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

holiday shopping bags

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Fox School of Business

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

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

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

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Social Entrepreneurship finalists
Graduate and undergraduate finalists

At the Social Entrepreneurship Summit, profits and people go hand in hand.

The third annual summit, hosted by the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) at the Fox School of Business, is focused on supporting entrepreneurship initiatives that make a positive impact on both Temple University and the Philadelphia region. The summit gives students a space to present new innovative ideas for cash prizes and to network with faculty, staff and professionals in the business community.

On Nov. 20, several contestants with their own social entrepreneurship projects went head to head in a competition, pitching their ideas to a panel of judges. Six graduate and seven undergraduate finalists from across the university demonstrated how their ideas could change the world—and make money.

“There have been a couple of companies that started here and went on to get funding. It’s really incredible; this is a great place for startups,” says Steven Reichert, a junior entrepreneurship student attending the event for the second year in a row.

Natasha Graves, MBA ’18, won this year’s Grand Prize with her idea “VacayAbility.” She describes it as “a user-generated review site where people with disabilities can review places like accommodations and hospitality-based businesses like hotels and restaurants based on accessibility and mobility.”

“I travel a lot and I have a disability. I have chronic illnesses and every time I travel it’s hard to find places that are accessible,” Graves explains. “Recently, I was going to Scottsdale, Ariz. When you google top ten things to do there, it’s [mostly] hiking, and obviously, I can’t hike. So I wanted to make a platform to find things for people even if they have various disabilities.” 

Graves also came in second place in the upper track of this year’s Innovative Idea Competition. Her focus on inclusivity in innovation is an excellent example of the Fox School’s commitment to foster an inclusive community, as one of the four main pillars in the school’s Strategic Plan 2025.

This year, Erik Oberholtzer, a Temple alumnus and co-founder of the company Tender Greens, came to advise the young entrepreneurship students as the keynote speaker.

Oberholtzer’s mission in Tender Greens is to provide broad access to good food, specifically to those in low-income communities. After working as a chef and obtaining his culinary degree from Johnson and Wales University, his passion for the culinary arts is what drew him to launch the company.

His advice? “Start with an inner passion and calling. Then, connect that to something in the world that needs your passion,” Oberholtzer says. “If you build skills, tools and techniques around that passion, then you can find products and services that create positive outcomes.” He goes on to say, “When you innovate a solution to a problem that nobody else is solving, you can monetize. You can add value and make money. In this case, money sponsors good deeds. Money scales positive impact.”

Graves and all the students in this year’s Social Entrepreneurship Summit are an inspiration for the future of double- or triple-bottom-line companies. By competing, they are innovating a better world.

Learn more about the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.

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

Meet five young alumni who are empowering the movers and shakers of tomorrow 

For many reasons, Fox alumni choose to give back to their alma mater and support Temple founder Russell Conwell’s vision to provide an excellent education to all students, regardless of their means. By donating their time, holding leadership positions on alumni association boards, mentoring students or contributing financially to scholarship programs, alumni are offering current students greater opportunities to transform themselves, their communities and the world.

Get to know five dynamic young alumni who have graduated within the past 15 years and are making an impact by giving back.

Illustration of Grant Diener
Grant Diener by Jon Krause

Grant Diener

A shared class with accounting Professor Marco Malandra connected Grant Diener, BBA’15, MAcc ’16, and Peter A. Smith, BBA ’15, outside the classroom. After running into each other at Schuylkill Valley Sports, the two became close friends, supporting each other during their time at the Fox School and into their professional careers working at Big Four accounting firms.

Just two years after graduating, Smith tragically passed away from Lyme disease. Due to complications of this disease, a viral infection ultimately led to heart failure. The unthinkable loss sparked an idea for Diener and his friends to honor Smith’s memory by creating a lasting tribute at the Fox School: the Peter A. Smith Memorial Scholarship for accounting majors. “We elected to do something at Temple since that’s the place we all met Pete and he had great success at Fox,” says Diener.

