A roundup of media mentions featuring faculty, staff, and students from the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management.

Eagles’ Odds of Defending the SuperBowl

George Diemer, assistant professor of instruction in the School of Sport, Tourism and Recreation Management, was interviewed by CBS 3 Philadelphia in regards to the Philadelphia Eagles’ chances of making the NFL Playoffs. Watch now>>

Ed Rendell Receives Musser Award

Last month, former Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell was honored with the Fox School’s prestigious Musser Award for his service to the city and the state. Read more>>

What is Anti-Marketing?

A new wireless provider “opened” two secret stores—and the mystery is stopping passersby in their tracks. Jay Sinha provides insight into the nontraditional marketing campaign that gets people talking. Read more>>

Lessons Learned from Amazon HQ2

Charles Dhanaraj speaks with Philadelphia Business Journal about the lessons the city can learn from its failed Amazon HQ2 bid. “We can’t be a reactive city,” he says. What can Philly do to encourage more corporate investment? Read more>>

Attracting International Students

Keya Sadeghipour, dean of the College of Engineering at Temple University, mentions the Fox Innovative Idea Competition as one of the many ways universities can take a global approach to recruiting new students. Read more>>

Temple News | Nov. 27

Fox student Alfonso Corona brought his company, Plug, into Research Professor Susan Mudambi’s classroom to learn how to create a successful marketing and communications strategy. Read more.

The Economist | Nov. 1

What is the future of education? James W. Hutchin, senior research fellow at the Fox School and advisor to Flinders University of Australia, shares his thoughts in a new report from The Economist and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Read more.

Economic Times India | Nov. 18

Subscription and streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Apple Music are all over the world, including India. Jay Sinha, associate professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, describes the appeal. Read more.

The Legal Intelligencer | Oct. 8

Do broken windows and doors impact a neighborhood’s safety or just the building’s aesthetic? James M. Lammendola, assistant professor of practice, and Harper J. Dimmerman, adjunct professor, both of Legal Studies, shed light on a recent decision by the PA Supreme Court. Read more.

U.S. News & World Report | Sept. 12

How can prospective students find ways to differentiate their college applications from the competition? David Kaiser shares his tips with U.S. News & World Report on how to make an application stand out. Read more.

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A board of directors plays a crucial role in determining the success of any organization and is largely responsible for major strategic decisions. However, females in these top management roles are often underrepresented. Without women on boards, companies are losing out—not only on talented leaders, but also on different perspectives of business. This raises the question: in what ways do companies with women on the board perform differently than companies with all-male boards?

Prior research suggests there are gender differences in risk-taking decisions, with many researchers supporting that women are more sensitive to risk than men. However, Ofra Bazel-Shoham, research assistant professor in the Department of Finance at the Fox School, reconsiders the implications of this conclusion.

Bazel-Shoham argues that female leaders change the way business is being done in her paper, “The Effect of Board Gender Diversity on R&D.” She looked at boards’ decisions regarding high-risk, high-reward investment decisions, as well as their professional behavior, to understand the differences in outcomes that gender-diverse boards produce. The research recently won the Best Paper Award at the 2018 Engaged Management Scholarship Conference, hosted by Temple University this September. The award was sponsored by Business Horizons, an academic journal from Indiana University.

As a proxy for analyzing risk-taking decisions, Bazel-Shoham used choices around research and development (R&D), often a potentially risky yet highly rewarding investment. “It requires upfront resources and has a very low probability of success,” she says.

Bazel-Shoham, who is also the academic director of Fox School’s new part-time MBA Program in Conshohocken, collected data from CEOs and board members in 44 countries and over a period of 16 years. The gender disparity was already obvious, as she notes in her sample only 2% of all CEOs and 9% of all board members were female.

The study found that while the direct correlation between the number of women on boards and the number of investments in R&D was negative, women were more likely to focus on monitoring performance, which ends up incentivizing risky but data-driven decisions. Bazel-Shoham says, “As female leaders put more emphasis on monitoring, gender-diverse boards were able to quantify and measure their decisions better than all-male boards.”

Bazel-Shoham elucidates this argument by analyzing the behavior of female directors who are most often outnumbered by their male counterparts. Her interviews with female leaders suggest that being in a minority puts more pressure on women to not make mistakes and make data-driven decisions.

She elaborates, “We realized that female directors felt they were ‘under a magnifying glass’ most of the time and were judged more stringently than their male colleagues.” This made them make more conservative decisions, which usually translated into making lesser high-risk R&D investments. However, teams that quantified their results better supported performance-based compensation where incentives are measurable and dependent on the actual outcome rather than on vaguely defined promises.

Organizations often use performance-based incentives to motivate managers to make riskier but potentially profitable long-term investing decisions. Bazel-Shoham says, “We observed that such remuneration systems encourage CEOs and senior management to engage in more R&D activities.” With women involved, boards more often supported this form of compensation, in affect encouraging managers to make more of these investments. Bazel-Shoham found that these actions successfully mitigated women’s effect of being more risk-averse.

