Kevin Mahoney, DBA ’17, speaks at the inaugural Philadelphia Healthcare Hub event.

 

In late 2019, the Fox School of Business launched the Philadelphia Healthcare Hub. Organized by the Translational Research Center and the Center for International Business Education and Research, this event series will explore the future of healthcare. The inaugural event focused on “Reinventing Healthcare and Biopharmaceutical Value Chains.” 

Leaders in practice, research, government policymakers and business executives gathered to identify a pathway forward for the healthcare industry in Philadelphia and beyond. Here are four key takeaways:

1. Disrupted Value Chains for Personalized Care

The healthcare industry is moving from one-size-fits-all toward personalized care. “Healthcare systems and physicians’ focus is shifting from acute care to chronic care,” says Dr. Vikas Khurana, CEO of Leg Healers, LLC. “This patient-centered approach is critical to improving both health system operations.”  

Drug manufacturers should understand that this medical model is the future. Stephen Sammut, senior fellow at the Wharton School, summed up precision medicine as “the right drug for the right patient at the right time.”

2. AI Affects Medicine 

Dr. Aldo Doria, director of Capital Health Cancer Center shared his experiences with robotic surgeries. “Like driverless cars, in the near future, we will see surgeon-less surgery.” 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arrived in the healthcare sector. AI is expanding and revolutionizing both clinical and nonclinical processes—from diagnostics and triaging to revenue cycles and cybersecurity. Lamont Louis, COO of Einstein Physicians reinforced the message: “AI is critical in modernizing the revenue cycle management operations to increase the bottom line of healthcare systems.”

3. Local Clusters of Innovation

“The greater Philadelphia region is home to a large community of innovative, diverse and growing biopharmaceutical industry,” says Sam Woods Thomas, director of life sciences for the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce. 

With innovations deeply rooted in geography, the Philadelphia area has become a leader in advancing cell-based research and therapies. Kevin Mahoney, DBA ’17 and CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS), shared his experience. “Penn has contributed eight FDA-registered drugs since 2017.” He envisions Philadelphia becoming the medical Silicon Valley of the East Coast, or “Cellicon” Valley. With support from the government, the city is primed to be the next global capital for reinventing the future of healthcare and biopharma industry.

4. Researching the Future of Healthcare 

While healthcare and biopharma value chains are being disrupted at an accelerated pace, stakeholders across the industry—biopharmaceutical firms, device manufacturers, healthcare providers, insurers and payers, government agencies and regulators—must understand and apply research in order to react to and predict the emerging new paradigms in the business of healthcare.

Moderated by researchers Subodha Kumar, Paul R. Anderson Distinguished Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management and Ram Mudambi, Frank M. Speakman Professor of Strategy, the event offered healthcare and biopharma executives opportunities to learn practical insights about their industries.  With a focus on community engagement and research leadership, the Philadelphia Healthcare Hub demonstrates the power of the Fox School’s strategic planning efforts to inspire high-level change. 

Are you interested in uniting industry leaders and research experts to advance the future of healthcare and biopharmaceuticals? Contact Ram Mudambi and Samy Govindasamy for more details.  

Sign up here for upcoming events and information.

Fox School of Business MIS professor examines how the introduction of dynamic security warnings could lead to safer online behavior, ultimately eliminating hackers.

Student at computer in Capital Markets Room

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 13, 2020—Surf the net or play with your phone for any decent amount of time, and it’s inevitable that you’ve seen this familiar message before. 

“Important update available. Install now.” 

Yet, how often have you actually dropped what you’re doing to install the update? If you’re like the average technology user, you probably just ignore the message or ask to be reminded at a later date. However, a researcher at Temple University’s Fox School of Business says that could be a mistake.

“Our brains are wired to tune things out over time,” says Anthony Vance, an associate professor of management information systems in the Fox School. “The thing is, software updates fix security vulnerabilities that hackers know about and can take advantage of. As soon as Apple or Microsoft publishes these security updates, the whole world knows what needs fixing. Hackers start writing attacks to take advantage of these holes.”

Past research has outlined how it’s important to be proactive when it comes to updating software, but that’s easier said than done. Old habits die hard, and a person cannot be expected to immediately start paying close attention to software updates.

Vance’s new research could offer a solution. Recently published in MIS Quarterly, “Tuning Out Security Warnings: A Longitudinal Examination of Habituation through fMRI, Eye Tracking, and Field Experiments” investigates how changing the design of security warnings might help stop users from ignoring them. The research was presented last year in Santa Clara, Calif., during the Fifteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security. 

As part of the research, Vance and his research colleagues altered the design of typical security warnings and then tracked user reactions to the new designs over the course of five days through fMRIs and eye-tracking. These were not your run-of-the-mill security warnings. One featured a yellow, triangle-shaped warning sign. Another had a jiggle animation with it. One even quickly zoomed in and out.

The new designs seemed to have a positive effect.

“Those treatments sustained attention across the whole week,” Vance says.

Vance and his colleagues further tested these new security warnings during a field experiment. More than 100 participants were recruited to evaluate apps on, unbeknownst to them, a fake Android store. Out of a list of ten apps, participants were asked to download and evaluate three of them over a three-week period.

The permission warnings and visual displays varied, depending on the app. For some apps, the warnings were in line with a typical generic security warning. Others were more elaborate, similar to what users saw during the first part of the experiment.

“The people who saw the variations in warning designs had more secure behavior over time,” Vance says. “These designs are more resistant to us just doing the natural thing where we tune them out. By the end of the three-week period, nearly 80% of the folks who saw the dynamic security messages were still adhering to safe behavior compared to just 55% of those who saw the static warnings.”

Does this mean that we can expect our next security warning to come in the form of a flashing, luminous red light? Not necessarily.

“In this research, we were careful to design warnings that do not annoy people, like a blinking warning. We wanted to show that we could reduce habituation without making people’s computing experience worse. We found that even our comparatively restrained designs made a big improvement and that this improvement held over time,” Vance says. “Together, these findings provide the most complete view yet of how people habituate to security warnings over time, and the significant impact this can have on the effectiveness of warnings, the last line of defense in cybersecurity.”

