Today I attended Amir Sasson‘s doctoral defence, where he defended his thesis “On Affiliation and Mediation: A Study of Information Mediated Network Effects in The Banking Industry.” Amir has studied to what extent companies and banks have economic gain from being well connected, in essence: Do well-connected companies have higher survival rates, do they pay less interest on their loans, and do they have higher credit availability than others? And vice versa – do banks do better by targeting customers that are connected to each other? Amir’s conclusion is that both companies and their banks benefit from being interconnected – and that banks can provide value for their clients by increasing the number of ties between their customers.
His supervisor has been Øystein Fjeldstad, chairman of the committee has been Henrich Greve, and the opponents have been Brian Uzzi of the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and Kent Eriksson, KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
The work received excellent marks – Amir has done a tremendous job in creating the data set and developing a way to analyse network structures. Most importantly, as Brian Uzzi said, the work has a high potential for generalization to other industries and, indeed to other literatures – the hallmark of an excellent dissertation.
The questions given by the opponents in a doctoral defense tend to be more difficult the better the dissertation is – and the questions from the two opponents were detailed and hard-hitting. Amir sailed through with an understanding of theory, conceptualization and method that sets a standard that will be hard to follow for other doctoral candidates at BI. Congratulations are in order both to Amir and his advisors – this is an unusually well designed and executed thesis.