Christophe Van den Bulte

Christophe Van den Bulte
  • Gayfryd Steinberg Professor
  • Professor of Marketing

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    759 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    3730 Walnut Street
    University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: quantitative marketing, new product diffusion, social networks, referral programs

Links: CV


Christophe Van den Bulte teaches Models for Marketing Strategy in the Undergraduate and MBA programs, and Data Analysis in the PhD program. He has also taught MBA and Executive MBA core courses in Marketing Management, MBA and undergraduate courses in Channel Management, and PhD courses in Marketing Strategy, Mathematical Models in Marketing, and Social Network Analysis.

His research focuses on two areas, new product diffusion and social networks. Current projects include investigating convergence versus divergence across rich and poor countries in the speed at which new products gain market penetration, quantifying to what extent customers acquired through referral programs buy more, are less costly to serve, and more loyal than customers acquired through traditional means, and investigating the trade-off in sponsored Twitter campaigns between the number of endorsers recruited versus the effectiveness of their endorsements.

Professor Van den Bulte is Associate Editor at Marketing Science, and serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Marketing, the International Journal of Research in Marketing, and the Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing.

He received his PhD in business administration from the Pennsylvania State University and his MA and BA degrees in applied economics from the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Continue Reading


  • Stefan Wuyts and Christophe Van den Bulte, “Control and Coordination in B2B Networks”. In Handbook of Business-to-Business Marketing, 2nd Ed,, edited by Gay L. Lilien, J. Andrew Petersen, and Stefan Wuyts, (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2022)

  • Gila E. Fruchter, Ashutosh Prasad, Christophe Van den Bulte (2022), Too Popular, Too Fast: Optimal Advertising and Entry Timing in Markets with Peer Influence, Management Science, 68 (6), pp. 4725-4741. 10.1287/mnsc.2021.4105

  • Kathleen T. Li and Christophe Van den Bulte (2022), Augmented Difference-in-Differences, Marketing Science (in press).

  • Jing Peng and Christophe Van den Bulte (Under Revision), Participation vs. Effectiveness in Sponsored Tweet Campaigns: A Quality-Quantity Conundrum.

    Abstract: We investigate the participation and effectiveness of paid endorsers in sponsored tweet campaigns. We manipulate the financial pay rate offered to endorsers on the Chinese paid endorsement platform, where payouts are contingent on participation rather than engagement outcomes. Hence, our design can distinguish between variation in participation and variation in outcomes, even if people self-select to endorse only specific tweets. The main finding is that endorsers exhibited adverse selection: Several observed and unobserved endorser characteristics associated with a higher propensity to participate had a negative association with being an effective endorser given participation. This adverse selection results in a conundrum when trying to recruit a sizable number of high-quality endorsers. Only 9% to 17% of the endorsers were above the median in both the propensity to participate and the propensity to be effective, compared to a benchmark of 25% in the absence of any association. A simulation analysis of various targeting approaches that leverages our data of actual endorsements and outcomes shows that targeting candidate endorsers by scoring and ranking them using models taking into account adverse selection on observables improves campaign outcomes by 12% to 40% compared to models ignoring adverse selection.

  • Katherine L. Milkman... et al. Christophe Van den Bulte, Kevin Volpp, Angela Duckworth (2022), A 680,000-person megastudy of nudges to encourage vaccination in pharmacies, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119 (6). 10.1073/pnas.211512611

  • Ron Berman and Christophe Van den Bulte (2021), False Discovery in A/B Testing, Management Science. 10.1287/mnsc.2021.4207

    Abstract: We investigate what fraction of all significant results in website A/B testing is actually null effects (i.e., the false discovery rate (FDR)). Our data consist of 4,964 effects from 2,766 experiments conducted on a commercial A/B testing platform. Using three different methods, we find that the FDR ranges between 28% and 37% for tests conducted at 10% significance and between 18% and 25% for tests at 5% significance (two sided). These high FDRs stem mostly from the high fraction of true null effects, about 70%, rather than from low power. Using our estimates, we also assess the potential of various A/B test designs to reduce the FDR. The two main implications are that decision makers should expect one in five interventions achieving significance at 5% confidence to be ineffective when deployed in the field and that analysts should consider using two-stage designs with multiple variations rather than basic A/B tests.