About the Fox School of Business

The vision of Temple University’s Fox School of Business is to transform student lives, develop leaders and impact our local and global communities through excellence and innovation in education and research.  

The Fox School’s research institutes and centers and 200+ full-time faculty provide access to market-leading technologies and foster a collaborative and creative learning environment that offers more than curriculum—it offers an experience. Coupled with its leading student services, the Fox School ensures that its graduates are fully prepared to enter the job market. 

The school’s knowledge-creating research faculty affords it the flexibility and responsiveness to address the needs of industry and generate courses and programs in emerging fields of study. As a leader in business research, the Fox School values interdisciplinary approaches and translational research that advance actionable insights to solve real-world problems. Our research informs an adaptive curriculum, supports innovation in teaching and prepares students for the changing nature of work.

Virtual Reality in Charles Library
Virtual Reality in Charles Library

In 1966, Time magazine prophesied that “machines will be producing so much that everyone in the U.S. will, in effect, be independently wealthy.” Unfortunately for most of us, that prediction did not come to fruition and technology has not become the universal retirement plan. But more than ever before, the business world is focused on using technology to work smarter. 

Fox faculty share predictions about trends we are likely to see in 2020, so we can prepare to embrace the changes ahead.  

Big data will demystify consumer behavior 

“Big data and AI will continue to help us understand consumer psychology. However, if used as stand-alone tools, they can be misleading. The future of marketing is AI talking to consumers directly,” says Monica Wadhwa, associate professor in the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management. Her research focuses on understanding the motivational and affective determinants of consumer decision making.

Tech-fin will change how consumers interact with their finances

“As the rise of quantum computing results in more effective AI and machine learning, we will likely see more tech-fin (instead of fin-tech) being used across the financial sector. Where fin-tech is used in the finance industry to do things like improve customer experiences, tech-fin solutions change how users interact with the industry overall. This will result in things like an increased push toward digital asset management,” says Bora Ozkan, assistant professor of finance and the academic director of the Fox Online MBA and Online BBA programs. Ozkan’s research interests are corporate finance, emerging markets real estate and business education.

Data will change the relationship between employers and employees 

“We will likely see continued growth in business law and the compliance sector related to cyber-security, predictive analytics, and sexual harassment and workplace culture,” says Leora Eisenstadt, assistant professor in the Department of Legal Studies. “As firms increasingly turn to data analytics to assist in all aspects of hiring and talent management; as employee and customer data becomes both essential and vulnerable; and as the #MeToo movement continues to drive new legal claims, compliance initiatives will continue to grow in both size and importance.” Eisenstadt’s areas of scholarship and interest include employment law, business law, law and linguistics, work-family conflict, sex discrimination, race and the law, and public policy.

Increased integration will strengthen Risk, Insurance, and Healthcare Management

“My prediction is that 2020 will bring further integration of Enterprise Risk Management and Alternative Risk Financing to address strategic and operational risk issues,” says M. Michael Zuckerman, associate professor in the Department of Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management. “We [employees, customers, shareholders, regulators, etc.] will observe increased Organizational Board of Directors’ scrutiny over Risk Management. We will do this in order to gain assurance that the entity is resilient and able to manage threats that could disrupt its operations.” 

Zuckerman also serves as the academic director for the department’s Enterprise Risk Management initiative. 

Accountants will leverage big data to make better decisions 

“The continued acceleration of technology and digital innovation will change the accounting industry. Businesses will continue to leverage big data and analytics to provide more accurate information to make better decisions,” says Elizabeth A. Gordon, professor and chair of the Department of Accounting at the Fox School. “Automation and AI will become more pervasive and simplify and increase the efficiency of operations. Cloud computing will continue to grow.” 

Gordon specializes in the areas of financial reporting and international accounting investigating topics such as international financial reporting standards, corporate communications, executive compensation, related party transactions, accounting restatements, market development and corporate disclosure.

The Fox faculty informs the future of the business world. To learn more about that work and the future of the Fox School, visit the 2025 Strategic Planning website.

woman stressed at desk

Companies are feeling the pressure to use telework opportunities to satisfy employees. But how does working from home affect our productivity, creativity and stress levels? 

“Flexible work arrangements are popular, but can often lead to higher stress,” warns Ryan Vogel, assistant professor in the Fox School’s Department of Human Resources Management. Vogel conducted a survey of over 500 U.S.-based employees of a multinational software corporation. He asked each employee to respond to a short questionnaire four times a day for three weeks, seeking to understand how their creativity, engagement and stress varies throughout the day and in different working environments. 

There were no differences in either the employees’ investment in their work and degree of creativity when working from home, at the office or in a combination of the two settings. However, Vogel says, “We found significantly higher levels of stress and lower levels of positive emotion when employees worked at home.” 

Why would employees feel more stress when working at home? “There could be several factors,” says Vogel. “But our research suggested the strongest factor was the fact that people are more psychologically attached to home when they are at home.” For example, many employees who are teleworking may find themselves distracted from their work to-do lists by their personal tasks. Imagine trying to work next to a giant pile of laundry—for some, that is hard to ignore. 

Unsurprisingly, the same was true for those who brought their work with them, mentally or physically, after leaving the office. Employees who emphasized time in the evening to recover from work and engage with their families reported lower stress levels than those who did not. 

“With flexible working environments, it’s important that employees can create mental distance between home and work,” says Vogel. “With the increased flexibility in how and where we work, we need to be conscious of creating some form of mental separation between the personal and the professional, so that employees can focus on each one when it’s appropriate.” 

Vogel also advocates for an occasional change of scenery. “When employees switched work locations from one day to the next between their home or the office, we saw significant boosts in their level of engagement and lower levels of stress,” he says. 

