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Sergio G. Lazzarini (PhD, 2002, Washington University in St. Louis) is a Professor at Ivey Business School, Western University, and Chafi Haddad Senior Research Fellow at Insper (Brazil). He does research on how public and private actors interact and organize their activities to improve economic and social performance. He is a former Professor at Insper and founder of Insper Metricis, a center for the study of impact measurement and investing. Sergio has held visiting positions at Harvard University (2010, 2012), University of St Gallen (2009), HEC Paris (2014), Insead (2015), Brandeis (2016), Imperial College (2017), the University of Utah (2019), and the University of Toronto (2021-22).
He has published a trilogy of books on public-private interactions: Capitalismo de Laços (Elsevier, 2011; revised edition by Bei Editora, 2018), Reinventing State Capitalism: Leviathan in Business, Brazil and Beyond (Harvard University Press, 2014, with Aldo Musacchio), and The Right Privatization: Why Private Firms in Public Initiatives Need Capable Governments (Cambridge University Press, 2022). His research has also appeared in several journals such as Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Perspectives, Journal of Management Studies, and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, among others. His work has received several prizes including the Glueck Best Paper Award of the Strategic Management Division of the Academy of Management (2003), Best Paper Prize of the Iberoamerican Academy of Management Conference (2003), Best Paper Prize of the Strategy Division of the Brazilian Academy of Management (ANPAD, 2005), Best Presentation Prize of the Strategic Management Society Special Conference in Rio (2011), Distinguished Paper Award of the Strategy Division (Cooperative Strategy Track) of the Academy of Management (2020) and the Jabuti Prize for the book Capitalism of Ties (2010). Sergio has been a consultant to several firms and multilateral organizations such as OECD, IDB, and the World Bank, and his research was cited or interviewed by news sources such as The Economist, New York Times, Financial Times, Forbes, BBC, and Bloomberg.
He also served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Strategy Division of the Academy of Management (2008-2010) and as a board member of the International Society for the New Institutional Economics (2009-2011), and is currently Associate Editor of the Global Strategy Journal.
- Strategic Management
- Public-Private Collaboration
- Impact Management (Masters, PhD, Undergraduate, and Executive Education).
- Ph.D., Business Administration (Organization and Strategy), JohnM. Olin School of Business, Washington University in St. Louis, 2002.
- M.S.B.A., John M. Olin School of Business, Washington University, 2001.
- M.S., Business Administration, University of São Paulo, 1997.
- B.S., University of São Paulo, 1993.
Recent Refereed Articles
George, G.; Fewer, T. J.; Lazzarini, S. L.; McGahan, A. M.; Puranam, P., 2023, "Partnering for Grand Challenges: A Review of Organizational Design Considerations in Public-Private Collaborations", Journal of Management Abstract: We conduct a theory-guided review of the literatures on public–private partnerships and grand challenges (GCs). We adopt an organization design approach to review and identify constructs in public–private collaborations (PPCs) that address societal challenges. Our review identifies the complexities of organizing to tackle GCs, highlights the plurality of organizational forms in PPCs, and explores organizational design considerations in these partnerships. Given the elevated role of private actors in these collaborations, our review provides a new understanding of how they can shape a private-public interface that is robust to the scale and scope of global problems. This leads to a rich research agenda on when, why, and how public and private collaborations matter, and their implications for addressing societal challenges.
