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Jillian Grennan


Emory University


Innovator Diversity Pilots Initiative


Elements in Law, Economics, and Politics




Academic interests:

Finance, Law, Innovation, and Culture 

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Jillian Grennan

Professor Grennan is a financial economist whose research provides actionable insights for practitioners navigating corporate value creation and emerging technologies.  Professor Grennan’s primary research focuses on how corporations create value, especially intangible (e.g., intellectual property).  In her pioneering research, Professor Grennan employs innovative computational techniques to quantify aspects of sustainability, such as corporate culture and the efficacy of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.  She utilizes machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) techniques to measure these often difficult-to-measure factors and empirically examines their impact on financial value.

Additionally, Professor Grennan's expertise extends to emerging financial technologies (FinTechs) catalyzed by artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain advancements.  Her research in this domain investigates the effects of AI on high-skilled work, the relationship between market efficiency and AI signals, the dynamics of competition between incumbent corporations and FinTechs, and the evolving governance, tax, and regulatory needs brought about by FinTechs, digital assets, and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).  For more details, please see Jill's CV.  

Professor Grennan received her Ph.D. from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. from Georgetown University, and a B.A. from Wellesley College.  Grennan was previously on the faculty at Duke University, the University of California (Berkeley), and Santa Clara University, and before academia, she worked at the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the World Trade Organization, and KPMG.




Graham, J., J. Grennan, C. Harvey, and S. Rajgopal, 2022. "Corporate Culture: Evidence from the Field" Journal of Financial Economics 146552 – 593. [JFE], [SSRN], [Data & Code]

Grennan, J., 2019, "Dividend Payments as a Response to Peer Influence." Journal of Financial Economics 131, 549 – 570. [JFE], [SSRN], [slides]

Eldar, O., and J. Grennan, 2024, "Common Venture Capital Investors and Startup Growth" Review of Financial Studies 37, 549-590. [RFS], [SSRN]

Eldar, O., and J. Grennan, 2021, "Common Ownership and Entrepreneurship." AEA Papers & Proceedings 111, 582-586. [P&P], [SSRN], [Data & Code]

Gorton, G., J. Grennan, and A. Zentefis, 2022. "Corporate Culture" Annual Review of Financial Economics 14, 535-561. [ARFE], [SSRN], [slides], [Summary]

Grennan, J., and K. Li, 2023. "Corporate Culture: A Review and Directions for Future Research" In G. Hilary and D. McLean (Eds.), Handbook of Financial Decision Making. [SSRN], [Handbook]

Graham, J., J. Grennan, C. Harvey, and S. Rajgopal, 2023. "What Do Financial Executives Say About Corporate Culture and Strategy?" Management and Business Review, forthcoming. [SSRN], [MBR]

Grennan, J., M. Lowry, 2024, "Common Venture Capital Investors" In: Cumming, D., Hammer, B. (eds) The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Private Equity. Palgrave Macmillan. [SSRN], [Handbook] 

Grennan, J., 2016, "Balancing Governance and Culture to Create Sustainable Value." Governance Studies, The Initiative on 21st Century Capitalism, No. 27, 1-13, Brookings Institution. [Brookings]

Graham, J., J. Grennan, C. Harvey, and S. Rajgopal, 2022. "Corporate Culture: The Interview Evidence" Journal of Applied Corporate Finance 34, 22– 41. [SSRN], [JACF]

Graham, J., J. Grennan, C. Harvey, and S. Rajgopal, 2023. "Corporate culture in a new era: Views from the C-suite" Journal of Applied Corporate Finance 35, 1-20. [SSRN], [JACF]

Grennan, J., and J. Pacelli 2023. "Click-by-click: Using Alternative Data to Make a Business Case for Culture" California Management Review Insights [CMRI], [SSRN]

Grennan, J., and R. Michaely, 2022 "The Deleveraging of U.S. Firms and the Role of Institutional Investors" (R&R Review of Finance) [SSRN]

Cai, W., J. Grennan, and L. Qiu, 2024, "Do Diverse Directors Influence DEI Outcomes?" [SSRN]

Grennan, J. 2022, "A Corporate Culture Channel: How Increased Shareholder Governance Reduces Firm Value" [SSRN]


Grennan, J., and R. Michaely, 2021, "FinTechs and the Market for Financial Analysis" Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, 56(6) 1877– 1907. (Lead Article) [JFQA], [SSRN], [slides], [Video

Appel, I. and Grennan, J., 2023 "Control of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations" AEA Papers & Proceedings 113. [P&P], [SSRN], [Data & Code]

Grennan, J., 2022, "Social Change through Financial Innovation: Evidence from Donor-advised Funds" Review of Corporate Finance Studies 11, 694 – 735. [RCFS], [SSRN], [Data & Code

Abrams, D., U. Akcigit, and J. Grennan, 2023 "Patent Value and Citations: Creative Destruction or Strategic Disruption?" (R&R RAND Journal of Economics) [SSRN]

Grennan, J., and R. Michaely, 2022, "Artificial Intelligence and High-Skilled Work: Evidence from Analysts" [SSRN

