CDDRL honors student awarded top prize for undergraduate social science research


CDDRL Undergraduate Honors' Student Otis Reid (pictured left) moderates a panel discussion with Kofi Annan, former United Nations secretary general, on Nov. 11, 2011 at Stanford University.
Photo credit: 
L.A. Cicero

The Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law congratulates Otis Reid on being awarded the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prize for his original and rigorous research on the impact of concentrated ownership on the value of publically traded firms on the Ghana Stock Exchange. Reid is a member of the 2012 CDDRL Undergraduate Senior Honors Program and wrote his thesis entitled, “Monitoring, Expropriating, and Interfering: Concentrated Ownership, Government Holdings, and Firm Value on the Ghana Stock Exchange,” under the consultation of Professor Avner Greif.

Four undergraduate Stanford students are awarded the Kennedy Prize each year for their outstanding honors theses in the humanities, social sciences, engineering and the applied sciences. Reid was also recognized with the Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research awarded to the top ten percent of honors theses in social science, science, and engineering. Reid will receive these awards in a medals ceremony on Saturday, June 16.

Reid's thesis combined field research and advanced econometric analysis to conclude that concentrated ownership by the government and private parties on the Ghana stock exchange has a negative impact on the value of firms in Ghana. These findings have important consequences for the regulation of newly established stock exchanges, and ultimately for Africa's economic development. Very little research has been conducted on this topic, and Reid's thesis makes a valuable contribution to this field of study with practical policy implications for developing economies. 

"Otis Reid has produced a highly original work of scholarship—worthy of publication in an academic journal—that has exhibited astute knowledge of the literature and the challenges of firm development on the ground, shrewd formulation of a research design, impressive technical ability, and yet wise and important policy conclusions as well," said CDDRL Director Larry Diamond. "It is very rare to find an undergraduate honors thesis that is able to combine all four of these things."

Reid, a public policy and economics major, held prominent leadership roles in student organizations on campus, namely Stanford in Government and the Stanford Association for International Development, as well as serving as a resident assistant at Crothers dormitory. In recognition of his commitment to public service and enriching student life through these leadership positions, he was honored with the The Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Distinctive Contributions to Undergraduate Education.

After graduation, Reid will travel through Southeast Asia for five weeks before starting a position at McKinsey & Company consulting group in Chicago where he will be working on a combination of business and social sector problems.

The CDDRL Undergraduate Senior Honors Program trains students from any academic department at Stanford to prepare them to write a policy-relevant research thesis with global impact on a subject touching on democracy, development, and the rule of law. Honors students participate in research methods workshops, attend honors college in Washington, D.C., connect to the CDDRL research community, and write their thesis in close consultation with a faculty advisor to graduate with a certificate of honors in democracy, development, and the rule of law.