As part of our profiles of TIM people, let us introduce Sonali Shah of Gies College of Business which is part of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Illinois. Sonali, you recently joined the TIM Executive Committee, so…
What are your research interests right now?
My research centers on improving our understanding of the processes that fuel innovation and entrepreneurship. There are three areas that I’m particularly interested in: investigating collaborative models of innovation development—such as open source software development—and their implications for firms and policy; examining the factors that determine startup success and the precursors of commercial activity in nascent industries; and examining how aid agencies can design innovative, replicable interventions that bring both the power of aid-based coordination and training, as well as markets, to bear to solve critical problems in under-resourced regions.
What do you think is your most exciting contribution to academia?
One of the things I do in all of my work––whether focusing on user innovators, entrepreneurs, or smallholder farmers––is to bring in the perspective of the individual. By unveiling how individual motivations/aspirations and knowledge propel decisions and actions, I hope to contribute insights on how and why change occurs. More broadly, I hope that my research will advance knowledge of innovative ways of organizing to ignite change.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
We enjoy hiking and baking. My husband and I are eager to introduce our son to the beauty of the Dolomites and Whistler. In the meantime, we are working on perfecting homemade crème brûlée, molten chocolate lava cakes, and frosted cupcakes. All are more straightforward than we expected… except piping the frosting, we make quite the mess with that!
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