Rembrand M. Koning - Faculty & Research - Harvard Business School
Photo of Rembrand M. Koning

Rembrand M. Koning

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Rembrand Koning is an assistant professor of business administration in the Strategy unit.  His research examines how business ecosystems depend on the distribution of knowledge, technology, and people across firms. Central to his work is the use of field experiments and representative within-firm data to test how companies and entrepreneurs can best leverage diversity, digital tools, and social learning to increase growth and innovation. He teaches the Strategy course in the first-year MBA curriculum.

His work has been published in Organization Science and the American Sociological Review. Professor Koning earned his PhD in business at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received a Kauffman Dissertation Fellowship. Prior to his graduate studies, he was a research coordinator at Columbia Business School. He graduated from the University of Chicago with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and statistics. 


Working Papers
  1. When Does Advice Impact Startup Performance?

    Aaron Chatterji, Solene Delecourt, Sharique Hasan and Rembrand Koning

    Why do some entrepreneurs thrive while others fail? We explore whether the advice entrepreneurs receive about people management influences their firm’s performance. We conducted a randomized field experiment in India with 100 high-growth technology firms whose founders received in-person advice from other entrepreneurs who varied in their managerial style. We find that entrepreneurs who received advice from peers with an active approach to managing people—instituting regular meetings, setting goals consistently, and providing frequent feedback to employees—grew 28% larger and were 10 percentage points less likely to fail than those who got advice from peers with a passive people-management approach two years after our intervention. Entrepreneurs with MBAs or accelerator experience did not respond to this intervention, suggesting that formal training can limit the spread of peer advice.

    Keywords: entrepreneurial management; field experiment; peer effects; entrepreneurial ecosystems; advice; Management Style; Management Practices and Processes; Knowledge Dissemination; Learning; Entrepreneurship; Technology Industry; India;


    Chatterji, Aaron, Solene Delecourt, Sharique Hasan, and Rembrand Koning. "When Does Advice Impact Startup Performance?" Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 17-100, May 2017. (Revised June 2018.)  View Details
  2. When Proximity May Not Be Destiny: The Role of Existing Relationships

    Sharique Hasan and Rembrand Koning

    Research on geography and knowledge spillovers is premised on the proposition that proximity reduces the cost of search and coordination. Thus, learning from proximate parties is easier than from more distant ones. As a consequence, nearby individuals, teams, and firms share overlapping knowledge and correlated outcomes. In this paper we theorize that spatial spillovers fundamentally depend on the presence of existing relationships. Using multidimensional network formation data from the random placement of teams at a startup boot camp, we show that spatial spillovers decline if team members have existing ties within a particular social setting. For teams with preexisting ties within the boot camp, localized spillovers appear small or nonexistent. For teams without preexisting ties we find that outcomes improve if neighbors are high performing, but that outcomes worsen if neighboring teams are low performing. Our findings suggest that existing relationships do affect spillovers, primarily by capping downsides, but also by limiting the upsides of being near a high-performing team.

    Keywords: field experiment; social network; office space; Knowledge Spillovers; Knowledge Sharing; Social and Collaborative Networks; Relationships; Technology Industry; India;


    Hasan, Sharique, and Rembrand Koning. "When Proximity May Not Be Destiny: The Role of Existing Relationships." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 17-110, June 2017. (SSRN Working Paper Series, No. 2964215, June 2017.)  View Details
  3. Conversational Peers and Idea Generation: Evidence from a Field Experiment

    Sharique Hasan and Rembrand Koning

    High-quality ideas and the individuals who generate them are critical to the success of organizations. In this article, we take a micro-network perspective on idea generation and incorporate personality theory into a multi-level model of information acquisition and idea generation. We posit that innovator and peer personality are critical factors conditioning who will generate high-quality ideas, and that our proposed mechanisms have implications at both individual and team levels. Using data from a randomized field experiment embedded in a startup boot camp for early stage entrepreneurs, our findings show that innovators who are more open to experience do generate better ideas, but only when they converse with extroverted peers. Further, we find that teams populated with such openness-extroversion dyads perform substantially better—having both a higher pool of novel information and better recombinative capability with the team. We discuss implications for future research on the individual and social determinants of innovation.

