Category: Research Day

Chris Dellarocas on Why Linking to Your Competitors May Benefit Everyone

October 22nd, 2013 in Digital Technologies, Digital Technology Sector, Emerging Research, Faculty, Information Systems, News, Uncategorized

From Dellarocas, C., Katona, Z., & Rand, W. (2013). Media, aggregators and the link economy: Strategic hyperlink formation in content networks. Management Science, 59 (10), 2360-2379.

In today’s link economy, whether a blogger paraphrases news articles or a fully automated aggregator harvests content from across the web, the pathways between content producers and audiences have become increasingly complex. So how should content producers respond to competition from aggregators and from each other?

How should content producers respond to competition from aggregators and from each other?

A new study from Boston University School of Management’s Chrysanthos Dellarocas, professor of information systems and director of Boston University’s Digital Learning Initiative, together with Zsolt Katona (University of California at Berkeley) and William Rand (University of Maryland), is the first to model the complex, interrelated implications of strategic hyperlinking and investment in content production. Their analysis, demonstrating scenarios in which such links can boost everyone’s profits, thus yields important implications for professional content producers who have until now been reluctant to link to competitors.

When Linking Increases Profits

Addressing questions relevant to both firms and regulators, Dellarocas et al. identify gaps in existing network economics research around the impact of freely established links and the strategies that motivate their formation. For example, what are the effects of linking to competitors, and when should inbound links be refused?

Dellarocas and his co-authors show that although linking can result in low-quality sites free-riding on high-quality content, “in settings where there are evenly matched competitors, the option of placing links across sites may lead to equilibria where some or all sites are better off relative to a no-link setting.”

Links between peer content sites can increase profits by reducing competition, overproduction, and duplication. The intuition is that, instead of each site expending resources to produce what is essentially duplicate content, everyone can benefit if one site specializes in producing really good content and other sites link to it. Sites that invest in high-quality content benefit from additional referred traffic, while those publishing the links become trusted hubs that attract visitors without having to pay the cost of content production. Different sites might specialize in producing content on different topics, one on politics and another on sports, for example. Thus, all sites produce the type of content they are best at and link to the rest. In this scenario, consumers benefit all-round.

The authors point out that the above scenario can sustain the market entry of inefficient players, allowing them to free-ride on the success of other content sites by linking to them, potentially denting the revenues of target sites. Still, no content site would benefit from unilaterally blocking such links, because then free-riding sites would simply link to their competitors.

The Impact of Aggregators

Acknowledging that aggregators ‘steal’ traffic from content sites, the authors also point out that, “by making it easier for consumers to access good content, aggregators increase the attractiveness of the entire content ecosystem and, thus, also attract traffic away from alternative media.”

While aggregators may direct more traffic to high-quality sites, they also take away a slice of profits from content sites. This happens because some aggregator visitors check article headlines and snippets at the aggregator but never click through to the original articles. Furthermore, aggregators tend to increase competition between content sites. This may boost quality but reduce content producer profits.

See more about “Media, Aggregators and the Link Economy: Strategic Hyperlink Formation in Content Networks,” at Management Science.

SMG to Host Free Search Marketing Industry Summit

February 7th, 2013 in Digital Technologies, News

One-day conference with leading search engine marketing professionals open to all students

The Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO) Boston, in partnership with Google, Inc., is holding a free one-day summit at Boston University School of Management to expose students to the search marketing industry on Friday, February 22, 2013.

The SEMPO Student Search Summit will feature educational presentations, workshops, and panels composed of leading and local search engine marketing professionals, and offer students an inside look at the field. Speakers include representatives from Google, Gupta Media, Metropolis Creative, Microsoft, Rimm-Kaufman Group, and Staples.

The day will kick off with a keynote address on why search matters, followed by a career panel discussion with recent college graduates and a networking lunch. The day will conclude with sessions on search engine optimization, search engine marketing, and social. Students will learn about the landscape, business, future, and potential careers that are tied to search and digital marketing.

Event is open to all current undergraduate and graduate students and will take place on the School’s 4th floor from 10 am-4 pm. Admission is free. Visit the undergraduate or graduate CareerLink websites to RSVP.