Diener, his family and friends created a group “#4PetesSake” to raise money for the tuition scholarship and annually host a tailgate in Smith’s honor at Temple Homecoming Weekend. Recipients of the award must submit an essay about a work or volunteer assignment that demonstrates devotion to family, leadership skills and a strong work ethic—characteristics and values Smith possessed.

“Pete was a true gentleman who had an amazing attitude and loved to help others regardless of the task,” says Diener. “No matter how long you knew Pete, he made an impact on each person’s life through his contagious smile, energy and genuine love. His passing was a tragedy, hence why we started this scholarship.”

Illustration of Sasha Buddle
Sasha K. Buddle by Jon Krause

Sasha K. Buddle

Just hours after graduating, Sasha K. Buddle, BBA ’16, HRM ’18, signed up for as many

alumni association newsletters as she could. The journey to her becoming a two-time Fox graduate was long: Bud emigrated from Jamaica to the U.S. following high school graduation, enlisted in the U.S. Army and served a tour in Afghanistan, all before setting her sights on business school. 

“It was important for me to stay involved and make all students and alumni feel like they always have a home at Fox, so I eventually took on a leadership position to make a bigger impact and offer a unique perspective from having a diverse background,” says Buddle. Today, she serves as a director-at-large on the Fox Alumni Board and is responsible for helping plan events, manage the budget and pioneer a new mentorship program for alumni, all while working full-time at Deloitte in human capital services.

Illustration of Jack Cesareo
Jack Cesareo by Jon Krause

Giacomo “Jack” Cesareo

Giacomo “Jack” Cesareo, BBA ’06, believes in the university’s motto, “Perseverance Conquers,” so strongly that he has been an avid supporter of student and alumni initiatives since graduating, serving on numerous committees and leading several groups, most recently as the previous president of the Fox School of Business Alumni Association (FSBAA) and currently as a director-at-large with the Temple University Alumni Association (TUAA).

“I learned lifelong skills at the Fox School that have propelled my career. I believe, as alumni, we should improve our experiences and opportunities for the next person by giving back,” says Cesareo.

He’s demonstrating his commitment to excellence beyond volunteering and showing his support for the strategic vision of the Fox School by funding a new scholarship for students studying international business—a passion he gets to express professionally as an operations manager for a multi-national digital transformation company, CI&T. “I’m giving my support to the strategic plan and direction of Fox to show any prospective student that this is the commitment, character and integrity you can expect from a great institution,” says Cesareo.

Illustration of Eric Hamilton
Eric Hamilton by Jon Krause

Eric Hamilton

Serving on Temple Student Government his senior year as chief of staff inspired Eric Hamilton, BBA ’16, to stay connected as a board member of the Temple Young Alumni Association (TUYA) right after graduating and to relaunch the Young Accounting Alumni Group (YAAG) at Fox this year. As co-president of the reinvigorated group, Hamilton is working toward a goal of connecting young accounting alumni in the Philadelphia area at networking events in unique spots in the city and on campus. 

Working in the industry as a senior associate at RSM, Hamilton recognizes the benefits of staying in touch with peers and meeting other professionals and wants to enable those relationships while supporting Fox.

“By giving back to Fox through YAAG and supporting accounting students, we’re building the future of the accounting profession,” says Hamilton. “I think our stewardship as young professionals is probably one of the most important things we can offer right now.”

Illustration of Melissa Cameron
Melissa Cameron by Jon Krause

Melissa Cameron

Before graduating, Melissa Cameron, MAcc ’18, worked in the nonprofit arts industry and came to see the importance of connections. “They’re the lifeblood of organizations in nonprofit arts,” says Cameron. “I learned how to recognize support and pay it forward.” 

Today, Cameron returns the support she received from Fox in launching her accounting career with Deloitte as a co-president of YAAG. She chose to stay connected and give her time in a leadership role in order to keep in touch and network with peers, share and hear about successes and challenges, and mentor students. 

“I received tremendous support from Fox while in school, both tangibly with financial support and intangibly with moral and community support,” says Cameron. “I want to pay that forward for incoming students and soon-to-be young alumni.”

