Research and teaching
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Olav Sorenson and Michael S. Dahl

We examine the extent to which the gender wage gap stems from dual-earner couples jointly choosing where to live. If couples locate in places better suited for the man’s employment than for the woman’s, the resulting mismatch of women to employers will de- press women’s wages. Examining data from Denmark, our analyses indicate (i) that Danish couples chose locations with higher expected wages for the man than for the woman, (ii) that the better matching of men in couples to local employers could account for up to 36% of the gender wage gap, and (iii) that the greatest asymmetry in the apparent importance of the man’s versus the woman’s potential earnings occurred among couples with pre-school age children and where the male partner had accounted for a larger share of household income before the potential move.

American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Lee Fleming and Olav Sorenson

This introduction to the special issue on crowdfunding begins by providing some information about the history and nature of the phenomenon. It then summarizes some of the key advantages and disadvantages of crowdfunding for entrepreneurs and for investors, introducing the various articles in the issue that explore these topics in greater depth. It concludes with some speculations regarding the possible future of the industry and its effects on entrepreneurship, innovation, and inequality.


California Management Review, 58 (2016): 5-19

 

Valentina Assenova, Jason Best, Mike Cagney, Douglas Ellenoff, Kate Karas, Jay Moon, Sherwood Neiss, Ron Suber, and Olav Sorenson

We convened a group of experts to discuss their thoughts about the current state of crowdfunding, its future, important emerging trends in the field, and the opportunities and challenges facing investors and entrepreneurs in the space. Across the board, our experts highlighted the importance of crowdfunding as a means for mobilizing resources. They also maintained that crowdfunding has already emerged as an important force in global finance, which appears here to stay, but one where we have only begun to see the ways in which it will transform the financial sector.


California Management Review, 58 (2016): 125-135

Alicia Barroso, Marco Giarratana, Samira Reis, and Olav Sorenson

The performance of firms depends not just on the structure of the industries in which they compete but also on their relative positioning within those industries, in terms of operating within particular niches. We propose that demand for these niches depends endogenously on the historical ecology of the products offered: Niches become saturated – reduced in their ability to support products – as a large number of previous offerings allows the audience to satisfy its desire for products of a particular type. Analyzing the survival rates of television series aired in the United States from 1946 to 2003, we found that the survival rates of future entrants fell with the extensiveness of recent offerings in the niche, and that the negative association between crowding and survival also weakened with this saturation.


Strategic Management Journal, 37 (2016): 565-585

Gabriel Natividad and Olav Sorenson

Do unexpected events experienced by one line of business adversely affect other lines of business in diversified firms? We use fine-grained data on the film industry in the United States to show that such contagion frequently occurs when a distributor opens a film in theaters and concurrently releases an older title to home video: Being exposed to a competitive threat – a period of unexpected volatility – in the theatrical market at the time of a film opening leads the distributor to suffer a loss in sales on the concurrent home video release. Further analysis revealed that managers responded to these competitive threats by intensifying the advertising and promotion of their films in theaters, suggesting that they diverted resources and attention away from home video. Our results therefore suggest that the effects of unexpected events do spread across lines of businesses within firms and consequently that resource constraints may limit the ability of firms to engage effectively in multiple markets.


Organization Science, 26 (2015): 1721-1733

Sampsa Samila and Olav Sorenson

We argue that social and financial capital have a complementary relationship in fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth. Using panel data on metropolitan areas in the United States, from 1993 to 2002, our analyses reveal that social integration – in the microgeography of residential patterns – moderates the effect of venture capital, with more integrated regions benefitting more from expansions in the supply of financial capital. Our results remain robust to estimation with an instrumental variable to address potential endogeneity in the geography of venture capital. We also find some evidence for a similar effect from business associations. Our findings support the idea that social structure may contribute importantly to regional economic differences.

Inna Galperin and Olav Sorenson

Existing research on categories has only examined indirectly the value associated with being a member of a category relative to the value of the set of attributes that determine membership in that category. This study uses survey data to analyze consumers’ preferences for the “organic” label versus for the attributes underlying that label. We found that consumers generally preferred products with the category label to those with the attributes required for the organic label but without the label. We also found that the value accorded to the organic label increased with the number of attributes that an individual associated with the category. Category membership nevertheless still had greater value than even that of the sum of the attributes associated with it.

PLoS One, 9 (2014): e103002

Olav Sorenson and Michelle Rogan

Interorganizational relationships connect people affiliated with organizations rather than corporate actors themselves. The managers and owners of organizations therefore do not always control these connections and consequently often cannot profit from them. We discuss the circumstances under which individuals (versus organizations) “own” these relationships (and therefore also the social capital generated by them). Three factors increase the odds of individual ownership: (i) the extent to which the resources valued by alters belong to the individual (rather than the organization), (ii) the degree to which alters feel greater indebtedness to the individual than the organization, and (iii) the extent to which relationships involve emotional attachment. We discuss the implications of the locus of ownership, argue that these distinctions can help to explain many results that appear inconsistent on the surface, and call for future research to pay closer attention to these issues.

Annual Review of Sociology, 40 (2014): 261-280

Michael S. Dahl and Olav Sorenson

Studies have consistently found that entrepreneurs who enter industries in which they have prior experience as employees perform better than others. We nevertheless know relatively little about what accounts for these differences. The presumed explanation has generally been that these entrepreneurs benefit from the knowledge that they gained in their former jobs. But they might also differ from other entrepreneurs on a variety of other dimensions: Preferential access to resources or differing motivations, for example, may account for their decisions to enter known industries instead of new ones. Combining novel data from a representative survey of entrepreneurs in Denmark with a matched employer-employee database of all residents in Denmark, we examined how entrepreneurs with prior industry experience differed from those without and the extent to which these differences could account for the performance premium associated with prior industry experience. We found that those with industry experience came from younger, smaller and more profitable firms, and that they recruited more experienced employees, worked harder and placed less value on having flexible hours. The recruitment of more experienced employees and the greater effort exerted appeared to account for at least some of the performance advantage associated with prior industry experience.

Industrial and Corporate Change, 23 (2014): 661-688

Michelle Rogan and Olav Sorenson

Numerous studies have found that mergers and acquisitions destroy value. What might account for these poor decisions? Using comprehensive data from the advertising industry, we found that the probability of being acquired rose but that the performance of merged entities declined – both losing clients and selling less to the clients retained – with the number of common clients (indirect ties) connecting the target to the acquirer. Two potential mechanisms could account for this pattern of results. Either managers hold (positively) biased beliefs about those connected to them through common clients, or they restrict their searches for potential acquisition partners to those they already know, despite the disadvantages of doing so.

Administrative Science Quarterly, 59 (2014): 301-329