25 May 2010
Six Doctoral Candidates Receive Research Awards
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BOSTON— This year, the Harvard Business School Doctoral Programs have awarded four Wyss Awards for Excellence in Doctoral Research and two Martin Awards for Excellence in Business Economics to six doctoral degree candidates. These monetary prizes are presented annually to outstanding students engaged in innovative dissertation research.

The Wyss Awards are named in honor of Hansjoerg Wyss (MBA 1965) who, in 2004, established the Hansjoerg Wyss Endowment for Doctoral Education. The Wyss Endowment supports a broad range of efforts to strengthen the HBS Doctoral Programs, including fellowships and stipends for doctoral students, increased support for field research, new doctoral course development, teaching skills training, and the renovation of doctoral facilities on campus.

The Roger Martin Fund for Doctoral Research was established in 2006 through the generosity of Roger Martin (MBA 1981 at the time of his 25th Reunion in memory of HBS professor John Lintner, a world-renowned expert in finance who was a mentor to Martin, currently Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

"These students have done extraordinary work that advances the boundaries of our knowledge regarding real and important business problems," said Mihir Desai, the Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance and Chair of Doctoral Programs at Harvard Business School.

The 2010 Wyss Awards recipients are:

  • Prithwiraj Choudhury (Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA)
    Choudhury's research focuses on the theme of innovation in emerging markets. One stream of research explores the phenomenon of multinational firms conducting R&D; in emerging markets. Using data from an emerging market R&D; center of a Fortune 50 company, he explores whether knowledge creation in distant subsidiaries is related to the return migration of scientists and engineers from the U.S. to countries like China and India. A second stream of research looks at R&D; commercialization by state-owned research labs in emerging markets. This research establishes how public R&D; labs in India licensed intellectual property to multinationals like GE and reduced dependence on government budgetary support. The findings are relevant for the economic theory on innovation, emerging markets, and multinationals. In addition, they hold implications for managers of multinational firms and policymakers managing public R&D; entities.
    --Choudhury will join the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School in 2010-2011.

  • Emilie Feldman (DBA)
    Feldman's research investigates divestitures and governance, two major topics within the field of corporate strategy. In her dissertation, she identified the phenomenon of "legacy divestitures," the sale or spinoff of a company's historical core business, establishing that these divestitures harm firm performance by dissipating valuable intangible resources. Feldman also examined the information content and forecast accuracy of analyst reports written about companies undertaking equity spinoffs, and the performance implications of corporate directors who own substantial shareholdings but lack managerial expertise. Her ongoing work seeks to understand the strategic decisions companies make with regard to their scopes and to the structures of their boards.
    -- Feldman will join the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School in 2010-2011.

  • Colin Fisher (Ph.D., Organizational Behavior)
    Fisher's research examines improvisational processes, such as how people read and respond to new situations and how emergent group processes and temporal dynamics affect group outcomes in team leadership, creativity, and negotiations. For example, Fisher investigated the antecedents and consequences of the timing and type of team coaching interventions in two laboratory studies. One experiment showed that coaching interventions had an immediate impact on critical group processes (such as information sharing and advocating for a particular decision option) but did not immediately affect group decisions. The impact of the intervention turned out to be lagged-affecting decision quality on a subsequent task that was performed without intervention. Fisher's ongoing research on improvisational group processes includes a study of helping behaviors in a design firm, a field experiment on the timing of offering coaching to self-organizing civic action groups, a theoretical study of improvisational action in organizations, and further experiments on the timing of team coaching interventions.
    --Fisher will join the faculty at the Boston University School of Management in 2010-2011.

  • George Serafeim (DBA)
    Serafeim's research explores how financial reporting increases transparency and decreases a firm's cost of capital. It also examines how institutional factors influence financial reporting practices. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, Serafeim established several implications of regulated and unregulated reporting that are designed to inform market participants but exhibit fundamentally different properties. Regulated reporting is conservative with a focus on solvency. In contrast, unregulated reporting evolves to produce reliable and comparable accounting numbers that promote firm transparency. Unregulated financial reporting exists in countries where stock prices are less likely to reflect fundamentals, research analysts demand such information, and the proprietary costs of disclosure are low. The results extend theory regarding financial reporting and regulation and suggest that reporting innovations need not be solely driven by regulatory mandates.
    --Serafeim will join the faculty at Harvard Business School in 2010-2011.

The 2010 Martin Awards recipients are:

  • Sergey Chernenko (Ph.D., Business Economics)
    Chernenko's research explores how capital market imperfections affect firm behavior, in particular decisions about capital expenditures as well as organizational and ownership structure. In one paper, written with Adi Sunderam, for example, Chernenko studies how credit ratings and regulations tied to them segment capital markets and how the resulting segmentation affects firm investment. Because regulations prevent many investors from holding speculative-grade securities, shocks to capital of investors specializing in these securities might not be immediately offset and can therefore affect the cost of capital for speculative-grade firms. Focusing on a matched sample of firms just above a credit rating of BBB- and just below BB+, which is the investment-grade cutoff, Chernenko shows that retail flows into speculative-grade mutual funds have an economically significant impact on the investment of speculative-grade firms, especially those with limited alternative financing options. By documenting one cost - excess volatility in the investment of speculative-grade firms - of market segmentation based on credit ratings, the paper contributes to the current policy debate about the role of credit ratings in capital markets.
    -- Chernenko will join the faculty at the Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business in 2010-2011.

  • Itay Fainmesser (Ph.D., in Business Economics)
    Fainmessers's research focuses on how social networks shape and are shaped by economic activity. He develops a theoretical model of repeated interactions in networked markets and shows that constraints on connectivity rise endogenously. When trade is bilateral and requires cooperation and trust, there are strict constraints on the structure of active trade networks. The introduction of reputation networks and community enforcement of cooperation are factors that relax some (but not all) of the constraints. Fainmesser further investigates the implication of the ability to sustain trust in networked markets in the context of entry-level labor markets and finds that network structure affects the timing of hiring as well as the level of unemployment.
    --Fainmesser will join Brown University's Department of Economics in 2010-2011.

Harvard Business School grants the DBA in five areas of study: accounting and management, marketing, management, strategy, and technology and operations management. In addition, in conjunction with Harvard University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, it offers Ph.D. programs in business economics, health policy management, science, technology and management, and organizational behavior. At any given time, approximately 120 HBS doctoral students are completing course work or working on their dissertations at the School.