As part of our profiles of TIM people, let us introduce Henning Piezunka of INSEAD which is sort of near Paris, France. Henning, you recently joined the TIM Executive Committee as an At Large member, so…
What are your research interests right now?
My research agenda includes three distinct but related streams: crowd-sourcing, collaboration, and competition. My research on crowd-sourcing examines how firms attract voluntary contributors yet often fail to learn from their contributions. My research on collaboration examines how the evolution of dyadic collaborations depends on structural context. My research on competition examines how actors become overly competitive and how they interact with their competitors.
In each of these streams, I study interactions at different levels: between organizations, between individuals, and between organizations and individuals. While I have used a variety of methods, most of my work builds on large-scale data analysis. To capture the interaction of interest, the analysis can become very granular; for example, I examine the behavior of race drivers on a track, single moves of chess players, and the text people use to express an idea.
What do you think is your most exciting contribution to academia?
That rejections can be a great way build a relationship. Typically people associate rejections with the end of a relationship, but it can also be a great start. In a paper with Linus Dahlander (https://journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/amj.2016.0703) we find that organizations that crowd-source ideas can use rejections to indicate to contributors that they DO pay attention to their ideas – even if they do not implement them. An explicit rejection thus lets the organization bond with the contributor. We find that when the rejection is written in the same linguistic style as the submitted idea, it is particularly likely to create a bond and the contributor becomes more likely to submit ideas in the future.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
During my time at Stanford, I once participated in the Muir Woods Half Marathon. At some point during the race, I took a wrong turn. I was literally off-track. Having left the official track my result was unlikely to be counted. I had to keep on running regardless—and, of course, to find the right track again. I only finished the race because several people cheered me on and pointed me in the right direction. In a funny turn of events, following my ill-fated wrong turn, the organizers of the Muir Woods Half Marathon decided to retroactively create a special race category for those who had gotten lost. So, in the end, and despite a few missteps, I actually finished my own race. I often thought of day as an analogy for other aspects of my life.
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