Do you do more online mobile shopping when it’s raining, snowing, or sunny outside?
The recent research of Xueming Luo, a chair professor of marketing at the Fox School and the director of the Global Center on Big Data in Mobile Analytics, has found the answer to this question.
Philly Voice recently interviewed Luo regarding his research on the behavior of mobile shoppers during various types of weather. When asked about the weather conditions that promote the most mobile shopping, Luo said the following:
“So, the answer is during a sunny sky—compared with a cloudy sky—people will spend more. With the rainy sky, people spend less. And this is significant because we think people, during a sunny day, they’ll be in a better mood and when they’re in a better mood it triggers all kinds of purchasing decisions.”
Learn more about Luo’s research and read the full story at phillyvoice.com.
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Scott Bruce, a PhD student at the Fox School of Business, publishes in top statistics research journal, Biometrics.
Researchers are up to their elbows in data. But new methods are needed to address the increasing size and complexity of modern data structures, especially those with time-varying dynamics.
“Frequently, with biomedical experiments, you have time series data from many different participants, along with other clinical and behavioral information for each,” explains Scott Bruce, a fifth-year PhD student in the Department of Statistical Science at the Fox School.
“However,” he continues, “much of the statistical literature focuses on the analysis of a single time series, so there is a need for new theory and methods that can analyze more complex data generated from these kinds of modern biomedical experiments.”
Bruce’s article on his recent research—under the advisement of Dr. Robert Krafty (University of Pittsburgh) and Dr. Cheng Yong Tang (Temple University)—was accepted for publication by the prestigious statistics journal, Biometrics (and appears online through “Biometrics Early View”). He has developed a new method called “conditional adaptive Bayesian spectrum analysis,” or CABS, which can be used to analyze associations between the dynamics of time series data and other data of interest.
The University of Pittsburgh’s AgeWise Caregiver Study, which examined the relationship between stress and sleep in older adults serving as the primary caregiver for an ill spouse, was the motivation for Bruce’s research. Study participants were monitored during a night of sleep to obtain their heart rate variability time series data, and they completed a questionnaire in order to formulate an individualized sleep score (the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index).
The goal was to measure the association between physiological stress captured in the heart rate variability data and sleep quality measured by the PSQI score.
“This new method allows you to analyze these associations between the covariates and the time series,” explains Bruce. “It properly reflects the temporally-evolving nature of the relationship and helps us better understand dynamic biological processes. Researchers and practitioners who study time series data in conjunction with other types of data will be interested in this work.”
Bruce and his collaborators also developed user-friendly functions available in MATLAB that allow researchers and practitioners to use CABS in their own work. It’s available at the Biometrics website.
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Vikas Mittal, Ph. D. alum of Temple University’s Fox School of Business has been recently appointed as Co-editor of the Journal of Marketing. Along with Neil Morgan of Indiana University, Mittal will be furthering the exceptional flow of submissions coming from the A-level journal. Mittal who brings a dynamic combination of expertise in Consumer Behavior as well Strategy Focus helps to expand the range of expertise that the journal reflects. Mittal who is looking forward to the appointment sees his new post as a tremendous responsibility, and hopes to maintain and serve the mission of the Journal of Marketing.
“In my early years, my research benefitted greatly from the high quality feedback I received from the editorial teams of many journals,” said Mittal. The Journal of Marketing, which has an impact factor measure of 3.8, is seen as a great influencer for notable research and encourages hard work from its reviewers and authors. Mittal whose goal is to continue the tradition of valuable feedback has witnessed the great impact of journals. “At many times, the feedback was tough, but always helpful in improving my research,” he said.
The Fox School of Business, which prides itself of producing efficient and influential academics, recognizes Mittal’s appointment as just that. “My time at the Fox School inculcated the value of serving our discipline in many ways—by publishing high quality research, by mentoring doctoral students, and by serving through the review and editorial process,” said Mittal. As we continue to see present and past students flourish, we are reminded of the dedication and perseverance that our PhD program embodies.
Scott Bruce, a Fox School of Business PhD candidate in the Statistical Science department, recently had his paper, “A Scalable Framework for NBA Player and Team Comparisons Using Player Tracking Data,” accepted for publication in the Journal of Sports Analytics.
