Chuck Eesley is an Associate Professor and W.M. Keck Foundation Faculty Scholar in the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. As part of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, his research focuses on the role of the institutional and university environment in high-growth, technology entrepreneurship. Prof. Eesley was selected in 2015 as an Inaugural Schulze Distinguished Professor. His National Science Foundation of China and Kauffman award supported research focuses on rethinking how the educational and policy environment shapes the economic and entrepreneurial impact of university alumni. Over the past three years, Prof. Eesley has been playing a growing role in national and international meetings on fostering high-tech entrepreneurship, including advising the U.S. State Department in the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) program, Chile (CORFO), Taiwan (ITRI), and the Korean Ministry of Science and Technology. He is a member of the Editorial Board for the Strategic Management Journal. Before coming to Stanford, Prof. Eesley completed his Ph.D. at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management in 2009 where he won BPS Division and Kauffman Dissertation Awards for his work on high-tech entrepreneurship in China.

He started his first company while earning a Bachelor's degree from Duke University in 2002 (Biological Basis of Behavior). Prof. Eesley spent 2002-2005 doing research at the Duke University Medical Center (schizophrenia) and Duke’s Center for Health Policy (vaccine innovation). His work has been published among other places in Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, Research Policy, and Biological Psychiatry. Prof. Eesley previously was an entrepreneur (Lobby 10, Sun Dance Genetics, Learning Friends), early employee (, board member/advisor (Blackbird - acquired by Etsy,, and investor (Flagship Ventures, Lux Capital). launched around his online course, which was the first entrepreneurship MOOC and has taught over 200,000 students in over 100 countries. He currently serves as an independent board director on public as well as private companies in online education and AI/Deep Learning. He has given invited talks in forums with the Prime Minister of Slovenia and keynote addresses in Taiwan, China, and Brazil. His research findings have been featured in outlets such as Forbes (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015), Bloomberg, Smart Money, Stanford News, 2012, 2016, Wall Street Journal, SFGate, The Independent, (Bill Gates), Inc. magazine, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor, Management Science and Engineering

Administrative Appointments

  • Organizer, Social Science & Technology Seminar (SIEPR) (2009 - 2018)
  • Research Committee, ENT Division, Academy of Management (2012 - Present)
  • Research Committee, TIM Division Academy of Management (2015 - Present)
  • Lead Steering Committee, West Coast Research Symposium Doctoral Consortium (2011 - 2016)
  • Advisory Board, United States Department of State - Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST Network) (2014 - Present)

Honors & Awards

  • TUM Research Excellence Award, Technical University of Munich (2018)
  • Faculty Affiliate, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment (2017-2019)
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award, MS&E (2017)
  • Richard Schulze Inaugural Distinguished Professorship Award, Richard Schulze Foundation (2015)
  • Faculty Affiliate, Stanford Center for International Development (SCID) (2014-present)
  • Kauffman-Nesta Research Grant winner - Randomized Controlled Trials in Entrepreneurship, Kauffman-NESTA (2014)
  • Batten Institute Fellow, University of Virginia (UVA) Darden School of Business (2012)
  • Research Fund for International Young Scientists, National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) (2012)
  • Lillie Award, Stanford University (2011, 2012)
  • Technology and Innovation Management, IEEE International (2011)
  • Best Dissertation Award Winner (Business Policy and Strategy Division), Academy of Management (2010)
  • Dissertation Fellowship Award, Kauffman Foundation (2007)
  • Best Paper Proceedings, Academy of Management (2005, 2006, 2010, 2012)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Editorial Board, Strategic Management Journal (2015 - Present)
  • Member, Academy of Management (2005 - Present)

Professional Education

  • PhD, MIT, Sloan School of Management (2009)
  • BS, Duke University, Biological Basis of Behavior (2002)

Research Interests

  • Higher Education
  • Leadership and Organization
  • Research Methods
  • Technology and Education

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

My research focuses on the influence of the external environment on entrepreneurship. Specifically, I have sought to be a leader in investigating the types of environments that encourage the founding of high growth, technology-based firms. Although I build on previous work that focuses on individual characteristics, network ties, and strategy, my major contribution is to demonstrate that institutions matter. I have broken new ground in showing that effective institutional change influences who starts firms, not just how many firms are started. I have repeatedly studied entrepreneurship in a single country (China, Chile, Japan, and the U.S.) before and after a major institutional change. My work is divided into three streams: (1) formal institutions (policies and regulations), (2) university and industry environments, and (3) informal institutions (social movements).

STREAM 1: My research in this stream advances theory by introducing novel mechanisms (e.g. barriers to growth and failure, institutional inconsistency), introducing new concepts (e.g. skill adequacy and context relevance) and in theorizing that institutional changes that lower barriers to growth and to failure alter who becomes an entrepreneur, the type of firms, and performance.
STREAM 2: My work in this stream changes the way we think about team composition as well as what characteristics lead to venture performance by linking their impacts to industry environments.
STREAM 3: In this stream, I explored how social movement organizations can change firms.

