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
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.
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.
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.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) was excited to welcome innovating alumnus, David Paul, back to campus last week to be the latest speaker to be featured in the Innovation Leader Speaker Series. Paul, founder and executive chairman at Globus Medical, stopped by for an intimate conversation about his journey from engineer to entrepreneur to CEO of the now publicly traded Globus Medical Inc.
At Globus, Paul perfected the art of teasing out true problems that doctors were experiencing, which allowed him to design new and superior solutions. When companies fail to identify innovations, Paul said, it’s almost always a failure of leadership.
Paul himself almost failed to invest in robotics despite the recommendations of his team but was enlightened by an experience with his teenage son. Paul spoke about how finding a higher purpose, serving the patients and the healthcare providers who treat them, enabled him to persevere even when facing barriers, such as being sued by his former employer. He described how the key to his success was developing a better, more efficient process for engineering new medical products. This enlightened discovery has allowed Globus to acquire robotics companies and start bringing Paul’s vision for robotics and the future of surgery to fruition.
When the time came to go public in 2012, Paul insisted on maintaining a controlling share of the company. When his investment banker objected, he made them study the long-term profitability of public companies with founder control. Turns out, they discovered that those companies, who founder controlled companies, did significantly better over time.
In 2017, Paul stepped down as CEO but maintains an active role in the company as executive chairman of the board. Paul holds a M.S. in Computer Integrated Mechanical Engineering Systems from Temple University. Paul was interviewed by Dr. Charles Dhanaraj, the H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest Professor of Strategy, and Founding Executive Director of Fox’s Center for Translational Research in Business.
Takeaways from our attendees:
“IEI’s Dealing with Disruption event with Globus Medical’s Executive Chairman David Paul was excellent. How often do you get the opportunity to meet with somebody who built a billion dollar company from scratch and ask them questions about their entrepreneurial journey? I even had the chance to chat with Mr. Paul during the networking part of the event, which was really terrific.”
“It was interesting to learn about his view on the healthcare industry in the U.S. He pointed out that the operations and marketing teams are important when you launch a venture, as important as the technology and management teams.”
In recent years, mindfulness has become a highly desirable quality both professionally and personally. Mindfulness gurus have emerged in popular culture, and companies have developed programs such as Google’s “Search Inside Yourself” to promote mindfulness in the workplace.
Ravi S. Kudesia, assistant professor of human resource management at the Fox School, is interested in how mindfulness is used in the workplace to develop personal agency and employee problem-solving. There’s only one problem: Mindfulness, as a term, is not easy to define. And the way we intuitively think about mindfulness as highly individualized may need to be rethought as well.
In his paper “Mindfulness as Metacognitive Practice,” Kudesia targets the ambiguity in the term mindfulness to isolate its usefulness and applicability. “We lack answers to even the most basic questions,” says Kudesia. “What is mindfulness? How does mindfulness training operate? And why might it matter for organizations?”
Moreover, without understanding what mindfulness is, how can employers hope to harness its potential in the workplace? In fact, the kind of mindfulness that companies promote may be less useful than they hope. While many have suggested that mindfulness is a kind of individual skill – and that if enough employees have this individual skill, their organizations will change for the better—Kudesia suggests that this view is naïve. Instead, he suggests that mindfulness can be best understood as what he calls a “metacognitive practice.”
“When seen as metacognitive practice,” Kudesia writes, “mindfulness entails the coming together of expertise embedded in perception and concepts, enabling beliefs about information processing, and the crucial human ability to step back and monitor one’s mental activity—all of which jointly shape how people engage with situations.”
By linking mindfulness to concepts and expertise in specific situations, Kudesia invites us to think about mindfulness at the system level. He gives the example of product engineers who, siloed off from data on customer feedback, must nonetheless figure out why a product is unexpectedly breaking in massive quantities, leading it to be returned under warranty. The default assumption is that it is an issue with the product’s structural integrity. An engineer, in this case, might practice mindfulness to gain a more nuanced view of the issues with the product, but they also remain limited by system-wide information flows—engineers simply do not have access to customer feedback.
“[W]hat if an engineer gains access to customer information and enacts metacognitive practice to doubt the structural integrity diagnosis? The engineer may introduce a new concept of ‘product aesthetics’—the product breaks not because it is weakly designed but because customers find it uninspired and, thus, take poor care of it … This new concept would cue a different routine related to product redesign: making the product beautiful rather than making it stronger.”
