EquAl in ReacHing AspiRaTions


Evidence concerning inequality in ability to realize aspirations is prevalent: overall, in specialized segments of the labor market, in self-employment and high-aspirations environments. Empirical literature and public debate are full of case studies and comprehensive empirical studies documenting the paramount gap between successful individuals (typically ethnic majority men) and those who are less likely to “make it” (typically ethnic minority and women). So far the drivers of these disparities and their consequences have been studies much less intensively, due to methodological constraints and shortage of appropriate data. This project proposes significant innovations to overcome both types of barriers and push the frontier of the research agenda on equality in reaching aspirations.

Overall, project is interdisciplinary, combining four fields: management, economics, quantitative methods and psychology. An important feature of this project is that it offers a diversified methodological perspective, combining applied microeconometrics, as well as experimental methods.


Projekt w partnerstwie z Wydziałem Zarządzania UW i NHH. Kierownikiem projektu jest Joanna Tyrowicz. | Project in partnership with Faculty of Management, University of Warsaw and NHH

Źródło finansowania | Financing : Narodowe Centrum Nauki, GRIEG

Projekt realizowany | Timeline : 07/2020 – 07/2023

Budżet łączny | Total budget: 556 499 eur (FoM UoW: 697 693 zł & FAME: 816 725 zł & NHH: 853 608 zł )

  • wynagrodzenia dla podstawowych wykonawców | compensation to researchers: 116 000 zł 
  • wynagrodzenia dla asystentów badawczych | compensation to research assistants: 144 000 zł
  • komputery i oprogramowanie | hardware and software: 10 400 zł 
  • dane | data: 92,004 zł
  • eksperymenty | experiments: 95 000 zł
  • konferencje i inne wyjazdy | conference travels: 40 320 zł (for each partner for team meetings) + 44 080 zł (for each partner for conference presentations)
  • materiały + promocja | consumables + visibility: 19 926 zł
  • koszty pośrednie | overheads : 139 539 zł (FoM UoW) + 163 866 zł (FAME)  + O zł (NHH)

The key six research questions behind our project are summarized as follows.

  1. Does labor market inequality drive take-up of necessity self-employment?
    Theorizing about the channels through which labor market inequality may influence the choice to become self-employed, we develop a theoretical setup and provide empirical verification of its predictions, thus yielding novel insights into the links between inequality and self-employment.
  2. Are minority-led start-ups subjected to stronger resources constraints than start-ups established by non-minority entrepreneurs? Does it affect subsequent firm growth?
    Existing research has demonstrated that there occurs assortative matching in the formation of founding teams, albeit with many methodological caveats and theory shortages. We exploit rich employer-employee matched data that cover several decades back for Norway in order to investigate gender biases in new venture firms.
  3. Does diversity of the supervisory boards help to increase diversity of top management, especially among firms who are not subject to public scrutiny?
    Using unique and comprehensive data for 100+ million firms in Europe, as well as innovative data science methods, we study the events of women entering the supervisory (non-executive) board and observe the subsequent changes (or lack thereof) in the composition of top management.
  4. Does diversity of the supervisory and management boards affect firm performance?
    We provide the first causal and comprehensive estimates for the effects of gender board diversity on firm performance. Our study would be comprehensive in that it will study the effects not only for the publicly held firms (stock listed) but also for the privately held firms (not listed on the stock exchange). It will also be comprehensive in a sense that our identification strategy is based on business-as usual rather than on specific, typically unusual timing of a corporate governance regulations reform. A contribution of our work is to combine methodology of the so-called Bartik instruments with data science (machine learning) verification of the exclusion criterion in order to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the effects of gender board diversity on firm performance.
  5. What is the role of information avoidance and bias confirmation in evaluating performance of minority managers when compared to non-minority managers?
    Embedded in information avoidance framework , we designed two experimental settings distinguished by self-interest of participants (in one design the subjects will observe a direct financial benefit from their decisions, in the other design the benefit will be to the society). We infer the links between the perceptions of individual skills and abilities across genders and how these perceptions are affected by context.
  6. What is the role of confirmation bias in evaluating potential performance of minority job applicants?
    >We experimentally verify prevalence of potentially undesirable consequences of binding equal opportunity clauses.