In today’s fast-paced society, if there is one word that doesn’t escape us, it is “busy.” How does this ongoing obsession with the idea of being busy affect the choices we make?

As a behavioral scientist, Monica Wadhwa, associate professor in Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School, studies the impact of having a busy mindset on decision making. In a paper that was recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Wadhwa discovered that people who see themselves as busy are more likely to make decisions that are beneficial in the long run, such as making healthier choices.

Prior research has established that high-stress situations—especially when work has to be completed within set deadlines—impair consumers’ ability to exercise self-control. As a result, people tend to give in to impulses that have negative long-term health consequences.

But turns out that that is not the end of the story. While being overworked can be problematic, there are benefits to feeling busy.

Wadhwa highlights that there lies a difference between being busy under time pressure and having a busy mindset. “A busy mindset is merely a perception that one is busy,” says Wadhwa. “Two people could have the same amount of work to do, but the perceptions of busyness could differ.”

Wadhwa notes, “Feeling busy gives people a sense of pride.” This behavior stems from the fact that busy people are perceived to be more important and have a higher social status. “It makes us feel valued and makes us believe that every moment of our lives matters,” says Wadhwa. “When you feel you are important, you make decisions that are better for you from a long-term beneficial perspective.”

For example, if one had to choose between an apple and a chocolate brownie, someone who is under significant time pressure would give in to their momentary impulses and pick the brownie. However, a person with a busy mindset would more likely focus on the long-term implications of the choice. Wadhwa says, “They’re more likely to choose the apple, favoring health consequences over taste, which provides only immediate gratification.”

To capture the busy mindset behavior over a wide range of scenarios, Wadhwa and her fellow researchers, Jeehye Christine Kim and Amitava Chattopadhyay, conducted seven experiments, including a field study. In one of the experiments, the researchers analyzed the buying pattern of students at a college dining hall. “We created two types of visual signs to be posted on different days,” explains Wadhwa. One read “Good to go, for busy college students!” whereas the other read “Good to go, for summer college students!” Wadhwa notes that the days when ‘busyness’ was made salient through visual signs, students chose to consume less unhealthy food and fewer fat calories.

To analyze how busyness affects branding, the researchers compared the buying behavior of consumers for brands perceived to be indulgent, such as Carl’s Jr. For the study, consumers were shown an advertisement that featured a tagline that either made busyness salient (It’s good to go for busy college students) or not (It’s good to go for college students). Those participants who saw the ad with busy tagline were less likely to consume the indulgent food from Carl’s Jr. than those who saw the ad with a non-busy tagline. It turns out that for brands that are not perceived as indulgent, such as Subway, busy taglines did not negatively impact consumption behaviors.

The researchers also studied the impact of this mindset on other self-control situations, like saving for retirement among adults and making good grades among students. “We asked adults the percentage of income they are willing to save,” says Wadhwa. “Busy people were willing to save more.” Similar behavior was seen in students—busier students said they’d rather take extra credit even if it means more work.

The findings of this study, besides adding a new dimension to the otherwise popular perspective of being busy, also have important real-world implications, especially to marketers. A growing number of commercials are using the busy appeal to make the product more relevant and favorable to new-age consumers. But the study shows that this strategy could backfire for brands that are perceived as indulgent. “For instance, Dunkin Donuts’ advertisements using a busy appeal may actually reduce consumers’ desire for donuts,” adds Wadhwa.

To consumers and policymakers who are concerned with people’s self-discipline, especially in societal problems such as overeating and food waste, Wadhwa offers: “Perhaps activating a busy mindset may be an effective nudge to facilitate self-control behavior.”

It’s the moment every woman dreads: A routine breast self-examination during an otherwise relaxing shower ends in the panic-inducing discovery of a lump.

Often, what happens next is a long, harrowing journey through a combination of biopsies, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. While it’s true that, thanks to advancements in screening and treatment, more and more women survive breast cancer, it’s also true that 80 percent of breast cancer cases have already advanced to an invasive stage at the time of diagnosis.

Today, just 20 percent of breast cancers are identified at the earliest stage, when treatment is most effective and the five-year survivorship rate hovers near 100 percent.

Carlos Barrero, MD, and Oscar Perez-Leal, MD, assistant professors in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department at Temple University’s School of Pharmacy, wants to change all that. “I believe we can invert those numbers so we’re discovering 80 percent of breast cancers at the very earliest stage,” he says.  