 

Besides indirectly increasing R&D spending, Bazel-Shoham notes having even one woman on the board of directors significantly influences how the board behaves, the decisions it makes and their resulting outcomes. To illustrate this, she quotes an experience of a male CEO of a large educational organization. “The women directors read all the materials ahead of time, have specific questions and are more professional than the others,” he says. “They have changed the organizational culture of the board. The men, in turn, have started to prepare themselves better as well.”

Underrepresentation of women on boards of directors continues to be a pressing issue to shareholders and society at large. However, organizations are slowly understanding the strategic importance of leveraging a more diverse top management team. With rapidly changing market dynamics, leveraging the power of gender diversity is beneficial for the long-term success of businesses.

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Do you feel like you’re always thinking in 140 characters?

Microblogging platforms have skyrocketed in popularity in the last decade. As of August 2018, Twitter had over 335 million active monthly users, while Weibo, the Chinese social media giant, had over 431 million users. What makes these platforms so enticing to billions of people?

Xue Bai, associate professor with dual appointments in the Departments of Marketing and Supply Chain Management and Management Information Systems, investigated why these short-form social media platforms can be so addictive, together with researchers from Renmin University and Tsinghua University, in her recently published paper.

Bai and her colleagues analyzed the habits, uses and desires of 520 microblogging users. They found that users often used the platform for three distinction purposes: communication, information gathering and entertainment. Then, the researchers took the study deeper by distinguishing the levels of gratification, or the reasons why users feel satisfied when using the platform. Bai classified gratification into three categories: when people are satisfied due to the content they consume or share, the process of using the platform and the social needs they look to fulfill.

“Before, the commonly accepted understanding was that use leads to addiction,” says Bai. “But it turns out in our study, it is how you use it and how you feel from the use of it that leads to addiction.” For example, Person A might use Twitter more than Person B, but if Person B feels more satisfied when using it due to her particular purpose, she may be more likely to become addicted, regardless of time spent on the platform.

The theory behind the study, called “uses and gratifications,” is a common approach to analyzing mass media. However, by distinguishing between the “uses” and “gratifications,” Bai and her colleagues extended the theory to study the causal relations between use, gratification and addiction, opening up new possibilities for media research.

The researchers hypothesized that users with higher gratification levels have a great possibility of becoming addicted. “This constant feeling [of satisfaction] leads to psychological reinforcement and then eventually to dependence,” says Bai. The researchers then linked gratification to four dimensions of addiction—diminished impulse control, loneliness or depression, social comfort and distraction—to determine the path from use to gratification to addiction tendency.

The study found that the different types of purposes led to varying levels of gratification. “For example, if a user is using the microblogging platform mostly for information, information leads to content gratification and social gratification,” says Bai. Using microblogging for entertainment purposes led to satisfaction with social interactions and their experience of the process. The purpose for social communication, surprisingly, yields the least satisfaction among the three types of use.

“Social gratification, however, was the most impactful to addiction,” says Bai. Users who were satisfied from the social aspects of the platforms were more susceptible to loneliness, diminished impulse control and distraction, and were the most likely to be addicted. “Users who felt satisfied with content were the least likely to become addicted,” said Bai.

With the pervasiveness of microblogging tools, these insights are practically important to both consumers and platform designers. Bai hopes her research will help address the issue of social media addiction by understanding more about how these tendencies are formed. “We hope this will guide platform designers to better construct microblogging platforms to enhance the positive effects and avoid the negative impacts,” says Bai. “The research can inform the design of a platform to satisfy users’ needs at an optimal level, not to the point of being addicted.” For example, companies could use this research to emphasize content gratification, which has the least impact on addiction tendency.

Certainly, microblogging will not be going away, says Bai. “It is changing the way people, especially teenagers, communicate with each other and socially interact with the rest of the world.”

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Remember the last time you donated warm clothes to a homeless shelter and felt good about yourself? Or that time your friends helped you get through a difficult life problem after which you couldn’t help but feel extreme gratitude towards them?

A lot of traditional research has been done on why people help and how they feel after helping. You Jin Kim, assistant professor of Human Resource Management at the Fox School, goes beyond just that by exploring the role of the recipient of the help. Her research emphasizes how demonstrating gratitude, as well as the helper’s feelings of pride, interact to encourage repeated helping.

In her paper, “A Dyadic Model of Motives, Pride, Gratitude, and Helping,” which was accepted for publication by the Journal of Organizational Behaviour, Kim demonstrates that the motives of the helper interact to predict pride via initial helping whereas recipient attributions of helper motives predict recipient gratitude in response to being helped. This interaction of emotions (i.e., pride and gratitude) influences any subsequent helping by the helper, making them both active members of the social exchange.

Kim points out that the helper’s motives drive their initial actions. She highlights two positive motives: “autonomous motives,” where individuals help because they value doing so, and “other-oriented motives,” where individuals help because of their concern for others. These motives often lead to voluntary helping that is intended to benefit others.

