Kisha Lashley

PhD Candidate

I am a PhD Candidate at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University in the department of Management and Organizations. As a scholar,my research lies at the intersection of strategic management, entrepreneurship and organizational theory. I am interested in questions related to organizational social evaluations such as legitimacy, stigma, reputation and status, and I used mixed methods to explore those questions. Prior to joining Smeal, I worked for several years coordinating buyer-supplier relationships between corporations and their small suppliers.





  • Expected 2015
    Ph.D. Business Administration
    Pennsylvania State University
  • 2004
    M.S. Management of Technology
    Vanderbilt University
  • 2002
    B.S. Industrial Arts and Technology
    Minor: Business
    Berea College


Research Interests: entrepreneurship, strategy, social evaluations, organizational discourse

I am interested in the strategic choices and behaviors of small, entrepreneurial firms, particularly those on the margins that face adversity beyond the typical entrepreneurial challenges. As such, I gravitate towards questions concerning firms’ efforts to negotiate power asymmetries and manage social evaluations such as legitimacy, stigma and reputation. I am particularly interested in how these firms manage their social constraints and the trade-offs between the actions required to survive and those that would reduce stigma and enhance their legitimacy, reputation and status. I also focus on the role of narratives in these processes, and I am drawn to contexts where these issues are particularly consequential. I employ both qualitative and quantitative research methods to delve into the micro-processes at play


Title: Waiting to Inhale: Legitimacy-seeking Entrepreneurs in the Stigmatized Medical Cannabis Industry

My dissertation uses mixed methods to explore the actions of entrepreneurs attempting to legitimize the stigmatized medical cannabis industry. In the first study, I am interested in understanding how entrepreneurs balance the tradeoffs between the actions they must take to survive and those needed to achieve legitimacy. I ask the questions (1) How do entrepreneurs in an emerging but stigmatized industry seek legitimize both their firms and industry? (2) How do they manage the firm-level consequences of stigma? In the second study, I use qualitative comparative analysis and content analysis in a natural experiment to explore the antecedents and effectiveness of entrepreneurial legitimacy-seeking narratives. I pose the questions: (1) What are the configurations of factors that affect how entrepreneurs in a stigmatized industry frame their legitimacy-seeking narratives? (2) How effective are those narratives? With the first study, I expect to make a theoretical contribution creating a grounded model of entrepreneurial legitimization and increasing our understanding of how legitimization and de-stigmatization can be employed to address industry-level core stigma. With the second study, I anticipate contributing to literature on entrepreneurial storytelling by providing insights into how different configurations of stories and actor characteristics influence the success of outcomes.



Pollock, T.G. & Lashley, K. 2014. Who Needs a Shrink When You Have Business Week? Using Content Analysis to Get Inside the Heads of Entrepreneurs, VCs and Other Market Participants. In Ted Baker and Friederike Welter (eds), The Routledge Companion on Entrepreneurship. In Press.

Pollock, T.G., Lee, P.M., Jin, K. & Lashley, K. 2014. Chicken or Egg: Exploring the Co-Evolution of VC Firm Reputation and Status. Best Papers Proceedings, Academy of Management Annual Meeting, OMT Division.

Pollock, T.G., Lee, P.M., Jin, K. & Lashley, K. 2014. vChicken or Egg: Exploring the Co-Evolution of VC Firm Reputation and Status. Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research BCERC Proceedings (FER).



Pollock, T.G., Lee, P.M., Jin, K. &AMp; Lashley, K. Tangled: Exploring the Coevolution of VC Firm Reputation and Status. (Revise and Resubmit at Administrative Science Quarterly)

Lashley, K. & Pollock, T.G. Dancing with Giants: How Small Women and Minority-owned Firms Manage Asymmetric Relationships with Large Partners. (Submission shortly to Administrative Science Quarterly)



Lashley, K. & Johnson, T. The Role of Mega-Discourse in Entrepreneurial Opportunity Recognition..

Paruchuri, S. & Lashley, K. Categorization of People and Foundings of Private Security Firms: A Longitudinal Empirical Analysis of Utah, 1960-1991



Gray, B. and Lashley, K. 2011. Integrative Leadership Roles in Fostering the North American Rail Transportation Dialogue. (Scholar Award Final Report)

Lashley, K. 2004. (Master of Science thesis). The effects of university technology commercialization practices on licensing income-a comparative study.


Throughout my life, I have had great teachers who were instrumental in shaping who I am as a person and as a professional. Because of them, I see teaching as both a privilege and a great responsibility, and they have greatly influenced my own teaching philosophy, which is focused on: (1) creating a collaborative learning atmosphere (2) helping students learn how to access, evaluate and communicate information, (3) and generating a curiosity that extends beyond the classroom.

