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.

Temple sudents on campus

The first week of class is one of the most grueling weeks that college students will have to endure. Between meeting up with old friends and familiarizing oneself with all the new things campus has to offer, getting back into the swing of things can be difficult. 

Fortunately, Temple University understands what students are going through and strives to make the campus a welcoming environment that encourages students to succeed and explore their personal interests. Temple University’s constant drive to create new opportunities for undergraduates to engage in every semester can be seen across campus.

Studying gets an upgrade

The recent completion of Charles Library on campus shows how Temple is evolving the way students engage with their studies. The Temple News spoke with Julia Mullin, the university’s associate director of construction, about the library’s exclusive features. The building, which replaced Paley Library, features a student success center, more than 40 study rooms and a digital scholarship area which includes advanced computers and 3D printers,” Mullin says. These resources will contribute to students’ success on campus with resources exclusive to Charles Library.

Getting involved made easier 

At the beginning of the semester Temple holds Temple Fest, a festival that brings together all of Temple University’s clubs and organizations. A campus with about 40,000 students may seem a little terrifying at first, but Temple’s variety of clubs and organizations work to establish a sense of community on campus. For example, the Black Student Union strives to bring Temple’s black student body together through volunteer initiatives and on-campus events that work together to shed light on the injustices that are disproportionately affecting the black community. 

The Feminist Alliance is an organization that highlights intersectional feminism that will contribute to the betterment of its members, on-campus life and in the surrounding community. Whether getting involved in local protests or facilitating one right on campus, the Feminist Alliance encourages students of all gender identities and sexualities, to think critically about how social, economic and political issues affect not only themselves but the world around them. 

To get connected with the Fox School community as a freshman and throughout your time at Temple, students can join Fox student professional organizations, like the American Marketing Association, which focuses on professional development, networking and building skills like communication and leadership. 

Through innovative technology and organizations that work to make a difference on and off-campus, Temple’s ongoing initiatives show that it values student’s success and their impact on the community. Regardless of their status on campus, Temple will be there every step of the way.

Research Impact illustration

“If you see something, say something.” As intuitive as it may seem, speaking your mind is hard—especially within the boundaries of an office environment. Most employees face the fear of retaliation and the social costs that come with speaking up to management in difficult situations.

Leora Eisenstadt, assistant professor of Legal Studies, and Deanna Geddes, professor of Human Resource Management at the Fox School, delve deeper into these emotional situations in their interdisciplinary studies. The researchers discuss the implications of expressing anger at the workplace and highlight two problematic legal doctrines that disincentivize employees from making any complaints—thus costing companies.

A Cycle of Discontentment

When employees suppress anger at work, it not only affects their mental well-being but also their attitudes—often resulting in lowered productivity. “When employees fear the consequences of retaliation by management,” says Geddes, “they tend to either suppress it by keeping silent, or express their frustration to their peers, who usually have no power to respond or effect change.” These negative discussions often spiral into increasing discontentment among employees that impact the overall health of the workplace. 

Reactions vs. Retaliation 

In the face of perceived discrimination, employees may turn to the courts for help in resolving disputes. However, Eisenstadt argues that current legal frameworks may negatively affect employees’ willingness to speak up in the judicial system. Currently, judges use the following two legal doctrines in an effort to promote consistency across similar cases but frequently end up disenfranchising employees. 

  • The “Objectively Reasonable Belief” doctrine protects only those employees who complain about behavior that the courts would regard as unlawful. Given that employees do not typically understand the nuances of court decisions, this may make employees hesitant to come forward because they are unsure if their complaint will be protected by the law.
  • The “Manner of the Complaint” doctrine supports employers who claim the reason for firing an employee was the ‘inappropriate’ way in which the complaint was raised, without serious consideration to the details of the complaint itself.

Eisenstadt argues that the consequences of these court-created approaches are clear. “Employees, upon seeing how these doctrines play out for their co-workers, choose to keep silent,” she says. This not only hinders the goals of the law, which is meant to protect employees from workplace discrimination but the culture and worker productivity at the workplace also suffer.

A Call For Change

Not all emotions at work lead to discord, says Geddes. “Psychological research demonstrates that expressions of anger to management in any form—whether it be in respectful complaints or in emotional outbursts—is healthier and more productive for both the worker and the workplace overall.” 

So what happens next? The researchers advise that companies build a culture of open dialogue within their organizations to promote expression up and down management lines. Nonhierarchical, team-based structures, leadership’s encouragement of meaningful debate and clear channels for expressing opinions all help employers address emotions while the employee is still in the workplace. 

Eisenstadt and Geddes also suggest that the court system rethink its implementation of the existing retaliation doctrines. They propose that the judiciary take an approach that considers the circumstances that led to retaliation and view the scenario from all relevant perspectives, not just the employers. “This more global approach would undoubtedly create a greater sense of security in employees,” says Eisenstadt.

