Christopher T. Stanton - Faculty & Research - Harvard Business School
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Christopher T. Stanton

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Entrepreneurial Management

Christopher Stanton is an assistant professor of business administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit. He is also affiliated with The Center for Economic Policy Research and The National Bureau of Economic Research. Before joining HBS, Professor Stanton was an assistant professor of finance at the University of Utah and an assistant professor of managerial economics and strategy at the London School of Economics.

An applied economist, Professor Stanton directs his research at how information differences across individuals, particularly in regard to new products or markets, shape market outcomes and the provision of incentives within markets and firms. He also studies worker productivity. His work has been published in The Review of Economic Studies, Management Science, and the Journal of Labor Economics, and it has been cited by media outlets including The Economist, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Fortune/CNN.

Professor Stanton earned a PhD in business administration at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. He received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in political science from Emory University.

Journal Articles
  1. Beyond Zeroes and Ones: The Intensity and Dynamics of Civil Conflict

    Stephen Chaudoin, Zachary Peskowitz and Christopher Stanton

    There is a tremendous amount of variation in conflict intensity both across and within civil conflicts. Some conflicts result in huge numbers of battle deaths, while others do not. Conflict intensity is also dynamic. Conflict intensity escalates, deescalates, and persists. What explains this variation? We take one of the most prominent explanations for the onset and occurrence of civil conflict—variation in economic conditions—and apply it to the intensity and dynamics of civil conflict. Using an instrumental variables strategy and a rich set of empirical models, we find that the intensity of conflict is negatively related to per capita income. We also find that economic conditions affect conflict dynamics, as poorer countries are likely to experience longer and more intense spells of fighting after the onset of conflict.

    Keywords: War; Microeconomics;


    Chaudoin, Stephen, Zachary Peskowitz, and Christopher Stanton. "Beyond Zeroes and Ones: The Intensity and Dynamics of Civil Conflict." Journal of Conflict Resolution 61, no. 1 (January 2017): 56–83.  View Details
  2. The Value of Bosses

    Edward P. Lazear, Kathryn L. Shaw and Christopher Stanton

    How and by how much do supervisors enhance worker productivity? Using a company-based data set on the productivity of technology-based services workers, supervisor effects are estimated and found to be large. Replacing a boss who is in the lower 10% of boss quality with one who is in the upper 10% of boss quality increases a team's total output by more than would adding one worker to a nine member team. Workers assigned to better bosses are less likely to leave the firm. A separate normalization implies that the average boss is about 1.75 times as productive as the average worker.

    Keywords: Management Skills; Performance Productivity;


    Lazear, Edward P., Kathryn L. Shaw, and Christopher Stanton. "The Value of Bosses." Journal of Labor Economics 33, no. 4 (October 2015): 823–861.  View Details
  3. Making Do with Less: Working Harder During Recessions

    Edward P. Lazear, Kathryn L. Shaw and Christopher Stanton

    Why did productivity rise during recent recessions? One possibility is that average worker quality increased. A second is that each incumbent worker produced more. The second effect is termed "making do with less." Using data from 2006 to 2010 on individual worker productivity from a large firm, these effects can be measured and separated. For this firm, most of the gain in productivity during the recession was a result of increased effort. Additionally, the increase in effort is correlated with the increase in the local unemployment rate, presumably reflecting the costs of losing a job.

    Keywords: Performance Productivity; Economic Slowdown and Stagnation;


    Lazear, Edward P., Kathryn L. Shaw, and Christopher Stanton. "Making Do with Less: Working Harder During Recessions." Journal of Labor Economics 34, no. S1 (January 2016): S333–S360.  View Details
  4. Landing the First Job: The Value of Intermediaries in Online Hiring

    Christopher Stanton and Catherine Thomas

    Online markets for remote labor services allow workers and firms to contract with each other directly. Despite this, intermediaries—called outsourcing agencies—have emerged in these markets. This paper shows that agencies signal to employers that inexperienced workers are high quality. Workers affiliated with an agency have substantially higher job-finding probabilities and wages at the beginning of their careers compared to similar workers without an agency affiliation. This advantage declines after high-quality non-affiliated workers receive good public feedback scores. The results indicate that intermediaries have arisen endogenously to permit a more efficient allocation of workers to jobs.

