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.”
Learn more about Fox School Research.
What was it like to be a woman earning a doctorate degree forty years ago? Dr. Gloria Thomas, PhD ’80, has firsthand experience.
Today, Dr. Thomas is an accomplished researcher, a dedicated professor, and an esteemed administrator at Baruch College.
But in 1980, she was a trendsetter for women at the Fox School of Business.
As the first woman to obtain a doctorate from the Fox School, Thomas received her PhD in marketing, a field that is now predominantly women, but was all men during her tenure at Temple. “Women were very uncommon in business PhDs, even marketing, when I was in school,” she recalled. “And I rarely saw women at conferences.”
Dr. Thomas is currently a professor of marketing and the Director of the Zicklin Undergraduate Honors Program at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, City University of New York. Thomas praises her experience at Temple University for the appreciation she has developed towards public institutions.
“Temple has taught me to believe in public education,” Thomas professed. “I went to Baruch right from Temple and we have really smart students from all over the world with parents who don’t speak English or have any money.” After years of private schools, Thomas’ experience at the Fox School helped her appreciate the value of diversity in education. “Cultural exposure makes public institutions more valuable and it gives students opportunities they normally wouldn’t have,” she said.
With undergraduate degrees in math and art history, Thomas pursued a doctorate in marketing. Following graduation, she went straight to Baruch, where her roles included professor, associate dean, and director of the doctoral program. She currently serves as director of the business honors program.
“My current role is my most favorite,” Thomas said. “Many students at large public schools don’t get the attention they would at a private school, but I make sure to give that attention in my honors program.”
Thomas credits her mother, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s law school in the 1940s, for her then unconventional educational choices. “I grew up thinking everyone was equal. I never thought that [by going to business school] I was going into a man’s profession,” Thomas said.
That ‘man’s profession’ has changed. Today, 50-percent of PhD students are women at the Fox School, compared to 45-percent for all business-focused doctoral programs in the United States, according to the Council of Graduates Schools’ 2017 report.
Thomas did not let any obstacles get in her way of her goals. “It never occurred to me that women couldn’t do whatever they wanted to,” she recounted. “In reality, many women [at that time] didn’t even know they had options.”
“It never occurred to me that I didn’t.”
Learn more about Fox School Research.
Since its founding a century ago, the Fox School of Business has produced outstanding thinkers, innovative doers, and formidable trailblazers.
Distinguished research has been at the forefront of Temple University’s initiatives since the 1940s. Following World War II, the federal government had a vested interest in funding research centers all across the country.
Harry A. Cochran, then dean of Temple’s School of Business and Public Administration, predicted that this movement towards research would steer this university to great heights.
“Harry Cochran was smart enough to figure out how to take advantage of this,” said Dr. William Aaronson, PhD ’86, former director of the Fox PhD program, and current associate professor at the College of Public Health. “He had a vision of a research enterprise with the business school that is very much still alive today.”
In the mid-1940s, Dean Cochran led the Fox School’s research agenda, creating a Bureau of Economic and Business Research and establishing the school’s first journal, The Economics and Business Bulletin, to disseminate its findings. It was over a decade later that a watershed report from the Ford Foundation highlighted the trend of business schools changing from trade schools to research institutions. The Fox School was ahead of its time, already a large and prestigious business school as others began to recognize the importance of a research agenda.
While Dean Cochran retired in 1960, his legacy grew. His successors recognized the need for a doctoral program to support the mission of leadership in high-quality research, so in the early 1960s, the Fox School established its PhD program, which awarded its first doctoral degree in 1969 to Lacy H. Hunt.
The doctoral programs at the Fox School grew to encompass PhD programs in Statistics, Decision Neuroscience, and Business Administration. In 2014, the school once again blazed a trail, instituting an Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (EDBA) program, a unique opportunity for industry executives and business leaders that few schools offer today. “The DBA focuses on applied research,” said Paul A. Pavlou, senior associate dean of research at the Fox School. “It plays a very important role in creating the next generation of seasoned high-level executives who can inform their organizations through rigorous research.” And Dean M. Moshe Porat constantly offers strong support for the doctoral programs at the Fox School.
