Chuck Eesley is an Assistant Professor and Morgenthaler Faculty Fellow 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, LessonFace, TommyJams), 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 on the Advisory Boards of Startup Chile 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

  • Assistant Professor, Management Science and Engineering

Administrative Appointments

  • 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)
  • Visiting Scholar Committee, Stanford MS&E (2010 - 2016)

Honors & Awards

  • 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)
  • Director, Startup Chile (2012 - Present)
  • Member, Academy of Management (2005 - Present)

Professional Education

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

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

My research focuses on the influence of the external environment on entrepreneurship. Specifically, I investigate the types of environments that encourage the founding of high growth, technology-based firms. Although I build on previous literature that explains why entrepreneurs are successful on the basis of individual characteristics, network ties, and strategy, my major contribution is to demonstrate that institutions matter. I show that effective institutional change influences who starts firms, not just how many firms are started.

Studying the implications of institutional change for entrepreneurship is difficult because it requires that institutions vary while other aspects of the environment remain constant. Thus, I have repeatedly studied entrepreneurship in a single country (China, Japan, and the U.S.) before and after a major institutional change that has intentionally or unintentionally altered the landscape for people who seek to found new firms.
My research is divided into three streams: (1) how formal institutions (policies, legal structures and regulations) influence entrepreneurship, (2) how informal institutions (accepted practices and norms) shape entrepreneurial opportunities, (3) how the environments of particular industries influence the success of entrepreneurial teams.

In 2015 I was selected for the inaugural Schulze Foundation Distinguished Professorship Award from Richard Schulze (founder, Best Buy). In 2012, I was winner of a prestigious and highly selective award from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) 2012 Research Fund for International Young Scientists. I also received the 2010 Best Dissertation Award in the Business Policy and Strategy Division of the Academy of Management and am recipient of the 2007 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Dissertation Fellowship award. My work has been generously funded by Sequoia Capital,, the Kauffman Foundation, the MIT Entrepreneurship Center and Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP).

Prior to returning to school, I worked as a research assistant at the Duke University Medical Center, publishing in medical journals and textbooks on cognition in schizophrenia and fMRI neuro-imaging studies. In addition, I have founded three firms and worked in two venture capital firms, focusing on education and life sciences sectors.


  • Does Institutional Change in Universities Influence High-Tech Entrepreneurship?: Evidence from China’s Project 985, Stanford University (2/1/2013 - Present)

    his paper contributes to institutional theory on cognitive and normative institutional change targeted at altering beliefs,
    behaviors, and ultimately firm performance. Prior work emphasizes institutional changes where the ideas and beliefs
    originate from those within the institutional context. Under examined are cases of institutional changes in beliefs and
    behaviors imposed from outside of the context, which may result in inconsistencies among cognitive, normative, and
    regulatory institutional pillars. Project 985 was a program implemented by the Chinese government that provided funding for
    a set of universities to build new research centers. We found that graduates of these universities subsequently expressed
    greater beliefs in innovation and founded more high-tech ventures, but that entrepreneurs influenced by the reform were not as
    financially successful as entrepreneurs who founded firms before the reform or from non-985 universities. We explain this
    surprising finding as caused by the fact that Project 985 was institutionally inconsistent with China’s broader institutional
    environment. An important implication is that institutional changes may alter beliefs and behavior, but they must be consistent
    with the broader institutional environment to improve firm performance.


    Beijing, China


    • Delin Yang, Professor, Tsinghua University

    For More Information:

  • Startup Chile, Stanford University (2/1/2015 - Present)


    Santiago, Chile


    • Michael Leatherbee, Assistant Professor, Universidad Catolica

    For More Information:

  • Failure IS an Option, Stanford University (2/1/2014 - Present)

    Do changes in the consequences of firm failure affect the mix of founding entrepreneurs and the performance of new ventures? We take advantage of a quasi-natural experiment in Japan in which changes to bankruptcy laws eased the social and regulatory consequences of closing a firm and find as follows: a) entrepreneurs with high human and social capital (i.e., those entrepreneurs who graduated from one of the top ten universities in Japan) declare bankruptcy more often than others, b) establish a greater proportion of new firms, and, c) new firm performance improves as entrepreneurs with high human and social capital become more likely to found higher-performing firms. Whereas prior research emphasizes that more lenient bankruptcy laws worsen economic performance by lowering entry barriers and attracting poor-performing firms, our research suggests that more lenient bankruptcy laws can stimulate venture formation among individuals with high human and social capital, leading to higher-performing firms. Overall, we find that reforms leading to more lenient bankruptcy laws encourage better – and not just more – entrepreneurs to found ventures.


    Tokyo, Japan


    • Robert Eberhart, Assistant Professor, Santa Clara University

    For More Information:

  • ITRI - Stanford platform, ITRI (2/1/2015)

    On-going collaboration platform with ITRI in Taiwan.


    Hsinchu, Taiwan


    • Steven Su, Executive Director, ITRI

2016-17 Courses

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • Failure is an Option: Failure Barriers and New Firm Performance Organization Science 2016; cond. accept
  • How entrepreneurs leverage institutional intermediaries in emerging economies to acquire public resources Strategic Management Journal Armanios, D., Eesley, C., Li, J., Eisenhardt, K. 2016; cond. accept
  • Institutional Barriers to Growth: Entrepreneurship, Human Capital and Institutional Change Organization Science Eesley, C. 2016; forthcoming
  • Does Institutional Change in Universities Influence High-Tech Entrepreneurship? Evidence from China’s Project 985 Organization Science Eesley, C. E., Li, J. B., Yang, D. 2016; 27 (2): 446 - 461

    View details for DOI 10.1287/orsc.2015.1038

  • Through the Mud or in the Boardroom: Examining Activist Types and their Strategies in Targeting Firms for Social Change Strategic Management Journal Eesley, C., DeCelles, K., Lenox, M. 2015

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smj.2458


    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

  • 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

  • Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT Roberts, Edward, B., Eesley, Charles, E.
  • A Cross-National Comparison of Entrepreneurial Process and Performance Asian Journal for Innovation and Policy Eesley, C., Yang, D., Roberts, E., Li, T. 2016; cond. accept
  • Impact: Stanford University's Economic Impact via Innovation and Entrepreneurship Eesley, Charles, E., Miller, William, F.
  • 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
  • Neurocognitive Impairments Essentials of Schizophrenia Keefe, R., Eesley, C. E. American Psychiatric Publishing. Washington, DC, 2012.. 2012
  • Bringing Ideas to Life IEEE International Recent Advances in Technology and Innovation Management Eesley, C. E., Hsu, D., Roberts, E. B. Wily Publications. 2012: 40-60
  • 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
  • Neurocognition in Schizophrenia Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry Keefe, R., Eesley, C. E. edited by Sadock, B., Sadock, V. A., Ruiz, P. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins. 2009
  • Implementing a Public Subsidy for Vaccines Pharmaceutical Innovation: Incentives, Competition, and Cost-Benefit Analysis in International Perspective Sloan, F. A., Eesley, C. E. edited by Sloan, F. A. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2007: 107-126
  • Governments as Insurers in Professional and Hospital Liability Insurance Markets Medical Malpractice and the U.S. Health Care System--New Century, Different Issues Sloan, F. A., Eesley, C. E. edited by Sage, W. M. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2006: 291-317
  • Defining a cognitive function decrement in schizophrenia Biological psychiatry Keefe, R. S., Eesley, C. E., Poe, M. P. 2005; 6 (57): 688-691