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


Jacqueline (Jax) Kirtley studies how strategy and technology evolves in early stage entrepreneurial firms developing revolutionary and disruptive technologies. Her dissertation entitled: “How Strategy Evolves in Entrepreneurial Nascent Technology Firms” is a longitudinal field study of strategy and technology product evolution at seven early stage energy and cleantech hardware firms. She is a Kauffman Dissertation Fellow and an INFORMS/Organization Science Dissertation Proposal Competition Finalist.

Jax 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, Jax worked in computer modeling at the Monitor Group strategy consulting firm and information architecture and usability design for a website development firm. For more than a decade, Jax taught science and engineering through live demonstrations at the Museum of Science Boston.

Continue Reading


  • 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), Leveraging Uncertainty: the Power of Entrepreneurial Firms.

    Abstract: Entrepreneurial firms manage against but also benefit from uncertainty. One way they manage is to partner with established firms to augment limited resources. Partners depend on these relationships to provide knowledge and access to innovations that they would not risk developing themselves. While the established firms control more resources, little is known how the mutual dependence within these partnerships shifts the power dynamic. Through a longitudinal field study of 19 points of disagreement across 11 partnerships for three entrepreneurial firms, I examined how and when entrepreneurial firms developing novel technology innovations with uncertain resources gain relative power over established firm partners. I found they gained power through three mechanisms that leveraged the uncertainties inherent in entrepreneurship. First, they gained speculative power when other firms believed, not only in their future value creation, but also in that future the entrepreneurial firms will control critically needed resources. Second, established firm partners lost relative power when entrepreneurial firms were willing to trade uncertain strategy outcomes for alternatives to resource dependence. Third, with failure a likely outcome, entrepreneurial firms limited their partner’s power when they threatened to end operations rather than be influenced, endangering the established firm’s opportunity to participate in the innovation.

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


Past Courses


    MGMT 230 integrates the material introduced in business fundamental courses and applies it to the design and evaluation of new ventures. The purpose of this course is to explore the many dimensions of new venture creation and growth and to foster innovation and new business formations in independent and corporate settings. The course addresses both a theoretical perspective on venture initiation and the application of writing an actual business plan. In this course you are asked to get out of the habit of being a receiver of ideas, facts, concepts and techniques, and get into the habit of generating ideas, identifying problems, analyzing and evaluating alternatives, and formulating workable action plans, thus putting textbook knowledge into practice. Students will get this hands-on experience in the following ways: Through the formation and ongoing work of venture teams that will design a comprehensive business development plan for a particular start-up company. Teams are expected to utilize the tools and analytical approaches discussed in class to their venture, through simulations, labs, lectures and class discussions that are designed to familiarize students with the many dimensions of entrepreneurship and new venture initiation. Class format varies throughout the course. In some class sessions, there will be a lecture on specific topics. Other sessions will consist of live simulations, labs, in-class exercises, and discussions of a particular topic or venture ideas that students are developing. Guest speakers will also lead and participate in some class sessions.


    This course will give you an overview of entrepreneurial development, especially within the realm of technical innovation. We will be concerned with content and process questions as well as with formulation and implementation issues that related to conceptualizing, developing and managing successful new ventures. The class serves as both a stand-alone one and as a preparatory course to a more in-depth venture implementation class (MGMT 231) as well as other classes in the domain of management and entrepreneurship. Management 267 will appeal to individuals who have a desire to become entrepreneurs at some stage of their career. Similarly, students who intend to work in the entrepreneurial ecosystem (such as in the venture capital industry) will benefit from the course.


    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 Requirements: Class participation, interim assignments, final project Enrollment limited to Wharton MBA students only.

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 @ Wharton


In the News

When and How Entrepreneurs Pivot

Wharton’s Jacqueline Kirtley studied seven early-stage firms in the energy and cleantech sector to learn how strategic changes actually play out in the startup world.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2019/06/11
All News

Awards and Honors

Kauffman Dissertation Fellow, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation 2016
All Awards