Category Archives: Faculty Research

Register for the Summer Entrepreneurship Institute!


When: July 11 – July 13, 2017

Where: The School of Management, Riverfront Center

The Summer Entrepreneurship Institute will assist participants with an interest in business and entrepreneurship decide if this is a route they would like to pursue in college. The program will engage students in a series of life changing sessions, allowing them to get a feel for the field. Click here to read more.

UM-Flint Professor Researches Work/Life Balance

A UM-Flint professor is exploring what drives people to overwork and how it may influence their private lives. This research may help employers create a healthy and productive workplace atmosphere.

Associate Professor of Management Gregory Laurence will highlight these questions of work-family conflict and dynamics at an international conference later this month in Japan.


Read the full article HERE.

The Well Workplace

Greg Laurence, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management, focuses his research around employee health and well-being, with interests such as workspace personalization, workaholism, and work-family conflict and how these phenomena intersect with the experience of stress at work.

Recently appearing in Real Simple magazine, The Well Workplace is an article that focuses on tips for making your job and workspace healthier.  Click HERE to see the article.

On-the-Go Shopping – A Shopper’s Mobility Paradox

Syagnik (“Sy”) Banerjee, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Marketing
(Article by Kim Laux)


Last year, the United Nations released a startling statistic: Six of the world’s seven billion people have a mobile phone; only 4.5 billion have access to a toilet.

Mobile phones are everywhere (including bathrooms). Their potential to conveniently connect you to anyone, anywhere at anytime have helped them become the fastest adopted consumer technology in the history of the world. So, why is 80 percent of mobile usage still taking place within the home?

This is the question that inspired further research by Syagnik (“Sy”) Banerjee, Ph.D., mobile and interactive marketing professor at UM-Flint, and Ruby Roy Dholakia, Ph.D., director of the Research Institute for Telecommunications and Information Marketing. Their findings were released in the article “Situated or Ubiquitous? A Segmentation of Mobile E-Shoppers,” published in the International Journal of Mobile Communications (Vol. 11, No. 5, 2013).

“The numbers from A.C. Neilsen’s research data show that despite the recent explosion of mobile devices and shopping via mobile devices, more than 80 percent of mobile usage was from inside the home,” said Banerjee. “This indicated a paradox—mobile users seemed to predominantly use the device from fixed, situated locations.

“As I thought more about his, it made me recall experiences I had as marketing manager for a vehicle tracking company that ran along the highways of rural Rajasthan, India. GPS, our strongest competitor, suffered a market entry setback because truck drivers refused to allow these seamless, hassle-free tracking devices to transmit data without their control. It drove home a realization that despite appreciating the benefits of a connected world, individuals could potentially feel discomfort in wireless environments if they felt the devices were transmitting personal information without their consent.

“Taxi drivers in Boston and Washington DC raised some of the same concerns about being tracked by their navigation devices. It’s a complex issue because navigation is a two-way process, involving exchange of information. One cannot provide directions without knowing the exact location of the vehicle. When a window opens, it provides an opportunity for flow both ways—and that causes hesitation and skepticism.”

For this study, Banerjee conducted several focus groups where participants were asked to explain the circumstances under which they searched for information using their mobile phones. He then exposed them to location-based advertisements to draw out their reactions. Based on their responses, he drafted several layers of survey and developed a 13-item scale to identify how situated or ubiquitous (freely moving) a consumer was. The scale measured how physical location, timing, people in the area, and a sense of physical and virtual control impacted mobile behavior when shopping online.

“The study led to several findings,” said Banerjee. “Some customers had no problem searching for information on the go, but they would not make purchases or transactions because of concerns they had about network security. Those who felt more comfortable shopping anytime/anywhere were also more open to receiving ads via mobile devices than situated users. We also found that demographic characteristics like marital status, gender and ethnicity made a lot of difference on how situated or ubiquitous the user was likely to be. Marketers could use these insights to segment and target their mobile customers and campaigns accordingly.”


Breaking Down the Barrier of Communication Apprehension

Brian Blume, Ph. D.
Professor of Org. Behavior & HR Management
(Article by Kim Laux)


When commenting on the results of a study that identified the greatest fears among Americans, comedian Jerry Seinfeld joked that “at a funeral, more people would rather be the guy in the coffin than the one delivering the eulogy.”

Fear of public speaking ranked higher on the list than death itself.

Public speaking anxiety is only one form of what scholars call communication apprehension (CA), the fear or anxiety of real (or even anticipated) communication with another person. These feelings may also arise during one-on-one conversations or in group discussions/meetings.

Seeking to understand the implications of CA in the business world, Brian D. Blume, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources at UM-Flint, conducted a study in which he measured this level of fear/anxiety in 263 students.

Professor Blume and his two coauthors took a closer look at the relationship between students’ CA scores and leadership, multicultural appreciation, adaptability and grades. Their article, “Communication Apprehension: A Barrier to Students’ Leadership, Adaptability, and Multicultural Appreciation,” appeared in the Academy of Management Learning & Education (Vol. 12, No. 2, 2013).