In this paper, Bruce discusses the endless possibilities yielded by creating new statistics that can quantify aspects of player tracking and ball movements during games through Principal Components Analysis. “This method is very scalable in the sense that as new statistics emerge in the future, this approach can again be applied using the new existing data to reconstruct,” said Bruce. With numerous applications already existing in personnel management, Bruce presented two case studies to further investigate statistical profiles amongst players and teams of interest.
Traditional statistics primarily focus on reporting players’ shot attempts, makes, and points per game. However, as analysis advances, shots and points can be further broken down in order to calculate players’ offensive preferences and the effect this has on the team as a whole. “When comparing players, this allows for much better and more intuitive comparisons as seen in our case study, and for team comparisons, we saw that the player tracking statistics also helped us better understand how teams approach winning and how that impacted their success,” Bruce said.
With the release of player tracking data and statistics motivating Bruce to work on this type of research, he is also eager to see what discoveries its implementation will lead to. “I hope this can also be seen as a good example of how statistical methods can be applied to increasingly complex data to efficiently extract useful and meaningful information,” Bruce said. Hoping that his work will encourage broader use of player comparison metrics and evaluation, Bruce sees this as a good starting point for personnel management decision-making as well.
This paper won Bruce an award from the 2015 Fox Research Competition, after which he was greatly encouraged to get it published. “The department and faculty are extremely supportive of student research. The research competition, young scholars forum, conference travel awards provide students with great opportunities to share and improve their research,” Said Bruce.
Bruce is currently working on his dissertation with Dr. Cheng Yong Tang (Temple University) and Dr. Robert Krafty (University of Pittsburgh), focusing on time-frequency analysis of replicated nonstationary time series, looking for applications in modern biomedical experiments.
“Most research projects in my field take a couple years, during which we go through a continuous process of testing, learning, and refining ideas that will ultimately make it into the paper.” Making it onto paper is exactly what Fox School of Business PhD student, Soojung Han, has been able to achieve in her field, Human Resources Management and Organizational Behavior. Han has capitalized on every opportunity that came her way and continues to take advantage of everything Fox has to offer.
Han, who has had not just one, but three papers accepted this summer, is pleased to be attending a school and department whose mission is to evoke the best in its students. “Everything about Fox is designed to allow students the opportunity to focus wholly on producing research,” Han said.
Being in an environment that offers a strong support system has allowed Han to collaborate with faculty members and develop new material, while learning to reach agreements and ultimately find the best solutions. “The faculty here are especially top-notch. My mentor and co-author, Dr. Crystal Harold (Paul Anderson Research Fellow) not only trains me in producing quality research, but also takes a personal interest in my professional future,” Han explained.
Although Han has had plenty of experience working with faculty here at Fox, she continues to broaden her research activity with others. She recently co-authored, “How I Get My Way. A Meta-Analytic Review of Research on Influence Tactics,” which was published in the Leadership Quarterly. This particular paper investigates the moderating effectiveness of 11 influence tactics between supervisors and subordinates and how this relationship responds to these various directions.
“Our results indicate that certain influence tactics could be more effective than others. However, it should be noticed that the effective strategies do not always guarantee good outcomes. Thus, understanding the relative differences on outcomes can guide individuals to select and use appropriate tactics to achieve their goals at the workplace,” Han said. The meta-analysis aspect of Han’s research has allowed her and her co-authors to delve deeper into the issue, beyond the typically inconsistent results produced by studies on the topic.
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such talented people on these projects, and I’m glad we have positive results to show for our efforts. I feel that the sense of accomplishment from these endeavors will further drive me to achieve in my future research work.” Han is in her 3rd year within the HROB department, and with over four years of industry experience, she continues to make a mark for herself here at Temple’s Fox School of Business.
Kevin Hong, a 2014 graduate of the Management Information Systems concentration of the PhD program at the Fox School of Business and an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, recently received a $120,024 grant to research bias and health issues in online “gig economy” platforms. The grant, awarded by the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will provide Hong with funding for two years to research how online labor platforms, that connect prospective employees with employers, are shaping the economy and influencing the health of participants.
The gig economy, which encompasses various freelance and temporary employment opportunities and is worth billions of dollars, is the future of the labor market. “It is important to understand how participants in gig economy platforms make decisions and how such decisions affect their health, as these platforms promise to become the future workplace for hundreds of millions of citizens,” said Hong.