Yet, along with this new diagnosis and new concept may arrive new problems. If one engineer believes in the new diagnosis while another engineer insists that the issue lies with the product’s structural integrity, the original source of enlightenment may become a source of consternation.
“One person may seize upon doubt, seeking to transform situations, while others seek to reproduce established responses,” writes Kudesia. He describes this communication breakdown as fragmentation, the notion that mindfulness in an individual cannot always resolve system-level problems; in fact, sometimes it can exacerbate them. While mindfulness allowed them to diagnose a problem, their social reality determines whether they can enact a solution.
This should not dissuade companies from encouraging mindful practices, but it should encourage them to think more broadly about what mindfulness truly is. Instead of merely trying to instill mindfulness as a psychological property in individuals, Kudesia suggests that we should foster environments in which people can better practice mindfulness together. When engineers face an impasse like the one described above, how do they incorporate this new information into the fold? Do they create new processes? Do they confer with new individuals who can provide insight into the problem? If both engineers are engaged and open, they can transform the risk of fragmentation into opportunities for growth, incorporating new concepts into their routines and crafting new solutions out of them.
“You don’t instill mindfulness in individuals and call it a day,” Kudesia explains. “We engage best in mindfulness when we are in spaces that are conducive to mindfulness.”
2019 has been an extraordinary year for Sudipta Basu.
In July, Basu was appointed the Fox School’s new associate dean of research and doctoral programs. He was also honored to be named the American Accounting Association’s inaugural Yuji Ijiri Lecturer on Foundations of Accounting. The prestigious lectureship, sponsored by five global accounting associations, recognizes thought leadership from around the world. Basu presented his Ijiri Lecture, “How Robust are the Foundations of the Conceptual Frameworks?” at the annual American Accounting Association meeting in August.
Throughout his career, Dean Basu has established himself as a thought leader and now he will help chart the direction of academic research at the Fox School moving forward. To understand his vision, he discussed the past, present and future of research at Fox.
Can you share a bit about your background? Why were you originally interested in accounting?
I grew up in big cities all over India (Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Delhi in that order), earning a BA (Honours) in Economics at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University and an MBA in economics, finance and accounting at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. My family members have many PhDs including a grandfather (mathematics), uncles (statistics, history and English) and first cousin (astrophysics), so an academic life was always considered a respectable—and even praiseworthy—choice.
I first studied accounting in grades 9 and 10 and found it quite hard to follow initially. But once I realized how double-entry bookkeeping worked, and that simple algebra revealed the intangible value created by transactions, I was hooked.
What are some of your major goals as dean of research and doctoral programs?
Fox produces lots of high-quality research and one of my main goals is to make our research more visible locally and internationally.
I would also like to collaborate with the Digital Scholarship Center at the Temple library to introduce our students and faculty to new cutting-edge digital tools that could help them stand out in the research world. Most importantly, I want to change our research culture so that we can talk about how our new ideas improve people’s lives and not merely about where they were published. I want to focus on explaining the who, what, when, where, why and how of a particular research project’s impact.
What role has research played in shaping your career?
For me, research is a vocation rather than a career, meaning that I enjoy and value its creativity and life-long learning aspects so much that I largely ignore the future monetary and status rewards. As my wife puts it, I often go to sleep thinking about research and wake up in the morning still thinking about research. I pursue big questions that excite me, such as why accounting exists or what our world would be like if double-entry bookkeeping had not emerged, even if this research cannot be published in our top journals. I am constantly scanning blogs, conferences and journals for questions and tools that I can use in my research, so I am a big consumer of research, not just a producer.
How would you like to see Fox School research evolve in the future?
As its former research director, I strongly support the Translational Research Center’s efforts to make Fox School research more relevant to all our stakeholders—other academics, practitioners, students, policymakers and our local communities. I would like more of our faculty, students, alumni and staff to engage in research and to describe their findings in top academic journals AND in less traditional venues such as op-eds, letters to the editor, blogs, TED talks, undergraduate and practitioner journals, etc. Ultimately, I want Fox School faculty, staff, alumni and students to be more widely regarded as thought leaders in business research.
What role does research play in business schools?
Most business schools promote faculty and student research to increase our shared knowledge. Business schools’ missions usually shape the type of research they support. At research-intensive schools like Fox, rigorous empirical and theoretical research takes pride of place. At teaching-oriented schools, pedagogical and practice-oriented research is valued more than theoretical research.
Where is the largest intersection of research and industry in the future of work?