Link(s) to publication:
Teodorovicz, T.; Lazzarini, S. L.; Cabral, S.; Nardi, L., 2022, "Can Public Organizations Perform Like Private Firms? The Role of Heterogeneous Resources and Practices", Organization Science, September 34(4): 1353 - 1650. Abstract: Despite the well-known governance problems in public (state-owned) organizations, such as process rigidity, limited autonomy, and weak incentives, public organizations exhibit substantial performance heterogeneity, with some performing similarly to their private counterparts. In this paper, we scrutinize those sources of heterogeneous performance based on the interplay of management practices and resources. We argue that the governance constraints in public organizations inhibit the adoption of performance-enhancing practices. However, this negative effect is attenuated by the presence of distinct resources, such as human capital. We examine these effects in the context of over 9,000 public and private schools in Brazil. We find that private schools are more likely to use internal operational practices, such as planning and human resource management, as well as practices of engaging with external stakeholders. Differential adoption of these practices partially explains why private schools outperform their public counterparts in terms of student learning. Yet, access to highly educated teachers in public schools attenuates the negative association between public governance and the adoption of superior practices. In other words, schools with skilled teachers are more likely to adopt superior practices, thus reducing their performance gap compared with private schools. This result suggests that heterogeneous resource endowments—in our context, human capital—can soften governance constraints that inhibit performance-enhancing practices in public organizations. We thus show that heterogeneous practices and resources jointly explain not only performance differences across public and private organizations but also variations in the performance of organizations with the same governance form.
Link(s) to publication:
Domingos, F. D.; Cabral, S.; Lazzarini, S. L.; Paes-de-Barros, R., 2022, "Beyond the Agreement: Dilemmas in Contracting for the Transfer of Management Practices", Academy of Management Proceedings, August 2022(1) Abstract: Contracting for the transfer of practices can be problematic because recipients might diffuse the received practices to organizational units beyond the original agreement. We highlight the crucial role of managers as diffusers of practices at the interorganizational boundary and suggest that they have incentives to exert asymmetrical effort on nontargeted units to increase aggregate organizational performance. We examine this dilemma in the context of a nonprofit partner transferring management practices to public schools with the support of civil servants (boundary managers). We gauge the ability of managers to diffuse practices and find that increased diffusion ability benefits the nontargeted units, leading to a severe underestimation of the transferring-side partner contribution. We discuss how our study advances the analysis of interorganizational contracting.
Link(s) to publication:
Lazzarini, S. L.; Cabral, S.; Firpo, S.; Teodorovicz, T., 2022, "Why Are Counterfactual Assessment Methods Not Widespread in Outcome-Based Contracts? A Formal Model Approach", Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, June 32(3): 509 - 523. Abstract: Counterfactual assessment techniques involving treated and control groups, such as randomized control trials, might be used in outcome-based contracts to avoid rewarding or sanctioning service providers for social outcomes that they did not cause. However, few outcome-based contracts adopt payment rules based on counterfactual assessment techniques. Potential explanations are that these techniques are complex and involve substantial transaction costs. In this paper, we develop a theoretical formal model that integrates the literatures of incentives and policy evaluation to propose the following alternative explanation: counterfactual techniques may lead to counterproductive incentive effects if they reduce the likelihood of payment even if project managers exert sufficient effort to promote the expected interventions. Our model shows that counterfactual assessment may undermine effort when the number of treated subjects is small and there is limited investment per treated subject. Our formal model also suggests that the increased experience of the contract sponsors may inhibit the adoption of counterfactual assessment. Simulations and descriptive evidence from a unique database of 350 outcome-based contracts designed or initiated throughout the world and from linear probability models are aligned with our predictions. By offering additional explanations on why counterfactual assessment methods are not widespread in outcome-based contracts and by identifying the boundary conditions under which these methods are used in incentive contracts, this work informs the literature on cross-sector outcome-based contracts and illustrates the use of formal models to develop novel theories in public administration
Link(s) to publication:
Mesquita, L. F.; Saes, M. S. M.; Lazzarini, S. L.; Pongeluppe, L. S., 2021, "Can trust induce vertical integration? An experimental study of buyer–seller exchanges with distinct competencies and specific investments", Industrial and Corporate Change, October 30(3): 778 - 798. Abstract:
Research has debated the merits of transaction cost and competence-based explanations of make-versus-buy choices. We advance this discussion by arguing that trust not only promotes markets by reducing the hazards of specific investments (as emphasized by previous work), but alternatively triggers vertical integration when parties would like to internalize distinctive competencies and at the same time avoid hierarchical failure. Our experimental results where players choose between markets and hierarchies lend support for this dual role of trust in boundary decisions.