The research Barrero and Perez-Leal are conducting may represent a major breakthrough in breast cancer screening. Their work could lead to a simple routine blood test that detects breast cancer sooner than ever before for more women. To do this, Barrero and Perez-Leal are working on identifying a set of biomarkers for breast cancer, a specific signature of early-stage breast cancer detectable in a blood sample.

Their work on this project received funding through the Office for the Vice President of Research’s Targeted Grant Program, and the team is currently in the process of securing additional funding from the National Institutes for Health, and the National Cancer Institute. Perez-Leal is also using the knowledge gleaned from his master’s degree from the Fox School’s Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship program to turn the idea into a feasible product.

Though mammograms are a recommended cancer screening for women age 40 and older, only 65 percent of women over 40 have had one in the past two years, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“Many women avoid mammograms because they can be uncomfortable, and because of the hassle of needing to make a separate appointment. If screening for early-stage breast cancer became a part of routine blood work, more women would be screened regularly,” says Barrero. That would likely result in more early diagnoses, more effective treatment, and ultimately more long-term cancer survivors.

Through systems biology, advances in mass spectrometry technology that allow the detection of very low concentration of proteins and metabolites, and the availability of large public datasets from thousands of breast cancer tumors, Barrero and Perez-Leal can move this cutting-edge work forward. “Most research of this kind starts with analyzing the blood sample. We start by analyzing the data,” says Perez-Leal. It’s a fresh approach to a longstanding problem.

The researchers start by looking for specific proteins secreted by breast cancer tumor cells across many thousands of samples drawn from breast cancer tumors. The team is searching for a signature set of proteins that can be detected in very low amounts. A vast data set and formidable computing power are essential for finding the precise biomarkers that could, in five to 10 years, lead to the blood test. Recently upgraded mass spectrometry equipment at Temple’s School of Pharmacy allows him to carry out this innovative research.   

The promise of this research extends even beyond the hopes of early detection into the possibility of new, more effective medicines to battle breast cancer. Going forward, biomarkers are likely to be an increasingly hot topic for those in the pharmaceutical industry, which represents a significant part of the U.S. economy. Biomarkers such as these are often used as a reference point in drug development; when the biomarkers diminish or disappear in blood tests, it’s evidence that the new drug is working.

Current treatments for breast cancer are effective, but they come with their own health risks and side effects, some of which lead to different health challenges years after patients have recovered from cancer. The identification of these biomarkers would also mean that, in addition to early intervention, a breast cancer patient could get a form of personalized medicine, which is another area of potential business growth for the pharmaceutical industry. For patients, that might mean fewer side effects and complications down the line.

“It’s rare to find a scientist with a business background,” says Perez-Leal. He praises the Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship program with helping him take an idea, establish a business plan, and pitch to investors. “The research community should continue to focus on finding solutions and products to real problems.”

Clearly, breast cancer is a real problem, as the most common cancer among women: one in eight will face a diagnosis in her lifetime. But if Barrero and Perez-Leal succeed, it will be a game-changing advance. Many more women will be diagnosed in cancer’s earliest stages, receive more personalized treatment, overcome the disease, and lead long and healthy lives.

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

There are two types of neighbors in a social network: the ones you know directly, and the ones your friends know. Research has shown that direct peers have a significant influence on social networks, from joining Facebook to subscribing to Netflix. Yet indirect neighbors—those with whom you have a mutual friend, but do not interact directly—can also affect behaviors.

“People want to know what others think of them,” says Paul A. Pavlou, senior associate dean of research and professor of management information systems at the Fox School, “especially those in similar positions. In order not to lose influence, an individual would eventually make the same judgment and same decision as his peers.”

Pavlou, alongside co-researchers Bin Zhang of the University of Arizona and Ramayya Krishnan of Carnegie Mellon University, studied how direct and indirect peers influence groups by using Caller Ring Back Tones (CRBT) adoption in Asian cellphone markets, in their paper published in Information Systems Research last year. In analyzing 200 million calls from 1.4 million users, the researchers overcame statistical and computational challenges of the immense dataset by using subpopulations of 200 or 500 people, each group its own network of friends.

The researchers found that, in the larger group, indirect peer influence has a significant positive effect. In the case of CRBTs, a caller’s knowledge of her acquaintances’ use of ringback tones encourage her to be “on-trend” and thus adopt the same behavior. Yet in a smaller group, a caller has a greater desire for individuality, resulting in a decision not to adopt.