Interested in getting involved or deepening your connection with your alma mater? Visit fox.temple.edu/alumni for events, follow @foxalumni on social media and consider supporting students with a gift in any amount at giving.temple.edu/givetofox.

Headshot of Pete Musser
Warren V. “Pete” Musser

Warren V. “Pete” Musser, 92, DPS ’99, businessman, philanthropist, benefactor and long-time friend of the Fox School of Business passed away on Monday morning. Musser was a legendary investor in the technology and financial industries, an entrepreneur and a community leader for more than 60 years.

Musser will be remembered as a luminary in the city’s entrepreneurial history .“Pete Musser was a great man and a great example to our students,” says Ronald Anderson, dean of the Fox School of Business and the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management. “We are deeply saddened by his loss. Pete believed in building a community through business, particularly small businesses that eventually blossom, such as Comcast. As a philanthropist, he believed in business education. Throughout his professional life and in his contributions to the Fox School, among other institutions, Pete recognized the value of investing in others.”

In 1953, Musser founded a company that would eventually become Safeguard Scientifics, a securities investment firm. Through Safeguard, Musser helped fund the startup of QVC, Comcast and Novell, among other Fortune 500 companies. His first breakthrough was a check-writing machine in 1955, but among his biggest successes were seed-funding Comcast and QVC.

At the Fox School, Musser sought to help others get their start. He funded an endowed visiting professorship in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Musser was the inaugural recipient of the annual Musser Excellence in Leadership Award, which was established and endowed in honor of his achievements and his entrepreneurial spirit. Dick Vermeil, former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and recipient of the 2019 award, called him a “great, great man and true friend.”

Earlier this year, Musser was named to the school’s Centennial Honorees list, a celebration of the school’s most influential contributors during its first 100 years. He received an honorary Doctor of Professional Studies in 1999.

He was heavily involved in the Temple University-based Safeguard Scientifics Center for Economic Education, which focuses on business, economic and entrepreneurial education to K-12 teachers and students throughout the region and the state.

“I believe Pete would take great satisfaction that many of the people and families that he invested in, will thrive for years to come,” says Anderson.

“You don’t get the same effect when you are exclusively in a classroom,” says current Fellow Colin O’Shea.

Student running in race
Girls on the Run is one of the participating nonprofits in the Fox Board Fellows program. [Courtesy of Girls on the Run]
Learning by doing is the way Temple University’s Fox Board Fellows get things done. 

Since 2011, more than 95 nonprofit organizations in the Philadelphia area have benefitted from the work done by more than 180 graduate students at the Fox School of Business.

“This is a really rich relationship from our perspective,” Professor T.L. Hill, managing director of Fox Management Consulting (FMC), says. “It’s the best way for our students to learn as well as provide good service to the nonprofits.”

After an application and interview process, graduate students are placed on nonprofit boards as visiting, non-voting members. Fellows then work with their partner nonprofits on a higher-level project and produce a research report as part of the elective Non-Profit Governance graduate course taught by Hill.

In the latest cohort, 18 students in several programs were matched with 18 nonprofits serving a range of communities and interests in the Delaware Valley. The fellows work with their organization over the course of an academic year, allowing participants to gain an in-depth understanding of board governance and practice effective board membership.

“You don’t get the same effect when you are exclusively in a classroom,” says current fellow Colin O’Shea. “So being able to actually sit on the board of an organization is such a deep dive and a great opportunity and learning experience.”

O’Shea is now part of the effort at Philadelphia Youth Basketball, a sports-based youth development organization that works to create opportunities for young people to reach their potential as students, athletes and positive leaders.

“We are really looking forward to this opportunity,” says Diana Venezia, MS ’17, director of development at the organization. “These past few months have been a time of learning for all of us and we are really excited.”

Stressing that this experience goes deeper than an internship, Hill encourages nonprofit leaders to challenge their fellows by allowing them to delve into what he calls the “ownership and institutional pressures” required to meet an organization’s mission. 

Philadelphia Youth Basketball team
Philadelphia Youth Basketball is a nonprofit organization focused on empowering young people as students, athletes and positive leaders. [Courtesy Philadelphia Youth Basketball]
The ownership pressures have to do with whether or not a nonprofit has the assets and the foundation to do what the work it wants to do. The institutional pressures involve culture on both the board and within the organization and it stakeholders.