Researchers dream up the technologies, products, business models and organizational forms of the future. Every technological advance frees people from doing some kinds of routine work, which are delegated to animals, machines, and now computers. The freed-up workers can better use their minds to make higher quality and unique products and services that were too earlier too costly to market.
How can companies work with Fox School researchers?
Companies can learn from the new ideas developed by Fox School researchers and conversely inform them about changing realities in the marketplace. Ideally, we would develop a virtuous cycle wherein firms identify emerging problems, researchers propose alternative solutions, firms try these out in practice and observe how well they work and provide feedback, which in turn lets researchers refine their prescriptions.
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.
4 recent faculty research articles that will change how you do business
Innovative research has transformed the way we live over the last century. From the airplane and the automobile to the radio and the Internet, progress has come from forward-thinking leaders who discover new solutions and insights into how we do business.
At the Fox School, expert faculty members are taking up that mantle of progress. As they look for unsolved problems or unanswered questions, these researchers explore topics that impact our everyday lives.
1. Don’t play games with names. Mimi Morrin, a professor in the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, found that consumers who were misidentified had a negative emotional reaction to the company. If a marketing email addresses “Shirin” as “Elizabeth,” or a barista calls out “Brian” instead of “Byron,” Morrin found consumers feel disrespected. Some even had a physical reaction to this transgression, like pushing a coffee cup further away on the table. In order to prevent customers from running away, companies don’t just have to personalize, they have to personalize correctly. Morrin suggests employing methods like frequent shopper cards in order to successfully embrace the use of customer names.
2. Getting angry at work can (sometimes) be okay. Most people avoid yelling at work. But anger can be productive, says Deanna Geddes, associate dean, graduate programs, at the Fox School. Her recent research studied workplace anger by looking at the status (either a supervisor or subordinate) and role (either expressing or receiving angry feelings) of the parties involved. If the employees already had a strong relationship, Geddes found that emotional disagreements promoted dialogue, improved working relationships, and created a beneficial movement towards organizational change. Yet when subordinates were on the receiving end of anger, the results were more often negative. So next time you feel your blood boiling in a meeting, recognize your role and status in the situation before deciding to unleash.
3. Remember what’s in your wallet. How much cash is in your wallet right now? Did you guess correctly? Joydeep Srivastava, the Robert L. Johnson Professor of Marketing, found that people are more likely to remember what’s in their wallets when they were holding larger bills. In addition, not only were they less likely to spend their money, participants with higher denominations were more likely to underestimate the amount of money they had. If you would like to be pleasantly surprised next time you open your purse, try taking out a $50 when you go to the ATM.
4. Crowded by ads—it can cost you. Crowds are the worst. Whether it is a congested subway car or packed venue, people can often respond by turning inwards and towards their phones. Xueming Luo, Charles E. Gilliland, Jr. Professor of Marketing discovered that being in a crowded area actually increases our susceptibility to mobile ads. In his study of nearly 15,000 mobile phone users, commuters in crowded train cars were twice as likely to make a purchase in response to a mobile ad, compared to those in less crowded trains. While we normally associate crowds with anxiety and risk-avoidance, Luo found that mobile ads can be a welcome relief in this environment. For companies, this means a new way to boost marketing effectiveness. For consumers, let’s be real—this won’t stop us from pulling out our phones.
For more updates on Fox Research, go to fox.temple.edu/idea-marketplace.
Last week, the IEI partnered with Vanguard’s Innovation Studio for the second installment in the Innovation Leaders Speaker Series, a program launched this past spring to highlight best-practices for innovation in corporate settings. The event featured Lisha Davis, Head of the Innovation Studio, who sat down with Professor Robert McNamee to discuss how the Studio operates alongside the larger Vanguard organization and best practices for accelerating innovation at the enterprise level.
The Studio itself is located on Chestnut Street in downtown Philadelphia, about 30 miles from Vanguard’s main headquarters in Malvern, PA. It features rows of open work stations, collaboration rooms, and a central space with colorful soft seating that Operations Manager, Colleen Evans, said is fondly called “the living room.” A nearly floor-to-ceiling blackboard highlights progress of the Studio’s donations towards Vanguard’s annual canned-goods drive, inspirational sayings, and a calendar listing national days of designation (National Smile Day, National Wine Day, National Bike to Work Day). It’s a fun, laid-back, high-energy space—not exactly what comes to mind when you think of an industry-leading investment-management firm. But the location of the Studio was intentional—it sits in the center of Philly’s entrepreneurial ecosystem of universities, startups, accelerators, and investors—and its funky design fosters the creativity needed to continually uncover new opportunities and solutions that move the company forward.
