Fox School of Business at Temple University researchers outline why brands would be wise to include micro-influencers as part of their marketing strategy this holiday season
PHILADELPHIA — It’s the holiday shopping season and by all accounts, it’s going to be a big one. According to a recent OpenX Technologies report, consumers are expected to spend more than last year, and this is especially true for millennials. The report found that millennials plan to spend 15% more than the average shopper and 25% more than baby boomers.
So how are companies and brands supposed to break through the noise to reach these potential customers? Two Temple University Fox School of Business professors believe the answer could be micro-influencers.
“Micro-influencers bring credibility and authenticity,” says Jay Sinha, associate professor of marketing and supply chain management. “The best ones bring in their own personal narratives that mesh well with the brands they endorse.”
Together with Thomas Fung, assistant professor of marketing and supply chain management, Sinha recently authored the “Right Way to Market to Millennials,” published in MIT Sloan’s Management Review.
A micro-influencer is not Cardi B or Rihanna. Rather, they are defined as those that have a follower base numbering between 1,000 and 100,000. They’re someone that a millennial can relate to, and that’s what’s been missing with traditional influencer marketing.
A recent study by Bazaarvoice noted that traditional influencer marketing is falling out of favor; 63% of online audiences noted that influencer content is materialistic and misrepresents real life. In comparison, micro-influencer marketing is just the opposite.
“They provide opportunities for companies, big and small, to reach out to narrow and often difficult-to-access subpopulations,” Sinha says. “Micro-influencers have finessed the subtle ‘nudge’ into an art form.”
According to Sinha and Fung, some of the more prominent brands using micro-influencers include Nike, Sephora, Levi, Microsoft and many others. That will remain the case this holiday season.
For instance, Zales Jewelers recently partnered with YouTube star Jaci Marie Smith and her husband, Leif Carlson, to create a “Holiday Love Story” across a number of social platforms. Similarly, clothing retailer H&M recently created the H&M League, a group of 22 influencers who have been promoting the brand for the year. Much of the content specifically revolved around key holiday dates like Black Friday and New Year’s Eve.
“As department stores fight for relevance ahead of the start of the holiday shopping season, micro-influencers command a significant role in framing a new marketing narrative,” Fung says. “Boomers might be okay with ‘sea of sameness’ product offerings, however, millennials thrive on an ‘experience playground,’ where micro-influencers become their lifestyle coaches.”
This micro-influencing trend likely is not going anywhere anytime soon, either.
“Even though there are indications recently that ‘influencer fatigue’ has set in among millennials, they still remain open to those micro-influencers that have suasive power over them from their charisma and expertise in some niche market category,” Sinha says.
About the Fox School of Business
The vision of Temple University’s Fox School of Business is to transform student lives, develop leaders, and impact our local and global communities through excellence and innovation in education and research.
The Fox School’s research institutes and centers as well as 200+ full-time faculty provide access to market-leading technologies and foster a collaborative and creative learning environment that offers more than curriculum—it offers an experience. Coupled with its leading student services, the Fox School ensures that its graduates are fully prepared to enter the job market.
The flexibility and responsiveness of our knowledge-creating research faculty allow the school to address the needs of industry and generate courses and programs in emerging fields. As a leader in business research, the Fox School values interdisciplinary approaches and translational research that influence and impact real-world problems. Our research informs an adaptive curriculum, supports innovation in teaching and prepares students for the ever-changing business environment.
For more than a year, representatives of the Fox community have been working to pave the path for the school’s future. Since announcing the Fox Strategic Plan 2025 in October, Dean Ronald Anderson and the school’s leadership team have been planning ways to support the four pillars that outline our future.
As the Fox School works towards transforming student lives, developing leaders, and impacting our local and global communities through excellence and innovation in education and research, Dean Anderson elaborates on what a successful implementation plan means to him.
How will the Strategic Plan lead the Fox School into the future?
When you examine what the workforce may look like over the next several decades, it is dramatically different from what it is today or was 20 years ago. The Strategic Plan will position the Fox School as one of the leading business schools of the 21st century by building on a solid foundation of our four pillars: Educational Innovation, Research Leadership, Inclusive Workplace Culture and a focus on Community Engagement.