This study supports the notion that working at home versus in the office does not impact an employee’s ability to be creative and engaged in their work, but it does suggest that employers and companies should exercise telework options mindfully. 

“Flexibility to work remotely is an important benefit that fulfills employees’ need for autonomy,” says Vogel. “However, these findings bring a level of nuance to the conversation.”

Reducing Stress at Work

Whether employees have flexible hours or are “always on,” how can companies help reduce stress levels? Vogel suggests ways that leaders can encourage employees to put aside stress-inducing distractions, regardless of their work environment: 

  1. Make lists at the end of a day to let go of stressors overnight.
  2. Model “protected time” so employees do not feel pressured during non-work hours.
  3. Start meetings by setting an intention to be fully present and encouraging mindfulness

Learn more about Fox School Research.

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

Photo from opera "We Shall Not Be Moved"
Photo by Opera Philadelphia

The word “opera” doesn’t typically trigger images of young people. One may think of tiny binoculars and fur coats, but probably not anyone below the age of forty—unless you attend a show at Opera Philadelphia.

Dennis Paris noticed something interesting about the audience when he attended an opera in which his daughter was cast. “My wife, who is also a professional marketer, and I were shocked at how many younger people were there in groups together. These were young professionals; in their 20s or mid to late 20s,” he explains.

Paris, assistant professor of practice in the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School of Business, saw this as an opportunity to take a real-life example into the classroom. He wanted to figure out why Opera Philadelphia seemed to be thriving when traditionally it is not an industry that appeals to younger audiences.

Paris decided to write this business case in partnership with Assistant Professor Jean Wilcox, who had been researching the missing element of social interaction in the digital world, along with the help of colleagues Amy Lavin and Sheri Lambert. Their case is intended to teach marketing students the core strategies for changing markets. 

“I met the president of the opera, David Devan, and asked him what he was doing to bring in this young professional marketplace,” Paris recalls. “I discovered that they knew exactly what they were doing, based on a very elaborate analysis of segmentation, which is a critically important lesson in marketing.”

One strategy was creating a product that would appeal to a younger generation. Opera Philadelphia collaborated with FringeArts, a local performing arts theater, to create “We Shall Not Be Moved.” This modern opera is described as, “a timely exploration of past and present struggles which suggests an alternate future through the eyes of its young protagonists.”

“Another solution the opera chose was to host a festival,” says Paris, “They tested their customer base for interest in the event and discovered that it would be a good way of offering, in a very compressed period of time, so many different flavors of opera that would appeal to the palettes of different segments.” Both of these ideas proved beneficial in attracting newer, younger opera goers.

Inside Philadelphia Opera

What can marketing students learn from Opera Philadelphia?

The three main marketing methods demonstrated and outlined in the case are Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning (STP). Paris explains that segmentation divides consumers into groups, targeting finds who in those groups to specifically market to and, based on that information, positioning guides the business on how they should represent their brand to that audience.

“This is an excellent case to enable students to not only learn the marketing process through the eyes of Opera Philadelphia but also apply it,” says Paris.

Paris credits help with developing this case through a June 2018 workshop hosted by the Fox School’s Translational Research Center (TRC). “I came away from that workshop with a draft synopsis and specific milestones that I would not have figured out on my own,” Paris explains, “I also began to understand the world of case writing from an insider’s perspective. This was a valuable experience without which I am certain the Opera Philadelphia business case would not exist today.” 

The case, “Opera Philadelphia: Segmentation Strategies For Changing Markets,” was published through Ivey Publishing in August 2019.

What does this research mean for the opera industry?

“This is a landmark case that I think can help the opera industry at large. I think Opera Philadelphia is a model that other operas, nationally, should look at,” says Paris. By finding a way to bring in a younger audience, Opera Philadelphia has brought new energy to the old-school art.

Learn more about Fox School Research.

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

The issue of food insecurity at college is one that often goes unnoticed. For most, the burden of paying tuition is undeniably overwhelming—but many do not realize that there are students who have to choose between lunch or textbooks. Luckily, groups at Temple University are working to bring more awareness and assistance to those in need.

Donated cans in the shape of an owl
Sculpture from Fox’s Business Communications office

Hunter Speakman, a freshman in the Temple University Management Consulting Program (TUMCP), heard a colleague mention “can sculptures” as a team-building exercise. Speakman, along with his peers and the program’s academic director Tony Seeton, assistant professor of strategic management, decided this could be a great opportunity for students to give back to their community. 

On Dec. 6, Speakman and his team organized a contest where Temple University community members made elaborate sculptures out of donated canned goods. The event aimed to raise awareness and gather food for the Cherry Pantry, a Temple program dedicated to providing students in need access to healthy and nutritious food. The Cherry Pantry, located on the second floor of the Howard Gittis Student Center, is the main source of emergency food for students on campus.

“There was a recent survey done in colleges in the United States that found 30% of college students are food insecure,” Speakman explains. “The pantry told us they typically get about 175 students a week. But with a campus of tens of thousands of students, there are definitely more than that who are in need.”

By hosting the event, Speakman was hoping to raise awareness and support the Cherry Pantry in their efforts. But the turnout was greater than he could have imagined.

Overall, nine major campus organizations competed in the event: Fox Graduate Admissions, Morgan Hall North, the international women’s music fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota, Temple Towers, the Student Collaboration Center, Temple Ambler, the Fox Business Communications Center, the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

The only rule of the competition was that the cans had to remain intact and with the labels on. Even so, that didn’t keep the competitors from coming up with some unique structures.

Bell Tower shaped can sculpture
Student Collaboration Center sculpture of the Bell Tower

“Each group made an entirely different structure. One built an owl, another one the Bell Tower. One group even made a space shuttle,” says Speakman. 

The Student Collaboration Center won the competition with their sculpture of the Bell Tower. The Fox Business Communication Center and Temple Ambler were runners up. The Fox School’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations, led by Assistant Dean James Hansen, sponsored prizes for the winners. 