“These are areas where there might be really interesting, useful projects that will help the board and the organization move forward in a way that the nonprofit might not have the capacity to think about,” Hill says.

The program is structured around a series of four Saturday seminars at Temple’s Main Campus as well as time the fellows spend working directly with their nonprofit. The seminar topics cover the basic governance issues that many boards face including nonprofit economics, impact measurement, management of the executive director and finances. 

 “Depending on the projects the students are working on, special topics also emerge,” Hill says.

In the past there have been discussions about earned income streams, leadership succession and merger discussions.

“Throughout it all, the project and the research is the core piece,” Hill says, adding that the overall experience prepares the fellows for future board service.

Fellow Chris Barba, who has been paired with the Montgomery and Delaware County-based nonprofit Girls on the Run, will be working on several areas including program growth, fundraising and overall strategy.

The organization, with international headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, uses a curriculum-based program that creatively integrates running to deliver a social, emotional and motivational learning experience.

“I have, and will always have, a social sector top-of-mind focus and Fox Board Fellows allows me the opportunity to continue to do this work.” 

“I’m excited to really contribute to the goal of how to make growth happen for this organization,” Barba says.

Tracy Ashdale, founder and executive director of the local council, believes in the power of the experience the fellow has on both themselves and her organization.

“The fellows bring a level of curiosity and inquiry with them,” Ashdale, BSW ’92, MSW ’94,  says. “The experience offers the opportunity to see things differently from what we generally see. That often translates into innovation for our organization.”

Venezia adds the original project Philadelphia Youth Basketball had in mind went through some changes and evolved as O’Shea and the organization got to know each other better.

“Our original idea pivoted from an analysis of our donor database and email strategy to a new focus on volunteer engagement and streamlining that process,” she says. “There is a huge opportunity for growth for us and it can be a missed opportunity.

“But after our both our internal conversations and our meetings with Colin, we have a better idea now of what we need and where we need to go. Colin gets us and that’s great for everyone.”

For more information about the program, contact Maureen Cannon, maureen.cannon@temple.edu.

Dean Anderson being Interviewed

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.

Freire students
The first Freire class with Senior Vice Dean Debbie Campbell

Temple University’s Fox School of Business is expanding its partnership with the Freire Charter School System to offer Philadelphia high school students the opportunity to learn that they can thrive in higher education.

Two young men are playing “Connect Four” at the back of a room on the first floor of 1810 Liacouras Walk. They are not in a lecture hall or a high-tech computer lab. They want to start their own business, so naturally, they are eating cookies, downing small plastic cups of iced tea and dreaming big.

They are standing with a half-dozen other teens in the incubator at Temple University’s Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (IEI) late in the afternoon on Nov. 6 for an information session about the B4USoar program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. The teens are looking for inspiration, for mentorship and, more than anything, for something new to learn.

The B4USoar program started with a single course in the Spring of 2019, but now Temple University is quintupling its investment in the program. That first course, Create and Innovate, brought together 15 high school students from the Freire Charter School System and more than a dozen Temple undergraduate students. It was the brainchild of Debbie Campbell, senior vice dean at the Fox School, and Hilda Bacon, director of community partnerships and engagement at Build the Future Education Collaborative, a nonprofit that supports education opportunities at the Friere schools. 

The goal was to increase access to high-quality business education and show the Freire students they could thrive in higher education. By all accounts, that first course was a success, and as a result, the program is expanding. 

“Russell Conwell built Temple on the idea that there were people, diamonds, in this city, whom he could educate and in doing that, improve the lives of the entire community,” says Campbell. 

The Fox School will offer two courses in the Spring of 2020. Michelle Histand, director of innovation at Independence Blue Cross and an adjunct professor at the Fox School, is returning to teach the Create and Innovate course which was offered previously. Ellen Weber, executive director of Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, is teaching the new Empowerment through Entrepreneurship course. 