These motives affect the perception of the recipient and the level of appreciation they feel. “Recipients seek information about helpers and helping contexts because they seek to understand why others help them,” Kim reasons. For example, an employee might choose to cover a shift for a sick worker because he or she truly cares about the coworker’s welfare, leading to the recipient attribute this action to the helper’s selfless (what Kim classifies as autonomous or other-oriented) motives. In such interactions, the recipient feels more gratitude toward the helper.

Kim also considers that the motives may not always be altruistic. She elaborates, “They could be doing it because of impression management, career enhancement motives, and not truly directed towards benefitting others.” For example, a helper could choose to teach a peer a new skill with the goal of transferring an undesirable task to this peer. Such interactions fail to evoke the feeling of pride or gratitude in either party.

Kim highlights cases where, although the helping motive was genuine and the helpers experienced authentic pride, they did not engage in repeated helping unless recipients expressed their gratitude. “Unlike economic exchanges, social exchange returns are not specified in advance, and so reciprocity is not guaranteed,” says Kim. “A simple ‘thank you’ makes a lot of difference.” Thus expressing gratitude is very crucial in encouraging the helper to continue helping others in the future, making the recipient an important influencer of the interaction.

The results of these studies have practical implication for managers. “Managers need to understand why helping is being provided and create a work environment where employees do not feel pressured to help and that helping is voluntary,” says Kim. “It should not be related to any type of organizational decision, such as a promotion or vacation days.”

Importantly, gratitude also has positive implications for recipients. Kim says, “Managers also need to emphasize the benefits of showing gratitude and encourage recipients to communicate their gratitude when receiving help has been positive.” Such reciprocative interactions create a positive environment at a workplace, subsequently improving the efficiency and lowering the turnover intentions of all employees.

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Steve Casper spent the spring of 2018 teaching his students about stocks, bonds, time value of money, cash flow and cost of capital. This does not sound unusual for a finance professor, except that particular semester he was on sabbatical in Cambodia.

Most of his students, who came from rural farms on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, had a limited academic background in finance. Many did not have a personal relationship with traditional financial institutions that Americans accept as commonplace, like banks and stock markets. Casper, associate professor of finance and managing director of the DBA program at the Fox School of Business, says, “It was the most challenging class I’ve ever taught, but it was so much fun.”

Since the summer of 2016, Casper had been volunteering his time teaching rural students in Cambodia. After first getting involved via Habitat for Humanity, Casper has built a relationship with these students, teaching finance and leadership during two-week seminars. Last spring, the director of the Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia, the leading English-speaking university in the country, asked Casper to teach a full semester.

“Most of these students have never had a calculator before,” says Casper, FOX PhD ’10. “I was told I had 30 students. I get over there and I brought 30 TI-BA II+ financial calculators. My wife was coming two weeks later and I said, ‘Liz, I have 54 students. I need you to bring another 24 calculators, I just ordered them on Amazon.’ Eventually, it got up to 94 students.”

This past October, four of these students came to Philadelphia for a week of leadership and business practice. The trip was organized by the Cambodian Rural Student Trust, an NGO founded in 2011 that aims to help bright Khmer, or Cambodian, students from poor, rural families go to high school and university in Cambodia.

Casper brought the students to meet with representatives from all over the financial world, from companies like SAP, B-Lab and Saul Ewing. He invited the students to speak to his finance classes at the Fox School. The Khmer students shared the story of their lives, which often included uneducated family members, the loss of one or both parents and financial hardships. But each had a strong, unrelenting belief in the power of education to transform lives.

Khmer students Doeb Chhay, Sinoun Lem, Sompeas Sokh, and Yeat Son.

One student named Sompeas, who is majoring in law and hopes one day to become a lawyer, shares her philosophy. “I believe men and women are equal. I believe education will provide women with the knowledge to believe this and give them the skills to follow their dreams, have amazing careers and be greater contributors to society.” She continues, “The special thing about this trip is that I can share my voice and bring back many ideas that will inspire other girls to be adventurous and ambitious, while also expanding how I see things in my small world.”

Casper is grateful to the Fox School for allowing him to expand his world as well through his sabbatical. Casper loves the opportunity to teach both his American and Khmer students. “I always wanted to do this,” he says. “To have great classes, you have to be thinking about it all the time—how can I make it better, how can I get this point across?”

His passion for education translates into his enthusiasm about the mission of the Cambodia Rural Students Trust. The completely student-run organization, Casper says, “can give a student a place to live, feed them, and pay for their college or high school,” all for $2,000 a year.

“In Cambodia, education is a privilege,” says Casper. “I am honored to be part of something that empowers students to lead themselves and lead society.”

Learn more about Fox School Research.

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A roundup of media mentions featuring faculty, staff, and students from the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management.

What’s Next For the Fox School of Business?