Despite geographic distance and a diversion from the traditional corporate environment, the Studio is every bit a part of Vanguard’s overarching mission. Innovation has long been a focus for Vanguard, which disrupted investment management as a startup many years ago. “I have been involved in department level innovation work for years,” said Davis, who was with Vanguard for several years before the Studio launched in 2017, “and innovation was always happening in pockets of the organization.”
Now the Studio offers a centralized place for this innovation to live, and their reasoning behind its launch—to explore the unknown, uncover opportunities to make strategic bets, launch new ventures, explore growth paths, and catalyze a movement at Vanguard—is brought to life by the 40-person, multidisciplinary team lead by Davis.
The Studio takes an exploratory approach to finding opportunities, during which Davis says that “finding the right problem to solve is half the battle.” But once they do, they’re “launching ventures,” Davis emphasizes—ones that can be scaled and rolled out across the enterprise to improve the organization, and, ultimately and most importantly to Vanguard, the client experience.
“Everything we do is for the client,” Davis shared.
Vanguard’s—and Davis’s—dedication to placing innovation at the forefront of the company’s strategic direction made for an ideal Innovation Leaders program partner.
“Showcasing innovation thought-leaders throughout the region is the goal of this series,” Professor McNamee shared. “We want to look at the intersection of innovation and entrepreneurship since that is where next generation innovation programs, structures, and processes are emerging. Vanguard’s Innovation Studio is just a phenomenal example of how large companies can incorporate approaches that originated with entrepreneurial ventures – approaches like lean startup and design thinking – and the impact this can have in an enterprise setting.”
The event was attended by Temple alumni (some now working at Vanguard), students, community professionals, and members of the Innovation Research Interchange—a worldwide network of cross-industry innovation leaders and a sponsoring partner of the Speaker Series.
“Some of the world’s most widely adopted models, such as ‘open innovation,’ ‘front end of innovation,’ and ‘stage-gate,’ were born from the work of Innovation Research Interchange (IRI) members,” said Gary Shiffres, Director of Membership Development & Partnerships for IRI. “IRI values strength in cooperation and partners with other organizations at the forefront of developments in innovation. These partnerships have created a hub for all to convene and contribute in an experimental, noncompetitive, and noncommercial environment. Working with Temple University and Vanguard’s Innovation Studio proved to be an excellent partnership and IRI members are looking forward to more from the Innovation Leaders Speaker Series.”
Davis’s insight and the success of the Vanguard Innovation Studio since its launch exemplify what the Series aims to showcase—that innovation is an imperative for today’s companies and entrepreneurs, and when leveraged in the right ways, can drive organizations—regardless of size or industry—to new levels of customer experience, competitive advantage, workplace culture, and overall success.
“From our earliest conversation I was incredibly impressed with Lisha and this accelerator program,” said Professor McNamee. “It struck me that a successful company like Vanguard could likely rely on incremental innovation for a number of years. However, the fact that they were putting this much focus on experimentation, learning, and disruptive innovation highlights why they are likely to remain leaders into the future.”
Stay tuned for details coming soon on the next installment of the Innovation Leaders series, featuring Todd Carmichael, Founder and CEO of La Colombe, happening Fall 2019.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, by 2050 the world’s population will have an estimated 9.1 billion people, and food production will need to expand by 70 percent in order to match the increased rate of consumption. The future of food security is in the hands of consumers and producers and what they can do to create sustainable food systems to account for the predicted growth.
On a smaller scale, agriculture in Pennsylvania and the Northeast region is facing some changes to its operations. Design thinking might not be top of mind for agriculture, but approaching solutions through these practices yields some fresh insights for a healthy food system.
Marilyn Anthony, director of business development for Fox Management Consulting, and the Vice President and Agricultural Lending Manager of Ephrata National Bank William Kitsch teamed up to lead an interactive workshop for the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group’s (NESAWG) annual “It Takes a Region Conference” held in Philadelphia October 26 and October 27th, 2018.
Anthony’s and Kitsch’s workshop, “Here’s the Data: Let’s Design the Solutions,” used principles of design thinking to encourage participants to create consumer and user-oriented solutions to obstacles facing farmers and producers. “What surprised me was that everyone found a topic that they are passionate about and wanted to work on,” Anthony said. “We asked our workshop audience to think from the perspective of a user, someone who could benefit from or who could participate in Pennsylvania’s strategic recommendations and to think about how they could connect.”