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.

Illustration of robot boss providing information for workers
Illustration by Scotty Reifsnyder

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.

Inside Out Stock photo

The challenges of communicating a program’s impact to stakeholders is the focus of “The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program: Impact on Stakeholders,” a case study published this month by Fox Management Consulting Managing Director and Fox Professor TL Hill, Fox MBA alumna Rebecca DeWhitt, current Fox student Claire Thanh Tran and Fox Associate Professor Lynne Andersson.

The case revolves around the question of how to satisfy funders’ demands for quantitative measures of the impact of specific types of prison education being provided by The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, an international network of educators who facilitate university-level courses in prisons. The courses serve combined classes of incarcerated individuals and university students.

Achieving the goal of quantitative measurement is difficult, the case explains, because program results have long been based not on available statistics but rather on stories gathered from student surveys and anecdotes from correctional institutions revealing improved behavior and increased leadership. 

The Inside-Out Center recognized the need for measurement in order to secure a steady stream of funds in an increasingly competitive environment. It also sought to find a cost-effective and culturally appropriate way to measure and communicate the program’s impact on its many stakeholders.

The case, suitable for both undergraduate and graduate-level classes, provides the data necessary to help students learn and apply impact measurement tools such as the logic model of change and the social return on investment (SROI) to the management of mission-led organizations.

It also provides a context to discuss stakeholder management and the roles of measurement and storytelling in aligning stakeholders with conflicting interests and agendas. Finally, the case provides an opportunity to discuss some of the thorny ethical and economic issues surrounding prison policies and practices.

To obtain a copy of the study for class use, go to: https://www.iveycases.com/ProductView.aspx?id=104742

photo of Shannon Siriano Greenwood
Photography by Sandy Swagger Jones

One night a few years ago, Shannon Siriano Greenwood and her husband made a pinky promise: the next day, they would quit their jobs.

In 2010, Greenwood, BBA ’04, was stressed, unhappy and burned out managing operations at a chain of eight salons in the Washington D.C. area. After fulfilling her end of the deal, over the next few years, Greenwood worked as a social media contributor, marketer, co-founded a boutique cycling studio (which she later sold) and worked as a consultant. 

In 2017, she founded Rebelle Con, a three-day women’s conference that brings speakers from across the country to discuss topics such as wellness, money, community and creativity. She also works as a freelance moderator/EMCEE and event curator. 

“I lept and let the world catch me,” she says, laughing. “I started my first business basically out of boredom. I found it all out by doing.” 

Greenwood and her team discovered that what attendees wanted out of a conference was to build community while learning skills that they could apply for personal and professional fulfillment. After the success of two conferences, Greenwood created Rebelle, an in-person community with local chapters in Richmond, VA and, most recently, Lancaster, PA. Rebelle hosts monthly events including mixers and panel presentations at local women-owned business offices. She was perhaps inspired by her work with the “Boss Babes” collective, a community of entrepreneurial businesswomen. 

Shannon Siriano Greenwood photo
Photography by SoulVision Magazine

Some of the best feedback Greenwood received was in response to a session called “The Quitters.” It was a panel of successful businesswomen talking about the things they have quit, whether that be giving up a marriage, a six-figure job or owning a home in order to set out on their own path. The discussion was anchored in topics that people would not necessarily want to open up about in a large group, Greenwood says. But attendees loved it.

In another session, Carrie Sue Casey, founder of Oodaloop Co and former Department of Defense employee, taught a brainstorming technique to the group using “how to make friends as an adult” as the primary problem they were working to solve. “It has been interesting to see what people think they want and what they actually want,” Greenwood says.

It took her a long time to figure out what she wanted. A self-described “recovering work-a-holic,” she puts self-care at the forefront of her life and career and emphasizes that the Rebelle community does the same. While self-care can look different for everyone, Greenwood explains that her brand is relatively simple: being kind to herself and watching her stress levels. She works at a comfortable pace, versus trying to prove herself to other people and has found success in that. Napping is great too, she says. 

“I want to inspire other women, pay my bills and drink chai lattes,” Greenwood jokes. 

In addition to launching the Lancaster chapter of Rebelle, Greenwood plans to launch even more branches in 2020. Attendance for the fall RebelleCon is doubling in size, and the team is working on a host of new programming for women. 

For Dr. Leila Bouamatou, DBA ’17, women’s leadership in business is deeply personal

Dr. Leila Bouamatou graduating with her family

As the daughter of the founder of a family-owned bank in the West African country of Mauritania, Bouamatou studied the challenges that women in francophone Africa face when seeking to take over the family business during her time in the Fox Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program.

Bouamatou found that women’s biggest struggles included the institutionalized stigma of working outside the home; resistance from both older male and female members of the family, who were often unwilling to break with tradition; and the convention of women taking their husband’s last names, thus having a different last name than the family company.