“The kids in that first Freire-Temple class were diamonds,” says Campbell. The class was fantastic and now we are adding a second business course and looking for more high school students to  prepare for college.”

Many of the Freire students come from financially-challenging backgrounds and for some, there are hurdles to achieving their dreams. In Philadelphia, about 37 percent of the city’s children live below the federal poverty line, according to a study by The Pew Charitable Trust. Of those Philadelphians living below the poverty line, 29 percent did not finish high school, 68 percent did not pursue higher education at all and 87 percent did not achieve a bachelor’s degree. 

According to a 2015 report by the Brookings Institute, low-income families are at a disadvantage in participating in their children’s success in post-secondary education. The institute pointed to a high rate of low-income students failing to complete their degrees. The institute cited several factors for these circumstances: poor preparation, limited funding and limited knowledge of the world of higher education.

B4USoar addresses the “limited knowledge of the world of higher education” and poor preparation challenges that confront many first-generation college students. 

The Freire students partner with Temple students who mentor them throughout the program. They plan projects together, study and create a network of support.

Campbell said the Fox School plans to add at least one more business course and would like to partner with other general education programs at other schools in the university as the program expands.

“The Freire Charter Schools and the Fox School opened these students’ eyes in a way that empowered them to see their potential and the potential in the world around them,” says Hilda Bacon, director of community partnerships and engagement for a nonprofit organization that works with the Freire schools. “They know they can make the world brighter. That might be the most important part of this program, showing kids that a high school student from Pennsylvania can change the world.”

As the informational session ended, 17-year-old Cameron Johnson, who has already taken the Create and Innovate course, said she was thinking of going to Temple University after graduation next year. 

The B4USoar program starts again in the Spring 2020 semester. The Freire students go through a rigorous selection process. Temple students are able to apply to the courses through the normal registration process. 

To learn more about this initiative and the vision for the future of Fox School of Business, visit the Fox Strategic Plan 2025 website.

TU_AMA Group
The American Marketing Association at Fox

Fox School students understand the importance of business and philanthropy working hand-in-hand. Amanda Carey, director of outreach for College Council, oversees all student professional organizations and serves as a liaison between organizations and the university. To celebrate National Philanthropy Day, she discusses student professional organizations (SPOs) at the Fox School and their commitment to building a philanthropic community from Fox students. 

Why is philanthropy important to the Fox SPOs? 

“Philanthropy provides opportunities to give back to those who are in need,” said Carey. “A prominent component in business is giving back. Here at the Fox School, we strive to allow students to become immersed in the city we call home through community service projects.”

How are students engaging with philanthropic opportunities?

Fox students are actively engaging with community service programs through blood and food drives happening throughout the city. 

“The popularity of the blood drive in partnership with American Red Cross is so large that last year we had to turn away people who wanted to donate because we didn’t have the resources to accommodate for so many donors,” said Carey. “To ensure the same issue wouldn’t arise this year, we raised our donor goal. The [Philabundance] food drive also attracts many students because of the prevalent food insecurity issue we have here in Philadelphia.” 

What new opportunities for philanthropy will College Council provide?

The Fox College Council is continuously looking for new ways to expand their outreach and get more students involved. “This year, we are introducing a clothing drive to benefit the Hub of Hope,” said Carey. “This drive is going to take place right before we leave for winter break. We look forward to helping keep our community members warm as the cold weather approaches!” 

Do you want to get involved with College Council or an SPO? Visit the SPO webpage for the full list of organizations. 

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

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

Soonjung Han
Soonjung Han

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DBA student Kate Nelson

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

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

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

What made you want to pursue a DBA? 

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

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

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

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

How does military experience translate to business?

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

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

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

How do busy professionals find time to pursue a DBA?

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

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

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

Learn more about Fox School Research.

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Betsy Gordon photograph
Betsy Gordon, Accounting Department Chair

Dear Friends of the Department of Accounting,  

I am honored and humbled to become the chair of this great department. I have been a faculty member at the Fox School for 12 years. During that time, our department benefited tremendously from the leadership of the former chair, Eric Press. I will do my very best to continue that strong tradition of leadership. 

