Tag: Faculty



Is a non-browning apple less “natural” than non-fat milk? In one case, people have injected something into apple DNA to prevent it from turning brown after it’s cut. In the other, people used technology to remove something that appears naturally in milk.

The question of what constitutes “naturalness”—and consumers’ attitudes about it—lies at the heart of a research paper from Olin’s Sydney Scott, assistant professor of marketing. The paper, entitled “An Overview of Attitudes Toward Genetically Engineered Foods,” was published last month in the Annual Review of Nutrition.

Along with researchers from the University of Toronto, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Pennsylvania, Scott digested 20 years’ worth of research papers, government documents, and media reports to frame current consumer attitudes toward genetically engineered foods.

“It’s an overview of where we are,” said Scott, who has previously published research on the “moralization” of genetically modified foods and the role of consumer “disgust” in their consumption. “It’s looking at the state of what’s been done in the regulatory landscape and the research in understanding attitudes.”

Poking around in the DNA

The upshot of the team’s work is that after more than 20 years of growth in genetic engineering in agriculture, consumers have largely remained skeptical, even to the point of being “grossed out” by the idea.

“In some contexts, people view nature and naturalness as sacred and genetically engineered food as a violation of naturalness,” the authors write. The prevailing research also shows that consumers follow “the magical law of contagion”—the idea that the slightest contact between a natural food and something else contaminates it. Thus, a housefly’s wing in a bowl of soup renders the entire serving inedible.

What the research overview doesn’t address, however, is why some consumers seem to be fine with heavily processed foods—Hamburger Helper, frozen microwave dinners, or maple-flavored “pancake syrup”—but cannot abide genetically engineered foods such as weed-resistant soybeans, vitamin A-enriched rice, or fast-growing salmon.

“Consumers seem to be saying it’s not OK to poke into the DNA. That’s yucky,” Scott said. “People are grossed out by that.”

Scott said the Annual Review commissioned the overview of research findings. “We were hoping it would provide a useful synthesis of what we know to a broad audience—the risks and benefits of this technology, what people think and why—and highlight the importance of this pro-naturalness context.”

Regulation and attitudes

Through their review of the literature, the researchers noted that prior work identified four governmental approaches to regulating genetically modified crops, ranging from promotional to permissive to precautionary to preventative. For example, the United States tends to have a permissive approach, grows a lot of genetically modified crops, and says they are “generally recognized as safe.”

By contrast, the European Union is restrictive in its approach, allowing only two genetically engineered crops to be grown commercially—potatoes and maize—and even those are not grown for human consumption “due to consumer resistance,” according to the research paper.

Yet globally, the increase in genetically engineered crops has grown to cover half of US cropland and 12 percent of total cropland—mostly in North and South America and Asia. At the same time, worldwide sales of organic food have climbed from about $15.2 billion in 1999 to $90 billion in 2016.

A key aim of the researcher team’s work was to expose the gap between advocates of genetically engineered foods and opponents. “This won’t be solved by just taking into account the scientific information”—which shows genetically engineered foods have no adverse effects on the environment or human health—Scott said. “When we’re communicating with people about this technology, to have a successful conversation, we have to realize that.”

“What we’re trying to figure out now is what will allow people to reach a better consensus,” Scott said. “I don’t think it’s insurmountable.”




Panos Kouvelis

What are the components of your company’s supply chain? They might include inventory, transportation, access to labor, water, power, and other utilities. How resilient is your supply chain in a crisis? How much inventory do you have on hand and how quickly can you replenish it? Where is your labor staff, how soon can it mobilize, and how did the crisis affect them? Do you have back-up sources of electricity and water?

These and similar issues form the core of the figurative “Waffle House index,” taught to students by an Olin Business School professor and named years ago by a former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2011.

The index refers to a clue into the level of devastation wrought by a natural disaster—disasters like Hurricane Florence, which made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, NC, early Friday morning. And Panos Kouvelis, director of Olin’s Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation, says it makes sense.

“It’s very smart. This is a way to evaluate the situation with limited data,” Kouvelis said. “In times like this, demand goes up and supply goes down at the same time. But companies like Waffle House have good playbooks. They pre-position supplies, they make sure they know how to staff their stores. They know what inventory they have and what they don’t have. Their playbook makes sense. That’s the resilience that we talk about in supply chain management.”