“My earlier studies indicate that CA can prevent otherwise highly-capable individuals from reaching their full-potential,” said Blume. “Most research from the communication literature focuses on reducing CA in the context of a speech or presentation. However, the ability to overcome CA in a team setting and in a one-on-one conversation is likely to influence practices that are important for both business students and working professionals.”

The study revealed that CA was negatively associated with students’ willingness to take on leadership opportunities, appreciation for a multicultural world, and adaptability to new situations. People higher in CA are more likely to experience anxiety when required to communicate, avoid situations demanding communication and speak less when such situations are unavoidable.

“We believe that more research is needed to develop interventions for these contexts,” said Blume. “For example, if someone is hesitant to speak up in a group/team setting or when interacting with other individuals, s/he may want to set a goal to give a certain amount of input in their next team meeting. S/he may also set a goal to talk to one new person a week by initiating a conversation.”

Professor Blume believes that the first step toward managing CA is self-awareness.

“An honest and accurate assessment of one’s level of CA and its potential effects on academic, social and future career outcomes is essential,” he said. “This should be assessed early on in college to help students understand what they may be experiencing and allow them to confront the anxiety they feel in certain situations.

“People should be educated regarding the implications of higher CA and encouraged to go against feelings of anxiety to communicate whenever possible, particularly in relatively low-risk learning environments like the classroom. This is consistent with the clever adage that, The biggest difference between an experienced speaker and an inexperienced speaker is when an experienced speaker is scared to death, he knows it is normal.”

To help someone become more self-aware of his or her level of communication apprehension, Professor Blume has posted a self-assessment (as well as his full article) at He also included a guide to help with interpretation of the CA score and links to websites that offer practical suggestions for overcoming CA.


“Breaking the Rules” to Gain a Competitive Advantage

Erin Cavusgil, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Marketing
(Article by Kim Laux)


A business professional’s ability to recognize and respond to the forces at work in the world around you can lead to unprecedented success or an “out of business” sign on your door.

In the article, “A Perspective on Destruction Regeneration in International Marketing,” published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science (2012),

Erin Cavusgil, Ph.D., and her co-author S. Tamer Cavusgil, Ph.D., examine how the global business landscape has changed in recent decades and how this affects companies searching for a leg up on the competition.

“As academics, we need to take a closer look at how our fields have evolved over the years—to better understand the current status and predict future outcomes,” said Cavusgil, a professor of marketing at UM-Flint. “This article identifies the ways the global landscape has changed in recent decades and how these changes impact corporations as they search for competitive advantage.”

Cavusgil’s research highlights four forces that currently define international marketing. The first is volatility and changes in the global economy and social terrain. She gives the example of a shift in prominence from the west to Asia and emerging markets as well as the rising middle class. The second force is turbulence of destructive shocks. This includes the impact of globalization, changes in communications and the importance of corporate social responsibility. The third force involves strategies used to cope with these changing market forces. To be successful, businesses must develop new strategies and ways of thinking in response to their dynamic environment. The fourth force is a new perspective of marketing performance. Companies cannot rely on outdated systems for assessing the effectiveness of their marketing tactics; performance needs to be measured with regard to how these four forces have impacted the field of international marketing.

“The larger business world needs to be cognizant of these forces as well as proactive in responding to them,” said Cavusgil. “As quoted from the article, To succeed in the new normal, MNEs [multinational enterprises] must develop early scanning capabilities; focus on what has changed and what remains basically the same for their customers, companies, and industries; and develop quick response and risk mitigation strategies. (p. 214) Businesses that have been successful in responding to and capitalizing on these environmental forces are known as rule breakers. These are companies like Apple, Amazon and Facebook.”

One of the most valuable lessons from Cavusgil’s research is the need for both academics and business professionals to develop a deeper understanding of foreign markets and how to effectively tap into them.

“Given that the economic welfare of our country is now intricately tied to emerging markets, we need to acquire greater understanding of how to succeed in these high-opportunity yet high-risk environments,” she explained. “Too many international firms still struggle to do well in the rapidly transforming economies.

“To this end, I and several colleagues have been methodically examining what makes these countries attractive for businesses. Specifically, we’ve been examining the rise of middle class households in such countries as Brazil, China, India and Turkey. Based on our data, we developed a quantitative benchmark of how well these economies have performed in terms of building their middle class consumers. We found, for example, South Korea and Taiwan have done exceptionally, whereas South Africa and Brazil have lagged relatively in adding to the ranks of their middle class households.

“In making such assessments, we tracked three indicators at the country level: disposable income, household expenditures and urban population. These factors appear to give a pretty robust indicator of an emerging market’s progress in creating new middle class consumers. We have publications pending on this research.”

In addition to the article published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Cavusgil recently co-authored “Managing Global Megaprojects: Complexity and Risk Management,” which appeared in the International Business Review (Dec. 2013, vol. 22, no. 6). A blog highlighting some of the key points from this research can be found here.


How International Trade and Investment Impacts Market Concentration

Yener Kandogan, Ph.D.
Associate Dean and Professor of International Business
(Article by Kim Laux)


While international trade and investment play critical roles within specific companies, their effects can be much greater—in some cases affecting entire markets.

