Every year, Goodman faculty undertakes scores of innovative research initiatives. Here are highlights from select award-winning studies.
Goodman School of Business Emerging Scholar of the Year
Abdul Rehman Ashraf, Assistant Professor of Marketing, is the 2018 recipient of the Goodman School of Business Emerging Scholar of the Year award for his research activity in the past year.
When Ashraf first joined the Goodman School of Business as a Master of Science in Management student in 2008, he did not expect that he would return to his alma mater to teach fewer than 10 years later.
Ashraf’s thesis supervisor, Narongsak (Tek) Thongpapanl, Professor of Marketing and Product Innovation, proved to be a mentor who would change Ashraf’s life.
“I became excited about a career in research while being trained by Tek, and he is one of the main reasons I returned to the Goodman School of Business after my PhD because we continue to work together on research and are co-authors on several papers,” Ashraf said.
Goodman School of Business Distinguished Scholar of the Year
When Usman Raja, Professor of Human Resource Management, was an MBA student, he did not consider a career as an academic.
With a stable career in engineering for close to 10 years, Raja chose to obtain an MBA degree to further progress his career.
He did not expect that it would prove to be a pivotal decision for his future.
But, after graduating at the top of his class, he was offered a teaching opportunity that shifted his career from engineering to teaching.
Although he first taught finance, his specialization has moved to organizational behaviour and human resource management.
“I research in this area because I like knowing about people, exploring behaviours study of personality and knowing why people behave the way they do,” he said.
“When I was an engineer, I did not think about these things, but the MBA degree opened my eyes to all these fields – consumer behaviour, organizational behaviour, human resources, and so on.”
Staci Kenno, Associate Professor of Accounting
Department Research Award Winner for Accounting
Primary research focus: Budgeting at Ontario universities and determining the effect of the existing funding formula on the province’s universities.
Studying university funding and budgets is timely. What inspired your research?
This is a project that my colleagues Barbara Sainty, Michelle Lau and I have been working on for a couple years. Barbara and I have a paper published that examined Brock’s attempt to implement a new budgeting system, and found that it floundered because there was a lack of leadership. From there we just kept asking questions. Asking questions is what keeps me doing research.
This research has led us down a number of paths including a literature review on how accountants have used theory to explain budgeting over the past 30 years, a survey on budgeting practices at Canadian universities and a field study on the Ontario funding formula.
What effects are the changes to the funding formula having on Ontario universities?
We are in process of answering this question. Currently there are minimal changes in what Ontario universities receive in terms of actual dollars but our research is attempting to dig into whether it’s affecting the way universities react to the funding, or if they are changing their approach to budgeting and strategy because of the funding. The Ontario government plans to tie some of the funding of Ontario universities to the strategic mandate agreements (SMAs) that the universities have been filing for the past five years.
Is the new funding formula good for universities?
It is hard to tell right now as we are still in a hold harmless period in terms of funding to each university, and there is still uncertainty surrounding some pieces of the funding formula.
The funding formula has placed all universities on a level playing field in terms of funding per student, which is a good thing, but there are now two additional parts to the funding provided. The first is the differentiation envelope where the government is in the process of creating performance-based funding metrics. The second is the special purpose grants, which allows the government to continue to fund specific initiatives that are important to their public policy, such as mental health, safety grants, etc. Only time will tell if it is “good” for universities.
What were some of the challenges you faced while doing your research?
Part of it is always time. Qualitative research is time consuming. From conducting the interviews to analyzing the data to writing the paper, it’s a continuously moving process that requires time. Then it’s stopping ourselves from starting new projects while in the middle of other projects, keeping our focus on the papers we’re currently working on.
What do you hope your findings will achieve?
There is always the hope that your research will help or advance the understanding of specific scenarios or answer the questions that haven’t been answered. Qualitative research lends itself to helping us learn from what we’ve done, understand how accounting information is used in daily life and how it affects our lives. As the research we are currently doing affects many tangentially in Ontario, we will see where it takes us.
Trish Ruebottom, Associate Professor of Strategic Management
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant recipient
Primary research focus: Exploring how stigmatized occupations are impacted by technology-driven change using ride-sharing technologies and their influence on taxi drivers in Canada.
What prompted you to study the effects of the sharing economy and technology on the taxi industry?