Dean Ron Anderson speaks with Business Because about the school’s centennial and his appointment as dean marking a new chapter in Fox history. “We’re going to use this as an opportunity to refocus the school,” he says. Read more>>

One Fox Student’s Dreams for Inclusivity

Shawn Aleong, a legal studies freshman, will study in San Francisco on a trip organized by the Fox School to learn digital and alternative financial services to further his advocacy efforts for inclusive business. Read more>>

The Odds of a Winning Ticket

Laurie Burns used her statistical reasoning and games of chance class to calculate the odds of winning October’s billion-dollar jackpot with Fox29. Watch now>>

Inquirer | October 19

David Schuff, chair of the Management Information Systems department, provides insight into how the rollout of SEPTA’s Key program led to an untold number of free rides since August. Read more>>

College Magazine | October 25

What does a financial advisor actually do? Cindy Axelrod, certified financial planner and assistant professor of practice in the Finance department, gives advice to college students interested in wealth management. Read more>>

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Most public officials want to stay in office—and insurance regulators are no different. In the days, weeks, and months leading up to the elections, many assume that public officials would be proactive, striving to implement policies that improve their credibility and increase their chances of reelection. However, recent studies by Martin Grace, Harry Cochran Professor of Risk, Insurance, and Healthcare Management at the Fox School and Tyler Leverty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, say that this is not the case for insurance regulators.

The financial health of the insurance companies is closely monitored by the state insurance departments to provide protection to the policyholders. When a company faces a financial crisis, the regulators intervene and help them regain their footing. In situations where the company is irreversibly dying, they are declared insolvent, or bankrupt.

To keep these stages in check, insurance regulators conduct regular financial examinations, especially for companies facing financial crisis. In their paper, ”Do Elections Delay Regulatory Action?” which was accepted by the Journal of Financial Economics, Grace found that these interventions on failing companies fall by up to 78% in the year leading up to an election. These delays result in an increased cost of failure for both policyholders and taxpayers.

Graph 1: Electoral Cycle vs the Regulatory Interventions

The reason for this seems to be rooted in the political incentives for the insurance regulators. Insurance commissioners are elected by popular vote in some states or appointed by the governor in the others. To have a positive opinion around their candidateship, insurance commissioners avoid making formal regulatory orders or making declarations of insolvency for insurance companies up to a year before the elections. “As this could raise questions on their competency and could be seen as a black mark when they run for higher office,” says Grace, “it is easier for insurance regulators to delay companies’ bankruptcies. So they strategically postpone any official resolution until after election day.”

And, Grace says, “The more competitive the race is, the more bad news might matter.” While appointed commissioners tend to delay interventions only before tightly contested elections where the appointing governor is running for office, elected regulators delay interventions before all elections.

To conduct this study, the researchers collected data from approximately 3,200 firms and 300 separate elections in 50 states over 21 years (1989-2011). With varying election dates and state-regulated insurance policies, Grace says, “these heterogeneities gave us a very rich data to study a given insurer at different intervals of time, across different states, and at various stages of the electoral cycle.”

With so much data and possible causations, it took the researchers about eight years to publish the paper. During various presentations of the research, Grace recollects offering a dollar to anyone who could come up with a plausible explanation to the observation that they hadn’t heard of before. ”We covered it all,” Grace says. “But if someone came up with a new idea, I would give them a dollar.”  However, given their extensive data set and time, Grace and his co-author were confident in their findings that elections were the main cause of these delays.

Grace emphasizes that these delays are important because they cost taxpayers more money. When an insurance company goes bankrupt and they run out of cash to pay off their debts, the balance is covered by the government from the pool of state taxes collected from policyholders of the healthy insurers. For example, he reasons, “Let’s say we have a $100 left in the failed insurer. If we closed the insurer immediately, the value would remain $100.” However, if the insurer is closed in 6 months, there would be more costs associated, like paying employees and managers of the failed insurer. “That means all taxpayers will have to pick up the balance.” Grace’s research found that delays increased the cost to taxpayers by up to $0.48 dollars for every dollar of failed insurers assets at the time of insolvency.

Research shows that prompt governance reduces the delays caused due to elections. “This was seen to be especially true in the case of appointed regulators,” says Grace. Current laws mandate regulators to report and take timely corrective actions at prescribed levels of declining capital of the insurers, limiting the regulators’ ability to delay.

The effect of delays in regulating insurance companies has a discreet yet profound effect on the cost of insurance to society. Timely settlement of claims, especially when the insurance company is in a financial crisis, helps decrease the cost of failure to both the policyholders and taxpayers.

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The “agency theory of the firm,” a way of looking at social interactions in business, says that managers are agents of shareholders. As such, managers must generally make decisions that maximize shareholder profits. Since the Citizens United case in 2010, those decisions have included the right to make unlimited independent political expenditures, under the right to freedom of expression.

So what are the ethical implications of companies making contributions for or against a political candidate? Daniel Isaacs, assistant professor of Legal Studies and academic director in the Fox School, weighs on this question in his article, “When Government Contractors May or May Not Spend Money on Political Speech,” which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Business Ethics.

