I am a PhD candidate in Strategy and Sociology at the University of Michigan. I study market emergence in developing economies, focusing specifically on inter-organizational collaboration and entrepreneurship. I care deeply about the role of businesses in addressing social inequality, international development, and environmental sustainability.
Before my doctoral program, I co-founded a social enterprise that distributes life-improving technologies to villages in southern India. I received my SB in Economics and SB in Urban Planning from MIT and my Master in City Planning (international development) from MIT. Throughout my career, I have been able to do what I love with the support of many, including the Kauffman Knowledge Challenge Student Grant (with Yun Ha Cho and Reuben Hurst), Fulbright-Nehru Research Fellowship to India, Dow Doctoral Sustainability Fellowship, and Echoing Green.
Please use the menu at the left to learn more about me and my work. My CV can be downloaded here, and you may also email me at djuerjs[at]umich[dot]edu.
Discrimination is a pervasive aspect of modern society and human relations. Building on judgment research, we develop a model that explains the mechanisms driving discrimination and describes situations in which discrimination is more likely to occur because decision makers benefit from increased predictive accuracy. Our work contextualizes existing statistical discrimination models, in which decision makers substitute group averages in the absence of reliable information about individual ability. We do so by incorporating two additional parameters into the decision making process: environmental uncertainty and decision maker inconsistency. We find that uncertainty severely dampens the benefits of discrimination and that inconsistency can overturn any benefit from discriminating (i.e., make discrimination costly). Our model implies that decision makers must acknowledge that discrimination is only beneficial under a very specific set of conditions and uncovers paths toward reducing the likelihood of discrimination occurring.
Despite their growing popularity, bottom-up, innovation-based development efforts are failing to make a significant social impact at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP). Merely inventing widgets for development – like affordable solar lanterns, improved cookstoves, and bicycle-powered machines – is not enough. They must move from the lab to the land, into the hands of the people they are intended to benefit. Innovations in scalable, sustainable models for social impact technology dissemination are desperately needed, lest these technologies be designed in vain.
In this thesis, I first discuss previous failures in social impact technology dissemination, beginning with the Appropriate Technology movement and continuing with the efforts of multinational corporations that have tried selling into the BOP. Through field research in southern India, I then analyze the current efforts and experiments of small and medium enterprises. Finally, I describe my experiences co-founding Essmart, a rural distributor of social impact technologies. This effort is based directly on my field research. Essmart’s goals are to bridge the gap between global manufacturers of social impact technologies and rural end users. The venture gives rural retail stores access to technologies that improve their customers’ lives.
I study the spillover effects of a social movement coalition in geographically distant markets. By analyzing 112 national emerging markets for clean cookstoves between 2013 and 2017, I find that entrepreneurial entry into a country’s emerging market is predicted by the number of organizational ties to countries where the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) is actively promoting the creation of clean cookstove markets. I argue that coalition spillover effects occur because participating member organizations learn how to promote a social movement’s cause and how to collaborate with other organizations. If these organizations operate in multiple locations, then they can transfer their knowledge. However, I propose that the diffusion of knowledge depends on the characteristics of these multilocational organizations and the characteristics of the destination countries. For example, larger organizations serve as less effective ties, and a country’s cultural autonomy and hierarchy can weaken the effect of organizational ties on entrepreneurial entry. My results shed new light on the existence of social movements’ geographical spillover effects, and they extend our understanding of how multilocational organizations can effectively act as channels of diffusion.
The use of venture philanthropy to address social problems has become an increasingly popular model of international development. This study examines the efforts and consequences of venture philanthropists that are working to promote the adoption of products that address complex problems. Through an inductive study consisting of qualitative archival data, interviews, and field observations, I document the emergence of an emerging market in East Africa and present evidence of how actors (entrepreneurs, intermediaries, and national governments) are affected by the institutional model of venture philanthropists. I then comment on how this has altered – or stifled – the trajectory of the emerging market.
In Fall 2020, I was the primary professor for Corporate Strategy, the University of Michigan Ross School of Business' core course for senior BBA students. This class of 71 students was taught virtually and had modules on business strategy, corporate strategy, and strategy and society. Here is an example of an asynchronous lecture video that students would watch before attending the synchronous virtual sessions, during which we had case discussions and/or live case updates from invited guest speakers. In Winter 2019, I was the primary professor for Business Strategy, another Ross undergraduate core course, and taught 81 sophomore BBA students in person.
Additionally, I have given guest lectures about my professional work as an entrepreneur with Essmart at University of Michigan Ross School of Business' Weekend MBA and BBA Global Strategy classes, as well as the INSEAD Business Sustainability class. I was also a teaching assistant for Corporate Strategy in the Chinese Context, an elective for undergraduate students.
To the left is a photo of dusty, unopened improved biomass cooking stoves that were supposed to reduce indoor air pollution. I took it in Tamil Nadu, India where I was conducting field research on the distribution of life-improving technologies.
Of the different models that I saw, none were working exceptionally well. Nonprofit organizations gave products away at a subsidized price, and customers didn’t value them. Village level entrepreneurs were difficult to find, unreliable, and hard to scale. Brick-and-mortar stores required too much upfront financing. Most organizations were still pitching these technologies as products for poor people – an unattractive sales strategy.
I co-founded Essmart to address these problems. The social enterprise creates an essential marketplace for these technologies in places where people already buy their goods -- small stores near where they live. We demonstrate a catalogue of products, distribute to local mom-and-pop stores, and facilitate manufacturers’ warranties. From August 2012 to August 2016, I oversaw operations in southern India. To date, Essmart has positively impact over 300,000 people through our network of 1,400 shops.