Link(s) to publication:
- Lazzarini, S. L., 2021, "Capitalism and Management Research: The Worst of Times, The Best of Times", Academy of Management Review, July 46(3): 613 - 622.
Lazzarini, S. L.; Mesquita, L. F.; Monteiro, F.; Musacchio, A., 2021, "Leviathan as an inventor: An extended agency model of state-owned versus private firm invention in emerging and developed economies", Journal of International Business Studies, June 52(4): 560 - 594. Abstract: We examine the relative merits of state (SOE) and private (POE) ownership on firm invention output in emerging as well as developed economies. Firm SOE affords a vehicle by which governments throughout the world encourage risky investment in new technological paths. Yet, from a traditional agency–theoretical standpoint, SOEs are plagued by low-powered incentives and dysfunctional involvement (e.g., wasteful budgets and political meddling), which reduces SOE performance, relative to POEs. To examine this paradox, we build an extended agency model which, rather than overlooking agency cost drivers, entertains a more balanced view, in which these so-called agency “liabilities” in fact benefit SOEs, particularly in the sphere of inventions. We argue that, given relatively higher levels of managerial autonomy, SOEs may outperform POEs in some types of inventive output. We further propose that key boundary conditions operate to modify this base effect, in that contexts lacking political constraints – a condition found in most emerging economies – increase the risk of political meddling, reducing managerial autonomy so that any SOE inventive advantages wane significantly. We also hypothesize that this negative effect of weak institutions is attenuated in high invention productivity sectors. Empirically, we track the frequency, pioneerism, and impact of patent inventions of 521 SOEs and matched POEs for 16 years, across 43 countries and 22 industries. We find empirical support for our hypotheses based on a robust set of fixed-effects regression analyses, aided by a battery of checks to assess self-selection and omitted variable bias.
Link(s) to publication:
Lazzarini, S. L.; Pongeluppe, L. S.; Ito, N. C.; Oliveira, F. D. M.; Ovanessoff, A., 2020, "Public Capacity, Plural Forms of Collaboration, and the Performance of Public Initiatives: A Configurational Approach", Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, September 30(4): 579 - 595. Abstract:
We assess conditions that explain plural forms of public and private action using a comparative study of 24 public initiatives in Brazil, India, and South Africa. Measuring performance as evidence of positive outcomes to their target populations, we compare cases of high and low performance. Our configurational approach examines combinations of conditions leading to positive outcomes: public operational capacity, diverse collaborations nurtured by public units (with for-profit firms, with nonprofit organizations, and with other units in the public bureaucracy), and stakeholder orientation (permeability to multiple sources of input to design and adjust the project). We apply fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis to unveil configurations consistent with high performance. Our configurational analysis reveals two distinct paths to high performance. A path with higher private engagement involves concurrent collaborations with for-profit and nonprofit actors, whereas an alternative path with higher internal (public) engagement relies on collaborations within the public bureaucracy complemented by high permeability to inputs from multiple stakeholders. Our results also confirm that strong public capacity is necessary in all high-performance configurations. An important implication is that externalization and multiple forms of collaboration are not substitutes for weak governments. Furthermore, our configurational perspective contributes to the literature by operationalizing a multiple-actor, multiple-logic perspective describing alternative paths to high performance.
Link(s) to publication:
Casarin, A. A.; Lazzarini, S. L.; Vassolo, R. S., 2020, "The Forgotten Competitive Arena: Strategy in Natural Resource Industries", Academy of Management Perspectives, August 34(3): 378 - 399. Abstract: Despite their importance in the global economy, the complex competitive dynamics of natural resource industries and their implications for business performance remain largely understudied in strategic management. This article identifies major traits that are highly relevant in natural resource industries, including the standardized nature of their products, their emphasis on process-based innovations, the presence of dual physical and financial derivative markets, and the importance of nonmarket forces that affect the creation and appropriation of rents from natural resources. We propose a general framework that guides our observations, and we discuss research opportunities for the study of firm strategy in natural resource industries.
