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Stephen J. Anderson

Assistant Professor

Department:     Marketing

Stephen J Anderson


Professor Anderson is an empirical researcher who studies management and policy questions at the intersection of marketing and entrepreneurship in developing economies. His research focuses on spurring inclusive, equitable growth and sustainable, green growth in disadvantaged regions. With more than twenty randomized controlled trials (RCTs) launched throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia, Steve has been a pioneer in bringing development economics research to the field of marketing over the past decade. These studies have been published in top journals across both disciplines, including Marketing Science, the Journal of Marketing Research, Management Science and the Journal of Marketing, as well as the Journal of Political Economy and the Journal of Development Economics. The impact of this work has also been recognized with the MSI/AMA Paul Root Award, the INFORMS Frank Bass Outstanding Dissertation Award, the Hunt-Maynard Award (finalist), the AMA Robert Lavidge Global Marketing Research Award, and the INFORMS Gary Lilien Practice Prize Award.


In his first research program, Steve examines the role of marketing in alleviating inequity and growing firms through two interrelated topics: Marketing Capabilities (building the marketing and sales expertise of entrepreneurs); and Product Development (enhancing the design and usage of new products/services). Steve’s second research program focuses on stimulating more sustainable, scalable growth in developing economies via technology and energy innovations related to: Ed-Fintech (leveraging digital solutions to empower and finance marginalized firms); and Green Entrepreneurship (growing economic and environmental impact in business). Most of Steve’s work uses multi-year field experiments to causally identify what works in enhancing entrepreneurial performance, and to uncover how and why these changes occur.

  • One novel aspect of this approach is its focus on individual firms as the unit of analysis, which allows examination of marketing phenomena not yet empirically addressed. This often requires running randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with hundreds of entrepreneurs running small firms or early-stage ventures.
  • Another defining feature of Steve’s studies is the active design of interventions in collaboration with partners, which assists not only in identifying main effects but also with ensuring theoretical variables of interest are operationalized to generate exogenous variation where needed.
  • A third characteristic unique to Steve’s research is combining methodologies to converge on a rigorous measure of the underlying mechanism. For instance, results will often be based on multiple data sources such as: field-based surveys, on-site verification checks, financial statement audits, electronic triangulation tools, geocoding and distance calculations, photo evidence, written and verbal text analysis, video recordings with independent rater scoring, objective ability or psychological tests, and administrative data from partner or government sources. Steve believes it is ‘how’ a given intervention improves livelihoods or increases firm growth (i.e., the mechanism) that often leads to new lessons on entrepreneurship that generalize beyond the boundaries of a particular developing economy.



In addition to the invaluable support from his academic mentors and co-authors, Steve’s studies could not have been successfully completed without the commitment of numerous partners, including: government agencies (e.g., World Bank, National Entrepreneur Institute of Mexico, Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance, Peru's Ministry of Science and Innovation); non-government organizations (e.g., Balloon Ventures, Grow Movement, Technoserve); and private-sector companies (e.g., Equity Group, KiWi, Sinapi Aba). A debt of gratitude is owed to everyone who has dedicated time and resources to implementing one of these lengthy firm-level interventions involving hundreds of entrepreneurs.

Working alongside collaborators, Steve has also been fortunate to secure nearly $20 million in funding for carrying out the interventions and data collection activities related to his field research. He gratefully acknowledges financial support from: the World Bank (various trusts and research grants); the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC); US AID (Development Innovation Ventures fund); the UK's DFID (Private Enterprise Development in LICs fund, the Growth and Employment program, the Economic Development and Institutions fund); Gates Foundation (Global Financial Inclusion Initiative); the International Growth Centre (IGC); the Deloitte Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (DIIE); Canada’s IDRC (Partnership for Economic Policy fund); the SME initiative of Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA); the Research and Development Management group (RADMA); Mastercard (Center for Inclusive Growth); Agridius Foundation (International Growth Lab); Facebook (Economic Impact of Digital Technologies); Qualcomm (Wireless Reach); IKEA Foundation (Climate Action); Chicago Booth School of Business (various centers and research grants); London Business School (various centers and research grants); McCombs School of Business (research grants); and Stanford Graduate School of Business (various centers and research grants).



Steve joined McCombs from the Stanford GSB, where he was a professor for five years. Before returning for doctoral studies, he gained industry experience in the technology start-up space, working with entrepreneurs in product management and tech-transfer roles. This early interest in entrepreneurship has carried over to Steve’s present day research activities, only now he is focused on assisting entrepreneurs in developing economies to innovate, find new customers and increase sales. The passion driving Steve’s first research program on inclusive, equitable growth also stems from experiencing poverty firsthand during childhood and personally battling the day-to-day challenges arising from financial constraints, food and housing insecurity, barriers to education, and lack of economic and social mobility.


Having grown up on the west coast of Canada, Steve has always enjoyed activities involving the ocean and the outdoors!  In addition, he is keenly interested in competitive team sports, and also likes traveling internationally to learn from different cultures and diverse perspectives. Steve shares these life adventures with his wife (Sophia) and their three kiddos (Jude, Sampson and Ayla Grace) – the inspiration behind his latest research pursuits on sustainable, green growth.



  • PhD, London Business School, 2015
  • MRes, London Business School, 2011
  • MSc (Economics), University of Minnesota, 2009
  • MBA, Queen’s University, 2005
  • BCom, University of Victoria, 2001




American Marketing Association/MSI/Root Award, Winner 


Hunt/Maynard Award, Finalist


Research Reboot Award, University of Texas at Austin, Office of the Provost



Robert J. Lavidge Global Marketing Research Award, American Marketing Association



Frank M. Bass Outstanding Dissertation Award, INFORMS



MSx Distinguished Teaching Award, Finalist, Stanford Graduate School of Business



Disruptions, Resilience and Performance of Emerging Market Entrepreneurs: Evidence from Uganda. By:  Stephen J. Anderson, Amrita Kundu, and Kamalini Ramdas. Management Science.  Forthcoming.

Modernizing Retailers in an Emerging Market: Investigating Externally Focused and Internally Focused Approaches. By: Stephen J Anderson, Leonardo Iacovone, Shreya Kankanhalli, Sridhar Narayanan. Journal of Marketing Research. Jun2022, Vol. 59 Issue 3, p472-496.

Virtual Collaboration Technology and International Business Coaching: Examining the Impact on Marketing Strategies and Sales. By:  Stephen J. Anderson, Pradeep Chintagunta, Naufel Vilcassim. Marketing Science.  Forthcoming.

Stephen J. Anderson and David McKenzie. Improving Business Practices and the Boundary of the Entrepreneur: A Randomized Experiment Comparing Training, Consulting, Insourcing and Outsourcing. Journal of Political Economy.

Stephen J Anderson, Pradeep Chintagunta, Frank Germann, and Naufel Vilcassim. 2021. Do Marketers Matter for Entrepreneurs? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Uganda. Journal of Marketing 85(3), 78-96.

Stephen J. Anderson, Christy Lazicky, and Bilal Zia . 2021. Measuring the Unmeasured: Aggregating, Anchoring, and Adjusting to Estimate Small Business Performance. Journal of Development Economics 151, 102655.

Stephen J Anderson, Rajesh Chandy, and Bilal Zia. 2018. Pathways to Profits: The Impact of Marketing versus Finance Skills on Business Performance. Management Science 64(12), 5559-5583.

Scott Connors, Stephen J. Anderson, and Matthew Thomson. 2017. Overcoming the ‘Window Dressing’ Effect: Mitigating the Negative Effects of Inherent Skepticism towards Corporate Social Responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics 145, 599-621.