This study sheds more light on the complicated, large-scale networks that exist today. By understanding how peer influence works with both direct and indirect neighbors, businesses can learn the best strategies for things like product diffusion, content creation, and software adoption within social networks. “If businesses want to trigger higher adoption rates, then for smaller groups, they only need to focus on individuals with many direct connections,” says Pavlou. “While in for larger groups, they should not only focus on popular individuals but also those who have many common friends.”

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

How much is a hashtag worth to you?

This simple symbol has become ubiquitous across many social media platforms. Started in August 2007, the hashtag, also known as the pound (#) sign, was officially adopted by Twitter in 2009 as a way to group conversations and aggregate similar themes. Now, having spread to sites like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, the hashtag has become a key element of many companies’ social media strategies. With that pervasiveness comes power—and pitfalls.

“Creating an original hashtag gives a firm control over a specific social media space,” says Subodha Kumar, professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School. Businesses can use this tool to increase recognition of their brand, generate buzz, and expand their audiences.

Yet creating a hashtag does not automatically mean the company owns it, says Kumar. Hashtags are susceptible to hijacking, in which competitors or consumers use the hashtag for unofficial messaging—like when McDonald’s attempted to generate positive publicity with #McDStories but instead received thousands of complaints about the fast food chain.

So, how can a company protect its social media reputation? For some, the answer lies in trademarking.

“The trademark protection of hashtags can increase consumer confidence,” says Kumar. Since the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office began allowing hashtags to be registered trademarks in 2013, more and more companies are protecting their intellectual social media property. In 2015, nearly 1,400 hashtags were submitted in trademark applications. “It prevents other competitors from using similar hashtags to mislead consumers.”

However, trademarks may come with a price. “Trademarking a hashtag may prevent or restrict its use,” Kumar says. The successful spread of a hashtag lies in its ability to be used by anyone, connecting millions of Twitter threads and Instagram photos into one conversation. By trademarking, companies could be stifling this kind of organic engagement.

Little research has been done to understand whether a trademarked hashtag makes a firm’s social media audience more or less engaging. Kumar, along with Naveen Kumar of the University of Memphis and Liangfei Qiu of the University of Florida, wanted to know: does trademarking a hashtag defeat its original purpose?

Kumar and his co-authors investigated the tension in these two opposing sides—the organic nature of a hashtag and the restrictive nature of a trademark—in their paper, “A Hashtag is Worth a Thousand Words: An Empirical Investigation of Social Media Strategies in Trademarking Hashtags.”

The researchers compared firm-level tweet data from 102 companies, split between a “treated” group of companies who had trademarked a hashtag between 2014 and 2017 and a “control” group of similar firms. The study compared tweets from before and after the hashtag’s trademark approval, analyzing the level of engagement through likes, comments, and tweets, as well as the linguistic content of the tweet, including its emotions, tone, and style.

Based on this study, Kumar and his colleagues discovered some key factors of making a trademarked hashtag work for a company:

1. Companies that trademark hashtags have higher social media engagement.

This study is the first to identify that trademarking hashtags can improve firms’ engagement with its audiences on social media—though the effects have varying levels of intensity for different types of firms and social strategies. “Trademarking a hashtag can increase the number of retweets by 27 percent,” says Kumar, “which is a considerable amount.”

Yet firms can not trademark hashtags arbitrarily. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office treats hashtags like any other trademark: in order to be approved, the company needs to prove that the hashtag is a key part of the firm’s identity and that trademarking works in the consumers’ favor by preventing or reducing confusion.

2. Trademarking hashtags works better for smaller, less popular companies with fewer Twitter followers.

While the study demonstrates that trademarking increases social media engagement, Kumar and his colleagues investigated how this effect varies among different types of firms. After comparing the companies in the top and bottom percentiles in terms of Twitter followers, the researchers found that firms with fewer Twitter followers had more significant increases in their engagement after trademarking hashtags than companies with larger followings.

Kumar hypothesizes that small companies see larger positive effects because fewer consumers are aware of their brands and products. “Without trademark protection, other competitors can easily use similar hashtags to mislead consumers,” he says. “In contrast, for popular firms with more Twitter followers, it is more difficult to mislead consumers, even in the absence of trademark protections.”

3. Writing styles are more important to firms that use trademarked hashtags.

The researchers also studied how companies used language in their social media strategies to understand the key drivers that cause trademarking hashtags to increase engagement. “This is based on the assumption that the way that people use words reflect how they think,” says Kumar. For example, using pronouns can reflect a self-centered focus, or using prepositions and conjunctions can indicate more nuanced thinking.

