Latest Research

"Understanding the Incentives of Commissions Motivated Agents: Theory and Evidence from the Indian Life Insurance Market"

A series of field experiments were conducted to examine two different perceptions of financial service intermediaries:

Do financial service intermediaries provide valuable product education for uninformed consumers or do they only advertise products that generate the most profit for their agents?



Please contact Shawn Cole at or 617.495.6525 for additional information.


Room 271


Baker Library


(617) 495-6525


Shawn Cole is an Associate Professor in the Finance Unit at Harvard Business School. His research examines corporate and household finance in emerging markets, with a focus on banking, microfinance, insurance, and the relationship between financial development and economic growth. He has worked in India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and South Africa.

Professor Cole teaches a second-year MBA elective course, Business at the Base of Pyramid, which explores the principal challenges lower income markets face while attempting to establish successful businesses. He has also taught first and second term Finance courses as part of the core MBA curriculum, as well as various executive education courses.  

He is an Affiliate of the Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT, dedicated to the use of randomized trials as a tool for learning what works in international development, as well as the Bureau of Research and Economic Analysis of Development.

Before joining Harvard Business School, Professor Cole worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the economic research department. He has also served as chair of the endowment management committee of the Telluride Association, a non-profit educational organization.  

He received a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005, where he was an NSF and Javits Fellow, and an A.B. in Economics and German Literature from Cornell University.