Jacqueline Kirtley

Jacqueline Kirtley
  • Assistant Professor of Management

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    2033 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: technology entrepreneurship, early stage strategy evolution, technological innovation

Links: CV

Overview

Jacqueline (Jax) Kirtley studies how strategy and technology evolve in early stage entrepreneurial firms developing revolutionary and disruptive technologies. She uses multi-year longitudinal field studies to examine hard-science startups in energy and cleantech, robotics, and medical devices, the scientists and engineers who found these firms, and the public and private organizations that support them in their earliest days.

Professor Kirtley is a co-organizer of the Wharton Technology and Innovation Conference, a Representative-at-Large for the Entrepreneurship & Strategy IG of the Strategic Management Society, and a mentor for the University of Pennsylvania’s Y-Prize Competition.

Professor Kirtley did her doctoral studies in the Strategy & Innovation Department at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. She holds a bachelor of science from MIT in Ocean Engineering with a minor in Mechanical Engineering as well as a master of science in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, also from MIT. She received an MBA with high honors from Boston University. Prior to entering academia, Professor Kirtley taught science and engineering through live demonstrations at the Museum of Science Boston.

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Research

  • Jacqueline Kirtley (Working), Following the Money: How Decisions for Funding Acquisition Redirect Entrepreneurial Technology Firm Strategy.

    Abstract: The goal of venture investment is to support and gain returns from entrepreneurial firm innovations, which should align investors with founders, yet investors’ steps to prevent failure can turn strategic decisions and the evolution of both the firm and its innovation. Through a single case study of the 11-year life of a firm developing a new technology with the potential for industry disruption, I examine how entrepreneurial firm strategy emerges and is influenced by the venture funding system. Ohm was founded to commercialize a novel energy and cleantech innovation by first launching an inaugural product, then expanding across a breadth of products until their technology displaced the current solution. Examining the patterns and outcomes of strategic decisions resulting in five changes of the firm’s inaugural product, I find that choices made explicitly in service of acquiring funding shrank rather than improved the profitability potential of the firm. Despite achieving multiple rounds of venture capital funding, a high-profile partnership with an industry incumbent, and well-reviewed commercial sales, Ohm emerged with revenue from a game changing commercialized technology and an unfundable strategy. This research contributes to entrepreneurial strategy and finance by uncovering how the regulatory focus of venture investors shifts from promotion to prevention after their initial investment, and how entrepreneurs managing investors’ prevention focus may alter their strategy to achieve short term milestones rather than long term innovation and value creation.

  • Jacqueline Kirtley and Siobhan O’Mahony (2020), What is a Pivot? Explaining When and How Entrepreneurial Firms Decide to Make Strategic Change and Pivot, Strategic Management Journal. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.3131

    Abstract: Most theories of strategic change focus on how large, established firms recognize or fail to recognize the need for strategic change. Little research examines how early stage entrepreneurs decide when and how to change their strategies. With a longitudinal field study of seven entrepreneurial firms developing innovations in energy and cleantech, we examined 93 strategic decisions at risk for change. We found that decision makers chose to change their strategies only after new information conflicted with or expanded their beliefs. Further, a pivot, or strategic reorientation, was not achieved with a single decision, but by incrementally exiting or adding strategy elements over time, accumulating into a pivot. We contribute a grounded definition of what constitutes a pivot and explain when and how entrepreneurial firms pivot.

  • Jacqueline Kirtley (Working), Patrons not Predators: Resource-Dependence and Power in Entrepreneurial-Established Firm Partnerships for Novel Technology Development.

    Abstract: The swimming with sharks literature holds two key assumptions: that entrepreneurial firms are lower power and that their established firm partners are competitors looking to imitate and misappropriate their innovation. However, those assumptions may not be true in partnerships for the development of novel technology innovation. To better understand these relationships, this research examines how power from resource dependence is assessed and managed between entrepreneurial and established firms in relationships for the development of novel technology innovations. Through a longitudinal, qualitative field study of 11 partnerships of three entrepreneurial firms, I found that partners were mutually dependent and their power imbalance was assessed based on speculation about future resource dependence when the innovation is successful and about the future of the entrepreneurial firm. I also found that the entrepreneurial firms rarely followed the defensive recommendations of the swimming with sharks literature, choosing instead to partner fully and quickly for the sake of expeditious, successful development of their technology and their joint future as either acquisition targets or on-going transacting partners.

  • Fernando Suarez and Jacqueline Kirtley (2012), Dethroning an Established Platform, Sloan Management Review, 53 (4), pp. 35-41.

