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Faculty Spotlight: Juan Santaló

Juan Santaló | IE Business School

Meet one of IE Business School’s top researchers.

Aside from being a popular professor of Strategic Management at IE Business School, Juan Santaló is one of the university’s most prolific researchers, with his works cited in thousands of subsequent publications over the past decade. In just the past two years, he has published three articles in Organization Science, two articles in the Strategic Management Journal and one article in Management Science— all three among to the top 5 journals in Management. His research encompass topics ranging from platform and product competition to diversification to input stigmatization.

Here’s a closer look at one of IE Business School’s top researchers:

Juan Santaló | IE Business School

What brought you to IE?

After 5 years in the U.S. for my PhD in Economics, I wanted to come back to Spain. My goal was to join a business school because my experience at Booth Business School from the University of Chicago showed me the value of teaching executives and learning from them! Angel Cabrera, Dean of IE Business School back then, convinced me how attractive and ambitious was the path that IE was pursuing.


Have you ever had an a-ha moment while teaching that furthered your research? What was it?

Yes, actually I had plenty! One of my main research lines investigates value creation in the multi-business company. While teaching a classical case about Pepsico headquarters, I had this a-ha moment in which I realized that Pepsico headquarters were adding value to its business lines in markets characterized by low levels of product market competition. Somehow the discipline and incentives provided by Pepsico headquarters to its different business lines were substituting the incentives provided by strong competition in the marketplace. Later on, I elaborated and tested this basic intuition to confirm rigorously that indeed multi-business companies, compared to single business firms, tend to under perform in highly competitive markets and over perform in low competition environments.


What book do you wish your students would read before taking your class and why?

If my students were mathematically trained properly, before my class, I would love that they read the influential book by Paul Milgrom (this year Nobel Prize in Economics) and John Roberts’ Economics, Organization & Management. It has a fantastic treatment of almost everything they need to know about the Economics of Organizations. Armed with that knowledge of basic concepts, in class we could focus just on discussing key strategic concepts.


You’ve had a very prolific year for publishing research. Name one of the articles you feel addresses the most important issues in 2020 for IE alumni?

Hard call since—surprise, surprise– I find all my articles relevant!!!! If I have to pick one, I would go with The Friday Effect: Firm Lobbying, the Timing of Drug Safety Alerts, and Drug Side Effects recently published in Management Science. In that article, we show how doctors and the general public pay less attention to news that comes out on Fridays. More than the straightforward conclusion that it is good for a company to release bad news on Friday, this paper has important public policy implications. The late diffusion of news about drug side effects released on Fridays causes unnecessary deaths and hospitalizations.


Whose research of your IE colleagues do you find interesting?

Although IE students do not usually know, most of my IE colleagues do super interesting research. For instance in my department (Strategy), Luis Diestre is doing fascinating research about the black market of legal drugs that are sold illegally on the internet. Marco Giarratana is applying novel text analysis techniques to use scientific knowledge depicted in the scientific publications to decode patents. In the Entrepreneurship department, Cristina Cruz is greatly advancing our knowledge of what is different in family firms and why it matters.


Tell us one personal thing about yourself that none of your students know. A hobby, sport or talent? Strange fact? Unusual interest?

It may be hard to believe, but back in the days with my basketball team we won the regional basketball championship in our category– twice. I am fascinated with the history of my home island Minorca. My father and I collect old books linked to Minorca in any way.