Lauren Lanahan

Faculty Spotlight: Lauren Lanahan

Lauren Lanahan is an assistant professor of management at the Lundquist College of Business. Her research investigates the role of public institutions in understanding the evolving, multifaceted research and development enterprise. Lanahan received her PhD and MA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After earning a bachelor's degree, she worked at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Social and Economic Sciences.

Lanahan was recently honored as a Western Academy of Management Ascendant Scholar for 2020. The award is a recognition of Lanahan's research quality and productivity, teaching awards and contributions, record of professional service, and future academic trajectory.

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What is the subject of your current research?

I have an interdisciplinary background in public policy, and my research focuses on the intersection of institutions and the production of new scientific knowledge, entrepreneurship, and economic growth.

I examine institutions and innovation from unique (and understudied) angles, including: local institutions and their engagement with startup activity; federal investment in early-career scientists and engineers; and firms" microgeographic sources of competitive advantage in economically distressed areas.

What should the public know about your research? Why is your topic important?

Entrepreneurship is an inherently risky activity with a high failure rate. There is an extensive range of public programs designed to assist ventures and entrepreneurs during the early-stages as they traverse the infamous “valleys of death." Ultimately, I aim to understand how public institutions and reward structures can most efficiently promote entrepreneurship and create new technology and scientific knowledge.

Why is studying entrepreneurship and innovation relevant for society?

I view entrepreneurship and innovation as a critical resource for a healthy economy. Importantly, these ventures take risks and those risks can offer notable improvements for a range of fields spanning healthcare, finance, energy, and transportation.