Sonali Shah, an assistant professor of management at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, has won the 2010 Thought Leader Award from the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management.
The award is in recognition of her paper, “Individual and Opportunity Factors Influencing Job Creation in New Firms,” co-authored by John Dencker of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Marc Gruber of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. It is published in the December 2009 Academy of Management Journal.
In the study, Shah examined early stage start-ups founded by unemployed individuals, analyzing the effects of past leadership experience and breadth of knowledge in marketing and sales, IT management, and the market and industry in which their business operated.
The verdict? Entrepreneurs with a breadth of business knowledge tend to create fewer jobs in the early stages of a new venture, while entrepreneurs with leadership experience tend to create more jobs in the early stages. In businesses that are more labor intensive, both breadth of knowledge and leadership experience allow founders to operate their firms with fewer employees.
The award committee noted that Shah’s paper “is representative of the best published papers in entrepreneurship in 2009.”
It’s not Shah’s first time winning this award. Along with co-author Mary Tripsas of the Harvard Business School, Shah won the Entrepreneurship Division’s 2008 Thought Leader Award for the paper, “The Accidental Entrepreneur: The Emergent and Collective Process of User Entrepreneurship.”
That paper documented the process by which individuals or groups not only invent because of personal necessity, but also launch companies based on their inventions. Shah found that considerable innovation—and subsequent entrepreneurship—incubates outside the boundaries of firms and universities.
Shah has been at the Foster School of Business since 2007. She was one of five young researchers nationwide chosen to receive a 2008 Sloan Industry Studies Fellowship.