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.
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.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
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.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
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.
“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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The Fox School of Business is making history—and driving real impact.
On Monday, March 12, the Fox School hosted a first-of-its-kind forum that brought together editors-in-chief of leading academic business journals across multiple disciplines. The 2018 Editors’ Summit united academia and industry, researchers and executives, students and educators, for a day of dialogue on a way forward to generate transformative impact of business school research.
With leadership from Charles Dhanaraj, director of the Fox School’s new Translational Research Center, over 150 people discussed the opportunities for creating impactful research and barriers standing in the way.
Fox School faculty and doctoral students were joined by editors from prestigious business journals from many disciplines, including management, marketing, accounting, finance, operations, management information systems, and international business; colleagues from Villanova University, the Wharton School, and Northwestern University, among others; and executives from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, LyondellBasell, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Here are five key takeaways from the event:
1. Define impact
What do we mean by “impact” and how do we measure it? “It has to meet the qualifications of rigor, relevance, insights, and action,” said V. Kumar, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Marketing and Regents Professor at J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.
While a definition of impact may remain elusive, participants identified its signs: from small shifts in how companies work and academia teaches, to societal, economic, and public policy changes.
Anne Tsui, president of the Responsible Research Leadership Forum, noted that this discussion about impact was a large step. “In the last 20 or 30 years, rigor began to dominate research and relevance began to decline,” she said. “Today, we’re here to discuss this gap.”
2. Ask the right questions
“Just because something hasn’t been studied doesn’t mean that it should,” said Tyson Browning, co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Operations Management and professor at Texas Christian University. In order to study issues that affect business, researchers need to know the right questions to ask.
Researchers can develop relationships with businesses, through programs like Fox Management Consulting, or invest in listening platforms to identify what problems businesses face.
Bhavesh Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell, put it another way: “Think about what value your work will create from the beginning. If you do it early, it will guide the work you do.”
3. Know your audience
“In reflecting about practical impact,” said Arun Rai, editor of MIS Quarterly and professor at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, “we need to think about partnerships with complementary channels to reach audiences that we do not have core competencies to reach.”
Executives are not reading academic journals, nor should we ever expect them to. If academics want their research to have impact on the real world, they should think beyond publications and about distribution.
“In the Twitter and soundbite era, no one wants to read a 40-page paper,” said Dr. Scott Bauguess of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “They want the major takeaway.” His suggestion? Write white papers and stylized facts.
Practitioner journals, trade magazines, and popular media like newspapers and TV can also be relevant channels to getting research insights into industry. Mary Barth, senior editor of The Accounting Review and professor at Stanford University, also recommended translating research into thought pieces that are understandable to non-academics. To do that, however, researchers need a new set of skills—like marketing or social media strategies—that require training or support from the school.
4. Adjust the infrastructure
A recurring theme throughout the day was incentives. How can business schools incentivize faculty to produce research that has impact, not just publications? How can editors affect trends in what is published to promote relevance?
Participants brainstormed solutions for both. While structural changes take time, discussions centered on adjusting tenure requirements and timelines, defining impact, creating industry partnerships, hosting workshops with executives, providing funding incentives for research with practitioners and non-tenure-track faculty, and publishing special issues in journals that focus on bundled topics.
Alain Verbeke, editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Business Studies and professor at University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, put it bluntly: “If you really want change, you can’t do it with the existing structure and processes.”
5. Teach the future
Students cannot be neglected in the conversation about impact. “One way we take our research articles and ideas and make them relevant to practice is by teaching them in our classes,” said Jay Barney, editor-in-chief of the Academy of Management Review and professor at the Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.
Constance Helfat, co-editor of the Strategic Management Journal and professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, agreed. “Every single thing I teach is based in academic research. And it works.”
The Fox School is already addressing the way forward. M. Moshe Porat, dean of the Fox School, affirmed his commitment to research and doctoral education throughout the day.
With support from the dean, the Translational Research Center has big plans for the future of research at the Fox School. The center plans to develop a white paper of the findings from the event and is hosting a case-writing consortium for faculty interested in writing and submitting a teaching case through the summer.
“The shift toward impact is a significant one, but it will take time,” said Dhanaraj,. “We will need everyone to make this big move.”
Learn more about Fox School Research.
This was a busy—and for some, award-winning—fall semester for the Fox School research community!