“There are some situations where it will be in the economic interests of businesses to forgo making independent political expenditures,” says Isaacs. By aligning profit motives with ethical conduct, Isaacs aims to remove barriers to ethical behavior.

Sometimes, however, profits and ethics do not align. In these cases, Isaacs argues that managers may not use the agency theory of the firm as a means to escape their ethical obligations.

For example, says Isaacs, imagine a private prison that is experiencing a reduced number of prisoners due to declining crime rate in the state. The prison has the right to make independent political expenditures on behalf of a candidate that favors laws that would require courts to impose longer prison sentences for all crimes. The outcome of these expenditures and the succeeding election would increase profits for the private prison by ensuring a steady stream of prisoners who will spend more time in jail.

But what happens if maximizing profits for shareholders by making these independent political expenditures leads to profit and unethical outcomes, like longer prison sentences? Does the agency theory allow managers to ignore the ethical situation and simply make money? No, says Isaacs, “because the agency theory relies on the concept that principals must do that which agents dictate.” If that is the case, though, managers cannot act beyond the authority of their principals.

“This relationship between the managers and the shareholders does not dilute the managers’ moral obligation,” Isaacs says. “The agency theory does not grant them an ethical free pass.”

Isaacs says that the shareholders lack the power to authorize managers to make profits in a way that they wouldn’t do themselves. “And managers cannot escape their ethical obligations by claiming that they were just following orders,” he says.

Companies should consider whether it is in their best interests to make independent political expenditures, as forgoing in some cases might make them more appealing. For example, if a company voluntarily waives its right to make independent political expenditures, Isaacs argues that it can use that to its competitive advantage. “One of the risks that at least one private prison identified in its disclosure statement was that the public may change its perception of private prisons,” says Isaacs. “If the public becomes hostile to the concept of private prisons, governments may stop entering into contracts with the corporations—something that a reasonable investor would want to know.”

With the boundaries of profitability, law and ethical obligations blurring in the real world of business, Isaacs’ research works to identify ways in which the market can support ethical decision making. He finds an unexpected friend in agency theory, arguing that the way people justify profit maximization, also serves to demonstrate the limits of shareholder power to engage in or authorize others to undertake such behavior.

“Shareholders and managers, as human beings, have a moral obligation, and desiring profits does not justify all actions of achieving them,” he concludes.

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 A roundup of media mentions featuring faculty, staff, and students from the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management.

Why 25% of Workers Leave Their Jobs

A bad commute is the reason that one in four employees change jobs. Ravi Kudesia, assistant professor of Human Resources Management, provides advice on how companies can ease the stress of commuting and retain workers on CBS3 Philly. Read more>>

2018’s Best Credit Cards

Overwhelmed with all of the credit card options out there? Michael McCloskey, associate professor of RIHM, gives WalletHub advice on what to look for in a credit card. Read more>>

KYW | September 28

In October, the Fox School of Business hosted a series of free adult legal education classes for the Philadelphia community, led by Sam Hodge, professor of legal studies. Read more>>

Inquirer | October 2

Paul Pavlou, associate professor of MIS, warns that business should be careful interpreting survey feedback, as the extremely pleased (or upset) customers are the ones most likely to respond. Read more>>

Technical.ly | October 17

The 19th Annual Conference for the League for Entrepreneurial Women brought together Fox students, faculty, staff, and friends to encourage women to “ask for what you want.” Read more>>

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

A roundup of media mentions featuring faculty, staff, and students from the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management.

Busy People Make Healthier Choices

Thinking of yourself as a busy person can boost your self-control, according to research from Monica Wadhwa, associate professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, and her co-authors. Read more>>

Go Viral with the Right Audience

Yili Hong, PhD ’14, and Gordon Burtch, PhD ’13, study how companies can amplify customers’ influence over their peers by engineering content—and how targeting shared audiences is key. Read more>>

Crowdfunding Advice from an Expert

Why do GoFundMe campaigns like the one for Johnny Bobbitt go viral? Sunil Wattal, associate professor of MIS, weighs in on how distinctive campaigns stand out. Read more>> 

CBS3 Philly | September 21

Carvana, a car vending machine, is opening soon in Fishtown. Subodha Kumar says how this will affect purchase prices. Watch>>

Medium | September 18

What is it like to be a woman in business? Ellen Weber shares her insights into being a female leader, investor, and entrepreneur, and why Fox students stand out. Read more>>

IndyStar | September 16

Leora Eisenstadt discusses why racial slurs are having a moment of reckoning in today’s society, as people are being held to account for things that they did in the past, Read more>>

CBS3 Philly | September 6

Half of all American workers don’t take lunch breaks, according to Ravi S. Kudesia. He relays how mindfulness and work-breaks can help employees better manage their energy levels. Read more>>

BusinessBecause | September 4

Current MBA student Sandeep Gupta serves on the board of an India-focused NGO as part of the Fox Board Fellows program to learn more about corporate social responsibility. Read more>>

Asian Correspondant | September 12

Fox School’s partnership with Flinders University brings the best in global education methods and content to help students solve problems. Read more>>

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Peace has finally been brokered in a long-standing argument between two schools of thought in statistical science.

