Faculty & Research

Christopher B. Yenkey

Assistant Professor of Organizations and Strategy and John E. Jeuck Faculty Fellow

Phone :
Address :
5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Chris Yenkey joined Chicago Booth in 2011 as Assistant Professor of Organizations and Strategy. Professor Yenkey’s primary research interest is in extending sociological theories of social diversity, segregation, and inter-group trust into the analysis of market development. This line of work is exemplified by his work on multiple aspects of investor participation in Kenya’s frontier stock market, the Nairobi Securities Exchange. Here, he analyzes how ethnic group boundaries influence the transmission of market information through a diverse society and how coethnicity paradoxically increases investors’ vulnerability to fraud without reducing their trust in the market. The causes and consequences of fraud are the focus of an additional line of research, where he studies the social influences that lead actors to engage in corrupt practices as well as how organizations respond to corrupt acts.

Professor Yenkey’s dissertation research on the social foundations of market construction in East Africa received several awards in 2011, including the William H. Newman Best Dissertation Paper Award from the Academy of Management, the Louis R. Pondy Best Paper Award from the Organization and Management Theory Division of the AOM, and the Ronald S. Burt Outstanding Paper Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Economic Sociology.

While earning his PhD in Sociology at Cornell University, Yenkey served as a visiting scholar at the Institute for Economic Affairs in Nairobi, Kenya. More recently, he was Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Economy and Society at Cornell University from 2010-11. Prior to his graduate studies, Yenkey received a BA in Economics from the University of Texas-Austin in 2001 and served as a Research Associate in the Department of Economic Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City from 2001-03.

When he’s not studying the social construction of markets, Chris prefers to be with his family, exercising outside, or some combination of the two.


2015 - 2016 Course Schedule

Number Name Quarter
39002 Strategic Leadership 2016 (Spring)
39600 Workshop in Organizations and Markets 2015 (Fall)

Yenkey, Christopher B. Forthcoming. "Mobilizing a Market: Ethnic Segmentation and Investor Recruitment into Kenya's Nascent Stock Market." Administrative Science Quarterly

This paper studies how actors from diverse and competing social groups can come to identify as members of a common market rather than agents of their discrete social group. The goals of the paper are to identify the mechanisms driving social segmentation in a nascent market and strategies for integrating disparate groups. The empirical context is the recruitment of domestic investors into Kenya’s nascent stock market, a setting characterized by weak formal institutions and high levels of inter-ethnic distrust. Rather than exhibit a blanket preference for homophilous peers, potential investors increasingly attend to prior performance experiences of coethnics where local exposure to corrupt financial organizations is higher and where the market is increasingly identified with distrusted political rivals. Inter-ethnic residential and religious integration moderate this pattern of distrust, but results suggest that the most effective strategy to achieve inter-ethnic integration is through the use of national rather than ethnic language advertising campaigns to reframe the market as a common social identity. Implications of these findings for organization theory, economic development, and the sociological study of markets are discussed.

With Palmer, David. In press. "Drugs, Sweat, and Gears: An Organizational Analysis of Performance Enhancing Drug Use in the 2010 Tour de France," Social Forces.

This paper seeks a more comprehensive explanation of wrongdoing in organizations by theorizing two underexplored causes of wrongdoing related to an organizational participant's embeddedness in formal organizational structures and informal peer relationships: the criticality of a person's role in their organization's division of labor, and their social ties to deviant peers within their organization and industry who vary with respect to their experience with social control agents. We investigate how these factors influenced wrongdoing in the context of professional cyclists' use of banned performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in advance of the 2010 Tour de France. This empirical setting provides two advantages: it permits evaluation of a wider range of potential determinants of wrongdoing than is conventionally possible, and it allows for the use of a measure of wrongdoing that is not subject to the type of bias that plagues most previously used indicators. We find substantial support for our prediction that actors who perform critical organizational roles are more likely to engage in wrongdoing. Further, we find that while undifferentiated social ties to known wrongdoers did not increase the likelihood of wrongdoing, ties to unpunished offenders increased the probability of wrongdoing and ties to severely punished offenders decreased it. These effects were robust to consideration of other known causes of wrongdoing in organizations: weak governance regimes and permissive cultural contexts, performance strain, and individual propensities to engage in wrongdoing.

For a listing of research publications please visit ’s university library listing page.

