational structure and their possible coevolution in rapid-growth industries. For the past two years, she has been conducting an inductive qualitative study at CLICK, a leading social media company. Her dissertation is composed of three studies: Study 1 seeks to establish how organizational identity can work as an organizing principle by guiding action “in between” two definitions of formal structure. Study 2 delves into how individuals experience identification in action as they self-assemble their roles at work. Study 3 examines how individuals perform identity work in the wake of a reorganization in order to reconcile “who they used to be” at work (their past role identity) and “who they are being prompted to become” (their future role identity).
Faculty Advisor(s): R. Gulati (Chair), M. Tushman, and R. Ely


Lalin Anik

Contingent Match Incentives Increase Donations
We propose a new means by which non-profits can induce donors to give today and commit to giving in the future: contingent match incentives, in which matching is made contingent on the percentage of others who give (e.g., “if X% of others give, we will match all donations”). A field experiment shows that a 75% contingent match (where matches “kick in” only if 75% of others donate) is most effective in increasing commitment to recurring donations. An online experiment reveals that the 75% contingent match drives commitment to recurring donations because it simultaneously provides social proof yet offers a low enough target that it remains plausible that the match will occur. A final online experiment demonstrates that the effectiveness of the 75% contingent match extends to one-time donations. We discuss the practical and theoretical implications of contingent matches for managers and academics.
Faculty Advisor(s): M. Norton (Chair), J. Gourville, T. Steenburgh, and E. Dunn

Silvia Bellezza

Symbolic Consumption: How Consumers Use Products, Brands, and time to Express Identity and Signal Status
My dissertation is composed of three papers on symbolic consumption–how individuals engage in consumption practices and spend time to express who they are and to signal status to others. In the first paper (“Brand Tourists: How Non–Core Users Enhance the Brand Image by Eliciting Pride,” forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research), I demonstrate the positive role of brand tourists, non-core users of exclusive brands perceived as fans of the brand community. In the second paper (“The Red Sneakers Effect: Inferring Status and Competence from Signals of Nonconformity,” published in the Journal of Consumer Research), I explore the conditions under which nonconforming behaviors, such as wearing red sneakers in a professional context or entering a luxury boutique wearing gym clothing, lead to inferences of higher status and competence in the eyes of others. In the third paper (“Conspicuous Consumption of Time: When Busyness at Work and Lack of Leisure Time Become a Status Symbol,” under review at the Journal of Consumer Research), I further extend my research on subtle signals of status by uncovering the role of busyness at work and lack of leisure time as a status symbol.
Faculty Advisor(s): A. Keinan (Chair), F. Gino, and J. Gourville

Organizational Behavior

Faaiza Rashid

Mutual Accountability in Teams
Using qualitative and quantitative methods, I study the dynamics of mutual accountability in teams. Understanding how and under what conditions mutual accountability occurs is an important part of explaining why some teams live up to their potential and perform better than others. Many teams, especially in fast-paced knowledge-intensive environments, face interdependent tasks with unscripted responsibilities. The centrality of this challenge to the team process notwithstanding, theories of how team members hold one another accountable for accomplishing interdependent work are underdeveloped. In my dissertation, I integrate theory and research on accountability and teams to introduce the construct of team mutual accountability, a shared expectation among team members that they are authorized to evaluate one another's progress on the team's task. In a field study of 50 teams from five knowledge-intensive organizations, I collected and analyzed data from interviews and surveys to examine whether mutual accountability varies across teams, under what conditions mutual accountability occurs in teams, and what are the effects of mutual accountability on the team process and performance. Results show that, controlling for externally enforced top-down accountability on a team, team mutual accountability is positively associated with the effectiveness of team process and team performance. Team mutual accountability is facilitated by a context that rewards and supports teamwork and a shared understanding among team members of the team's task, plan of action, and one another's roles and responsibilities. The findings of this research advance theory and research on teams and accountability.
Faculty Advisor(s): A. Edmondson (Chair), R. Ely, and F.Garip

