Magnus Thor Torfason joined Harvard Business School after receiving his doctoral training at the Management Division of Columbia Business School. Magnus holds a position within the Entrepreneurial Management Unit, where he teaches the Entrepreneurial Manager course in the first year of the MBA program.
His research focuses on how behavior is influenced by the social structure of individuals and organizations. One research stream explores how social networks and group identities jointly affect adherence to informal societal rules and norms of behavior. Another research stream examines the foundation and failure of network weaving organizations – organizations whose main purpose is to provide connections between other actors. In a third stream, Magnus has examined the effect that local culture has on the viability of chain restaurants as contrasted with independent establishments.
Several of Magnus’s research projects rely on electronic trace data from virtual online environments, and he has a deep interest in both the methodological questions associated with the analysis of large scale electronic data sets and the theoretical questions associated with studying behavior in environments that are not considered “real” in the conventional sense.
Magnus is the recipient of a number of awards for his research and scholarly work. Most recently, he was awarded a best paper award at the 2009 Transatlantic Doctoral Student Conference. Previously, he was a finalist for the Douglas Nigh Memorial Best Paper Award in 2007. His work has also been profiled in media outlets such as Bloomberg.com.
Magnus was a co-founder of HandPoint, a software company currently headquartered in the UK, which develops payment and point-of-sale solutions for handheld computers. He served as Technical Director until he began his doctoral studies at Columbia in 2005, but continued to serve on the board of the company until 2009. He did his undergraduate studies at the University of Iceland, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in both electrical and electronic engineering and computer science.