29 Sep 2023

New Faculty Profiles: Livia Alfonsi


HBS faculty comprises more than 300 scholars and practitioners who bring leading-edge research, extensive experience, and deep insights into the classroom, to organizations, and to leaders across the globe. We asked new faculty at HBS about their background, their new roles, and their interests.

Livia Alfonsi; assistant professor; Negotiation, Organizations & Markets

What is your educational background?
I grew up in Italy, where I completed my bachelor's and master's degrees in economics and social sciences at Bocconi University. During my academic journey, I had the opportunity to work with various prominent international organizations, including the UN, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the World Bank. These experiences prompted me to dedicate my career to research in international development. After completing my master's, I moved to Uganda and spent two years working on a series of projects aimed at reducing youth unemployment. I returned to UC Berkeley to pursue a PhD and continue researching these issues.

What’s your area of research and what led you to it?
During my pre doctoral years, I became acutely aware of the crucial role labor markets play in economic development as well as the significant challenge that youth unemployment poses today in many low-income nations. According to the World Bank, approximately one billion young people, mainly residing in low-income countries, are expected to enter the job market in the next decade. However, less than half of them will secure formal employment. Furthermore, closing gender gaps in the workforce remains a paramount objective for the international community.

In my research, I focus on labor market frictions and determinants of labor market participation in low-income countries, specifically targeting youth and women. My goal is to develop and evaluate policies that facilitate the transition of young adults and women into stable, well-paying jobs. In a separate strand of research, I study preference and belief determinants.

What will you be teaching?
I will be teaching Negotiation in the Elective Curriculum.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an academic?
If I were to change careers today, I would likely immerse myself in the culinary world and pursue a career in the food industry. Cooking has always been a passion of mine, and food holds a significant place in my culture and upbringing. I love the idea of exploring this world further. The art of creating innovative and sustainable dishes, experimenting with new ingredients, and bringing joy to people through food really inspires me.

Where are you from?
Rome, Italy.

What is something you like to do outside of your academic work?
I like to cook, plan trips, go on trips, and ski.

What’s your favorite book, movie, or piece of art?
Impossible to pick one! I love all Almodóvar's movies, as well as all of Caravaggio's paintings and Bernini's sculptures. Even harder with books. Just in the last few weeks I read four books that I absolutely loved (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Klara and the Sun, I'm Glad My Mom Died, and Lessons in Chemistry). But perhaps Harry Potter stands as the ultimate choice.

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