Natalie Carlson

Assistant Professor of Management · The Wharton School

I'm an Assistant Professor of Management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. My research focuses on entrepreneurship, digital platform work, and other forms of nontraditional employment, with a particular focus on emerging economies. My work draws on a variety of methodologies, with a focus on new computational methods and text as data. I did my Ph.D. at Columbia Business School.


Peer-Reviewed Publications
Carlson, N.A. (2022). “Differentiation in Microenterprises.” Strategic Management Journal (forthcoming).

Small unregistered firms contribute to a substantial proportion of global economic activity, particularly in developing regions. In explaining variation in productivity in these types of informal firms, research has focused primarily on the adoption of effective business practices and access to capital, with little focus on fundamental positioning. This article explores the nature of differentiation in microenterprises, introducing a text‐based measure of differentiation using state‐of‐the‐art sentence embeddings. Using a combined sample of nearly 10,000 microenterprises across eight developing countries, I examine whether (and which) microenterprises differentiate, whether differentiation is related to performance (and for whom), and whether any existing policy interventions affect differentiation.

Choudhury, P., Wang, D.J., Carlson, N.A. & Khanna, T. (2019). “Machine Learning Approaches to Facial and Text Analysis: Discovering CEO Oral Communication Styles.” Strategic Management Journal 40(11).

We demonstrate how a novel synthesis of three methods—(a) unsupervised topic modeling of text data to generate new measures of textual variance, (b) sentiment analysis of text data, and (c) supervised ML coding of facial images with a cutting-edge convolutional neural network algorithm—can shed light on questions related to CEO oral communication. With videos and corresponding transcripts of interviews with emerging market CEOs, we use this synthesis of methods to discover five distinct communication styles that incorporate both verbal and nonverbal aspects of communication. Our data comprises interviews that represent unedited expressions and content, making them especially suitable as data sources for the measurement of an individual's communication style. We then perform a proof-of-concept analysis, correlating CEO communication styles to M&A outcomes, highlighting the value of combining text and videographic data to define styles. We also discuss the benefits of using our methods versus current research methods.


MGMT 1170. Global Growth of Emerging Firms (Undergraduate)
Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023.

Tentative syllabus for Spring '23 here. Past syllabus and more details here.

MGMT 8170. Global Growth of Emerging Firms (MBA)
Spring 2023.

Tentative syllabus for Spring '23 here.