The Association of Hospital Characteristics and Quality Improvement Activities in Veterans Administration Inpatient Medical Services

July 16th, 2012 in Applications to Firms, Sectors, and Industries, Research Day

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Joseph Restuccia

Operations and Technology Management

Authors: Joseph D. Restuccia, David Mohr, Mark Meterko, Kelly Stolzmann, and Peter Kaboli

Despite considerable recent attention to hospital quality improvement, relatively little is known about the extent hospitals are engaging in quality improvement activities (QIAs) and the hospital characteristics associated with QIAs. We developed and in 2011 administered a survey to Chiefs of Medicine (COMs) at the 124 Veterans Administration with inpatient medical services asking about the extent of use of 27 QIAs on a 5 point Likert scale, anchored by 0 = strongly disagree and 4 = strongly agree. We used multi-trait analysis to group QIAs into 3 scales which we characterized as prevention (e.g. prevention of adverse drug events), information gathering (e.g. benchmarking with other hospitals), and infrastructure (e.g. evidence-based guidelines). We also developed a scale about alignment of goals between senior leaders and the inpatient medicine service. We regressed each QI activity scale and total QIAs on use of hospitalists (physicians who practice only inpatient medicine), use of nurse practitioners or physician assistants, and alignment. Covariates included operating beds, occupancy rate, years of operation, region of country, urban/non-urban, and teaching status. After exclusion of surveys with missing data, we obtained an 84 percent response rate. The most frequently used QIAs were those related to prevention with a mean of 3.38 (with Information gathering = 2.27 and infrastructure = 2.25). Two factors were consistent statistically significant predictors of QIAs, the presence of hospitalists and alignment of senior management and the inpatient medical service. Goal alignment and use of physicians specializing in provision of inpatient medicine appear to enable implementation of QIAs.

Sustainability Babel Fish

July 16th, 2012 in Applications to Firms, Sectors, and Industries

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Nalin Kulatilaka


Authors: Ory Zik and Nalin Kulatilaka

This paper proposes a quantitative measure of sustainability. Using primary energy as a metric, it enables decisions to be made across different activities such as electricity, fuel and water use. By relying on bill data, we eliminate the need for new measurements and readily connect to economics through market prices. We choose the energy content of a gallon of gasoline as the basic unit, which turns out to be the right size and appeals to common intuition. We highlight that there are no ‘one size fits all’ rules governing sustainability decisions. Rather, the appropriate choices depend on location, time, and personal attributes.

Boundary Labeling During Field Emergence: Inclusion and Exclusion in Nanotechnology

May 14th, 2012 in Organizational Change, Research Day

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Stine Grodal

Strategy and Innovation

Author: Stine Grodal

Field emergence is a pivotal question in organizational theory. Yet, how the boundaries of organizational fields emerge has received little attention. In the literature examples occur of both boundary contraction and expansion during field emergence, but the mechanisms that facilitate this change are still uninvestigated. I address this gap in the literature through an in-depth longitudinal study of the emerging nanotechnology field. I show that boundary labeling plays a pivotal role in field emergence. In particular I show that the oscillation between expansion and contraction within nanotechnology happened through two boundary processes, which relate to the symbolic and social boundary respectively: amending the definition and conferring membership. I identify the mechanism underlying these two boundary processes to account for the change in the boundaries of nanotechnology over time. Lastly, I discuss how the boundary labeling mechanisms place the locus of institutional change both within the mundane everyday actions of regular field participants and dedicated institutional entrepreneurs.

Liminality as Cultural Process for Cultural Change

May 14th, 2012 in Organizational Change, Research Day

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Karen Golden-Biddle

Organizational Behavior

Authors: Jennifer Howard-Grenville, Karen Golden-Biddle, Jenn Irwin, and Jina Mao

This paper offers a revised understanding of intentional cultural change. In contrast to prevailing accounts, we suggest that such change can take place in the absence of initiating jolts, may be infused in everyday organizational life, and led by insiders who need not hold hierarchical power. Drawing on data from field studies and in-depth interviews, we develop a model of cultural change in which everyday occurrences such as meetings or workshops are constructed symbolically as ‘liminal’ phenomena, bracketed from yet connected to everyday action in the organization. The construction of these occurrences as liminal illuminates the symbolic realm, creating possibilities for people to experiment with new cultural resources and invite different interpretations that hold potential for altering the cultural order. Our analyses contribute to the literature on culture by developing liminality, a process that brings forward the symbolic and invites recombination, as a cultural explanation of cultural change, to complement prevailing political or social structural explanations. We discuss implications and boundary conditions for this type of intentional cultural change.