    Keywords: Marketplace Matching; Agency Theory;


    Stanton, Christopher, and Catherine Thomas. "Landing the First Job: The Value of Intermediaries in Online Hiring." Review of Economic Studies 83, no. 2 (April 2016): 810–854.  View Details
  5. Diasporas and Outsourcing: Evidence from oDesk and India

    Ejaz Ghani, William R. Kerr and Christopher Stanton

    This study examines the role of the Indian diaspora in the outsourcing of work to India. Our data are taken from oDesk, the world's largest online platform for outsourced contracts, where India is the largest country in terms of contract volume. We use an ethnic name procedure to identify ethnic Indian users of oDesk in other countries around the world. We find very clear evidence that diaspora-based links matter on oDesk, with ethnic Indians in other countries 32% (9 percentage points) more likely to choose a worker in India. Yet, the size of the Indian diaspora on oDesk and the timing of its effects make clear that the Indian diaspora was not a very important factor in India becoming the leading country on oDesk for fulfilling work. In fact, multiple pieces of evidence suggest that diaspora use of oDesk increases with familiarity of the platform, rather than a scenario where diaspora connections serve to navigate uncertain environments. We further show that diaspora-based contracts mainly serve to lower costs for the company contacts outsourcing the work, as the workers in India are paid about the market wage for their work. These results and other observations lead to the conclusion that diaspora connections continue to be important even as online platforms provide many of the features that diaspora networks historically provided (e.g., information about potential workers, monitoring, and reputation foundations).

    Keywords: Diaspora; ethnicity; outsourcing; oDesk; networks; india; South Asia; Networks; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Diasporas; Online Technology; Ethnicity; Service Industry; South Asia; India;


    Ghani, Ejaz, William R. Kerr, and Christopher Stanton. "Diasporas and Outsourcing: Evidence from oDesk and India." Management Science 60, no. 7 (July 2014): 1677–1697.  View Details
Book Chapters
  1. Digital Labor Markets and Global Talent Flows

    John Horton, William R. Kerr and Christopher Stanton


    Horton, John, William R. Kerr, and Christopher Stanton. "Digital Labor Markets and Global Talent Flows." Chap. 3 in High-Skilled Migration to the United States and its Economic Consequences, edited by Gordon H. Hanson, William R. Kerr, and Sarah Turner. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming.  View Details
Working Papers
  1. Digital Labor Markets and Global Talent Flows

    John Horton, William R. Kerr and Christopher Stanton

    Digital labor markets are rapidly expanding and connecting companies and contractors on a global basis. We review the environment in which these markets take root, the micro- and macro-level studies of their operations, their ongoing evolution and recent trends, and perspectives for undertaking research with micro-data from these labor platforms. We undertake new empirical analyses of Upwork data regarding 1) the alignment of micro- and macro-level approaches to disproportionate ethnic-connected exchanges on digital platforms, 2) gravity model analyses of global outsourcing contract flows and their determinants for digital labor markets, and 3) quantification of own- and cross-country elasticities for contract work by wage rate. Digital labor markets are an exciting frontier for global talent flows and are growing rapidly in importance.

    Keywords: Technology Networks; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Talent and Talent Management; Labor;


    Horton, John, William R. Kerr, and Christopher Stanton. "Digital Labor Markets and Global Talent Flows." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 17-096, May 2017.  View Details
  2. Self-Employment Dynamics and the Returns to Entrepreneurship

    Eleanor W. Dillon and Christopher T. Stanton

    Small business owners and others who are self-employed have the option to transition to paid work. If there is initial uncertainty about entrepreneurial earnings, this option increases the expected lifetime value of self-employment relative to pay in a single year. This paper first documents that moves between paid work and self-employment are common and consistent with experimentation to learn about earnings. This pattern motivates estimating the expected returns to entrepreneurship within a dynamic lifecycle model that allows for non-random selection and gradual learning regarding the entrepreneurial earnings process. The model accurately fits entry patterns into self-employment by age. The option value of returning to paid work is found to constitute a substantial portion of the monetary value of entrepreneurship. The model is then used to evaluate policies that change incentives for entry into self-employment.

    Keywords: self-employed; entrepreneurship; Small Business; Business Earnings; Entrepreneurship; Ownership; Compensation and Benefits;


    Dillon, Eleanor W., and Christopher T. Stanton. "Self-Employment Dynamics and the Returns to Entrepreneurship." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 17-022, September 2016. (Revised February 2017.)  View Details
  3. Who Gets Hired?: The Importance of Finding an Open Slot

    Edward P. Lazear, Kathryn L. Shaw and Christopher Stanton

    Despite seeming to be an important requirement for hiring, the concept of a slot is absent from virtually all of economics. Macroeconomic studies of vacancies and search come closest, but the implications of slot-based hiring for individual worker outcomes has not been analyzed in a market context. A model of hiring into slots is presented in which job assignment is based on comparative advantage. Crucially, and consistent with almost all realistic hiring contexts, being hired and assigned to a job depends not only on one’s own skill but also on the skill of other applicants. The model has many implications, the most important of which are as follows: First, bumping of applicants occurs when one job seeker is slotted into a lower paying job or pushed into unemployment by another applicant who is more skilled. Second, less able workers are more likely to be unemployed because high ability workers are more flexible in what they can do. Third, vacancies are higher for difficult jobs because easy jobs can be filled by more workers. Fourth, some workers are overqualified for their jobs, whereas others are underqualified. Mis-assigned workers earn less than they would have had they found an open slot in a job that more appropriately matches their skills. Despite that, overqualified workers earn more than the typical worker in that job. These implications are borne out using four different data sets that match the data requirements to test these points and others implied by the model.

