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New Global Study Finds Companies Advanced in Social Business Actively Leveraging Social Data

July 28, 2014 Comments off

New Global Study Finds Companies Advanced in Social Business Actively Leveraging Social Data
Source: Deloitte/MIT

New research released today by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte reveals that nearly two thirds of surveyed companies around the world find social business initiatives —including social media, social software and social networks—are positively impacting their business outcomes.

The report, Moving Beyond Marketing: Generating Social Business Value Across the Enterprise, based on a global survey of more than 4,800 business executives across 26 industries and 109 countries, found that the level of value companies achieve is related to their social business “maturity.”

Respondents who rated their companies further along the social maturity scale were more likely to report their companies practice the following:

  • Apply social business data in the decision making process: Nearly 80 percent analyze social data, and 67 percent integrate it into systems and processes to improve business decisions.
  • Employ a leadership vision that social can bring about fundamental changes: More than 90 percent of respondents say their leaders believe it can create powerful and positive change.
  • Infuse social business into multiple functions across the enterprise: A total of 87 percent use social business to spur innovation.
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“Win at Home and Draw Away”: Automatic Formation Analysis Highlighting the Differences in Home and Away Team Behaviors

July 28, 2014 Comments off

“Win at Home and Draw Away”: Automatic Formation Analysis Highlighting the Differences in Home and Away Team Behaviors (PDF)
Source: MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

In terms of analyzing soccer matches, two of the most important factors to consider are: 1) the formation the team played (e.g., 4 – 4 – 2, 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 , 3 – 5 – 2 etc. ), and 2) the manner in which they executed it (e.g., conservative – sitting deep, or aggressive – pressing high). Despite the existence of ball and player tracking data, no current methods exist which can automatically detect and visualize formations. Using an entire sea son of Prozone data which consists of ball and player tracking information from a recent top – tier prof essional league, we showcase an automatic formation detection method by investigating the “home advantage”. In a paper we published recently, using an ent ire season of ball tracking data we showed that home teams had significantly more possession in the forward – third which correlated with more shots and goals while the shooting and passing proficiencies were the same. Using our automatic formation analysis, we extend t his analysis and show that while teams tend to play the same formation at home as they do away, the manner in which they execute the formation is significantly different. Specifically, we show that the position of the formation of teams at home is significantly higher up the field compared to when they play away. This conservative approach at away games suggests that coaches aim to win their home games and draw their away games. Additionally, we also show that our method can visually summarize a game which gives an indication of dominance and tactics. While enabling new discoveries of team behavior which can enhance analysis, it is also worth mentioning that our automatic formation detection method is the first to be developed.

The Productivity of Public Charter Schools

July 25, 2014 Comments off

The Productivity of Public Charter Schools
Source: University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform

People often wish to know how much “bang they get for their buck.” This calculation is often referred to as productivity and is measured either as cost effectiveness or return on investment (ROI). This report represents the first-ever national study tying funding to student achievement and measuring the productivity of public charter schools relative to traditional public schools. It was crafted by six researchers with more than 70 years of collective experience in the field of public finance and school funding.

Positive and Normative Judgments Implicit in US Tax Policy and the Costs of Unequal Growth and Recessions

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Positive and Normative Judgments Implicit in US Tax Policy and the Costs of Unequal Growth and Recessions
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

We use official data and standard optimal tax conditions to infer the positive and normative judgments implicit in U.S. tax policy since 1979. We find that explanations within this framework for the time path of U.S. policy require central parameters of the model, namely the elasticity of taxable income or the marginal social welfare weights on top earners, to take unconventional values. We use inferred social preferences to provide novel estimates of the welfare costs of unequal growth and recessions and find that they are sensitive to the assumed distortionary costs of taxation and the year from which preferences are derived. We explore several possible explanations for our findings with available data.

Unhappy Cities

July 15, 2014 Comments off

Unhappy Cities (PDF)
Source: Harvard University (Glaeser et al)

There are persistent differences in self-reported subjective well-being across U.S. metropolitan areas, and residents of declining cities appear less happy than other Americans. Newer residents of these cities appear to be as unhappy as longer term residents, and yet some people continue to move to these areas. While the historical data on happiness are limited, the available facts suggest that cities that are now declining were also unhappy in their more prosperous past. One interpretation of these facts is that individuals do not aim to maximize self-reported well-being, or happiness, as measured in surveys, and they willingly endure less happiness in exchange for higher incomes or lower housing costs. In this view, subjective well-being is better viewed as one of many arguments of the utility function, rather than the utility function itself, and individuals make trade-offs among competing objectives, including but not limited to happiness.

