Kira Stearns
Kira Stearns

Kira Stearns, Ph.D.


Kira Stearns is an Economist at Intensity with expertise in industrial organization, competitive strategy, innovation, technology, and behavioral economics.

Dr. Stearns has contributed significantly to the understanding of resource allocation in innovation. In one paper, she explores how firms respond strategically to shocks in expected demand. While past research suggests firms create more products for a market as that segment increases, the way in which this impacts an investment strategy was still largely unexplored. Using pipeline data from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, a relevant policy shock, and a difference-in-differences research design, Dr. Stearns demonstrates that a sudden increase in market size (and therefore expected revenue) increases an established firm’s propensity to make larger investments on lower quality products within their pipeline. Additionally, she demonstrates that this increased investment is mainly for follow-on, rather than novel, products. In another paper, Dr. Stearns shows the effects of negative feedback on innovation investment. She stated that feedback on R&D and product development efforts is pervasive in many industries; however, previous literature found mixed results regarding the role that negative feedback plays on future risk taking in R&D. Dr. Stearns’ paper examines how negative feedback from entry regulators affects future investment in product development in the biopharmaceutical industry. By exploring negative feedback on an innovation before its market entry and leveraging a unique identification strategy, she isolated the causal effects of the feedback itself on future investment decisions. Dr. Stearns found that following receipt of negative feedback from an entry regulator, biopharmaceutical firms have 15% – 30% lower probability of investing in future unrelated products.

Dr. Stearns is an accomplished speaker having presented at numerous conferences including the Strategic Management Society, the Academy of Management, INFORMS Healthcare, Trans-Atlantic Doctoral Conference, and the Consortium for Competitiveness and Cooperation.

Prior to Intensity, Dr. Stearns worked at an economics consulting firm where she worked on a variety of antitrust and intellectual property cases. Her work there included exploring the anticompetitive implications of mergers and acquisitions, exclusive contracts, tying and bundling, and employee non-compete agreements, to name a few. Much of her work was in the healthcare industry and she developed expertise in issues facing hospitals, health insurers, and pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Stearns earned her Ph.D. in Management, Strategy Concentration from the University of California, Los Angeles, Anderson School of Management. She earned her M.A. in Economics from Duke University, Duke Fuqua School of Business, and her B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Team