Seminar Series

Fall 2008 Schedule

Mondays – 11:30-1 pm (E52-598)


Speaker (Affiliation)

Title and Abstract

Sept. 15

Olav Sorensen (U. Toronto)

Home Sweet Home: Social Capital and Location Choice

Sept. 22

James Utterback (MIT)

Explorations in Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Sept. 29

Ramana Nanda (HBS)

Finance and the Diffusion of New Technologies

Oct. 20

Ethan Mollick (MIT) (informal I&E session)

People and Process, Suits and Innovators: Individuals and Firm Performance

Oct. 27

Hazhir Rahmandad (Virginia Tech) (Strategy)

The Dynamics of Capability Development and Erosion

Nov. 3

Sung Joo Bae and Chuck Eesley (MIT) (informal I&E session)

Who has ‘the right stuff’? Human Capital, Entrepreneurship and Institutional Change in China”

“Learning at the Boundary of the Firm: What is Happening Between Learning-By-Doing and Learning-By-Using”

Nov. 24

Alan MacCormack (MIT)

 Exploring the Duality between Product and Organizational Architectures:  A Test of the "Mirroring" Hypothesis



We report results from a study which examines the question of whether a product's design tends to "mirror" the organization from which it comes.   That is, do modular organizations produce more modular products?  We explore this relationship in the software industry by use of a technique called Design Structure Matrices (DSMs), which allows us to visualize the architectures of different software products and to calculate metrics to compare their levels of modularity.  Our research takes advantage of a natural experiment in this industry, where products exist that fulfill the same function, but that are developed using different organizational modes:  specifically, open source (distributed) versus closed source (collocated) development. Using a matched-pair design, we test whether these modes are associated with differences in product architecture.  Our results reveal dramatic differences in modularity, consistent with the notion that products mirror the architectures of the organizations that create them.  We close by highlighting some implications of this result, and sketching some directions for future research.

Dec. 1

Nick Bloom (Stanford) (Strategy Session)

"Americans do I.T. better: US multinationals and the productivity miracle", by Nick Bloom, Raffaella Sadun and John Van Reenen



The US experienced a sustained increase in productivity growth in the decade after 1995, particularly in sectors that intensively use information technologies (IT). This “productivity miracle” did not occur in Europe. This paper uses two distinct micro datasets to show that US multinationals operating in Europe also experienced a “productivity miracle”. US multinationals obtained higher productivity from IT than non-US multinationals in Europe, particularly in the sectors responsible for the US productivity acceleration. Furthermore, establishments that are taken over by US multinationals increased the productivity of their IT, whereas observationally identical establishments taken over by non-US multinationals did not. Combining a new pan-European IT dataset with our firm-level management practices survey, we find that the US advantage in IT is primarily due to its “people management” practices on promotions, rewards, hiring and firing. USstyle people management appears to be associated with the ability to adopt new IT more effectively. As a result US firms at home and abroad experienced large increases in productivity growth when IT investment rose sharply after 1995. We can account for about half of the US-EU difference in productivity growth using our estimates.

Dec. 8

Scott Stern (Northwestern)

Of Mice and Academics: Examining the Effect of Openness on Innovation (with Fiona Murray, Philippe Aghion, Mathias Dewatripont, Julian Kolev, and Scott Stern)

ABSTRACT: Scientific freedom and openness are hallmarks of academia:  relative to their counterparts in industry, academics maintain discretion over their research agenda and allow others to build on their discoveries.  This paper examines the relationship between openness and freedom, building on recent models emphasizing that, from an economic perspective, freedom is the granting of control rights to researchers.  Within this framework, openness of upstream research does not simply encourage higher levels of downstream exploitation.  It also raises the incentives for additional upstream research by encouraging the establishments of entirely new research directions.  In other words, within academia, restrictions on scientific openness (such as those created by formal intellectual property rights (IPR)) may limit the diversity and experimentation of basic research itself.  We test this hypothesis by examining a natural experiment in openness within the academic community: NIH agreements during the late 1990s that circumscribed IP restrictions for academics regarding certain genetically engineered mice.  Using a sample of engineered mice that are linked to scientific papers (some affected by the NIH agreements and some not), we implement a differences-in-differences estimator to evaluate how the level and type of follow-on research using these mice changes after the NIH-induced increase in openness.  We find a significant increase in the level of follow-on research.  Moreover, this increase is driven by a substantial increase in the rate of exploration of more diverse research paths.  Overall, our findings highlight a neglected cost of IPR:  reductions in the diversity of experimentation that follows from a single idea.

Dec. 15

Danny Breznitz (Georgia Tech)

 Innovation and the State


Seminar Organizers: Chuck Eesley, Michaël Bikard, Phil Anderson

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