Twitter as Social Sensor: Dynamics and Structure in Major Sporting Events

July 11, 2014 Comments off

Twitter as Social Sensor: Dynamics and Structure in Major Sporting Events
Source: MIT

Twitter often behaves like a “social sensor” in which users actively sense real-world events and spontaneously mention these events in cyberspace. Here, we study the temporal dynamics and structural properties of Twitter as a social sensor in major sporting events. By examining Japanese professional baseball games, we found that Twitter as a social sensor can immediately show reactions to positive and negative events by a burst of tweets, but only positive events induce a burst of retweets to follow. In addition, retweet networks during the baseball games exhibit clear polarization in user clusters depending on baseball teams, as well as a scale-free in-degree distribution. These empirical findings provide mechanistic insights into the emergence and evolution of social sensors.

Hat tip: Research Buzz

Activist Directors: Determinants and Consequences

July 11, 2014 Comments off

Activist Directors: Determinants and Consequences
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

This paper examines the determinants and consequences of hedge fund activism with a focus on activist directors, i.e., those directors appointed in response to demands by activists. Using a sample of 1,969 activism events over the period 2004-2012, we identify 824 activist directors. We find that activists are more likely to gain board seats at smaller firms and those with weaker stock price performance. Activists remain as shareholders longer when they have board seats, with holding periods consistent with conventional notions of “long-term” institutional investors. As in prior research, we find positive announcement-period returns of around 4% to 5% when a firm is targeted by activists and a 2% increase in return on assets over the subsequent one to five years. We find that activist directors are associated with significant strategic and operational actions by firms. We find evidence of increased divestiture, decreased acquisition activity, higher probability of being acquired, lower cash balances, higher payout, greater leverage, higher CEO turnover, lower CEO compensation, and reduced investment. With the exception of the probability of being acquired, these estimated effects are generally greater when activists obtain board representation, consistent with board representation being an important mechanism for bringing about the kinds of changes that activists often demand.

The Great Society, Reagan’s revolution, and generations of presidential voting

July 9, 2014 Comments off

The Great Society, Reagan’s revolution, and generations of presidential voting (PDF)
Source: Columbia University (Ghitza and Gelman)

We build a generational model of presidential voting, in which long-term partisan presidential voting preferences are formed, in large part, through a weighted “running tally” of retrospective presidential evaluations, where weights are determined by the age in which the evaluation was made. Under the model, the Gallup Presidential Approval Rating time series is shown to be a good approximation to the political events that inform retrospective presidential evaluations. The political events of a voter’s teenage and early adult years, centered around the age of 18, are enormously important in the formation of these longterm partisan preferences. The model is shown to be powerful, explaining a substantial amount of the macro-level voting trends of the last half century, especially for white voters and non-Southern whites in particular. We use a narrative of presidential political events from the 1940s to the present day to describe the model, illustrating the formation of five main generations of presidential voters.

The Burden of Stress in America

July 8, 2014 Comments off

The Burden of Stress in America (PDF)
Source: NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health

The NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health Burden of Stress in America Survey was conducted from March 5 to April 8, 2014 with a sample of 2,505 respondents. The survey examines the role stress plays in different aspects of Americans’ lives, including the public’s personal experiences of stress in the past month and year, the perceived effects of their stress and causes of that stress, their methods of stress management and their general attitudes about effects of stress in people’s lives.

Does Planning Regulation Protect Independent Retailers?

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Does Planning Regulation Protect Independent Retailers? (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Regulations aimed at curbing the entry of large retail stores have been introduced in many countries to protect independent retailers. Analyzing a planning reform launched in the United Kingdom in the 1990s, I show that independent retailers were actually harmed by the creation of entry barriers against large stores. Instead of simply reducing the number of new large stores entering a market, the entry barriers created the incentive for large retail chains to invest in smaller and more centrally located formats, which competed more directly with independents and accelerated their decline. Overall, these findings suggest that restricting the entry of large stores does not necessarily lead to a world with fewer stores, but one with different stores, with uncertain competitive effects on independent retailers.

See: Banning Big-box Stores Can Hurt Local Businesses

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Retirement Planning Predicts Employee Health Improvements

July 3, 2014 Comments off

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Retirement Planning Predicts Employee Health Improvements (PDF)
Source: Washington University in St. Louis

Are poor physical and financial health driven by the same underlying psychological factors? We document that the decision to contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan predicts whether or not an individual will act to correct poor physical health indicators revealed during an employer-­‐sponsored health examination. Using this examination as a quasi-­‐exogenous shock to employees’ personal health knowledge, we examine which employees are more likely to improve health, controlling for differences in initial health, demographics, job type, and income. We find that existing retirement contribution patterns and future health improvements are highly correlated. Those that save for the future by contributing to a 401(k) improved abnormal health test results and poor health behaviors approximately 27% more than non-­‐contributors. These findings are consistent with an underlying individual time discounting trait that is both difficult to change and domain interdependent, and that predicts long-­‐term individual behaviors on multiple dimensions.