On October 18, the Office of Research, Doctoral Programs, and Strategic Initiatives hosted its 7th Annual PhD Paper Competition in the MBA Commons of Alter Hall. This year, 31 doctoral students and alumni submitted papers and created visual posters of their research to compete for more than $3,000 in cash and prizes.
Papers were evaluated by Fox School faculty, who chose winners in categories including first year, second year, and third-to-fourth year doctoral students. Students also competed for best dissertation proposals and completed dissertations. The 15-member evaluation committee judged the rigor, novelty, and presentation of the research, as well as its contribution to theory, practice, or policy.
Winners included Lauren Spirko of the Statistical Science Department, who won first place in the completed dissertation category for her paper proposing a statistical method for analyzing enormous data sets of genes and their various types of expressions. See a full list of participants and winners here.
On November 1, the Office hosted its 15th Young Scholars Interdisciplinary Forum, which aims to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborative research projects that span disciplines within and outside of the Fox School. Together, twenty Fox doctoral students and faculty members received nearly $35,000 in grant funding for their research.
Han Chen, a Marketing and Management Information Systems PhD student, received a grant for her research aiming to understand the neurophysiological responses to branding and marketing with respect to age. The funding will go toward the purchase of eye-tracking glasses to monitor subjects’ eye movements when reviewing physical and digital advertising materials.
The Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program also had students succeed this semester. Terry T. Namkung, a first-year DBA student and CEO of DC Energy Systems, was chosen as one of seven finalists in the 2017 Global Business Challenge. He presented his research—an energy panel that aims to reduce energy waste by 30% by decreasing the inefficiencies of Alternating Current to Direct Current adapters, converters, and inverters—in Brisbane, Australia, in early November.
Carla Cabarle, a second-year DBA student, showcased her work at the Fall 2017 Meeting of the Institute for Fraud Prevention. As one of five finalists, Carla presented on using analytics to predict the risk of financial statement fraud in crowdfunding to academics and industry experts in financial risk and fraud management.
On behalf of Paul Pavlou, senior associate dean of research and Milton F. Stauffer Professor in the Fox School, the Office congratulates the doctoral students and faculty on a very successful fall semester.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
A PhD student at Temple University’s Fox School of Business has accepted a position at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.
Michelle Andrews, who is pursuing a Marketing PhD at Fox, will join Emory’s Goizueta Business School in August 2015 as a tenure-track assistant professor of marketing. U.S. News and World Report included Goizueta in its 2014 rankings of the top-20 business schools in the nation.
“I am very honored by this opportunity to join the research and teaching community at Emory University, and I am extremely grateful for all of the support I have received and the connections I have made here at Temple University,” Andrews said.
Andrews received the Best Conference Paper Award at the 2014 American Marketing Association Summer Educator Conference. Her paper, titled, “Using Mobile Technology to Crowdsense,” used crowdedness as an environmental factor in determining peoples’ responses to mobile advertisements. Andrews conducted the study for her paper, which was co-authored by Fox School Professor of Marketing and Andrews’ faculty mentor Dr. Xueming Luo, within subway trains in southeastern China.
“Michelle is an innovative thinker in the marketing discipline and a role model for a future class of successful Fox PhD students,” Luo said.
Andrews is slated to attain her PhD from the Fox School of Business in Spring 2015.
–Christopher A. Vito
Fox School of Business PhD candidate Kevin Yili Hong, whose research interests include economic and behavioral issues in online labor markets, has received a tenure-track assistant professorship at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
Hong came to the Fox School from China in 2009, to work with Paul A. Pavlou, Milton F. Stauffer Professor of Information Technology and Strategy and the Fox School’s Chief Research Officer. Hong’s research has appeared in many top journals and proceedings, including MIS Quarterly, Journal of Global Information Management andInternational Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), among others. Some of Hong’s papers have won best paper awards at ICIS, the Americas Conference on Information Systems, and the Academy of Management Conference.
His dissertation focuses on various issues in the emerging online labor markets, using both empirical and analytical methodologies such as econometrics, game theory and field experimentation. Before joining the Fox School, Hong graduated magna cum laude from Beijing Foreign Studies University with a B.S. in Management and a B.A. in English Literature.
What drew you to the Fox School of Business?
I applied to the PhD program in 2008. I got several offers from top MIS PhD programs, but the primary reason I came here was the research interest fit with my advisor, Dr. Paul A. Pavlou. I look up to him, as he is a well-established researcher in the field with a stellar reputation. He has encouraged and convinced me to come here and work with him.
What has it been like working with the faculty here, especially Dr. Pavlou?