Anthony and Kitsch presented the results of a research study, led by Temple University’s Fox Management Consulting group, a cohort of OMBA students, and the Philadelphia-based economic consulting firm E-consult Solutions, exploring 10 sectors of agriculture in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) and Team Pennsylvania funded the research project, forming the basis for PDA’s strategic recommendations. The resulting six strategic initiatives focused on improving the branding and marketing, infrastructure of processing and manufacturing, business climate, workforce development and educational opportunities, and diversity of products within food systems in order to create more opportunities for Pennsylvania growers and producers.
Kelly Kundratic, the Manager of Agriculture Policy and Programs for Team Pennsylvania, took an active role in the workshop. “Learning the design thinking process and really stepping back, thinking from a place of empathy, looking at these goals, that’s something that I use now as much as I can,” Kundratic explains. “It can be time consuming, but really reframes how I’ll approach helping government and industry move together to act upon these six strategic initiatives. Trying to be empathetic and use the design thinking model will help me be able to do my job more effectively.”
Emphasizing the core take-away from the workshop, Anthony explains, “what was very valuable and useful was getting people to think about who, other than themselves, might be in that space and to begin to generate some ideas for how they could make an impact.”
Workshop participants brought their experience and perspectives from Vermont, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Many participants actively work to create more accessible and equitable food system as educators, nonprofit advocates, and funders.
Founded in 1992, NESAWG is a network of more than 500 organizations across Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Washington D.C. It works with
organizations and individuals involved in every sector of sustainable agriculture from farming and ecology to architecture and social services to garner awareness and support for the creation of just, sustainable food systems.
Are you interested in learning about sustainability topics? Check out “BlockChain Technology for Sustainable Procurement” in the Fox Video Vault.
Steve Casper spent the spring of 2018 teaching his students about stocks, bonds, time value of money, cash flow and cost of capital. This does not sound unusual for a finance professor, except that particular semester he was on sabbatical in Cambodia.
Most of his students, who came from rural farms on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, had a limited academic background in finance. Many did not have a personal relationship with traditional financial institutions that Americans accept as commonplace, like banks and stock markets. Casper, associate professor of finance and managing director of the DBA program at the Fox School of Business, says, “It was the most challenging class I’ve ever taught, but it was so much fun.”
Since the summer of 2016, Casper had been volunteering his time teaching rural students in Cambodia. After first getting involved via Habitat for Humanity, Casper has built a relationship with these students, teaching finance and leadership during two-week seminars. Last spring, the director of the Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia, the leading English-speaking university in the country, asked Casper to teach a full semester.
“Most of these students have never had a calculator before,” says Casper, FOX PhD ’10. “I was told I had 30 students. I get over there and I brought 30 TI-BA II+ financial calculators. My wife was coming two weeks later and I said, ‘Liz, I have 54 students. I need you to bring another 24 calculators, I just ordered them on Amazon.’ Eventually, it got up to 94 students.”
This past October, four of these students came to Philadelphia for a week of leadership and business practice. The trip was organized by the Cambodian Rural Student Trust, an NGO founded in 2011 that aims to help bright Khmer, or Cambodian, students from poor, rural families go to high school and university in Cambodia.
Casper brought the students to meet with representatives from all over the financial world, from companies like SAP, B-Lab and Saul Ewing. He invited the students to speak to his finance classes at the Fox School. The Khmer students shared the story of their lives, which often included uneducated family members, the loss of one or both parents and financial hardships. But each had a strong, unrelenting belief in the power of education to transform lives.
One student named Sompeas, who is majoring in law and hopes one day to become a lawyer, shares her philosophy. “I believe men and women are equal. I believe education will provide women with the knowledge to believe this and give them the skills to follow their dreams, have amazing careers and be greater contributors to society.” She continues, “The special thing about this trip is that I can share my voice and bring back many ideas that will inspire other girls to be adventurous and ambitious, while also expanding how I see things in my small world.”
Casper is grateful to the Fox School for allowing him to expand his world as well through his sabbatical. Casper loves the opportunity to teach both his American and Khmer students. “I always wanted to do this,” he says. “To have great classes, you have to be thinking about it all the time—how can I make it better, how can I get this point across?”
His passion for education translates into his enthusiasm about the mission of the Cambodia Rural Students Trust. The completely student-run organization, Casper says, “can give a student a place to live, feed them, and pay for their college or high school,” all for $2,000 a year.
“In Cambodia, education is a privilege,” says Casper. “I am honored to be part of something that empowers students to lead themselves and lead society.”