Cochran’s vision became a virtuous cycle. Research would not be something we merely did, but who we were. By creating an environment that would house brilliant minds, past and present deans of the Fox School have demonstrated their commitment to support leaders in both academia and industry. From its roots in 1918 to its continued success in 2018, the Fox School continues its tradition of distinction through work ethic, innovation, and research impact.
Learn more about Fox School Research and International Business.
You put in all the work—collecting data, analyzing information, writing the article. But what happens next?
Get your research off your computer and into the world through the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), a free, online platform dedicated to disseminating scholarly research throughout the world. With 1.5 million users, SSRN can put your insights into the hands of people who can use them.
Here are three reasons to publish your work on SSRN.
1. Enhance your online presence
Whether you are a doctoral student at the start of your career, a professor working towards tenure, or advanced researcher, SSRN can support your career goals by providing a platform for your online presence.
By uploading your work to SSRN, you are building your online identity—which includes your LinkedIn presence, personal or professional websites, and social media platforms. SSRN gives you an opportunity to host everything from working papers to published articles, which builds your credibility as a researcher.
2. Make your research accessible
Through the Fox School’s partnership with SSRN, your research will be included in the Fox School Research Paper Series, a monthly newsletter with nearly 6,000 subscribers and 12 subtopics that allow subscribers to easily search for your work, making it accessible to prospective PhD students, business executives, and potential collaborators.
As the Fox School builds a greater emphasis on translating research into actionable insights, the accessibility of research plays a huge role. With SSRN, your research can go beyond your own network and generate greater impact.
3. Start collecting citations
Impact is measured in a variety of different ways—from media mentions to changes in the way we do business. One metric of research impact is the citations it receives from other academics. If others are citing your work, it demonstrates the paper’s influence and insights into that field.
With SSRN, you can begin collecting citations while waiting for a journal to accept or publish your work. Upload working papers, accepted articles, or completed publications and track the number of downloads it receives or citations it garners. Researchers often play the long game, but with SSRN, they make “tomorrow’s research today.”
Ready to publish?
The Office of Research, Doctoral Programs, and Strategic Initiatives at the Fox School supports faculty members and doctoral students in subscribing and uploading papers to SSRN. For assistance uploading, email your paper as a PDF attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Click to learn more.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
A roundup of media mentions featuring faculty and staff from the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management.
Translational Research Center launches
The Philadelphia Business Journal covers the launch of Fox’s Translational Research Center, which hopes to bridge the gap between business-school research and applications of it in industry. PBJ speaks with Fox’s Dr. Charles Dhanaraj about the Center, as well as last week’s kick-off summit. Read more >>
NCAA-in-Japan project in next phase
For now, Japanese universities do not formally recognize their sport teams. A research project, led by STHM’s Dr. Jeremy Jordan and Dr. Daniel Funk, is exploring the possibility of creating for Japan a sport governing body equivalent to the NCAA. Japan Times provides coverage of the project, which will soon enter its third phase. Read more >>
Philly Style profiles Porat
For its charity and social datebook, Philly Style Magazine speaks to Dr. M. Moshe Porat for a profile on the Fox and STHM dean. Porat discusses the schools’ growth and their focus on student professional development. Read more >>
The Atlantic | March 1, 2018
A feature story in The Atlantic identifies a recent study by Fox’s Dr. In-Sue Oh as one of 16 that have found coworkers to be the best-equipped predictors of an individual’s workplace success. Read more >>
WHYY | March 9, 2018
A sizable portion of land in Northeast Philadelphia, which had been dormant for years, has been purchased and will be converted into a logistics hub. Fox’s Tom Fung explains, in an interview for WHYY’s NewsWorks news show, the benefits for its use in supply chain. Listen >>
Philadelphia Magazine | March 8, 2018
Last week, Philly Mag asked a litany of local leaders to pick the best places in the city to hold coffee meetings. Fox’s Ellen Weber provides her pick. Read more >>
Al Dia | March 9, 2018
Recently and historically, economic implications have led millions of immigrants to the United States. For more on this, Fox’s Dr. Ram Mudambi speaks with Al Dia—the nation’s leading Latino news organization. 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
The Fox School of Business is making history—and driving real impact.
On Monday, March 12, the Fox School hosted a first-of-its-kind forum that brought together editors-in-chief of leading academic business journals across multiple disciplines. The 2018 Editors’ Summit united academia and industry, researchers and executives, students and educators, for a day of dialogue on a way forward to generate transformative impact of business school research.
