Jonathan Fay, Ph.D.

Clinical Associate Professor of Practice

Professor Fay’s lab focuses on how educational interventions and social networks influence the entrepreneurial mindset and subsequent technology diffusion and commercialization. His lab studies the interplay of how social networks, technology advancements, and business practices lead to the adoption of certain technologies but not others. Most previous research has focused on the attributes of the individual innovators or the technology itself and tries to assess which factors are most important for driving adoption. However, the history of innovation is littered with examples of chance meetings, disparate ideas coming together, and of nearly simultaneous invention by several groups. In each of these examples, the role of the network and relationships that surrounds any particular innovator and technology is absolutely critical yet is often lost because of human’s innate attraction to hero/lone inventor narratives. The network and relationships of an innovator are a large determinant of success. There is a high degree of risk and ambiguity with any innovation project. Therefore, there must be a high degree of mutual trust between actors within the network. Mutual trust develops slowly in relationships which means the social networks needed for innovation and entrepreneurship develop over long periods of time. Other research teams have noted the lack of diversity in innovation and entrepreneurship activities (e.g. VC funding rates). However, why this occurs has not been adequately explained. Future research will explore the development of high trust social networks, how that impacts the success of innovators and how that influences the diversity of innovators as well as the effectiveness of interventions to address these issues.