Doctoral Student

Pavel Ivanov Zhelyazkov

I am a doctoral candidate in the PhD program in Organizational Behavior and Sociology at Harvard Business School. My research focuses broadly on how the formation and dissolution of interorganizational relationships is shaped jointly by the 1) public information available to everyone and 2) private information accessible through formal and informal social ties. I am studying this question in the rich setting provided by the Venture Capital (VC) industry. In one stream of my research, I study the drivers of the VC firms' decisions to withdraw from investment syndicates, and the reputational consequences of such withdrawals on their ability to form future syndicates. In another stream of my research, I investigate how Limited Partners - the financial institutions that invest in VC firms - make use of the VC syndication network to make their own investment decisions.

My interest in the application of sociological mechanisms to market outcomes comes back to my double major in economics and sociology at Duke University, and my honors research on how different layers of the reputation of an academic institution can affect the outcomes of its graduates on different labor markets. Subsequently I worked as a business analyst at McKinsey and Company, where I specialized in financial risk management and served banks and asset managers from Canada, the United States and Brazil.

Journal Articles

  1. Crime and Punishment: The Reputational Consequences of Withdrawals from Venture Capital Syndicates

    Pavel Ivanov Zhelyazkov and Ranjay Gulati

    Traditional research has long treated reputation as an egocentric attribute, typically described as an intangible asset directly shaped by the focal actor's track record. We argue, however, that reputation is dyadic: that an actor can have different reputations with different alters, and that its various reputations are shaped by three processes—awareness, interpretation and reevaluation. Awareness—the extent of the alter's knowledge of the focal actor's past behavior—is determined by the proximity of the two and by their centrality in the interorganizational network. Interpretation—the alter's processing of that knowledge to make inferences about the focal actor's character—is determined by what the alter perceives to be the root cause of the behaviors in question. Finally, reevaluation—change in the alter's beliefs about the focal actor—is determined by the gap between the alter's prior beliefs and new information. Specifically, when the alter's prior experiences of the focal actor are particularly negative, the latter's poor behavior in other relationships is unlikely to have much marginal effect. We test the resulting hypotheses by examining how a venture capital firm's reputation for unreliability, triggered by repeated withdrawals from investment syndicates, affects its probability of future syndication.

    Keywords: network formation; network search; networks; venture capital; Syndication; Networks;


    Zhelyazkov, Pavel Ivanov, and Ranjay Gulati. "Crime and Punishment: The Reputational Consequences of Withdrawals from Venture Capital Syndicates."Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings (2013). (Finalist for the Best Paper Award, Organization and Management Theory Section, Academy of Management.) View Details
  2. The Two Facets of Collaboration: Cooperation and Coordination in Strategic Alliances

    Ranjay Gulati, Franz Wohlgezogen and Pavel Zhelyazkov

    This paper unpacks two underspecified facets of collaboration: cooperation and coordination. Prior research has emphasized cooperation, and specifically the partners' commitment and alignment of interests, as the key determinant of collaborative success. Scholars have paid less attention to the critical role of coordination—the effective alignment and adjustment of the partners' actions. To redress this imbalance, we conceptually disentangle cooperation and coordination in the context of inter-organizational collaboration, and examine how the two phenomena play out in the partner selection, design, and post-formation stages of an alliance's life cycle. As we demonstrate, a coordination perspective helps resolve some empirical puzzles, but it also represents a challenge to received wisdom grounded in the salience of cooperation. To stimulate future research, we discuss alternative conceptualizations of the relationship between cooperation and coordination, and elaborate on their normative implications.

    Keywords: Alliances; Social and Collaborative Networks; Cooperation;


    Gulati, Ranjay, Franz Wohlgezogen, and Pavel Zhelyazkov. "The Two Facets of Collaboration: Cooperation and Coordination in Strategic Alliances."Academy of Management Annals 6 (2012): 531–583. View Details
  3. When Does the Glue of Social Ties Dissolve? Syndication Ties and Performance Cues in Withdrawals from Venture Capital Syndicates, 1985-2009

    Pavel Zhelyazkov

    The present study integrates the economic and social perspectives on the stability of collaboration by exploring how performance cues interact with interorganizational embeddedness in affecting firms' withdrawals from venture capital coinvestment syndicates. It finds that higher embeddedness decreases the probability of withdrawal, especially in the face of negative general performance cues; however, the effect disappears in cases of negative collaboration-specific cues. The findings demonstrate the limits to the power of embeddedness to increase the stability of interorganizational collaboration.

    Keywords: Social and Collaborative Networks; Venture Capital; Performance; Cooperation;


    Zhelyazkov, Pavel. "When Does the Glue of Social Ties Dissolve? Syndication Ties and Performance Cues in Withdrawals from Venture Capital Syndicates, 1985-2009." Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings (2012). View Details