With leadership from Charles Dhanaraj, director of the Fox School’s new Translational Research Center, over 150 people discussed the opportunities for creating impactful research and barriers standing in the way.
Fox School faculty and doctoral students were joined by editors from prestigious business journals from many disciplines, including management, marketing, accounting, finance, operations, management information systems, and international business; colleagues from Villanova University, the Wharton School, and Northwestern University, among others; and executives from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, LyondellBasell, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Here are five key takeaways from the event:
1. Define impact
What do we mean by “impact” and how do we measure it? “It has to meet the qualifications of rigor, relevance, insights, and action,” said V. Kumar, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Marketing and Regents Professor at J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.
While a definition of impact may remain elusive, participants identified its signs: from small shifts in how companies work and academia teaches, to societal, economic, and public policy changes.
Anne Tsui, president of the Responsible Research Leadership Forum, noted that this discussion about impact was a large step. “In the last 20 or 30 years, rigor began to dominate research and relevance began to decline,” she said. “Today, we’re here to discuss this gap.”
2. Ask the right questions
“Just because something hasn’t been studied doesn’t mean that it should,” said Tyson Browning, co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Operations Management and professor at Texas Christian University. In order to study issues that affect business, researchers need to know the right questions to ask.
Researchers can develop relationships with businesses, through programs like Fox Management Consulting, or invest in listening platforms to identify what problems businesses face.
Bhavesh Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell, put it another way: “Think about what value your work will create from the beginning. If you do it early, it will guide the work you do.”
3. Know your audience
“In reflecting about practical impact,” said Arun Rai, editor of MIS Quarterly and professor at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, “we need to think about partnerships with complementary channels to reach audiences that we do not have core competencies to reach.”
Executives are not reading academic journals, nor should we ever expect them to. If academics want their research to have impact on the real world, they should think beyond publications and about distribution.
“In the Twitter and soundbite era, no one wants to read a 40-page paper,” said Dr. Scott Bauguess of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “They want the major takeaway.” His suggestion? Write white papers and stylized facts.
Practitioner journals, trade magazines, and popular media like newspapers and TV can also be relevant channels to getting research insights into industry. Mary Barth, senior editor of The Accounting Review and professor at Stanford University, also recommended translating research into thought pieces that are understandable to non-academics. To do that, however, researchers need a new set of skills—like marketing or social media strategies—that require training or support from the school.
4. Adjust the infrastructure
A recurring theme throughout the day was incentives. How can business schools incentivize faculty to produce research that has impact, not just publications? How can editors affect trends in what is published to promote relevance?
Participants brainstormed solutions for both. While structural changes take time, discussions centered on adjusting tenure requirements and timelines, defining impact, creating industry partnerships, hosting workshops with executives, providing funding incentives for research with practitioners and non-tenure-track faculty, and publishing special issues in journals that focus on bundled topics.
Alain Verbeke, editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Business Studies and professor at University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, put it bluntly: “If you really want change, you can’t do it with the existing structure and processes.”
5. Teach the future
Students cannot be neglected in the conversation about impact. “One way we take our research articles and ideas and make them relevant to practice is by teaching them in our classes,” said Jay Barney, editor-in-chief of the Academy of Management Review and professor at the Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.
Constance Helfat, co-editor of the Strategic Management Journal and professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, agreed. “Every single thing I teach is based in academic research. And it works.”
The Fox School is already addressing the way forward. M. Moshe Porat, dean of the Fox School, affirmed his commitment to research and doctoral education throughout the day.
With support from the dean, the Translational Research Center has big plans for the future of research at the Fox School. The center plans to develop a white paper of the findings from the event and is hosting a case-writing consortium for faculty interested in writing and submitting a teaching case through the summer.
“The shift toward impact is a significant one, but it will take time,” said Dhanaraj,. “We will need everyone to make this big move.”
Learn more about Fox School Research.
A conversation with Alain Verbeke about how the international business research community should adapt to today’s global context.
*The opinions expressed are the personal opinions of the interviewee and not of the Fox School of Business.
In late 2017, the Fox School of Business hosted the Academy of International Business U.S. Northeast Conference. For the second consecutive year, scholars from around the world—this year, there were representatives from 32 countries—met at Alter Hall to examine and discuss the most pressing issues facing the international business community.