The scale of the event was “much larger than we could’ve imagined,” says Speakman. Participants donated about 750 pounds of cans, plus 250 additional nonperishable goods. 

The impact of a fun, creative event like this goes way beyond just constructing with cans. It is a demonstration of the school’s commitment to an engaged community, a pillar of the Fox Strategic Plan. Speakman, along with the participants from across the university, recognizes that this sense of community and support is crucial to eliminating food insecurity at Temple. 

“There are so many students just coming to college that already have a lot of financial pressure put on them and their family,” says Speakman. “So to have access to a can of soup, some beans or pasta is a huge help so they don’t have to worry about what they’re eating.”

Speakman and the TUMCP team proved that a community that comes together ”can” make a change.

Support the Cherry Pantry by visiting their website.

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

research roundtable logo

The Fox School of Business is honoring those who take their research into the real world. 

On Dec. 3, the Fox School and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) hosted the 21st Annual Research Roundtable & Teaching Awards, which acknowledges faculty members for their impact on students through their dedicated teaching and research efforts. 

As in previous years, full-time and adjunct faculty in undergraduate and graduate programs at the Fox School and STHM were honored for excellence in teaching, while research faculty were recognized for new publications with high academic impact or for high external funding. This year, the schools introduced awards that highlight translational research. 

Sudipta Basu, associate dean for research and doctoral programs, announced the four new categories in this year’s ceremony: pedagogical research, case-based research, practice research and policy research. “These new awards recognize efforts by tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty highlight to others the ways that our research is relevant,” Basu explains. “For example, pedagogical research seeks to find better ways of teaching or communicating with students.” 

The Fox School is making translating research outside of academia a priority, says Basu. “As outlined in the Fox Strategic Plan, research leadership is one of our four strategic pillars. Within that, we’ve identified translational research as one of our core precepts.”

Why does translational research matter? 

“As business academics, we are often very good at coming up with new ideas, but we do not always ensure that these ideas are being implemented,” Basu says. “Translational research is the idea that companies and non-academics should be using business school research. We are encouraging our faculty who are trying to get their research into practice.”

Fifteen faculty members received these new honors including Excellence in Pedagogical Research Awards, which celebrates those who conduct research to benefit learning, teaching and assessment; Excellence in Case-Based Awards for business cases that bring real-world examples backed by research into the classroom; Excellence in Practice Research Awards for publications in practitioner journals; and Excellence in Policy Research Awards for impactful policy proposals.

In addition, Mary A. Weiss Cummins, Deaver Professor of Risk Management and Insurance, received the Lifetime Achievement Award, which is given to a full-time, tenured faculty member at the Fox School who has exhibited a lifetime of achievement in teaching, research and service. Weiss Cummins has published numerous research articles throughout her career, covering topics such as financial services conglomeration, efficiency measurement of insurers, no-fault automobile insurance, reinsurance, regulation and underwriting cycles.

Patrick McKay was installed as the Stanley and Franny Wang Professor of Human Resource Management. This named professorship supports excellence in business and management education. This endowed chair position was named by Stanley, MBA ’72, and Franny Wang, MBA ’72, with the belief that supporting impactful educators provides quality education for dynamic students and a better, more educated world. McKay’s research focuses on demographic disparities in worker outcomes, diversity, diversity climate, organizational demography, worker attitudes and retention, and job- and organizational-level performance. 

This year’s Research Roundtable and Teaching Awards highlight a strategic change in the growth and application of the Fox School’s excellence in research, which not only impacts Temple University but now seeks to translate to the local community, business, policymakers and society at large.

Basu adds, “The goal is to increase the impact of our research. Translating that research is how we can change the world.”

Learn more about Fox School Research.

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

When companies look to become more efficient, one of the first things they do is look for waste—elements of the production process that add little value despite taking up precious time and resources. However, with careful implementation, businesses can achieve greater efficiency by investing in what works well.

For example, take the contrast between push and pull processes in manufacturing. Most manufacturing firms operate using a “push” model; they make a certain amount of product and store it in a warehouse until it can be sold. In contrast, other companies operate a “pull” model; they only produce products after having received an order. In pull manufacturing, no product stays sitting in a warehouse and products move through production with little delay, reducing the amount of waste in the process.

This “pull” manufacturing model is one of the ways that companies become lean—in other words, identify areas that don’t produce value, cut that waste and thereby increase labor and process efficiency. However, going lean puts enormous pressure on companies and requires special attention paid to supply chain management and labor.

Tom Stone, DBA ’18 and assistant teaching professor of business at Penn State Abington, wanted to take the lessons learned from lean manufacturing and apply it to the software industry.

“When I worked with software developers at Siemens, we started integrating lean with agile,” Stone explains. Agility, a close cousin of lean, involves making processes more iterative, and therefore more flexible. By breaking the process into small, iterative pieces, developers can make changes to the product without damaging or undoing months of other productive work. “We wanted to do it because it would ultimately improve efficiency by making outflow—the number of software functions available at the end of the production process—predictable.”

While you can count the physical output of a process like manufacturing, this is harder to do with software development. Stone measured the outflow through the time and production of “stories,” small components of software that will later be combined into a final function that a customer uses.

During his time in the Fox School’s Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program, Stone decided to focus his research on the benefits of efficiency training. Specifically, Stone wanted to see if the process of software development could be improved by providing efficiency training to developers based on lean and agile techniques. This strategic investment into the labor force would take two forms: long-term coaching or a one-time training event.

When dealing with lean and agile processes, Stone emphasizes that what is at stake isn’t having knowledge, but keeping it. “Knowledge erodes over time,” Stone explains, “and with the knowledge goes the efficiency. Coaching keeps it from eroding.”

His findings were impressive. Workers who went through coaching saw a 37.1% net improvement in the amount of time needed to complete stories. One-time training saw a staggering 58.7% net improvement. Labor costs also fell, thanks to the trainings.