Now is a very exciting time for our department. We are positioned with a strong team of faculty, staff and students. Our faculty is composed of highly-accomplished research and practice professors who are nationally and internationally recognized. For example, Associate Dean Sudipta Basu was recently named the American Accounting Association’s inaugural Yuji Ijiri Lecturer on Foundations of Accounting, a prestigious lectureship sponsored by five global accounting associations. 

This fall, we hired Hyun Jong Park, an outstanding young scholar in auditing research. Together with Jagan Krishnan and Jayanthi Krishnan, a strong and accomplished group of auditing researchers. We also added considerable breadth to our faculty with Jose Munoz, who brings years of experience in the C-suite and teaching. Read on to learn about their research interests, approach to teaching and more. 

We are a very productive group of scholars. Over the past year, faculty published in top journals on topics such as internal control weaknesses and remediation, director liability reduction laws, executive compensation and taxation, health IT investments, international M&A and the market for control, and investor relations officers and disclosure.  

In the classroom, we continue to focus on developing critical thinking, decision making and problem-solving skills which offers us the agility to fold in new technologies and trends as they emerge. We know that today’s accounting students need to be able to use data analytics in problem-solving and decision making and to use the appropriate data tools. For example, Cory Ng has designed an undergraduate course in data analytics in accounting covering topics and tools such as robotic process automation, SQL, Alteryx and Tableau. In other accounting major courses, we have integrated cases and projects using tools including Tableau, Excel and ACL. Similar courses have been added to our Master of Accountancy program.

I have very high expectations that our faculty will continue to deliver outstanding teaching and professional development for our students, and will impact the profession through timely and relevant research. 

As always, you will get full disclosure in Footnotes from Fox. Go Owls!

Best regards,

Betsy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student at computer

Technology is constantly evolving and it can be hard to keep up. As a result of this evolution, the need for individuals who understand the importance of cyber-security—and can translate that importance to a broad audience—increases. The Fox Master of Science in Information Technology Auditing and Cyber-Security (ITACS) prepares students to be key components in mitigating the risk of data breaches and sustaining the company’s information system security. 

In an interview with the Fox School, Philip Taddeo, senior IT risk & control manager at Vanguard, discusses the value of earning a degree in IT auditing and cybersecurity from a business school like the Fox School rather than an engineering school and the benefits of participating in this program.

“I think the value from being part of a business school is the students graduating have the foundational business and controls knowledge combined with enough technology acumen that they can really flourish and be versatile leaders,” says Taddeo. “Whereas, if you were purely technical, you may not be familiar with a lot of business concepts.”

Taddeo is also chair of the ITACS Advisory Council at the Fox School. His role consists of working as a liaison between students and practitioners.

Earning this degree from the Fox School gives students the ability to market themselves to employers as workers who have an understanding of the technical aspect of the field, but also how it affects the business industry. 

Shaun Moody, the global IT audit director of Internal Audit at Chubb, discussed the importance of IT auditors having the ability to look at IT through a business outlook.

“IT auditors don’t just think of the IT risk, they think of it in a business aspect,” says Moody. “You need to consider things in terms of, what is the impact on the business, what’s the business context? So, making sure that people come out with good IT audit knowledge, the ability to balance that with the business context and assess the business risk is the most important thing.”

Business students have an advantage compared to those with technical backgrounds. In addition to hands-on technical skills, courses in the ITACS program also emphasize the importance of soft skills such as public speaking and group projects.

Gaining an understanding of how business intertwines with IT and cybersecurity is crucial. Programs at the Fox School combine the necessary technical skills with leadership and communication skills to create industry professionals who are set to succeed.

Micro-Influencer illustration
Illustration by Scotty Reifsnyder

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

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

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

Who are Micro-Influencers?

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

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

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

Advice to Companies 

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

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

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

2. Micro-influencers are accomplished and personable storytellers. 

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

3. Micro-influencers are not direct marketers. 

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

Beware of Inauthenticity 

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

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

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

Wine in vinyard

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

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

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

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

Kevin Fandl
Kevin Fandl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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