The keynote speaker was Alain Verbeke, a professor at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business and the editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS), who talked about corporate globalization and what it means for international business researchers. We connected with Verbeke after the conference to discuss these issues further.
What’s the biggest challenge JIBS, and international business researchers as a whole, now face?
I see JIBS as the last intellectual barrier against the hordes trying to destroy the vestiges of globalization. One problem is that most of the defenders of globalization have a self-interest in globalization. For example, the CEOs of large multinational enterprises want maximum freedom for their firms. Academics who do speak out in favor, are mostly economists, political scientists, and geographers who do not talk to managers of firms. That is what JIBS does—talk to firms. You can’t say anything reasonable about globalization if you don’t know what’s happening at the firm level. And our role is becoming more important in this new global context where the anti-globalization forces are clearly gaining momentum and power.
I don’t like to use the phrase “fake news,” but when we’re talking about the cost and benefits of globalization, there’s an enormous amount of fake news that literally crowds out what is factually correct in terms of the great benefits that typically accrue to countries involved in international exchange. This is a big problem JIBS addresses.
How do you cut through the noise with more reasonable arguments?
Unfortunately, people see problems in their community and they blame others for them. I call this “the new geography of discontent.” Basically, people blame some individual or group or set of people—preferably those who don’t look like them—for all the problems happening in their community. Easily, one third of people in any community—whether rightly or wrongly, or based on fake news or real news—is aligning with populist movements. There’s a renewed, built-in reflex that says, “Nation first.” One positive element that may come from this is more awareness in policy circles about the adjustment costs that will need to be addressed after freer trade deals, freer investment deals, and freer movement of human capital.
What can policy makers do to adjust for the actual detrimental aspects of globalization?
What has been neglected in the past are the forgotten men and women of trade deals. Globalization has led to outcomes that benefit consumers, but also trigger concentrated job losses and vicious cycles of de-clustering. One positive outcome of populist movements may be that the mainstream parties with common sense will think more carefully about how to deal with those dynamic adjustment costs, and how to anticipate them and how to avoid creating unfortunate reservoirs of forgotten people. Workers need to be retrained, re-tooled, and reintegrated into the economy. That doesn’t mean a former steelworker will tomorrow be operating robots, but other things can be done for those individuals and groups. Policy makers must think about what resources are needed to help with each transition.
What’s the role of academic business researchers in all this?
The anti-globalists often turn to that maligned presence of global firms and the supposedly malevolent processes of corporate globalization. The way I see it is that these critics are attacking imaginary enemies—they’re the equivalent of Don Quixote, who said to Sancho Panza, “Look at these monstrous giants, we’re going to defeat them.” But they were looking at windmills. We must teach the Don Quixotes and the Donald Trumps of the world—it is quite interesting how similar their names are, isn’t it? —that it’s not wise, when you have limited time and resources, to attack windmills. This is the responsibility of the international business research community.
Learn more about Fox School Research and International Business.
The automobile industry in Detroit is thriving.
This seems counterintuitive considering all we know about the damaging impact the last four decades of auto industry decline had on the city. But a meaningful transformation happened and automobile firms have found new ways to flourish.
Fox School of Business professor Ram Mudambi has been researching the Detroit auto industry’s transition from a manufacturing center into an innovation hub for many years. His work was recently featured in a New York Times article, “What Happens When the Richest U.S. Cities Turn to the World?,” about how a city’s prosperousness can be determined by how globally connected it is with other cities.
This is true for Detroit’s auto industry, which has become a thriving innovation center due to its robust relationships with other global knowledge hotspots, such as Germany and Japan. However, while innovation and connectedness are thriving, Detroit, which in 2013 became the largest municipality to file for bankruptcy, as a city is not.
“Manufacturing in Detroit is still shrinking along with blue collar jobs,” explains Mudambi. “There’s a quality-quantity disconnect, as there are increasing white collar jobs, but by definition there are fewer of those. When a factory closes, we lose 5,000 blue collar jobs, and then when you open a R&D center, you only create 100 knowledge jobs. That’s been happening in Detroit for decades. In short, this is not a recipe for a healthy metropolitan area. The innovation ecosystem is very healthy, but it has not helped the city very much.”