To succeed in leading a family business in this environment, Bouamatou identified several key factors—such as modern-thinking fathers, supportive husbands, access to educational opportunities, and personality traits like determination and ability.

As the general manager at the Mauritanian General Bank, Bouamatou hopes to inspire young African girls and women to become leaders in business. She wants others to receive the encouragement that she felt at home from her parents and siblings. “I am particularly lucky to be the daughter of a modern-thinking father who has great respect towards women,” said Bouamatou, “and who believes in the potential of his daughters.” She recalls her mother teaching her from an early age about the importance of education and ambition.

Despite the barriers that remain, she sees hope for the future. “Africa is changing, and so is the mentality,” Bouamatou said. “Women are getting more and more educated and becoming more and more ambitious. Fathers are more and more supportive of their daughters and more open-minded, compared to previous generations.”

“I am fully aware that it would be hard for one single African woman to change the world,” said Bouamatou. “But I know that this African woman can shape her world and destiny.”

Nirmala Menon, MS ’91, International Change Agent

Nirmala Menon, MS ’91

Nirmala Menon, MS ’91, worked in the Global Diversity and Multicultural Team at IBM before becoming the founder and CEO of Interweave Consulting, a diversity and inclusiveness solutions company. At IBM, she experienced the diversity and inclusion challenges across various countries. The experience prepared her to found Interweave and lead it to be a pioneer in India, where the arena was a non-existent market when the company began operations.

Through Interweave, Menon works with companies to implement progressive policies to support diverse groups. The company has touched the minds and hearts of over 150,000 people, including senior leaders and managers through its workshops and initiatives. Others receive these messages through e-modules and webinars.

“Diversity and inclusion is still a new area of work in India and it is hard to provide a direct ROI on the efforts,” said Menon, addressing the impact of her efforts. “However, there are several anecdotes that show that the efforts have translated into positive behaviors at work. A better understanding of respectful behaviors at work and more conscious efforts at gender, disability, and LGBT inclusion are all, we believe, influenced by our efforts.”

When asked how she is making the world a better place, Menon said, “In my mind, everything we do dovetails into building a better world! The work we do has a tremendous positive impact as it is directly focused on building inclusion. From helping organizations understand the value of diversity and inclusion and helping to build enabling workplace policies to support the same, it has a direct impact for the nation.”

She believes organizations are powerful vehicles of change and teach people to become influencers. “A mind expanded or enriched with knowledge and sensitivity is bound to be applied not just at work but equally in their behaviors at home and in society.”

As a result, Interweave is building the foundations for social change in India and beyond.

Every year, students and faculty at the Fox School of Business distinguish themselves on the international stage at conferences all over the world. Last month, Dr. Ram Mudambi, Professor and Frank M. Speakman Chair of Strategic Management at the Fox School, convened the 7th annual iBEGIN Conference, where scholars from around the world met to discuss research streams related to the iBEGIN acronym—International Business, Economic Geography and Innovation.

Hosted by the Copenhagen Business School (CBS Maritime), scholars at iBEGIN reported on many research streams related to innovation. Alain Verbake, Professor of at the University of Calgary, gave the keynote on the role of port clusters in international logistics chains. This topic reflects the 2019 conference theme: Ports versus Portals: International Connectivity and the Bundling of Tangibles and Intangibles.

By studying innovation in these international maritime hubs, iBEGIN scholars hope to uncover elements of the “invisible web” of connectivity that underlies not only our social networks, but our world. “I used to a teach a course on digital strategy,” said Mudambi, “and one of things that I noticed was that even though we think of digital connections as global, instantaneous and ubiquitous, the reality is that there is a hard infrastructure of cables and wires (the internet backbones) that actually makes it work. Hence, the intangible linkages that we take for granted are enabled by tangible networks.”

Only a handful of studies have attempted to bridge the divide between physical and digital infrastructural networks in order to better understand their joint impact on global knowledge and value creation. By exploring this new and exciting research topography, iBEGIN aims to uncover important lessons regarding the relationship between these networks and innovation.

Ultimately, innovation is the alpha and the omega of the iBEGIN project. How and whether cities, ports, or institutions increase their innovative power or lag behind global averages is of extreme importance for scholars and governments around the world. The emphasis this year on how transportation networks—which have connected humans for millennia—and new digital technologies interact is an area that is critically understudied.

iBEGIN is partially funded through the Fox School’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER). As part of a broader national platform supported by the Department of Education, Temple CIBER aims to promote trade education and support research in areas of international business, providing overseas work and study experiences for Fox School students. With Temple CIBER’s ongoing assistance, iBEGIN has been able to expand its influence in the international community.

“iBEGIN is the go-to place for researchers who are working at the interface of the disciplinary boundaries that the iBEGIN community acronym embodies,” said Dr. Rudolf Sinkovics, Professor of International Business at the University of Manchester. “While it is highly focused, it is an inclusive community that feels like a family and is very effective in the diffusion of work at the frontier.”

