Keeping Up with the Kauffman Dissertation Fellows

Every year we award 20 emerging entrepreneurship scholars with a $20,000 fellowship for their work in expanding the body of entrepreneurship research. After they finish their dissertations, the scholars send give us a summary of their work in addition to the full papers. Check out some of the valuable work these scholars are doing!

Sofia Bapna
Ph.D. University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

New position: Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

Entrepreneurship and Digital Communities: Harnessing Legitimacy and Resources
Sofia’s work explores how digital innovations are having a significant impact on entrepreneurship, as new ventures are increasingly weaving digital technologies into their business strategies through avenues such as crowdfunding and social networking.

  • The size of a firm’s online community on a social networking site is an indication of the extent of public attention channeled toward the firm.
  • Online retail firms’ use of social media posts that convey product and industry knowledge, or firm achievements such as awards, milestones, and partnerships are significantly associated with subsequent growth in the online community.
  • Such growth occurs through a combination of the use of these types of sense-giving posts, and the process of social diffusion of information within the online community by existing community members.
  • Experienced investors who were able to view the combined product certification and prominent customer signals were found to have a 72 percent higher likelihood of indicating an interest in making an equity investment than those who did not receive these signal.
  • Experienced investors who were able to view the combined product certification and social proof signals were found to have a 65 percent higher likelihood of indicating an interest in investing.

  • Daniel Garcia-Macia
    Ph.D. Stanford University

    Job Market Candidate

    Financial Crises, Firms’ Innovation and the Macroeconomy
    Daniel’s dissertation explores how financial crises can impact innovation.

    Intangible capital investment by firms is more affected by financial frictions than physical capital investment.

  • Modeling endogenous intangible capital investment can explain the slow recovery after the Great Recession.
  • We can speed up the recovery by transferring resources to younger firms, which are the most affected by financial constraints.
  • Quality improvements by incumbent firms contribute more to U.S. aggregate economic growth than creative destruction of other firm’s products.
  • Entrants contribute much more to aggregate economic growth in India than in the U.S.
  • There is a feedback loop between liquidity accumulation by firms and financial panics.
  • More stringent macro prudential policy such as liquidity requirements for banks can mitigate this problem.

  • Abhishek Nagaraj
    Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management

    New position: Post-Doctoral Scholar, National Bureau of Economic Research (2016-2017); Assistant Professor, University of California, Berkeley (2017)

    Essays on the Impact of Digital Information on Innovation
    Abhishek explores how new information about physical, natural, and social phenomena shape the rate and direction of innovation.

  • The process of digitization creates tremendous opportunity for boosting innovation and entrepreneurship, but the institutional environment, such as appropriate intellectual property protection, is crucial for this impact to be significant.
  • Government investments in publicly available information, especially “mapping information” such as satellite data and census information, are crucial elements in shaping the geography of innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • In particular, investments in programs such as the NASA Landsat satellite program may have spurred significant economic growth and entrepreneurship, which could entirely justify the costs of such programs.
  • Copyright law could significantly impede the potential benefits of digital information and might need to be weakened in environments where user based innovation in relevant.
  • Finally, he develops a “mapping lens” for innovation by suggesting that the process of innovation is similar to the process of mapmaking. Similar to geographical maps, maps of scientific and physical phenomena described by innovators are incomplete and bake in decisions of the mapmaker, and intended and unintended design choices of scientific maps significantly shape follow on innovation.

  • Briana Sell Stenard
    Ph.D. Georgia Institute of Technology

    New position: Assistant Professor of Management and Economics, Mercer University, Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics

    Human Capital and the Entrepreneurial Careers of Scientists and Engineers
    Briana’s work shaped a lot of important knowledge on how industry (engineering and science) is very dependent on human capital by looking at the questions:

  • Science and engineers who are educationally mismatched (take jobs outside of their field of education) are more likely to have lower salary and lower job satisfaction, but higher skill variety.
  • Those who are educationally mismatched for career or pay reasons are more likely to enter entrepreneurship than those who are matched or who were mismatched because they were unable to find a job in their field. Both opportunity costs and skill variety play mediating roles between educational mismatch and future entrepreneurial entry.
  • Workers who transition to self-employment experience less growth in their wages and more growth in job satisfaction upon transitioning, depending on the reason for transitioning in the first place. 
  • There is a positive relationship between salary and exit, which is enhanced when including a measure for job satisfaction, while there is a negative relationship between job satisfaction in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial exit.
  • Those who are most likely to remain in entrepreneurship are those with low salary and high job satisfaction, while those who are most likely to exit are those with high salary and low job satisfaction. 
  • For those who exit entrepreneurship and return to wage work, they are able to significantly increase their salary but not their job satisfaction, compared to remaining in self-employment.

    Yufei Wu
    Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    New position: Associate, Cornerstone Research

    Essays on Health Economics
    Yufei’s dissertation explores policy-relevant issues in the healthcare sector, from strategic pricing in the health insurance industry, to the role of licensing in pharmaceutical innovations, to cross-sectional variation in physician supply.

  • The number of licensing deals for drugs affected by positive demand shocks from the enactment of Medicare Part D increased by about 60 percent in the years that followed the program's enactment.
  • The effect was short-lived (five years) and can be traced back to as early as the couple years following the program's announcement.
  • The derived elasticity of licensing-based cooperation with respect to market size is 0.71. 
  • Even attaching modest productivity gains to inter-firm cooperation, this estimate suggests that the intermediary role of market size could be a meaningful determinant of overall innovative productivity.
  • A larger market size helps materialize another layer of productivity gains by improving the quality of the match between the characteristics of each developing technology and the capabilities contributed by the cooperating pharmaceutical commercializer.

  • Oren Ziv
    Ph.D. Harvard University

    New position: Assistant Professor, Michigan State University (2015-2016), Postdoctoral Fellow, Dartmouth College (2016)

    Essays in Economic Geography
    Oren’s dissertation explores the geographic nature of entrepreneurial activity, specifically understanding the location decisions of firms and the economic consequences of these decisions.

  • Establishment density acts as a sufficient statistic for the desirability of a location and can predict firm quality.
  • Sorting of more productive entrepreneurs explains some but not all of the density-productivity relationship.
  • Cities that have low long-run growth rates decrease the subjective well-being of citizens relative to those which have experienced economic growth.
  • Firms tend to grow outwards from their initial location in radii.
  • Larger, more productive firms tend to cluster less, spreading their operations over larger distances.
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