But there is a possible solution. Mudambi says it’s all about nurturing entrepreneurship and small businesses. He cites Silicon Valley, where thousands of companies start every year, as a healthier alternative. And Seattle, he claims, is Detroit’s most edifying counterpoint.
“America’s future is in the garage,” says Mudambi. “While the auto industry in Detroit has done great innovation-wise, they haven’t done great with the city. But if you look at Seattle, Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing have done great with innovation and with the city. Why? Because they’ve been engines for startups; they’ve put money into starting small companies. GM and Ford haven’t done this—they just look for suppliers, and haven’t thought about creating new businesses. In the last 20 years, those three Seattle companies have been involved with 66,000 startups. That’s where the jobs are. The solution is no longer in these large companies.”
The Seattle example, Mudambi suggests, specifically the unique way companies there have managed to become vanguards of global innovation while simultaneously elevating the conditions of the city itself, is one other U.S. firms and policymakers should take seriously.
“The U.S. is getting a winner-loser economy where you have winner locations and growing cities, like Silicon Valley and Seattle and Austin, and hinterland areas, like Appalachia and Flint, Michigan,” says Mudambi. “They’re falling further behind and they’re not happy about it. We can’t ignore these places, so we need to find smart ways to address these challenges. The knee-jerk reactions we’re seeing now from some people, saying America needs to cut itself off from the world, are losing solutions. The answers must be in the direction of building skills, knowledge, and more connectivity, and making more informed policy decisions. If we can fix these struggling cities, then we will be on our way to fixing the economy as a whole.”
Learn more about Fox School Research and International Business.
Look around. They are in newspapers and social media feeds. They are online and on scrolling news tickers, too.
Almost daily, you’ll see splashy headlines announcing the latest scientific-research findings—from groundbreaking disease cures, to solutions for cell-phone addiction and possible causes of global warming.
Rarely, if ever, are real-world applications of business-school research given such a high-profile platform. Temple University’s Fox School of Business is hoping to alter that reality with the launch of a center designed to bring impact to the forefront of business-school research. Next week, the Fox School will host a workshop on March 12 to bring together industry leaders and top journal editors to start the conversation on driving real impact with scholarly research.
The Fox School’s Translational Research Center is the first of its kind nationally to attempt the alignment of business-school research produced by Fox’s award-winning faculty with critical problems of the industry and to communicate it quickly and effectively to practitioners and executives.
Why hasn’t such an endeavor been launched? There are multiple reasons, says Dr. Charles Dhanaraj, the Fox School’s H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest Professor of Strategy. Conventionally, business-school research is produced by faculty looking to earn tenure status, or as a mechanism to support the school’s reputation. Faculty often gauge the success of their research based upon the journal within which it’s published and the volume of citations it receives.
“Business schools need to go beyond academic citations; they need to create real impact on business and on policy,” said Dhanaraj, the center’s founding director. “That being said, the Fox School has more than 210 full-time faculty in a variety of research disciplines, which means we are uniquely positioned to accomplish those traditional research goals, too.”
“Everyone in academia discusses impact,” said Dr. M. Moshe Porat, the Fox School’s Dean. “How you define impact and how you measure impact takes time. We are moving in that direction. Our school has the agile, entrepreneurial faculty to take the lead in shaping the future of business school research—and not just ours, but for everyone.”
The Fox School’s Translational Research Center will focus on four dimensions of impact: academia, students, business, and society. The center enables faculty to broaden their scholarship portfolio and support them in stretching their reach.
Typically, translational research is linked to fields of medicine and science. This approach bridges multiple disciplines, as practitioners and academics work together to uncover new and innovative medicines and treatments.
Fox’s Translational Research Center will operate under a similar construct, Dhanaraj said.
“Think of it as push and pull,” Dhanaraj said. “We want to tap into the needs of industry to pull in their problems to drive our faculty research, and we want to push actionable insights in the most effective way back to the business community, as quickly as possible. Our mission is to change the way everyone thinks about business school research. We don’t want to simply overcome the perception of lack of relevance, but really demonstrate that research creates substantive value. By increasing the engagement of faculty with business executives, the Translational Research Center will ensure that our researchers are asking the right questions, and that they are producing their research in a way that it can be consumed by academic peers and leading practitioners.”
