Beatrice Michaeli joined the UCLA Anderson faculty as assistant professor of accounting in 2014 after completing a Ph.D. and an M.Phil. in accounting at Columbia Business School. Her research addresses analytical models in the areas of financial reporting, performance measurement, incentives and contracting. She says: “I aspire to present the world in a neat abstract model that allows me to address important practical problems and provide useful recommendations to firms and regulators.”
Bulgarian-born and raised in a family of judges and lawyers, Michaeli initially pursued a law degree in Bulgaria, followed by an advanced law degree in Israel, where she learned Hebrew in six months and embarked on a career in prosecution of white collar crimes. A change of heart led her to pursue an advanced degree in business administration, with finance and accounting as major interests. A serendipitous teaching invitation made her realize she enjoyed academia, and she accepted the offer to join the faculty of Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel’s first private university, teaching undergraduate accounting and corporate finance classes. She felt her natural path from there was to pursue a doctoral degree in order to focus on academic research and teaching. Today, she continues to enjoy academia and says she "wouldn't live her life any other way."
Michaeli's dissertation constructs a Bayesian persuasion model to study the interplay between producing and disseminating information (link to paper). The results call into question the belief that forcing managers to provide unrestricted access to information to all potential users (e.g., investors and analysts) is always beneficial. She says, “If managers could selectively disseminate information they might gather more precise information to begin with and thereby make the users of this information better-off. Under certain conditions, a regime that allows selective dissemination Pareto-dominates a regime that prohibits it (e.g., the regime after Regulation Fair Disclosure).” Michaeli’s current research continues to study firms’ information gathering and dissemination choices. For example, one of her recently published papers examines firms’ optimal public reporting when subsequent private information might arrive (link to paper). An ongoing project considers the effect of media on corporate disclosures. Michaeli is also applying a principal-agent framework to explore the link between relationship-specific investments of business units involved in joint projects and compensation risk. The results shed light on the investment distortions and their mitigation through optimally adjusted compensation schemes (link to paper). She also studies the optimal investment authority allocation (link to paper) and the ability of divisional managers engaged in joint projects to collude against the principal and earn “arbitrage” profits. For a detailed description of her recent publications and working papers click here and here.
At UCLA, Michaeli teaches the MBA class "Corporate Decision Making and Incentives." Whereas her research hinges on abstract analytical models, in the classroom she draws from concrete case studies. “My teaching is very hands-on,” she says.“ I encourage students to observe a problematic situation and think of a solution. Sometimes there’s not one super solution; students need to consider under what circumstances one or another specific solution is better. At the very least, I expect them to learn to ask the right questions, to be critical of the default practices that are often applied in corporations, and to be aware of how to make better decisions.”
In her free time, Michaeli likes to travel, swim, run and practice yoga.