Link(s) to publication:
- Lazzarini, S. L., 2020, "The Nature of the Social Firm: Alternative Organizational Forms for Social Value Creation and Appropriation", Academy of Management Review, July 45(3): 620 - 645.
Aguinis, H.; Villamor, I.; Lazzarini, S. L.; Vassolo, R. S.; Amorós, J. E.; Allen, D. G., 2020, "Conducting Management Research in Latin America: Why and What’s in It for You?", Journal of Management, May 46(5): 615 - 636. Abstract: We make the case that conditions and timing are right and, despite some challenges, there are many benefits to conducting management research in Latin America. Some of these conditions include an upward trend in the productivity of Latin American researchers, increased collaboration between researchers in Latin America and those in other regions, and societal, cultural, and economic characteristics that make the region an ideal “natural laboratory” to build and test management theories. Demonstrating that our arguments are not just about potential but are founded in reality, we offer a selective summary of recent research conducted in Latin America that made important contributions to micro and macro management domains and theories. These include (a) leadership; (b) small and family businesses; (c) entrepreneurship; (d) social inclusiveness, inequity, and vulnerable populations; (e) strategy and competitive dynamics in natural resource industries; (f) strategy in unstable macroeconomic contexts; (g) public (industrial) policies and business development; (h) hybrid public-private collaborations; and (i) social enterprises and blended social and economic value creation. We also describe opportunities for future research in these domains. Finally, we offer practical and actionable advice on how to address typical challenges encountered when conducting management research in Latin America. Solutions apply to those residing inside and outside of Latin America and include, among others, identifying universities with a research-oriented career path, recognizing credible university rankings and their impact, and capitalizing on local contexts to generate high-quality research. We hope our article will serve as a catalyst for future management research in Latin America.
Link(s) to publication:
Davis, G. F.; Anteby, M.; Briscoe, F. S.; Jennings, P. D.; Karim, S.; Kaul, A.; Lazzarini, S. L.; Özkazanç-Pan, B.; Donnelly, P.; Rasche, A., et al., 2019, "Politics, Governance, and Leadership: What Can We Learn From the Academy of Management’s Response to EO13769?", Journal of Management Inquiry, July 28(3): 283 - 290. Abstract:
Organization design seeks to balance potentially conflicting objectives while achieving a broader mission. EO13769 created a challenge for the president of the Academy of Management in leading through these conflicts, as President Anita McGahan describes: how to be true to her own moral values while leading an organization with well-established design constraints, and members with diverse opinions. This article shares the perspectives of 12 scholars on the lessons we can learn from Professor McGahan’s leadership of a constraining organization through a challenging time.
Link(s) to publication:
Quelin, B. V.; Cabral, S.; Lazzarini, S. L.; Kivleniece, I., 2019, "The private scope in public–private collaborations: An institutional and capability-based perspective", Organization Science, January 30(4): 831 - 846. Abstract: There has been a growing interest in the organization of business activities at the public interface as illustrated by the emergent phenomenon of public–private partnerships (PPPs). In this study, we analyze the determinants of private scope in partnering with public actors—that is, the extent to which private actors are involved in multiple, consecutive value-creating activities in the partnership. Based on a unique data set of public–private agreements worldwide over two decades, we find that institutional and capability-based determinants jointly affect the extent of private scope in public–private collaborations. Our results highlight the contingent role of the quality of the institutional environment. Institutions not only facilitate greater private scope directly but also, moderate the effect of public and private capabilities on private scope. We find that prior public experience in PPPs enhances private scope in settings with high-quality institutions while having an opposing effect in low-quality environments. Moreover, public governance capabilities accumulated via units designed to deal with PPPs seem to substitute for the lack of high-quality institutions, suggesting that, even under weak institutional settings, countries can foster high private scope with the creation of pockets of specialized public capabilities. In contrast, private capabilities in PPPs, expressed as firm engagement in recurring government cofunded projects, seem to have a complementary effect: they help to increase private scope in PPPs but only when domestic institutions are of high quality. By highlighting the determinants of private actor involvement in public sector activities, our study offers important implications for the theory and practice of hybrid (cross-sector) organizational forms.