Eventually, the Fox School will house the Translational Research Center in 1810 Liacouras Walk. That space is currently under renovation. The Fox School’s expansion across Liacouras Walk is happening in conjunction with the school’s centennial. For now, the center operates out of Dhanaraj’s office.
“Between the center, our school’s expansion, and our 100-year anniversary, it is an exciting time to be at the Fox School,” he said.
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.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
Decades after the implementation of affirmative action, African-American and Hispanic-American students are more underrepresented within colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago, according to The New York Times.
This gap extends into business as well. Only one quarter of senior executives in Fortune 500 companies are minorities, with Hispanic and African-American executives underrepresented by 9 and 13 percentage points, respectively.
Alumnus Bernie Milano, BS ’61, saw an opportunity to break this cycle. In 1994, he founded The PhD Project, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing workplace diversity, to address this racial disparity in workplaces and academia—starting with business schools’ doctorate programs.
It began with a question, Milano recalled to the Chronicle for Higher Education in 2015. Frustrated at the lack of diversity while recruiting for KPMG, Milano wanted to know what could encourage students of color to study business: “Would diverse faculty attract diverse students? And with a diverse faculty and diverse students, would the diverse students then perform up to their potential?”
An absence of faculty of color at the front of classroom can inherently limit ideas of higher education for minority students. The PhD Project guides and encourages African-American, Hispanic-American, and Native-American students to pursue doctorate degrees, in order to widen the pool of underrepresented faculty, administrators, and leaders throughout the nation’s schools and workplaces.
The Fox School recognizes the crucial role that business schools play in this cycle. “By supporting the students of today, we are strengthening the next generation of faculty and leaders,” says Lisa Fitch, senior associate director of PhD programs at the Fox School.
Together, The PhD Project and the Fox School help doctoral students and alumni faculty members become anchors of proof that young students need. The alumni then become role models, demonstrating that a doctorate is achievable and necessary for a representative career cycle.
“As a minority in higher education, you are likely to be the only one in your cohort,” says Jamie Weathers, PhD ’16, an alumna of the Fox School and graduate of The PhD Project. “Having access to a network of people that look like you, that face the same challenges as you, is beyond helpful.”
According to a study from the TIAA Institute, university faculties have become slightly more diverse in the last two decades. Since 1994, The PhD Project has been successful in guiding 1,000 African-American, Hispanic-American, and Native-American students in completing their doctorate degrees.
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For many students, the first semester of a new degree program is challenging. For Ivan Cardona, it was nearly impossible.
Cardona, a Puerto Rican native, came to the Fox School for his first residency of the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program on September 15—about one week after Hurricane Irma rocked the island territory.
Immediately after the weekend residency, he faced down Hurricane Maria, which directly hit the island with 175 mph winds and more than three feet of rain. Cardona barely arrived home in time to take shelter with his two young daughters.
“My home rumbled and shattered for over 24 hours,” Cardona remembered. At 5 a.m., he watched as water began creeping into his home. After the storm, with his family safe, his house compromised and his business flattened, Cardona reflected on his situation. “Puerto Rico was simply gone, and whoever took it away left a broken, wrecked, and shattered skeleton of an island.”
Nearly the entire island lost electricity and almost half lacked access to clean drinking water. As Cardona was left to rebuild his community, his dreams of a doctorate degree could not have felt further from his grasp.
“Weeks went by before I got to communicate with Temple.” Without internet, Cardona traveled to the nearby medical center for his evening WebEx classes, “hiding from the mandatory curfew on the island,” he conceded.
Yet despite these seemingly insurmountable odds, Cardona persevered.
In mid-October, he traveled back to Philadelphia to, in his words, graciously bow out of the program. Instead, Cardona received overwhelming support from colleagues and professors. “I felt a real sense of empathy, commitment and concern that I never expected,” he said of his experience. With new books to replace his waterlogged ones, Cardona finished his second residency with a renewed spirit.
Now, four months after Hurricane Maria hit, nearly one-third of Puerto Rican residents are still living without power. Although Cardona’s struggles are far from over—long lines at the ATM, grocery stores, and gas stations constantly overwhelm him—he has led efforts to clean up and rebuild his community. In November, he organized a Thanksgiving dinner for over 2,000 people, and in December, he coordinated a toy drive that benefited nearly 3,000 children.
