Assistant Professor of Business Administration
Pian Shu is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Technology and Operations Management Unit. She teaches the Technology and Operations Management course in the MBA required curriculum. She received the Berol Corporation Fellowship from the Harvard Business School in July 2013.
Professor Shu studies innovation, talent allocation, and productivity from a labor economics perspective. Her current research examines innovators’ accumulation of inventive human capital, top talent and the consequences of their career choices, and the impact of technology and trade shocks on innovation.
A recipient of the Kauffmann Dissertation Fellowship in Entrepreneurship, Professor Shu earned her Ph.D. in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She graduated from Colgate University with a BA in mathematics and mathematical economics.
Are the “Best and Brightest” Going into Finance?
Using detailed data on recipients of bachelor's degrees from MIT between 2006 and 2012, I show that the financial sector and science and engineering (S&E) sectors attract different types of students, who develop different skills and spend their time differently both during college and earlier. Conditional on demographics, academic records at college entry, and fields of study, those who take jobs in finance after graduation focus less on developing academic skills during college than those who take jobs or pursue graduate degrees in S&E. On average, students who ultimately work in finance take fewer courses and earn lower grades starting in freshman year, are less likely to have in-depth interactions with faculty, and report less improvement in their critical-thinking skills during college. They are also more likely to join fraternities and sororities and to have taken on leadership roles on high-school sports teams. These results suggest that, for MIT graduates, the skill demand of jobs in finance differs from that of jobs in S&E, and that the skills that the two groups focus on developing begin to diverge as soon as they enter college or even earlier. I use the 2008 financial crisis to show that the prevalence of job openings in finance influences the skill development and career choices of some students who might otherwise pursue S&E. These students tend, however, to have lesser academic qualifications and skills than those whose choices are unaffected by the crisis.
Asset Accumulation and Labor Force Participation of Disability Insurance Applicants
Using panel data from the RAND Health and Retirement Study, I show that rejected applicants for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) possess significantly more assets immediately prior to their application and exhibit lower labor force attachment than accepted applicants. These findings are consistent with the theoretical prediction that disability insurance may encourage individuals to save more in the present and plan to apply for disability benefits in the future, regardless of the state of their future health. Because the current empirical literature does not account for this intertemporal channel, it may underestimate the total work disincentive effect of SSDI.