All of my experiences have been very positive. He is among the most professional people I’ve seen in my life. I learned so much from him. He cares a lot about my professional life, especially research, and he supports me in every way he can. It is lucky to be his first PhD student and work under his mentorship.
What drew you to your area of research?
For doctoral students, there was always the option of doing something your advisor is doing, basically following in their footsteps by extending their research, and I did some of that. Dr. Pavlou has always encouraged me to explore new phenomena, so I can establish myself as an independent researcher. So what I did was to explore something new – online labor markets – under his guidance. I have three papers in this area, which comprise my dissertation.
Why do you think you stood out to Arizona State, where you’ll be an Assistant Professor?
As I know, they received more than 100 applications, and they narrowed it down to a few candidates. I think what made me stand out was not only having top journal publications, and the reputation of Temple’s Management Information Systems program, but also other intangible capabilities: how you answer questions, how you approach people, how you react to people and other things. I got a lot of guidance from my advisor, Paul A. Pavlou, and Temple’s English language consultant Christina Owings in these aspects.
What are you looking forward to?
ASU’s MIS program is doing really well. They have a new undergraduate program in business analytics, and that’s something I’m interested in teaching. They also started a lot of new online programs, which is interesting as well. Besides teaching, as an Assistant Professor, you are always trying to publish more papers, do more research and collaborate with other faculty and PhD students. And I think my mentality will change as well from a PhD student to a professor, and I’m looking forward to a new life there.
Are you pursuing other research besides your dissertation?
Yes. I have three research streams. The first stream is my dissertation, which is online labor markets. My second research stream is on product uncertainty, and I’ve extended that stream of research with a new phenomenon called “product fit uncertainty.” My third stream is research related to social media and the economic value it provides to firms.
What will you miss about Temple and Philadelphia once you leave?
Philadelphia is a great city. It’s a city where you can get almost anything you want. I’ve gotten to know the city so well, so I know where to go and what to avoid. That’s good. At Temple, obviously all of the professors are great and are not only great researchers but also great people. They’ll provide you with research and emotional support. I’m also glad to see that, in my five years here, we have seen the MIS Department and also school go up immensely in terms of reputation. I just want to see the school reputation go upward and onward.
What advice would you give to prospective Fox PhD students?
For people pursuing a research career, I just think Fox is a great place to be. It has a culture that you start your research from day one, which is very important. So you could ideally have top journal publications by the time you graduate. And most importantly, find an advisor who can support you and get along with you professionally. This is where I was lucky!
Fox School of Business PhD candidate Mike Obal, whose research includes disruptive innovation adoption, interorganizational relationships, new product development (NPD), and online marketplaces, has been hired as an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Manning School of Business at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Obal won the 2013 Robert Robicheaux Best Supply Chain Management Dissertation Proposal Award from the Society for Marketing Advances. His other achievements include publications in Industrial Marketing Management, the Journal of Service Management and the International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications. He has also presented at a number of conferences including the American Marketing Association, the Academy of Marketing Sciences, and the Product Development and Management Association.
Obal’s dissertation examines the adoption and acceptance of disruptive technologies within firms. Prior to joining the Fox School, he obtained an MBA in marketing from UMass Boston and a BS in marketing from Syracuse University.
What led you to the Fox School?
What I was looking for when I was considering PhD programs was a program that had a really strong reputation as far as research that the faculty members were doing, and the types of placements that PhD students were going to. I knew before I got here that there were students who had come out of here and gone to places like the University of Pittsburgh, Villanova, Cornell, and that’s just within this department. I knew that if I could come here and do a good job, I would have a good chance of placing well. The other thing I’ll say, more from a personality thing, is that I’m originally from the Boston area, and I wanted to be in a city; it’s what I preferred. Temple was all of the things that I wanted. I was able to check off all the marks.
What does it feel like going back to Massachusetts?
It’s a happy coincidence. Honestly, when I was looking for jobs, I was looking pretty much nationwide. I still had the same personal preferences as before, like location and good reputation. I also wanted to go to a place that is listed on the Carnegie classifications as a full research university. That’s where Temple is and UMass Lowell as well. I wanted to go to a school that has the same goals that I do. I like research.
What drove you to your particular area of research?
I definitely saw a need for it. My background is in online marketing, which sparked a general interest in innovation and technology. I saw that when you compare the innovation area to other subareas in marketing, like consumer behavior, there are just not that many people looking at how innovations are created and how to get them to the end customers. So, here is an area that I was already interested in, and I knew that, specifically, there was a little pocket that not many people were looking at.