Hong’s intersectional analysis of online gig economy platforms also seeks to identify gender and racial biases in the hiring process, while analyzing the health implications of technology-based employment. For many participants in the gig economy who jump from job to job, health insurance is not an option, and part of Hong’s research grant focuses on access to health insurance and how health issues are addressed in an economy that is increasingly shifting towards short-term employment. “Understanding health-related challenges faced by these workers will help us prescribe policy suggestions for online labor platforms to inform platform design,” said Hong.
Aside from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant, Hong recently received Arizona State University’s esteemed W.P. Carey Faculty Research Award, the first time a non-tenured, tenure-track faculty member has received the award.
Hong attributes his success to the intimate advisor-student relationship he had as a PhD student at Temple. Indeed, his current research is in part inspired by his research at the Fox School of Business, where he partnered with Dr. Paul Pavlou on a project, in collaboration with Freelancer.com, to publish two articles about their project in Information Systems Research.
“It is fair to say that without Paul’s effort in mentorship and guidance, none of my achievements would be possible.”Hong also notes that the academic rigor and exposure to different research methodologies during his time at Fox gave him the tools necessary to succeed. Hong’s seamless transition from PhD student to accomplished professor and researcher is a testament to his intellect and work ethic and reflects the high caliber of Fox PhD graduates.
Three Human Resource Management (HRM) professors from Temple University’s Fox School of Business recently co-authored a paper that was published in the December 2015 edition of the Journal of Employment Counseling. Dr. Tony Petrucci, Dr. Gary Blau, and Dr. John McClendon’s paper, titled, ‘’Effect of Age, Length of Unemployment, and Problem-Focused Coping on Positive Reemployment Expectations,” explores the impact of age, length of unemployment, and the coping behaviors on re-employment expectations during the great recession. Given the extreme nature of recession that began in 2008, every professional is inevitably vulnerable to the possibility of unemployment, the professors said. In President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, delivered Jan. 13, 2016, he noted current job creation and a decreasing unemployment rate in America. Despite this, Obama recommended programs train the unemployed on how to get back into the job force as a strong investment for America’s future.
While most studies have focused on lower-level workers and on short-term unemployment, Petrucci, Blau, and McClendon felt compelled to examine higher-level employees and managers, and long-term unemployment.The professors sampled unemployed professionals of all ages who maintained different position levels within organizations prior to their unemployment, including vice presidents, high-ranking executives, middle management, hourly workers, supervisors, and more. The sample contained 65 percent long-term unemployed professionals, including 23 percent being unemployed for more than two years.“Our study found that length of unemployment, networking comfort, and job-search confidence were significant in a regression and age was not,” said Petrucci, the lead author for the study. “Regardless of age, if you are comfortable networking and have confidence in your ability to conduct an effective job search, you may have higher expectations for re-employment.”Conversely, the professors discovered that the longer one is unemployed, the less confidence one may have about the process of finding a new job and the lower one’s expectations for re-employment may become.
“Becoming unemployed can be very difficult for many workers, especially if they have dependents or have high-paying jobs,” Blau said.Upper-level employees often find it challenging to find comparable positions in their respective fields. The professors were in agreement with President Obama, that programs should be put in place to teach employees how to build transferable skills set, beyond what an employing organization provides.“If (a company is) suddenly downsized, it will be easier for job-loss victims to successfully cope with their new job search,” Blau said. “Very few workers are immune from sudden job loss.”Though a long period of unemployment generally leads to a pessimistic attitude, Petrucci also noted that training workers to be more optimistic about re-employment tends to lead to higher rates of re-employment.
Given the low level of unemployment, the professors aren’t currently planning to pursue this line of research again soon. However, their findings greatly expanded the literature on unemployment given its extremely unique sample population.
Fox School of Business Professor Dr. Ram Mudambi and his team of researchers received a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to host the First International Business, Economic Geography and Innovation (iBEGIN) Conference at the Fox School. It was preceded by workshops in 2013 and 2014.
The two-day conference, held Nov. 13-14 at Fox’s Alter Hall, was sponsored by the NSF, with support from Temple’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) and the Fox School Institute for Global Management Studies. It was aimed, Mudambi said, toward using research from his team’s iBEGIN initiatives as the foundation for a long-lasting research community focused on the intersection of the three fields of international business, economic geography, and technology/innovation studies.