First dubbed the “Waffle House Index” by former FEMA Director W. Craig Fugate after a devastating western Missouri tornado, the notion isn’t actually an index at all. There’s no “big board” available for public view, no place to gauge the status of the Waffle House chain.

But Kouvelis said that a quick look at Waffle Houses in the post-hurricane landscape—the aftermath the Carolinas face late this weekend or early next week—can provide a leading indicator of how badly the storm harmed the commercial infrastructure. Are the Waffle Houses open, serving full menus, and staffed? Other businesses are likely not far behind. Are the Waffle Houses staffed with skeleton crews and serving partial menus? The level of devastation is higher and recovery may take a few more days.

If the Waffle House is closed…well, buckle up. We’re probably in for a longer recovery period.

And it’s not just about Waffle House, which is heavily concentrated in the southeast, said Kouvelis, Olin’s Emerson Distinguished Professor of Operations and Manufacturing Management.

“Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart tend to be well prepared for these disasters because they have seen it many times in the past,” said Kouvelis, who teaches “supply chain risk management” using cases like Waffle House and similarly prepared companies. “It’s a smart part of their brand image: When you need us, we are there.”

Pictured above: A Waffle House in the Carolinas in 2013, via Flickr user “rpavich” used under Creative Commons license for commercial use.




Thirteen new faculty members have joined Olin in the past year in accounting, finance, operations, strategy, and marketing.

Tenure-track faculty

SETH CARNAHAN, Associate professor of strategy
PhD: Strategy, 2013, University of Maryland
Prior to Olin: Sanford R. Robertson Assistant Professor of Business Administration and Assistant Professor of Strategy at the University of Michigan
Research Interests: Firm strategy, entrepreneurship, and human capital; how competition for human capital affects firm performance; why individuals create startup firms

XIANG HUI, Assistant professor of marketing
PhD: Economics, 2016, Ohio State University
Prior to Olin: Postdoctoral associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Interests: Design of digital platforms and economics of digitization, how consumers’ experience with service providers on such platforms could be enhanced through platform policies and strategies that improve information or other aspects

MARYJANE RABIER, Assistant professor of accounting
PhD: Accounting, 2014, University of Maryland
Prior to Olin: Assistant professor of accounting, McGill University
Research Interests: Recent research, “Value is in the Eye of the Beholder: The Relative Valuation Roles of Earnings and Book Value in Merger Pricing,” was published in the Accounting Review, Vol. 93, No. 1, 2018

Visiting professors

ABER ELSALEIBY, Visiting assistant professor of operations and manufacturing management
PhD: Manufacturing and technology management, 2015, University of Toledo
Prior to Olin: Lecturer of operations management, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research Interests: Manufacturing and service operations management, healthcare operations management/analytics, supply chain network design

*ILIAS FILIPPOU, Visiting assistant professor of finance
PhD: Finance, 2015, The University of Warwick
Prior to Olin: Assistant professor of financial economics, Warwick Business School
Research Interests: Asset pricing, international finance, macro-finance

MENG LIU, Visiting assistant professor of marketing
PhD: Economics, 2015, Clemson University
Prior to Olin: Postdoctoral associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Interests: Auctions and mechanism design, specifically in the contexts of government procurement contracts; the emerging sharing economy of the digital era; The impact of Uber on the traditional taxi industry

Yaron Leitner, Visiting professor of finance
PhD: Finance, 2001, Northwestern University
Prior to Olin: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Research Interests: Banking and financial institutions, information economics

ALESSIO SARETTO, Visiting assistant professor of finance
PhDs: Finance, 2006, University of California, Los Angeles; mathematical finance, 2002, University of Brescia
Prior to Olin: Assistant professor of finance and managerial economics, University of Texas at Dallas
Research Interests: Empirical asset pricing, capital structure, credit risk, and structured finance. Saretto has been published in Management Science, Review of Financial Studies, Journal of Fixed Income, and the Journal of Financial Markets

Professors of practice

PETER BOUMGARDEN, Professor of practice, organizational behavior
PhD: Organizational behavior/strategy, 2010, Washington University in St. Louis
Prior to Olin: Associate professor of management, Hope College
Research Interests: Researches, consults and facilitates executive education in the private and nonprofit sectors on topics of innovation, corporate strategy, marketing strategy and leadership development. Clients include Herman Miller, Edward Jones, Charles Schwab, Oracle and others