Ting Zhang

The Unexpected Benefits of Rediscovery
My dissertation focuses on the psychology of rediscovery, which describes the process of revisiting past experiences. In Chapter 1 (“A ‘present’ for the future: The unexpected value of rediscovery,” forthcoming in Psychological Science), I demonstrate that people underestimate the value of rediscovering today’s ordinary moments in the future. Consequently, individuals make time-inconsistent choices: they forgo opportunities to document the present, but then prefer to rediscover those moments in the future. Although people generally overlook the value of rediscovering the present in the future, the act of rediscovery can be a simple, but powerful intervention that shapes how individuals interact with one another and engage in their current work. Chapter 2 focuses on how rediscovery of the past helps experts overcome the curse of knowledge and better relate to novices in the context of medicine and music. I show that rediscovering past experiences helps experts give more actionable advice to novices compared to merely reflecting about the experience of being a novice. Finally, Chapter 3 investigates how rediscovery of past work-related events helps individuals realize the progress they have made and find meaning in their jobs, better equipping them to face upcoming work-related challenges.
Faculty Advisor(s): F. Gino (Chair), M. NortonM. Bazerman, and J. Margolis

Pavel Zhelyazkov

Presence of A Tie or Content of the Tie: Venture Capital Syndication Networks and Limited Partner Investment Decisions
Network theory has long assumed interorganizational relationships act as pipes transmitting information across the market, but have rarely considered the effect of the content of such information on organizations’ behavior. In particular, scholars have attributed the well documented phenomenon of triadic closure – the tendency of actors to form direct ties with those that they are indirectly connected to through shared partners – to the flow of referrals across the indirect ties, without considering whether such referrals are positive or negative. I argue that the effect of indirect ties will be contingent on the performance of the exchange between the shared partner and the indirectly connected actors: success will increase the chance of positive referrals and positive effects of indirect ties on direct tie formation, while failure will engender negative referrals and negative effects of indirect ties on tie formation. Furthermore, the reputation of the shared partner will magnify the effects of both positive and negative referrals. Finally, actors will reduce their reliance on referrals if they have access to other sources of public or private information about the prospective counterparties. I find support for these hypotheses with a longitudinal dataset of the investment decisions of Limited Partners (LP) investing in Venture Capital (VC) firms.
Faculty Advisor(s): R. Gulati, P.Marsden, M. Torfason, and P. Gompers


Andrea Hugill

Essays in Business Strategy and International Business
My research is about international social and political institutions and how business strategy navigates these institutions. Thus, I am a scholar in both business strategy and international business. My dissertation is composed of three papers that explore specific questions within this broad topic. First, my job market paper looks at the response of businesses to political risk. Specifically, I look at the mobile telecommunications industry and show that, contrary to research showing that expenses increase during political crises, mobile operators are dropping down their short-term expenditures dramatically to enter a hibernation phase. This hibernation is characterized by a wait-and-see attitude that allows operators to continue operations, but at the most basic, stripped down level, until the local conflict looks set to resolve. My second paper is a co-authored project with Professors Michael Toffel (HBS) and Jodi Short (UC Hastings). This paper explores the ability of firm to strategically navigate reputation challenges in their supply chains by using social auditors to improve the conditions in supplier factories. We find that social audits are able to achieve these strategic goals if they have the proper conditions surrounding knowledge transfer during audits. The third paper in my dissertation is “Which Does More to Determine the Quality of Corporate Governance in Emerging Economies, Firms or Countries?" by myself and Jordan Siegel. This paper looks at the debate among scholars about the relative importance of country and firm characteristics in understanding corporate governance variation across emerging economies. We show that, over the last decade, firms in emerging economies had considerable latitude to rise above local governance institutions to achieve world class governance.
Faculty Advisor(s): J. Siegel (Chair), J. Alcacer, and D. Yao

Technology & Operations Management

Sen Chai

Conferences as a Vehicle for Collaborative Discovery and Innovation
My research examines the entire developmental course of creative innovations from idea conception to commercialization, with the goal of helping managers and policymakers better support innovation and increase organizations’ chances of creating commercially successful ideas. My job market paper investigates the effect of attending physical conferences on future collaborative and citation behavior. Despite a long tradition and over tens of thousands of yearly meetings, harsher funding climates are forcing researchers to reallocate more flexible funding, such as that normally reserved for conference travel and registration, to essential laboratory costs. Quantifying the effect of attending conferences helps scientists and organizations in making a more informed choice of whether to attend or not. I use difference-in-differences regressions on a sample of attendees and most similar matched scientists, as well as several different cuts of the data to mitigate endogeneity of going to the conference and existing co-authors attending conferences together. My results suggest increased collaboration between conference attendees and especially strong effects for those who have never published together beforehand. By digging deeper into the knowledge space of the new collaborative ties that form, I find that they draw more from complementary knowledge of the authors that attended as well as from new knowledge. Conferences enable attendees to showcase their research and establish a community as evidenced by increases in within attendee citations. These beneficial effects are also more pronounced for junior than senior attendees.
Faculty Advisor(s): L. Fleming (Chair), G. PisanoV. Sato, and and F. Murray