Learn more about Fox School Research.
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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A roundup of media mentions featuring faculty and staff from the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management.
Inside Higher Ed quotes Fox prof
How can colleges and universities encourage even the most-resistant faculty members to digitize their in-classroom courses for online programs? Inside Higher Ed addresses this in a Q&A with national online-learning leaders, including Fox School’s Dr. Darin Kapanjie. Read more >>
Saxbys, STHM, and scholarships
Philadelphia Business Journal checks in with an update on the experiential-learning Saxbys café at STHM: The coffee and hospitality company announced a $60,000 contribution to the Saxbys Fellows Endowed Scholarship, to support future educational opportunities for STHM students. Read more >>
Gender equity in corporate settings
Did you know utility companies traditionally achieve a greater gender diversity in its corporate boards than boards in other industries? Explaining why is Fox School’s Dr. Steven Balsam, who studies—among other subjects—gender diversity on corporate boards. Read more >>
WalletHub | April 6, 2018
What’s the best credit card for travelers? STHM’s Michael Sheridan explains rewards and benefits options for hotels, airlines, and more. Read more >>
BusinessBecause | April 6, 2018
The online business publication profiles a Fox MBA alumnus who leveraged his experience and education to land a position at IBM. Read more >>
Media requests: Please send requests to Christopher A. Vito, associate director of communications & media relations, Temple University’s Fox School of Business, at email@example.com
Angelika Dimoka’s job is to get inside your head.
As the director of the Center for Neural Decision Making at the Fox School of Business, Dimoka finds how you make the choices you do—and she does not need to ask you.
Instead, she looks to the human body for answers.
A trained biomedical engineer and neuroscientist, Dimoka came to the Fox School in 2008 to study how people make decisions. From air traffic controllers to victims of traumatic brain injuries to average consumers, Dimoka and her colleagues investigate—and predict—our everyday choices.
Getting inside your head
In 2008, Dimoka established the Center for Neural Decision Making, the first neuroscience center located within a business school, and currently the largest such center in the country.
“[The Center’s goal] is to provide a more objective understanding of the driving forces of a subject’s decision making,” says Dimoka, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Marketing. In the past, researchers have had to rely on self-reported data, asking consumers why they choose this product or made that decision. This, however, left room for error, as perhaps the consumer could not—or would not—divulge the true reason for their decision.
Today, with state-of-the-art tools like eye tracking machines, heart rate monitors, and MRI scanners, the Center’s research eliminates the subjective bias of decision-making research. “We don’t have to ask the subject anymore,” says Dimoka. “We can observe their physiological state.”
Dimoka and her colleagues, Vinod Venkatraman and Crystal Reeck, assistant professors of marketing, use these tools to study the body’s responses in experiments like the ability to recall print ads versus digital ads.
“With eye trackers, we can observe where the subject is looking at any given point,” says Dimoka, allowing the researcher to understand exactly what information the subject is taking in at what time. Heart rate monitors, skin conductors, and breathing monitors analyze the person’s emotional state—whether you sweat more, breath heavier, or have a faster heartbeat when making a decision.
What the brain reveals
The Center also has a new functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, brought to campus this fall in partnership with the College of Liberal Art’s Department of Psychology and with support from the National Science Foundation. “The fMRI scanners show us the brain’s functionality,” Dimoka says. “We can put people in the scanner and observe how their brains function when they make decisions.”
The areas of the brain that activate during different activities can reveal how consumers take in information and make decisions. Consider what happens when a person looks at a physical advertisement versus a digital advertisement. In a series of experiments funded by the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Postal Service, Dimoka and her colleagues studied subjects’ brains as they reviewed ads in both print and online formats.
“The area of the brain associated with memory, the hippocampus, showed higher levels of activation for ads that subjects had seen before in a physical format,” says Dimoka, “as opposed to digital ads.” By using the brain scanning tools, the researchers found that print is still sticky, even in today’s digital age.
The third phase of the experiments are currently underway. Dimoka says this new round will further investigate generational differences and brand awareness.
Are there any differences between the purchasing decisions of Millennials and Baby Boomers when looking at online versus print ads? “We did find some preliminary results [from earlier experiments] that were quite interesting,” Dimoka says, “and the opposite of what you would expect.” The full results will be published later this summer.
The Center investigates all kinds of decision making—including consumer, financial, and privacy decisions—that can have real impact on average people and companies. The impact of their work extends from marketing to fields like management information systems and finance.