JEREMY DEGENHART, Professor of practice, finance
BSBA: 2000, Washington University in St. Louis.
Prior to Olin: Adjunct professor of finance, Olin Business School
Research Interests: Global Impact Investing Network, Advantage Capital, Solar Energy Industries Association

TIMOTHY SOLBERG, Professor of practice, finance
MBA: 1982, University of Chicago
Prior to Olin: Olin faculty advisor and lecturer, Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education Forum
Research Interests: Economic development, health economics, international economics, banking and financial institutions, corporate governance

MICHAEL WALL, Professor of practice, marketing
BA: 2001, Indiana University
Prior to Olin: Adjunct lecturer, Olin Business School
Research Interests: Innovation, digital marketing, leadership

Research scholar

DAVID SOVICH, postdoc for finance
PhD: Finance, 2018, Washington University in St. Louis
Prior to Olin: PhD intern, Equifax Inc.
Research Interests: Empirical household finance, real effects of financial markets

*Not pictured. Pictured above, from left, first row: Yaron Leitner, MaryJane Rabier, Alessio Saretto, Timothy Solberg, Seth Carnahan. Second row: Peter Boumgarden, Meng Liu, David Sovich, Aber Elsaleiby. Third row: Xiang Hui, Jeremy Degenhart, Michael Wall.




Cynthia Cryder

It’s National Financial Awareness Day—and we see it as our duty to bring you the best financial and business-related news today and every day. So pull up a front-row seat to this exclusive, free personal finance training, brought to you by associate professor of marketing Cynthia Cryder.

Why it matters

It’s easy to think of financial awareness as something that’s best left to the experts – but Cryder, whose research on personal finance ranges from the psychology of debt to the practical details of how we spend money, says that’s a big mistake—and one that could cost you emotionally as well as financially. Though she’s an expert in consumer decision-making and personal finance, Cryder defines financial awareness as “being deliberate about your finances and making a plan.” That means staying one step ahead and being ready for the next major or minor disaster – because it’s going to come.

Cryder says being aware of your finances and having a plan to save, reduce debt, and think about the future is crucial because of the sheer nature of how we react to money. In fact, Cryder says people in the United States cite financial stress as more difficult on them than health, job, or any other kind of stressor.

“It seems like not having emergency savings is one of the most stressful things, because most families and individuals have a financial shock every year,” Cryder explained. So getting your finances in control and knowing where you stand is about more than counting checks—it’s about a happier, healthier you.

Rethink saving

One of the most frequent roadblocks Cryder finds to helping people become financially well is a misunderstanding of the nature of savings—and emergencies. “The idea that the only type of savings is for the distant future, like education or health savings,” does the consumer a disservice. That’s because emergency spending should be a top priority, according to Cryder.

Why do we have such trouble thinking of saving up for the short term? It has to do with the kinds of financial emergencies we face and the way we compartmentalize them. “We see isolated expenditures as just that: isolated,” said Cryder. “So we think that we’ll never have that financial shock or expenditure again. And that may be true, but we’re bad at then understanding that we are going to have another unusual type of isolated shock or expenditure.”

So when we rationalize that a car breakdown isn’t likely to happen again in the near future, we forget to save for things like a health emergency, or a home repair. Rethinking the likelihood of an “exceptional” event happening, and understanding that you’re going to face one each year, is one of the keys to being truly aware of your financial situation.

One step at a time

Once you’re aware of the state of your savings and you’ve decided it’s time to reduce financial stress in your life, Cryder suggests a few simple ways of moving toward stability.

First up: Figure out what needs to change. “It’s about deciding what is important to you as a person and as a consumer,” she says. Assuming your finances are stressing you out, you’ve got two options: make more money or spend less.

That might take the form of getting an extra job on the side, or taking in a roommate or two to help with expenses. Or it could be as simple as tracking your expenses for a month, seeing what adds up and what could be cut to make room.

While that might seem easier said than done, it’s a crucial decision to make if you want to get rid of financial stress. It’s also the key to steps two and three: pay down those debts and start an emergency fund.

When paying down debts, Cryder recommends starting with the most expensive—think payday loans, credit cards, and anything above 10 percent APR. While that might seem obvious at first glance, Cryder and her fellow researchers have found that many consumers are actually more likely to tackle the manageable, lower-interest rates first. “It’s not entirely obvious that people shouldn’t be doing this, because it’s possible that people get a great satisfaction from clearing something off their plate,” she said. But keep in mind: the longer you wait to pay down those expensive loans, the more debt you’re accruing.

