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New Video Series Spotlights the Impact of Gabelli School Research

| Dec 16, 2021 |

By Claire Curry

In a world where the internet fits in your pocket and more and more young people use smart phones, parents have become increasingly concerned about what their children are exposed to. Although mobile app ratings are meant to identify age-appropriate audiences, they are often unreliable and can put inappropriate content into children’s hands.

In her paper, “Can You Trust Apps or Age Recommendations: Inconsistent and Unreliable Maturity Ratings on Mobile Platforms,” Yilu Zhou, PhD, associate professor of information, technology, and operations at the Gabelli School, examined whether apps are incorrectly rated using artificial intelligence and machine language techniques. The first faculty member to receive a National Science Foundation grant, Zhou created an automated rating system for mobile apps that correctly identified 70% of the mis-rated apps out of 700,000 samples.

“I’m a mom myself, so I also worry about whether my daughter is playing with the right app,” Zhou said. “We’re hoping that using these algorithms, we can build an alert system for parents.”

Zhou’s paper is one of several featured in the Gabelli School’s Dean’s Research Spotlight Series. Launched this fall, the biweekly video series showcases faculty research published in top-tier scholarly journals, including those ranked by Financial Times and UT Dallas.

“The research that is done by our faculty is being published in very selective journals, attesting to its quality and appeal to the research community,” said Associate Professor N.K. Chidambaran, PhD, associate dean of research and faculty development. “The Dean’s Research Spotlight initiative highlights the main results and takeaways and makes it more accessible to broader audiences, including professional managers, CEOs, and other executives.”

Location, Location, Location

While scrolling online apps in search of a restaurant or shop, the average person encounters at least a handful of ads. Does location influence which one you choose?

After analyzing more than 400,000 observations from a European couponing mobile app, Assistant Professor of Information, Technology, and Operations Dominik Molitor, PhD, determined that, especially in rural areas, customers preferred local businesses and restaurants.

Our study caters to consumer platforms, offering location-based advertising to retailers and restaurants alike,” he said about the paper, “Effectiveness of Location-based Advertising and the Impact of Interface Design,” published in the Journal of Management Information Systems. “It’s important to understand how smart phones have changed consumer behavior.”


Feedback on the Job

Most employees would hesitate to speak out against their employer for fear of jeopardizing their job or reputation. However, the website “Glassdoor” provides a platform for anonymous reviews.

In the paper, “The Disciplinary Effect of Social Media: Evidence from Firms’ Response to Glassdoor Reviews,” published in the Journal of Accounting Research, Svenja Dube, PhD, assistant professor of accounting and taxation, found that the feedback has an impact. The firms that received initial negative reviews took measures to improve their workplace practices.

Those firms which are competing for best and top talent are the ones who are really going ahead and improving their workplace practices,” Dube said, adding that improvements in workplace disclosures were concentrated in firms facing investor pressure.

Banking on ESG

In an increasingly socially conscious business environment, the motivation to improve ESG performance is not only coming from employees, but also from customers and the financial institutions that back them. While studying banks’ policies, Assistant Professor Hongyu Shan, PhD, noticed that banks with high ESG standards influenced corporate borrowers to increase their own companies’ standards by including ESG goals in lending agreements.

If we really want to make a positive impact as a regulator and change the ESG behavior of those companies, one way is to put a high ESG lending standard on the bank side,” he said.

The Review of Financial Studies will feature Shan’s research, titled “ESG Profiles and Banking Relationships,” which was one of the first papers to quantify the positive ESG impact from bank to corporate borrowers.

The Company you Keep

How are bio-pharmaceutical companies affected by the companies they buy and partner with? Navid Asgari, PhD, associate professor of strategy and statistics and associate director of the Global Healthcare Innovation Management Center, considered that question in his paper, “Divestment of Relational Assets Following Acquisitions: Evidence from the Bio-Pharmaceutical Industry,” published in Strategic Management Journal.

His findings reveal that while new alliances inspire innovation, they stress the acquirer’s capabilities, are costly to maintain, and are prone to premature termination. “We suggest that when evaluating acquisitions, managers should look beyond traditional measures of value of a target’s relational assets, and evaluate both their post-acquisition integration costs and the threats to their stability,” he said.

Extreme Investing in Penny Stocks

If financial decision-makers are aware of an extreme event, they may overestimate the probability of it occurring, hoping to take advantage of an investment opportunity. In “Salience Theory and the Cross-Section of Stock Returns: International and Further Evidence,” soon to be published in the Journal of Financial Economics, Nusret Cakici, PhD, concluded that these anomalies had a higher probability of presenting themselves in small microcap stocks, otherwise known as penny stocks, and that they do not exist in the vast 97% majority of stock.

Be careful to make a bet on some trading strategy, most likely you are going to end up losing money,” he said. “It’s extremely difficult to trade those microcap stocks, even at the individual level.”

The Dean’s Research Spotlight Series will continue in spring 2022, featuring research that is relevant to today’s global economy with a focus on ESG, Chidambaran said. “It is consistent with our mission as a university to focus on the ESG aspects of business, and the impact businesses and business research has on society.”

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