The idea for the research came from a puzzle that we couldn’t explain. One of my collaborators had been doing research on the stigma facing taxi drivers, particularly immigrants. She found that taxi drivers faced intense stigma and felt a lot of shame because of their work. But when Uber entered several cities in the Canadian market everything we heard about being a ride-sharing driver was incredibly positive. It was a totally different story being told about drivers, when existing research tells us that the stigma facing taxi drivers should transfer to ride-sharing drivers. And so we decided to investigate how the ride-sharing companies managed to avoid this stigma.
We hear so much good about the sharing economy. What is it and what are the benefits?
The sharing economy is a lot of different things. The most common definition is the sharing of access to goods and services, facilitated by an online platform that connects owners with customers. This sharing allows under-utilized resources, such as cars and homes, to become productive, providing additional income for the owners. Ride-sharing was considered a part of the sharing economy based on the idea that people who own cars could would connect with people who need rides through an online platform, providing income for the car owners. Whether ride-sharing is still considered a part of the sharing economy is much more debated now, but we felt like its initial association with the sharing economy was part of the positive image that was created.
You’ve done a pilot study on this already. What effects did you find the sharing economy is having on low-status or marginalized occupations?
Based on the interviews we’ve done so far, we’ve found that ride-sharing companies were able to deflect the stigma based on a few factors. First, that connection to the ‘sharing economy’ was helpful because it created ambiguity about how to categorize these new drivers, making the job seem completely different than that of taxi driving. And second, the positive ideas we have about technology and the emphasis on the temporary nature of the job created a much more positive image for ride-sharing drivers. The media played a huge role in reinforcing these impressions, although the story in the media is changing and it will be very interesting to see if that changes perceptions of the occupation.
What impact do you hope your research will have?
I think that other companies entering stigmatized markets can learn from this research, to see how they might be able to separate from the existing categorizations and leverage technologies to deflect stigma and carve out a positive space for themselves. But more importantly, I hope the research might make us stop and think about the stigma facing taxi drivers and consider if that stigma is really justified.
Dirk De Clercq, Professor of Management
Department Research Award Winner for Organizational Behaviour, Human Resources, Entrepreneurship and Ethics
Primary research focus: Factors affecting entrepreneurship in various contexts, including emerging economies, and how policy-makers can create optimal conditions to support entrepreneurs.
What prompted you to study impacts on entrepreneurship in emerging economies?
Any country’s level of entrepreneurship is crucial for its economic development and growth, but especially in less developed economies. Two key issues in these economies are: how to direct a country’s resources into entrepreneurial activities that improve the current constellation of economic activities and contribute to a country’s prosperity; and how this process might be hampered by institutional constraints in the broader environment. Emerging economies present a unique context for studying these issues because of the resource constraints and institutional hurdles that many individuals in these countries face, and the stark differences in their institutions. It’s critical to study the implications of these potential impediments because entrepreneurship is crucial for the economic development and growth of emerging economies.
This study also acknowledges individuals’ engagement in opportunity discovery, evaluation, and exploitation in new business creation. Opportunity discovery is when individuals perceive entrepreneurial opportunities. Next comes opportunity evaluation, a future-focused process through which entrepreneurs evaluate how attractive an opportunity is based on how it can benefit them. In the third phase, opportunity exploitation, entrepreneurs translate opportunities into commercial value. This study takes a comprehensive look at the entrepreneurial activities that take place in emerging countries by considering the entire process of opportunity discovery, evaluation, and exploitation.
What were some of your key findings?
Using secondary data sources, such as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the findings indicate that people’s household income and education level directly and positively affect their engagement in entrepreneurship. Financially affluent individuals are more likely to become entrepreneurs regardless of institutional conditions, such as government regulations and support for entrepreneurship, but the influence of a person’s education level varies depending on those institutional conditions. That makes education a stronger influence on someone becoming an entrepreneur to the extent the institutional environment favours entrepreneurship.
How can governments and economies better support and encourage entrepreneurship regardless of people’s financial status and education level?
The findings shed light on how policy-makers in emerging economies can encourage entrepreneurship. Specifically, several measures are likely to encourage highly educated individuals to engage in entrepreneurship, such as developing government policy, support programs, and regulations that favour the creation, growth, and management of new businesses. Addressing entrepreneurship-related topics in the higher education system is another way, along with getting people to see entrepreneurship as a desirable career path.