These comments were echoed by other attendees, such as Alex Berman, a PhD candidate at FOX in International Business and Strategic Management: “The 2019 iBEGIN conference in Copenhagen provided a fantastic overview of the current research on the subject of global innovation, illustrating how geographic idiosyncrasies influence important economic processes and outcomes. I was particularly impressed by the insights put forward by the series of discussions about ports and port-related initiatives, such as the presentation by Dr. Alain Verbeke on the role of port clusters in international logistic chains.”

Although housed at the Fox School, iBEGIN works with a number of partner schools around the world, such as Italy’s Politecnico di Milano and University of Venice Ca Foscari, and the Indian School of Business. Going forward, Mudambi is optimistic that the project will continue to grow, folding ever more schools and talented researchers—such as those at CBS Maritime—into its ranks. “We were able to add a whole new set of shipping researchers to the iBEGIN research network and this was a huge step forward for the network.”

The 2020 iBEGIN conference will be held at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

Alum Ian Thomas leads a tour group
Photo provided by Ian Thomas

When Ian Thomas first came to Philadelphia in 2002, all he had was a friend and backpack. 

Over the next few years, he moved across the country and internationally until he settled back in Philadelphia in 2011. This time, he had a family and a career in international transportation and logistics. He was working full-time when he decided to pursue an MBA at the Fox School. 

Now, Thomas, PMBA ’17, runs his own company that blends exercise and tourism in a way that feels authentically Philly. SeePhillyRun invites runners of all fitness levels to join Thomas, a six-time marathon runner and certified city tour guide, on three- to five-mile courses. Groups jog around the city to check out landmarks like iconic locations from the movie Rocky, the city’s expansive mural collection or where the cowboy hat was invented. 

Ian and a tour group pass a mural in philly
Photo provided by Ian Thomas

Thomas describes himself as a businessman first, a runner second and a tour guide third, which helps to explain how, despite only being operational for about two years, SeePhillyRun has already seen a great deal of success. He differentiates his business by maintaining a hyperlocal focus rather than the “big box” approach of his competition. The company invests back into the local community and partners with organizations such as Parks On Tap, Four Seasons, Philadelphia Runner, Loews Hotels and Temple University. 

“I love Philly, storytelling and running,” he says. “I saw Philly as an asset at my fingertips when I decided that I wanted to combine my passions and create a unique way to see the city.” 

Thomas leverages his knowledge of business, people and international relations to curate a running experience that is interesting, engaging and transformative for a wide range of people.  Living overseas and working in client management in his former career, he developed an appreciation for communicating with people who have English as their second language. He says this understanding has served him well as a tour guide searching for commonalities across diverse perspectives. 

Despite the challenge of incorporating multiple perspectives in his tours, Thomas recognizes that his method of tourism attracts a particular clientele.

“People coming out to a running tour are likely to be an ‘experiential’ audience,” he says. “Going on a running tour versus a traditional walking tour is like surfing the internet rather than reading a book. It offers a taste or a piece of the bigger picture in an authentic, fast-paced way.”

A tour group poses for a photo
Photo provided by Ian Thomas

He says that he feels like an ambassador for the city, promoting Philadelphia the way it would want to be promoted: shouting quick tales of how it is revolutionary in its inclusivity, creativity and open-mindedness. For example, a popular spot on his routes is the Moore College of Art and Design, founded in 1848 as the first women’s art school in the country. 

When looking to the future of SeePhillyRun, Thomas asserts that the company is scalable in a variety of different ways. He could expand the business into different, historically-rich cities or could incorporate other approaches that blend wellness, tourism and hospitality such as biking. Eventually, SeePhillyRun could evolve into a virtual experience.

“As long as the energy is right, we are telling good stories, staying local and plugged into the community—a lot of great things could happen,” he says.

For decades, business schools have been discussing how to translate the insights of academic research into real-world solutions to industry and societal problems. To address this issue head-on and truly move the needle of impact, the Fox School recently founded the Translational Research Center. 

Charles Dhanaraj is the executive director of the center, an H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest Professor of Strategy and executive director of the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration program. 

Q: What does translational research mean?

A: Research is about creating knowledge that will transform practice. Imagine it as a bridge between academics and practitioners. Translational research envisions keeping the two-way flow of knowledge: presenting business challenges to research scholars and providing research insights to business leaders. 

Business executives understand what the big issues that face them are. Part of the emphasis of translational research is on helping academics understand what the real issues are that executives face and creating engagement between academics and business executives for that purpose.

translational research q&a image

The second emphasis is on getting research to professionals. Much of our research is published in journals that only academics read. Research findings do not become actionable insights on their own. Often research findings from multiple studies, sometimes multiple disciplines, need to be integrated to make them actionable insights.

