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Jessica J. Santana, PhD

Assistant Professor
Technology Management
UC Santa Barbara

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Dr. Santana is a Sociologist in the field of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Organizational Theory. She develops computational techniques to understand how entrepreneurs use social networks to learn and recover from failure.

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Failure is the most likely outcome in entrepreneurship. To succeed, entrepreneurs must know how to learn and recover from failure. Resilience and agility are even more important for women and under-represented minority entrepreneurs, who may face less tolerance of failure. Dr. Santana’s research investigates how entrepreneurs can successfully navigate failure and transform it into a competitive advantage.

What is the true nature of innovation? Sociologist Robert Merton theorized innovation as a form of social deviance, in which the innovator uses abnormal means to achieve socially acceptable goals. Like risk, deviance can benefit or harm society. Dr. Santana’s research disentangles the bonds and tensions between innovation and deviance, unveiling the mechanisms of the “gray zone” between legitimate and illegitimate innovation.

Social networks are an informal form of organization that unveil power, control, and meaning in social structures. Increasingly digitized social interactions promise new social theorization, but accurately studying networks requires creative methods. Dr. Santana develops computational techniques for accurately capturing and analyzing social data with special attention to how computational social science can empower under-represented communities.

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In the Classroom


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This course teaches students the basics of evaluating new ventures as a founder, prospective employee, or investor. The fundamental principle of this course is that anyone can learn to be an entrepreneur. While entrepreneurship is full of uncertainty, there are tools you can use and skills you can develop to improve your chance of success.

Data & Decision Analytics

This course explores how decisions are made, key factors affecting the decision making process, biases we must account for, and the tools available for improving our decisions, as well as predicting those of others. Students will learn how various business situations are modeled and optimized effectively using mathematical modeling and quantitative techniques.

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Get in Touch

Contact Dr. Santana regarding speaking or consulting requests, collaboration or mentorship opportunities, published work, course offerings or any other inquiries.

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