Giada Di Stefano, Digging up the Roots of Corporate Cooperation

Giada Di Stefano, Digging up the Roots of Corporate Cooperation


When a young Giada Di Stefano was asked what she wanted to do in life, she used to reply: «Anything but teaching». Twenty years later she is joining the Department of Management and Technology as an Associate Professor, coming from HEC Paris. And as if that would not be ironic enough, she has been devoting her research efforts to better understand what makes organizations, and the individuals inside them, more likely to transfer their knowledge to others.
There was a time when professor Di Stefano dreamed of becoming a medical researcher. «I had this vision of me conducting experiments in a laboratory». But she decided to pursue a different path instead. After graduating from Bocconi in 2003, she worked for two years as a product manager at L’Oréal Italia. It was the meeting with her future husband, freshly out of a PhD, that brought her back on the research track. Her doctoral thesis was awarded the Best Dissertation Award by the Academy of Management. And it already showcased the main features of her research work: a behavioral approach to strategy, the use of experimental methods, and a passion for highly creative contexts.
Her research explores incentives for knowledge sharing. «I have studied the behavior of chefs, scientists, coders, and scholars, in the attempt to understand the conditions that support the diffusion of knowledge. All these professionals operate in creative environments where we observe them sharing what they know with someone they are, to a higher or lower degree, also in competition with».
Professor Di Stefano is also interested in how knowledge is created in the first place. «Research on learning has predominantly focused on how we learn by doing. I am interested in understanding how we can be more intentional in our learning efforts, by for instance reflecting on what we do. In our study on the benefits of reflection, we were able to increase employees’ performance by 23%. To do so, we simply replaced the last 15 minutes of their working day with a moment of reflection on the accumulated experience. The benefits were enormous. In another paper, we show how Alessi, the Italian houseware and kitchen utensil company, used reflection to successfully implement its strategic transformation».
How does studying the creation and transfer of knowledge affect someone who engages with such activities on a daily basis? «I do my best to try and work closely with the industry, and to constantly collaborate with young scholars and students». This is what professor Di Stefano will do at Bocconi, the place where it all started. «Today I look at it with new eyes, after having been away for seven years. You can feel the energy, the ambition to make a real difference. To me now, Bocconi is the place to be».
In her spare time, Giada Di Stefano loves spending time with her family, cooking for friends, traveling, and playing sports. «I love swimming. Water is my natural element, where I feel at peace». She approached the world of running in the summer of 2018. «It is a new challenge I set for myself. The goal is to run a marathon sometime soon. Wish me good luck!».
Find out more
Giada Di Stefano, Andrew A. King, Gianmario Verona, Sanctioning in the wild: Rational calculus and retributive instincts in gourmet cuisine, in Academy of Management Journal, Volume 58, Issue 3: pp. 906-931, 2015.
Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, Bradley Staats, Making experience count: The role of reflection in individual learning, in Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 14-093, 2016.
Elena Dalpiaz, Giada Di Stefano, A universe of stories: Mobilizing narrative practices during transformative change, in Strategic Management Journal, Volume 39, Issue 3: pp. 664–696, 2018.

by Claudio Todesco


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