“The university wants you to go out and be an intellectual entrepreneur.”
This was among Professor Benjamin Cole’s remarks to student researchers who presented their original projects at last week’s second Gabelli Undergraduate Business Research Conference.
As keynote speaker, Professor Cole compared the entrepreneurial process — whose stages include idea generation, assessment, prototyping and, eventually, selling — to the explorative process of a researcher.
Yes. At the conference itself, filled with presentations, students are selling their product: their findings and analysis. They need others to consume that product so that their discoveries can make it to the outside world — ideally to other researchers, and industry. Dean Rapaccioli has made research a top priority at the Gabelli School for that very good reason, among others.
Here is a brief glimpse into three of the 18 projects that were showcased:
Rebecca Horne (GSB ’13) wanted to quantify the links she observed between economic activity in Europe and the Latin American GDP. She conducted correlation and regression testing of data, focusing on three variables in Europe: European GDP, banks’ international assets, and sovereign bond yields. The relationships were there. Specifically, one of her tests found that about 6 percent of the average annual change in Brazil’s GDP relates to the change in the Spanish sovereign bond yield.
Leah Olverd (GSB ’13) and Christina Sotto (GSB ’13) researched co-branding, a recent trend that pairs products, sometimes of different types and from different companies: Nike and Apple, the Girl Scouts and Nestlé, Gillette and The Art of Shaving, Dr. Pepper and ChapStick. They found that with relatively cheap products, the items need to have a high overall fit: Co-branding Band-Aid with Neosporin or hydrogen peroxide would work well, because these products and ideas seem to fit together. This differs from existing research on expensive, “high-involvement” brands, even dissimilar co-branded products met with positive consumer perception.
Michael Leithead (GSB ’13) researched the return of leveraged exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, compared with investor expectations. He selected four leveraged ETFs that offered multiple S&P 500 returns, to observe historical data, and calculated the impact of cumulative compounding error, tracking error, and expenses. He found that these three factors all led to significant distortion of results compared with expectations. “Given these return distortions, leveraged and inverse ETFs are not suitable for buy-and-hold investors, despite mainly being used by [them],” he reported.
Some students found the research project experience, and the conference that capped it, a positive experience.
“It is not easy, especially as a relatively naïve undergraduate, to develop and execute a project that actually contributes to the already large body of academic and commercial research available today,” Rebecca said. “That said, I am very proud of myself and of my colleagues who completed thesis projects. I saw a very high level of work at the conference and believe that Fordham students are coming up with some significant contributions.”