WSII Fund for Social Impact Research

Rigorous research provides the foundation for meaningful and sustainable social change.

The Wharton Social Impact Initiative Fund for Social Impact Research helps support faculty & doctoral social impact research across many areas and disciplines. Their work inspires and informs the design and delivery of sustainable solutions to enduring social problems throughout the world.

2014 research

Click on the individuals listed below to visit their Wharton faculty profiles, and read more about their research topics.

2014-2015 Projects

Jessie Handbury, Assistant Professor of Real Estate

Jessie Handbury, an Assistant Professor of Real Estate, is researching why some Americans eat less healthy foods than others.

“I am interested in understanding the role that food deserts play in explaining why low-income households eat less healthy foods than high-income households. I hope this research will provide insight as to the potential effectiveness of initiatives aimed at improving the health of low-income households.”

Witold "Vit" Henisz, Professor of Management

Witold “Vit” Henisz, Professor of Management, is continuing research on efforts by multinational corporations to engage in corporate diplomacy.

“I am starting a new multi-year project on the impact of external and internal stakeholder engagement on the 1,000 largest upstream energy and transportation infrastructure projects in the world, with a planned CAPEX of over $7.0 Trillion.”

Jean-François Houde, Assistant Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy

Jean-François Houde, an Assistant Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy, is investigating a new online market exchange platform for the delivery of waste disposal services in Dakar, Senegal.

“I’m especially interested in developing information systems to facilitate the allocation of services, and generate competition between suppliers.”

Laura Huang, Assistant Professor of Management

Laura Huang, an Assistant Professor of Management, is examining the evaluation and development of early-stage social business ventures, and what feedback entrepreneurial founders view as most valuable.

“I’m interested in understanding how entrepreneurs manage the overwhelming amount of advice they receive…[with the] hope that this research contributes to knowledge about how investors can better structure their advice-giving.”

Judd Kessler, Assistant Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy

Judd Kessler, an Assistant Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy, is exploring how announcements of support for a charitable cause affect potential donors’ giving decisions.

“It is my hope that this research helps charities more effectively raise funds and helps policy makers generate support for socially beneficial causes.

Maisy Wong, Assistant Professor of Real Estate

Maisy Wong, an Assistant Professor of Real Estate, is investigating the connections among climate change and agricultural productivity with well-being in low income countries.

“I’m [seeking] understanding of how migrant farmers adapt as they face different growing conditions and social environments. My [goal] is that this research provides policy lessons to help vulnerable farmers in developing countries mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.”

Pinar Yildirim, Assistant Professor of Marketing

Pinar Yildirim, an Assistant Professor of Marketing, is studying the impact and accuracy of using social network-based measures on credit scoring.

“My particular interests are in understanding how the accuracy of social network-based scores changes when individuals can strategically modify their social networks to attain higher credit scores; and how this in return may result in discrimination towards individuals who are at financial hardship.”

2013 faculty research fund

2013-2014 Research Projects

Luis Ballesteros, Management PhD candidate

Luis Ballesteros, a Management PhD candidate, is studying the factors that contribute to varying levels aid and philanthropic efforts from the business community during disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes.

“I’m interested in understanding the drivers and consequences of donations from firms to the relief fund of natural disasters. My hope is that this research ultimately contributed to a more efficient generation and allocation of aid for disaster-stricken communities.”

Iwan Barankay, Associate Professor of Management

Iwan Barankay, an Associate Professor of Management, is researching monetary and non-monetary incentives to shape individual level productivity both in the workplace and as a method to improve health behavior.

Mauro Guillen, Professor of Management and Director of the Joseph H. Lauder Institute

Mauro Guillen, Professor of Management and Director of the Joseph H. Lauder Institute, is exploring whether financial inclusion reduces poverty and income inequality.

“Do countries with more population using banks or mobile-banking applications score better? I am exploring the implications for policies encouraging the adoption of new applications using mobile telecommunications technology.”

Witold “Vit” Henisz, Professor of Management

Witold “Vit” Henisz, a Professor of Management, is researching a problem-solving process to guide students through crisis situations.

“In this project, I’m developing a simulation for use in the classroom that helps students navigate complex crisis situations involving external stakeholders (e.g., accusations of a chemical spill or human rights abuse in a foreign operation) in which the perceptions are shaped by multiple sources of information. Students have to make decisions about whom to believe and with whom to cooperate under extreme time pressure.”

Theresa Kelly, Management PhD candidate

Theresa Kelly, a Management PhD candidate, is investigating whether moralizing undesired behaviors – such as “smoking is selfish” – makes people less likely to try to change.

“We hope that this research will ultimately inform the way that policymakers attempt to enact large-scale behavior change, particularly in the areas of consumer behavior, public health.”

Rachel Pacheco, Management PhD candidate, is studying impact investing.

Rachel Pacheco, a Management PhD candidate, is studying impact investing.

“I’m especially interested in understanding what attributes of impact investing drive growth and success of the social enterprises that [receive investments].”