Link(s) to publication:
Lazzarini, S. L.; Musacchio, A., 2018, "State ownership reinvented? Explaining performance differences between state-owned and private firms", Corporate Governance: An International Review, July 26(4): 255 - 272. Abstract: Manuscript Type: Empirical. Research Question/Issue: This study aims to understand the implications of the corporate governance arrangements in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that are publicly listed in terms of firm performance relative to that of private firms. Research Findings/Insights: Using a new database of 477 large, listed SOEs observed between 1997 and 2012 in 66 developed and emerging countries, we use matching techniques to show that these firms do not underperform similar private firms, except when the former face shocks that prioritize their social and political objectives, such as during severe recessions. These findings demonstrate the need to revise existing theories of SOE underperformance. Theoretical/Academic Implications: We expand the traditional agency view of SOEs by introducing principal–principal conflicts that prevail in publicly traded firms. We argue that governments try to steer SOEs to pursue social and political objectives, which can lead to inefficiencies, but they also provide them rents and protection, factors that should lead them to perform as well or better than similar private firms. Thus, our theory of state ownership argues that their advantage or disadvantage over similar private firms cannot be identified from the theory and thus needs an empirical test. Practitioner/Policy Implications: We modify the simplistic view that SOEs are inefficient and highlight that SOEs that compete with private firms may have advantages that give them a competitive edge. This has implications not only for firm-level strategy, but also for competition policy worldwide.
Link(s) to publication:
Lazzarini, S. L., 2018, "How to Compete Against the New Breed of National Champions", MIT Sloan Management Review, July 59(4): 65 - 70. Abstract: While the threat posed by national champions is nothing new, their essential character has substantially changed, and the competitive advantage of national champions in the global marketplace has become more pronounced. Today's national champions are much more sophisticated, competing in more industries, and harder to spot than ever before. As a result, Western companies need a new strategic guide for competing against them. A company should consider the four strategic options in light of the type of national champion -- majority government-owned national champions, minority government-owned national champions, and implicitly supported national champions -- that it is competing against and the context of that competition. In today's aggressive trade environment that may soon include outright trade wars, companies are increasingly likely to encounter a new, more competitive breed of national champions in their home markets and abroad. To protect and win market share against these financially advantaged, innovation-driven, government-supported champions, competing companies will need a new and more proactive strategic toolkit.
Link(s) to publication:
Work in Progress
- “Investing in General Human Capital as a Relational Strategy: Evidence from Arrangements with Uneducated Contract Workers” (with Thomaz Teodorovicz, Sandro Cabral, and Anita McGahan).
- “Integrating Organizational, Resource-Based, and Practice-Based Views of Heterogeneous Performance” (with Thomaz Teodorovicz, Sandro Cabral, and Leandro Nardi).
- “From Instrumental to Normative Relational Strategies: A Study in the Context of Open Buyer-Supplier Relations” (with Dirk Boehe, Leandro Pongeluppe, and Michael Cook) (Winner of the Distinguished Paper Award in Cooperative Strategy, Strategic Management Division, Academy of Management, 2020).
- “Practice Transfer and Social Value Creation: Existing Dilemmas in Public-Private Collaborations” (with Fernando Deodato Domigos, Sandro Cabral, Bertrand Quelin, and Ricardo Paes de Barros).
- “Just Decision Making: Models of Choice and Deliberation to Address Heterogeneous Stakeholder Demands” (with Vitor Freire and José Heleno Faro).
- “Bargaining for Future Rents: How Experienced Managers Deal with Intertemporal Value Appropriation Decisions in Buyer-Seller Negotiations” (with Fernando Deodato Domingos, Sandro Cabral, and André Duarte).
- “Heterogeneous Stakeholder Resources: Effects on Value Creation and Appropriation in the Context of Microcredit” (with Leandro Nardi and Sandro Cabral).
