I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Business and Logistics at California State University, Maritime Academy. Before joining CSU, Maritime, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University. I hold a Ph.D. in Economics and Management from the Department of Innovation and Organizational Economics (now called the Department of Strategy and Innovation) at Copenhagen Business School. Previous to my Ph.D. I earned a Global M.B.A. with a concentration in Finance from Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University in Boston. And prior to my graduate studies, I spent several years in industry--primarily at sea as a U.S. Merchant Mariner. In fact, you can sometimes still find me crossing the oceans on a merchant ship.
Among other things, I enjoy skiing, photography, music and just about anything in, on or about the water.
My research focuses on group processes and entrepreneurial outcomes. I examine these topics through the lens of economic sociology, organizational theory and social psychology.
My current research program focuses on entrepreneurship, moving beyond the work on coworker peers where I look at their influence on an individual's choice to transition to entrepreneurship. Though the results suggest that there is social influence in the workplace, we still know very little about what type of influence it is, or what type of entrepreneurial knowledge is being shared. Indeed, the literature has called for stronger claims about entrepreneurial learning. My research program sets out to unearth clues as to what type of learning is taking place, and what type of entrepreneurial knowledge is being shared in the workplace.
A strand of research that I propose to connect and contribute to in this project is the notion of knowledge and skills being transferred, found in the spin-out literature. This literature discusses how the entrepreneur gains access to knowledge and skills from their previous employer, and that it is advantageously exploited when they start a new firm in the industry. However, what type of knowledge and skills are being transferred is largely unclear. Additionally, this project will contribute to the literature linking firm size to entrepreneurial outcome. For example, research shows that entrepreneurs tend to be jack-of-all trades. An explanation for why individuals from small firms are more likely to become entrepreneurs is partly a result of smaller firms requiring individuals to be able to perform more diverse tasks, resulting in more versatile individuals, and perhaps more jack-of-all-trades types. An additional explanation for the small firm effect might be that individuals work more closely together in a small firm. This may promote entrepreneurial knowledge exchange between peers. The findings of this project would shed light on these streams of literature.
I expect this research to contribute to debates on coworker influence and social learning in the organizational setting as it relates to entrepreneurial outcomes and their economic contributions.
Working Paper | “Peer Effects and Entrepreneurship: Coworkers Up Close and Intense”
In my paper “Peer Effects and Entrepreneurship: Coworkers Up Close and Intense” I argue that social interaction and knowledge transfer increase the level of coworker influence. Prior research has examined the influence that the organizational context has on an individual’s choice to become an entrepreneur. This paper addresses the challenge of selection bias -- as with this data I am able to more confidently claim that individuals are placed into their work settings. Furthermore, the paper argues that working within the same job functionality, having the same technical language and system of meaning, strengthens the influence that individuals have on one another. The results reveal that those who had transitioned to entrepreneurship were more likely to have worked up-close (in the same work functionality) with entrepreneurial coworkers. This suggests that when individuals work more closely together there is a form of entrepreneurial knowledge transfer taking place between coworkers. This paper is under review.
Working Paper | “Task Interdependence, Work Group Composition and Turnover: A Longitudinal Study”
(with Jesper B. Sørensen) In our paper, “Task Interdependence, Work Group Composition and Turnover: A Longitudinal Study” my coauthor and I investigate whether changes in the diversity of national cultures in the workplace influence an individual’s choice to leave. We know from previous research that changes in own representation (i.e. race) influence whether an individual chooses to stay in the workplace. However, researchers do not have a good understanding of the underlying mechanisms involved in this effect, or under which work conditions this effect becomes stronger. Therefore, in an effort to gain a better understanding of these mechanisms, we also look to see whether high task interdependency modifies the effect of cultural representation on turnover. We argue that individuals remember the composition of their environment upon entry and that when they find themselves less represented, they are more inclined to choose to exit the workplace. Though we do find support for the hypothesis that individuals are likely to leave as they become less represented, we also find that individuals are likely to leave as they become more represented. This is in contrast with previous studies and deserves further inquiry. The target journal for this paper is Organization Science.
Working Paper | "Worker Mobility and Social Influence”
(with Toke Reichstein and Michael S. Dahl) In the paper “Worker Mobility and Social Influence” my coauthors and I argue that when individuals work in isolated settings they are more likely to detach from their traditional family ties and become more attached to their coworkers. Understanding social relations’ impact on job mobility choices helps us understand how regions grow. This paper draws on the mechanisms of homophily and social categorization. The paper also argues that peers are a major influence in the workplace and that they ultimately influence individual economic choices as measured by location choice. The results show that when these individuals choose to stop living an isolated life, that they are more likely to live near their former coworkers than their family and friends, suggesting social attachment and that former workplace peers may provide the social capital necessary for settling in a new region. This paper is under review.
The research in my dissertation, as well as much of my current research, takes a quantitative approach using a combination of three datasets. The longitudinal data is of the Danish labor population and it spans 15 years. I use data of the Danish labor population [The Integrated Database for Labor Market Research (IDA)], the Danish mariner population [Danish Maritime Authority (DMA)], and the Danish entrepreneurial population. I also use a mixed methods approach when needed. In the case of my dissertation, I conducted interviews. I am also in the process of collecting new data from the US Government/Homeland Security via the Freedom of Information Act which is to be combined with recently acquired labor movement data.
Dissertation "CoWorker Influence and Labor Mobility"
My dissertation focused on labor mobility and the social mechanisms affecting career choice outcomes (location choice, transition to entrepreneurship and the choice to exit the workplace). Overall, I study how coworkers influence their workplace peers over time. This work has inspired my current research focus, which looks at the social processes within the organization that influence entrepreneurial outcomes. Currently, I examine how individuals with previous experience as entrepreneurs, who now find themselves as employees in the organizational context, influence their peers at work. I am specifically interested in understanding what type of entrepreneurial knowledge is being transferred (if any) and whether that knowledge is useful.
Macro Economics (Undergraduate) 1 section
Leadership and Group Dynamics (Undergraduate) 2 sections
Past Courses (California State University)
Maritime Innovation (Undergraduate) 1 section
Port and Terminal Operations (Undergraduate) 2 sections
The Environment of Modern Business (Undergraduate) 2 sections
Marine Insurance (Undergraduate) 1 section
Past Courses (Santa Clara University)
--Winter Capstone Projects (Companies)
Innovation in Silicon Valley (MBA) 2 sections
International Management (MBA) 1 section
You may contact me via this form or email me directly at isakson [at] stanford [dot] edu.