WEFI Lecture Series

What is it?

The WEFI Lecture Series is a monthly lecture series that presents advanced topical surveys on entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial finance, and innovation. It will run from August 2020 to May 2021. The lectures are organized by Michael Ewens, Yael Hochberg, Song Ma, and David Robinson.

Who is it for?

Faculty and PhD students interested in pursuing research in entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial finance, and innovation.


We have two major goals. First, the platform will encourage a synthesis of existing work and identification of key unanswered questions in a public setting. Next, the lecture series aims to provide high-quality lectures to PhD students who either have few faculty in the focus research areas or are geographically separated from major in-person events. Similarly, faculty already in the area or those interested in writing papers in the area will gain access to cutting-edge research. After the first run of the lecture series, a large syllabus with videos and slides decks will naturally emerge and be publicly-available. These can be used by others to make their own PhD course, or for students to self-study.


Monthly lecture:

  • 1.5 hours on Zoom

  • Classroom-like setting with a short reading list.

  • Material will cover the topics, not just the papers.


The WEFI Lecture Series begins August 2020.

A review of the economics of discrimination with a focus on the unique ways it manifests itself in firm formation and financing decisions. The presentation will cover the recent advances in testing alternative explanations for differential treatment by race and propose a framework for future research in the area.

Arthur Korteweg USC Marshall

September 28th, 2020

An overview of the methodologies used to evaluate private equity performance. The presentation will feature key facts about returns, risks, and data sources at the fund level. Investment-level data will also be discussed.

Song Ma
Yale University

A overview of a research agenda studying the connections between startups and incumbent firms. Those connections are multi-dimensional and link to broad economic subfields. For example, those connections can be in the form of market competition (industrial organization), labor mobility (labor), innovation competition and sharing, financial and strategic alliances, and asset allocation. We will build a framework to conceptualize those interactions and review key findings in the literature.

Joan Farre-Mensa
University of Illinois, Chicago

November 9th, 2020 (Register)

The vast majority of firms in the U.S. and across the world—including virtually all startups—are privately held. This presentation will begin by comparing the regulatory and information environments surrounding private firms and their more commonly-studied publicly listed counterparts. We will then discuss the differences between the financing, investment, and innovation policies of public and private firms, and we will try to connect these differences to their choice of listing status.

Ayako Yasuda
UC Davis

The debate around whether and how private equity add values is a perennial debate among both academic and policy-makers. This lecture will review the economics of private equity -- the sources of any possible value-add -- and the large academic literature documenting its effects.

Katherine Waldock Columbia Law School

January 18, 2021

This presentation focuses on the legal context, conceptual framework, and important empirical findings in small business bankruptcy. The discussion will focus on both the ex-ante effect of the bankruptcy institution--i.e., how it may affect innovation and entrepreneurtship; and the ex post resolution of small business cases.

Ramana Nanda
Harvard/Imperial College

Experimentation and Innovative Entrepreneur

February 22, 2021

The entrepreneurial firm plays a unique role in the production and dissemination of innovation. This presentation will present the major facts about small vs. large firm innovation and spillovers between the two.

David Robinson
Duke University

Behaviorial Economics and Entrepreneurship

March 2021

The decision to enter entrepreneurship is determined by the assessment of return and risks, the evaluation of personal skills, and potentially non-pecuniary benefit in the utility function. These connect to discussions in behavioral economics and decision-making. This lecture will will connect topics in entrepreneurship research to the major themes of behavioral economics.