The study found that when hashtags are trademarked, a firm’s writing style becomes more important to its social media engagement. “People tend to like a more narrative and informal writing style in tweets,” Kumar says. The researchers saw that more positive, colloquial, and confident writing increase retweeting by up to 10 percent.

4. Effects of increased social media engagement last longer when hashtags are trademarked.

Recognizing that trademarking is a lengthy and expensive process, the researchers sought to discover whether the increased engagement lasted in the long term.

“Before trademarking hashtags, writing more tweets with desirable linguistic styles has only a contemporaneous effect,” says Kumar, meaning that the tweets’ increase in engagement was immediate, but dropped off quickly. After one month, it was no longer significant. “Trademarking hashtags makes things different,” Kumar says. After trademarking, the researchers found that the effects of increased engagement were still happening a month later.

Based on their research, Kumar and his colleagues believe that, especially for smaller companies with fewer followers, trademarking their intellectual social property, like hashtags, is a worthwhile investment. However, to get the maximum bang for your buck, Kumar suggests that companies consider the longevity of their chosen hashtag.

Social media can be fleeting, so invest wisely.

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

This is one of the most common questions that people considering a DBA ask, after “What is a DBA?” We asked alumni and current students in the Fox School’s Executive Doctorate in Business Administration program to share why they believe the Fox DBA was the right choice for them.

Become An Expert

Jim Smith, Jr.

With many years of work experience, most people may feel like they are an expert in their fields. With the Fox DBA program, however, students have the opportunity to back up their experience with data.

Jim Smith, Jr., CSP, is a full-time entrepreneur, motivational speaker and author while also a student in the Fox DBA program. “In my line of work as a perceived expert, I wanted to enhance my credibility,” he says. As he prepares to defend his dissertation this spring, he notes that the program has broadened and sharpened his view in his area of expertise.

“By now having the scholarly perspective, I can bring in the research, I can bring in the numbers, I can bring in the studies and I can bring in both historical and current viewpoints,” he says. “It’s not just my opinion. I balance my delivery by speaking as a scholar, a researcher and a practitioner.”

Distinguish Yourself

Maggie Jordan

Finding the right opportunity can be daunting, even as a high-level executive. Most job markets are extremely competitive and many people are looking for a way to distinguish themselves from the crowd of qualified applicants.

Maggie Jordan, DBA ’18, said it was tough for her to attract attention as an adjunct professor when she moved from New York to Pennsylvania. The Fox DBA allowed her to stand out from the crowd in a unique way. “Before I had the corporate experience, but not the degree,” she says. “Now, I have both.”

“I found that having the blend of experience as well as the doctorate was a magic combination to get attention.” With the Fox DBA, Maggie was able to move from a marketing role in the pharmaceutical industry and become a visiting assistant professor at Lehigh University, which she does in addition to leveraging her expertise as a consultant and adjunct professor at the Fox School.

Gain Credentials to Do More

Tamara Schwartz

Others might find that the DBA opens doors in ways that they never had thought of before. Tammy Schwartz, a current DBA student who is also defending her dissertation this spring, retired from the U.S. Air Force and was looking for new opportunities outside of the defense industry.

“Despite the fact that I was working in cyber,” she says, “I couldn’t break into another industry, so I needed to reinvent myself. I thought a new degree would give me new contacts and new ideas.”

Tammy hadn’t known exactly what she wanted to do after the DBA program. However, she found that she loved to learn, research and—surprisingly—teach. “I now have a tenure-track position at the York College of Pennsylvania, and I found my new calling in teaching,” she says. “The research keeps me really intellectually engaged and constantly learning. I never would have imagined that I would have become a college professor in my second act.”

Build a Network

In addition to the skills and knowledge that the Fox DBA program teaches, many students find that one of the most valuable aspects of the program is their cohort.

Sandi Webster

“In my class, we had students from a plethora of industries,” says Sandi Webster, DBA ’18. “I’m coming from financial services and telecom, but someone from healthcare or education might see a topic in a different way.”

These varying viewpoints can provide unique ways of looking at problems that you may not have considered before. Thanks to the Fox DBA program, says Sandi, “I think more broadly now.” The network does not end in the classroom; Fox DBA alumni leverage their relationships in current industries, career changes and life-long learning.  

The Fox DBA program may not be for everyone. But for those who are looking to augment their area of expertise, distinguish themselves from the crowd, build a network of motivated individuals, and gain credentials to do more, the Fox School can give you the tools you need to grow yourself and your career.

