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September 27, 2017 to December 6, 2017

Social Science and Technology Seminar Fall 2017

Social Science and Technology Seminar Fall 2017

Seminars take place on Wednesdays 4-5:30pm in the 2nd Floor (Johnson 224) Conference Room, John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Building at 366 Galvez Street unless otherwise noted.

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Seminar organizers:

Chuck Eesley, Associate Professor, Stanford, Management Science & Engineering, Stanford Technology Ventures Program

Abhishek Nagaraj, Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley-Haas

Tim Bresnahan, Professor, Department of Economics

Woody Powell, Professor, Department of Education

September 27, 2017

4:00pm to 5:30pm
Network-Mediated Knowledge Spillovers: A Cross-Country Comparative Analysis of Information Security Innovations
Presenter(s) : 

Neil Gandal (Tel Aviv University, Visiting Associate Professor at UC-Berkeley)
Joint with Lee Branstetter and Nadav Kunievsky


ABSTRACT: A large and growing literature has used patent and patent citation data to measure knowledge spillovers across inventions and organizations, but relatively few papers in this literature have explicitly considered the collaboration networks formed by inventors as a mechanism for shaping and transmitting these knowledge flows. This paper utilizes an approach developed by Fershtman and Gandal (FG 2011) (and applied to Open Source Software) to examine the incidence and nature of knowledge flows mediated by the collaboration networks of inventors active in the information security industry. This is an industry in which a number of nations outside the United States, including Israel, have emerged as important centers of innovation.

Israeli prominence in this sector is often attributed, in part, to a dense network of personal collections and collaborations that has its genesis in elite intelligence units in the Israeli Defense Forces, through which many Israeli information security inventors and entrepreneurs receive their first exposure to this domain. Using data from U.S. PTO patent grants in information security, we find that the quality of Israeli information security inventions is systematically linked to the structure of the collaborative network generated by Israeli inventors in this sector. Using the FG (2011) model, this suggests that there are knowledge spillovers from the network. In some other nations, invention quality is less closely linked to the collaboration networks of inventors. This research highlights the importance of direct interaction among inventors as a conduit for flows of frontier scientific knowledge.


October 12, 2017

4:00pm to 5:30pm
Commercializing basic research & venture scaling
Presenter(s) : 

David Hsu (Wharton)

ABSTRACT: I will speak about two sets of projects I have underway. The first set of projects presents a novel way of estimating how well universities perform in translating their scientific discoveries into commercial returns, together with an exploration of why academic researchers differ in their degree of commercial engagement. A second project takes a broader frame, and explores the dynamics of venture scaling decisions. I give a taxonomy of the locus of venture scaling, and describe some conjectures about triggering events leading to each type of venture scaling. The projects are under varied stages of development, and I will present either preliminary results or empirical designs, as appropriate. I would value feedback from this audience in both sets of projects, as they are all under active development.

October 25, 2017

4:00pm to 5:30pm
Ex ante career preferences and sorting into startup employment
Presenter(s) : 

Michael Roach (Cornell)

ABSTRACT: Entrepreneurship scholars and policy makers pay increasing attention to individuals who join entrepreneurial ventures as employees. Established firms also recognize the importance of attracting an entrepreneurial and innovative workforce. It is not clear, however, whether and how individuals with entrepreneurial career preferences sort into different types of employers. In this study, we examine the extent to which individuals’ ex ante career preferences explain sorting into employment in startups versus established firms. Using novel panel data on 2,284 individuals observed during graduate school and again in fulltime employment, we find strong evidence of preference-based sorting. However, a large share of individuals with entrepreneurial career preferences end up in established firms, while entrepreneurial firms employ not only “joiners” but also individuals with founder intentions or preferences for working in an established firm. We explore potential reasons for sorting into non-preferred careers including labor market constraints, ability, compensating wage differentials, and individuals’ desire to acquire additional skills prior to starting their own firm. Finally, we show that sorting into non-preferred careers may have important consequences, such as higher turnover, which may limit firms’ ability to benefit from their human capital. We discuss implications for entrepreneurship research as well as for founders, managers, and policy makers.

November 8, 2017

4:00pm to 5:30pm
Entrepreneurship and Occupational Prestige
Presenter(s) : 

Tiantian Yang (Duke)

ABSTRACT: We theorize how entrepreneurship facilitates status attainment and specifically propose that organizational founders attain greater status, but earn less, as entrepreneurs than they would by remaining in employment. Career history analyses of observationally-equivalent Swedish workers who do and do not found new organizations demonstrate how founders attain greater occupational prestige both during and after spells as entrepreneurs, despite earning less than they do as employees. Further probing ability-signaling and skill-acquisition mechanisms, our analyses suggest that the prestige-enhancing effects of founding are largely attributable to occupational skills that founders acquire in entrepreneurship before returning to employment. We discuss implications for research on the entrepreneurial wage penalty and on the role of organizations in societal stratification.

November 29, 2017

4:00pm to 5:30pm
Homesick or Homerun? Distance from Hometown and Employee Productivity – A Natural Experiment from India
Presenter(s) : 

Raj Choudhury (HBS)

ABSTRACT: Does distance of workplace from hometown help or hurt individual performance? In the short-term, distance from hometown could enhance individual performance by increasing the utility of working time vis-à-vis the utility of consumption time. However, in the longer-term, distance from hometown could hurt individual performance by triggering the psychic costs of being away from family and friends. Measuring the effect of distance from hometown on individual performance is beset with endogeneity and selection concerns. We exploit the randomized assignment of entry-level employees to eight production centers at an Indian technology firm to circumvent such concerns. Our results suggest that distance from hometown has a positive effect on individual performance in the short-term and a negative effect in the longer-term. We also identify variation in the longer-term effect based on the ability and social embeddedness of the individual.

December 8, 2017

2:00pm to 3:30pm
Technological Opportunity, Bubbles and Innovation: The Dynamics of Initial Coin Offerings
Presenter(s) : 

Christian Catalini (MIT)


ABSTRACT: Using unique data on over 1,000 crypto tokens, we provide the first, comprehensive exploration of the phenomenon of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). ICOs are increasingly used by entrepreneurs, open source teams, and established players in the blockchain space to raise capital, attract developers to an ecosystem, crowdsource key resources, and encourage usage by early adopters. After exploring the economics of token sales and blockchain technology, we present novel data on the characteristics of different tokens, the teams behind them, their evolution and performance. Our findings highlight that contrary to common belief, while many ICOs are launched by teams across the globe, a disproportionate share of capital still flows to traditional entrepreneurial hubs. Investors, instead, are more geographically dispersed. By focusing on founders and their skills, the codebases they maintain, and information contained in their white papers, we further separate high potential projects from lower quality ones.