(1) Collaborative learning environment: I believe learning is a collaborative process, as opposed to one where the teacher is the sole transmitter of knowledge. As such, I encourage my students to embrace the unique knowledge and experiences present in every individual in the class. I urge them to analyze their own experiences both within and external to classroom, and to find ways to reconcile the two.

(2) Access, evaluate and communicate: I believe students must be able to convincingly communicate their ideas. I emphasize the importance of being responsible consumers and creators of knowledge. To do so, they must know where to get credible information, must be capable of assessing its strengths and shortcomings, and must know how to use it as a tool to build their own ideas. As those ideas come together, the students must then be able to effectively communicate. I emphasize that this process is iterative, and that “draft and redraft” is a necessary part of the learning process. These exercises help them to be better communicators—another skill that is transferrable to their future endeavors.

(3) Generating curiosity that extends beyond the classroom: Finally, students learn most when they are intrinsically motivated to seek information and answer questions, and curiosity is thus intrinsic to learning and teaching. Course materials such as cases and texts provide a foundation for instruction, but students—with their past employment and/or internship experiences—also bring knowledge of the broader environment into the classroom. I use this as a basis to generate curiosity about course content. Encouraging them to make these connections increases their curiosity and extends their learning opportunities outside the classroom.


At Penn State, I have had several opportunities to apply and refine these philosophies. I designed and taught three different undergraduate classes: New Venture Creation (two sections-60 students each) and Strategic Management (one section-40 students), with teaching ratings that progressively increased.


Lashley, K.* 2014. “Entrepreneurship in Stigma: Legitimization Strategies of Medical ‘Cannabusinesses’”. Identity Work on the Fringes: Creating and Maintaining Identity Legitimacy. To be presented at the Academy of Management Annual MeetingPhiladelphia, PA, August, 2014. Showcase Symposium

Pollock, T.G., Lee, P.M., Jin, K. & Lashley, K.* 2014. “Chicken or Egg: Exploring the Co-Evolution of VC Firm Reputation and Status.” To be presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, August, 2014. Finalist for Best Paper Award – OMT Division

Pollock, Timothy, Lee, Peggy M., Jin, Kyuho & Lashley, Kisha* 2014. “Chicken or Egg: Exploring the Co-Evolution of VC Firm Reputation and Status.” Babson Entrepreneurship Research Conference, London ON. June, 2014.

Pollock, TG., Lee, P.M., Jin, K. & Lashley, K.* 2013. “Chicken or Egg: Exploring the Co-Evolution of VC Firm Reputation and Status.” Strategic Management Society Annual Meeting , Atlanta GA. October, 2013.

Lashley, K.* & Pollock, T.G. 2013. “Dancing with Giants: How Small Women and Minority-owned Firms Manage Asymmetric Relationships with Large Partners”. Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Orlando FL. August, 2013.

Lashley, K. (Facilitator). “Multilevel Approaches to Firm Growth.” Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Orlando FL. August, 2013.

Lashley, K.* 2012. “This is Our Story: Social Entrepreneurs' Use of Storytelling for Resource Acquisition.” Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Boston MA. August, 2012.

Lashley, K. & Baker, T. (Organizers) 2012. “Multi-method Research in Entrepreneurship: Voices of Experience.” Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Boston MA. August, 2012.

* Indicates presenter



  • All-Academy Theme Showcase Symposium at AOM Annual Meeting - 2014
  • Finalist, Academy of Management OMT Division Best Paper Award - 2014


  • Academy of Management
  • Strategic Management Society


  • Present
    Entrepreneurship Division Research Committee
    Academy of Management
    Graduate Student Member
  • Present
    Academy of Management Annual Conference


  • 2010
    Greater Baltimore Committee
    Baltimore, MD
    Director, Bridging the Gap Initiative (small business procurement)
  • 2006
    Sustainable Planning & Development Corporation
    Co-founder (renewable energy company)
  • 2005
    Emory University
    Atlanta GA
    Technology Transfer Contracts Specialist
  • 2002
    Georgia Avenue Business Resource Center
    Washington DC
    Small Business Development Specialist


  • Grace G. Albrecht Scholarship for Women in Management | 2014
  • Grace G. Albrecht Scholarship for Women in Management | 2013
  • Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship Scholarship | 2011 - 2013
  • John and Kara Arnold Scholarship | 2011 - 2013
  • Smeal College of Business Doctoral Research Grants | 2011, 2013
  • Bunton-Waller Scholarship | 2010
  • Frank P. and Mary Jean Smeal Endowment Fund Scholarship | 2010
  • IBM Graduate Fellow | 2002 - 2004
  • Vanderbilt University Teaching Assistantship | 2002 - 2004
  • Father Parker Award for Leadership | 2002
  • Who’s Who Among College Students | 2001


  • English
  • Moderately proficient in French




  • Address
    Department of Management and Organization,
    Smeal College of Business,
    The Pennsylvania State University,
    447A Business Building ,
    University Park, PA 16802
  • Email
  • Phone