Daniel Malter

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

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Unit: Strategy


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Daniel Malter is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Strategy Unit at the Harvard Business School where he teaches Strategy in the MBA required curriculum. Professor Malter studies social market structure, specifically, the status hierarchies and identities of organizations within markets. His work has implications for market selection, how firms should maneuver the incentive structure in their markets, and for how individuals and firms should structure their networks to best appeal to their audiences. He received his Ph.D. in strategic management from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland after earning his diploma at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.


Journal Articles

  1. Female Hurricanes Are Not Deadlier than Male Hurricanes

    Daniel Malter

    In a highly contentious study, Jung, Shavitt, Viswanathan and Hilbe (2014) claimed that hurricanes had higher death tolls when they had female rather than male names due to implicit gender bias. Their article includes a study of the death toll of hurricanes that made landfall in the United States and a number of behavioral survey experiments. In a letter to the editors of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America I show that their results of the archival study are likely a function of spurious correlation and missing variable bias.

    Keywords: United States;


    Malter, Daniel. "Female Hurricanes Are Not Deadlier than Male Hurricanes." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, no. 34 (August 26, 2014): E3496. View Details
  2. On the Causality and Cause of Returns to Organizational Status: Evidence from the Grands Crus Classés of the Médoc

    Daniel Malter

    This paper identifies the causal symbolic effect of status on the prices organizations charge for their products. I exploit the classification of the châteaux of the Médoc, which sorted 61 wine producers into five growth classes in 1855, as a fixed hierarchical symbol of class status. The classification has defied attempts at revision for more than 150 years. This means that a château's rank in the classification cannot be reversely affected by the quality or price of its wine, which greatly facilitates the estimation of the causal effect of status. To determine whether status serves as a signal of quality under uncertainty or satisfies the motive of conspicuous consumption, I study a period of time during which the uncertainty about quality has arguably declined because the Internet has made wine ratings ubiquitously available. I identify a symbolic effect of status on prices that increases in a time of decreasing uncertainty, which suggests the motive of conspicuous consumption as a driver of the effect. But the results caution that we might commonly overestimate the symbolic value of status if we underestimate the disproportional value that markets place on the pinnacle of quality, the enduring nature of reputation, and the effect of endogenous quality choices on estimates of status effects.

    Keywords: organizational status; reputation; quality signals; conspicuous consumption; wine classification of 1855; grand cru; Status and Position; Quality; Reputation; Price; France;


    Malter, Daniel. "On the Causality and Cause of Returns to Organizational Status: Evidence from the Grands Crus Classés of the Médoc." Administrative Science Quarterly 59, no. 2 (June 2014): 271–300. View Details

Working Papers

  1. Eclipsed and Confounded Identities: When High-Status Affiliations Impede Organizational Growth

    Daniel Malter

    I propose that an organization's growth potential may suffer if its identity is eclipsed by or confounded with the organizations with which it collaborates and competes. Using status as a salient feature of identity, I devise two network measures to capture the degree to which organizations' identities are eclipsed and confounded. The theory is tested with data on U.S. venture capital firm syndication between 1995 and 2009. Venture capital firms with eclipsed and confounded identities are less likely to raise a new fund, and occupying a high-status position exacerbates the penalty for having an eclipsed or confounded identity. These findings highlight the previously neglected identity costs that high-status firms impose on their partners. In status-based market competition organizations need to justify their identity claims by distinguishing themselves from the established elite.

    Keywords: identity; distinctiveness; Status; networks; resource acquisition; Growth; venture capital; Status and Position; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Identity; Growth and Development Strategy;


    Malter, Daniel. "Eclipsed and Confounded Identities: When High-Status Affiliations Impede Organizational Growth." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 15-019, October 2014. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Social Strategy at Cisco Systems

    Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, Daniel Malter and Aaron Smith

    In April 2013, Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, vice president and general manager for Learning@Cisco Systems, was planning the future of the Cisco Learning Network, an online platform hosted at Cisco.com. Since its launch in 2008, the Cisco Learning Network provided content to prepare networking professionals for certification exams, as well as social functionalities to let users interact with each other. To help realize the company's vision for "The Internet of Everything (IOE)," a world where nearly all physical objects, places, people, and processes were connected through the Internet, Cisco estimated that 75 to 90% of all IT workers needed to be re-skilled. The Cisco Learning Network played an important role in that process, helping to train networking professionals to design, build, and manage more complex networks. Aware of just how much was riding on the success of the learning platform, Beliveau-Dunn needed to decide whether to invest heavily in content—and have Cisco employees post videos, tutorials, and study guides to the site—or invest in more social networking tools to enable the community to produce content and help one another master the material in preparation for new certifications.

    Keywords: Networks; Technology Platform; Internet; Competency and Skills; Learning; Web Services Industry;


    Piskorski, Mikolaj Jan, Daniel Malter, and Aaron Smith. "Social Strategy at Cisco Systems." Harvard Business School Case 714-475, January 2014. View Details

Other Publications and Materials

    Research Summary

  1. Overview

    by Daniel Malter

    His research interests lie in phenomena pertaining to the status and identity of organizations and individuals in markets.

    by Daniel Malter

    In his work on status orders, Professor Malter studies the ways in which status orders affect the returns to organizations, the incentives and opportunities in markets, social market structure, and firm decisions. Using data on a highly structured wine region of France, Professor Malter probes status benefits and incentives flowing from the status order. Analyzing the grand cru producers in the Médoc, he has shown empirically that audience taste for goods of conspicuous consumption is a sufficient condition for returns to organizational status. Further, while higher-status producers have a greater incentive to invest in quality, status differences explain little of the quality differences among classes. In another study of chateaux in two areas of Bordeaux, he found that the order of quality among producers is more flexible in the area with the more flexible status hierarchy. This difference may be driven by the stronger incentives to invest in quality and by the shorter time producers need to compensate for a lack of status through the continued demonstration of quality under the more flexible status hierarchy.

    by Daniel Malter

    In his work on identity, Professor Malter investigates when and why high-status affiliations make organizations and individuals less appealing to their audiences. In a study of the venture capital industry, he finds that a venture capital firm is less likely to raise a new venture fund the more its identity is eclipsed by or confounded with the identities of high-status syndicate partners. In related work on participants in competitive labor markets, he finds that when the true quality of an individual is uncertain, audiences discount candidates with overly strong high-status affiliations because such affiliations raise doubts whether the candidate is merely riding on the coattails of the affiliates. These studies suggest that organizations and individuals can improve their audience approval by structuring their relationships in ways that signal distinctiveness from the established elite in their fields.