My research agenda focuses on how the external institutional environment affects firm strategy and firm performance. To excel, firms must not only develop effective market strategies that address their competitors and customers but also non-market strategies appropriate to their broader surroundings. Organizations such as rating and certification agencies, regulatory and standard-setting bodies, industry associations, and political parties can have widespread impact on firms and are also strategic actors in their own right. The diversity of these organizations provides a rich setting in which to build a research program that offers insight to firms, as well as policy makers and other stakeholders.

Marijuana Industry – One stream of my research examines the nascent marijuana industry in Colorado and beyond.

  • I have published a teaching case on the subject in Case Research Journal, “Medical Marijuana Industry Group: Outdoor Advertising in Denver
  • I have also organized workshops and panel sessions at a variety of conferences (April 2015 Sustainability, Ethics and Entrepreneurship (SEE) Conference, 2015 Academy of Management Annual Meeting, 2015 Strategic Management Society (SMS) Conference (with Eva Xio and Josh Keller), 2018 Atlantic Schools of Business Conference.
  • With coauthors in law and ethics I have written an overview of public policy considerations within the cannabis industry that is available for download at SSRN.
  • I have written a textbook chapter on the Business of Cannabis that will be part of an upcoming textbook on Medical Cannabis. In the meantime, a copy of this chapter is available upon request.

Sustainability – With my DU colleague Tricia Olsen we published an article in Business & Society examining the environmental performance of firms with a dual-class share structure.

My Research Statement (PDF)

Future Projects and Data Sources
As an applied researcher, gaining access to firm and industry data is a critical step in the research process. I am always interested in new research projects and data sources, particularly those related to ratings, rankings, industry associations, regulation/policy, standards and politics. Contact me at any time!

I am in the process of building the most comprehensive database of information on Colorado’s marijuana industry including information on owners, locations, and licenses. This database will be useful and valuable for both academic research as well as drawing practical implications for for firm strategy and policy.

Dissertation Research
In my dissertation research, I examined differences in ratings among raters with different business models (some paid by buyers and others by sellers) who are rating the same product. Theoretically, payment for ratings could generate a conflict of interest that biases rating agency decisions or could be counterbalanced by reputational rewards for rating accuracy. I move beyond the common assumption that seller-paid ratings will be upwardly biased relative to buyer-paid ratings and propose that ‘who pays’ will have a clear impact on the variability and timeliness of rating changes. I conduct my empirical evaluation in the U.S. credit rating market where some agencies derive their primary revenue from bond issuers (sellers) and others from institutional investors (buyers). The financial crisis of 2007-2010 provides a negative informational shock that I use to help me distinguish between conflict of interest and other mechanisms leading to rating differences. Seller-paid agencies are slower to incorporate this negative information, particularly where the potential for conflict of interest is strongest, for financial services ratings and for ratings above the critical investment grade cut-off. Buyer-paid rating changes are more frequent and generally precede corresponding seller-paid changes, consistent with the preferences of each business model’s paying customers.

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