Educational Innovation is about delivering a curriculum and content that builds business leaders who will perform in the evolving marketplace over the next several decades. We strive to deliver educational experiences in a manner that best prepare our students for the future of work.
Being a research leader in business education means that we will commit to expanding research beyond the academic world. We will impact the way managers think about their business and the way industries operate. That requires translating research into impactful ideas that serve the business community.
What is the Fox School doing to engage an inclusive and diverse community?
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are important issues to us. The Fox School is creating DEI initiatives in several forms. We are in the process of identifying and will follow best practices and principles supported by DEI awareness events and training to mirror DEI advancements in industry.
We will facilitate and support collaborative work between and among Fox faculty and staff, including formal recognition of impactful joint activities, and purposeful school-wide communication of activities and achievements. We need to continue to grow as a place where everyone feels welcome and where everyone believes they can make a difference and impact student outcomes. That is why we need to continue to cultivate an inclusive workplace where all of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, business and social partners and all of our stakeholders can thrive.
How does the Strategic Plan increase students’ access to a business education?
Through a collaborative effort between the Fox School, the Freire Foundation and Build the Future Education Collaborative, we launched an initiative to recruit students from Freire and Freire Tech high schools to give students the tools and skills they need to succeed in college. The Fox School provides college mentors to the students in the classroom, as well as additional support to their originating high schools. The Fox School, with support from other Temple University offices, will provide these high schools and their students with workshops on career counseling, financial literacy and college admissions.
This is one way we strive to empower Philadelphian residents. We also will emphasize collaboration with others at our school, our sister schools here at Temple, our neighborhood in North Philadelphia, the city of Philadelphia, the U.S. and the global business communities. We want to create a vibrant society where everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential. Part of that process is building a more robust relationship with our alumni and corporate partners—allowing them to have a role in serving our students, our colleagues and our neighbors. I look forward to sharing more updates on the activities and programs that support this effort in the future.
How does the plan impact the business world?
Each year, we graduate a class of future professionals for the business world. By creating quality education, we put businesses in a position to prosper by hiring students that increase productivity, engage in problem-solving and bring new, innovative ideas to the workplace.
The Fox School has a tremendous experiential learning-focused curriculum that puts our students in a position to succeed. They learn how decisions are made, often in real-time through interaction with today’s business leaders. We want corporations and graduate schools to recognize that Fox students are the best in the marketplace. We want those corporations and graduate schools to line up to hire Fox students and alumni.
How will the plan enhance school?
We are evolving our culture to meet the demands of the business world, not just today, but for decades to come. If you look at this plan you will see the hands of numerous stakeholders, from students and faculty to staff administrators and alumni.
What comes next for the implementation of the plan?
The planning process is almost complete. We are identifying the key performance indicators (KPIs) for initiatives, and the next steps are to execute those initiatives, measure these and report out to the Fox community. We want everyone to know where we are going so they can hold us accountable.
We are reinforcing our experiential-learning focus with the data-driven, emotionally intelligent insights that will serve our students and the business world for decades to come. The educational experiences we offer students are impactful, and we are looking at initiatives that will enhance those experiences to match the evolving market.
We also want to reach the wider world with our research. We are taking steps to translate academic research through efforts like the Translational Research Center (TRC) and by prioritizing researchers’ capacity for writing and presenting their research to non-academic audiences.
To learn more about this initiative and the vision for the future of Fox School of Business, visit the Fox Strategic Plan 2025 website.
José E. Muñoz Jr. and Hyun Jong Park are making their Temple debut
The Department of Accounting of the Fox School of Business welcomes two new professors—Hyun Jong Park and José E. Muñoz Jr. Both professionals bring a unique mix of high-quality research, innovative teaching and professional experiences to the department.
Hyun Jong Park joins Temple as an assistant professor, having recently earned his doctorate from the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida. Park’s research focuses on timely and relevant issues in auditing, examining the intersection of auditing, regulation and litigation risk. His dissertation investigates the real-world concern of the relation between audit firms’ political connections and PCAOB inspection reports. Before entering his PhD, Park received his master’s of commerce and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Melbourne.
Park’s teaching strategies allows students to learn at their own pace. “I believe each student learns in different ways. I think students need to work in their own time making sure that they understand the materials covered in the classroom, said Park, I give them instructions and explanations so that they could learn the material.”