Once your debt is under control, an emergency savings fund is a must. Thinking about spending crises, Cryder warns that “these things keep coming up—and we keep having to deal with them.” So putting away some money with the expectation that you’ll spend it on an emergency will make you better equipped to handle that situation when it happens.

Become the best you

At the end of the day, everything Cryder does is about the consumer. She believes the goal of financial awareness is to “improve consumer well-being.” She wants to help consumers “reduce financial stresses and improve outcomes in terms of finding a good match between how they’re spending their money and how they’re finding satisfaction in life.”

In short: a financially aware you means a happier, healthier, and more satisfied you—and making life safer, better, and more comfortable for everyone is what Cryder—and financial analysts—are all about.




If you’re having a heart attack and you’re a woman, hope a female doctor greets you in the emergency room.

A review of nearly 582,000 heart attack cases over 19 years showed female patients had a significantly higher survival rate when a woman treated them in the ER, according to Olin’s Seth Carnahan, part of a three-member research team on the project.

In fact, in the researchers’ sample, 1,500 fewer women would have died—women who were treated by male doctors—if their survival rate was the same as women treated by female physicians.

Seth Carnahan

Seth Carnahan

Researchers also found that women had a better survival rate with male doctors who have a lot of female colleagues in the ER—though they’d still be better off with a female physician. The results parallel similar studies of gender differences in medical outcomes, but the difference here, Carnahan said, is the stakes.

“You have highly trained experts with life or death on the line and yet the gender match between the physician and the patient seems to matter a great deal,” said Carnahan, associate professor of strategy at Olin.

The conclusions are central to a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences entitled “Patient-Physician Gender Concordance and Increased Mortality Among Female Heart Attack Patients,” coauthored with Brad Greenwood at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Harvard University’s Laura Huang.

The business connection: Gender differences at work

Though the topic focuses on medical outcomes in a healthcare setting, Carnahan said the conclusions are relevant to business because the big picture is about gender differences in the workplace. It’s a subject that’s interested him for a long time, particularly after hearing how his sister’s experiences in male-dominated workplaces differed from his own.

“Interpersonal interactions, whether they are between a doctor and patient or a manager and a subordinate, create the core of an organization,” he said. “I’m very interested in how these interactions determine a firm’s performance and influence the lives of its managers, employees, and customers.”

The team reviewed a trove of anonymous medical data from Florida hospitals from 1991 to 2010.  These data allowed the team to measure important factors like the age, race, and medical history of patients, hospital quality, and more. Even accounting for these factors, the team found female patients were less likely to survive heart attacks than male patients and that gender differences in survival rates were the highest under male physicians.

For patients treated by female physicians, the gender disparity in survival rates was about 0.2 percent. In other words, 11.8 percent of men died, versus about 12 percent of women.

However, for patients treated by male physicians, the gender gap in survival more than tripled to 0.7 percent. In that case, 12.6 percent of men died compared to 13.3 percent of women.

“Our work corroborates prior research showing that female doctors tend to produce better patient outcomes than male doctors,” Carnahan said. “The novel part of what we are doing is showing that the benefit of having a female doctor is particularly stark for a female patient.”

Does anything improve outcomes with male docs?

In reviewing the conditions that most favored female patients, the team found that female survival rates rose as the percentage of female doctors in the ER rose—particularly if the treating physician was male. The “male bias” effect also declined the more the male doctors had treated female patients.

Those mitigating factors “suggest that having training programs that are more gender neutral, or showing how men and women might present symptoms differently, could improve outcomes for female patients,” Carnahan said.

The research is similar to another Carnahan-Greenwood collaboration documenting how female lawyers were less likely to advance in their firms with promotions and plum assignments when they worked for politically conservative male law partners. That project grabbed the attention of The Washington Post, The Guardian, and Politico when Carnahan was on the faculty at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

The current paper, however, moves outside the employer-employee arena, where gender bias is well documented in certain circumstances.

“Employee-customer relationships don’t have as much research in this area and you can think of a physician and a patient being a customer relationship,” Carnahan said. “I think organizations that get this right can outperform other firms and produce better outcomes for all of their stakeholders.”


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