Please contact me if you would like a copy of one of the papers below that is not linked.

The Evaluation of Founder Failure and Success by Hiring Firms: A Field Experiment

with Melody Chang

Organizations tout the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship. Yet, it remains unclear how they evaluate entrepreneurial human capital---namely, job candidates with founder experience. How hiring firms evaluate this experience, and especially how this evaluation varies by entrepreneurial success and failure, reveals insights into the structures and processes within organizations. Organizations research points to two perspectives related to the evaluation of founder experience: Former founders may be advantaged, due to founder experience signaling high-quality capabilities and human capital, or disadvantaged, due to concerns related to fit and commitment. To identify the dominant class of mechanisms driving the evaluation of founder experience, it is important to consider how these evaluations differ depending on whether the founder's venture failed or succeeded. To isolate demand-side mechanisms and hold supply-side factors constant, we conducted a field experiment. We sent applications varying the candidate's founder experience to 2,400 software engineering positions in the US at random. We find that former founders received 43% fewer callbacks than non-founders and that this difference is driven by older hiring firms. Further, this founder penalty is greatest for former successful founders, who received 33% fewer callbacks than former failed founders. Our results highlight that mechanisms related to concerns about fit and commitment, rather than information asymmetry about quality, are most influential for how hiring firms evaluate former founders in our context.

Organization Science, forthcoming

The Disciplining Effect of Status: Evaluator Status Awards and Observed Gender Bias in Evaluations

with Marina Gertsberg

We theorize that status awards will have a disciplining effect on evaluators, changing how they evaluate. Specifically, status awards will lead evaluators to place less weight on unreliable indicators of candidate quality, such as gender. We test this theory using data from restaurant evaluations on Yelp, focusing on the relationship between an evaluator’s restaurant rating and their reporting of being served by a man or a woman in their review text. We leverage Yelp’s evaluator status award (“Elite”) to analyze whether observed gender bias in the star ratings awarded to restaurants decreases after an evaluator receives this status award. We find that evaluators rate restaurants more similarly after receiving the award, regardless of whether they report being served by a man or a woman. Status awards in our context close the gender gap in restaurant ratings by 56.5% (a 0.07 stars improvement out of an initial rating gap of -0.13 stars). This reduction in gender bias is mostly due to a decrease in the number of extremely low (1 star) ratings in reviews that reference female servers. Research on status and evaluations has mostly focused on how evaluators react to increases in candidate status. We demonstrate the importance of evaluator status as a mechanism for decreasing observed gender differences in evaluations.

Management Science, 2021

Here’s an Opportunity: Knowledge Sharing among Competitors as a Response to Buy-in Uncertainty

Winner, 2015 Best Student Paper, Academy of Management (OMT Division)

Media Coverage: Yale Insights

Although knowledge sharing among competitors is seemingly counterintuitive, scholars have found that competitors share knowledge under certain conditions: among actors who have a preexisting relationship and who expect direct reciprocity. However, there are examples of knowledge sharing among competitors that cannot fully be explained using these relational mechanisms. In this study, I propose that in markets where competitors are a set of key stakeholders, knowledge sharing is a strategic response to high levels of buy-in uncertainty related to a potential opportunity, namely, the likelihood that stakeholders will come to realize the value of a potential opportunity in a timely fashion. Using a unique data set of knowledge sharing among investment professionals on a digital platform, this study leverages variation in the platform’s knowledge-sharing structure to test this theory. I find that knowledge sharing among these competitors is most likely when buy-in uncertainty for a given opportunity is high and that this knowledge sharing does lead to subsequent buy-in.

Organization Science, 2018 29(6): 1033–1055

Pursuing Quality: How Search Costs and Uncertainty Magnify Gender-based Double Standards in a Multistage Evaluation Process

with Mabel Abraham

Runner-up, 2018 Mark Granovetter Best Article Prize

Media Coverage: Bloomberg, New York Post, Quartz, Rotman's Institute for Gender + the Economy, Worth, Yale Insights

Despite lab-based evidence supporting the argument that double standards—by which one group is unfairly held to stricter standards than another—explain observed gender differences in evaluations, it remains unclear whether double standards also affect evaluations in organization and market contexts, where competitive pressures create a disincentive to discriminate. Using data from a field study of investment professionals sharing recommendations on an online platform, and drawing on status theory, we identify the conditions under which double standards in multistage evaluations contribute to unequal outcomes for men and women. We find that double standards disadvantaging women are most likely when evaluators face heightened search costs related to the number of candidates being compared or higher levels of uncertainty stemming from variation in the amount of pertinent information available. We rule out that systematic gender differences in the actions or characteristics of the investment professionals being evaluated are driving these results. By more carefully isolating the role of this status-based mechanism of discrimination for perpetuating gender inequality, this study identifies not only whether but also the conditions under which gender-based double standards lead to a female disadvantage, even when relevant and objective information about performance is readily available.

Administrative Science Quarterly, 2017 62(4): 698-730

Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship

with Daniel Fehder and Yael Hochberg

Entrepreneurship is thought to be a key driver of economic growth. While there are myriad forms of entrepreneurship, ranging from self-employment to small and medium size enterprises to technology- and innovation-driven startups, recent research provides evidence that the relationship between entrepreneurship and economic growth is driven not by overall quantity of new firm entry, but rather by a small subset of high-growth startups that are primarily categorized as innovation-driven. This paper provides a survey of the growing literature on the economics of such innovation-driven entrepreneurship. We begin by distinguishing between the various forms of entrepreneurship, which are often confounded in both theory and empirical work. We lay out the current state of knowledge, and describe the challenges faced by researchers in the field, particularly around measurement, data and identification. We conclude with an overview of the major open questions and directions for future research in the area.

NBER Working Paper 28990

Copyright 2021 - Tristan L. Botelho