José E. Muñoz Jr. is a professor of instruction who recently served as the associate dean of graduate business education at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. He brings his 18 years of teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels and over 30 years of experience in senior executive management positions.
Muñoz considers his teaching method as a mixture of a practical and theoretical approach to business. “We discuss work experiences and problems experienced by the students and me and apply them to the classroom lessons of the day, as a way of making the textbook material come to life in real-world situations,” says Muñoz.
Muñoz has also served on numerous advisory boards, corporate boards and civic boards. Muñoz received a doctorate of business administration in accounting from Anderson University in Indiana, and a master of business administration and two bachelor of science degrees from Florida State University.
Bringing real-world professional insights, broad teaching experience and a rigorous research-based perspective to the classroom, Muñoz and Park establish themselves as professors who will engage students and encourage their learning at Fox and into their professional lives.
As the way we do business evolves faster than ever, leaders need to be prepared. Employees look to their senior executives for confidence, guidance and direction—especially in times of change. But being a leader means nothing unless people choose to follow, and people generally choose to follow those in whom they believe. “It all hinges on the leader’s credibility,” says Lynne Andersson, associate professor of human resource management at the Fox School.
The Power of Perception
Andersson’s previous research started by identifying behaviors that make employees cynical towards their leaders. She identified two key factors in credibility: perceived competence and perceived trustworthiness. Both elements are dependent upon outsiders’ viewpoints—whether or not they believe in the leader’s skills, knowledge, values and dependability.
“These perceptions are extremely important in the digital age,” explains Andersson. With so much information available to be collected and scrutinized, from social networks to artificial intelligence, people may have concerns about who is in control. “Employees want to know that those who are managing them and assessing their performance are competent and trustworthy.”
After having started the research around the question of cynicism, Andersson reversed the point of view. She and her colleagues conducted research studies, gathering feedback from blue- and white-collar workers located all over the country over the course of three years, to identify specific actions that leaders can take to improve credibility with their employees.
Building Credibility, Projecting Competence
Leaders who emphasize the future were seen as the most competent by their employees. “Creating clear plans for future success is different than simply stating a strategic vision or setting performance targets,” Andersson notes. “It involves mapping out, in detail, how the organization will achieve its goals.” Keeping on top of industry trends, predicting upcoming changes and having clear ideas of how to respond to both are other ways for leaders to demonstrate their visions for the future.
Employees value leaders who demonstrate a focus on organizational outcomes but who also attach those outcomes to an individual’s job. “It’s important to convey that an employee’s work affects the whole organization,” Andersson advises. “Employees attribute competence to leaders who can make those connections.”
Competent leaders also look for ways to improve their organization’s operations. “You can consider eliminating unnecessary reporting structures, reducing spending waste, establishing new roles or investing in technology that improves business effectiveness,” Andersson says.
She also advised against putting too much emphasis on credentials. “In our meritocratic world, we love credentials—but people in our study did not equate credentials with competence. Leaders had to prove it through their actions or behaviors, not their resume.”
The most important step to take when trying to project trustworthiness is speaking and acting consistently. “To begin, it means making decisions that aren’t contradictory,” says Andersson. “But it also means behaving in a way that aligns with promises, explicit or unspoken.” Leaders should deeply understand all of their stakeholders’ needs in order to prevent potential conflicts.
Leaders that embody the organization’s vision and values are also regarded as highly trustworthy, according to the research. “Employees want to see consistency between the walk and talk.” Andersson encourages senior executives to be mindful of both their professional and personal values, as employees are watching closely to verify authenticity.
According to the research, employees were more trusting of leaders who valued them. “While you may prioritize your employees in your words, make sure that employees are recognized,” says Andersson. “Show how important your employees through things like rewards and plum assignments.”
Insights for Better Leaders
How can senior executives apply this research on the job? Andersson notes that leaders should be cognizant to two main points. First, the good outweighs the bad—sometimes. “When regarding competence,” says Andersson, “people tend to weigh positive information more heavily than negative information.” This means that one competent action may be a good signal of reliability to a leader’s employees. However, the opposite is true for trustworthiness; one dishonest statement or unethical action can make employees lose faith.
