Tony Briggs

Assistant Professor

Alberta School of Business

Strategic Management and Organization

About Me

Anthony R. Briggs is an Assistant Professor in the Strategic Management and Organization Department at the Alberta School of Business and an Assistant Director at the Technology Commercialization Centre

He has led the following initiatives:

Tony holds a Doctor of Business Administration in Information Systems from Boston University’s Graduate School of Management where he studied how some of the world’s top technology entrepreneurs identify and develop breakthrough innovations. He has published in leading journals like Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice and Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research. In 2014 he received the Donald and Margaret MacKenzie Undergraduate Distinguished Teaching Award. 

Prior to his doctorate, Tony received an M.S. from MIT Sloan, where he researched the impact of patent constraints on innovation, and also assisted in the design of the Intellectual Property Owners Association and the Licensing Executives Society surveys. He also holds an MBA in Finance from University of British Columbia, and a B.Sc. Hons. in Biochemistry from the University of Alberta.

Tony was a patent licensing officer in Canada and the US, most recently at Harvard Medical School, and has consulted with numerous U.S. SBIR grant companies on patent licensing and technology strategy. His research examines how highly novel information is shared and assessed in uncertain environments. He conducts related work on problems of uncertain property rights and patents.

Personal Interests

I am married to Claire and have three children: Virginia, Rosalie and Pierce.


Research Interests

  • Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Innovation
  • Knowledge management under incomplete information
  • Technology strategy, novelty, and competitive advantage
  • Inductive methods that identify new metrics and artifacts for statistical analysis

Research Overview

My research examines how entrepreneurship and innovation are influenced by three important factors (a) problems of novel information, (b) problems of uncertain property rights, and (c) problems of knowledge accumulation. My work is motivated by my interest in how novel knowledge and resources are shared and assessed under conditions of high uncertainty. This research aims towards achieving a better ex ante understanding of breakthroughs, entrepreneurial opportunities and development.

Problems of Novel Information

The entrepreneurial creation of new relationships, organizations and markets is driven by the evaluation of information that is incomplete, asymmetric, and uncertain. In practice, entrepreneurs share and assess ex-ante, "beforehand", information. Yet the theories used in the entrepreneurship literature predominantly employ ex-post, "after the fact", logics. In my dissertation I used an ex ante logic to examine why entrepreneurs share information, how the sources of information are evaluated, and how the quality of information is assessed. I argue that entrepreneurs share information to form private entrepreneurial knowledge about complementary asset combinations (Briggs, 2008,FER). These novel complementary asset combinations maintain appropriability conditions and ameliorate hazards of information sharing. Second, I show that entrepreneurial discoveries have a unique informational basis, grounded in artifacts and relationships, which allows dissimilar actors to similarly assess multiple and emergent sources of information. A third area addresses how entrepreneurs minimize the vulnerabilities of using information by relying of different types of trust over the period of relationship assessment and selection.

I am currently developing two additional research projects in this area. Using video and expert data on three years of elevator pitches at MIT (Balachandra and Briggs, BCERC presentation), we examine how differences in information sharing affect the entrepreneur's ability to attract early resources. Second, I am exploring the role of selective learning, an ecological learning model, in the evaluation of novelty and development of entrepreneurial knowledge. (Briggs, BCERC presentation).

Problems of Uncertain Property Rights

In my research I take a relational view of knowledge where the problems of novelty are function of the information, but also of differences in the interests of the actors. While I explore this view in some of my entrepreneurship work, my attention to differences in interests is more explicit at organizational boundaries when examining questions of intellectual property and intellectual capital. I highlight two areas where I am pursuing this research interest. First, I have recently completed a 200 year historical study of interests and technological change in the US patent system (Carlile and Briggs, under review). Second, I am developing two datasets on problems of patenting and technology access strategies on organizational innovation outcomes.

Problems of Knowledge Accumulation

Overtime, investments in information result in knowledge accumulation. These accumulations occur at the level of the individual, organization or institution. Since joining the University of Alberta I have, with Jennifer Jennings, initiated a major project studying the impact of the University on its alumni, alumni founded firms, and institutions. While this project has a number of interesting avenues, broadly it seeks to better understand the role of the University and individual educational experiences on the social, environmental and cultural impacts of entrepreneurship and innovation.


Teaching Interests

  • Courses in Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Innovation
  • Electives in Technology Strategy and Knowledge/ Information Management

Teaching Experience

SMO441 - Business Strategy, Winter 2010

  • Section B1 - TR 12:30PM - 1:50PM, BUS 2 9
  • Section B2 - TR 2:00PM - 3:20PM, BUS B 9

Teaching Assistant, Corporate Entrepreneurship (15.369), with Prof. Edward Roberts (MIT-Sloan), Spring 2001, Fall 2001, Fall 2003

Teaching Assistant, Managing the Innovation Process (15.351), with Prof. Jonathon Cummings (MIT-Sloan), Fall 2002 (2 sections)