As he starts the second semester of his three-year executive doctoral program, Cardona reflected on the challenges of last few months. Thanks to the support from his colleagues, he was able to keep up with his studies while helping the island recover. “I realize we were more than just a cohort,” he said. “I’m part of the Temple family and we take care of one another. It is something that truly makes me Temple proud.”
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Pursuing a PhD involves years of commitment and dedication. Fox Research took some time to reflect with Zeda Li, a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Statistical Science Department, as he comes closer to receiving the title of “doctor.” Find out more about his experiences avoiding burnout, publishing in journals, and life after dissertations.
Congratulations on nearing the end of your doctoral degree. How do you reflect on your time at the Fox School?
Our cohort in the Statistical Science Department was great! We all started together in our required courses and we continued working together every day—whether it was for homework, tests, or any questions. The faculty in my department has been very helpful, as well. For example, I am working with Dr. Yuexiao Dong, even though we are in completely different fields. Dr. Zhigen Zhao was able to show me new material through computing clusters. When I was preparing for my job interviews, Dr. Cheng Yong Tang scheduled several rehearsal talks so that faculty and students from the department could give me feedback.
You recently authored a paper that was accepted for publication in the Journal of the American Statistical Association. It is rare to see a PhD candidate as a first author, much less a journal of this caliber. What was your experience producing the paper?
I never thought my dissertation could be accepted into an A-level journal, but I think this is why you need advisors because they have more perspective with what kind of research can be highly regarded enough to be published. This paper was supervised by Dr. [Robert] Krafty, and of course, Dr. [William] Wei gave useful feedback. I was also able to attend the Joint Statistical Meeting, which is the largest annual statistic meeting. I was able to get a lot of great feedback prior to the publication of the paper.
How have you seen your work have real-world impact?
I am working with Dr. Krafty on a grant investigating the time-series data that measures patients during different medical experiments—specifically sleep data experiments. We are trying to understand why brain signals occur while patients are sleeping by looking into the relationship between those signals and the characteristics of these patients. This will help inform doctors how they should treat patients, especially those with insomnia, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and the elderly who may be stressed—all of which can affect sleep patterns.
What advice to you have for other doctoral students?
From my experience, the most important thing is time management. I do not spend all my time studying and researching. I do research but I also like to watch sports, go to Philadelphia 76ers’ games, and play soccer. You have to do things in an efficient manner with balance. Once you work, you pay attention. Once you play, you can forget about your research for a while. It is important to have balance.
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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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It started as a casual conversation with a friend.
That is how Dr. Gordon Burtch, PHD ’13, says he decided to obtain his PhD in management information systems (MIS) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. He was already working as a consultant with an undergraduate degree in software engineering. A doctoral degree, he thought, would help him harness the experiences he had in the business industry and explore research in an entrepreneurial way.
Today, he has received two of the top honors available to young scholars.
At the end of 2017, Burtch received both the Early-Career Award from the Association of Information Systems and the Sandra A. Slaughter Early Career Award from the INFORMS Information Systems Society. Both awards recognize individuals in the early stages of their careers who have already greatly contributed to the field of information systems through research, teaching, or service.
As an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, Burtch focuses on understanding what drives people to contribute online—such as supporting a crowdfunding campaign or donating to a charity. He analyzes website data to model and predict consumer behavior, explores social factors like the influence of peer groups, and designs interventions that aim to encourage people to get involved in online campaigns.
While Burtch says these awards are quite the honor, he credits his experience at the Fox School with much of his success today.
“I was given the freedom to explore collaborations with whomever I wanted,” Burtch explains. After multiple collaborative research efforts, including with senior associate dean of research Paul Pavlou, Burtch found his niche working with Dr. Sunil Wattal, associate professor in the MIS department.
In working with Wattal, Burtch discovered an interest in econometrics and was able to expand his research expertise under the guidance of his mentor. Being at the Fox School, he says, gave him resources and ability to experiment until he found his forte.
Now, Burtch is seen as an emerging leader in his field. Not only is he dedicated to his research efforts, but he also takes time to mentor students. “I always tell my students,” he says, “to start from the business problem first and work backwards.”
While the awards are an honor, Burtch is not complacent. His research direction is constantly evolving, but Burtch hopes to expand his research to support the public good. He plans to apply his insights to stimulate positive social behaviors, such as encouraging people to volunteer or donate money to charities.