L. E. Simmons Chaired Professor of Finance,
Harvard Business School


Lauren H. Cohen

Lauren Cohen

Lauren Cohen is the L.E. Simmons Chaired Professor in the Finance Unit at the Harvard Business School, an Editor of Management Science, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He teaches Asset Management at the Harvard Business School, along with numerous Executive Education courses.

Dr. Cohen frequently advises government organizations in the US and abroad, including the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, United States Patent & Trademark Office, testifying in front of the United States Congress, and advising the governments of China and Turkey. He was additionally named a 2008 Pensions & Investments “Cutting Edge Academic.”

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Research and Consulting

Dr. Cohen's award-winning research has been published in the top journals in Finance and Economics. It is also frequently described in various media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fortune, and Forbes.

Dr. Cohen has consulted with the top hedge funds in the industry, and has been awarded numerous practitioner-sponsored applied research awards. He has also appeared as an expert witness in investment-related litigation cases.

Featured Work

We provide theoretical and empirical evidence on the evolution and impact of non-practicing entities (NPEs) in the intellectual property space. Heterogeneity in innovation, given a cost of commercialization, results in NPEs that choose to act as "patent trolls" that chase operating firms' innovations even if those innovations are not clearly infringing on the NPEs' patents. We support these predictions using a novel, large dataset of patents targeted by NPEs. We show that NPEs on average target firms that are flush with cash (or have just had large positive cash shocks). Furthermore, NPEs target firm profits arising from exogenous cash shocks unrelated to the allegedly infringing patents. We next show that NPEs target firms irrespective of the closeness of those firms' patents to the NPEs', and that NPEs typically target firms that are busy with other (non-IP related) lawsuits or are likely to settle. Lastly, we show that NPE litigation has a negative real impact on the future innovative activity of targeted firms.

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We explore the implications of a subtle “default” choice that firms make in their regular reporting practices, namely that firms typically repeat what they most recently reported. Using the complete history of regular quarterly and annual filings by U.S. corporations from 1995-2014, we show that when firms make an active change in their reporting practices, this conveys an important signal about the firm. Changes to the language and construction of financial reports have strong implications for firms’ future returns: a portfolio that shorts “changers” and buys “non-changers” earns up to 188 basis points per month (over 22% per year) in abnormal returns in the future. These reporting changes are concentrated in the management discussion (MD&A) section. Changes in language referring to the executive (CEO and CFO) team, or regarding litigation, are especially informative for future returns.
This paper employs a new empirical approach for identifying the impact of government spending on the private sector. Our key innovation is to use changes in congressional committee chairmanship as a source of exogenous variation in state-level federal expenditures. In doing so, we show that fiscal spending shocks appear to significantly dampen corporate sector investment and employment activity. This retrenchment follows both Senate and House committee chair changes, occurs in large and small firms and within large and small states, and is most pronounced among geographically-concentrated firms. The effects are economically meaningful and the mechanism - entirely distinct from the more traditional interest rate and tax channels - suggests new considerations in assessing the impact of government spending on private sector economic activity.

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Award Winning Research

Dr. Cohen's award-winning research has been published in the top journals in Finance and Economics. It is also frequently described in various media outlets including The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesThe Washington Post, Fortune, and Forbes.

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Recent Publications

Professor Cohen has a range of recent Publications and Working Papers exploring topics in Financial and Innovation Economics that can be found here.

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Professor Cohen has been awarded numerous academic and practitioner research prizes. Additionally, he has been honored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with multiple grants including the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award – awarded to the most promising young economists in the field each year.

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Professor Cohen is frequently cited and quoted in the media. A list of his recent popular press is located here.

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Lauren H. Cohen, Ph.D.

L.E. Simmons Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
Editor, Management Science
Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research

  Lauren Cohen

Harvard Business School
Rock Center 321
Boston, Massachusetts 02163

Tel : (617) 495-3888
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