Research from Deep Mukhopadhyay, professor of statistical science, and Douglas Fletcher, a PhD student, was accepted for publication in Scientific Reports, a journal by Nature Research. Their research marks a significant step towards bridging the “gap” between two different schools of thought in statistical data modeling that has plagued statisticians for over 250 years.

“There are two branches of statistics: Bayesian and Frequentist,” says Mukhopadhyay. “There is a deep-seeded division, conceptually and operationally, between them.” The fundamental difference is the way they process and analyze the data. Bayesian statistics incorporates external domain-knowledge into data analysis via so-called “prior” distribution.

Subhadeep Mukhopadhyay

“Frequentists view ‘prior’ as a weakness that can hamper scientific objectivity and can corrupt the final statistical inference,” says Mukhopadhyay. “I could come up with ten different kinds of ‘prior’ if I asked ten different experts. Bayesians, however, view it as a strength to include relevant domain-knowledge into the data analysis.” This has been a disagreement in statistics over the last 250 years.

So, which camp is right? “In fact, both are absolutely right,” says Mukhopadhyay. In their paper, they argued that a better question to ask is, how can we develop a mechanism that incorporates relevant expert-knowledge without sacrificing the scientific objectivity?

The answer, Mukhopadhyay says, can ultimately help design artificial intelligence capable of simultaneously learning from both data and expert knowledge—a holy grail problem of 21st Century statistics and AI.

“The science of data analysis must include domain experts’ prior scientific knowledge in a systematic and principled manner,” Mukhopadhyay says. Their paper presents Statistical rules to judiciously blend data with domain-knowledge, developing a dependable and defensible workflow.

“That is where our breakthrough lies,” says Mukhopadhyay. “It creates a much more refined ‘prior,’ which incorporates the scientist’s knowledge and respects the data, so it’s a compromise between your domain expertise and what the data is telling me.”

Answering that question—when and how much to believe prior knowledge—offers dozens of real-world applications for Mukhopadhyay’s work. For example, healthcare companies can use apply this to new drugs by leveraging doctors’ expertise without being accused of cherry picking data for the sake of a speedy or unusually successful clinical trial.

Mukhopadhyay thanks Brad Efron of Stanford University, for inspiring him to investigate this problem. “It took me one and a half years to come up with the right question,” says Mukhopadhyay. “I believe Bayes and Frequentist could be a winning combination that is more effective than either of the two separately in this data science era.”

*This article corrects an earlier version by specifying that the research was published in Scientific Reports, a journal by Nature Research.

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When looking for a new job, applicants typically consider a large number of organizations,looking for the right fit. Companies do the same, tending to hire job applicants who have similar attributes to those of their incumbents, all other things being equal.

In-Sue Oh, Brian Holtz, and You Jin Kim, three professors in the Fox School of Business’s Department of Human Resources Management, along with two other co-authors, studied why individuals are more likely to be attracted to, selected by, and stay longer in organizations that fit their personality. Their research explored this phenomenon, called the theory of attraction-selection-attrition (ASA), and found that organizations are becoming increasingly homogenous over time.

Their new study examines how different personality traits contribute to ASA processes that promote within‐organization homogeneity and between-organization heterogeneity progression over time. Their article, “Do Birds of a Feather Flock, Fly, and Continue to Fly Together? The Differential and Cumulative Effects of Attraction, Selection, and Attrition on Personality-Based Within-Organization Homogeneity and Between-Organization Heterogeneity Progression over Time,” was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Organizational Behavior.

The ASA theory works on multiple levels: first, individuals tend to estimate, consciously or not, the extent of similarity between their own personality and the characteristics of potential employers. Because of this, people are attracted to organizations that best fit their personality and submit employment applications accordingly.

Next, the hiring managers reviewing the applications tend to favor and select those who they believe best fit the organizational characteristics, as well as those who are similar to their own personalities.

When newcomers join the organization, for the next several months up to one year, they evaluate the true fit between the organization and their personality. “People whohave a similar personality to that of their managers are more likely to have a higher chance of promotion. Those who don’t fit their managers’ personality are more likely to be unhappy,” says Oh. Newcomers who feel that they do not fit may decide to leave, this contributing to the level of attrition at the company.

In this study, the researchers tracked the personality profile changes and career trajectories of the employees of three South Korean companies from the manufacturing sector, the banking industry, and the pharmaceutical industry. The researchers used the five‐factor model (FFM) of personality traits—extraversion, conscientiousness, openness to experience, agreeableness and neuroticism—to determine the employee’s personality.

“Through the process of attraction, selection, and attrition, people at an organization become more homogeneous in terms of their personality,” says Oh. “We showed that through the reduction in the standard deviation in extraversion or other personality traits.”