Second, restoring credibility is difficult, but not impossible. “To regain lost credibility, leaders must reestablish positive expectations,” Andersson advises. “This means they must repeatedly engage in trustworthy acts since a single act won’t mean much.” By focusing on the actions outlined by Andersson and her colleagues, leaders can slowly build back that relationship.
Credibility in Action
Actions speak louder than words, and according to Andersson, these are the most important things leaders should do to increase their credibility amongst employees.
What Do Competent Leaders Do?
- Emphasize the future
- Prioritize employees
- Take action and initiative
- Communicate effectively
- Gain knowledge and experience
What Do Trustworthy Leaders Do?
- Communicate and act in a consistent manner
- Protect the organization and employees
- Embody the organization’s vision and values
- Consult with and listen to key stakeholders
- Communicate openly with others
- Value employees
This article is a sneak peek of the next issue of On The Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
Will robots replace humans at work?
As technology evolves, this question has been on the minds of many. For repetitive jobs, some are already automated. But managers and supervisors, whose jobs require higher levels of cognitive ability, should be safe—right?
Xue Guo and Zhi Cheng, two doctoral students in the Fox School’s Department of Management Information Systems, studied how the new technologies like TaskRabbit, a leading online platform to find immediate help for everyday tasks, have affected managerial-level jobs.
In analyzing data from the housekeeping industry, Guo and Cheng found a 2.9 percent decrease in the total number of offline full-time workers after the platform’s introduction—a drop mainly driven by a decrease in the number of frontline supervisors and managers.
Effects of Digital Management
The evolution of the gig economy—and the subsequent digital platforms—has created new opportunities for those searching for work. ‘Gigs’ allow people to be more selective about the employers they want to work for, receive relatively higher pay and choose from a field of work options. Even employers enjoy the flexibility of recruiting extra help as needed, reducing fixed labor costs and presenting them with options for specialized skills.
So how do these platforms change the rules of the workplace, especially for management?
To answer that question, the researchers integrated data from TaskRabbit, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, aiming to better understand the impact of the gig economy for routine cognitive workers versus manual workers.
“After the entry of TaskRabbit,” says Guo, “we observed a 5.5 percent decrease in first-line managerial jobs.” Manual workers, such as cleaners and janitors, were not as affected. This suggests that the platform mostly affected middle-skill management, whose primary tasks were to arrange and schedule service in the housekeeping industry.
Managers Moving to TaskRabbit
TaskRabbit reduced the demand for offline managers in the industry by directly connecting some of the tech-savvy cleaners to their clients. According to Guo, the detailed information about clients’ requirements and workers’ qualifications “allows them to connect with each other at lower search costs.”
Not all managers who left the industry were replaced by robots, however. Supervisors who were skilled in using technology could move to these digital platforms, giving them more freedom in an online role. “On TaskRabbit, managers could recruit and supervise regular cleaners more efficiently,” reasons Guo. “The platform also provided more flexibility and autonomy, incentivizing them to move online.”
Laborers Grapple with Technology
The researchers found that TaskRabbit increased the productivity of manual workers by efficiently planning schedules, monitoring their performance and solving disputes, subsequently driving market demand. The platform also attracted workers of different skills and backgrounds while increasing labor supply and accessibility by reducing the barriers of entry to get a job.
Laborers could also take advantage of the options for flexibility and mobility. “We observed that, even though the number of jobs has reduced, we could see an increase in self-employed workers,” says Guo. “Later studies may look at the actual wage differences, but TaskRabbit can support the option of self-employment of both managers and laborers.”
Learning To Keep Up
Thanks to technological changes like these, the dynamics of the traditional workplace are continuing to shift. Generalizing to other industries, Guo mentions that these platforms increase productivity and allow for more efficient business models, but may come at a cost to the less computer literate.
The researchers, however, are positive about this emerging economy in the future of work. “The barrier to entry of TaskRabbit is not very high,” says Guo. While this skills-biased technology change is happening in the workplace, it can create new opportunities—particularly for those entrepreneurial workers willing to learn.
This article is a sneak peek of the next issue of On The Verge, the Fox School’s flagship research magazine. For more stories, visit www.fox.temple.edu/ontheverge.
