Researching how to design and organize massive platforms to harness knowledge, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

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Welcome to my website. Thank you for your interest. I am a research of innovation, entrepreneurship and strategy with a specific focus on designing modern platform-based organizations. In my research, I consider how platforms should be designed and optimized in order to maximize growth, innovation, knowledge creation, and productive interactions.

In this work, I often collaborate with organizations to run large-scale field-experiments on "live" platforms. I am interested in carefully understanding the micro-level behaviors of actors on platforms (e.g., entrepreneurs, individuals, suppliers, users, complementors, problem-solvers, contributors, etc.)--so as to determine how platform design, strategy and policies can best deliver overall outcomes for the platform.

I have taught courses in Strategy and Business Model Design, Innovation and Technology-Based Entrepreneurship, Data Analysis and Research Methods, and Microeconomics. I currently teach courses on how to design a new generation of Digital, Data-driven, and Platform-based business models.

I have degrees in Behavioral and Policy Sciences (MIT), Economics (Toronto), and Engineering (Waterloo). I have held M&A, strategy consulting and engineering positions at The Economist, NASA, Deloitte/Braxton Associates, Qualcomm, and Nortel, as well as advise startups related to data science and platforms. Prior to establishing a research and teaching program at Northeastern, I previously taught at Harvard, LBS, and HEC-Paris.

Roles & Contributions

  • Northeastern University - D'Amore McKim School of Business: Strategy, Entrepreneurship & Innovation; courtesy appointments at the Khoury School of Computer Science and the Department of Economics; PI IoT Open Innovation Lab; Faculty at Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things

  • Harvard University - Institute of Quantitative Social Science, Laboratory for Innovation Science

  • National Bureau of Economic Research - Productivity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program

  • Editorial Board: Strategic Management Journal

  • Associate Editor: Management Science

    • Business Strategy department, Entrepreneurship & Innovation department, Information Systems department (ad hoc), Finance department (ad hoc), Behavioral and Decision Sciences department (ad hoc), Revenue Management and Market Analytics department (ad hoc)

Here is a selected list of papers, highlighted for this month (complete list below)

  • 🌟 Boudreau, K. (2021) "Promoting Platform Takeoff and Self-Fulfilling Expectations: Field Experimental Evidence."Management Science.

    • It has long been theorized that early adoption of platforms can be understood as an ambiguous equilibrium selection game, where there are multiple possible equilibria--and where a tendency to non-adoption produces a chicken-and-egg problem. This theory implies that market expectations of future installed base should be self-fulfilling. I present field experimental evidence affirming these points, while also illustrating that messages sent from a platform to the market can influence subjective expectations.

  • 🌟 Boudreau, K., L. Jeppesen, T. Reichstein, F. Rullani, (2021) "Crowdfunding as Donations to Entrepreneurial Firms." Research Policy

    • A long literature studies philanthropic giving to public goods. We consider how the various incentives and motivations of donors in philanthropic giving are similar, but not the same in cases of giving to a private entrepreneurial firms. We illustrate a range of non-pecuniary motivations in empirical analysis. (The analysis unifies understanding of payoffs in so-called "gift-based," "donations-based," and "product pre-order-based" crowdfunding, as distinct from debt or equity crowdfunding)

  • Boudreau, K. (2017), "Platform Boundary Choices & Governance: Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Growth in Mobile Computing." Advances in Strategic Management on “Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Platforms. eds. Furman, Gawer, Stern, Silverman.

    • Despite serving as a hub for large numbers of surrounding actors in a larger "ecosystem," platforms nonetheless face a traditional problem of choosing their firm boundaries and economic scope. This paper considers how mainstream theories of the firm might apply to platforms, both in theory and in thick historical analysis of multiple early smartphone platforms from the late 1980s through to the 2000s. Theories of coordination (TCE) and theories of incentives (PRT) easily explain a great deal of variation. A less famous theory of "Power in the Theory of the firm" -- whereby control over critical assets allows a firm to project rules and control over surrounding actors -- plays an especially important role in allowing platform firms to orchestrate and regulate the surrounding ecosystem that they do not directly own or control.

  • Boudreau, K., L. Jeppesen (2014) Unpaid Platform Complementors and the Network Effect Mirage. Strategic Management Journal.

    • Not all platforms benefit from powerful network effects. We find that the net effect of significant (positive and negative) same-side and cross-side externalities across game mod platforms is statistically zero. The results are consistent with users' (positive) desire to consume a greater variety of game mods, but game modders exert negative externalities on one another as they compete for attention, 'bandwidth,' status and renown among users. (Micro) Non-pecuniary motivations are a first-order determinant in macro industry structure and dynamics.