  • Katherine L. Milkman... et al. Christophe Van den Bulte, Kevin Volpp, Angela Duckworth (2021), A megastudy of text-based nudges encouraging patients to get vaccinated at an upcoming doctor’s appointment, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118 (20). 10.1073/pnas.2101165118

  • Pinar Yildirim, Yanhao Wei, Christophe Van den Bulte, Joy Lu (2020), Social Network Design for Inducing Effort, Quantitative Marketing and Economics, 18, pp. 381-417.

    Abstract: Many companies create and manage communities where consumers observe and exchange information about the effort exerted by other consumers. Such communities are especially popular in the areas of fitness, education, dieting, and financial savings. We study how to optimally structure such consumer communities when the objective is to maximize the total or average amount of effort expended. Using network modeling and assuming peer influence through conformity, we find that the optimal community design consists of a set of disconnected or very loosely connected sub-communities, each of which is very densely connected within. Also, each sub-community in the optimal design consists of consumers selected such that their “standalone” propensity to exert effort correlates negatively with their propensity to conform and correlates positively with their propensity to influence others.

  • Ron Berman, Leonid Pekelis, Aisling Scott, Christophe Van den Bulte, p-Hacking and False Discovery in A/B Testing.

  • Christophe Van den Bulte, Emanuel Bayer, Bernd Skiera, Philipp Schmitt (2018), How Customer Referral Programs Turn Social Capital into Economic Capital, Journal of Marketing Research, 55 (1), pp. 132-146.

    Abstract: Van den Bulte, Christophe, Emanuel Bayer, Bernd Skiera, and Philipp Schmitt (2017), “How Customer Referral Programs Turn Social Capital into Economic Capital,” Journal of Marketing Research, 55 (1), 132-146.

Awards and Honors

  • Winner, 2018-2020 Research Priorities Working Paper Competition (MSI), 2021
  • 2019 Top Download Award (MSI), 2021
  • Finalist, INFORMS Society for Marketing Science Long Term Impact Award, 2017
  • Finalist, John D.C. Little Award (INFORMS), 2016
  • Finalist, Harold H. Maynard Award (AMA), 2015
  • Finalist, INFORMS Society for Marketing Science Long Term Impact Award, 2014
  • Finalist, INFORMS Society for Marketing Science Long Term Impact Award, 2013
  • 2013 Robert D. Buzzell MSI Best Paper Award, 2013
  • 2011 MSI / H. Paul Root Award (AMA), 2012
  • Finalist, John D.C. Little Award (INFORMS), 2012
  • Best Reviewer Award, Journal of Marketing, 2007-2008
  • ERIM Award for Top Academic Article, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 2005
  • Elected Member, Belgian American Educational Foundation, 2005
  • Marketing Science Institute Young Scholar, 2003
  • Excellence in Teaching Award, The Wharton School, 2002
  • Honorable Mention, John A. Howard AMA Doctoral Dissertation Award, 1998
  • AMA Doctoral Consortium Fellow, 1996
  • Outstanding Submission Award, ISBM Business Marketing Doctoral Support Competition, 1995
  • Richard D. Irwin Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, 1995
  • Rider Graduate Fellow, The Pennsylvania State University, 1995-1996
  • Student delegate, 24th Annual Haring Symposium, 1994
  • Executive Programs Scholarship, The Pennsylvania State University, 1993-1995
  • F. Colin – L. Wauters Fellow, Belgian American Educational Foundation, 1992


Latest Research

Stefan Wuyts and Christophe Van den Bulte, “Control and Coordination in B2B Networks”. In Handbook of Business-to-Business Marketing, 2nd Ed,, edited by Gay L. Lilien, J. Andrew Petersen, and Stefan Wuyts, (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2022)
All Research

In the News

How Concerns about Status Affect New Product Adoption

A new study finds that people of “middle status” are the most likely to adopt status-enhancing products.Read More

Knowledge at Wharton - 10/14/2014
All News