Incorporating entrepreneurship-related curricula into the higher education system can work well in emerging economies because higher education institutions can channel well-educated individuals toward start-up activities and be positively associated with their engagement in entrepreneurship and innovation in general.
Contrary to expectations, financially affluent individuals are more likely to become entrepreneurs irrespective of the broader context that surrounds them. This means financial capital may enable individuals in high-income strata to lock in additional wealth created by new business activities and widen the gap between themselves and their less affluent counterparts. This could hamper economic mobility between strata.
The ability of household income to enhance entrepreneurship, irrespective of institutional conditions, suggests that social stratification based on income might be quite rigid in emerging economies. This could undermine the fair distribution of wealth, which is an issue receiving increasing attention in these economies.
If policy-makers’ objective is to increase social mobility, they could use a targeted approach to stimulate recognition and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities, paying close attention to how finance-related policies can help low-income households overcome the hurdles that keep them from engaging in the entrepreneurial process.
Walid Ben Omrane, Associate Professor of Finance
Department Research Award Winner, Department of Finance, Operations and International Systems
Primary Research Focus: The reaction of foreign exchange markets to macroeconomic news during business cycles.
What is the connection between the foreign exchange market and macroeconomic news?
Traders use fundamental information such as macroeconomic news in their trading strategies. In currency markets, macroeconomic news announcements related to the economy of a specific country — unemployment rate, inflation, GDP, etc. — could affect exchange rates. For example, if there’s an announcement of a decrease in the U.S. unemployment rate when the market expects an increase, the US dollar would appreciate against the Euro and Canadian dollar. But if the announcement confirms a decrease in U.S. GDP, the market would consider it a bad signal and depreciate the US dollar against the Euro and Canadian dollar. Some other traders implement technical analysis, which is based on trends. They only care about the historical movement of prices. However, the majority of foreign exchange traders implement both macroeconomic news announcements and technical analysis.
What impact does that have on the economy overall, and on us as consumers?
Macroeconomic news significantly affects foreign exchange rates, which can be observed in the US versus Canadian dollar. For instance, five years ago, the US dollar was more or less worth the same as the Canadian dollar. Now it’s about 35 per cent more and this appreciation increases the price of imported products from the U.S. and decreases Canadian imports of those products. However, if we consider the opposite case where we assume an appreciation of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar, which was actually the case about five years ago, Canadians would be encouraged to buy imported U.S. goods and services as well as spend their vacations in U.S.
What was the most surprising or interesting finding in your research?
Although earlier studies documented a relatively stable link between macroeconomic news announcements and exchange rates, I found that this relationship could become unstable over time due to fluctuations in economic activity or changes in investors’ perception about the future economic outlook. In addition, while major currencies’ response to most news, such as unemployment rates, is greater during market expansions, the foreign exchange market reacted more significantly to new home sales in the U.S. and federal funds rate news during the (2008) crisis period. I attribute this to the context-specific relevance of some news announcements, such as the housing and credit sectors, in the evolution of the U.S. financial crisis.
What are the implications of your findings?
My findings suggest that investors and managers of multinational corporations exposed to foreign exchange risk, as well as traders and institutional asset managers whose portfolios include international assets, may find it useful to consider the time-varying impact of macroeconomic news on exchange rates. In particular, my results can be used to design strategies to improve derivatives pricing where volatility is a key component, and enhance risk management practices associated with international transactions.
In addition, this research increases our understanding of the behaviour of exchange rates during a period of elevated uncertainty and that may help traders and investors improve their assessment of the risks and returns associated with their international assets, which are naturally exposed to exchange rate fluctuations.
Retailers need to capitalize on mobile commerce
Smartphones have quickly increased in popularity in recent years, and more people than ever use their phones to shop, making virtually any product almost immediately available to consumers through their smartphones. Although mobile commerce (m-commerce) has increased dramatically, retailers have not necessarily kept up with the trends. Professor Thongpapanl and his research team wanted to understand what was important to consumers when it comes to mobile shopping and how companies could make the experience better.
How entrepreneurs can navigate organizations to create change
A significant part of any entrepreneur’s journey is gaining legitimacy and
support for an idea. What should they do when the ideas are so innovative that they could fundamentally change industry standards? How should they navigate a
complex environment to validate and gather support for their business ideas?