For example, Crystal Reeck, assistant professor of marketing, found that how you review your choices during the decision making process can impact your ability to be patient. She is currently working on a study that involves how people disclose private information.
Companies are also affected by the Center’s work. “By looking at the brain of how 30 subjects were responding,” says Dimoka, “we can predict how millions of consumers in the United States would decide.”
“That’s the magic, the power of these tools.”
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According to the research findings of a professor from the Fox School, business ownership doesn’t always equate to entrepreneurship.
Dr. Kevin J. Fandl, assistant professor in the Department of Legal Studies in Business, and his coauthor, Juana Paola Bustamante of the International Finance Corporation, analyzed a law passed in 2010 in Colombia to assess the impact of business streamlining laws on small, gray market firms. The law aimed to convince owners of gray market or legally non-compliant firms to become part of the formal marketplace, which entails steps such as acquiring licenses, registering with the local chamber of commerce, complying with labor laws, and paying taxes.
They found that a majority of business owners in Colombia had no interest in becoming entrepreneurs and scaling their firms. Instead, they preferred to operate within informal markets as a means of generating enough capital to support their cost of living, and not much more. In fact, in most cases, these firms utilized informality as a market advantage, securing economic advantages by avoiding the very things that make firms formal, like taxes and labor costs. Fandl’s research paper, “Incentivizing Gray Market Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets,” was published in Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business, the world’s top-ranked international trade law journal, according to Washington & Lee.
Colombia’s 2010 formalization law, Fandl explained, was an attempt by the country to streamline the process through which businesses registered with the government. The law offered these “shadow” businesses a transition period during which they would pay no taxes, registration fees, or contributions to the government for the social security and health of their employees. The costs eventually would be phased in, according to the law, allowing businesses to be more successful in the immediate term and contribute to employee benefits at a later date. But this approach was based on an economic theory that high costs are the principal barrier to business formalization, a theory that Fandl appears to debunk in some cases.
Fandl’s study explored the level of informality exhibited within Colombian firms and found practically no significant change before or after the law was enacted. While some larger firms used the law as an opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of formal operations at virtually no additional cost, most small firms targeted by the law chose to stay informal.
“The World Bank and a number of other institutions have studied this, and economists have generally concluded that firms operate informally as gray market firms, because it is too difficult or too expensive to formalize their operations,” says Fandl, who added that roughly 50 percent of firms in Latin America qualify as gray market firms. “It’s a huge problem, because, in essence, these firms are engaging in anti-competitive behavior that undercuts the formal market and allows them to lower their overhead costs, giving them an unfair advantage.”
Prior studies in this area relied heavily on anecdotal evidence, according to Fandl, and found that bureaucracy and escalating costs were cited as reasons for holding back owners of gray market firms, providing them with no incentives for registering their businesses. Fandl’s research, however, revealed the opposite.
“We found that while a few use the informal economy as a means to build businesses in a cost-effective manner, the majority of small firms operate informally only to accrue basic income. These inefficient firms are what we call ‘survivalist firms,'” he says. “They operate their firms to maintain a basic standard of living, and without the desire to become a successful entrepreneur.”
Since passing its 2010 law, Colombia and its Ministry of Commerce have developed pilot programs to educate the owners of these firms to become more entrepreneurial, teaching basic business skills such as accounting and management, helping them differentiate between strong and weak markets, offering mentorship, and providing collaborative opportunities with other survivalist firms. These efforts, Fandl says, are intended to find and spark the entrepreneurial spirit the Colombian government believes lies within some of these firm owners.
Fandl’s study concludes that there’s no single solution to Colombia’s efforts to legitimize its informal marketplace. The nation struggles to combat a high unemployment rate, which prompts its people to seek work and find a living any way possible, even if that means doing so by operating a gray market firm.
“’Forced entrepreneurship’ is the term we use in our paper, and until the unemployment crisis is addressed, this issue will not have a solution,” says Fandl, who adds that follow-up studies in this area are ongoing.
This story originally appeared in On the Verge, the Fox School’s research magazine.
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Concussions have forever altered the sports landscape, calling attention to an injury that is difficult to diagnose and spawning a major motion picture.
Samuel D. Hodge, LAW ’74, professor at the Fox School, has co-authored a book that approaches head trauma and brain injuries, including concussions, from the perspective of the insurance, legal, and medical fields. His book, Head Trauma and Brain Injury for Lawyers, is the latest in a series of medical-legal guides he has penned for the American Bar Association. He’s written others spanning anatomy, the spine, and forensic autopsies.
