Prof. Jeffrey Petty (supervisor), Prof. Déborah Philippe (internal expert), Prof. Oana Branzei, Ivey Business School, Western University (external expert)
This thesis explores how mechanisms on the individual and social level influence the attractiveness and the success of environmental entrepreneurship. In the first chapter, we compare environmental and conventional entrepreneurs in a qualitative multi-case study. Our results about the activist or opportunist nature of different environmental entrepreneurs provide insights for initiatives that intend to foster environmental entrepreneurship, regarding the need to adapt their policies and programs to the type of environmental entrepreneur. The second chapter provides an overview of the individual and social-level drivers and hindrances of environmental entrepreneurship. We complement the extant knowledge about environmental entrepreneurs and their stakeholders with literature about environmental attitudes, behavior, social norms, and legitimacy. Our resulting conceptual model explains how environmental entrepreneurship can be fostered and hindered through the individual and social valuation of environmental value. In the third chapter, we use an experiment to test whether several different forms of awareness of environmental problems lead to environmental entrepreneurial intent. The findings clarify that only public and not personal awareness have a positive effect on environmental entrepreneurial intent, which enables institutions that seek to foster environmental entrepreneurship to promote it in an effective way.
Thesis committee: Prof. Garen Markarian (supervisor), Prof. Paul André (internal expert), Prof. John Heater, Duke University (external expert)
Abstract: The recent period of global economic tumult, catalyzed by events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, has highlighted the importance of understanding various elements within the financial market landscape. It has inspired three research papers focusing on the rather new role of some private equity firms being listed on exchanges and the belief formation process of market participants.
The first part of my dissertation examines the risk and performance of listed private equity firms (LPEs), an understudied industry in the financial market. LPEs carry twice the debt as other public firms but do not demonstrate any unique share price performance. The Covid-19 crisis exposed the riskiness and opacity of such investments, causing them to underperform.
The second chapter delves deeper into how LPEs responded to this unforeseen pandemic, and what factors drove their value during this period. LPEs, on average, did poorly throughout the crisis. However, there is variation among LPEs depending on their access to capital, business risk, transparency, and ownership structure, indicating the complex nature of private equity firm valuation.
The final section of my work challenges the common practice of using the divergence in analysts’ earnings per share forecasts as a direct measure of investor disagreement. I find that the interplay between investor disagreement and forecast uncertainty plays a considerable role in asset mispricing. Higher investor disagreement, especially when conditioned on analysts’ forecasts, amplifies mispricing, with this effect being more pronounced around earnings announcements.
Thesis committee: Prof. Jean-Philippe Bonardi (supervisor), Dr. Estefania Amer Maistriau (co-supervisor), Prof. Patrick Haack (internal expert), Prof. Michalis Vlachos (internal expert), Prof. Michael Etter, King's College (external expert)
Abstract: My doctoral thesis investigates dynamic media exposure of firms and two related important methodological issues. Chapter 1 illustrates that due to unfolding dynamics in negative media coverage, firms might become trapped in spirals of negative reporting over time. However, it also shows that firms can emit press releases and nurture positive news to prevent such spirals. Chapter 2 is driven by the challenge of selecting control variables for causal identification in the first chapter. The chapter confirms that control variable selection should be driven by existing theory and complemented with causal graphs to identify endogenous controls. Both examined perspectives on control variables – using few controls vs. using many controls – in many cases might yield biased estimates if their specific recommendations are being applied. Chapter 3 examines whether the manual sentiment coding of the news articles in chapter 1 could have been realized with automated approaches commonly used in management research. It shows that none of the methods are sufficiently accurate, but that novel large language models might present a valid option. Overall, this thesis highlights that empirical analysis of complex topics demands taking sensible decisions regarding methodological aspects, as such choices might affect results heavily.
Thesis committee: Prof. Marianne Schmid Mast (supervisor), Prof. John Antonakis (co-supervisor), Prof. Franciska Krings (internal expert), Prof. Janine Bosak, DCU Business School (external expert)
Abstract: Although charismatic leadership has been the topic of many research articles, it is unclear whether it is equally effective for women and for men and whether women and men use charisma in the same manner. Furthermore, is charismatic leadership equally effective in the academic or entrepreneurial settings out of scope of traditional leadership? I try to answer these questions in my doctoral dissertation, seeking to expand the knowledge about areas of effectiveness of charisma and to investigate whether charisma’s effectiveness for women and men, through conducting controlled experiments, field studies, while using innovative research methods. In the first paper I explore whether charisma is effective in the academic context, through the investigation of public speaking competitions for doctoral students. In the second paper I look at the impact of verbal charisma and gendered communication styles in the entrepreneurial pitches for women and men entrepreneurs. Also, I investigate whether women and men naturally use gendered communication styles in their charismatic speeches. In the third paper I disentangle verbal and nonverbal charisma using virtual humans in the context of entrepreneurial pitching. The findings of the first paper show the potency of verbal and nonverbal charismatic tactics on the success of doctoral students in academic pitching competitions. The findings of the second paper show that in some cases a gender-congruent writing style in an entrepreneurial pitch is detrimental to funding prospects, thus a gender-neutral writing style might be preferable. The findings of the third paper show that charisma can be perceived to the same extent when enacted by real or by virtual humans. Nevertheless, using verbal or nonverbal charisma does not seem to make a significant difference on the perceived market potential of the venture when used by of female or male virtual entrepreneurs. An additional contribution of this thesis is the application of methodological innovations, such as the tracking of nonverbal behavior using Openpose, the use of deepfake, and virtual humans to create stimulus material.
Thesis committee: Prof. Markus Christen (supervisor), Prof. Tobias Schlager (internal expert), Prof. Bruno Kocher, University of Neuchâtel (external expert)
Abstract: In the current era of digitization, the widespread use of social media has transformed our communication methods. People can effortlessly share personal stories and opinions, connect with loved ones, obtain news from various sources, and follow their favorite brands. The advent of social media inundates us with a constant stream of information, which, despite its diverse purposes, consumes a significant portion of our time and cognitive effort. However, this abundance of data does not necessarily guarantee optimal decision-making. As Herbert A. Simon pointed out, an excess of information can overwhelm our focus and attention (1971). The human cognitive system, with its limited processing capacity, is prone to compromised decision-making quality when exposed to an overload of information. This can result in a trade-off between efficiency and accuracy in assessing information. To address this challenge, consumers often rely on specific cues and heuristics to aid their decision-making on social media. This thesis, comprising three articles, aims to investigate the signals and cues individuals use when searching for information to make informed decisions in the online realm.