Harvard Business Review uses EVE Online corps for a study on country of origin and company structure


When the Harvard Business Review wanted to run a study on how people’s place of origin affects how they structure a company, it homed in on EVE Online. And where better? The game has had over 6.5 million players from about 200 nations since its launch, running a corporation is not unlike operating a business in many ways, and it’s a singular virtual environment. There’s lots of data to be had here.

Data are what they got: The study pulled a sample size of 310,652 player-run companies founded between January 2012 to July 2016, representing about a million “employees” and founders from 124 different countries. It further considered several factors based on a social sciences project to create a rating system for each country’s major institutions, which helped the study create a template for how someone raised in a country might wield authority. The study then took a look at how much autonomy those founders gave their employees.

According to the results, countries which have transparent institutions and predictably enforced laws granted its corp members more decision-making power. A corp run by someone from Germany — a country that rated high for law enforcement and transparent institutions — was found to be more willing to give their corp members autonomy than a corp run by someone from Russia, which was found by the study’s rating system to be more susceptible to corruption.

The study offers a look at how culture plays a role in economic choices and further props up research about how country of origin affects the work ethics of second generation immigrants and the creation of local plants by multinationals, but it does not yet answer how autonomy decisions influence overall business performance. That said, the study’s authors point out that business founders may want to consider their findings.

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