Mohammad Keyhani, PhDPhD in Strategic Management, M Sc in Entrepreneurship, B Sc in Applied Mathematics York University, Canada University of Tehran, Iran
Areas of Research
I am generally open to supervising projects on a broad range of topics in entrepreneurship and strategy, depending on the interests and passions of the student. I try to help students figure out how to turn almost any topic into publishable research. But there are certain areas that currently interest me and I am working on myself, and students who join me on these projects will benefit more greatly from my involvement. In the past I have done a range of work on conceptual and empirical research including applications of game theory in strategy and entrepreneurship, computer simulations of the entrepreneurial market process as described in Austrian economics, and empirical econometric analysis of the Kauffman Firm Survey data. I continue to be interested in these areas of research, and have also started exciting research programs in new areas. Methodologically I am quantitative oriented but am also open to qualitative projects. Some of the more specific topics I am working on are described in brief below.
Powered by the internet and the age of computer-mediated transactions, crowdfunding is revolutionizing entrepreneurship and innovation around the world, and yet researchers have only begun to scratch the surface of studying it rigorously. With the help of a graduate student (Abbas Hosseini) we have been able to collect one of the world’s largest research datasets on crowdfunding campaigns from the popular Kickstarter platform. I am excited to work on this and other data to produce leading edge research.
In early 2016, I created an online list of tools and resources for entrepreneurs (https://entrepreneur-tools.zeef.com), and the list quickly went viral on the internet, with people sharing it on social media all around the world and in multiple languages. Encouraged by the popularity of this list, I have started a new line of research on what I am calling “Entrepreneurship Technology” which refers to technological tools that support the process of starting and running a new venture. This builds on the recent literature on digitization and digital entrepreneurship and innovation. Entrepreneurs who fall behind in their ability to leverage the latest technology to support their venturing efforts will find it increasingly difficult to compete, and scholars and educators who fail to understand and study this new landscape of technologies will be increasingly out of touch with the real world practice of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship educators should not only know what a chat bot, Slack channel, IFTTT recipe, Trello board, Klout score or growth hack is, but also how they are being used and how they impact the performance of start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Working in Alberta and teaching energy industry professionals has piqued my interest in the energy industry. It is undergoing change, requires substantial innovation, and has enormous impact on life on planet earth. I welcome projects that explore topics around strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship in both traditional, e.g. oil and gas, and new / green / renewable energy technologies and industries. Research questions in this area could include: What are the most viable business models for profitable business using solar and wind energy technologies? Are the oil supermajors in danger of being disrupted? Are the mechanisms of Christensen's theory of disruptive innovation at play in how incumbents are responding to renewable energy technology? etc.
My own PhD dissertation involved relatively novel computer simulations of the entrepreneurial market process described in Austrian Economics based on a simple cooperative game theory model. In this line of work I have asked (and contributed to the answer of) research questions such as the following: When is entrepreneurship disruptive and when is it stabilizing? When does it pay for entrepreneurs to focus on creating new opportunities vs. exploiting existing ones? And how can entrepreneurs best leverage their bargaining power in negotiating with other parties?
Although I am not an expert game theorist, I have found that there are many opportunities to apply game theoretic modeling to strategy and entrepreneurship research. In the strategy field, a new line of work applying cooperative game theory is gaining traction under the title of "Value Capture Theory". I am excited about this line of work and exploring its applications in entrepreneurship research.
I am a big fan of analyzing large high quality data sets for insight. One of the best data sets available in entrepreneurship research is the Kauffman Firm Survey panel data which followed nearly 5000 new firms with annual surveys for the period 2004-2011. I have worked on multiple successful projects with colleagues and PhD students with this data asking a variety of questions such as: Are there trade-offs between different performance dimensions of startups? Are team ventures more likely to get acquired? If so, how do team characteristics matter? Are new ventures that internationalize more or less likely to survive? Are they more or less likely to innovate? etc. We have mostly used econometric techniques for analyzing this data. I am very much in favor of new research that builds on analyzing even larger data sets, such as data on mobile apps, crowdfunding projects, etc. and exploring new ways of analyzing them such as through machine learning and data mining techniques.
This is the area least familiar to me, and newest on my list. But I am very interested in how rigorous research can inform policy makers about how to encourage productive and effective entrepreneurship and innovation in a city / region / country. Alberta needs to diversify its economy and build an entrepreneurial ecosystem, which is what many other cities and regions around the world want to do as well. I am interested in projects that explore these and related issues.
Working with this supervisor
These are the qualities I look for in PhD students, recognizing that most people (including myself when I started my PhD) don't have all of them simultaneously: competent in English, highly self disciplined and able to manage time and impose deadlines on self, wants to become a world leading expert on a topic, is passionate about valid claims to knowledge and truth, digs research, likes intellectual play, enjoys reading non-fiction, writes a lot and does not find it difficult to express thoughts in writing, uses productivity tools like note taking and reference management software, is comfortable with unstructured and ambiguous work, is comfortable reading scholarly articles they don't fully understand, does not mind data collection, can interview people, can analyze data, understands the mathematics of statistical regression, is open to learning multiple methodologies, has at least basic computer programming skills, knows at least a bit about the philosophy of science, finds fascination in all of the disciplinary fields of economics, psychology, sociology, philosophy and computer science, looks for ways to connect and combine ideas from different areas, is interested in topics around start-ups, technology, and innovation, thinks regularly about the future of human society and how the world is changing. ********* I kindly ask all potential applicants to avoid sending me copy-pasted (i.e. canned) emails, avoid claiming to have read my research or have an interest in my research areas without actually spending a paragraph talking about the details, and avoid inquiring for information that is already on the website. The most important item to include in your email to me is your TOEFL / IELTS score and your GMAT / GRE score. If you don't have these scores yet, it is too early to contact me about PhD admission. I also encourage potential applicants to send me a link to a detailed LinkedIn profile, and also a comprehensive CV or resume in their email. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org