Q: Why is translational research important?

A: Since the mid-1960s business schools have moved toward scholarly research that advances theoretical understanding of the business issues. 

Business schools are rewarded when their work is published in well-known journals that focus on such issues. Prestigious scholarly research in the last decade has become the core currency on which schools have been rated.  

Unfortunately, there have been three unintended effects:

  • Research has gone on to explore exotic issues, and more and more of business research has become esoteric. Increasingly businesses and more recently even academics have started feeling that research is losing relevance;
  • The misplaced emphasis on the “publish or perish” model has isolated academics from business executives and policymakers who are the major stakeholders in the research we create at such a high expense. 

What gives this issue an urgency is that technology and the changing business dynamic is demanding accountability from business schools. We need research that can create growth in business and equip business leaders and policymakers for meeting today’s challenges. Research has to show impact. That’s what the Center is about.   

Q: Who does translational research impact?

A: The predominant focus in our scholarly research in recent decades has been academia. We measure the impact of research by how well other academics value it. It is an important stakeholder community for us. But, if that dominates our thinking, we run the risk of becoming self-referential or talking to ourselves and creating an echo chamber. 

Students, business executives, business policymakers and the community at large are also key stakeholders.

The value of bringing research to business executives and policymakers is self-evident. The problem we now run into is that increasingly business executives do not look up to business schools as knowledge providers—they see us only as labor market players—producing students who can be employed by them. 

associated translational research q&a 2

Students are largely the group that has paid a price in this system. Often they are drawn to prestigious schools because they are research-driven. The bifurcation of teachers and researchers in business schools helps manage budgets and maintain prestige but it does not serve the students best. 

The larger community is the most distant from our scholarship. No business school is an island. We are embedded in communities. If we believe business can be a transformative agent, it should be so in our local communities. For example, we teach hundreds of students in multiple entrepreneurship courses. Imagine the power unleashed if we bring together our research insights on entrepreneurship, our ability to convene the strength of local institutions and transform communities into action laboratories where our students can engage and learn!

To learn more about the Translational Research Center, visit https://www.fox.temple.edu/institutes-and-centers/translational-research-center/.

Timing is everything when you are looking to add international educational experience to your MBA capstone class.

Group of students in Tel Aviv
MBA students Sylvania Tang, Jennifer Miescke, Nicole Zeller and Zhi Liao traveled to Israel for a client presentation as part of their capstone course. Here, the group is sightseeing in Jerusalem. Photo courtesy of Sylvania Tang.

Working on a team comes with challenges. But what if part of your team is more than 5,000 miles away — following a different schedule, living in a different culture and ending the workday shortly after yours begins?

Add in a 4.6 magnitude earthquake that strikes in the middle of your final presentation, and things can get pretty hairy.

But Temple University Fox School of Business MBA students Zhi Liao, Jennifer Miescke, Sylvania Tang and Nicole Zeller navigated it all this spring to deliver a presentation in Tel Aviv as part of their capstone experience with Fox Management Consulting (FMC).

“We didn’t even notice the earthquake, we were so focused,” says Liao. “Someone told us later that it happened.”

The students, led by FMC project executive William Kitsch, worked with a team of MBA students and faculty at Tel Aviv University (TAU) as part of an ongoing joint venture between the Fox School and the Israeli university. 

“We do this so students get a global experience with a diverse group of students, faculty and businesses,” says David Nash, operating director at Fox Management Consulting.

Forming a team

Final adjustments are made as the team prepares for its presentation to the client later in the day. Photo courtesy of Zhi Liao.

The American and Israeli groups worked to deliver strategic recommendations to a startup e-commerce company with offices in Tel Aviv and California. The Israeli-owned company, which helps sellers optimize sourcing and selling opportunities across eight countries, was seeking ways to expand its current marketplace.

“It was a very difficult task in the sense of timing,” says Miescke, who served as a project manager. “We were working seven hours behind Tel Aviv all the time and their workweek is Sunday through Thursday.”

The intensity continued as the group arrived in Israel, just days after Temple’s May 9 graduation, and joined the TAU team to prep for the client presentation.

“There was a lot of pressure around the fact that there were two teams,” Kitsch says. “Both had different expectations, schedules, project deadlines. But by learning to work through and manage it all, it gave us opportunities to find leadership in everything we were doing.” 

Experiential learning

The FMC capstone course is built around a curriculum that helps students apply the competencies and skills they have acquired in the MBA program through the client projects. 

Group of students with certificates of completionMembers of the consulting team with their certificates of completion.
Members of the consulting team with their certificates of completion. The Fox School group joined students and faculty at Tel Aviv University in the project. Photo courtesy of Sylvania Tang.

In addition to being an exceptional learning opportunity for students, the projects deliver dynamic business solutions to clients facing various challenges.