The study was the first to examine this phenomenon of within‐organization homogeneity, or the similarity of employees’ personalities, over time. This study also examined between‐organization heterogeneity progression over time to see whether and how similar personalities within organizations contributes to inter-firm differences.

In viewing changes over time, the researchers found that selection is most responsible for the within‐organization homogenization, whereas attraction contributes most to between‐organization heterogeneity. In terms of personality traits, the progression of within-organization homogeneity over time was mostly driven by extraversion, but between-organization heterogeneity was influenced by neuroticism.

“Different organizations attract different people, select different people, and retain different people,” says Oh. “Because of that reduction in variance within organizations over time, organizations will become more different [from each other] over time, even within the same sector.”

Overall, this study provides an inside look at how personality functions as human capital resources within organizations and how personalities are unevenly distributed across organizations. This study extends Oh’s previous research on the impact of personality-based human capital resources on firm-level labor productivity and financial performance.

In today’s world, as more companies turn to artificial intelligence and technology to help screen for applicants, understanding the types of employees that are attracted to and will stay with a company are invaluable to human resource managers. By understanding how these processes work over time, the researchers also share insights in terms of human resource management practices.  

Learn more about research from the Fox School on the Idea Marketplace.

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A roundup of media mentions featuring faculty, staff, and students from the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management.

Are You Suffering From Too Many Choices?
More doesn’t always mean merrier. USA Today cites research by Center for Neural Decision Making director Angelika Dimoka that shows how fewer choices lead to happier consumers and more sales.

Twins, Triplets Taking Over Temple
A whopping 36 sets of twins and triplets—including Fox students—have arrived.

6 Things to Do When You’re Angry at Work
Deanna Geddes shares tips with Business Insider.

From Wall Street Exec to High School Teacher?
This Fox alum left Goldman Sachs to teach at Northeast High.

Warning: Your Personal Data Is Not Safe
The New York Times talks corporate data breaches with Anthony Vance.

Disruption Coming to Philly’s Hotel Scene
Wesley S. Roehl discusses Comcast tower’s upcoming Four Seasons launch.

Dorm Room Decorating Tips
An entrepreneurship major shows off her dorm design chops.

International Business Schools are Thriving
Fox’s partnership with Australia’s Flinders University is highlighted.

eMoney, Temple Announce New Partnership
Cynthia Axelrod discusses the impact on financial planning education.

Marriott, Airbnb Selling Experiences, Too
People want activity curation and a room, says Elizabeth Barber.

Fox Launches New Women’s Leadership Series
Philly Mag shares details on the new Executive Education program.

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Augmented reality (AR) technology is one of the most exciting advancements of our time. It can  generate empathy and new perspectives by transporting people, sometimes literally, into the shoes of another person with no barriers in time or space. Not surprisingly, many industries are considering the technology’s potential to improve customer experience.

Using Technology to Enhance Customer Experience

The museum industry is among the pioneers who are embracing this opportunity. Museums are currently facing a period of financial stagnation, with costs and insurance premiums rising and government funds dwindling. Many are forced to delay projects, downsize exhibitions, and even lay off staff. Forward-thinking museums, though, are embracing new technologies that enable visitors to have deeper connections with exhibits.

For example, the Terracotta Warriors exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia was AR-enhanced, with visitors able to see more detailed representations of how the sculptures and weapons looked through their AR app. They also have a Virtual Reality Demonstration Space, an immersive VR zone where you can go inside the human body, tour the solar system, walk around Chernobyl, peek into a brain, and more.

Researchers at the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospital Management are studying how these new technologies can be best deployed in fields where consumers still crave authentic experiences.

AR and VR: Technological Innovation Creates New Research Space

While virtual reality is a fully immersive experience (think of the VR headsets and being transported to a simulated environment), augmented reality is simply an enhanced version of reality created by adding information (image, text, or effects) to real places or objects using a piece of technology.

Despite the extensive discussions around the applications of AR technology, little research has been done on what kind of immersive experiences are best to use on visitors. Zeya He, an STHM PhD student, alongside professors Laurie Wu and Robert Li, recently examined the impact of different types of AR enhancements. Their paper, “When art meets tech: The role of augmented reality in enhancing museum experiences and purchase intentions,” will be published this fall in Tourism Management.
He, Wu, and Li recruited more than 200 participants for their online study and gave them video simulations of an AR-enhanced scene. The video showed a museum scene with Vincent Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night Over the Rhône, testing visual and text animations on the painting itself: glimmering stars, reflections on the river, a couple strolling on the bank, and added verbal information. In some videos,  the museum environment was also augmented with a visual of gently rippling water, testing virtual alterations to the museum’s ambience.

The researchers wanted to see what the participants found most engaging: adding animation to the different aspects of the painting, adding text over the painting, or adjusting the “virtual presence” by making the museum environment match that of the painting.

