Jiayi Bao

Jiayi Bao
  • Applied Economics Doctoral Student

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    3733 Spruce Street, 300 Vance Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6302

Research Interests: Strategic Human Capital, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Human Resource Management, Organizational Theory, Experimental Economics, Organizational Economics, Labor Economics

Links: Personal Website


Jiayi Bao is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Business Economics and Public Policy Department at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Jiayi’s research focuses on human capital strategy and workplace diversity issues in different contexts of entrepreneurial forms and phases, drawing from the rich interplay of phenomenon and theory at the intersection of strategy, human resource management, and entrepreneurship. She graduated from Vassar College in 2014 with a joint degree in Economics and Mathematics (General Honors and Departmental Honors) and received the DeGolier Prize for the student with the highest academic average. Jiayi has won a number of awards for her research, including multiple grants from the Mack Institute of Innovation Management and the Kauffman Knowledge Challenge grant for the study of entrepreneurship. She is also a coauthor of the American Angel Report, a comprehensive national study on angel investors who are crucial to the founding of high-growth startups. Prior to Wharton, she worked in multiple organizations including PIMCO, Merrill Lynch, and Mizuho.

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  • Jiayi Bao (Working), (How) Do Risky Perks Benefit Firms? The Case of Unlimited Vacation.

  • Tiantian Yang, Maria Triana, Jiayi Bao (Under Revision), Against all odds: Why Black Entrepreneurs Are More Motivated and Persistent and Spite of Lower Business Success.

    Abstract: Grounded in AMO (ability, motivation, opportunity) theory, this study takes a first step toward bringing race back into the entrepreneurship literature to predict how the race of the founding entrepreneur (i.e., Black or White) influences motivation to start a business and subsequent persistence and performance. We describe how, due to historic and present-day societal discrimination, Blacks tend to have fewer opportunities in the highest-ranking positions of Corporate America, and they are underrepresented in the upper echelons relative to their proportion of the workforce. Such barriers to Blacks in wage employment motivate them to enter and persist in entrepreneurship despite their lower odds of success. Using a sample from the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics II (PSED II), we find that Black potential entrepreneurs have fewer relevant skills to start a business (e.g., less managerial experience) compared to White potential entrepreneurs, yet they have stronger motivation to start a business to make new opportunities for themselves and their families. We also find that Black individuals are more likely to start businesses than White individuals, and that although Black entrepreneurs are less financially successful than White entrepreneurs, they are more persistent than White entrepreneurs. The positive association between Black entrepreneurs’ race and business persistence is partially mediated by higher levels of motivation to run one’s own business.

    Description: R&R at Research Policy

  • Tiantian Yang, Ming D. Leung, Jiayi Bao (Under Revision), Approaching or Avoiding: Gender Asymmetry in Reactions to Prior Job Search Experience.

    Abstract: This paper presents a novel investigation into how supply-side job seeking interacts with demand-side hiring decisions to reproduce occupational gender segregation. The authors theorize that because female job seekers are less confident of their ability in male-typed jobs than their male counterparts, they will be more responsive to cues from employers. Specifically, job application success will encourage female job seekers to approach similar work in the future; employers’ rejections, on the other hand, will be particularly discouraging, leading women to avoid similar work in the future. Analyses of a longitudinal dataset of three million applications for IT and programming jobs from an online freelancing platform support the theory. Past job-seeking experience, either positive or negative, exerted a stronger effect on how women, compared to men, approached or avoided applying to IT and programming. Because failure is the more prevalent outcome, female freelancers stop applying to male-typed jobs quicker than males. In contrast, analyses in the female-typed writing and translation field did not reveal similar gender patterns. Gender asymmetries in response to employers’ hiring decisions reproduce occupational gender segregation by reducing women’s representation in male-typed but not female-typed fields. Implications for research on gender segregation, careers and hiring are discussed.

    Description: R&R at American Sociological Review

  • Jiayi Bao (Working), When Time-Off Sparks Time-At-Work.

  • Tiantian Yang, Jiayi Bao, Howard E. Aldrich (Forthcoming), The Paradox of Resource Provision in Entrepreneurial Teams: Between Self-Interest and the Collective Enterprise.

    Abstract: Using a nationally representative multi-wave panel study of nascent entrepreneur, we investigate the antecedents and consequences of the founding entrepreneur’s paradox: assembling an entrepreneurial team as a way of eliciting contributions from others may not provide enough resources to launch new venture. We argue that the precarious nature of the early founding stage and the intrinsic properties of valuable resources, such as difficulty in withdrawing or redeploying them for other uses, may amplify the risk of early-stage resource contributions and increase team members’ tendencies toward free- riding and hold-up. The expectation that early entrepreneur efforts will not pay off may discourage individuals from investing their own resources early on, generating tension between individuals’ natural dispositions to guard their personal interests and a team’s dependence on collective efforts, ultimately limiting members’ contributions. Analyzing a representative sample of entrepreneurial teams in the United States assembled in 2005, we show that early-stage team members are more willing to provide extractible/duplicable resources (i.e. information, advice) than non-extractible/non-duplicable resources (i.e. financial resource and time), even though such resources are less critical to venture survival than non-extractible/non-duplicable resources. Pre-signed formal contracts and founding entrepreneurs’ initial contributions make members’ contributions more likely. Our results suggest that entrepreneurs’ commitments to their business, signified by their contributions of valuable resources, help mitigate the tension between individuals’ tendencies to preserve their personal resources and a teams’ reliance on collective effort for success in cases where teams have not signed collective agreements regarding ownership.

