Research and teaching
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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

Samira Reis, Giacomo Negro, Olav Sorenson, Fabrizio Perretti, and Alessandro Lomi

The theory of resource partitioning proposes that competition among generalists in the center of a market can trigger a process of resource release that engenders a proliferation of specialist producers outside the center. Previous research has generally examined the relationship between this proliferation and market concentration – a correlate of competitive intensity in the center of the market. In this paper, we extend the theory by arguing that resource release also occurs as the degree of competitive overlap among producers in the center intensifies, even when concentration or other structural features do not vary; we expand its implications by demonstrating that increased competitive overlap in the market center should enhance the viability of producers positioned near the center more than those in the periphery; and we enrich and complete it by specifying the additional assumptions needed to extend the theory of resource partitioning to entry processes. Consistent with our expectations, an empirical examination of the Italian broadcast television industry, from 1992 to 2003, finds that the failure rates of both near-center and peripheral organizations decline in response to increasing competitive overlap in the programming of the national broadcasters, with the failure rates of the near-center organizations falling more than those of peripheral organizations. Increasing competitive overlap similarly stimulates the entry of near-center organizations more than peripheral ones.

Industrial and Corporate Change, 22 (2013): 459-487

Jesper B. Sørensen and Olav Sorenson

Studies consistently find regions dense in concentrations of similar firms to be fecund sources of new firms of the same kind. This pattern persists even in industries with negative returns to geographic concentration. Why do these patterns persist? On the one hand, social networks may constrain entrepreneurs’ opportunities, making it difficult to mobilize resources in more attractive locations. On the other hand, nascent entrepreneurs may systematically misperceive opportunities in such a way as to lead them to continue founding attempts in overcrowded regions. To distinguish between these two processes, we analyze a unique set of data on television stations that contains information on both attempts to start new stations, as well as successful foundings. Our exploratory analysis suggests that nascent entrepreneurs do consistently misinterpret information related to population dynamics. These patterns could easily contribute both to industrial agglomeration and to the fragility of Red Queen dynamics. We discuss the implications of these results for both future research and for public policy.

Advances in Strategic Management, 20 (2003): 89-117