“In a very deep sense, all society is based upon human connections. We’re social animals,” said Mudambi, the Frank M. Speakman Professor of Strategic Management and Perelman Senior Research Fellow at Fox. “This conference applied that theory to the sphere, and business and economics. We developed the concept that the human experience is built on human socialization, and use it to understand how connections across space create value.”
The conference featured three keynote speakers, who addressed attendees Nov. 14 in an open-to-the-public setting. The keynotes included:
- Dr. John Cantwell, Rutgers University, Distinguished Professor of Management and Global Business, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Business Studies
- Dr. Harald Bathelt, University of Toronto, Canada Research Chair Professor in Innovation and Governance, and editor of Journal of Economic Geography
- Dr. Mark Lorenzen, Copenhagen Business School, Professor of Innovation and Organizational Economics, and Director of the Danish Research Unit of Industrial Dynamics (DRUID)
“These three keynote speakers have been great supporters of our iBEGIN work, and I could not have been more delighted to host them,” Mudambi said. “John is the editor of the top international business journal, Harald is the editor of the top economic geography journal, and Mark is the director of DRUID, one of the world’s largest research networks in innovation studies. To have them under one roof at one conference was a truly unique opportunity.”
The iBEGIN Conference is being promoted as part of GlobalPhilly 2015, a two-month international exposition, featuring events geared toward the promotion of international arts, commerce, education, heritage, and more in Philadelphia. Mudambi said papers were submitted to the conference from all over the world, including from: Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States government, the United States Federal Reserve, and more.
Mudambi’s ongoing iBEGIN initiative is a collaborative effort with professionals in centers around the world, including: Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School, Italy’s Politecnico di Milano and University of Venice Ca Foscari, the Indian School of Business, Henley Business School at the University of Reading (UK), and many others.
The next research project on the horizon for Mudambi and his globally dispersed research team involves battery power, a progression of yet another long-running iBEGIN segment on renewable energy and sustainability. The team has documented the important role that emerging economies like China and India are playing in the innovative landscape of the wind turbine industry, but batteries are the key to unlocking the potential of these renewable energy technologies.
“Batteries are the steam engine of our age,” Mudambi said. “We have ways to produce energy, but we have no way to harness it and store it. Today, if we had to run our planet on stored battery power, we could run perhaps 1 percent of our power applications. Imagine if you could run the whole planet on batteries. It’s a problem that, once solved, will revolutionize society.”
–Christopher A. Vito
Undeniably, there is a significant amount of time and effort that goes into creating a competitive research proposal that is well received, positively reviewed, and ultimately funded. The drive to be successful is a quality that is innate to Temple University’s Fox School of Business, and Dr. Zhigen Zhao, Assistant Professor of Statistical Science, is a prime example of this ethos. Zhao recently received a prestigious Big Data grant from the National Science Foundation, and expects that the findings from his research will help to revolutionize the way that data is analyzed in modern statistical investigations. From the results of these investigations, Zhao expects that the research will have applications in numerous areas, from elements of microarray gene experiments, to next-generation sequencing, satellite remote sensing, and even to yearly academic progress reports.
Dr. Zhao explained the challenging concept through its relation to a traditional pastry, “Take the Chinese dessert “sesame ball”,” Zhao said. “When putting a certain number of sesames on the surface randomly, packing theories will provide us with a distribution of the distance between every sesame seed”. In the study sponsored by NSF, this mathematical method, known as “geometric packing”, will provide the distribution of the distances between points of information.
“The most interesting, but also most challenging problem in big data analysis, is that the number of features grows dramatically concurrent to the evolvement of modern technology,” Zhao said. However complex the research may be, Dr. Zhao and his team are optimistic, and excited, to embark on the quest in hopes of redefining computational sequences in data and information systems.
The ultimate goal of this research is to achieve significant developments that will be utilized not only for Big Data interests, but also made publicly available for use by others. For example, by integrating a solution into software applications designed for mass-market consumer use, this project will truly exemplify the idea of research with a broader impact. Through these efforts, Dr. Zhao believes his research will be an example of how to successfully address Big Data challenges to the benefit of multiple stakeholders.
Sarah Diomande, SMC ‘18
One of the first-established academic departments at Temple University’s Fox School of Business is getting a new name, and is set to introduce a new undergraduate degree program.
