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PHD Publications

This dissertation investigates how technology commercialisation and scientist mobility are influenced by the strength of national intellectual property rights (IPR) institutions. More specifically, I examine the impact of IPR institutions on firm investment and entry strategies in technological markets at the national and international levels as well as the mobility of scientists across borders and organisations. I rely on the exogenous invalidation of gene patents by the 2013 United States Supreme Court Myriad decision to develop a difference-in-differences design, with the European Union, where gene patents remained valid, as the control group. Finegrained analyses revealed interesting distinctions in firm and scientist behavior in the US and the EU. First, I found that the reduction in the strength of IPR institutions did not affect technology development investments in aggregate but led to a decrease in investments by pre-shock startups and the redeployment of investments from home areas to related new areas by pre-shock established firms. Second, I found that the reduction in the strength of IPR institutions led to an increase in inbound mobility of foreign scientists, mainly driven by highly talented scientists moving into academic organisations. Third, I found that the reduction in the strength of IPR institutions had a positive impact on market entry by foreign firms, especially by foreign new entrants.Keywords : Institutions; intellectual property rights; international; investment, mobility; market entry

Advisor(s): Denisa Mindruta, W. Mitchell

Should financial experts (e.g., buy-side asset managers and analysts) fear the rise of algorithms? As machine-readable (clean and structured) data are essential for the development and functioning of algorithms, I study this question by investigating whether financial experts benefit from more machine-readable data in information production in asset management. I first develop a model in which an institutional investor’s performance and asset holdings depend on two inputs: the amount of machine-readable data and the number of financial experts, and derive how changes induced by an increase in the amount of machine-readable data depend on the relation between the two inputs. Exploiting an exogenous regulatory shock that makes corporate filings more machine-readable, I find that institutions with more financial experts experience larger performance improvement than institutions with fewer financial experts, consistent with financial experts benefiting from more machine-readable data. This result helps evaluate the disruption brought by modern algorithms. Keywords: Information Technology; Skilled Labor; Information Acquisition.Abstract : The thesis contains three essays. In the first essay, I investigate whether financial experts benefit from more machine-readable data in information production in asset management. Exploiting an exogenous regulatory shock that makes corporate filings more machine-readable, I find that institutions with more financial experts have larger performance improvement than institutions with fewer financial experts, suggesting financial experts benefiting from more machine-readable data. This result helps evaluate the likelihood of algorithms replacing high-skilled financial practitioners. In the second essay, I study the rationale and implications of the recent MiFID II regulation in Europe that made delegated asset managers’ spending on sell-side analyst research more transparent to their clients. We show that transparency decreases the use of sell-side research but stimulates more buy-side research activities, which is consistent with empirical findings. Our model has additional predictions on managers’ performance, liquidity, and social welfare. In the third essay, I study brokers in private placement markets, who intermediate about 20% of capital raised by non-financial firms in this market. I find that projects intermediated by brokers with better reputations are more likely to be fully funded. Contrary to existing theories on underwriters, projects sold through brokers are less likely to be fully funded on average and most issuers prefer direct selling. A model that features both search frictions and asymmetric information suggests that these non-regularities may be due to the fact that the certification role of brokers is limited by competition between intermediated selling and direct selling. The model also explains some non-intuitive patterns of commission fees in the data. These results contribute to a better understanding of private placement markets and intermediaries in other financial markets.

