Susan K. Cohen
Associate Professor of Business Administration
Susan Cohen


252 Mervis Hall


I worked in the software industry, for Accenture and Intersolv as a consultant and product development manager, before returning to graduate school at the University of Minnesota.

The research I undertake reflects my deep curiosity about whether, when, and how we might design infinitely innovative organizations. Predominant theoretical paradigms suggest that this ideal is unattainable. I seek to advance understanding of when and how firms circumvent barriers to innovation. To date, I have examined how a firm’s innovation strategy, characteristics of its knowledge and alliance networks, organizational problem solving architectures, and technological standards strategy, as well as a firm’s executive leadership, start-up founder orientation, and competitive pressures such as imitation and substitution, affect firm performance outcomes, including patenting, new product introduction, profitability, adaptation and survival.

Courses Recently Taught

  • Commercializing New Technologies
  • Leading Organizations to Innovate Smarter
  • Competing in Emerging Economies
  • Strategic Management

Research Grants

  • Grant from the Center for Healthcare Management at University of Pittsburgh, for Improving Pharmaceutical R&D Productivity through Open Innovation, 2016-2017 ($7000)
  • Grant for research on Enabling Breakthroughs through Open Innovation, and to create a new experiential learning course on Global Venturing and Entrepreneurship, January 2013-December, 2014, $100,000 from the PPG Foundation.
  • Global Academic Partnership grant, $20,000 to organize a conference pairing academics with executives. The conference: Global Collaboration for Technological Innovation was held in 2011. At the request of our corporate and academic participants, we convened a second conference in 2012: Accelerating R&D through Global Open Innovation, and again in 2013: Leading Organizations to Innovate Smarter, with the gracious financial support of our corporate sponsors: Bayer, Alcoa, PPG, Westinghouse, Braskem.
  • Co-editor, with John E. Prescott (University of Pittsburgh) and Kathleen Eisenhardt (Stanford University) for a Special Issue of Strategic Management Journal on ‘The Global Acquisition, Protection, and Leveraging of Technological Competencies’, Volume 25, August-September, 2004 National Science Foundation, for A Longitudinal Study of the Effects of Absorptive Capacity and Alliance Networks on Innovation in the Global Pharmaceutical Industry, 2003. ($7,500)
  • National Science Foundation, grant to support the project: A Longitudinal Study of the Effects of Absorptive Capacity and Alliance Networks on Innovation in the Global Pharmaceutical Industry, 2002. ($69,754)
  • Small Grants / Junior Faculty Grants program, University of Pittsburgh, to examine how the breadth and depth of a firm’s absorptive capacity interact with its network position and attributes of its alliance structure to affect its innovation performance, 2002. ($13,818)
  • National Science Foundation, grant to support the project: Incumbent Resurgence Strategies: Evidence from the Machine Tool Industry, 1975-1995, 2001. ($59,772)
  • Small Grants / Junior Faculty Grants program, University of Pittsburgh, to support a series of projects on R&D alliances, network structures, and the value of a firm’s intellectual capital, 2001. ($10,363)
  • International Business Center grant, Katz Graduate School of Business, to support research on incumbent resurgence strategies in the machine tool industry, 1975-1995, 2001. ($3000)
  • Institute on Industrial Competitiveness, Katz Graduate School of Business, to support research on incumbent resurgence strategies in the machine tool industry, 1975-1995, 2001. ($2500)
  • Carnegie Bosch Institute grant to organize a conference on global R&D, received October, 2000. ($50,000)
  • International Business Center, ($5000) and the Institute on Industrial Competitiveness, ($5000) Katz Graduate School of Business to support the conference on global R&D; received January, 2001.
  • Center for Innovation Management Studies Grant, jointly awarded by the National Science Foundation, Lehigh University, and a corporate advisory board, with Bala Chakravarthy and KK Sinha, 1996-1998, ($10,000).