Anil Doshi

Agent Heterogeneity in Two-Sided Platforms: Superstar Impact on Crowdfunding
How do differences among users on one side of a two-sided platform affect the platform's growth and liquidity? I focus on the arrival of high-performing sellers, or stars, and subsequent seller entry and buyer transactions. In the context of crowdfunding, I find that the arrival of a star on the dominant platform results in a decline in seller entry and transactions, relative to the competing platform. Within a platform, I find evidence of an increase in entry and transactions for sellers that are similar to the star on the dominant platform. The impact of stars is dependent upon how stars are defined and the characteristics of the star. The results in this paper suggest in addition to pricing and platform structure, competing platforms may selectively focus on attracting users with high performance potential to create competitive advantage.
Faculty Advisor(s): S.Stern, L. Fleming, D. Yao, and F. Zhu

Eric Lin

The Value of General Management Experience in the Market for Executive Human Capital
I find that general management (GM) leadership experience drives higher pay raises. This positive GM experience premium persists controlling for alternative explanations, including returns to industry experience and preferences on compensation risk. These findings hold when examining placements into functional executive roles as well. In fact, for those placed in functional roles, years of GM experience pay higher returns than years in the same functional role. To address concerns for selection on observables, I use non-parametric coarsened exact matching to test the GM premium and find results hold. Finally, I use a natural experiment to validate the effect of accumulated GM experience distinct from unobserved attributes revealed in interviews. Results are robust to this test, providing evidence linking GM experience to compensation outcomes. Results from this study suggest that GM experience may be more portable than originally theorized. Rising executives evaluating the career implications of leadership positions may have less reason for concern about career “lock in.”
Faculty Advisor(s): B. Groysberg (Chair), P. Healy, and P. Shu

Frank Nagle

The Digital Commons: Tragedy or Opportunity?
In the digital world, public and crowdsourced goods are essentially infinite. Although this solves the classic tragedy of the commons problem, the widespread digital availability of goods that were once scarce results in a destruction of value as measured by traditional means. In this dissertation, I examine this phenomenon to better understand how digitization is weakening the boundaries of the firm. In paper 1 (w/ Shane Greenstein) we explore the impact of "digital dark matter", digital goods and services that are non-pecuniary and effectively limitless inputs into production, on GDP measurement. We find that one such good, the Apache web server, leads to an underestimation of GDP by upwards of $12 billion. In paper 2 (my job market paper), I empirically measure the impact of non-pecuniary crowdsourced digital goods on firm productivity. Using data from a survey of technology use at nearly 2,000 firms over 10 years, I find that a 1% increase in the amount of non-pecuniary open source software used by a firm leads to a .075% increase in productivity. This translates to a $1.38 million increase in production output for the average firm in my sample. I use inverse probability weighting, instrumental variables, and firm-fixed effects to add support to a causal interpretation of these results. Paper 3 (w/ Elizabeth Altman and Michael Tushman) presents a conceptual argument for why technological progress and reductions in information costs are leading firms to increasingly engage with external digital communities in ways that alter traditional theories of how firms organize and innovate. Finally, in paper 4, I empirically examine how firm participation in such communities can enhance the absorptive capacity of the firm using a dataset on firm contributions to open source software projects.
Faculty Advisor(s): S.Greenstein (Co-chair), M. Iansiti (Co-Chair), C. BaldwinK. Lakhani, and F. Zhu

Tina Tang

Strategy in Innovative Industries
My thesis explores the firm’s role in shaping the adoption of new products in industries with frequent innovation and free entry. It consists of three essays: a microeconomic model of adoption under network effects, a study of geographic entry strategies in the adoption of, and an empirical model of first mover advantage in markets for exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Faculty Advisor(s): R. Casadesus-MasanellM. IansitiM. Luca, and H. Luo