Stone’s paper on the topic, titled “The ROI of Investments in Lean Agile Software Development Training,” won the Best Paper Award at the 2019 Engaged Management Scholarship (EMS) Conference in Antwerp, Belgium, this past September. This is the second year in a row that a Fox DBA alumnus won this award, which is sponsored by Business Horizons, an academic journal from Indiana University. In 2018, Ofra Bazel-Shoham, DBA ’17, won for her paper which discussed how gender-diverse boards affect companies’ decisionmaking

Measuring the efficiency of the labor that goes into software development is a difficult task. Stone hopes that his research will help close the gap between software production processes and financial metrics. By pioneering this measure of productivity and thus proving the power of efficiency training, Stone wants to help others learn how to quantify, recognize and reward the value of lean.

“Software development is an increasingly critical industry,” Stone emphasizes. “Learning from manufacturing about how to measure productivity in this industry can have an enormous operational and financial impact.”

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Fox School of Business at Temple University researchers outline why brands would be wise to include micro-influencers as part of their marketing strategy this holiday season

holiday shopping bags

PHILADELPHIA — It’s the holiday shopping season and by all accounts, it’s going to be a big one. According to a recent OpenX Technologies report, consumers are expected to spend more than last year, and this is especially true for millennials. The report found that millennials plan to spend 15% more than the average shopper and 25% more than baby boomers.

So how are companies and brands supposed to break through the noise to reach these potential customers? Two Temple University Fox School of Business professors believe the answer could be micro-influencers.

“Micro-influencers bring credibility and authenticity,” says Jay Sinha, associate professor of marketing and supply chain management. “The best ones bring in their own personal narratives that mesh well with the brands they endorse.”

Together with Thomas Fung, assistant professor of marketing and supply chain management, Sinha recently authored the “Right Way to Market to Millennials,” published in MIT Sloan’s Management Review.

A micro-influencer is not Cardi B or Rihanna. Rather, they are defined as those that have a follower base numbering between 1,000 and 100,000. They’re someone that a millennial can relate to, and that’s what’s been missing with traditional influencer marketing.

A recent study by Bazaarvoice noted that traditional influencer marketing is falling out of favor; 63% of online audiences noted that influencer content is materialistic and misrepresents real life. In comparison, micro-influencer marketing is just the opposite.

“They provide opportunities for companies, big and small, to reach out to narrow and often difficult-to-access subpopulations,” Sinha says. “Micro-influencers have finessed the subtle ‘nudge’ into an art form.”

According to Sinha and Fung, some of the more prominent brands using micro-influencers include Nike, Sephora, Levi, Microsoft and many others. That will remain the case this holiday season.

For instance, Zales Jewelers recently partnered with YouTube star Jaci Marie Smith and her husband, Leif Carlson, to create a “Holiday Love Story” across a number of social platforms. Similarly, clothing retailer H&M recently created the H&M League, a group of 22 influencers who have been promoting the brand for the year. Much of the content specifically revolved around key holiday dates like Black Friday and New Year’s Eve.

“As department stores fight for relevance ahead of the start of the holiday shopping season, micro-influencers command a significant role in framing a new marketing narrative,” Fung says. “Boomers might be okay with ‘sea of sameness’ product offerings, however, millennials thrive on an ‘experience playground,’ where micro-influencers become their lifestyle coaches.”

This micro-influencing trend likely is not going anywhere anytime soon, either.

“Even though there are indications recently that ‘influencer fatigue’ has set in among millennials, they still remain open to those micro-influencers that have suasive power over them from their charisma and expertise in some niche market category,” Sinha says.

About the Fox School of Business

The vision of Temple University’s Fox School of Business is to transform student lives, develop leaders, and impact our local and global communities through excellence and innovation in education and research.

The Fox School’s research institutes and centers as well as 200+ full-time faculty provide access to market-leading technologies and foster a collaborative and creative learning environment that offers more than curriculum—it offers an experience. Coupled with its leading student services, the Fox School ensures that its graduates are fully prepared to enter the job market.

 The flexibility and responsiveness of our knowledge-creating research faculty allow the school to address the needs of industry and generate courses and programs in emerging fields. As a leader in business research, the Fox School values interdisciplinary approaches and translational research that influence and impact real-world problems. Our research informs an adaptive curriculum, supports innovation in teaching and prepares students for the ever-changing business environment. 

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Almost everyone who works has a boss. It’s no secret that the quality of this relationship can have a big impact on the lives of supervisors and employees alike. The best bosses provide mentorship, training and support for their direct reports, facilitating professional growth and success for their team. But is it possible for employees, through their actions on the job, to impact their bosses as well? 

Soonjung Han
Soonjung Han

Soojung Han, a PhD candidate in the Fox Department of Human Resource Management, thought so. During her five years as the first woman engineer at a South Korean petrochemical company, she had an outstanding relationship with her boss, who gave her an unusual amount of autonomy, respect and trust. 

“I knew it was out of the ordinary from talking with my friends about their jobs, and I also knew it was important,” says Han. Every time her supervisor acknowledged her work or granted her additional responsibilities, she wanted to do an even better job. The experience had such a profound impact on her that when Han decided to pursue her PhD, she chose to focus her research on just this style of empowering leadership. Her personal connection to the subject is perhaps one reason her scholarship had been so exceptional.

Han and her colleagues’ recent paper, “Examining why employee proactive personality influences empowering leadership: The roles of cognition- and affect-based trust,” explores this territory. The research was published in May in the prestigious Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. A publication of that caliber is a rare achievement for someone who is still a student. This fall, Han assumed a faculty position at Cal State Los Angeles. 

Employee proactivity is often the catalyst for supervisors to grant workers greater autonomy and more responsibility, which increases employee engagement, productivity and job performance. Given the importance of these self-starters in the workplace, the proactive personality type is of great interest to researchers. However, to date, most of the research has focused on employee-centered outcomes, such as the relationship between proactive personality and career success. But the complex ways that an employee’s proactive style may affect his or her supervisor has been largely overlooked by scholars. That’s why Han decided to turn her attention to how these proactive employees affect their bosses. 