“I’ve been pushed, I’ve been stretched. I’ve been in my discomfort zone a lot,” says Jim. “But it’s like anything—if you’re not being stretched, you’re not growing.”

Learn more and apply to the Fox DBA program.

To swipe or not to swipe?

Online dating has come a long way since the days of OKCupid in the early aughts. Today, phrases like “Tinder date” have become part of society’s lexicon, and we have stopped buying a stranger a drink in a bar and started double tapping an Instagram photo from home.

What is different today? Instead of logging into a dating site on a computer, romance seekers now have mobile apps at their fingertips.

JaeHwuen Jung, assistant professor of Management Information Systems (MIS) at the Fox School of Business, investigated the changing business behind online dating to learn why companies are spending more money on developing mobile applications instead of web platforms.

With apps like Tinder and Bumble, data scientists have a trove of unbiased data from which they can extract insights. “We are able to trace the actions of both parties,” says Jung. “We are able to see who is meeting who, what type of profiles they have, and [what] sort of messages they are exchanging.” This provides a unique opportunity for researchers to analyze data untainted from other collection processes, like simulated experiments.  

Jung says that dating is only one of many examples of how our phones have completely transformed the way in which we behave—and companies have caught on.

In his paper, “Love Unshackled: Identifying the Effect of Mobile App Adoption in Online Dating,” which has been recently accepted for publication at MIS Quarterly, Jung used the online dating world to identify three drivers of why users, and subsequently companies, are moving from web to mobile: ubiquity, impulsiveness, and disinhibition.

  • Ubiquity: the capacity of being everywhere, especially at the same time
  • Impulsiveness: having the power to be swayed by emotional or involuntary impulses
  • Disinhibition: a lack of restraint and disregard to social norms

With the ubiquity of smartphones, users are able to access mobile apps at any given time and location. Features like instant notifications, location sharing, and urgency factors, like Tinder’s daily allowance of five ‘Super Likes,’ have allowed users to stay constantly connected.

“We use our mobiles in the most personal locations, like our beds and bathrooms,” says Jung. For some, their phones may seem surgically attached to their hands.

With phones constantly by their sides, people more readily give in to their impulses, reacting to their moods or thoughts instinctively. Users can respond to such feelingssuch as responding to a flirtatious message or liking a post—without a second thought.

“We found that [mobile platforms] change users’ daily lifestyle patterns,” says Jung. “Compared to those who use web platforms, mobile users have the luxury to log on earlier, later, and more frequently.”

When a sense of privacy is assumed, users feel more anonymous on mobile—and are thus less likely to follow social norms. This disinhibition creates higher levels of engagement on mobile devices, Jung found, as users were more likely to engage in actions that they were less likely to do outside of the app.

“We saw that replies and views of [profiles of people with] different races, education levels, and even height, became more apparent through mobile apps,” says Jung. “This has us questioning, can this [disinhibition] change viewpoints in real life?”

Like any business plan, owners try to keep customers coming back for more. These three key featuresubiquity, impulsiveness, and disinhibitionhelp companies keep users online every time they unlock their phones. With the convenience provided by apps, dating has become more successful for users and has benefited companies as well.

“If people leave happy,” Jung says, “they will bring more new customers [to the app.]”

With the surge of app monetization, developers are able to make 55% of their mobile revenue through video ads, display ads, and native ads, according to Business Insider. Mobile apps have become a win-win situation as more people choose to scroll on the go.

Jung’s paper is the first of its kind to examine the causal impact of companies’ mobile channels in addition to their web presence. What can we say? All’s fair in love, war, and big data.

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

hand holding phone with Air B&B app

Home-sharing has revolutionized the lodging market. Today, digital platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway are popular choices over conventional hotel stays. With the industry expanding exponentially over the past decade, home-sharing lodging is expected to reach $107 billion—or 10% of total accommodation bookings in the country—by 2025.

So what makes Airbnbs so popular? Three researchers from the Department of Tourism & Hospitality Management at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management sought to answer that question.

In a study recently published in Tourism Management, Assistant Professor Yang Yang, PhD student Karen Tan and Professor Xiang (Robert) Li used a dataset from a nationwide household tourism survey to better understand this growing segment of American travelers.