Since students participating in the global project graduate before the actual client presentation, they first present to faculty for grading purposes.

“Presenting early really helped us see where we could improve, helped our focus and allowed us to see where we needed to get to,” Tang says. “That experience really helped us get things in order and take things to the next level.”

With feedback in hand, the team is ready for the next step.

“They go to Israel, meet with fellow team members and faculty to refine the project,” Nash explains. “They meet with the client later in the week and after all is done, the group does manage some social time.” 

Taking it all in

The four Temple students stayed on in Israel for a few additional days to travel to Jerusalem and immerse themselves into the culture and attractions of the region.

The beach in Tel Aviv was a stop for members of the team who stayed to travel in Israel after the project was complete. Photo courtesy of Zhi Liao.

“It was great to have that time together after spending so much time working on the project,” Liao says. 

Zeller says she knew she wanted to get her MBA from Temple.

“The FMC capstone project, specifically working on a live problem, was the biggest thing that made me come to Fox for my MBA,” she says. “Temple really supports you in the process and that meant a lot.”

Kitsch believes the Tel Aviv experience is an extraordinary opportunity. “Every student should be competing for a spot on that team. It’s that valuable.”

Now that the project is over, the students agree that the experience will move them forward in their careers.

“Without this project, I probably would never consider venturing toward e-commerce or international business and I am fully grateful for that because now it’s something I would consider,” Liao says.

Tang says she is only now realizing how big an impact the project has had on her.

“This experience has definitely fueled a desire in me to look at how far my potential can go,” she explains. “For me, my MBA journey was four years long and in those four years, my MBA capstone class experience — this global journey — was my greatest learning experience at Temple.”

Helping achieve a global experience

Not all Fox Management Consulting projects require traveling abroad to meet with a client, but when they do, Temple’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) can assist.

The center helps pay the team’s travel expenses related to the project, associate director Jeff Conradi says. The center serves to improve U.S. competitiveness in the world marketplace and to produce globally competent students, faculty and staff. It is funded by a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. 

For more information about the center, click here

4 ways giving impacts Fox

From left to right: Jerry Miller, Pamela Rainey Lawler, Ellen Weber, Wesley Davis, Olaitan Awomolo, Francisco Garcia, and Luke Butler. Credit: Chris Kendig Photography

When Temple University opened its doors at the turn of the 19th century, it was more than a place—it was a bold, new idea. The transforming concept that founder Russell H. Conwell called, “The Temple Idea,” was to educate “working men and working women on a benevolent basis, at an expense to the students just sufficient to enhance their appreciation of the advantages of the institution.”

Philanthropy at the Fox School has been a game-changer ever since Conwell turned his “Temple Idea” into reality. A culture of giving is tied into the mission of the university, and there is no shortage of ways to contribute. From small student donations to multi-million dollar endowments, alumni, students, faculty, staff, and community partners have donated generously to keep the Fox community ahead of the frenetic pace that exists in today’s competitive business school environment.

The school succeeds because of its community’s commitment to transforming global business education. This is evident in the school’s market-driven curriculum, cutting-edge technology, and impactful research. The Fox School continues to innovate thanks to the vision and generosity of its leaders and donors. The following highlights how philanthropy influences the hiring of faculty, program development, facility upgrades and expansion, and scholarship endowment to offer our students greater opportunities so that they can advance their industries and change the world.

1. Faculty 

Attracting and retaining industry-leading faculty members is key to the reputation and success of the Fox School. They are gifted orators, mentors, and business and academic leaders. Their work and expertise reach beyond the classroom into the largest, most successful multi-national corporations. Fox students study with some of the brightest minds in marketing, risk, insurance, finance, healthcare, and many other fields. Here, more than 220 faculty create a hands-on experience that connects students to the real world and helps them make their mark in their chosen field or profession. The Jerome Fox Chair in Accounting, Taxation, and Financial Strategy is an example of one-way donor funds support the Fox faculty.

Jerome Fox Chair in Accounting, Taxation, and Financial Strategy

In 2015, the Jerome Fox Chair in Accounting, Taxation, and Financial Strategy was added. Created through a $2 million gift from Saul A. Fox, KLN ’75, in honor of his father, Jerome Fox, this chair is held by high-level practitioners of accounting, taxation, and financial strategy. “My father equally valued the accounting industry and the role of education in our society,” said Fox. “The establishment of this distinguished chair at the Fox School melds my father’s two lifelong passions and honors his memory as a successful accounting practitioner.”

The Jerome Fox Chair is currently held by David E. Jones. “The prestige of having a named chair is crucial to attracting high-achieving professors for our department and the school,” says Jones. Endowed chairs help promote the school’s presence and expertise in areas of business education and research, and ensure the school can secure world-renowned faculty to teach its students.