REVISION: Distrust and Market Participation
Date Posted: Mar  13, 2015
With an empirical analysis of investor reactions to a wide-spread stockbroker fraud, this study expands our understanding of the role of trust in market participation in two ways. First, the paper considers the differential reactions of defrauded investors according to their social similarity with the perpetrating broker. Second, the paper considers the extent to which the negative stigma associated with a fraud event diffuses beyond other similar intermediaries to more broadly delegitimize participation in the market. The empirical setting is the ethnically diverse and contentious population of investors in the Nairobi Securities Exchange, where the country’s largest stockbroker was expelled from the market after defrauding one-quarter of its 100,000 clients. A unique dataset is constructed that measures the ethnic group membership of all market intermediaries and investors, each investor’s exposure to the corrupt stockbroker, and all trading behavior before and after the fraud. ...

New: Multiple Uses of Mobile Money: Implications for Financial Inclusion
Date Posted: Feb  21, 2015
Despite dynamic growth in the use of mobile financial services in recent years, no consensus has emerged on how to categorize this new financial product. In this paper, we consider reasons for categorizing mobile money as either a formal or informal financial product depending on whether the analysis is undertaken from the perspective of the mobile money user or the provider. The implications of how mobile money is categorized on our understanding of levels of financial inclusion are profound. Our estimates suggest that more than one-half of the total level of formal financial sector participation is accounted for by registered mobile money accounts. However, analysis of detailed survey data from Kenya reveals that more than 80% of all mobile money use is for informal financial activities. For example, more than 90% of Kenyans report using mobile money to send remittances to family and friends, while less than 4% report using it to pay for formal services. The analysis highlights the ...

REVISION: The Financialization of Everyday Life: Mobile Money and (In)Formal Activity in a Developing Context
Date Posted: Feb  12, 2015
This paper contributes to the literature on the financialization of everyday life by studying the relationship between mobile money products and financialized practices in Kenya. We first outline a theoretical approach to studying financialization in developing countries that is consistent with research in developed countries but accommodates the differing motivations and operationalizations of financialized practices in the Global South. In part, this is accomplished by drawing explicit parallels to research on formal financial sector inclusion in developing countries. We extend research by considering how mobile money products may facilitate shifts toward financialized behaviors for individuals in the informal sector. Using nationally representative cross-sectional survey data measuring all financial products and practices used by 13,000 Kenyans, we find that mobile money use is positively related to increased inclusion in the formal financial sector, and formal sector inclusion is ...

REVISION: Social Segmentation and Market Construction: Explaining Causes and Exploring Cures
Date Posted: Feb  12, 2015
Social segregation is a regular feature of diverse populations, but integration across groups is beneficial to building nascent national markets. A key challenge for market development in diverse environments is to understand how actors with diverse and competing social identities can come to behave as members of a common market rather than agents of their discrete social group. I address this issue with a case study of investor recruitment into Kenya’s nascent capital market made possible with unique data on the location, timing of first share purchase, and tribal group affiliation for a rapidly growing population of investors. On average, new investor recruitment is positively predicted by profits earned by geographically proximate cotribal peers but not by profits earned by members of other tribes. In areas populated by tribes who are political rivals, profits earned by members of other tribes significantly reduce new investor recruitment. These findings are interpreted as a prism ...

New: Speculation as a Learned Behavior? Adaptive Rationality Among New Investors and the Evolution of a Nascent Market
Date Posted: Feb  11, 2015
This inductive study examines the extent to which small, newly recruited investors learn to mimic the trading behaviors of experienced institutional investors in an emerging capital market characterized by policies that incentivize speculative trading in IPO shares. Theoretically, I explore how small, inexperienced investors learn to trade shares more effectively and how the ordering and attributes of listing firms facilitate or impede this learning process. Empirically, I model rates of speculative IPO trading for investors based on portfolio value, registration type (individual vs. company), and previous experience in the Kenyan IPO market and chart the relative rates of speculative trading between investor groups over the course of successive IPOs. Analysis of individual data for 1.4 million domestic investors across six consecutive IPOs in Kenya’s nascent stock market from 2006 to 2008 suggests that low portfolio value individual investors are initially much less likely than ...

New: Tribes and (Dis)Trust
Date Posted: Feb  11, 2015
This paper examines the role of shared group membership in a principal’s selection of an agent in an impersonal market and subsequently in a corrupt agent’s selection of victims in an intermediate fraud. The empirical setting is the socially diverse and contentious population of investors in Kenya’s emerging stock market. Analysis of investor-level data suggests that investors choose a same-tribe stockbroker and avoid rival-tribe brokers, especially in areas characterized by inter-tribal violence and in which their tribe is the local minority. However, expectations of within-group trust are often violated. The corrupt stockbroker is more likely to steal from clients from his own tribe relative to rival tribes. The relative likelihood of choosing a same-tribe client is highest in areas with violent conflict, and the absolute likelihood is highest in areas where the in-group is the local majority. The corrupt broker is also about twice as likely to steal from same-tribe clients at the ...

Additional Information