“The proactive personality type is defined as someone who makes changes in their environment, so we suspected that these employees might change their supervisors as well,” she says. She gathered more than 100 pairs of supervisors and employees and surveyed them to assess the qualities in question: proactive personality, empowering leadership and supervisor trust. Via questionnaires, employees rated their own proactive personality traits and their boss’s leadership style, while leaders scored their direct report’s level of trust in an employee. 

Han’s research examines two types of trust typical of work relationships: Cognition-based trust, which is based on logic and facts regarding an employee’s work responsibilities, and affect-based trust, which boils downs to whether or not a supervisor personally likes his or her direct report. 

To test their hypotheses, Han and her coauthors used statistical models, including hierarchical multiple regressions, to analyze the data. The team found that supervisors were more trusting of employees with proactive personalities and thus were more likely to empower them.

“It’s risky for leaders to let employees make decisions,” says Han. “What if they lack skills or, worse, what if they take advantage of less supervision and more autonomy?” 

Her work shows that, in spite of the risks, the payoff can be significant for an organization. Empowering leadership pays tangible dividends. “Previous research has supported that empowering leadership is associated with a host of positive outcomes, including increased psychological empowerment, task performance and citizenship behaviors for both individuals and teams,” says Han. She recommends that companies work on building both cognitive-based trust, through formal skill-building training, and affect-based trust, by taking the time to plan and invest in social events and team building. 

This specific research paper gives the edge to affect-based trust—likability. But Han cautions that the two types of trust are more interrelated than they may first appear. “Though it seems like affect-based trust shows a stronger effect, its impact on empowering leadership is less likely to occur when cognition-based trust is low,” says Han. “Therefore, both cognition- and affect- trust are important to induce leaders’ empowering behaviors. 

Her research also speaks to the importance of improved screening of prospective employees. It pays to be able to identify new hires who will consistently demonstrate proactive behaviors at work, not just say they will during a job interview. Han believes tools like personality tests and questionnaires that assess proactive traits specifically would be helpful as companies seek to fill their ranks with these go-getters. 

“As we can see, their proactive style benefits not only the employees themselves, but their supervisors, too,” says Han.

This article was originally published in On The Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.

DBA student Kate Nelson

Pursuing extended education can be extremely challenging for the average person, let alone those in demanding careers. However, Kate Nelson, an active duty Military Intelligence Officer, is proving this to be more than possible.

Captain Nelson is in her 15th year of military service and has accomplished two master’s degrees: one in military studies and the other in sports management. Now, she is pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) here at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

The Fox editorial team caught up with Captain Nelson to hear about her experience of earning her doctorate in business while actively serving in the U.S. Army. 

What made you want to pursue a DBA? 

I knew I wanted to get my doctorate. But I thought [I’d do it] when I got out, maybe take a year or two off,” Nelson says. It wasn’t until her boss, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Faint, also a current Fox student, informed her about the DBA program.

She recalls thinking, “‘You can’t do this while active. That’s ridiculous.’ But he sat me down, told me the pros and cons, wrote me a letter of recommendation, and here I am.” 

The Executive DBA program aims to help executive-level managers and experienced service members like Nelson learn how to solve business problems through advanced critical reasoning. As a first-year student, Nelson plans to research how people consume both women’s and men’s sports differently. She also credits her pursuit of advanced education to her training in the military.

“The U.S. military is the most educated and trained military in the world,” Nelson says. “They always tell us to better ourselves and look for the next step in our career. I was always taught that every day you should learn something.”

How does military experience translate to business?

“My experience isn’t in business, but it is translating because I’m managing hundreds of soldiers,” Nelson explains. “Some businesses look at the military and how it runs, and they use us as an example. So, I can actually speak to that in class.”

According to Cailin DiGiacomo, admissions coordinator for the DBA program, “The current cohort has 22 students, all coming from drastically different industries. Several come from a military background.”

DiGiacomo guides prospective students through the application process, helping them understand how the Executive DBA program can teach them to expand their decision-making abilities through applied theory and research.

How do busy professionals find time to pursue a DBA?

“Our program is very flexible. During each semester, we have three weekend residencies. We send the dates out to our students in the summer so they can plan around it. Then, there’s a weekly online component as well,” says DiGiacomo.

Nelson agrees. “The curriculum is basically a long weekend six times a year. We get thirty days of leave every year that we can use, so it really isn’t too bad.”

This degree seems suitable for people like Captain Nelson, who have very demanding work schedules but are passionate about furthering their careers in business. With the DBA program, she finds time to both manage her soldiers and manage her education.

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Photo of computer servers Big data is a buzzword everywhere in the business world, but there are a few specific sectors where this revolution is making an especially big impact: information systems, operations management and healthcare. 

That’s why Subodha Kumar, the Paul R. Anderson Distinguished Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School, turned his attention to these areas. While big data experts across the board have breakthroughs in their individual fields, Kumar’s research focuses on the importance of sharing these advancements, as well as the data and systems that made them possible. Cross-pollination of ideas will be the key to future progress, according to Kumar.

The insights Kumar gleaned from his analysis of the existing academic research in these specific sectors informed his predictions and recommendations for how businesses might harness big data s in the future. “The whole idea is that there have been a lot of discussions and a lot of research about how big data is impacting the industry, but less attention has been paid to how all the different work in big data fits together, how it is connected,” says Kumar. 

For this research, Kumar picked three areas where some of the most interesting and innovative developments in big data are happening. These are areas where massive amounts of data aren’t simply being collected, but that data is also being analyzed and put to use. Take healthcare as an example: As entities across the healthcare space, such as hospital systems, begin to combine their data sets, you can create more intelligence and make better inferences.

“But whenever you have data from many sources, you need smarter systems to read all this data and make sense of it. How can we create algorithms to help doctors make better diagnoses? That requires new and different thinking,” says Kumar. 