Professional Service and Activities

  • Member of Leadership and Advisory team to Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program at the University of Pittsburgh, 2013-2015, and Pittsburgh Medical Innovation Center, 2009-2015
  • O&E area champion and developer of the Technology, Innovation, Entrepreneurship certificate, 2008-2015.
  • Developing University-wide TIE Certificate Program.
  • Innovation and Knowledge interest group Representative at Large, Strategic Management Society, 2011-2013.
  • Faculty adviser to Katz students participating in the Bench to Bedside course on commercializing new technologies, offered through Pitt’s Office of Enterprise Development, 2009-2013.
  • Adviser to interdisciplinary team of Katz MBA students and University of Pittsburgh engineering and law students on development of their NCIIA technology commercialization grant (SolarEase), 2009-2010.
  • Co-Sponsored a Patent Research Workshop with Robert Lowe, funded by the Heinz Endowment and held at Carnegie Mellon, April 21, 2007.
  • Reviewer and Session Discussant for the Business Policy and Strategy and Technology and Innovation Management and Research Methods Divisions of the Academy of Management for the Annual Conferences
  • Reviewer for Strategic Management Society Annual Conferences, Knowledge and Innovation Division Undergraduate Program Committee, 2013-2014
  • Entrepreneurship Officer, 2010 – 2013
  • Co-chair Technology, Innovation, Entrepreneurship Certificate, 2007-2013
  • Recruiting Committee for NTSF Entrepreneurship hire, 2011-2012
  • Chair of NTSF Supply Chain Recruiting Committee, 2011-2012
  • Doctoral Committee, Katz, 2010-2012
  • Executive Committee, 1999-2002, 2005-2006, 2010-2013, Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh.
  • IBC Advisory Committee, 2002-2005, Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh.
  • Masters Policy Committee, 1998-2005, Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh.

Consulting Activities (Non-paid)

  • Working with Magee-Womens Research Institute and local biotech firms to identify business models for commercializing the technologies from particular research projects.
  • Editorial Board of Journal of Management, since 2007.
  • Ad Hoc Reviewer for Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Management, Research Policy, Organization Science, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


  • PhD in Strategic Management, University of Minnesota, 1998
  • BS in Management Information Systems, Clarkson University, 1986

Recent Publications

Innovation Search Dynamics in New Domains: An Exploratory Study of Academic Founders’ Search for Funding in the Biotechnology Industry. with Natasha Munshi.Technological Forecasting and Social Change. Available online:

Firm heterogeneity in complex problem solving: A knowledge-based look at invention. with Turanay Caner and Frits Pil. Strategic Management Journal. Available online:

Stock of downstream complementary as a catalyst for product innovation during technological change in the US machine tool industry. with Raja Roy. June 2017. Strategic Management Journal, 38(6): 1253-1267.

With whom do technology sponsors partner during technology battles? Social networking strategies for unproven (and proven) technologies, with Tsuhsiang (Sean) Hsu, Kristina Dahlin, Organization Science. 2016. 27(4): 846-872.

Converting inventions into breakthrough innovations: The role of exploitation alliance network knowledge heterogeneity, with Turanay Caner, Journal of Engineering and Technology Management. 2016, 40(April-June): 29-44.

Disruption in the US machine tool industry: The role of inhouse users and pre-disruption component experience in firm response, with Raja Roy. Research Policy. 2015, 44(8): 1555-1565.

Public policies in a regulated entrepreneurial setting. with Alfred Marcus. Business and Politics. 2015, 17(2): 221-251.

Information sharing strategies in a standards contest: The case of 2G wireless communication. with Jodi Potter. Journal of High Technology Management Research. Sept. 2010, 21(2): 108-121.

Niche width revisited: organizational scope, behavior, and performance. with Olav Sorenson, Charlotte Ren, and Raja Roy. Strategic Management Journal, 2006, 27: 915-936.

Modularity: Implications for imitation, innovation, and sustained competitive advantage. with Frits Pil. Academy of Management Review, 2006, 31(4): 995-1001.

Product- line expansion and resource cannibalization. with Peter W. Roberts. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2005, 57(1): 49-70.

The global acquisition, protection, and leverage of scientific and technological competences with Kathleen Eisenhardt and John Prescott. Strategic Management Journal, 2004, 25(8-9, August-September Special Issue): 713-722.

The persistence of knowledge-based advantage: an empirical test for product performance and technological knowledge. with Bala Chakravarthy. Strategic Management Journal, 2002, 23(4): 285-306.

Avoiding competence substitution through knowledge sharing. with Shobha Das and Kevin McCabe. Academy of Management Review, 2000, 25(2): 1-18.

Academic Area

Organizations and Entrepreneurship