Teaching

Current Courses (Fall 2022)

  • MGMT2670 - Entrep & Tech Innov

    Building a new firm around technology innovation can mean different choices and challenges for entrepreneurs. The goals and outcomes of technology entrepreneurship vary as much as the innovations that inspire them. MGMT 267 will take you through the questions that entrepreneurs should address as they go from a technology innovation idea to founding and funding a tech startup. The course will appeal to individuals who have a desire to become technology entrepreneurs at some stage of their career, as well as others interested in the startup ecosystem such as investors, early employees, other professional service providers, etc. Through a combination of individual and team work, you will examine what is different when technology is at the core of an entrepreneurial opportunity and how to move a technology-based venture forward.

    MGMT2670002 ( Syllabus )

All Courses

  • EDEN6020 - Technology Strategy: 2

    Technology Strategy is designed to meet the needs of future managers, entrepreneurs, consultants and investors who must analyze and develop business strategies in technology-based industries. The emphasis is on learning conceptual models and frameworks to help navigate the complexity and dynamism in such industries. This is not a course in new product development or in using technology to improve business processes and offerings. The class will take a perspective of both established and emerging firms competing through technological innovations, and study the key strategic drivers of value creation and appropriation in the context of business ecosystems. Prerequisite: Enrollment in Education Entrepreneurship program.

  • MGMT2300 - Entrepreneurship

    How do you take a good idea and turn it into a successful venture? Whether you plan to become a founder, investor, mentor, partner, or early employee of a startup company, this course will take you through the entire journey of new venture creation and development. MGMT 230 is a project-based survey course designed to provide an overview of the entrepreneurial process and give you practical hands-on experience with new venture development. You and a team will have the chance to ideate, test, and develop a pitch for an early-stage startup by incorporating material from class lectures, simulations, labs, and class discussions. By the end of the course, you will have a better understanding of what it takes to create a successful startup, as well as proven techniques for identifying and testing new market opportunities, acquiring resources, bringing new products and services to market, scaling, and exiting new ventures.

  • MGMT2670 - Entrep & Tech Innov

    Building a new firm around technology innovation can mean different choices and challenges for entrepreneurs. The goals and outcomes of technology entrepreneurship vary as much as the innovations that inspire them. MGMT 267 will take you through the questions that entrepreneurs should address as they go from a technology innovation idea to founding and funding a tech startup. The course will appeal to individuals who have a desire to become technology entrepreneurs at some stage of their career, as well as others interested in the startup ecosystem such as investors, early employees, other professional service providers, etc. Through a combination of individual and team work, you will examine what is different when technology is at the core of an entrepreneurial opportunity and how to move a technology-based venture forward.

  • MGMT8010 - Entrepreneurship

    MGMT 801 is the foundation coures in the Entrepeurial Management program. The purpose of this course is to explore the many dimensions of new venture creation and growth. While most of the examples in class will be drawn from new venture formation, the principles also apply to entrepreneurship in corporate settings and to non-profit entrepreneurship. We will be concerned with content and process questions as well as with formulation and implementation issues that relate to conceptualizing, developing, and managing successful new ventures. The emphasis in this course is on applying and synthesizing concepts and techniques from functional areas of strategic management, finance, accounting, managerial economics, marketing, operations management, and organizational behavior in the context of new venture development. The class serves as both a stand alone class and as a preparatory course to those interested in writing and venture implementation (the subject of the semester-long course, MGMT 806). Format: Lectures and case discussions

  • PPE3999 - Independent Study

    Student arranges with a faculty member to pursue a research project on a suitable topic. For more information about research and setting up independent studies, visit: https://ppe.sas.upenn.edu/study/curriculum/independent-studies

Awards and Honors

  • Kauffman Dissertation Fellow, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, 2016
  • INFORMS/Organization Science Dissertation Proposal Competition Finalist, INFORMS College of Organization Science, 2014
  • School of Management Doctoral Fellowship, Boston University, 2010-2014
  • Recipient, LEAD Fellowship, Boston University School of Management MBA Program, 2007-2009

In the News

Knowledge at Wharton

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Latest Research

Jacqueline Kirtley (Working), Following the Money: How Decisions for Funding Acquisition Redirect Entrepreneurial Technology Firm Strategy.
All Research

In the News

Is the Great Resignation Giving Rise to the Entrepreneur?

The Great Resignation is coinciding with record applications for new businesses. Wharton management professor Jacqueline “Jax” Kirtley looks at what this means for the labor market.Read More

Knowledge at Wharton - 10/25/2021
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Wharton Magazine

Defining the Entrepreneurial Pivot
Wharton Magazine - 10/09/2019