4 recent faculty research articles that will change how you do business
Innovative research has transformed the way we live over the last century. From the airplane and the automobile to the radio and the Internet, progress has come from forward-thinking leaders who discover new solutions and insights into how we do business.
At the Fox School, expert faculty members are taking up that mantle of progress. As they look for unsolved problems or unanswered questions, these researchers explore topics that impact our everyday lives.
1. Don’t play games with names. Mimi Morrin, a professor in the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, found that consumers who were misidentified had a negative emotional reaction to the company. If a marketing email addresses “Shirin” as “Elizabeth,” or a barista calls out “Brian” instead of “Byron,” Morrin found consumers feel disrespected. Some even had a physical reaction to this transgression, like pushing a coffee cup further away on the table. In order to prevent customers from running away, companies don’t just have to personalize, they have to personalize correctly. Morrin suggests employing methods like frequent shopper cards in order to successfully embrace the use of customer names.
2. Getting angry at work can (sometimes) be okay. Most people avoid yelling at work. But anger can be productive, says Deanna Geddes, associate dean, graduate programs, at the Fox School. Her recent research studied workplace anger by looking at the status (either a supervisor or subordinate) and role (either expressing or receiving angry feelings) of the parties involved. If the employees already had a strong relationship, Geddes found that emotional disagreements promoted dialogue, improved working relationships, and created a beneficial movement towards organizational change. Yet when subordinates were on the receiving end of anger, the results were more often negative. So next time you feel your blood boiling in a meeting, recognize your role and status in the situation before deciding to unleash.
3. Remember what’s in your wallet. How much cash is in your wallet right now? Did you guess correctly? Joydeep Srivastava, the Robert L. Johnson Professor of Marketing, found that people are more likely to remember what’s in their wallets when they were holding larger bills. In addition, not only were they less likely to spend their money, participants with higher denominations were more likely to underestimate the amount of money they had. If you would like to be pleasantly surprised next time you open your purse, try taking out a $50 when you go to the ATM.
4. Crowded by ads—it can cost you. Crowds are the worst. Whether it is a congested subway car or packed venue, people can often respond by turning inwards and towards their phones. Xueming Luo, Charles E. Gilliland, Jr. Professor of Marketing discovered that being in a crowded area actually increases our susceptibility to mobile ads. In his study of nearly 15,000 mobile phone users, commuters in crowded train cars were twice as likely to make a purchase in response to a mobile ad, compared to those in less crowded trains. While we normally associate crowds with anxiety and risk-avoidance, Luo found that mobile ads can be a welcome relief in this environment. For companies, this means a new way to boost marketing effectiveness. For consumers, let’s be real—this won’t stop us from pulling out our phones.
For more updates on Fox Research, go to fox.temple.edu/idea-marketplace.
This article was written for Fox Focus, the Fox School’s alumni magazine by Monica Wadhwa, associate professor, marking and supply chain management. Prior to her career in business academia, she has worked in the industry as a management consultant. Dr. Wadhwa’s research focuses on understanding the motivational and affective determinants of consumer decisions making.
There is a future with no drinkable water. There is a future in which the Amazon is populated with the skeletons of extinct animals and fossils of long-dead plants. There is a future in which humans will struggle to breathe.
It may sound like a distant future in a science fiction novel, but it is an imminent reality. Climate change impacts us in every facet of our lives. Everything we do, everything we eat, how we commute, how much we buy and how we discard it, has an impact on our planet.
Reversing climate change is about changing societal behaviors. As a behavioral scientist, I believe that my field of research—which is focused on understanding human behaviors and decision making—can help positively impact the globe.
To that extent, the Fox School of Business is proud to launch the Sustainability and Social Impact Strategic Initiative. This initiative, which is focused on researching, understanding and designing ways to nudge consumers into adopting sustainable consumption behaviors, is one way we’re moving the needle on climate change.
Focus on Long-Term Benefits
Resistance toward adopting sustainable behaviors often comes from our tendency to focus on short-term benefits, while devaluing long-term, more significant rewards. By understanding how and when consumers focus on future benefits, we can nudge them to change their behaviors around sustainable consumption.
For example, my research has found that when people are reminded of how busy they are, they tend to feel that they are valuable. This leads people to make decisions that are better from a long-term perspective–for example, being more likely to save money for the future than spending money on indulgences today.
