Areas of interest: Organization Theory, Innovation & Technology, Strategy, Nonfinancial Incentives, Social Evaluation, Online Communities, Scientific Teams

Research in progress

Data analysis

“Do Stack Overflow users have greater career benefits? A study of the complementarity between “virtual” and “real” world work achievements” with D. Kryscynski (Rutgers University). 

Data: merged individuals Stack Overflow contributions and their LinkedIn career profiles.

Data analysis

“Division of labor and the decentralization of power: Delegation in software development projects” with M. Raveendran (UC Riverside).

Data: projects hosted on GitHub.

Data exploration

How digital badges influence contributor reputation and performance in Stack Overflow.

Data: badges users earn on Stack Overflow, their contributions, and received votes.

Data collection

“When does feedback improve the quality of scientific ideas? Exploring the role of intellectual proximity and expertise” with M. Teplitskiy (University of Michigan). 

Data: field experiment with UM students applying for NSF-GRFP fellowships.

Data collection

“Why women self-promote their work less? Examining mechanisms behind the gender gap in scholarly self-promotion.” with Á. Horvát (Northwestern University). 

Data: large-scale survey with scientists.

Data collection

Self-presentational language and leadership emergence: Evidence from Stack Overflow election process.with C. Chambers (Johns Hopkins University) and Evita Liu (Bocconi University)

Data: moderator elections on the Stack Overflow platform (nominations, discussions, votes).

Data collection

Did remote work “revolution” change the Rural America for good?” with Soyoung Park (Florida Atlantic University).

Data: ACS population survey, U.S. Census data.

Working papers

Under review

Smirnova I, Shannon A, & Teplitskiy M. “The effect of trainee career intentions on mentor’s interest in the trainee: Experimental evidence from academia.” 

Here, we test whether a trainee’s career intentions causally affect mentorship availability in the setting of PhD programs. We hypothesized that principal investigators (PIs) would view industry-focused trainees less favorably than academia-focused ones due to concerns about skills, commitment, and PIs’ own career benefits. We also expected the industry penalty to be larger among PIs at prestigious institutions, with fewer industry connections and longer careers. We tested these hypotheses with an audit experiment where a fictional prospective PhD student emailed immunology and microbiology PIs about mentorship. The student’s career intention was randomly described as “applied research in industry” (n = 1000), “basic research in academia” (n = 1000) or with no description (control, n = 442). All emails highlighted the student’s great academic record to address concerns about skills. Contrary to expectations, PIs responded similarly across all conditions (industry: 55%, academia: 60%, control: 59%). Treatment effects showed little variation based on the PIs’ institution prestige, industry connections, and career length. These findings suggest that PIs do not discriminate against high-skill prospective trainees based on their career interests. If trainees’ career intentions do causally decrease mentorship availability or quality, it likely occurs later in the pipeline.  

R&R, Strategic Management Journal

Smirnova I, Romero D, & Teplitskiy M. “The bias-reducing effect of voluntary anonymization of authors’ identities: Evidence from peer review.” 

Media coverage: IOP Publishing news; Nature career news. 

In this project we partnered with one of the world’s leading scientific publishing companies, IOP Publishing, to investigate whether the policy of “nudging” authors to anonymize their papers, i.e. strongly encouraging but not enforcing it, reduces prestige bias in manuscript evaluations made by editors and reviewers. We found that “nudging” works! For low-prestige authors, the policy increased acceptances by a substantial 5.6%; for middle- and high-prestige authors, on the other hand, the policy decreased final acceptance rates by 4.6% and 2.2% [n.s.]. We offer some first insights on an efficient policy design that is 1) low-cost, and 2) helps make evaluations fairer in settings with qualitative expert judgments. 

Working paper

Smirnova I, Reitzig M, & Mitsuhashi H. “OSS communities as complementary assetswhy and where do they work efficiently?” 