By Junli ZHAO
Advisor(s): Jean Edouard Colliard

There are three chapters in my thesis. The first chapter is From Mandatory to Voluntary Disclosures: Conflict Mineral Reports of US Firms. Although the SEC suspended the enforcement of conflict mineral disclosure in April 2017, some firms continue to file conflict mineral reports. I study the determinants of the voluntary disclosure of conflict mineral reports in this setting and the disclosure quality of these reports. I find that firms with more extensive media coverage and firms that are the target of activist campaigns, audited by Big 4 firms, owned by institutional investors, or with higher visibility tend to file conflict mineral reports voluntarily and to have conflict mineral reports with better disclosure quality. Additionally, firms with more extensive media coverage, that are targets of activist campaigns, owned by institutional investors, or have higher visibility tend to continue to file conflict mineral reports for more years after the regulatory change. Finally, in the period after the regulatory changes, firms that are the target of activist campaigns have better disclosure quality. Broadly, my study provides insights into firms’ disclosure strategies under mandatory and voluntary regulatory regimes. The second chapter is Commitment to Regulation and Demand for Crypto Tokens. It is a joint work with Vedran Capkun and Pepa Kraft. This study analyzes how commitment to investor identification such as know-your customer policies (KYC) impacts investor demand for crypto tokens. We find that investor identity verification is associated with larger number of buyers, more transactions, greater trading volume, higher liquidity, and lower bid-ask spreads. These results are, however, limited to secondary trading, while there is no difference between adopters and non-adopters of identity verification in primary trading at the initial coin offering (ICO). We also find that an increase in regulation of crypto token issuance leads to a less severe negative impact on demand for tokens issued by firms that adopted identity verification practices, consistent with self-regulation shielding firms from negative externalities of regulation. Finally, active and diversified investors are more likely to invest in tokens issued by firms that adopted investor identity verification. The third chapter is College Information Environment and Student Default Rates, which is a joint work with Vedran Capkun and Pepa Kraft. This essay examines the relationship between the quality of a college’s information environment and student loan default10 rates. We find that poor reporting quality is associated with higher default rates. Consistent with the result that the mechanism driving this finding is the relationship being academic success and earnings potential, we find that colleges with poor reporting quality have lower graduation rates and higher student debt to income ratios upon graduation. We further find that college advertising is associated with higher student loan default rates, and the effect becomes stronger when colleges exhibit low reporting quality, suggesting that prospective students rely more on advertising when reporting quality is low. Overall, our evidence concerns that poor reporting quality and high levels of advertising lead to efficient investments in education.

Advisor(s): Vedran Capkun

Overall, in my dissertation, I aimed at answering the following question: What constitutes, drives, and structures professional agency in relation to institutions? While research has already clearly established the importance of professions and professionals as preeminent actors of institutional change (Muzio et al., 2013; Scott, 2008), I demonstrate that professional agency bears specificities that differentiate it from the agency of other actors. Throughout my three chapters, I identified three types of specificities that should be taken into account in studies of professions and professionals as agents of institutional change. First, professional agency is inscribed within local practices, which are sites of experience of institutional contradictions. I consider that in order to be fully understood, professional agency must be articulated through professional identity (Chapter 1). Additionally, connecting agency and professional identity opens ways to integrate the role of emotions in the study of professions, as causal mechanisms for professional action (Chapter 3). Last, professional agency is influenced by professions’ embeddedness in permanent interprofessional competitions (Abbott, 1988; Anteby, 2010; Barley, 1986; Nelsen & Barley, 1997). This implies that the process of taking part in regulatory agency is not only dependent on the needs of the professions to secure their own interests but also on their position in the system of professions (Abbott, 1988), (Chapter 2).Keywords: Professions, Institutional change, Professional agency, Identity, Emotions

Advisor(s): Roxana Barbulescu

This dissertation consists of three chapters that empirically investigate the economics of information intermediaries. The first chapter investigates whether a proxy advisory firm’s parent company has a vested interest in proxy votes. The second chapter presents a joint work with Han Wu, examining whether proxy advisors exert an active role in influencing executive compensation or merely a passive role as information intermediaries. The third chapter, joint with Zhang Zhang, explores whether credit reports from investorpaid rating agencies provide incremental information of corporate debt issuers’ credit risk