“First, we looked into what segment of consumers choose Airbnbs over conventional hotel stays,” Yang says. The researchers studied five broad categories of user-motivations: tripographics (including the purpose of the trip, nights of stay, expenditure, children companions, and group size), past travel experiences, tech savviness, socio-demographics (such as age and education) and destination characteristics (like home-sharing supply and crime rate).

Framework on the causes and effects of home-sharing stays

“Airbnbs are selected by travelers with particular needs,” Yang notes. “Tourists who are younger, more tech-savvy and traveling with a large group size were the leading users.” Some of the other characteristics common across most users included travel for leisure purposes, itineraries planned in advance, interest in local cultural activities and the presence of personal vehicles during the trip.

The rate of crime in the destination was an important determinant in the choice of stay as well. “Travelers are less likely to stay in Airbnbs when there are crime-related security concerns,” Yang says. “Hosts and platforms should consider ways to mitigate tourists’ fear of crime, such as the introduction of home safety features, methods of crime prevention or even by offering insurance coverage.”

Yang highlights that their study challenges the popular stereotype that travelers choose Airbnbs mainly because they are cost-effective. “We did not find any significant effects of household income and price differences between hotels and Airbnbs on tourists’ choices,” Yang says. Based on this insight, he thinks that any price wars between hotels and Airbnbs would not be beneficial for either group.

The researchers also investigated the effect on the guests’ experiences when staying in Airbnbs versus a hotel. “Trip satisfaction did not differ between the two groups,” says Yang, “but the perceived value of the trip was significantly higher in the home-sharing group.”

That additional sense of value experienced by the users reflected the extra benefits that they received in Airbnbs that were not met in a traditional hotel setting. Yang says, “Facilities such as household amenities, extra space, experience authenticity and host-guest interactions were some of the key reasons.”

Karen Tan, a PhD student in the department and a co-author of the paper, believes that Airbnbs do not necessarily jeopardize the business of hotels. “Home-sharing may very well appeal to a segment of the population that previously didn’t travel as much,” she says. “Peer-to-peer accommodation could just be making the lodging pie larger.”

Much of the optimism underlying the projected growth of home-sharing lodging arguably lies in its untapped potential. “As the market for Airbnb grows,” says Yang, “hotels should not compete on lower prices, but rather focus on aspects that deliver greater value to guests.”

Learn more about  Fox School Research.

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fruit on a vine

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.

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Fox alumnus Kevin Hong
Kevin Hong, PhD ’14

For the second time in a row, another successful alumnus of the Fox School, Kevin Hong, PhD ’14, won the prestigious 2018 Early Career Award by the Association for Information Systems. This award recognizes individuals in the early stages of their careers who have already made outstanding research, teaching and service contributions to the field of information systems. Last year Gordon Burtch, PhD ’13, was awarded this honor.

Hong is an associate professor of information systems, director of the IS PhD program, and co-director of the digital society initiative at the W. P. Carey School of Business of Arizona State University. “I feel really honored and lucky to have won this award,” Hong says. “I attribute who I am as a researcher today to my experiences and associations at the Fox School.”

We spoke with Hong to learn more about his journey.

Who were your mentors at the Fox School?

A lot of people at Fox have inspired me and taught me not just be a better researcher, but also a better person. Paul Pavlou was my advisor and mentor through the years. I learned so much from him, including how to write and publish papers.

If Dr. Pavlou is my research mentor, I’d say David Schuff is my teaching mentor. I watch all his videos and learn how to engage students while teaching. I also get ideas and examples to share with the students in the analytics class from him.

How did the Fox PhD program support you in achieving your degree?

The rigorous curriculum and training at Fox have helped me a lot. During the time I was a PhD student, Fox had recruited many world-class faculty members who were also high profile researchers from prestigious universities. They had solid training and the required expertise to teach the students state-of-the-art methodologies which I still use today.

What are some of the current research projects you’re working on?

My primary stream of research has been studying how to design and evaluate the efficiency of digital platforms. I also plan on taking a sabbatical next year to explore new technologies like artificial intelligence, and how humans and AI can collaborate better to develop newer streams of research.

What is your advice to current and prospective Fox PhD students?

What’s most important to be successful is to take initiative. Don’t merely do what the advisors ask you to do. Try to start your research early on. Discuss those ideas with your advisors and lead those projects. The environment created for research at Fox is truly amazing and you should take advantage of it, perform and deliver. For a doctoral student, the culture here teaches you to put research before everything and truly nurtures you to succeed in your academic career.

Read more about the previous Fox alumnus to win this award.

