Social Innovation Research

Academic research and ongoing evaluation are essential to understanding what works and what does not as organizations venture to offer solutions to social and environmental problems.

Stanford GSB faculty contribute new thinking on ways to achieve social impact.

Featured Research

Led by Saumitra Jha and housed within the Stanford King Center on Global Development, the initiative aims to build a community at Stanford of scholars interested in solving the problems of violent conflict and political polarization. Research grants are available to graduate students and Stanford faculty.

Recent Research by Stanford GSB

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CSI Faculty Affiliates

Jennifer Aaker focuses on the psychology of time, money, and happiness — specifically, how people choose to spend their time and money and how those choices drive lasting happiness. She is widely published in the leading scholarly journals in psychology and marketing as well as in a variety of media, including the New York Times, Economist, Washington Post, and NPR. She also co-authored the award-winning book The Dragonfly Effect.
Anat Admati has written extensively on information dissemination in financial markets, trading mechanisms, portfolio management, financial contracting, and, most recently, on corporate governance and banking. She is the director of the Corporations and Society Initiative, a co-author of The Bankers’ New Clothes, and was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine.
William Barnett studies competition among organizations and how organizations and industries evolve globally, and he is conducting a large-scale project that seeks to explain why and how some firms grow rapidly in globalizing markets. He is also a faculty affiliate at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
Jonathan Bendor’s research focuses on theories of bounded rationality, the evolution of cooperation and of norms of collective action, and the study of bureaucracy. He was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1999-2000 and in 2004-2005. He is listed in Who’s Who in Economics (4th ed.) and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Katherine Casey explores the interactions between economic and political forces in developing countries, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. She is particularly interested in the role of information in enhancing electoral accountability, strategies to increase the productivity of government workers, and the influence of foreign aid on economic development.
Rebecca Diamond’s research focuses on the empirical investigation how geographic place and labor markets influence households’ economic lives and inequality. Specific examples include how low-income housing developments change their surrounding neighborhoods, how “food-deserts” contribute to healthful nutrition choices, and how a city’s share of college graduates can influence the quality of amenities supplied in a city.
Saumitra Jha’s research focuses on both understanding the effectiveness of organizations and innovations that societies have developed to address the problems of violence and political risk in the past and on developing new lessons for contemporary policy. He is currently working on four related streams of research: Swords into Bank Shares: Financial Solutions to the Threat of Political Violence; “Unfinished Business”: Harnessing International Trade for Inter-Ethnic Peace; Reform, Reconciliation and Revolution in the Aftermath of War (with Steven Wilkinson); and Gandhi’s Gift: On the Promise and Limitations of Non-Violent Civil Disobedience (with Rikhil Bhavnani).
Hau Lee’s areas of specialization include global value chain innovations, supply chain management, global logistics, inventory modeling, and environmental and social responsibility. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, has been published widely in journals such as Management Science and Harvard Business Review, and is a co-founder of DemandTec.
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Maureen McNichols’ research on earnings management and analysts’ incentives, forecasts, and investment recommendations has received considerable attention from academics, investors, and regulators. She is the author of numerous financial and accounting cases in a nonprofit or social enterprise context.
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Paul Oyer does research in the field of personnel economics. He is the author of Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Economics I Learned from Online Dating and Roadside MBA. A research associate with the National Bureau of Economics, he teaches a class on U.S. inequality and if and how it can be affected by public policy.
Jeffrey Pfeffer's current research focuses on the relationship between time and money, power and leadership, economics language and assumptions, how social science theories become self-fulfilling, barriers to turning knowledge into action, and evidence-based management. He is the author or co-author of 15 books and has won the Richard D. Irwin Award presented by the Academy of Management.
Paul Pfleiderer’s research is generally concerned with issues that arise when agents acting in financial markets are differentially informed. He has also written on issues that arise in portfolio management, venture capital contracting, banking regulation and corporate governance. He is the faculty co-director of the Stanford GSB Impact Fund.
Hayagreeva Rao’s research revolves around scaling up mobilization, innovation, and talent in organizations. His most recent book, Scaling Up Excellence, co-authored with Bob Sutton of the Stanford School of Engineering, is a Wall Street Journal bestseller and was included in the best business books to read in 2014 by Inc. magazine, Financial Times, Amazon, Forbes, Washington Post, and Library Journal.
Amit Seru’s research interests include financial intermediation and regulation, interaction of internal organization of firms with financing and investment, and incentive provision in firms. His papers have been published in numerous economics journals as well as in major media such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
Ken Shotts uses game theory to analyze how elections and political institutions influence policy choices made by government officials. He has published papers on presidential leadership, racial redistricting, term limits, and the politics of regulatory enforcement. He is currently doing research on several topics, including electoral accountability, policy entrepreneurship, political risk, and industry-level self-regulation.
Kenneth Singleton has published widely on financial risks and their impacts on economic decision-making, including in books on credit risk and dynamic asset pricing. He is faculty co-director of the Stanford GSB Impact Fund and the president of the board of 1 Grain to 1000 Grains, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that leads programs for low-income communities through which families discover intuitive and actionable plans for more healthful eating and for building financial capacity.
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Sarah Soule’s major areas of interest are organizational theory, social movements, and political sociology. She has published two books, Contention and Corporate Social Responsibility and A Primer on Social Movements, and she has served on a number of boards of nonprofit organizations and as a judge for the Social Innovation Fellowship program.
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Lawrence Wein has three main research interests: manufacturing, health care, and homeland security. His homeland security work concerns bioterrorism and border issues, and some of his recommendations have been adopted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Professor Wein’s more recent work focuses on humanitarian issues, such as food allocation policies for malnutritioned children and improved verification policies for India’s biometric identification program.