    Description: Accepted at Organization Science

  • Jiayi Bao and Andy Wu (Working), Equality and Equity in Compensation.

    Abstract: Equity compensation is widely used for incentivizing skilled employees, particularly in new technology businesses. Traditional theories explaining why firms offer equity suggest that workers with higher rank should receive compensation packages more heavily weighted in equity. However, we observe the puzzle that many firms adopt an equality-in-equity strategy: they offer different cash salaries across all jobs but the same equity compensation. We propose a behavioral theory of domain-contingent inequality aversion to explain this finding: we argue that workers view salary and equity as two domains and are more inequality averse in the equity domain. Inequality in equity has a negative asymmetric effect on effort whereas the effect of inequality in salary can be positive. Our experimental findings are consistent with the existence of domain-contingent inequality aversion; we also find that inequality aversion in equity is more severe than in salary because of the perceived scarcity of equity.

  • Jiayi Bao and Benjamin Ho (2015), Heterogeneous Effects of Informational Nudges on Pro-social Behavior, The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 15 (4), pp. 1619-1655.

    Abstract: Numerous experimental studies of informational nudges both in the lab and the field have demonstrated not just that informational nudges are effective policy tools for influencing behavior, but also that nudges have heterogeneous impacts that differ depending on the characteristics of the person involved and the situation. We adapt Andreoni’s theory of warm-glow impure altruism to account for how altruism motives respond differently depending on the disposition of the person and the situation. The model explains both positive spillovers (moral cleansing) and negative spillovers (moral licensing) for behavioral interventions, showing that targeting of informational campaigns depends on the complementarity between people’s traits and the intervention’s content. More importantly, the design of economic incentives (like Pigouvian taxes) to shift economic behavior should depend on both the distribution of social preferences in the population and the use of behavioral interventions.


Case Study

Huang, Laura, Andy Wu, and Jiayi Bao. “Boxed.” Harvard Business School Case 719-496, April 2019.

Abstract: Boxed.com (“Boxed”) is an ambitious e-commerce retailer start-up, founded by visionary CEO Chieh Huang in 2013. From starting in Huang’s garage in 2013, to winning Emerging E-Retailer of the Year in 2016, to having 4 operational distribution centers in 2018, Boxed used a variety of strategies in order to gain customers and grow its presence. This case explores the journey that the scrappy, new entrant navigated as it competed against large, goliath players in an already established retail and e-commerce industry.

Past and Current Courses

WH150 Evaluating Evidence (UG), Guest Lecturer

MGMT 816 Building Human Assets in Entrepreneurial Ventures (MBA), TA

Leadership in the Business World Program, Module Lecturer for Management

MGMT 801 Entrepreneurship (MBA), TA

MGEC 611/612 Microeconomics for Managers (Executive MBA), Recitation Instructor

EDEN 501 Entrepreneurship in Education, TA

BEPP 250 Managerial Economics (UG), Recitation Instructor

Awards and Honors

  • REER Best Student Paper Award Finalist, 2019
  • Mack Institute Research Fellowship, 2019
  • Wharton People Analytics Research Paper Competition Finalist, 2019
  • Wharton Risk Center Russell Ackoff Doctoral Student Fellowship Award, 2018
  • Mack Institute Research Fellowship, 2018
  • Wharton George James Travel Award, 2018
  • Kauffman Knowledge Challenge Grant (Insight to Impact), 2018
  • Mack Institute Research Fellowship, 2017
  • Emilie Louise Wells Fellowship, 2017
  • Wharton People Analytics Research Paper Competition Finalist, 2017
  • Wharton George James Travel Award, 2017
  • Emilie Louise Wells Fellowship, 2016
  • Mack Institute Research Fellowship, 2016
  • Wharton Risk Center Russell Ackoff Doctoral Student Fellowship Award, 2016
  • I.S.E.O. Summer School Scholarship, 2014
  • The Agnes Reynolds Jackson Prize, 2014
  • The Virginia Swinburne Brownell Prize in Political Economy, 2014
  • Plenary Speaker at National Collegiate Research Conference, 2014
  • The DeGolier Prize for Academic Excellence, 2013
  • Lui & Wan Foundation Scholarship, 2010-2014


Latest Research

Jiayi Bao (Working), (How) Do Risky Perks Benefit Firms? The Case of Unlimited Vacation.
All Research

In the News

These are the perks that matter most to employees
World Economic Forum - 11/12/2019
All News

Awards and Honors

REER Best Student Paper Award Finalist 2019
All Awards