Does Fraud Pay in China?

May 14th, 2012 in Organizational Change, Research Day

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Yanbo Wang

Strategy and Innovation

Author:Yanbo Wang

This paper documents the extent of fraudulent reporting in a sample of 148 Chinese SMEs. We compare the financial statements of companies that simultaneously apply for grants from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and that file statements with the local Bureau of Industry and Commerce (BIC), which is a municipal authority. MOST grants, for which the submission of audited financial statements is a requirement, are similar to Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards in the US. We document a systematic gap in profitability in the two sets of financial statements. We find: (i) only 25% of the companies in the sample report the same level of profitability across the two sets of books; the remaining 75% of companies misrepresent their profitability, most likely by over-reporting their profits in their MOST grant applications; (ii) there is strong evidence of an insider effect in fraudulent reporting: companies led by individuals with close ties to the government are far more likely to commit fraud, and (iii) it pays to cheat; net of ties to the government, we estimate that companies which file discrepant books because they (most likely) exaggerate their profitability in the MOST grant applications have at least 50% higher odds of being awarded a MOST grant.
Boston University School of Management

Innovation, Openness and Platform Control

May 14th, 2012 in Digital Technologies, Research Day

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Marshall Van Alstyne

Information Systems

Authors: Marshall Van Alstyne and Geoffrey Parker

We develop an analytic model to examine the optimal level of openness and the optimal duration of property rights in a platform ecosystem such as that of Apple, Google, Facebook, or Microsoft. The model accounts for two periods of sequential innovation and the subsidies that the platform owner provides to developers in order to increase innovation for that platform. Intuitions are also shaped by dozens of hours with executives at platform firms. This is a working paper.

Attention Allocation in Information-Rich Environments: The Case of News Aggregators

May 14th, 2012 in Digital Technologies, Research Day

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Chris Dellarocas

Information Systems

Authors: Mihai Calin, Chris Dellarocas, Elia Palme, and Juliana Sutanto

News aggregators have emerged as an important component of digital content ecosystems, attracting traffic by hosting collections of links to third party content, but also causing conflict with content producers. Aggregators provide titles and short summaries of articles they link to. Content producers claim that their presence deprives them of traffic that would otherwise flow to their sites. In light of this controversy, we conduct a series of field experiments whose objective is to provide insight with respect to how readers allocate their attention between a news aggregator and the original articles it links to. Our experiments are based on manipulating elements of the user interface of a Swiss mobile news aggregator. We examine how key design parameters, such as the length of the text snippet that an aggregator provides about articles, the presence of associated photos as well as of other related articles on the same story, affect (a) a reader’s propensity to click on an article, (b) the amount of time that the reader spends on that article after clicking, and (c) the amount of time the reader spends on the aggregator. We hope that our results can help aggregators and content creators optimize their relationship for the benefit of both parties.

All Up in Your Facebook: The Legal and Management Implications of Screening Applicants with Social Media

May 14th, 2012 in Digital Technologies, Research Day

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Kabrina Chang

Markets, Public Policy and Law

Author: Kabrina Krebel Chang

You can be fired for off-duty posts to social networking sites. But now you can be hired in just the same way. The new Facebook Score and a Social Networking Report allow employers to use your social networking activity to make hiring decisions. While more than 50% of responding employers in a recent study reported looking at and basing decisions on an applicant’s social networking activity, a newly-devised “Facebook Score” offers employers a five-characteristic checklist for determining suitable employees. Employers can even outsource this task to companies like Social Intelligence, which generate Social Networking Reports similar to traditional credit reports. Are employers crossing a legal line in an attempt to hire the best candidate?