What has your experience been like working with the faculty at Fox?
It’s been great. Working with my advisor, Tony Di Benedetto, who is one of the top names in innovation research, has surely helped me move along that way. And also, working with Dick Lancioni, whom I’ve worked with since day one; he’s always been very open and receptive to ideas. Working with Nathan Fong, who is an assistant professor here; he has a really good grasp on the current trends in research and is a great methodologist. He’s always given me really good feedback in terms of improving my research. But even beyond them, the other people in this department have always just kept their doors open and have always been willing to give me feedback one way or another, and that’s the best thing that I could have. Whenever I’ve had questions, I’ve always gotten answers and not closed doors.
Why do you think you stood out to the University of Massachusetts, where you’ll be an Assistant Professor?
In honesty, I think they were looking for someone in the innovation and technology area in marketing, so they wanted someone who did the type of research I was doing. Beyond that, I think there was really such a great fit as far as where they are as a university and where I am. I think we have a lot of the same types of goals. When I met everyone and did campus invites, we were all just on the same page. I wanted to go to a place that was moving forward at a fast rate. I didn’t want to go to a place that was sort of stuck in their ways. And to be honest, I don’t think that it hurt that I was from Massachusetts
What are you most excited about?
Being on the other side! I’ve been a student for way too long, and it will be exciting to be a tenure-track professor and to have all of the responsibilities that come with that. I feel ready for that. I’m ready to move past being the “forever student” to being a professor.
Are you currently pursuing any other research besides your dissertation?
I have a project going on with another doctoral student here that takes a look at new product development processes, which is more on the front end of innovation. I have a similar one that is with a doctoral student at the State University of New York in Binghamton. I have a project that takes a cross-cultural look at how different cultures review websites. I’m working on a project with a formal doctoral student here, Ellen Thomas, who’s now at New Jersey Institute of Technology, where we’re looking at technology transfer and knowledge exchange between buyers and suppliers. A lot of it is within the same area, but with different angles and perspectives.
What will you miss about Temple and Philadelphia?
I love the city and the campus. Temple is a perfect campus for the city. It’s a big state university that’s very much molded into the city that it lives in. I think it gives it a little extra character. It has a certain grittiness to it, but it’s a nationally known university, where expectations are high. The great thing with Philly is that you can always find new things in the city. I’ve been here for almost five years now, and you never stop finding things that are new and interesting. I’ll miss it. I have a lot of good colleagues here and a lot of good friends in the city. I think they trained me well. It’s a good step for my career obviously, but it’s definitely going to be a little bittersweet to leave this behind.
What advice would you give to prospective Fox PhD students?
Find your area of interest and really focus on that. Have thick skin. Faculty may tell you to do this or do that, but as long as you’re working hard and focusing, you just have to push through. Also, go at it like it’s a marathon. You can’t get your degree in one year. It’s going to take five years or more. Don’t try to rush through it; you won’t make it. At Temple you have all of the resources you could ever want at a university. Our faculty is interested in enough topics that you can come here and do research on any topic and be fine. It’s very much a self-motivated program. If you want to do something, they will support you, but you’ve got to be self-driven. People who come in with that attitude, regardless of their background, are pretty successful.
More than three-quarters of black women aged 12 to 74 are considered clinically obese.
For Christine Wegner, a Fox School of Business PhD student and a research assistant in the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM), this statistic was a key component in her award-winning research that investigated how social stigmas keep black women from participating in physical activity.
Wegner received the Best Student Abstract Award at the National Recreation and Park Association’s Leisure Research Symposium, held Oct. 14-16 in Charlotte, N.C. The competition selected the best student research in the leisure industry, as it related to current cultures.
Wegner’s work with Black Girls Run! (BGR!), a national organization that uses running to promote physical fitness and health among black women, while combatting stereotypes surrounding the activity, spurred her research. She reacted to how few black women engage in running because of social stigmas surrounding the sport. When coupled with a sedentary childhood, a deficit of black female professional athletes, idealization of a larger body type and issues of hair maintenance, these stigmas have contributed to illness and increased body weight among black women.
To understand this dynamic, Wegner said she reached out to 63,013 black women through BGR! The responses she received helped uncover how the group combats race and gender issues in the running culture. With 70 nationwide chapters, including one in Philadelphia, BGR! teaches black women basic running skills and creates a safe and empowering environment in which they exercise these skills. Working with the organization, Wegner identified confidence, skill, health, time, preference and hair management as six key areas when breaking down the barriers between black women and their athleticism.