The Fox School’s Department of Statistics will soon be rebranded as the Department of Statistical Science. Additionally, the department will unveil a Bachelor of Science degree program in Statistical Science and Data Analytics. Both changes are effective for the 2016-17 academic year, following the approval in March by Temple’s Board of Trustees.
The department had been known as the Department of Statistics since its establishment in 1929, 11 years after the founding of the Fox School.
“Rebranding our department as the Department of Statistical Science reflects the breadth of our department’s academic research, the discipline’s changing landscape, and our department’s renewed focus on engaging in quality research that reshapes the field of statistics and to train new generations of statistically skilled graduates,” said Dr. Sanat K. Sarkar, Chair of the Department of Statistical Science.
The new department name, Sarkar added, is reflective of the discipline’s evolution into one that “develops newer subfields and its interdisciplinary research with scientists in modern scientific investigations involving complex data.”
In Fall 2016, the department will launch its Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree program in Statistical Science and Data Analytics. The demand for the program, said program director Dr. Alexandra Carides, has been driven by the proliferation of computing technology, software, and statistical tools for capturing and interpreting the substantial volume of data now available at the enterprise, government, and personal levels.
The program will qualify students for professions in some of the fastest-growing job sectors, according to Carides.
“The program will provide undergraduate students with the ability to select, utilize, and apply quantitative reasoning and data analytic skills to their future field of study,” said Carides, an Assistant Professor of Statistical Science. “Knowledge of statistical theory and methods has become increasingly important to students in many disciplines. As more data are collected, stored, and analyzed, students are finding it increasingly beneficial to gain expertise in statistical science to strengthen their skills and enhance their career opportunities.”
Dr. Aubrey Kent, Chair of Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) and founding director of Temple’s Sport Industry Research Center (SIRC), is the winner of the 2016 North American Society for Sport Management Garth Paton Distinguished Service Award.
The award, the highest service honor within NASSM, recognizes a member with outstanding dedication to the promotion and growth of the sport management industry. Kent, a NASSM member for more than 20 years, credited the organization for providing him with exceptional mentors, including Paton, for whom the award is named.
“Garth was one of my mentors and a dear, dear man. It is special to receive this honor,” said Kent, Professor of Sport Management at STHM.
Kent’s commitment to the NASSM is strong. A past president of the organization, he helped establish the Janet B. Parks NASSM Research Grant, awarded at NASSM’s annual conference, as well as the Commission of Sport Management Association (COSMA) inaugural board of directors, which is dedicated to sport management education at the collegiate level.
Kent received the NASSM Student Research Award five years after joining the organization as a graduate student at Canada’s University of Windsor. In deepening his NASSM involvement, he served on several student committees and, in 2006, was recognized as a Research Fellow. He followed up that recognition with a highly successful stint as an Executive Board Member-at-large, which included several chairpersonships across various committees.
During his tenure, Kent has served on the editorial board for NASSM’s Journal of Sport Management, the leading academic journal in the field. He also has published more than 10 peer-reviewed articles within the journal.
“NASSM promotes the field, facilitates scholarships, and brings together academics to trade best practice ideas around teaching and research,” Kent said.
Kent will receive the Paton Award this June at the 2016 NASSM conference, to be held in Orlando, Fla.
Molly Belmont, a Risk Management and Insurance student from Temple University’s Fox School of Business, has been selected as the winner of the 2016 American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) Student White Paper Research Contest.
A junior, Belmont won the AAMGA competition’s Technology and Wholesaler category for her paper, “Internet of Things Insurance, Opportunities, and Threats.”
In her paper, Belmont focused on three distinct areas – the connected home, the connected car, and the connected self – and discussed benefits and potential flaws in the collection of data through the Internet of Things IoT.
“While these devices can help insurance companies price better premiums and lower risk, and can also better educate the consumer and help them identify exactly what they’re paying for, there is a cyber risk involved with these devices that most companies didn’t necessarily consider,” said Belmont, a native of Malvern, Pa. “These systems can be hacked and create unforeseen dangers.”
Belmont said the paper was the culmination of more than one month’s work, during which time she utilized more than 20 sources. She said it was the first writing competition in which she’s taken the top prize. Belmont credited Fox School Assistant Professor Storm Wilkins with the encouragement to enter the competition.
