Emerging expert

Assistant Professor of Strategy Pai-Ling Yin breaks out in emerging technology research

Professor Pai-Ling Yin

With her strong interest in emerging technology, e-commerce and industry evolution, Assistant Professor of Strategy Pai-Ling Yin, has found a good match with MIT Sloan.

“MIT is very tech oriented,” says Yin who joined the School this year after spending four years at Harvard. “So far, this has been a good fit for my interests.”

Much to explore

Yin's interests run the gamut, but much of her recent work has focused on emerging markets and new technology. This includes a recent examination of eBay and other online auction markets. In her research, Yin found that on eBay, price is driven both by seller reputation — as indicated by the eBay “ratings” — and by the information, even the bad news, provided by the seller about the goods. Both are important, says Yin, who was studying the auction market for computers exclusively.

Yin has also extensively studied the Internet “browser wars,” specifically targeting the success of Internet Explorer over Netscape Navigator. Her main question: Was it the superior technology or the proliferation of Explorer via personal computer sales that made Explorer victorious? According to Yin and Stanford professor Timothy F. Bresnahan, who co-authored a paper on their findings, it is distribution more than progress that predicted the outcome.

Yin — who has also written a host of cases on companies like TiVo, PalmSource, Qualcomm, and SAP — says emerging technology has offered her a larger playing field for study.

“Technology interests me because it is the mechanism by which we can improve our lives,” says Yin. “It also can have unintended consequences, which is why it is important to study its adoption and diffusion through the market.”

A good fit

Yin's interest in the subject emerged as an undergraduate at Indiana University-Bloomington where she earned a BA in French, a BS in economics, and a BS in math. After college, she was the resident scholar for the Harry S Truman Scholarship Foundation in Washington, D.C. before heading to the London School of Economics and Political Science where she earned a master's.

After earning her PhD in economics from Stanford University, Yin found herself at Harvard Business School, where she taught the core strategy course and the strategy and technology elective course.

Although she enjoyed her time down the river, Yin is looking forward to the changes in her new position, particularly the interactions she hopes to have with her students next semester when she begins teaching her strategy course. “The students and I will be able to engage in very current topics,” says Yin, adding that she is especially “looking forward to using a mix of lecture and case method to help students learn. MIT is a good fit for my style.”

Yin and her husband live in Boston. In her limited free time, she enjoys “good food, playing with my dog, and traveling to warm places.”