Enhancing Reality vs. Depriving Imagination

Though we might expect the most AR-enhanced scenario to have been the most highly rated, participants liked the one with the additional text and added ambience the most. The participants said the animation of the painting itself felt too intrusive. “It seems that technology may sometimes help create meaningfulness and excitement, but it can also make you think less, become less engaged,” He explains. While environmental visual cues can improve connection with an art piece, visual enhancement of the actual object seems to deprive the viewer of the freedom of imagination. Participants felt that they could no longer appreciate the painting itself with the added technological visualization, but the added text actually helped guide their eye to aspects of the painting and deepened their understanding.  

Looking to the Future

Though doing the study online had certain benefits, such as eliminating other possible confounding factors, further research is needed to test the effects of different kinds of technological enhancements of the museum experience, especially real AR technology in real museum spaces. The effects and results may also differ depending on the context, and the type of museum or exhibit.

“[These] results can be used by museums directly to design their content, but we also need to continue doing research on how it is possible to balance the excitement that technology brings and the meaningfulness the museum is trying to create,” He says. “So, it is the degree of technological enhancements that really matters, how we design the technology really matters.”

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In the research world, the emphasis on statistically significant research results is so strong that often the art of the research process gets left behind. Luckily, a team of researchers at the School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management (STHM) at Temple University recently offered a unique behind-the-scenes look at how they are advancing the commonly accepted research methods in their field.

Collaborative Self-Study: An Innovative Qualitative Research Method

Lead researcher Bradley Baker, PhD ‘17, found there was a lack of substantial progress in innovative methods, especially qualitative, in the sport management field. The antidote to this “lack of creativity, theoretical impact, and practical relevance” is to look past the traditional qualitative and quantitative approaches to embrace a novel way to do research: collaborative self-study.

Collaborative self-study, Baker explains, is a type of qualitative research where researchers study themselves and their own social environment, as opposed to traditional methods where the researcher is a separate, objective onlooker. While this method is still relatively new, it has already been embraced by similar fields, such as the sociology of sport. It provides a unique potential to break through barriers of access to data and research participants, while encouraging a deeper self-reflection by the researchers and strong collaboration between team members.

In their paper, “Collaborative self-study: Lessons from a study of wearable fitness technology and physical activity,” Baker and his co-authors—current STHM doctoral students Xiaochen Zhou and Anthony Pizzo; James Du, PhD ’17, and Professor Daniel Funk—use their experience with this method to advise future researchers on when and how it may provide additional, unique insights. Published in a special issue of the Sport Management Review focused on contemporary qualitative research methods, their paper gives an insider view on how the method worked in practice: “[researchers] ask research questions,” says Pizzo. “But the way we get at that data, that is the focus of this paper. It’s the story behind the story.”

Experiencing the Experiment

Seven sport management graduate students formed a research team to look into how collaborative self-study could be used as a research method. The team consisted of a mix of genders, ages, fitness levels, ethnicities, and professional backgrounds.

Each member received an Apple Watch to wear for one month to record their experiences, thoughts, and exercise levels in a daily journal. The team later shared their experiences in group discussions, identifying common themes found while interacting with the technology, such as social value and attention, influence on physical activity, and anxiety. The experiment gave them a deeper insight into using collaborative self-study as a research method, specifically the possible advantages and disadvantages.

Reflecting on Self-Study: Transparency, True Experience, and Teamwork

On the benefits side, the researchers stated their data had deeper insights and it was faster and more efficient to collect than traditional methods. By not having a barrier—physical, temporal, cultural, or otherwise—between themselves and participants, the researchers had a potentially unlimited, unfiltered data source. Additionally, discussing as a team provided an environment where they could further elaborate on their experiences, stimulate reflection in others, and bond. This collaborative discussion made the data insights more thorough than a simple content analysis of journals, as the researchers were able to clarify their experiences through reflecting on the experiences of others.  

However, breaking the barrier between researcher and participant, though innovative, brings up questions of ethics and validity of data, as well as privacy and data security.

“Objectivity is the dominant tradition,” Baker says, “but now things are changing. […] Even what research question you are asking is already breaking absolute objectivity. In all studies, but especially in self-study, you have to be very transparent in your role and your perspective, what biases get integrated in your data.”

In order to ensure data validity, the researchers combined the deep reflection of self-study and the collaborative aspect of using multiple voices to combat the assumed presence of unchallenged assumptions, or researcher “blind spots.” Another possible detraction of this method is the nature of collaborative work: the need to agree, compromise, and end up with a coherent narrative formed by many different voices. This is where in-depth discussion and making sure all voices were heard helped enhance the experience.

Though having pros and cons like any other research method, collaborative self-study gives unique insights into people’s lived experiences and should be considered a valid method in any researcher’s arsenal. “Our hope is that the current work provides a measure of guidance regarding key ethical issues, benefits, challenges, and opportunities inherent to the approach,” Baker says. “We encourage other researchers to consider the potential benefits of collaborative self-study for their own research.”

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