For her winning entry, Belmont will receive a scholarship totaling $1,000; an all-expenses-paid trip and registration for the 90th AAMGA Annual Meeting, to be held May 22-25 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.; an opportunity to shadow an AAMGA member during his or her meetings at the conference; and publication of her paper in the May issue of Wholesale Insurance News magazine, which is distributed to more than 1.4 million insurance professionals in more than 40 countries globally.
“I’ve been looking into the schedule of events and the networking opportunities available at the conference,” said Belmont, who this summer will serve as a benefits intern in the Philadelphia office of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. “I wasn’t expecting to win, so it’s a big thrill.”
The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) has awarded Dr. In-Sue Oh a 2016 Distinguished Early Career Contribution Award. This is the second early career achievement award Oh has received, also earning one from the Academy of Management Human Resources Division in August 2014.
“This award has been one of my ambitious career goals since I started my PhD at the University of Iowa about 12 years ago,” said Oh, a Paul Anderson Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor of Human Resource Management at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. “I am very glad and grateful that I have fulfilled this goal.”
The SIOP’s award is the oldest and most-prestigious early-to-mid career award in the field of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management. Each year, it is given to a scholar who received his or her PhD within the last eight years and has made influential research contributions to the science of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
Oh will be invited to present reflections on his research accomplishments at the following year’s SIOP conference to be held in Orlando, Fla. At the conference, Oh plans to share his current work, as well as discuss how he developed his research program. Since 2005, Oh has researched the validity of personality traits for performance across levels of analysis and criteria, and developing new meta-analysis methods.
“While working on a project on the relationship between personality traits and employee performance about 10 years ago, I realized that the personality-performance relationship must have been underestimated, given serious limitations in how both variables were measured,” said Oh.
Since then, he has investigated various ways to enhance the relationship. In addition, he will also share his personal tips for reaching ambitious goals and maintaining research productivity.
“I’ve discovered that the key to research productivity is persistence, teamwork, and not blindly trusting the data we see,” said Oh. “Data can lie to us without even blinking an eye.”
Oh hopes winning this award will enable him to continue pursuing research projects through the remainder of his career.
“One of my great mentors, Dr. Phil Roth, told me that research as a career is not a sprint but a marathon,” said Oh. “My PhD advisor, Dr. Frank Schmidt, who retired four years ago at the age of 68, is still actively working on research projects. This is exactly where I hope winning this award will lead me.”
Oh credits winning the award to his various mentors, role models, family members, teachers, deans, and department chairs who have offered support and guidance throughout his career. He also credits his fellow scholars, journal editors, reviewers, more than 70 co-authors, and Schmidt, in particular, for nominating him for the award, and five letterwriters in support of this nomination.
“I truly hope that winning this award will contribute to further elevating the research profile of the Human Resource Management department, the Fox School of Business, and Temple University as a whole,” Oh said.
Caitlyn Jenner identifies as transgender. Tiger Woods identifies as “Cablinasian,” a term he created.
What do the television personality and champion golfer have in common? Their racial and gender identities are not easily defined.
Like Jenner and Woods, many Americans can relate. A researcher at Temple University’s Fox School of Business posits that employment laws in the American legal system be restructured to offer civil-liberties protections for citizens who face identity discrimination.
“This isn’t a race or a gender issue. It’s an identity issue,” said Leora Eisenstadt, an Assistant Professor in Fox’s Legal Studies in Business department. “Society has changed, but our laws and legal formulas often look at individuals as members of categories into which a person can fit neatly. Today, there is no such purity. That doesn’t exist, which demonstrates how our laws are out of step with reality.”
Eisenstadt’s research points to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. She said Title VII, however, does not always or easily protect against the discrimination of multiracial or transgender individuals. Courts are often baffled by these fluid identities, she said, sometimes rejecting the cases on those grounds and, other times, ignoring the worker’s actual identity to make the legal formula work.
“Cases have been thrown out of court because the plaintiffs did not fit into a box,” Eisenstadt said. “Unfortunately, according to many courts, if you can’t prove you are a member of a single protected class, your case will not reach a jury. As a result, the law has often prompted individuals to sacrifice part of their identity in order to fit into a box and have their case heard.”
And this confusion in the courts has a negative impact on employers and employees alike, since a lack of clarity in the courts can lead to more difficult employment decisions, an inability to effectively train management and human resources professionals, and litigation that eats up precious resources.