“We used to assume that boxers were just ‘punch drunk,’ or that a football player ‘got his bell rung,’ but now, obviously, we know better,” says Hodge.
While the book delves into head trauma and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), Hodge says he and co-author Jack E. Hubbard, professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota’s School of Medicine, took a broader approach. The book covers basic anatomy of the brain and its functions, explains the neurological system, and demonstrates how to understand and interpret diagnostic tests for this area of the body.
“What makes the book so interesting and its breadth so wide is that we have chapters on head injuries sustained in military combat, sports, third-party lawsuits, social security disability, and workers’ compensation,” Hodge explains. “Our approach, from both a medical and legal perspective, should make this the seminal book on this subject—not only for medical and legal professionals, but also for those in the insurance industry.”
TBIs contribute to roughly 30 percent of all injury deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In his research, Hodge found that TBIs were the most common injury incurred in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“On the surface, that is surprising,” he says. “But because our military personnel have full body armor, they’re protected from shrapnel in pretty much every other part of their bodies. But road landmines, explosions, and IEDs made concussions and other types of brain trauma the signature injury of the war.”
Concussion litigation has shaken the NFL, as former players file federal lawsuits against the league both for failure to acknowledge the lasting effects of brain-related injuries and to establish guidelines for the recognition and prevention of them. TBIs have been identified as a major cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a protein buildup that causes degeneration of the brain. The discovery of CTE, and the NFL’s initial refusal to address it, inspired Concussion, the award-winning film starring Will Smith.
Robert C. Cantu, clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University, who previously has urged the NFL to embrace medical findings pertaining to concussions and CTE, authored a chapter in Hodge’s book.
“Concussions aren’t simply a timely topic that will go away. People still lack a fundamental understanding of their effect on the brain,” Hodge says. “The contributions of Dr. Cantu and other leading experts to this book demonstrate the relevance of TBIs, concussions, and all head injuries today.”
This story originally appeared in On the Verge, the Fox School’s research magazine.
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Three Human Resource Management (HRM) professors from Temple University’s Fox School of Business recently co-authored a paper that was published in the December 2015 edition of the Journal of Employment Counseling. Dr. Tony Petrucci, Dr. Gary Blau, and Dr. John McClendon’s paper, titled, ‘’Effect of Age, Length of Unemployment, and Problem-Focused Coping on Positive Reemployment Expectations,” explores the impact of age, length of unemployment, and the coping behaviors on re-employment expectations during the great recession. Given the extreme nature of recession that began in 2008, every professional is inevitably vulnerable to the possibility of unemployment, the professors said. In President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, delivered Jan. 13, 2016, he noted current job creation and a decreasing unemployment rate in America. Despite this, Obama recommended programs train the unemployed on how to get back into the job force as a strong investment for America’s future.
While most studies have focused on lower-level workers and on short-term unemployment, Petrucci, Blau, and McClendon felt compelled to examine higher-level employees and managers, and long-term unemployment.The professors sampled unemployed professionals of all ages who maintained different position levels within organizations prior to their unemployment, including vice presidents, high-ranking executives, middle management, hourly workers, supervisors, and more. The sample contained 65 percent long-term unemployed professionals, including 23 percent being unemployed for more than two years.“Our study found that length of unemployment, networking comfort, and job-search confidence were significant in a regression and age was not,” said Petrucci, the lead author for the study. “Regardless of age, if you are comfortable networking and have confidence in your ability to conduct an effective job search, you may have higher expectations for re-employment.”Conversely, the professors discovered that the longer one is unemployed, the less confidence one may have about the process of finding a new job and the lower one’s expectations for re-employment may become.
“Becoming unemployed can be very difficult for many workers, especially if they have dependents or have high-paying jobs,” Blau said.Upper-level employees often find it challenging to find comparable positions in their respective fields. The professors were in agreement with President Obama, that programs should be put in place to teach employees how to build transferable skills set, beyond what an employing organization provides.“If (a company is) suddenly downsized, it will be easier for job-loss victims to successfully cope with their new job search,” Blau said. “Very few workers are immune from sudden job loss.”Though a long period of unemployment generally leads to a pessimistic attitude, Petrucci also noted that training workers to be more optimistic about re-employment tends to lead to higher rates of re-employment.
Given the low level of unemployment, the professors aren’t currently planning to pursue this line of research again soon. However, their findings greatly expanded the literature on unemployment given its extremely unique sample population.