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Romel Mostafa is an Assistant Professor of Business, Economics and Public Policy at the Ivey Business School. Romel’s areas of research and expertise include strategy & capability development in new firms, innovation & competitive dynamics, industrial evolution & policy, as well as behavioural decision-making. He has published in a number of leading academic journals, including Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Journal of Risk & Uncertainty, Organization Science and Management Science. His research and commentaries have been featured in global media outlets such as CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Romel has taught both at graduate and undergraduate levels, and received several teaching awards. He obtained his PhD and MSc from Carnegie Mellon University, and BA from Lawrence University.
As the Director of Ivey’s Lawrence National Centre for Policy & Management, Romel spearheads the Centre’s research, outreach and teaching initiatives. The Centre advocates for sound policy and corporate action towards unlocking national competitive advantage, by focusing on critical challenges and opportunities around digital, trade and social infrastructural pillars.
A native of Bangladesh, Professor Mostafa enjoys various sports (cricket and soccer, above all), music (especially 60's and 70's Bengali and English music), and loves cooking and travelling.
- Global Macroeconomics for Managers
- BA, Economics & Math-Computer Science - Lawrence University
- MS, Social and Decision Sciences - Carnegie Mellon University
- PhD, Strategy Entrepreneurship & Technological Change - Carnegie Mellon University
Recent Refereed Articles
Jahanbakht, M.; Mostafa, R.; Veloso, F.,
(Forthcoming), "Pre-entry Experience, Post-entry Adaptations and Internationalization in the African Mobile Telecommunications Industry", ORGANIZATION SCIENCE.
Abstract: We study the evolution of the African mobile telecommunications industry from its effective beginning, and explore the sources of ownership advantages among indigenous firms, by assembling historical qualitative and quantitative firm-level data. Our historical qualitative findings suggest that a few start-ups gained industry-specific knowledge through their pre-entry experience, directed their post-entry development of capabilities toward adaptations to challenging market and operational conditions, and leveraged their adaptive capabilities to enter and compete in other African countries. Using our quantitative panel data, we show that these firms successfully internationalized across the continent. In particular, compared with other start-ups, they had higher rates of foreign entry in African countries that had relatively weaker rule of law, and greater market reach in African countries that had relatively larger low-income consumer segments. These patterns corroborate that their capabilities for overcoming the industry’s challenging market and operational conditions were their key ownership advantages. Through our triangulated analysis, we show that inherited industry knowledge provides a foundation for post-entry capability development, and entrepreneurial leadership guides this process to create ownership advantages for regional internationalization.
Jahanbakht, M.; Mostafa, R.,
2020, "Coevolution of policy and strategy in the development of the mobile telecommunications industry in Africa", Telecommunications Policy, May 44(4): 101906 - 101906.
Abstract: This paper explores how regulatory policy and firm strategy have shaped the development of the mobile telecommunications industry across Africa to date. Our historical analysis shows that during the industry's formative years, firms had different strategies for developing African markets in a relatively lax regulatory environment, with some local firms leading the way in generating innovations for adapting to inherent market and institutional challenges as well as in expanding their operations to multiple countries across Africa. While many firms exited over time, some, including a few multinationals, reoriented their strategy from targeting high-income consumers to serving the masses, and the industry benefited from the widespread diffusion of innovations, the establishment of allied industries, and low prices of handsets. However, as the industry matured, competition became mostly price-based, leading to consolidation. Authorities responded by increasing monitoring activities, taking a more “hands-on” regulatory approach. This study demonstrates that both policy and strategy coevolved in a path-dependent way as the industry gradually transitioned from the introductory phase into the growth and maturity phases. It also provides new insight into the development of the African mobile telecommunications industry, and extends and bridges the literatures on telecommunications policy and strategy, which evolved in insolation.
Link(s) to publication:
Mostafa, R.; Klepper, S.,
2018, "Industrial Development through Tacit Knowledge Seeding: Evidence from the Bangladesh Garment Industry", Management Science, February 64(2): 613 - 632.
Abstract: We explore how the establishment of an industry pioneer through foreign seeding of industry knowledge can subsequently catalyze the growth of a developing country’s industry by involuntarily propagating the knowledge to subsequent entrants. As industry knowledge has tacit elements, we focus on mechanisms that enable experienced workers from the pioneer to seed the knowledge to new entrants. We examine the relationship between entrants’ characteristics and the mechanisms exploited to access the industry knowledge, and the impact of the mechanisms exploited on firm performance. Empirical findings from two historical episodes in the Bangladesh garment industry suggest that industry knowledge seeding was essential for the initial establishment and subsequent expansion of the industry. Our paper highlights the role of experienced workers’ mobility in building new firm capabilities and provides novel insights into industrialization in developing economies.
Link(s) to publication:
Argyes, N.; Mostafa, R.,
2016, "Knowledge Inheritance, Vertical Integration, and Entrant Survival in the Early U.S. Auto Industry", Academy of Management Journal, August 59(4): 1474 - 1492.
Abstract: A key finding in the literature on industry evolution and strategy is that knowledge inherited from the founder’s previous employer can be an important source of a new firm’s capabilities. We analyze the conditions under which knowledge that is useful for carrying out a key value chain activity is inherited, and explore the mechanism through which such an inheritance shapes an entrant’s strategies and, in the process, influences its performance. Evidence from the early U.S. auto industry indicates that employee spinoffs generated from incumbents that had integrated a key value chain activity were also more likely to integrate that activity than other entrants, which, we suggest, reflects the application of knowledge inheritance relative to that activity. Moreover, we find that the integration of this key activity, stimulated by knowledge inheritance, contributed to the establishment of defensible strategic positioning, thereby enhancing the survival duration of inheriting spinoffs. We thus link together the phenomena of knowledge inheritance, vertical integration, and strategic positioning to explain entrant performance. These three phenomena tend to be treated disparately in the literature, rather than in combination.
Link(s) to publication:
Haisley, E.; Mostafa, R.; Loewenstein, G.,
2008, "Myopic Risk-seeking: The Impact of Narrow Decision Bracketing on Lottery Play", Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, August 37(1): 57 - 75.
Abstract: In two experiments conducted with low-income participants, we find that individuals are more likely to buy state lottery tickets when they make several purchase decisions one-at-a-time, i.e. myopically, than when they make one decision about how many tickets to purchase. These results extend earlier findings showing that broad bracketing of decisions encourages behavior consistent with expected value maximization. Additionally, the results suggest that the combination of myopic decision making and the peanuts effectgreater risk seeking for low stakes than high stakes gamblescan help explain the popularity of state lotteries.
Haisley, E.; Mostafa, R.; Loewenstein, G.,
2008, "Subjective Relative Income and Lottery Ticket Purchases", Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, July 21(3): 283 - 295.
Abstract: Despite a return of only .53 on the dollar, state lotteries are extremely popular, especially among the poor, who play the most but can least afford to play. In two experiments conducted with low-income participants, we examine how implicit comparisons with other income classes increase low-income individuals' desire to play the lottery. In Experiment 1, participants were more likely to purchase lottery tickets when they were primed to perceive that their own income was low relative to an implicit standard. In Experiment 2, participants purchased more tickets when they considered situations in which rich people or poor people receive advantages, implicitly highlighting the fact that everyone has an equal chance of winning the lottery.
- Visiting Assistant Professor of Strategy, Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis (2008-2011)
- Advisory Editor, The Executive Times (2003-2011)
- Cofounder, Moondip LLC, Chicago (1999-2002)
- Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Strategy
- Industrial Evolution, Economic Development & Policy
- Emerging Markets