In this paper we investigate what shapes project growth in online communities like GitHub and why some project founders induce more contributions than others. Many online communities typically host a collection of projects, and community members have a choice of which projects, if any, to join. Each project founder thus can receive voluntary contributions from other community participants and can reciprocate back either by 1) making contributions to others’ projects or 2) by managing the incoming contributions to grow their own project optimally. We examine how community members perceive these two types of reciprocal behavior of a given project founder and whether they help a founder to receive more incoming help or not. Interestingly, we find that only the latter reciprocal behavior of a founder leads to project growth even though both behaviors are well-intended. 

Journal publications

Org Science 2022

Smirnova I, Reitzig M, & Sorenson O. 2022.Building status in an online community.” Organization Science 33(6): 20852540. 

Media coverage: UCLA Anderson Review

This research investigates how contributors, by collecting non-monetary awards for their contributions, attain high status within the community. The main motivation for this project comes from the observation that having community-wide recognition is one of the key drivers for why people join such collectives. Given how valuable and desirable community-wide status is, this paper explores the pathways through which one could gain it. We investigate the notion that the actions that contribute to status attainment vary as community contributors move up the status hierarchy. Combining the data from the online Q&A community Stack Overflow and two experiments, we find that contributors can build low levels of status by engaging in activities whose quality is easy to assess for the community (i.e. asking questions). As status rises, however, further increases in status come from engaging in activities that are more difficult to evaluate (i.e. providing answers) or even impossible to judge (i.e. commenting). 

Research Policy 2022

Smirnova I, Reitzig M, & Alexy O. 2022. “What makes the right OSS contributor tick? Treatments to motivate high-skilled developers.” Research Policy 51(1).

Media coverage: UMSI news

This paper explores how non-monetary incentives (an element of organizational design) effect effort (an important component of collaborative innovation). Just as individual community members differ in their preferences, so do they vary along a series of other dimensions: professional history, experience, skill, and so forth. Here, we explore how the management of an innovation project influences different contributors’ perceptions and engagement. Specifically, we examine how the skills of contributors effect their selection for an open source project in the first place, and how project owners—private individuals or companies—can motivate developers with the right skill to exert continuous effort on a project after joining. We focus on three design parameters that can be managed by founders (founders revealing their corporate affiliation, project acceptance rate and feedback provision time) and test how they impact the effort of different developers within the Stack Overflow and GitHub communities.  

Information Technology and Management 2021

Mishra B & Smirnova I. 2021. “Optimal configuration of intrusion detection systems.” Information Technology and Management 22: 231–244. 

An intrusion detection system (IDS) can protect your network and computer from a variety of threats. IDSs are designed to assist detection of computer security violations including illegal entry by outsiders and abuse of privileges by insiders. This article develops the clear connection between IDS systems and their economic/managerial impact and presents an optimization model based on game theory to assist firms in the IDS configuration process. The model is based on the fact that the frequencies of false positives and false negatives affect the way firms deal with signals from the IDS, and that configuration affects the behaviors of users significantly. Given that no one configuration will be optimal for all firms, our analysis develops interesting insights into how the firm’s cost parameters, the IDS’s quality parameters, and the external parameters (such as hacker’s benefit from intrusion and the penalty that is imposed when the intrusion is detected) affect the configuration decisions. 

Peer-reviewed conference proceedings

AOM 2020

Smirnova I, Reitzig M, & Mitsuhashi H. 2020. “On the division of labor in open innovation teams: An empirical analysis.” Academy of Management Conference Proceedings.

AOM 2017

Smirnova I & Reitzig M. 2017. “What makes the right contributor tick? Skill-based sorting in non-traditional production communities.” Academy of Management Conference Proceedings

ICIST 2014

Smirnova I, Münch J, & Stupperich M. 2014. “A canvas for establishing global software development collaborations.” Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Information and Software Technologies 465: 73–93. 

CBSE 2013

Smirnova I. 2013. “Impact of cloud computing on global software development challenges.” Proceedings of the seminar no. 58312107 on Cloud-Based Software Engineering, University of Helsinki, 34–39.