Another reason why people don’t adopt sustainable behaviors is that many feel a decreased sense of emotional attachment with nature and have begun to treat it as a separate entity. Building a more emotional relationship with nature might motivate people to place a greater focus on sustainable behaviors.
In my research, I am working on simple interventions that encourage the public to build positive memories with nature, such as inviting them to take pictures of their favorite outdoor spots in their neighborhood. This simple activity can make people feel more connected to nature, thus motivating them to adopt behaviors that are good for the environment in general.
Behavioral Science for Policy Change
Behavioral science does not only help design compelling interventions aimed at encouraging sustainable consumption. It can also help increase the effectiveness of government programs.
Take sustainable advertising, for example. Through my research, I found that people can imagine a danger more vividly when the message communicates a single risk as opposed to multiple risks. This insight can help policymakers, who spend a significant amount of money on sustainable advertising. Ensuring that these messages only communicate a single risk can result in an increased likelihood that readers will adopt the desired behaviors.
At the Fox School, we understand our responsibility as global citizens to create a positive impact on the world. The Sustainability and Social Impact Initiative is committed to acting on that sense of responsibility by focusing on research aimed at encouraging sustainable consumption and working with communities to implement these behavioral interventions.
Cleaner Actions for a Cleaner World: 8 Simple Ways to Live Greener At Home
- Switch one (or more!) appliance to an energy efficient model
- Visit your local farmers market for groceries and produce
- Cancel your paper statements
- Unplug chargers and appliances when not in use
- Repurpose glass jars as leftover containers
- Reuse scrap paper
- When driving, combine all your errands for the week in one trip
- Donate your old clothes and furniture to thrift stores instead of throwing them away
Stay up-to-date on Fox School research at fox.temple.edu/idea-marketplace.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, especially in education.
For years, academics and business executives alike have questioned whether the insights from business school research conducted are getting into the hands of those who need it. The debate about “rigor versus relevance” is age-old. While the answer may seem simple, the process of getting there is complex.
The Fox School of Business is committed to pushing this conversation forward. On Friday, March 29, the Fox School’s Translational Research Center (TRC) hosted the 2019 Impact Summit, bringing together deans, faculty and students from across disciplines and parts of the world to determine how schools can move the needle of impact in tangible ways.
The attendees sought to answer the question: How can business school leadership change the way research is conceived, produced and implemented to prioritize impact?
These are five lessons business school leaders can apply:
1. Start at the top. “It takes time to re-engineer a school at a systems level,” said Tarun Khanna, a professor at the Harvard Business School. However, a top-down perspective is key to encouraging institutional change.
Jerry Davis, associate dean at the Ross School of Business, highlighted the University of Michigan’s experiments with the promotion process. By making research impact a more significant part of an associate professor’s evaluation, he advised, deans can use promotion structures to affect change in the way their faculty conduct research. Getting top business schools across the country to agree on a new evaluation structure would be even more influential.
2. Instill impact’s importance early. The attendees also discussed tackling the issue of impact from the opposite side—starting with junior faculty and doctoral students. Elizabeth Cowley, deputy dean of the University of Syndey, said that in Australia, “faculty are encouraged to build a narrative of the long-term impact [they] have had on some sector of society.” Attendees agreed, remarking on the importance of letting junior faculty members define for themselves how they would want to make an impact and develop a strategy based on that objective. With doctoral students, the starting point should be their research questions—advisors should ask if it is grounded in a real-life phenomenon and has relevance in the business world.
3. Systematically engage with business. “Business leaders tend to look at our schools primarily as labor markets for sourcing the MBAs and business graduates,” said Joanne Li, dean of the business school at Florida International University. “We need to help them recognize us as knowledge markets as well. We are able to produce expert knowledge vital for their business growth and survival.”
Brent Beardsley, the chief strategy officer at Vanguard, talked about the value of an advisory board made up of executives, entrepreneurs and academics. “That mix is really rich,” he said. “This is a lab outside of the walls of Vanguard’s large institution that can get out in front of market trends and themes.”
Participants championed the creation of a brokerage platform between companies and universities that could connect those who have real problems to those working on practical solutions. Simple activities like business sabbaticals for faculty, corporate engagement in research projects and programs like Fox Management Consulting can help faculty to better define their research questions.