Beale et al., 2023, "Common-sense Recommendations for the Application of Tax Law to Digital Assets" [SSRN

Appel, I. and Grennan, J., 2023 "Decentralized Governance and Digital Asset Prices" [SSRN]

Grennan, J., 2022 "FinTech Regulation in the United States: Past, Present, and Future" (R&R Elements in Law, Economics, and Politics) [SSRN]

Chien, C. and J. Grennan, 2024, "Unpacking the Innovator-Inventor Gap: Evidence from Engineers" [SSRN]

Chien, C. and J. Grennan, J. 2024, "Closing the Innovator-Inventor Gap: Evidence from Proactive (Opt-Out) Outreach" [AEA registered RCT], [Pre-Analysis Plan]

Chien, C., J. Grennan, J. Sandvik, 2024, "Small-Scale Mentoring, Large-Scale Impact: Evidence from a Superstar Firm" [in-progress]

Chien, C. and J. Grennan, J. 2024, "Does Poor Management and Ineffective Culture Increase the Gender Gap in Patent Applications?" [in-progress]

Grennan, J. and D. Rock, 2023, "Regulating Emerging Technology: Evidence from Artificial Intelligence and Digital Assets" [in-progress]

Grennan, J., and D. Musto, 2018, "Who Benefits from Bond Market Modernization?" [SSRN]

Grennan, J., 2023, "Embracing Sustainability and Inclusivity: A Roadmap for Thriving in Web3" [in-progress]

Grennan, J., C. Makridis, and M. Zator, 2022, "AI-augmented Culture and Leadership" [AEA registered RCT]

Grennan, J. 2022, "Communicating Culture Consistently: Evidence from Banks" [SSRN]

Grennan, J. and R. Michaely 2023, "Values-Based Investing: Evidence from Debiased Data" [in-progress]

Grennan, J. 2024, "Decomposing the Value of Corporate Culture" [in-progress]




My research has been featured in major news outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Fortune.  For instance, my research is highlighted in "Should you follow an activist into a stock?"

You can also discover my book reviews and opinion pieces.  For instance, I reviewed Driverless Finance by Hilary J. Allen.


Connecting business leaders to new academic ideas is a passion of mine.  Check out these blog forums where I express my views on culture, governance, and more.

Posts on the Harvard Law School Corporate Governance Blog: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]

Posts on the Columbia Law School BlueSky Blog: [1], [2]

Posts on the Duke University School of Law FinReg Blog: [1]


Join me for discussions of culture, business, and technology:

Culture Gap podcast produced by THRUUE

The Manage Your Message podcast produced by Jim Karrh 

Every Other Wednesday videocast with Mike Kerr, Jeff Tobe, and Sunjay Nath 

EXLEARN Talks: Culture and Gorwth, videocast with Tier1 Performance 



Corporate culture is an important driver of business value, and policymakers often blame dysfunctional cultures for egregious actions at firms like Wells Fargo, VW, Toshiba, Uber, and Pinterest.  Building on a broader literature on corporate institutions, this course examines antecedents and consequences of corporate culture through the lens of an informal institution.  We will learn how differences in espoused and lived cultural values are associated with various business outcomes.  Then, we will study specific cases to recognize when, how, and why aspirational ideals may not be met.  Finally, we will examine how leaders can foster a culture that meets the evolving regulatory and stakeholder expectations surrounding ethics and compliance. [Syllabus], [Full course slides], [PhD lecture]


The scale of digital asset activity has increased significantly in recent years.  Although the interconnections with the traditional financial and economic system are relatively limited, they could grow rapidly.  This course introduces students to the emerging technologies associated with decentralized systems, beginning with the principles of blockchain technology and smart contracts.  Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of how these technologies underpin the growing area of decentralized finance (DeFi) and how it contrasts sharply with traditional finance.  The course highlights decentralized systems' unique advantages and challenges through applications like DEXs, stablecoins, DAOs, and oracles.  The course will end with an introduction to the governance and regulatory frameworks in the blockchain ecosystem, assessing their effectiveness and potential vulnerabilities.  By engaging with these topics, students will understand the economic principles within decentralized systems and be able to evaluate their implications for life in the digital age. [BA]


This course trains students on sustainable investment principles and methodologies and to become managers and investors of sustainable/responsible/ESG investment portfolios.  The Sustainable Investment Fund was launched with generous gifts from Haas alumni, and this flagship course allows MBA students, as Fund Principals, to manage a $4.5 million fund dedicated to delivering both strong financial returns and positive social impact. I was awarded Haas's "Club 6" Teaching Award for this course.  [MBA]


This course explores how market participants respond to and incorporate sustainability criteria such as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into their decision-making.  This course aims to give students a solid foundation in the financial economics of sustainability and to critically examine the strategies used in capital markets to achieve sustainability goals.  We will consider the economic risks and opportunities that fall under the sustainability lens and their role in driving long-term value creation.  For instance, we will explore various ways financial institutions have modeled climate risks and analyze how communities most impacted by injustice leverage investment strategies to pursue social justice.  Throughout the course, we will examine how big data and artificial intelligence are being used to help tackle sustainability challenges.  [BA]


In 2020, I helped design an ESG reading group for graduate students at Duke.  Topics include (i) the purpose of business and stakeholders, (ii) sustainable, impact, and ESG investing, (iii) ESG and traditional asset pricing models, (iv) ESG with a focus on “S”, (v) the economics of discrimination, (vi) ESG with a focus on “G”, (vii) causality and identification in ESG, (viii) ESG and innovation, and (ix) the real effects of ESG. Link to the reading list: [PhD].


