Foster research symposium sparks 13 years of top scholarship in tech entrepreneurship

Benjamin Hallen
Benjamin Hallen

Benjamin Hallen moves to the front of the classroom in the University of Washington’s PACCAR Hall to welcome 50 faculty members and 37 PhD students to Seattle. For some, it’s their first time in the Pacific Northwest, many flying from around the globe.

It’s the 13th year of the West Coast Research Symposium, and Hallen’s participation in the technology entrepreneurship research conference has come full circle.

He’d first attended the conference in 2006 as a PhD student at Stanford University. When he took his first academic position at the University of Maryland, he still participated. When he joined the faculty at the London School of Business, he boarded the long flight. Now an assistant professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at the UW’s Foster School of Business, Hallen is on the faculty team that manages the symposium.

“It’s known as the West Coast Research Symposium, but I attended while I was on faculty in London,” Hallen said. “That tells you of its magnitude. It is the premiere entrepreneurship conference.”

As a student, Hallen was meeting with other researcher faculty from around the globe to talk about his own early-stage research. Now, as a faculty member and one of the event’s coordinators, he helps provide one-on-one expert feedback to participating doctoral candidates.

“I think what really distinguishes WCRS is that there is a West Coast perspective, meaning there’s a real emphasis on getting out there and deeply understanding entrepreneurs,” Hallen said.

Doctoral students and faculty members gather on the first day of the West Coast Research Symposium.
Doctoral students and faculty members gather on the first day of the West Coast Research Symposium.

At the September 2015 event, the 21 papers ranged from “Unequal Disadvantage in Female Entrepreneurship” (MIT students Jorge Guzman, Aleksandra Kacpercyzyk and Scott Stern) to “Founder Identity and Firm Flexibility in a Nascent Industry” (London Business School student Tiona Zuzul and Boston College student Mary Tripsas).

Other papers included “Entrepreneurship in Action: Reducing the Uncertainty of Innovation” (University of Alberta’s Vern Glaser and Matthew Grimes) and “Multi-level Contextual Influences on Venture Capital Decision Making” (from University of Lausanne’s Jeffrey Petty, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne’s Marc Gruber, and Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich’s Dietmar Harhoff).

“We strive to present research that’s still in development,” explained Hallen. “What’s very cool from an author’s perspective in that you’re able to present something and get feedback at the stage when feedback is most useful. There are so many rich things that are discussed – in the hallway or at dinner or walking around campus. The novelty of the ideas creates a very exciting conference.”

The West Coast Research Symposium is hosted by the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, in partnership with the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the USC Marshall School of Business, University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business, Alberta School of Business’ Technology Commercialization Centre, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.