4. Use teaching as a tool. One speaker suggests a change in vocabulary to underscore the importance of teaching. “We shouldn’t be referring to a ‘teaching load,’ said Gautam Ahuja of SC Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. “It’s not a load, it’s a tool.” Academic leadership can encourage faculty to step into the shoes of learners, focus on practical insights in the classrooms and foster intellectual questions with relevance. Stronger connections to industry, through practitioner conferences, relationships with practice faculty and co-teaching with executives can also benefit classroom outcomes.
5. Be a community hub. Business schools will also benefit from a stronger community connection. “We should be known by the community where they can come to get ideas,” said Will Mitchell, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Attendees brainstormed ways to make research more accessible but noted that faculty will need different reward structures and training to bring that to fruition. Ideas like three-minute presentations or one-page summaries of academic papers can help get ideas out of academia and into the real world.
Ronald Anderson, interim dean of the Fox School, remarked at the end of the day that a lot was learned. “Disruption is going to have to be part of the process,” he said. “Technology and innovation are changing higher education, and research is going to have to address that.”
The event, a follow-up to the 2018 Editors’ Summit, is part of a series of initiatives by the TRC to change how both academics and practitioners view business research. Other activities have included the TRC’s Seminar Series, which invites executives to share their viewpoints on faculty research presentations, and case writing workshops, which encourage faculty members to learn and perfect their skills in writing and submitting teaching cases for publication.
Learn more about the Fox School’s Translational Research Center.
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).
“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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 entropy—or drastic randomness—in fake users’ ratings.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
The season of giving has been productive for the Fox School of Business. In the spirit of the holidays, the Fox School faculty and staff came up with creative ways to give back to Philadelphia and the Temple community.
Filling “Purses of Hope” for Local Women’s Shelters
For their annual We Give Back event, the Fox School and School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) marketing and communications team donated to local charity Purses of Hope. This organization delivers purse donations to women’s shelters in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area housing women in poverty or seeking refuge from abusive partners and toxic households. Each purse is filled with female hygiene, beauty or clothing products. The team was able to donate 100 purses to women in need!
Bartending Deans and Student Scholarship Donations
On Dec. 10, the Fox School and STHM faculty and staff came together to celebrate a successful fall semester and give back to Temple University students. From 5-7 p.m., Dean Anderson and the rest of the Fox School dean’s served as guest bartenders at Interstate Draft House in Fishtown. All tips and $1 of every draft beer was donated to the Temple student scholarship fund, which helps provide accessibility and excellent education for students across all walks of life.
Have a suggestion for a great nonprofit or charitable organization that should be on our radar? Contact us!
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.
Remember the last time you donated warm clothes to a homeless shelter and felt good about yourself? Or that time your friends helped you get through a difficult life problem after which you couldn’t help but feel extreme gratitude towards them?
A lot of traditional research has been done on why people help and how they feel after helping. You Jin Kim, assistant professor of Human Resource Management at the Fox School, goes beyond just that by exploring the role of the recipient of the help. Her research emphasizes how demonstrating gratitude, as well as the helper’s feelings of pride, interact to encourage repeated helping.
In her paper, “A Dyadic Model of Motives, Pride, Gratitude, and Helping,” which was accepted for publication by the Journal of Organizational Behaviour, Kim demonstrates that the motives of the helper interact to predict pride via initial helping whereas recipient attributions of helper motives predict recipient gratitude in response to being helped. This interaction of emotions (i.e., pride and gratitude) influences any subsequent helping by the helper, making them both active members of the social exchange.
Kim points out that the helper’s motives drive their initial actions. She highlights two positive motives: “autonomous motives,” where individuals help because they value doing so, and “other-oriented motives,” where individuals help because of their concern for others. These motives often lead to voluntary helping that is intended to benefit others.
These motives affect the perception of the recipient and the level of appreciation they feel. “Recipients seek information about helpers and helping contexts because they seek to understand why others help them,” Kim reasons. For example, an employee might choose to cover a shift for a sick worker because he or she truly cares about the coworker’s welfare, leading to the recipient attribute this action to the helper’s selfless (what Kim classifies as autonomous or other-oriented) motives. In such interactions, the recipient feels more gratitude toward the helper.