Do government-controlled firms avoid taxes?
Do government-controlled firms avoid taxes? How does this dual, but conflicting, role
affect government behaviour? How do governments balance these competing incentives, and which incentive will outweigh the other under a tax sharing system where taxes are being collected and spent by both local and central governments?
What emerging countries need to do to support female entrepreneurs
Universally, women who start businesses play a big part in improving their communities and countries by innovating and creating jobs. They also, universally, face unique challenges, as female entrepreneurs often see their businesses as intertwined with familial relationships and responsibilities that are deeply affected by how they manage a work-life balance.
What types of support are best for entrepreneurs in wealthy economies versus developing or emerging countries? Do gender-related personal problems, such as emotional stress and time management, affect entrepreneurs differently in different countries?
How companies should decide what language to use in advertising
Advertisers know how important it is to communicate the right message in the right
format to the right audience. If a company is advertising a foreign product or service, which language should they choose for their advertisement: the language of the company or of the target market?
What it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in an emerging economy
Entrepreneurs play a big part in their country’s success, especially in emerging countries.
What does it take to start your own company in an emerging economy? Is it important
to have a high household income? Do you need formal education?
Creating wine evangelists
Many people like the products they buy. But some people go beyond mere liking, and become enthusiastic advocates. Think of Apple, which has many consumers, bloggers, and media critics who rave about its trend-setting phones. These “product evangelists” voluntarily publicize the company and endorse its products. Many firms would love to create such evangelists among their customers, reviewers, and retailers. But how?
Managing operations to manage earnings
Research has shown that businesses sometimes choose accounting policies to make themselves look good. A firm may change how it counts inventories, or when it reports sales. These “earnings management” choices make a company’s results appear better on paper, without affecting its underlying business.
Why are some family businesses more innovative than others?
Being innovative is a challenge for many businesses, but especially for those that are family operated. In those firms, managers are also relatives. Their personal and professional relationships overlap, for better or for worse.
Competing to be found online: payment versus popularity
Type a phrase like “truck tires” into a web search site like Bing or Google. The software will quickly find and display related links, beginning with “sponsored” links paid for by retailers. But how does the software choose which of those paid links to put first?
Ethical Business Practices Benefit Firms and Investors
Business ethics is a topic we often see in the news. Some of these stories describe corporations becoming more socially responsible. They reduce pollution or treat their employees better. Other stories instead highlight the latest corporate scandals. But does ethical or unethical behaviour matter from a financial perspective?
Should retail web sites be fun or functional?
Online retailing is big business, with global annual sales exceeding $1.4 trillion. However, only about 2.5 per cent of visitors to retail web sites actually purchase anything. To convert more visitors into buyers, retailers are investing in website improvements. By making sites both more fun and more functional, they hope to appeal to as many shoppers as possible.
Supporting innovation under adversity
Companies like Google and 3M encourage employees to spend part of their workweek on projects of their own choice. The firms realize that entrepreneurial workers often discover new products and processes. But employees elsewhere may not have this flexibility.
Do investors like bankruptcies?
When investing, we generally expect low returns from low-risk stocks and high returns from high-risk stocks. Investors concerned about safety put their money into low-risk companies. Other investors prefer the high-risk ones, where they may win big, or lose big. But in 1998, financial researchers noticed an anomaly.
Paid to leave and paid for honesty
Severance packages are controversial because they can encourage executives to take undue business risks. But do they influence executives in other ways? Do packages encourage CEOs to inflate reported profits, to boost the value of the payouts? Or do they encourage accurate reporting by making CEOs more secure in their jobs?
Paying to be found online
“Sponsored search advertising” is popular with retailers and provides the largest revenue source for search engines. Are any retailers more efficient than others at sponsoring search ads? If so, what factors explain that efficiency?
Global e-commerce needs trust and confidence
U.S. researchers have studied how user-friendliness and usefulness impact online shopping. Both features encourage American consumers to feel good about e-commerce and buy online. But do those relationships hold outside U.S.? Or are they culturally dependent?
Ethical leadership boosts employee performance
It’s nice to have a boss who is honest and trustworthy, and who encourages you to be that way too. But does it actually help you do your job? And if so, how?