I've been honored to teach Corporate Finance across a number of programs: MS, MBA, EMBA, PhD, and JD.  I always say that maximizing firm value is a team sport, so I'm happy to partner with students where they are in their careers and help them to learn about how investment, financing, and payout decisions are made.  I was awarded Fuqua's Excellence in Teaching Award for this course.  Links to recent syllabi for the PhD and MBA courses: [PhD], [MBA], [JD].  


Decisions to trade and produce require trust: trust that consumers, firms, workers, financial institutions, and asset owners will do as they promise and that violations of such promises will be unacceptable in the marketplace.  Business law provides these guarantees and the boundaries within which certain promises can be made and enforced.  This course provides a broad overview of the legal system and the primary substantive areas of law relevant to business decisions and transactions. [BA]


This course examines the relationships between executives and the boards of directors charged with overseeing them.  While boards are legally bound to represent the interests of equity investors, when carrying out this duty they are often called on to respond to the needs of numerous other stakeholders and society at large.  With mistakes instantly transmitted via social media, the reputational stakes are high.  Via case studies, we examine what determines the best corporate governance practices. [MBA] 


  • Grennan, J. and L. Tyson, “Just Climate: A New Investment Model,” 2024. [HBSP

  • Grennan, J., A. Lefort, and J. Pacelli, “Social Media Background Screening at Fama Technologies” Harvard Business School Case, 2023. [HBSP]

  • Grennan, J., A. Lefort, and J. Pacelli, “Social Media Background Screening at Fama Technologies (B)” Harvard Business School Case, 2023. [HBSP]

  • Musto, D. and J. Popadak, “The Relationship between the Board and Stockholders: Air Products Takeover Bid for Airgas,” The Wharton School Case 76, 2014.






Dissertation title: "Social Forces in Corporate Finance"

Dissertation committee: David Musto, Mark Duggan (co-chairs), Michael Roberts and Todd Sinai


Completed a Master's degree in Mathematics and Statistics while working full-time in Washington, D.C.





Double majored in Economics and Classical Civilizations




  • IE Virtual Asset Regulation Lab for "Decentralized Digital Asset Regulation: Exploring the Dynamics of Protective and Enabling Approaches"


  • Ripple's University Blockchain Research Initiative Grant for "Scaling Decentralized
    Autonomous Organizations"

  • Convergence Research (CORE) Institute Fellowship for "Tackling Climate-Induced Challenges with AI"

  • Leavey Center Grant for Sustainability Research


  • Ripple's University Blockchain Initiative Grant for "Control of Decentralized
    Autonomous Organizations"

  • HKU-SCF FinTech Academy Grant for "The FinTech Workforce"

  • Center for Growth Markets Grant

  • Institute for Humane Studies Grant for "Inclusivity in the Metaverse"


  • INQUIRE Europe Research Grant for "ESG Integration Across Funds and Debiasing Data"

  • Paris-Dauphine FinTech Research Award for "ESG Integration Across Funds and Debiasing Data"

  • IBSI-Haas Lab for Sustainable Financial Services and Innovation for "FinTech Regulation"


  • Best Paper in Corporate Governance awarded by IRRC for "Corporate Culture: Evidence from the Field"


  • Duke Intellectual Community Planning Grant for "Big Data and Social Interactions"


  • Thomas Edison Innovation Award, George Mason University

  • Fuqua's Junior Faculty Recognition Research Grant


  • Best Paper in Corporate Governance awarded by IRRC for "A Corporate Culture Channel: How Increased Shareholder Governance Reduces Firm Value"


  • KPMG's Global Valuation Research Grant for "Decomposing the Value of Corporate Culture"

  • Duke's Center for Financial Excellence Research Grant

  • AEA's CSWEP Cement Fellow


  • WFA's Cubist Systematic Strategies Award for Outstanding Research for "A Corporate Culture Channel: How Increased Shareholder Governance Reduces Firm Value"

  • Best Finance PhD Dissertation Award, Olin Business School for "A Corporate Culture Channel: How Increased Shareholder Governance Reduces Firm Value"

  • Mack Institute for Innovation Management Research Grant for "Patent Value and Citations: Creative Destruction or Strategic Disruption?"




I'm helping to organize the 2nd Innovator Diversity Pilots Conference.  I've previously organized a symposium on Web3 Financing and Inclusivity. Check out all the insights. 


I'm a Principal for the Innovator Diversity Pilots Initiative. We help organizations unlock value in their engineering, product, and data science teams.


For students interested in getting involved with academic research, especially in the areas of culture, sustainability, and emerging technology, please email me to show your interest.  

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