In her research, Eisenstadt cites the United States Census and Facebook as examples of society being ahead of the courts. In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau implemented a system in which it asked Census respondents to “check all that apply” in regard to the races with which they identify. She also called attention to Facebook. This year, the social media platform began offering its 189 million U.S. users more than 50 gender-identity options.
What these prove, Eisenstadt said, is that people cannot always be categorized so easily.
“In employment discrimination law, workers need to prove that they are a part of a protected class in order to bring a discrimination suit,” she said. “In theory, everyone is a member of a protected class. But in society today, those categories are porous and fluid. Not everybody has a single race or a gender. You might have multiple races or multiple genders or you might reject that categorization altogether.”
The American Business Law Journal recently published Eisenstadt’s theoretical research paper, titled, “Fluid Identity Discrimination.”
Eisenstadt’s research centers on employment discrimination as it relates to race and gender. In 2012, she published a theoretical research paper, titled, “The N-Word at Work: Contextualizing Language in the Workplace,” in the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law. That paper examined the power of language, and who – based on identity – was permitted to use particular words in the workplace.
“We are moving toward an age of fluid identities, if we aren’t there already, and our employment laws have not caught up,” Eisenstadt said.
Sandi Webster has always strived for self-improvement. That’s why she’s pursuing her Executive Doctorate in Business Administration at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
In October, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and Fortune selected Webster’s company, Consultants 2 Go, to join the 2015 Inner City 100, a program that honors the nation’s fastest-growing inner-city businesses.
Based in Newark, N.J., Consultants 2 Go provides consulting and marketing services in the telecom, pharmaceutical, financial services, and insurance industries. Webster, who is pursuing her Executive Doctorate of Business Administration at Fox, founded the company in 2002 with a former colleague, Peggy McHale.
“Peggy and I are very fortunate that our company has excelled in the way that it has,” Webster said. “We’ve rapidly grown our consulting firm beyond our wildest imaginations and it’s an honor that we were recognized in this way by ICIC and Fortune.”
The Inner City 100 program “recognizes successful inner-city businesses and their CEOs as role models for entrepreneurship, innovative business practices, and job creation in America’s urban communities,” according to ICIC.
The list of companies was unveiled Oct. 7 at the Inner City 100 Conference and Awards in Boston. Winners gathered for a full-day business symposium featuring management case studies from Harvard Business School professors and interactive sessions with top CEOs. Keynote speakers included Governor Charlie Baker, and Harvard Business School Professor and ICIC Founder and Chairman Michael E. Porter.
Webster’s professional trajectory changed due, in part, to missing the bus.
Then an executive with American Express, Webster didn’t arrive to work on Sept. 11, 2001. Early-morning crowdedness on the day of New York City’s mayoral primary election kept her from catching her usual morning bus and, as a result, she never made it to her company’s building, located less than two city blocks from the World Trade Center.
“I had been with the company for 18 years and, after the attacks, I never went back to work for American Express at that building,” Webster said. “We lost so many good employees that day, and it caused the displacement of so many others. It altered the lives of everyone who was in New York City.
“I can’t tell you how many people started their own businesses after the tragedy of 9/11, simply out of need.”
After that day, Webster said she connected with McHale and began to reconsider her line of work.
Webster, whose company generated nearly $10 million in revenue in 2014, is always looking to improve. She, too, was looking to further herself.
“Being in the business world, I aspired for a higher-level degree,” she said. “I have a unique perspective, having worked in corporate America and now in representing clients in the small-business side. I can see where gaps are and help them work more efficiently.
“That’s why I chose the Fox School. I found the Executive DBA faculty to be knowledgeable. The proximity to our offices in Newark, N.J., was important, as well.”
Webster said working mothers comprise 80 percent of Consultants 2 Go’s employees. Her vision for her company, she said, is to offer flexible hours and locations for her workers.
“Corporations tend to let go of senior executives, some of whom are women, and that’s intellectual capital walking right out the door,” Webster said. “Conversely, there’s no one around to train young executives. That’s where I believe Consultants 2 Go can fill a void.
“Within the Executive DBA program, I hope to earn greater knowledge and complete research so I can more-closely work with companies to help them realize a better use for their intellectual capital.”