2. Facilities 

The incredible growth and development of the Fox School on Temple’s Main Campus is creating a hub for innovation, entrepreneurship, research, and business education as a whole. Technology, state-of-the-art research labs, co-working spaces, and an accelerator all ensure that the school offers the resources that students, alumni, faculty, and staff need to advance business education in the 21st Century.

1810 Liacouras Walk To continue innovating its programs for a record number of students, the school has expanded into 1810 Liacouras Walk. The building’s renovation was partially financed through philanthropic efforts. The project houses the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), which occupies the first floor of the building.

  • 77,000 additional square feet
  • SIX additional floors
  • COLLABORATIVE co-working spaces and new classrooms
  • ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY to personify online and traditional learning
  • EXPANSION of the Tutoring Center and the Business Communications Center
  • STATE OF THE ART research labs for the Data Science and Business Analytics Institute and the Center for Neural Decision Making

3. Programs 

Thanks to philanthropy, the Fox School has the opportunity to offer inventive classroom education, workshops, conferences, customized mentorships, and events. Wall Street Day and Be Your Own Boss Bowl® are examples of ways donor funds support the school and programs.

Wall Street Day In 2012, Dean’s Council member Douglas L. Maine, KLN ’71, a senior advisor at Brown Brothers Harriman, helped establish Wall Street Day. This experience allows students to get a glimpse into the day-to-day of Temple alumni working on Wall Street. It provides a comfortable arena in which they can ask questions of alumni, who were once in their shoes. Wall Street Day gives Fox students hands-on experience and the opportunity to meet face to face with successful alumni working in the financial industry,” says Cindy Axelrod, director of Financial Planning programs and director of the Owl Fund. “The experience allows our students to ask questions, network, and open doors for their future success. It enriches their collegiate careers and demonstrates the value of their Temple education.”

Be Your Own Boss Bowl® The Be Your Own Boss Bowl® (BYOBB®), a university-wide business plan competition, helps winners take their business ideas to the next level. The annual event is currently sponsored by Bernard Spain, FOX ’56, and Murray Spain, FOX ’65, brothers and entrepreneurs credited with popularizing the smiley face icon in the 1970s. In 2018, UniFi, a mobile app focused on financial wellness and onboarding, took home the top honor—a $60,000 grand prize. The UniFi team, led by Jessica Rothstein, MBA 18, plans to use the new resources for talent acquisition and tech. “We have two pilots to launch this year,” said Rothstein. “Winning this competition will definitely help us reach our goals.”

4. Scholarships 

Fox School students are driven to succeed. They rise to any challenge and surpass even the greatest expectations. However, success is hard to achieve if financial or personal obstacles stand in the way. Donor-funded scholarships provide financial relief while alleviating some emotional stress associated with funding a college degree. Scholarships empower students to seize hold of the opportunity to receive a world-class business education. Examples include immediate-use scholarships, endowed scholarships, and emergency support provided through the Fox Student Philanthropy society.

Fox Student Philanthropic Society Current students can help each other by contributing to the Fox Student Philanthropic Society (FSPS). The organization coordinates fundraisers for the Fox Student Emergency Fund for students who face an unexpected financial hardship that would prevent them from being able to get what they need to complete their semester. Faculty and staff can advocate for students who meet the criteria. “You think of philanthropy and you think of people who are millionaires,” said Shaniqua Wallace, FOX ’17. “Or you don’t think you have the money or the resources or that your coins matter. Anything that you provide matters.”

Kuang-Yao Lee, assistant professor of statistical science at the Fox School

More than 15 million adults struggle with alcohol addiction. In fact, according to the CDC, one in ten deaths of working-age adults in America is linked to alcohol. That’s one reason data on alcohol use has been chosen by researchers for study from the enormous data set from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ ambitious Million Veteran Program (MVP). The VA intends as the project’s name states, to gather data on an astonishing one million service members.

Kuang-Yao Lee, assistant professor of statistical science at the Fox School, sees a world of potential new knowledge in this vast cache of data. This is particularly true of alcohol use because the data from the MVP is longitudinal, which means the same measurements are tracked over time. Alongside the support from the VA, Lee’s project received funding through from Office for the Vice President of Research at Temple University.

Volunteers in the MVP each submit blood samples as well as health surveys, amassing a dataset that comprises both genetic data and behavioral patterns. Beginning in 2016 when he was a researcher at Yale University, Lee and his colleagues have been using this information-rich resource to search for the specific combination of genes that correspond to alcohol and other substance use.

“Previous studies have suggested [these genes exist], but mostly were only limited to small scales or restricted conditions,” says Lee. “We want to use statistical models to find out if this is really a valid assumption. Our results so far suggest a very strong association.”

While ample electronic health records and genetic data have long been available to researchers, only recently has the efficient computing power become available to slice and dice the information into accurate, usable new insights and discoveries. More sophisticated algorithms combined with larger-than-ever computer storage capacity, as well as parallel computation techniques, allow today’s researchers to make meaning from a huge amount of complex data.