Kim also considers that the motives may not always be altruistic. She elaborates, “They could be doing it because of impression management, career enhancement motives, and not truly directed towards benefitting others.” For example, a helper could choose to teach a peer a new skill with the goal of transferring an undesirable task to this peer. Such interactions fail to evoke the feeling of pride or gratitude in either party.
Kim highlights cases where, although the helping motive was genuine and the helpers experienced authentic pride, they did not engage in repeated helping unless recipients expressed their gratitude. “Unlike economic exchanges, social exchange returns are not specified in advance, and so reciprocity is not guaranteed,” says Kim. “A simple ‘thank you’ makes a lot of difference.” Thus expressing gratitude is very crucial in encouraging the helper to continue helping others in the future, making the recipient an important influencer of the interaction.
The results of these studies have practical implication for managers. “Managers need to understand why helping is being provided and create a work environment where employees do not feel pressured to help and that helping is voluntary,” says Kim. “It should not be related to any type of organizational decision, such as a promotion or vacation days.”
Importantly, gratitude also has positive implications for recipients. Kim says, “Managers also need to emphasize the benefits of showing gratitude and encourage recipients to communicate their gratitude when receiving help has been positive.” Such reciprocative interactions create a positive environment at a workplace, subsequently improving the efficiency and lowering the turnover intentions of all employees.
Learn more about Fox School Research.
The “agency theory of the firm,” a way of looking at social interactions in business, says that managers are agents of shareholders. As such, managers must generally make decisions that maximize shareholder profits. Since the Citizens United case in 2010, those decisions have included the right to make unlimited independent political expenditures, under the right to freedom of expression.
So what are the ethical implications of companies making contributions for or against a political candidate? Daniel Isaacs, assistant professor of Legal Studies and academic director in the Fox School, weighs on this question in his article, “When Government Contractors May or May Not Spend Money on Political Speech,” which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Business Ethics.
“There are some situations where it will be in the economic interests of businesses to forgo making independent political expenditures,” says Isaacs. By aligning profit motives with ethical conduct, Isaacs aims to remove barriers to ethical behavior.
Sometimes, however, profits and ethics do not align. In these cases, Isaacs argues that managers may not use the agency theory of the firm as a means to escape their ethical obligations.
For example, says Isaacs, imagine a private prison that is experiencing a reduced number of prisoners due to declining crime rate in the state. The prison has the right to make independent political expenditures on behalf of a candidate that favors laws that would require courts to impose longer prison sentences for all crimes. The outcome of these expenditures and the succeeding election would increase profits for the private prison by ensuring a steady stream of prisoners who will spend more time in jail.
But what happens if maximizing profits for shareholders by making these independent political expenditures leads to profit and unethical outcomes, like longer prison sentences? Does the agency theory allow managers to ignore the ethical situation and simply make money? No, says Isaacs, “because the agency theory relies on the concept that principals must do that which agents dictate.” If that is the case, though, managers cannot act beyond the authority of their principals.
“This relationship between the managers and the shareholders does not dilute the managers’ moral obligation,” Isaacs says. “The agency theory does not grant them an ethical free pass.”
Isaacs says that the shareholders lack the power to authorize managers to make profits in a way that they wouldn’t do themselves. “And managers cannot escape their ethical obligations by claiming that they were just following orders,” he says.
Companies should consider whether it is in their best interests to make independent political expenditures, as forgoing in some cases might make them more appealing. For example, if a company voluntarily waives its right to make independent political expenditures, Isaacs argues that it can use that to its competitive advantage. “One of the risks that at least one private prison identified in its disclosure statement was that the public may change its perception of private prisons,” says Isaacs. “If the public becomes hostile to the concept of private prisons, governments may stop entering into contracts with the corporations—something that a reasonable investor would want to know.”
With the boundaries of profitability, law and ethical obligations blurring in the real world of business, Isaacs’ research works to identify ways in which the market can support ethical decision making. He finds an unexpected friend in agency theory, arguing that the way people justify profit maximization, also serves to demonstrate the limits of shareholder power to engage in or authorize others to undertake such behavior.
“Shareholders and managers, as human beings, have a moral obligation, and desiring profits does not justify all actions of achieving them,” he concludes.