As researchers learn how doctors use an enormous database of cancer patients worldwide to settle on effective treatment more quickly, experts in the information systems space are racing to find effective ways to work with the massive flood of data like text, photos and video generated by social media use. Meanwhile, operations management experts perfect the algorithms needed to detect fake online product reviews.

“In different industries, people are very siloed. Healthcare people are only worried about healthcare,” says Kumar. Competition has made firms secretive, reluctant to share and combine their data and methods, but this fear often does more harm than good, according to Kumar. “We really need to learn from each other. What would happen if Amazon were more open to learning from how hospital systems use big data and vice versa?”

To that end, his research synthesizes what is already known from research in these three key areas to create a framework for thinking about big data going forward and how these disparate learnings and datasets can be put together for the greater good. “Our research shows that even direct competitors can benefit from sharing data,” says Kumar. 

He points out that as data collection devices (including smartphones, smart speakers like Alexa and wearable devices like Fitbit) proliferate and more data-producing machines infiltrate everyday life, business opportunities and challenges will grow. It’s only a matter of time before people live with smart refrigerators that track your calories and driverless cars that know your daily routine and pinpoint your real-time location. 

Unless everyone interested in big data learns to share and solve problems together, missed opportunities will continue, costing firms time and money. “Right now a lot of the data being generated from social media and other sources is not being collected or analyzed in a way that makes it meaningful or useful,” says Kumar. His research could change that. 

Kumar outlines a proposed framework for mapping big data applications and insights across industries in his recent research paper, “Emergence of Big Data Research in Operations Management, Information Systems, and Healthcare: Past Contributions and Future Roadmap,” published in the journal Production and Operations Management. “The framework essentially provides a breakdown of different topics that have been investigated and what could emerge because of new advancements,” explains Kumar. 

Looking to the future, Kumar sees some specific sub-areas of the domains he studied where big data will make an even more significant impact and improvements in business. His proposed future roadmap points to cloud computing, the internet of things and smart cities, predictive manufacturing and 3D printing, and smart healthcare as the likely places big data will flourish most dramatically in the years to come. The possible developments have the potential to change the quality of life for people around the world. 

As boundaries between these once discrete domains continue to fade, big data emerges as a powerful common denominator. Up until now, the focus has been on how to get more and more data. But, according to Kumar, the focus must shift into how this data can be combined and analyzed to make sense of it. Without context, the data is little more than ones and zeroes.

“This research is about how can we generate value for the whole society from this data by collecting, analyzing and sharing data,” says Kumar.

Micro-Influencer illustration
Illustration by Scotty Reifsnyder

“Nano-marketing” is more than just a buzzword—it’s a way for companies to capitalize on the current trend of personalized and authentic marketing. 

As the millennial generation has grown—both in size and purchasing power—to be the largest demographic segment in the country, companies are trying hard to gain their attention. “As a whole, this group of 80 million prefers photos and mini-videos that are visually appealing and can be processed quickly,” says Jay I. Sinha, associate professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School. “That is part of the reason why we’ve seen a tremendous surge in the popularity of visual platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and YouTube, among others.” 

Together with Thomas Fung, assistant professor of instruction, Sinha advises the “Right Way to Market to Millennials.” 

Who are Micro-Influencers?

It may seem like everyone is “Insta-famous” these days. Micro-influencers are social media personalities who have cultivated their defined brand and fan base, typically between 1,000 and 100,000 people, with very specific areas of focus. 

For example, Melissa Alam, BBA ’10, a brand strategist, shares her recommendations for food and drink locations around Philadelphia. She has cultivated relationships with companies like Starr Restaurants and Drink Nation to arrange giveaways of gift cards and event tickets for her 11,000 followers on Instagram. “I’ve been hired as an influencer and worked with many large brands,” says Alam. “I share all sides of my life so that people can relate to me both online and offline if they meet me in person.” 

“Micro-influencers bring credibility and authenticity,” says Fung, “typically due to their extroverted nature, relatability, and genuine passion in some niche field.” In Alam’s case, her followers may see her as a real person with insider knowledge and honest advice. “The internet is full of people showing off lavish lifestyles or reaching unattainable goals for the average person,” says Alam. “It’s so important to stay genuine, authentic and true to yourself and your personal brand if you’re trying to attract an honest following.” The grassroots feeling of this kind of marketing allows companies to address the unique needs of individuals through their relationships with micro-influencers.

Advice to Companies 

So what do companies need to know to take advantage of this new kind of marketing? 

1. Micro-influencers have their own brands and followers with very specific interests. 

“They provide opportunities for companies, big and small, to reach out to narrow and often difficult-to-access sub-populations,” says Sinha. For example, he shares that GE used micro-influencers to help find and recruit female technology specialists for the company. 

2. Micro-influencers are accomplished and personable storytellers. 

Millennials relate well to storytelling. “The best micro-influencers bring in their own personal narratives that mesh well with the brands they endorse,” says Fung. Micro-influencers have been able to build up their own personal brand by leveraging this skill, so companies should encourage sponsored influencers to incorporate their products or services into their own authentic narrative. 

3. Micro-influencers are not direct marketers. 

Traditional marketers may feel that the sponsored content is not coming across in an obvious way. But with micro-influencers, their endorsements should never feel forced. “Micro-influencers have finessed the subtle ‘nudge’ into an art form,” says Sinha. He notes that many influencers will refuse to accept relationships with brands or companies that are contrary to their own beliefs or interests, which would damage their credibility with their followers. 

Beware of Inauthenticity 

The biggest pitfall companies should avoid is appearing inauthentic. Millennials are discerning and skeptical consumers who will turn away quickly from a brand or company that they feel are trying too hard or selling out. “Young, creative micro-influencers know their audience well,” says Sinha. “Let them guide the positioning of the product.” 

By diligently finding the right micro-influencer to sponsor, companies of all sizes can cultivate marketing relationships that are interactive, personalized and authentic with the millennial generation.

This article is a sneak peek of the next issue of On The Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.