Advisor(s): Pepa Kraft

In the first essay, I investigate language as a novel antecedent of anthropomorphism. Across eight studies, I show that gender-marking of non-human nouns in gendered languages (e.g., French) influences the way individuals mentally represent these entities, and as a result increases their generalized tendencies to anthropomorphize consumption objects. I demonstrate the effects both by comparing anthropomorphism as a function of natural differences in languages (e.g., English, French, Italian) and by manipulating the presence of gender-markings for non-humans in within-language studies. I further show that within gendered languages, grammatical gender of non-human nouns, although semantically arbitrary, influences consumers’ interactions with brands and consumption objects consistent with connotations of femininity and masculinity. In the second essay, I test whether the grammatical gender mark of diseases affects consumers’ risk judgements. In French and Spanish, the name of the disease resulting from the virus (COVID-19) is grammatically feminine, whereas the virus that causes the disease (coronavirus) is masculine. In a series of experiments with French and Spanish speakers, I find that grammatical gender affects virus-related judgments consistent with gender stereotypes: feminine- (vs. masculine-) marked terms for the virus lead individuals to assign lower stereotypical masculine characteristics to the virus, which in turn reduces their danger perceptions. The effect generalizes to precautionary consumer behavioral intentions as well as to other diseases, and is moderated by individual differences in chronic gender stereotyping. In the third essay, I study whether attributing humanlike characteristics to non-human entities facilitate the inverse process of denying human characteristics to other humans (dehumanization). Across four studies, I show that the tendency to anthropomorphize is positively correlated with a tendency to dehumanize other individuals, as well as with support for dehumanizing policies; the use of technological devices with humanlike characteristics is associated both with increased anthropomorphism and increased dehumanization. Causal evidence shows that priming with anthropomorphic cues, such as a humanlike robot, increases dehumanization and denying secondary emotions to other individuals. Furthermore, I find that dehumanization only occurs in interactions with anthropomorphized objects and that consumers’ attitudes toward the anthropomorphized object moderates the effect, with more favorable attitudes ironically leading to greater dehumanization tendencies. In the last essay, I study whether the way one talks and thinks about time affects the inferences s/he draws from the perceived speed of time. The results of four experiments show that when time is perceived to have passed quickly, people speed up to compensate for the lost time. Whether one conceptualizes herself as a moving agent on a stationary timeline or a stationary agent on a moving timeline moderates this effect. People who conceptualize themselves as moving agents are more likely to infer their speed from the speed of time, and become faster (slower) when they experience time passing unexpectedly quickly (slowly). As a result, they suffer from cognitive trade-offs, such as inaccuracy and impulsivity, more than those who conceptualize themselves as stationary agents on a moving timeline

By Alican MECIT
Advisor(s): L.j. Shrum, Tina Lowrey

The core of my dissertation is devoted to examining entrepreneurial strategies and processes of small ventures in the context of France. While we have accumulated abundant knowledge concerning such concepts as entrepreneurial entry and venture performance, entrepreneurial processes are still a black box. I shed additional light on this intermediary entrepreneurial stage using French census data. In the first chapter, I look at how unemployment insurance enables experimentation which then has implications for venture outcomes. In the second chapter, I examine how two types of founder motivations sustain entrepreneurial effort in times of adversity. In the last chapter, I look at how women build their ventures in male-dominated industries. The overall objective of my dissertation is to contribute to a better understanding of how entrepreneurs go about exploiting opportunities and how this process shapes venture outcomes.

Advisor(s): Denisa Mindruta

In this dissertation, I examine the effects of three important marketing investments on firm financial performance. In particular, I study how investments in loyalty programs, capabilities, and servitization impact different aspects of firm performance. The three essays aim to contribute to the broader literature on marketing accountability. In the first chapter, I address an important gap in the literature of loyalty programs by linking the introduction of these programs to enterprise value. Using an event study of 260 announcements of American firms from 2000 to 2017, I find that the introduction of loyalty programs, on average, positively influences firm value. The results of this study also reveal the existence of contingencies including synergies with complementary market-based assets and market conditions of lower uncertainty in determining the value of loyalty programs. In the second chapter, I examine an important aspect of marketing investments (i.e., capabilities and assets) in a new but very important context: bankruptcy and failure risk. Using a large longitudinal dataset of U.S. firms, I show that while both marketing capabilities and assets, but not R&D, play an important role in reducing bankruptcy risk, it is mainly marketing capabilities which reduce the bankruptcy risk for distressed firms. In contrast, while R&D initiatives take a long time to materialize and thus do not significantly affect bankruptcy risk, they protect competitor firms from contagion in case of bankruptcy within the industry. In the third chapter, I establish a link between servitization and firm financial and non-financial performance using a meta-analysis. Servitization is defined as a transformational process of adding services to products with a strategic transition from goods-dominant logic to service-dominant logic. I find an overall positive correlation between servitization and firm performance. I also demonstrate the moderating role of various contextual (e.g., service type, business type, regional characteristics, time trend) and methodological characteristics (e.g., measures of servitization and performance, endogeneity, estimation method).