- “The Strategic Value of Recessions: How Firms Can Develop Competitive Advantage after Negative Shocks” (with Roberto Vassolo, Tomás Reyes and Consuelo Game).
- “Agreeing to Disagree: Stakeholder Governance when Decision Makers Have Distinct Opinions” (with Vitor Freire and José Heleno Faro).
- “Towards a Conceptualization of the Scale-up Firm” (with Guilherme Fowler Monteiro and Nicolai Foss).
Honours & Awards
- Best Proposal Award, Strategic Management Society Conference, Cooperative Strategies Interest Group, 2023.
- Research Merit Award, Ivey Business School, Western University, 2023.
- Rotman Teaching Award (graduate and undergraduate programs), University of Toronto, 2023.
- Distinguished Paper Award (Organization Structure, Networks and Relational Strategies), Strategic Management Division, Academy of Management, 2022.
- Chair of Best Dissertation Award, Social Issues in Management Division, Academy of Management, 2022
- Academy of Management, Strategy Division Distinguished Paper Award in Organizations, Networks and Relational Strategies.
- Finalist, Best Paper Award, Academy of Management Review, 2020.
- Distinguished Paper Award in Cooperative Strategy, Strategic Management Division, Academy of Management, 2020.
- Finalist, Best Paper Conference Paper Prize and Human Capital Interest Group Best Paper Prize, Strategic Management Society Conference, 2020.
- Academy of Management Review Developmental Reviewer Award, 2020.
- Chafi Haddad Chair, Insper, 2016-present.
- Chafi Haddad Prize for Excellence in Teaching (finalist), Insper, 2015.
- Outstanding Paper Award, Literati Network Awards for Excellence, Emerald, 2013.
- Best Presentation Prize, Strategic Management Society Special Conference in Rio, 2011.
- Jabuti Prize for the book Capitalism of Ties, 2011 (2nd place).
- Elected to the Executive Committee of the BPS Division of the Academy of Management, 2008-2010.
- Elected to the Board of Directors of ISNIE (International Society for the New Institutional Economics), 2008-2011
- Distinguished professor elected by the students, Class of 2007 (second semester), Undergraduate Program in Business Administration, Insper.
- Chafi Haddad Prize for Teaching Excellence (finalist), Ibmec São Paulo, 2006.
- Best Paper Award, Strategy Division, ANPAD, 2005.
- Glueck Best Paper Award, BPS Division, Academy of Management, 2003.
- Finalist, BPS Dissertation Competition, Academy of Management, 2003.
- Best Paper Award, Iberoamerican Academy of Management, 2003.
- Best Paper, Journal on Chain and Network Science, 2001.
- Founder and Head, Insper Metricis (Center for the Study of Impact Measurement and Investing), 2013-21.
- Chafi Haddad Professor of Management, Insper Institute of Education and Research, August 2016-July 2022.
- Research Fellow, CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, Brazil), 2011-2021.
- Area Panel Coordinator (Business and Economics), FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation), 2017-2021.
- Professor of Organization and Strategy, Insper Institute of Education and Research, 2011-July 2016.
- Academic Dean for Research and Graduate Degree Programs, Insper, January 2013-September 2015.
- Associate Professor of Organization and Strategy, Insper Institute of Education and Research (formerly called Ibmec São Paulo), 2007-2011.
- Academic Dean for Undergraduate Programs, Insper Institute of Education and Research, 2007-2009.
- Academic Dean for Undergraduate and Master Programs, Ibmec São Paulo, October 2006-October 2008.
- Assistant Professor of Organization and Strategy, Ibmec São Paulo, 2002-2006.
- Program Director, Undergraduate Program of Business Administration, Ibmec São Paulo, 2005-2006.
- Founder and Head, Center for Research in Business Strategy, Ibmec São Paulo, 2004-2006.
- Banco Rabobank. Consultant, 1996-1997.
- SDF Consultores Associados. Consultant and partner, 1993-1996.