Digital Platforms, Innovation & Strategy

Science & Universities as Knowledge Platforms

Translation to Practitioners

  • Designing Your Digital Platform and Data-Driven Organization

  • Boudreau, K. (2017). “A Short Guide to Strategy for Entrepreneurs”.

  • Boudreau, K. (2016). "Designing Your Company: Creating, Delivering, and Capturing Value" Vol 1" Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 16-131

  • Boudreau, K., K. Lakhani (2013) "Using the Crowd as an Innovation Partner." Harvard Business Review. 91(4): 60-69. Harvard Business Review McKinsey Award Best Paper Finalist, 2013

  • Guinan, E., K. Boudreau, K. Lakhani (2013) "Experiments in Open Innovation at the Harvard Medical School." MIT Sloan Management Review. 54(3): 45-52.

  • Boudreau, K., K. Lakhani (2009) "How to Manage Outside Innovation: Competitive Markets or Collaborative Communities?" MIT Sloan Management Review. 50(4): 69-75.

Research Contributions

  1. Despite unique challenges for research design, there are feasible means of empirically investigating platforms, including field experiments and fine-grained observations at a large-scale. (e.g., Boudreau 2006, 2010, 2012, 2020, etc.).

  2. Production and consumption are governed and regulated by the platform owners, beyond their firm boundaries, via a variety of price and non-price mechanisms (e.g., Boudreau 2006, 2010, 2017; Boudreau & Hagiu 2009; Boudreau & Lakhani 2013).

  3. Platform-based organizations can be designed in many ways other than just (multi-sided) markets, including tournaments, contributions to public goods in "communities," and collaborating teams. (e.g., Boudreau 2006, 2017; Boudreau & Lakhani 2009, 2013; Boudreau & Hagiu 2009; Boudreau, Lacetera & Lakhani 2011; Boudreau & Lakhani 2013).

  4. To understand aggregate platform productivity, it is necessary to understanding complementor behavior:

    • Strategic and economic incentives -- competition and complementaries between complementor competition and externalities -- and competing for a share of a growing pie (e.g., Boudreau 2006, 2010, 2012, 2017, 2018, 2020a,b; Boudreau & Jeppesen, 2014);

    • Micro-mechanisms underlying externalities, spill-overs, and network effects (e.g., Boudreau 2006, 2010, 2012, 2018; Boudreau & Jeppesen, 2014);

    • Non-pecuniary motivations and behavioral factors. (e.g., Boudreau 2006, 2012, 2017, 2018, 2020a,b; Boudreau and Lakhani, 2009; Boudreau & Jeppesen, 2014; Boudreau, Jeppesen, et al., 2020);

    • Coordination, regulation of behaviors, and governance (e.g., Boudreau 2006, 2017; Boudreau & Lakhani 2009; Boudreau & Hagiu 2009).

    • Heterogeneity (of knowledge, beliefs, motivations, productive capacity) and aggregate diversity of complementors. (e.g., Boudreau 2006, 2012, 2018, 2020);

    • Stochastic and uncertain entrepreneurial processes, bounded cognition (e.g., Boudreau 2006, 2018; Boudreau et al. 2016);

  5. Platform-based organization enables knowledge, innovation, and entrepreneurship to be harnessed on an unprecedented scale -- with qualitative departures from traditional markets (e.g., Boudreau 2006, 2012, 2017, 2018).

  6. Many kinds of enterprises (science, firms, universities, etc.) are usefully analyzed as multi-sided platforms (e.g., Boudreau 2006; Boudreau & Hagiu 2009; Boudreau, et al. 2016; Boudreau & Marx, 2019).

Industry & Technology Experience

  • Strategy Consulting

  • Tech M&A

  • Tech Startups

  • Science & Applied Science Research

  • Large-Scale Infrastructure Business Development

  • Knowledge and Education

  • Telecommunications & Networks

  • Digital Platforms, Infrastructure & Business Models

  • Open Innovation

  • Software

  • Industrial Crowdsourcing

  • Data Science in Marketing, Finance, Medecine

  • Engineering & Design

  • Fintech

  • Games

  • Genomics

  • Internet of Things

  • Media/Data/Publishing

  • Medical Research & Life Sciences

  • ML & AI

  • Mobile Computing & Smartphones

  • Natural Sciences & Medical Research

  • Space Industry