Wine in vinyard

Wine is a product that exudes elegance, class and strict regulations. For many wine producers, centuries-old regulations continue to guide their production and marketing. The rise in New World wine industries like the U.S., Chile, Australia and others—which are subject to far fewer rules— is threatening the success of Old World wine industries in Europe.

Kevin Fandl, associate professor of Legal Studies in Business at the Fox School of Business, delved into this topic to uncover how regulation affects the wine market. His research was supported by Temple University’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).

The idea was to look at both sides of the regulatory coin. That is, what impact do regulations have, positive or negative, on innovation in the wine sector,” says Fandl. “On the other end, how do regulations affect what consumers have access to when they select their wines and how do those preferences drive demand?”

To answer these questions, Fandl reviewed decades of winemaking legislation.

Kevin Fandl
Kevin Fandl

So how do Old World wines and New World wines differ? According to Fandl, “The difference is the history. The New World hasn’t been making wine [for centuries]. So, it hasn’t needed to regulate it except in the last fifty years. The Old World is fighting against centuries of legislation meant to protect the quality of their wines—regulations that are now constraining their ability to effectively market their products.”

This history that European wine companies are battling comes in the form of hundreds of years of inhibiting policies. From specific labeling guidelines to mandatory classifications of grapes, the European Union (EU) enforces strict protocols for its wine manufacturers.

“The regulations are meant to maintain high prices and high quality,” Fandl says. “That protectionist view is limiting European producers to older generations of wine drinkers. It’s ignoring their ability to innovate and sell to millennials.”

As Fandl wrote in his paper, “Regulatory Policy and Innovation in the Current Wine Market,” published in the American University International Law Review journal, millennials are the largest generation to consume wine since the baby boomers. “They are consuming, on average, 3.1 glasses of wine per sitting.” 

To better understand what these average consumers of wine are looking for, Fandl conducted an online survey of 500 American wine-drinkers.

Millennials seem more interested in the story behind the wine. They also like innovation; for example, screw caps, interesting labels and descriptions, or new marketing techniques.”

New World wine industries like the U.S. and Chile are implementing these techniques, while Old World wine companies are locked into traditional production and marketing techniques, either due to

strict regulations or an unwillingness to adapt. From his research, Fandl determined that “innovation is something that consumers demand” and the regulations in the European wine sector are preventing that innovation.

So, what impact do these findings have on the wine market?

“I hope it speaks to governments to help them appreciate the flexibility that a loose regulatory structure gives to their wine sectors and how important those wine sectors are to their economic development,” Fandl explains.“I also hope it speaks to vineyards to show that you really need to innovate if you want to stay alive in the current wine market.” 

This isn’t the end of Fandl’s research, either. He will be continuing this analysis by bringing in other countries and identifying the specific policies they should focus on changing. 

If there’s any hope for this regulation reform, Fandl says Old World wine companies need to “push for change. They need to advocate for regulatory change through their government, to allow them more flexibility.”

From Fandl’s findings, it’s evident that the Old World wine industry needs some flexibility if they want to stay competitive. If consumer demand is changing, it’s crucial for the product to change with it.

“Let consumers make the decision on what they believe is quality,” says Fandl.

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PhD students writing on a board

Choosing to pursue a PhD in business might be the best decision you make in your life, but there are a few things that might discourage you or impact your chances of being accepted at your program of choice.

This is part of the reason why the Fox School of Business recently hosted DocNet, an event where students who are interested in doctoral education in business can meet recruiters from top universities, ask questions and familiarize themselves with the application process. Undergraduate students from all over the Philadelphia region had access to some of the best researchers in their fields. 

Here are four suggestions for prospective PhD students offered by faculty and recently admitted students:

1. Pursue a PhD for the right reasons. Dr. Patrick McKay, Stanley and Fanny Wang Professor of Human Resource Management at the Fox School, emphasized how PhDs are not career enhancers or status symbols. 

PhD degrees are meant for individuals who combine the drive to conduct high-quality, cutting edge research with the desire to teach the next generation of scholars. “Pursuing a PhD for non-academic, professional motivations, like a promotion at work, is not a good idea as that objective is poorly aligned with the goals of traditional doctoral programs,” he told the crowd. 

“Potential applicants with such professional ambitions might pursue a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) instead.” 

2. Apply to programs with scholars who conduct research in your area(s) of interest. Research programs can be diverse, so finding the appropriate faculty-mentor should be among every applicant’s highest priorities. Universities often feature a wide range of professors covering all manner of topics, but be mindful that no one institution is at the cutting edge of every niche in every discipline.

Dr. Solon Moreira, assistant professor of strategic management, suggests that students choose a program “with a good number of active researchers that are committed to working closely with PhD students, transferring skills and guiding them through the early steps of their journey into academia.” In other words, prospective students should seek out scholars who are not only motivated researchers but also active mentors, a role that faculty at the Fox School take very seriously.

3. Reach out to faculty members and current students at the schools you are interested in attending. It can be intimidating to “cold email” faculty at top-tier universities with questions or to express your interest. However, Hailey Park, a current PhD student in the Fox School’s department of human resource management, advised that doing so could give you insider information. “If they’re not planning on accepting new students,” Park said, “you don’t need to bother paying $80 or more to apply.” 

4. Tailor your applications to each school. Schools share a common commitment to educating the populations they serve, but the ways in which they differ are just as important. Take the time to tailor every part of your application—your cover letter, writing samples, and even your recommendation letters—to each school, which has its own specializations and focus areas.

For example, Park suggests asking for at least four recommendation letters lined up so that you can tap different recommenders with different interests and backgrounds for different programs.

Although applying to PhD programs can feel overwhelming, one should always remember that the application process is manageable. “The admissions team is here to help you every step of the way,” said Dr. Sunil Wattal, managing director of the PhD programs at the Fox School. “Our mission is to transform high-performing students into trailblazing scholars.” 

Get started on your journey at fox.temple.edu/phd.