Advisor(s): Marc Vanhuele, S. Wurm

My dissertation examines firm divestitures and their relationship with the business and geographic scope of the firm under buoyant and hostile economic environments. In order to accomplish this task, I have collected information on various kinds of divestitures undertaken by a panel of large European publicly listed firms. The three essays aim to contribute to the broader literature on divestitures as well as the work on the divestitures-diversification relationship and its contingencies. Past research generally suggests that divestitures are aimed at reducing excessive diversification. This view, however, overlooks the fact that not all divestitures result in refocusing. Indeed, many divestitures are motivated by the existence of over-capacity within the firm. In addition, while prior research has generally found that divestitures improve performance by reducing excessive diversification, more recent research has argued and shown that during an economic downturn, more diversified firms tend to outperform their focused counterparts. Changing economic conditions thus appear as a suitable context in which to study the mechanisms through which divestitures can create value. The first essay examines how, under different environmental conditions, firms are more prone to undertake either downscoping (divestitures leading to a reduction in business scope) or downsizing (divestitures that only reduce firm size without affecting business scope) divestitures, as well as the performance impact of either type of divestiture. I find that firms are less likely to undertake downscoping divestitures during an economic downturn whereas they are more likely to undertake downsizing divestitures. This paper provides a boundary condition to the argument that firms primarily divest to reduce diversification and depicts the key role of downsizing divestitures in a firm’s corporate strategy. The second essay focuses on the international dimension of divestitures. Extant work has narrowly defined foreign divestitures as the divestment of a subsidiary. The theoretical mechanisms driving foreign divestitures as well as the effect of these global strategic moves are contingent on the scope and size of the foreign divestiture. Real options theory has shown that foreign divestitures afford greater strategic flexibility to the firm by switching operations. However, we still do not know much about the timing of these options as well as the boundary conditions of this argument. This study examines the conditions under which firms are more or less inclined to exercise the option to abandon a geographic market as compared to the option to switch operations by merely selling off foreign assets while maintaining a geographic presence. This study contributes to the literature on foreign divestitures and real options perspective. The third essay attempts to shed light on the idea that divestitures provide dynamic capabilities to the firm. Extant research has argued that divestitures provide capabilities to grow and reconfigure the organization. However, not much is known about the conditions in which divestitures are more likely to enable dynamic capabilities. Furthermore, there is very little understanding of the impact of dynamic capabilities provided by divestitures on firm value creation. This study focuses on the cost of assets being sold relative to their market value as a conceptually relevant contingency that impacts the likelihood of firm divestitures. The article puts forth the concept of divestment potential to specify firm-level conditions when divestitures would arguably create greater shareholder value.

Advisor(s): Pierre Dussauge

This three-chapter thesis investigates the benefit and cost of financial technology (FinTech) for consumers and firms. The first chapter studies whether, in the consumer credit market, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms serve as substitutes for banks or instead as complements. I develop a conceptual framework and derive testable predictions to distinguish between these two possibilities. Using a regulatory change as an exogenous shock to bank credit supply, I find that P2P lending is a substitute for bank lending in terms of serving infra-marginal bank borrowers yet complements bank lending with respect to small loans. These results indicate that the credit expansion resulting from P2P lending likely occurs only among borrowers who already have access to bank credit. This second chapter focuses on the potential cost of FinTech --- privacy intrusion. In particular, I study the value of privacy, for individuals, using data from large-scale field experiments that vary disclosure requirements for loan applicants and loan terms on an online peer-to-peer lending platform in China. I find that loan applicants attach positive value to personal data: Lower disclosure requirements significantly increase the rate at which applications are completed. I quantify the monetary value of personal data— and the welfare effect of various disclosure policies—by developing a structural model that links individuals’ disclosure, borrowing, and repayment decisions. Using detailed application-level data, I estimate that social network ID and employer contact are valued at 230 RMB (i.e., $33, or 70% of the average daily salary in China); for successful borrowers, this accounts for 8% of the average net present value of a loan. Requiring answers to these application questions reduces borrower welfare by 13% and costs the platform $0.50 in expected revenue per applicant. In the last chapter, I turn to investigate the benefit of FinTech for firms. This chapter is in collaboration with Paul Beaumont (McGill University), AnneSophie Lawniczak (Banque de France), and Eric Vansteenberghe (Paris School of Economics). We evaluate the tradeoff for small business between borrowing from crowd-funding platforms and traditional banks. To do so, we link the universe of Fintech SME loans in France to the credit registry at Banque de France (the French central bank) to obtain a comprehensive credit history of SMEs borrowing from Fintech platforms. The main finding is that following a successful Fintech loan application, SMEs experience a significant increase in bank credit. This result is robust to the inclusion of a control group of SMEs with successful bank loan applications. Importantly, the increase in bank credit is only present for long-term categories, which require collateral. This suggests that FinTech platforms may expand credit access for SMEs by relaxing their collateral constraints.

Advisor(s): Johan Hombert