“I think that Philadelphia is a good (research) target because of its greater prevalence of obese and sedentary individuals than many other cities like it” Wegner said.
Wegner, whose PhD studies include a concentration in Sport Management, relied upon several skills gleaned from her STHM and Fox School educations to better understand her research results. Wegner hypothesized using information gathered from her courses addressing the nature of organizations to predict that a group promoting a common goal can combat stereotypes held by the majority of its participants. With this in mind, Wegner drew upon her background in leisure activity afforded her through STHM to evaluate how the change in self-identification could result directly from BGR! Participation.
“At STHM, we focus heavily on distinct features and problems within sport and physical activity,” Wegner said. “This focus has allowed me to look at this organization holistically, from both a business perspective that I gained from Fox and from the broader issues in sport gained from the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.”
Wegner concluded that, as predicted, participating in BGR! changed the mindset surrounding running in the black female culture to increase the number of women who now identify as black, female and runners. Their increased physical activity has helped reduce the risks of Type 2 Diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses among black women, and has provided a sense of empowerment as they accomplish various athletic and health-related goals.
“The most rewarding part was presenting my work with this organization, and finding out that there were some BGR! members in the audience at the conference,” Wegner said. “Seeing how passionate they were about the power of the organization made me feel that my research was worthwhile.”
Dr. Paul A Pavlou, the Milton F. Stauffer Professor of Information Technology and Strategy at the Fox School of Business, recently earned recognition as a world leader in scientific research.
Pavlou was named one of Thomson Reuters’ World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds, which published its list of highly cited researchers in June. Pavlou earned the distinction from the Intellectual Property and Science business branch of Thomson Reuters for citations of his work in a 10-year period, between 2002-2012.
The Associate Dean of Research and Chief Research Officer at the Fox School, Pavlou joined more than 3,000 fellow scholars across 21 fields of study for being among the world’s most-highly cited researchers in his or her specialty. Pavlou’s papers registered more than 13,000 citations over the last decade, as he became one of 95 Highly Cited researchers recognized by Thomson Reuters in the field of Economics & Business.
“I do research for my own motivation, because I like to discover new things,” Pavlou said, “but it is a great recognition that others rely on your work and cite your work.”
This is not the first such world-wide recognition of Pavlou’s research. He was rated as the world’s most-productive researcher in the two top management information systems journals MIS Quarterly and Information Systems Research, according to an analysis by the Association of Information Systems for the period 2010-2012.
Pavlou said he anticipates that his latest personal accolade, from Thomson Reuters, will render a double-edged impact at the Fox School. One of Pavlou’s goals, he said, is to continue to build Fox’s sterling reputation through highly cited, published papers from its students.
“I like to push the mentality that it’s not only (important) to get published, but to get published in well-read, well-respected journals,” he said. “Getting published by itself is not easy. But if you can take it to the next level and say, ‘This is something people will read and cite,’ that’s what I’m really trying to do.”
Finance PhD student Jamie Weathers would not have chosen the Fox School had it not been for the PhD Project.
In the fall of 2010, Weathers applied to a conference sponsored by the PhD Project, which was held in Chicago and featured an array of speakers and various networking opportunities. “It was extremely energizing, motivational, and it made you feel like you can do it,” Weathers said. Weathers, a single mother, said that she was most motivated to pursue her PhD when she heard the story of another single mother, with three children, working toward her doctorate.
While attending the doctoral school fair at the PhD Project Conference, Weathers, a Kentucky native, met Fox School Associate Dean of Research, Doctoral Programs, and Strategic Initiatives Paul A. Pavlou, as well as Bernie Milano. It was not until then that Temple University and the Fox School were on her radar.
Weathers described her first year as a doctoral students as an experience in which she had to learn how to “read” again, as she had not come from a background in academic research. Through the PhD Project, she is a member of the Finance Doctoral Students Association (DSA), which has provided a safe space for Weathers to figure out where she stood in this new realm of academia.
“That’s the good thing about the DSA,” Weathers said of the PhD Project’s support networks in five business disciplines. “People give you help and advice. You get to share your experiences with others, and you know that you’re not alone.” Weathers feels just as grateful to be a part of Fox’s Department of Finance. “The faculty and my colleagues here are a wonderful support system,” she said. “Temple is a perfect fit for me.”