University of Texas at Austin
McCombs School of Business McCombs School of Business

Stephen J. Anderson

Assistant Professor

Department: Marketing

Contact Information

CBA 7.258

Biography RESEARCH

Professor Anderson is a quantitative researcher who studies management and policy questions at the intersection of marketing and development economics. His first research program focuses on stimulating more inclusive, equitable growth in disadvantaged communities through marketing and entrepreneurship. With more than twenty randomized controlled trials (RCTs) launched throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, Steve has been a pioneer in bringing development economics research to the field of marketing over the past decade. These studies have been published in top journals across both disciplines, including the Journal of Marketing Research, Management Science and the Journal of Marketing, as well as the Journal of Political Economy and the Journal of Development Economics. The impact of this work has also been recognized with the INFORMS Frank M. Bass Outstanding Dissertation Award, the AMA Robert J. Lavidge Global Marketing Research Award, and the INFORMS Gary Lilien Practice Prize Award.

In general, Steve examines the role of marketing in alleviating inequity and growing firms through three interrelated research streams: (i) Marketing Capabilities (building the marketing and sales expertise of entrepreneurs); (ii) Product Development (designing and scaling new offerings or innovations); and (iii) Fintech (leveraging technologies to socially and economically empower marginalized consumers and businesses). Most of Steve’s work uses multi-year field experiments to causally identify what works in enhancing entrepreneurial performance, and to uncover how and why these changes occur.

• One novel aspect of this approach is its focus on hundreds of individual firms as the unit of analysis, which allows examination of marketing phenomena not yet empirically addressed.

• Another defining feature of Steve’s studies is the active design of interventions in collaboration with partners, which assists not only with identifying main effects but also with ensuring theoretical variables of interest are operationalized to generate exogenous variation where needed.

• A third characteristic unique to Steve’s research is combining methodologies to converge on a rigorous measure of the underlying mechanism. For instance, results will often be based on multiple data sources such as: field-based surveys, on-site verification checks, financial statement audits, electronic triangulation tools, geocoding and distance calculations, photo evidence, written and verbal text analysis, video recordings with independent rater scoring, objective ability or psychological tests, and administrative data from partner or government sources. Steve believes it is ‘how’ a given intervention improves livelihoods or increases firm growth (i.e., the mechanism) that often leads to new lessons which generalize beyond the boundaries of a particular developing economy.


In addition to the invaluable support from his academic mentors and co-authors, Steve’s studies could not have been successfully completed without the commitment of numerous partners, including: government agencies (e.g., World Bank, National Entrepreneur Institute of Mexico, Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance); non-government organizations (e.g., Balloon Ventures, Grow Movement, Technoserve); and private-sector companies (e.g., Equity Group, KiWi, Sinapi Aba). A debt of gratitude is owed to everyone who has generously dedicated their time to implementing one of these lengthy and complex interventions with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of firms.

Steve has also been fortunate to secure over $15 million in funding for carrying out the interventions and data collection activities of his first research program on inclusive, equitable growth in developing economies. He gratefully acknowledges financial support from: the World Bank (various trusts and research grants); the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC); US AID (Development Innovation Ventures fund); the UK's DFID (Private Enterprise Development in LICs fund, the Growth and Employment program, the Economic Development and Institutions fund); Gates Foundation (Global Financial Inclusion Initiative); the International Growth Centre (IGC); the Deloitte Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (DIIE); Canada’s IDRC (Partnership for Economic Policy fund); the SME initiative of Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA); the Research and Development Management group (RADMA); Mastercard (Center for Inclusive Growth); Agridius Foundation (International Growth Lab); Facebook (Economic Impact of Digital Technologies); Qualcomm (Wireless Reach); Chicago Booth School of Business (various centers and research grants); London Business School (various centers and research grants); McCombs School of Business (research grants); and Stanford Graduate School of Business (various centers and research grants).


Steve joined McCombs from the Stanford GSB, where he was a professor for five years. Before returning for doctoral studies, he gained industry experience in the technology start-up space, working with entrepreneurs in product management and tech-transfer roles. This early interest in entrepreneurship has carried over to Steve’s present day research activities, only now he is focused on assisting entrepreneurs in developing economies to innovate, find new customers and increase sales. The passion driving Steve’s first research program on inclusive, equitable growth also stems from experiencing poverty firsthand during childhood and personally battling the day-to-day challenges arising from financial constraints, food and housing insecurity, barriers to education, and lack of economic and social mobility.

Having grown up on the west coast of Canada, Steve has always enjoyed activities involving the ocean and the outdoors! In addition, he is keenly interested in competitive team sports, and also likes traveling internationally to learn from different cultures and diverse perspectives. Steve shares these life adventures with his wife (Sophia) and their three kiddos (Jude, Sampson and Ayla Grace).


• PhD, London Business School, 2015
• MRes, London Business School, 2011
• MSc (Applied Economics), University of Minnesota, 2009
• MBA, Queen’s University, 2005
• BCom, University of Victoria, 2001
Stephen J. Anderson and David McKenzie. Improving Business Practices and the Boundary of the Entrepreneur: A Randomized Experiment Comparing Training, Consulting, Insourcing and Outsourcing. Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming.
Stephen J. Anderson, Leo Iacovone, Shreya Kankanhalli, and Sridhar Narayanan. Modernizing Retailers in an Emerging Market: Investigating Externally-focused and Internally-focused Approaches. Journal of Marketing Research (conditionally accepted), forthcoming.
Stephen J Anderson, Pradeep Chintagunta, Frank Germann, and Naufel Vilcassim. 2021. Do Marketers Matter for Entrepreneurs? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Uganda. Journal of Marketing 85(3), 78-96.
Stephen J. Anderson, Christy Lazicky, and Bilal Zia . 2021. Measuring the Unmeasured: Aggregating, Anchoring, and Adjusting to Estimate Small Business Performance. Journal of Development Economics 151, 102655.
Stephen J Anderson, Rajesh Chandy, and Bilal Zia. 2018. Pathways to Profits: The Impact of Marketing versus Finance Skills on Business Performance. Management Science 64(12), 5559-5583.
Scott Connors, Stephen J. Anderson, and Matthew Thomson. 2017. Overcoming the ‘Window Dressing’ Effect: Mitigating the Negative Effects of Inherent Skepticism towards Corporate Social Responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics 145, 599-621.
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Academic Leadership and Awards
Professional Awards
Research Reboot Award, University of Texas at Austin, Office of the Provost2021
Robert J. Lavidge Global Marketing Research Award, American Marketing Association2021
Frank M. Bass Outstanding Dissertation Award, INFORMS2019
Gary Lilien Practice Prize Award, INFORMS2016
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Teaching Awards
MSx Distinguished Teaching Award, Finalist, Stanford Graduate School of Business2018
MSx Distinguished Teaching Award, Finalist, Stanford Graduate School of Business2017
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