In his article, “The effect of foreign trade and investment liberalization on spatial concentration of economic activity,” accepted for publication in the International Business Review (November 2013), Yener Kandogan, Ph.D., associate dean and professor of international business for the School of Management, examines data from 168 countries to examine the impact of globalization (and other factors) on economic activity.

“Countries have long been liberalizing their international trade and investment; some globally under the World Trade Organization, while some took the economic integration deeper regionally,” said Kandogan.

“After writing a previous article on the shifts in economic center of gravity towards Asia, I was curious whether these integration efforts would lead to mega cities. For example, China has been benefiting greatly from globalization and economic development, and we observe such very large cities being built in very short periods of time. I wondered if this was caused by globalization only and what factors would cause such high concentrations of economic activity.”

As part of his study, Kandogan studied the varying responses of countries to foreign trade and direct investment liberalization on spatial concentration of their economic activity by considering moderating factors such as market size and level of economic development. His conclusions were based on data from 168 countries over the past 30 years.

“What I found is that international liberalization alone (the process of globalization) does not necessarily cause economic agglomeration or the the development of mega cities. Other factors, such as the size of a market and its level of economic development, also play significant roles,” he said. “The results suggested that less developed countries with small markets tend to have more concentrated economic centers, and that globalization leads to more concentration for developed and smaller countries.”

One of the key lessons businesses can learn from Kandogan’s work is the value of location and how specific factors are changing markets geographically.

“Location decisions are one of the most important decisions for multinationals as it affects their efficiency, production costs, competitiveness, access to markets, key resources and strategic assets,” Kandogan explained. “Some of these factors are associated with agglomeration of economic activity, and revealed that multinationals prefer existing centers of economic activity as their operation center for more developed and smaller countries.”


Workspace Personalization and its Impact on Professional Success

Greg Laurence, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Management

(Article by Kim Laux)

Feeling uninspired or emotionally exhausted at work lately? Maybe it’s because your workspace doesn’t have the right amount of “you” in it.

According to research conducted by Gregory A. Laurence, Ph.D., assistant professor of management at UM-Flint, the items we use to decorate our workspace (awards, photos, posters, knick-knacks and artwork) play a significant role in our ability to connect with our co-workers and clients, manage our emotions and achieve our goals.

“The most important take-away from this study is a deeper understanding of why people decorate their workspaces and how it impacts their experiences at work,” Laurence explained. “Where past research looked closely at personalization as a way of expressing identity, we explore how it affects relationships, emotions and professional goals.”

Laurence explained how several people interviewed for the study said that they chose to display items in their workspace that they expected people to question them about.

“This tells us that personalization can be used as an icebreaker, and helps to build relationships between colleagues and clients. Many participants also discussed choosing certain photos, posters and objects that would cheer them up, inspire them, or remind them of why they work,” said Laurence. “For example, one interviewee described hanging a poster in her workspace that was suggestive of the type of designs she wanted to create, another kept a clock that reminded her of a mentor who she wanted to emulate, and a third kept a hand-carved mouse she had received from a client as a reminder to always strive to provide good customer service.”

The research was the basis for Laurence’s recent article, “Diplomas, Photos, & Tchotchkes as Symbolic Self-Representations: Understanding Employees’ Individual Use of Symbols,” co-authored with Kris Byron, Ph.D, chair of the Department of Management at Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. Accepted for publication in late January, 2014, the paper will appear in the Academy of Management Journal.

“Workspace personalization is far more complex and beneficial to individuals and organizations than we previously realized,” said Laurence. “Freedom to express one’s self through particular symbols in the professional environment serves a purpose in employees’ relationships at work and can inspire them to achieve more of their goals. The research tells us that in the interest of employee performance, organizations should avoid placing heavy constraints on how people customize their cubicles and offices.”

This closer examination of personalization grew out of one of Laurence’s earlier studies, “‘My space’: A moderated mediation model of the effect of architectural and experienced privacy and workspace personalization on emotional exhaustion at work,” published last summer in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, and cited in an article in O, The Oprah Magazine (January, 2014). This earlier study uncovered that while employees working in offices (four opaque walls and a door) experienced less emotional exhaustion than those working in less private spaces, workspace personalization significantly reduced burnout among workers situated in low privacy contexts like cubicles.

In the “O” article, Laurence was quoted, “…personalization allows workers to regain a sense of privacy and control of their environment. You’re saying to coworkers, This is what I want you to know about me, and that autonomy, no matter how small, appears to reduce burnout.”


SOM Faculty, Sy Banerjee, to Present at MobiU2013 Summit in Chicago

Over the past seven years, Sy Banerjee, Assistant Professor, Mobile Interactive Marketing, has been researching exact details on how the location freedom of mobile is affecting consumer behavior – and what that means for marketers. This is not theoretical discussions that ad agency execs have on a conference panel. This is what is really happening. He has been analyzing little known public data and been using it to create insights into the behaviors of the mobile population. The downside is that it will inform you on just how woefully behind your marketing plan is behind your consumer. Read the complete Heartland Mobile Council article and see the conference details.