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Consumers today are heavily dependent on online reviews to make informed choices about what to buy. In fact, studies show that as many as 90 percent of consumers read online reviews before making financial decisions, and nearly 70 percent trust these opinions.

Given their importance, how do you tell if the reviews are from genuine customers?

Subodha Kumar, director of the Center for Data Analytics and professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the Fox School, developed an approach to detect fake reviewers on online digital platforms. In his paper published in the Journal of Management Information Systems, Kumar proposes an algorithm that analyzes the behavior of reviewers on a set of key features to help differentiate between the real and the fake.

“A user who reads a negative review of a restaurant is likely to trust the message, even though it was written by a stranger,” Kumar says. “One convincing review can often persuade consumers to shift their brand loyalty or drive several extra miles to try a new sandwich shop.”

This gives firms a strong incentive to influence their online review ratings. “Business owners inject their public ratings with a positive bias,” says Kumar. “They use fake accounts or paid reviewers to either promote their offering or strategically denounce competitors’ products.”

In studying a dataset from Yelp, a popular restaurant review platform, Kumar observed a striking difference in the way spammers interact on online platforms. “Even though individual reviews by a spammer may look genuine, collectively we can capture anomalies in the review patterns,” Kumar says, “In fact, they are remarkably skewed.”

By analyzing this pattern of behaviors, Kumar’s approach to detecting review manipulation can not only improve the experience of consumers across industries but also increase the credibility of reviewing platforms like Yelp.

Kumar considers six distinct features of every review in the data set:

  1. Review gap: Spammers are usually not longtime members of a site, unlike genuine reviewers who use their accounts from time to time to post reviews. Thus, if reviews are posted over a relatively long timeframe, it suggests normal activity. But when all reviews are posted within a short burst, it indicates suspicious behavior.
  2. Review count: Paid users generally generate more reviews than unpaid users. In other cases to avoid being detected or blacklisted, a spammer could post very few reviews from one account and create a new account.
  3. Rating entropy: Spammers mostly post extreme reviews since their goal is either to artificially improve a particular company’s rating or to bring a bad reputation to its competitors. This results in high entropyor drastic randomnessin fake users’ ratings.
  4. Rating deviation: Spammers are likely to deviate from the general rating consensus. If genuine users fairly outnumber spammers, it is easy to detect instances where a user’s rating deviates greatly from the average ratings from other users.
  5. Timing of review: One strategy spammers may use is to post extremely early after a restaurant’s opening in order to maximize the impact of their review. Early reviews can greatly impact a consumers’ sentiment on a product and, in turn, impact sales.
  6. User tenure: Fake reviewers tend to have short-lived accounts characterized by a relatively large number of reviews and handles, usernames or aliases designed to avoid detection.

After considering these variables individually, the algorithm then looks into the way the variables interact with each other. It employs techniques like supervised machine learning and accounts for the overall review behavior of a user to provide a robust and accurate analysis.

Kumar’s methodology can also be deployed to post the information of the spammers in real-time. Digital platforms like Yelp could develop a spam score using these key features for each reviewer and share it with business owners and consumers, who can subsequently be tagged or filtered.

“The issue of opinion spamming in online reviews is not going away and detecting the perpetrators is not easy,” says Kumar. But developments in approaches like these, he says, “offer great insights to businesses, allowing them to create more effective marketing strategies based on the sheer volume of genuine, user-contributed consumer reviews.”

Interested in Marketing and Supply Chain topics? Check out our recent article “A Guide to Building an International Supply Chain” and learn more about Fox School Research

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

Fox Smarts, Philly Heart

At the Fox School of Business, social responsibility is a guiding principle that the school has honored since it was founded a century ago, rooted in Russell H. Conwell’s notion that “your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them.” Read more>>

Emotional Labor May Affect You at Work

Do you suppress your feelings at work and kowtow to the wishes of clients, patients or difficult supervisors? Deanna Geddes of Human Resources Management tells U.S. News how emotional labor can affect employees every day. Read more>>

Millenials Invest Money Through Apps

Bora Ozkan of Finance went on NBC 10 to share why millennials are considered the perfect demographic for mobile investment app. Automated systems, artificial intelligence, and affordability are all keys to attracting the millennial generation. Watch now>>

Philadelphia Business Journal | Dec. 20

Thomas Fung of Marketing and Supply Chain Management shares what the newly named CEO of Campbell Soup Co. should do to be successful. Read more>>

Business Times | Dec. 12

Why are online reviews so extreme? Paul Pavlou of MIS explains why consumers most often see the five- and one-star ratings on online platforms. Read more>>

