Vivianna Fang He

Senior Researcher ETH Zurich, switzerland
Raised in China, she has witnessed technology and entrepreneurship as vital forces of economic growth.


Vivianna’s research about entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation has been published in many management journals. Her study about how entrepreneurship and failure is of particular interest to audiences interested in start-ups.

Hear her speak at WORLDWEBFORUM 2019 to deepen your knowledge of how to lead creative teams.

Keep Calm and Carry on

While failure urges entrepreneurs to learn, it also generates strong emotions that may hinder learning behaviors. Drawing on affective events theory, we develop a model reconciling the countervailing effects of failure. In particular, we focus on failure velocity—rate at which failure events are experienced—to understand entrepreneurs’ learning from failure.

Survey data from entrepreneurs in the information technology industry reveals an inverted U-shaped relationship between failure velocity and learning behaviors. Emotion regulation moderates this relationship. When failure velocity rises beyond an inflection point, its relationship with learning behaviors is more positive for entrepreneurs with higher emotion regulation

What is innovation anyway

Enabling innovation processes, constitutes one of the primary functions of organizational control in modern organizations. While studies show that control may indeed enable innovation, little is known about the process through which control mechanisms emerge, given the intention to enable innovation processes.

This shortcoming is of crucial relevance, since control receives its enabling characteristics during the control creation and – implementation process. This paper elaborates theory on how organizational members assign meaning to control mechanisms and subsequently engage in the creation and modification of control mechanisms.

In particular, we show how the interaction between deeply ingrained concertive control mechanisms, which is the shared conviction of innovation groups about what innovation is, with formal surface control mechanisms shape to which extent organizational members perceive formal controls to be congruent to their control needs. The need for particular controls emerges under conditions where organizational members experience incongruencies between formal surface controls and concertive deep controls. To mitigate these incongruencies, organizational members engage in practices aiming to calibrate formal controls to fit their control needs, and to drive the consolidation of concertive controls to safeguard the functioning of these formal controls.

Our analysis shows that the way how an organization ends up to control its innovation process depends on the interaction between existing control mechanisms and the control elements it introduces to enable innovation. The theoretical framework builds on insights from a multi-year inductive field study of the transformation of an innovation process at a chemicals manufacturer.

The SMI Group at ETH Zürich

ETH Zürich is a world-renowned university located in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. It is considered the best university in continental Europe by the Shanghai Ranking ARWU, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings Ranking and the QS World University Ranking. Twenty-one Nobel Prizes have been awarded to students or professors of ETH Zürich, the most famous of which is Albert Einstein in 1921, and the most recent is Kurt Wüthrich in 2002. ETH’s Department of Management, Technology, and Economics (D-MTEC) combines scholarly excellence and a constant engagement with practice.

Faculty at D-MTEC conducts basic and applied research in management, economics, innovation, systems dynamics, and risk. Much of its research aims at improving the understanding of technology in organizations and societies at large. D-MTEC offers doctoral programs in management and economics, as well as master programs (MBA, MAS, & EMBA). The Strategic Management and Innovation (SMI) Group, as part of D-MTEC, is an international team consisting researchers with diverse backgrounds ranging from social sciences to engineering and natural sciences.

This unique composition results in a highly vibrant and creative group. Researchers at SMI share a vision of contributing to the highest level academic research. They develop new theories and conduct empirical research in a broad range of industries, focusing on financial services, information technologies, healthcare, and manufacturing.



Dr. Vivianna Fang He is a Senior Researcher at the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, at ETH Zurich. Her research focuses on the micro-foundations of innovation, including leadership, team dynamics, and knowledge creation. She publishes in internationally reputed academic journals and has won competitive awards/grants in management and social sciences. She teaches Industry and Competitive Analysis and Entrepreneurial Learning, at the MBA level. In her research and teaching, Vivianna collaborates with local and multinational companies, across industries such as pharmaceuticals, financial services, chemicals, and information technology.

Vivianna is a co-organizer of the multidisciplinary international conference “Organizing in the Era of Digital Technology,” to be held in Ascona, Switzerland. Vivianna obtained her PhD degree from the George Washington University (USA) in 2013. Prior she studied at Singapore Management University (Singapore) and Xiamen University (China), where she co-founded the Model United Nations Club. Vivianna is a passionate triathlete. Having finished a number of marathons and Ironman 70.3 races, her next goal is a full distance Ironman.