    Keywords: hiring; employment; Selection and Staffing; Employment;


    Lazear, Edward P., Kathryn L. Shaw, and Christopher Stanton. "Who Gets Hired? The Importance of Finding an Open Slot." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 16-128, May 2016.  View Details
  4. Information Frictions and Observable Experience:The New Employer Price Premium in an Online Market

    Christopher Stanton and Catherine Thomas

    This paper investigates the implications of being new to an unfamiliar market. In a setting where buyers' inexperience is observed—the online labor market—workers (suppliers) submit higher wage bids (prices) to first-time employers (buyers). Treating each worker as a differentiated product and separately estimating new and experienced employers' demand for workers reveals that applicants' wage bids result both from higher markups and higher costs when applying to jobs posted by new employers. Both effects can be attributed to new employers' relative lack of information about aspects of the market. An illustrative model with learning demonstrates that first-time employers have less elastic demand than employers who have hired in the market before because they attach more weight to information in job applications and less weight to their own imprecise priors. Workers' higher costs may be attributed to the additional transactions costs imposed as employers learn how to use the market. Both cost and demand frictions act as barriers to employer entry and reduce the number of experienced employers in the market. Even though new employers have less elastic demand, subsidizing learning by charging lower relative fees to new employers would significantly increase total market profits.

    Keywords: Wages; Market Platforms; Selection and Staffing; Online Technology; Entrepreneurship;


    Stanton, Christopher, and Catherine Thomas. "Information Frictions and Observable Experience:The New Employer Price Premium in an Online Market." Working Paper, May 2017.  View Details
Cases and Teaching Materials
  1. Edwin Land: The Art and Science of Innovation

    Tom Nicholas, Christopher Stanton and Matthew Preble

    Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Polaroid first invented—and then continuously reinvented—the field of instant photography. Under the leadership of its mercurial founder Edwin Land, the company regularly released new instant cameras and films, often without any market research. Land created a culture of innovation and exploration within Polaroid that became conducive to the development of new customer value propositions. However, this proved difficult to sustain over the long run, and the business ultimately went into bankruptcy in 2001. How did Polaroid rise to a position of such preeminence, and was its downfall inevitable?

    Keywords: instant photography; company history; Change Management; Disruption; Forecasting and Prediction; Entrepreneurship; Business History; Innovation Strategy; Disruptive Innovation; Innovation and Management; Intellectual Property; Patents; Product Marketing; Brands and Branding; Product Launch; Product Development; Chemical Industry; Consumer Products Industry; United States;


    Nicholas, Tom, Christopher Stanton, and Matthew Preble. "Edwin Land: The Art and Science of Innovation." Harvard Business School Case 817-107, March 2017.  View Details
  2. The Flint, Michigan Sit-Down Strike

    Tom Nicholas, Christopher T. Stanton and Matthew Preble

    For roughly six weeks between late December 1936 and February 1937, a major strike at several critical General Motors (GM) plants in Flint, Michigan essentially halted the corporation’s U.S. production and resulted in significant gains for the nascent United Automobile Workers of America union and the Committee for Industrial Organization, both of which had supported the strike. The Flint, Michigan Sit-Down Strike represented a stunning victory for organized labor in a context where New Deal era legislation — most notably the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 — created a labor-friendly environment in the short run, with possibly adverse consequences for the performance of the U.S. automobile industry in the long run.

    Keywords: industrial unionism; craft unionism; welfare capitalism; General Motors; Labor; Labor Unions; Labor and Management Relations; Wages; Working Conditions; Government Legislation; Business History; Business and Government Relations; Business and Stakeholder Relations; Business and Community Relations; Auto Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Mining Industry; Steel Industry; United States; Michigan;


    Nicholas, Tom, Christopher T. Stanton, and Matthew Preble. "The Flint, Michigan Sit-Down Strike." Harvard Business School Case 817-005, February 2017.  View Details
  3. Scaling a Distributed Organization

    Christopher Stanton and Shikhar Ghosh

    Kevin Borders and Joe Golden, co-founders and co-CEOs of, must decide how to grow their custom photo-products startup in the face of fierce competition. From 2011 through 2016, the business evolved from a hobby to a startup with $22 million in revenue and 45 employees, all of whom worked remotely from home. Customer acquisition was becoming more difficult and repeat purchase rates lagged behind Shutterfly, the industry leader. New hires would help to integrate new products and grow marketing efforts, but several experienced team members wondered whether virtual collaboration could continue to work with an influx of new people.

    Keywords: Online Technology; Organizational Structure; Competitive Strategy; Employees; Business Startups; Growth and Development Strategy; Consumer Products Industry; Service Industry;


    Stanton, Christopher, and Shikhar Ghosh. " Scaling a Distributed Organization." Harvard Business School Case 817-038, September 2016. (Revised September 2017.)  View Details