Reporter Online | Dec. 7

Alumna Brianna Judge shares her musical talents with a debut eight-song album and performances at locations like Bourbon and Branch over the holidays. Read more>>

CBS 3 | Dec. 5

Digital sexual harassment, also known as cyber-flashing, is on the rise. The MIS Department’s Tony Vance provides insight into why this happens. Read more>>

Business Wire | Dec. 4

The Risk Management and Insurance Career Reception for graduating seniors was featured on an episode of AM Best TV. Read more>>

Introducing Matthew Coughlin

The Fox School and the School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management are pleased to welcome Matt Coughlin to the communications and marketing teams. As associate director of communications, Matt will be responsible for media relations for faculty, staff, students and alumni of both schools. You can reach Matt via email at matthew.coughlin@temple.edu.

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International Business Supply Chain

How does a firm looking to expand internationally build an effective global supply chain network from scratch?

Masaaki ‘Mike’ Kotabe, Washburn Chair Professor of International Business and Marketing at the Fox School, addresses this question by studying the strategies employed by Uniqlo, a Japanese apparel firm which successfully built a world-class global supply chain network in a relatively short period of time.

In his article, ”A Dynamic Process of Building Global Supply Chain Competence by New Ventures: The Case of Uniqlo,” which was published in the Journal of International Marketing, Kotabe proposes a dynamic model on how new firms can create a flexible supply chain network internationally. “By effectively developing partnering flexibility and exerting competitive pressure on partner suppliers,” Kotabe says, “new and small firms can overcome initial business challenges associated with the lack of local reputation, limited capacity for large orders and the presence of locally established competitors.”

Historically, major Japanese manufacturers invested significantly in manufacturing activities with advanced technologies and building close-knit suppliers. But with the rapidly changing global markets in the 1990s and 2000s, these relationships turned out to be a major financial burden with huge fixed costs.

Newly internationalizing Japanese firms began to develop more “asset-light” flexible relationships with local suppliers. But Kotabe says, “They still faced serious gaps due to the lack of initial large-scale production capability and bargaining power with local suppliers.”

However, Kotabe notes a transformational change in the strategy employed by new Japanese companies like Uniqlo. “They focus primarily on building relationships with their suppliers by providing them economic and technological rewards frequently,” Kotabe says. “They also maintain flexibility in their partnership by avoiding suppliers’ over dependence on the relationship.”

By examining Uniqlo’s successful supply chain development, Kotabe proposes a three-stage model that can serve as a guideline for small companies looking to build competitive advantages while expanding internationally.

In the first stage, building close relations with suppliers is crucial. “Suppliers are more cooperative when the partnering firm rewards them with large volume orders,” says Kotabe. By limiting not only the number of suppliers but also the variety of products to be manufactured, companies can ensure that every chosen supplier has a satisfactory share of the business, along with a large volume order per variant.

The second stage focuses on developing collaborative relationships with the suppliers by helping them build their competencies. Uniqlo hired a team of retired experts skilled in Japan’s textile industry to provide technical support to their suppliers’ factories. Kotabe says, “This move was key to Uniqlo’s success story as it helped in building trust and avoiding conflicts with its suppliers.”

“By receiving both economic and technological rewards continuously in the first and second stages of the process,” Kotabe notes, “the partners’ attitude toward the principal firm stays positive and cooperative.”

In the last stage, companies need to create flexibility in their supply chain by encouraging their suppliers to have other secondary customers. This allows them to grow their own business volumes independently and prevents excessive dependency on the partner. “Uniqlo enforced a compulsory non-exclusivity arrangement,” Kotabe says.”Therefore, even when Uniqlo canceled a transaction with a partner supplier, the supplier could easily find new clients.”

With more companies becoming involved in international markets to achieve better product quality and lower costs, it is important to effectively devise strategies to stay competitive. Kotabe’s study serves as detailed guidance for firms with limited international business experience to build a flexible global supply chain network from scratch.

For further reading on a similar topic, check out “What Is the Role of International Business Researchers?

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

Eagles’ Odds of Defending the SuperBowl

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

Ed Rendell Receives Musser Award

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

What is Anti-Marketing?

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

Lessons Learned from Amazon HQ2

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

Attracting International Students

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

Temple News | Nov. 27

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

The Economist | Nov. 1

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

Economic Times India | Nov. 18

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

The Legal Intelligencer | Oct. 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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