My research changes the way we think about how the environment – formal institutions, informal institutions, and industry contexts – influences entrepreneurship. I am a leader in situating ventures within environments and showing that interactions between environments and entrepreneurs matter. I am among the first to argue and show that policies that foster high-growth entrepreneurship are different than those that spawn small businesses. If policy leaders wish to foster technology-based start-ups, then we must consider how institutions operate. My research shows that institutional changes can significantly influence the types of firms that are created, who creates them, and how they perform. My research challenges widely accepted ideas about entrepreneurship by highlighting taken-for-granted notions that are incomplete or misleading. My studies call into question the assumption that institutions that make it easier to start firms are unambiguously beneficial, and that experienced, diverse founding teams are always superior. My theoretical contributions include introducing such concepts as institutional barriers to growth, skill adequacy and context relevance. I lead the way in broadening our conception of entrepreneurship beyond the developed North American economies. I have contributed methodologically by (A) showing how to measure talent, (B) collecting data internationally, (C) using randomized field experiments, and (D) analyzing multi-industry databases with state-of-the-art statistics (instrumental variables, differences-in-differences). I have been a pioneer in overcoming the challenges of inferring causality, by finding changes that altered the landscape for entrepreneurship, along with collecting novel data in international settings. I have been fortunate to see an impact of my scholarship, including over 1,574 Google Scholar citations. In future work, I plan to do more studies incorporating software development for data collection and digital platforms for randomized experiments (underway with, Alibaba, and focusing on issues related to strategic change and entrepreneurship training. I was honored to receive the Schulze Distinguished Professorship Award, the goal of which is to "award funding to the country’s most accomplished entrepreneurship scholars who are infusing into their teaching the results of the original and meaningful research they are conducting.”


Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • For Startups, Adaptability and Mentor Network Diversity can be Pivotal: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment on a MOOC Platform MIS Quarterly Eesley, C., Wu, L. 2020; 44 (2): 661-697
  • The dark side of institutional intermediaries: Junior stock exchanges and entrepreneurship STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT JOURNAL Eberhart, R. N., Eesley, C. E. 2018; 39 (10): 2643–65

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smj.2934

    View details for Web of Science ID 000444803800003

  • The persistence of entrepreneurship and innovative immigrants RESEARCH POLICY Lee, Y., Eesley, C. 2018; 47 (6): 1032–44
  • Impact: Stanford University's Economic Impact via Innovation and Entrepreneurship FOUNDATIONS AND TRENDS IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP Eesley, C. E., Miller, W. F. 2018; 14 (2): 130–278

    View details for DOI 10.1561/0300000074

    View details for Web of Science ID 000431012600001

  • Institutions and Entrepreneurial Activity: The Interactive Influence of Misaligned Formal and Informal Institutions Strategy Science Eesley, C., Eberhart, R., Skousen, B., Cheng, J. 2018; 3 (2): 367-480

    View details for DOI 10.1287/stsc.2018.0060

  • Social influence in career choice: Evidence from a randomized field experiment on entrepreneurial mentorship RESEARCH POLICY Eesley, C., Wang, Y. 2017; 46 (3): 636-650
  • Failure Is an Option: Institutional Change, Entrepreneurial Risk, and New Firm Growth ORGANIZATION SCIENCE Eberhart, R. N., Eesley, C. E., Eisenhardt, K. M. 2017; 28 (1): 93-112

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smj.2458

    View details for Web of Science ID 000388290800003

  • Institutional Barriers to Growth: Entrepreneurship, Human Capital and Institutional Change ORGANIZATION SCIENCE Eesley, C. 2016; 27 (5): 1290-1306
  • Does Institutional Change in Universities Influence High-Tech Entrepreneurship? Evidence from China's Project 985 ORGANIZATION SCIENCE Eesley, C., Li, J. B., Yang, D. 2016; 27 (2): 446-461
  • Understanding Entrepreneurial Process and Performance: A Cross-National Comparison of Alumni Entrepreneurship Between MIT and Tsinghua University Asian Journal for Innovation and Policy Eesley, C., Yang, D., Roberts, E., Li, T. 2016; 5 (2): 146-184
  • How entrepreneurs leverage institutional intermediaries in emerging economies to acquire public resources Strategic Management Journal Armanios, D., Eesley, C., Li, J., Eisenhardt, K. 2016

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smj.2183

    View details for Web of Science ID 000344327400005

  • Are You Experienced or Are You Talented?: When Does Innate Talent versus Experience Explain Entrepreneurial Performance? STRATEGIC ENTREPRENEURSHIP JOURNAL Eesley, C. E., Roberts, E. B. 2012; 6 (3): 207-219

    View details for DOI 10.1002/sej.1141

    View details for Web of Science ID 000308646300002

  • Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT - An Updated Report Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship Roberts, E., B., Eesley, C., E. 2011; 7 (1-2): 1-149
  • Private Environmental Activism and the Selection and Response of Firm Targets. Journal of Economics Management and Strategy Lenox, M., Eesley, C., E. 2009; 18 (1): 45-73
  • Entrepreneurs from technology-based universities: Evidence from MIT Research Policy Hsu, D. H., Roberts, E. B., Eesley, C. E. 2007; 5 (36): 768-788
  • Firm Responses to Secondary Stakeholder Action Strategic Management Journal Eesley, C. E. 2006; 27 (8): 765-782

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smj.536

  • Defining a cognitive function decrement in schizophrenia Biological psychiatry Keefe, R. S., Eesley, C. E., Poe, M. P. 2005; 6 (57): 688-691
  • Entrepreneurship Education Comes of Age on Campus: The Challenges and Rewards of Bringing Entrepreneurship to Higher Education Torrance, W. E., Rauch, J., Aulet, W., Blum, L., Burke, B., D'Ambrosio, T., Eesley, C. E. 2013
  • Review of: Winds of Change: The Environmental Movement and the Global Development of the Wind Energy Industry Administrative Science Quarterly Eesley, C., E., Hannah, D., P. 2012; 57: 359-362