    Keywords: creativity; peer effects; field experiment; entrepreneurship; Creativity; Interpersonal Communication; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Entrepreneurship;


    Hasan, Sharique, and Rembrand Koning. "Conversational Peers and Idea Generation: Evidence from a Field Experiment." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 17-101, May 2017.  View Details
  4. Do Network Dynamics Undermine Idea-based Network Advantages? Experimental Results from an Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

    Rembrand Koning

    Do networks plentiful in ideas provide early stage startups with performance advantages? On the one hand, network positions that provide access to a multitude of ideas are thought to increase team performance. On the other hand, research on network formation argues that such positional advantages should be fleeting as entrepreneurs strategically compete over the most valuable network positions. To investigate these competing views, I embed a field experiment in a startup bootcamp to test if networks that are plentiful in ideas lead to sustainable network- based performance advantages. Leveraging data on each participant’s creative potential, I use peer randomizations and detailed data on network formation to show that ties to more creative individuals improve team performance. Despite the performance benefits of such connections, I find little evidence that entrepreneurs strategically connect to others who have greater creative potential. Instead, entrepreneurs seek feedback from others on dimensions that are more socially salient and verifiable. Beyond providing causal evidence for the durability of network-based performance advantages, these findings provide micro-level support to the importance of knowledge spillovers within bootcamps, accelerators, and startup ecosystems more generally.

    Keywords: Networks; Performance; Business Startups; Business Strategy;

Journal Articles
  1. Firm Turnover and the Return of Racial Establishment Segregation

    John-Paul Ferguson and Rembrand Koning

    Racial segregation between American workplaces is greater today than it was a generation ago. This increase has happened alongside the declines in within-establishment occupational segregation on which most prior research has focused. We examine more than 40 years of longitudinal data on the racial employment composition of every large private-sector workplace in the United States to calculate between-establishment and within-establishment trends in racial employment segregation over time. We demonstrate that the return of racial establishment segregation owes little to within-establishment processes but rather stems from differences in the turnover rates of more- and less-homogeneous workplaces. Present research on employment segregation focuses intently on within-firm processes. By doing so, we may be overstating what progress has been made on employment integration and ignoring other avenues of intervention that may give greater leverage for further integrating firms.

    Keywords: diversity; firm entry; stratification; segregration; entrepreneurship; Business Ventures; Employees; Diversity; Race; Segmentation; United States;


    Ferguson, John-Paul, and Rembrand Koning. "Firm Turnover and the Return of Racial Establishment Segregation." American Sociological Review 83, no. 3 (June 2018): 445–474.  View Details
  2. The Lives and Deaths of Jobs: Technical Interdependence and Survival in a Job Structure

    Sharique Hasan, John-Paul Ferguson and Rembrand Koning

    Prior work has considered the properties of individual jobs that make them more or less likely to survive in organizations. Yet little research examines how a job’s position within a larger job structure affects its life chances and thus the evolution of the larger job structure over time. In this article, we explore the impact of technical interdependence on the dynamics of job structures. We argue that jobs that are more enmeshed in a job structure through these interdependencies are more likely to survive. We test our theory on a quarter century of personnel and job description data for the nonacademic staff of one of America’s largest public universities. Our results provide support for our key hypotheses: jobs that are more enmeshed in clusters of technical interdependence are less likely to die. At the same time, being part of such a cluster means that a job is more vulnerable if its neighbors disappear. And the “protection” of technical interdependence is contingent: it does not hold in the face of strategic change or other organizational restructurings. We offer implications of our analyses for research in organizational performance, careers, and labor markets.

    Keywords: Jobs; organizational structure; natural language processing; Jobs and Positions; Organizational Structure;


    Hasan, Sharique, John-Paul Ferguson, and Rembrand Koning. "The Lives and Deaths of Jobs: Technical Interdependence and Survival in a Job Structure." Organization Science 26, no. 6 (November–December 2015): 1665–1681.  View Details