How huge? “Depending on the facility, the whole genome sequencing [for one person] can produce hundreds of millions of variants,” says Lee. Questionnaires allow researchers to gather large amounts of information about each subject every time they are administered. Multiply that by one million veterans. “We’re talking about not just billions, but millions of millions of points of data,” he says.

Data with this level of complexity can lead to findings that are more nuanced and reliable than in the past. Previously statistics sometimes led to oversimplified and other not-quite-right conclusions. We’ve all heard the old axiom, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” But as so-called big data increases in scope and complexity and the tools used to analyze this data become more sophisticated, statistics are becoming more honest than ever before. From projects such as the Million Veteran Program and other similarly vast datasets, new genetic truths may ultimately emerge.

There are many possible real-world applications for this research. For one thing, determining which specific genes are linked with alcohol and other substance abuse could lead to new and better medicines and treatments for the very veterans who have volunteered their most sensitive personal information for this work. A dialed-in genetic profile that indicates a vulnerability for substance abuse could be used to screen kids and even adults while there is still time for effective early interventions that can keep them on a healthy path. Given the current public health crisis around opioids, alcohol, and other substance use, a breakthrough of this kind could have far-reaching benefits.

Lee says that the knowledge gleaned from the Million Veteran Program about substance abuse may lead to similar projects that could help solve other vexing behavioral, health, and genetic puzzles. He also notes that the innovative statistical models and tools he’s used in this research could be applied in myriad ways to other complex datasets.

For example, online shopping platforms can easily observe huge amounts of individual consumers and, at the same time, collect data across large numbers of variables. “One of the core problems in business analytics is to use statistical models to study the inter-dependency between observed variables, for example, the dependency between decision making and consumer behavior,” Lee says.

“There are a surprising number of similarities between genomics and online shopping.”

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

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.

Research Impact illustration

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.

Deserve a raise? Here’s how to fight for it. 

Negotiating a Raise Illustration

One hundred years ago, in 1918, the average American household made $1,518 annually. Today, the average business major’s starting salary is nearly 30 times that—between $45,000 and $50,000 per year, according to a recent study.

For the last century, we have seen wages rise. But as expenses have crept up, everyone could use a little extra in the bank. Luckily, two Fox School researchers may be able to help.

Tony Petrucci and Crystal Harold, two researchers in the Department of Human Resource Management, have studied the best tactics for negotiating a raise. On one hand, competency—the skills that an individual contributes to an organization—is king. On the other hand, the presentation of this delicate proposal may dictate whether it fails or succeeds. Here are some tips from Petrucci and Harold about how you can be strategic about increasing your salary.

From Tony Petrucci, assistant professor of practice:

1. Understand which competencies are most valued based on your role. “The best way to increase your own value is by creating value for your organization. Most organizations determine value by execution of competencies, including skills, knowledge, and experiences. Research has shown some competencies universally lead to higher pay. For example, people who display a feedback-seeking orientation earn higher pay raises and quicker promotions. Seeking feedback is typically associated with higher levels of emotional intelligence, which is a competency most organizations value and reward.”

2. Know where the future is trending in your field. “Competencies in areas such as digital leadership, data analytics, real-time feedback, artificial intelligence, and leadership are very relevant and valued. Deloitte, for example, found that digital leaders of the future will need to be more networked, collaborative, more inclusive, and better at giving, seeking, and receiving real-time feedback.”

3. Recognize that career paths will become less traditional in the future. “In today’s environment, individuals need to take more ownership for their career through personal learning. By understanding what competencies are important, showing calibrated excellence in those competencies, and marketing personal achievement, research shows you may have higher—and more frequent—raises.”

From Crystal Harold, associate professor of human resources management and Cigna Research Fellow:

4. Timing is important. “If you successfully completed an important project or received a major commendation for your work, time the discussion with your boss after these events. Research suggests that Thursdays may be the best day to ask for a raise, as people are generally most agreeable and potentially open to negotiations as the traditional workweek winds down.”

5. Do your homework. “Know the worth of your position, your skill set, and what you bring to the company. Be prepared to articulate why you merit a raise. For instance, if your job has changed in some meaningful way, be able to document how. If you played a critical role in completing an important project, be able to clarify your contributions. By knowing the salary norms for your industry and documenting your accomplishments, you can better justify your targeted figure.”

6. Don’t bluff unless you can accept the consequences. “Research shows that competitive strategies—like sharing details of a competing offer or threatening to walk away—during job offer negotiations yield higher salary gains. While these tactics might be useful for initial negotiations, be cautious of using them when requesting a raise. If you threaten to leave unless you receive a raise, but actually do not intend to leave, be prepared for the repercussions if your boss calls your bluff. And going on the job market to get an offer for the sole purpose of motivating a raise could irreparably damage your reputation with others within your industry.”