For copies of my papers, feel free to contact me.

 Tension between digital distance and bodily presence in hybrid teaching: evidence from two natural experiments during the COVID-19 pandemic in a French Business School 

(with Francesco Castellaneta and Ludovic Dibiaggio, M@n@gement)

Scholars in organization theory and learning have extensively studied the tension between digital distance and bodily presence and their impact on personal interactions and learning outcomes. During the COVID-19-related health emergency, the tension between digital distance and bodily presence has evolved from competing alternatives to a more nuanced co-existence. Several organizations resorted to hybrid arrangements, and hybrid teaching represents a notable example. When bodily presence and digital distance co-exist in a hybrid context, who learns more and under which conditions? We exploit two natural experiments that occurred in a French business school during the fall semester of 2020. The school’s administration allocated students randomly to subgroups for fairness reasons. This context offered a natural within-subjects experiment, where every student was allocated to each class either in person or online lecture in a random fashion. Students who followed lectures in person rather than online had up to a 4.9% lower likelihood of responding correctly to the exam question; however, in the group work assignment, teams with one more student following in person tended to have up to a 3.6% increase in their evaluation. Digital distance, therefore, constitutes a barrier to learning outcomes in a hybrid setting when work requires interaction and learning outcomes are evaluated on a group basis.

New entrants, incumbents, and the search for knowledge: the role of job title ambiguity in the US information and communication technology industry, 2004–2014

(with Bruno Cirillo, Filippo Carlo Wezel, and Stefano Breschi, Industrial and Corporate Change)

New entrants and incumbent firms rely on new knowledge to innovate and compete in the market. One way to acquire new knowledge is through the recruitment of new employees from competitors, a phenomenon popularly known as “poaching.” Digital labor platforms are widely used by firms for this aim. We argue that job titles represent the first and most visible public source of information about knowledge workers and thus play a key role in navigating the vast spectrum of competencies available in digital platforms. Our analyses of the career trajectories of 11,644 knowledge workers in the United States between 2004 and 2014 suggest that increases in the ambiguity of a job title claimed by an employee are negatively associated with the likelihood of the employee being hired by a new employer. This finding appears stronger in the case of transitions to incumbent firms rather than new entrants. In the concluding section of the paper, we take stock of the various analyses presented and reflect on the potential role of job titles in the strategic management of human capital.

How Do Investors Evaluate Past Entrepreneurial Failure? Unpacking Failure Due to Lack of Skill Versus Bad Luck

(with Gary Dushnitsky and Mirjam van Praag, Academy of Management Journal)

Research shows most ventures fail, yet there is limited work on investors’ views of entrepreneurs who have failed in the past. We address this gap and call attention to an innate asymmetry between past failure and success. That is because success requires skill and luck jointly; whereas failure materializes due to either lack of skill (mistakes) or bad luck (misfortune). We ask: Are investors ‘failure-averse’ and discount a failed entrepreneur even in the presence of additional information about entrepreneurial skill? Or do they make ‘rational inferences’ in light of the additional skill information and proceed to fund the new startup? To test whether investors are ‘failure-averse’ or engage in ‘rational inference,’ we use online framed-field experiments in the context of equity crowdfunding. The results suggest that prospective crowdfunding investors rationally integrate informational cues regarding past outcomes and entrepreneurial skill.

This research has been covered at LBS Think 

The influence of Genetic Factors and Institutional Environment on Entrepreneurial Activity. Evidence from a Twin Study in Italy

Genetic factors influence entrepreneurial activity, but we know little about how genetic factors influence entrepreneurial activity when the institutional environment is favorable. Two theories from behavioral genetics explain the gene-environment interaction. One theory argues that a favorable environment favors the development of genetic factors and their influence. An alternative theory posits that unfavorable environment triggers the development of genetic factors and their influence. I test these two competing theories with a twin study based in Italy. I compare the influence of genetic factors in provinces where the institutional enviornment favors entrepreneurial activity with provinces where the institutional environment is unfavorable to entrepreneurial activity. I found consistent evidence that genetic factors exert a larger influence in favorable institutional environments, suggesting that favorable institutional environments complement genetic factors. 

Familiarity, Creativity and the Adoption of Category Labels in Technology Industries 

(with Fernando Suarez and Stine Grodal, Organization Science

The literature on technology management has increasingly focused on the socio-cognitive elements of the industry life cycle. Recently many scholars have studied one of these elements, category labels (words, in most cases) and their role in shaping market understandings. As industries evolve, stakeholders generate a plethora of category labels. However, we know relatively little about why some category labels are used repeatedly while others are abandoned. Drawing on semantic networks theory, we argue that the familiarity and creativity of category labels drive their adoption. We hypothesize that low levels of familiarity hinders comprehension, but too much familiarity increases the cost of obviousness. Likewise, low levels of creativity do not trigger curiosity, while too much creativity spurs dissonance. We use two methods to address these hypotheses. First, we study the early smartphone industry, finding support for an inverted U-shape relationship between both the familiarity and creativity of category labels and their adoption, even after controlling for alternative explanations such as technology and design characteristics. Second, we find consistent results through two online experiments that broaden the scope of our study and address potential endogeneity concerns in our field data. Our paper expands the literature on the evolution of technology industries by showing that familiarity and creativity are distinct dimensions that influence the socio-cognitive dynamics of an emerging industry. We also contribute to the categorization literature by theorizing about the contestation that takes place among category labels, and by providing empirical evidence for the factors that affect their adoption.

The role of crowdfunding in entrepreneurial finance 

(with Gary Dushnitsky, Handbook of Research on Crowdfunding)

Crowdfunding platforms have exhibited explosive growth over the past decade. The term describes a new institutional form in the financial markets that utilizes online platforms to originate and aggregate funding. It covers a diverse set of activities ranging from the facilitation of for-profit startup investments to the charitable funding of social ventures in faraway continents. In fact, there are hundreds of active crowdfunding platforms across the globe. The phenomenon has the potential of unravelling further insights into the fundraising dynamics. It may also reshape the workings of the market for entrepreneurial finance as we know it. The purpose of this chapter is to map out what we know about crowdfunding, and chart directions for future work.

Research in Progress