LGBT Parents on American Television

July 3, 2014 Comments off

LGBT Parents on American Television
Source: University of Southern Mississippi (Kahn)

Television is an ever changing medium used in mass communication, and people often rely on this medium for knowledge about different subjects. This study demonstrates how television depictions of marginalized groups can change over time. Focusing specifically on a subset of the LGBT community – parents – this study documents the evolution of LGBT parents on American television. A total of 14 television shows were selected for a qualitative analysis. The parents depicted in these shows were analyzed according to gender, race, class and sexuality. The results were then summarized and put into historical context. This study contributes to the fields of both media research and queer studies.

New Research Report: The Children We Mean to Raise

July 1, 2014 Comments off

New Research Report: The Children We Mean to Raise
Source: Harvard Graduate School of Education

Our youth’s values appear to be awry, and the messages that we’re unintentionally sending as adults may be at the heart of the problem.

According to our recent national survey, a large majority of youth across a wide spectrum of races, cultures, and classes appear to value aspects of personal success—achievement and happiness—over concern for others. At the root of this problem may be a rhetoric/reality gap, a gap between what parents say are their top priorities and the real messages they convey in their behavior day to day.

When children do not prioritize caring and fairness in relation to their self-concerns—and when they view their peers as even less likely to prioritize these values— there is a lower bar for many forms of harmful behavior, including cruelty, disrespect, dishonesty, and cheating.

The good news is that we found substantial evidence that caring and fairness still count among kids—and, according to other sources, among adults.

The solution is straightforward, if we’re all willing to work together.

SAGE – A Test to Measure Thinking Abilities

June 26, 2014 Comments off

SAGE – A Test to Measure Thinking Abilities
Source: Ohio State University (Wexner Medical Center)

The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) is designed to detect early signs of cognitive, memory or thinking impairments. It evaluates your thinking abilities and helps physicians to know how well your brain is working.

You may want to take SAGE if you are concerned that you might have cognitive issues. Or you may wish to have your family or friends take the test if they are having memory or thinking problems. The difficulties listed can be early signs of cognitive and brain dysfunction. While dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can lead to these symptoms, there are many other treatable disorders that also may cause these signs.

It is normal to experience some memory loss and to take longer to recall events as you age. But if the changes you are experiencing are worrying you or others around you, SAGE can be a helpful tool to assess if further evaluation is necessary.

See: A Test for the Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease (New York Times)

A Measurement Study of Google Play

June 26, 2014 Comments off

A Measurement Study of Google Play (PDF)
Source: Columbia University

Although millions of users download and use third-party Android applications from the Google Play store, little in- formation is known on an aggregated level about these applications. We have built PlayDrone, the first scalable Google Play store crawler, and used it to index and analyze over 1,100,000 applications in the Google Play store on a daily basis, the largest such index of Android applications. PlayDrone leverages various hacking techniques to circumvent Google’s roadblocks for indexing Google Play store con- tent, and makes proprietary application sources available, including source code for over 880,000 free applications. We demonstrate the usefulness of PlayDrone in decompiling and analyzing application content by exploring four previously unaddressed issues: the characterization of Google Play application content at large scale and its evolution over time, library usage in applications and its impact on application portability, duplicative application content in Google Play, and the ineffectiveness of OAuth and related service authentication mechanisms resulting in malicious users being able to easily gain unauthorized access to user data and resources on Amazon Web Services and Facebook.

See: Crucial security problem in Google Play: Thousands of secret keys found in android apps (Science Daily)

Cashier or Consultant? Entry Lab or Market Conditions, Field of Study, and Career Success

June 24, 2014 Comments off

Cashier or Consultant? Entry Lab or Market Conditions, Field of Study, and Career Success (PDF)
Source: Yale University

We analyze lab or market outcomes of U.S. college graduates from the classes of 1976 to 2011, as a function of the economic conditions they graduated into. We categorize college majors by average economic outcomes and skill level of the major, predominantly the average earnings premium, and measure a range of lab or market outcomes over the first 13 years after college graduation. We have three main findings. First, poor labor market conditions disrupt early careers. For the average major, a large recession at time of graduation reduces earnings and wages by roughly 11% and 3% (respectively) in the first year, and reduces the probability of full-time employment by 0.095. Effects on earnings and full-time employment fade out over the first 7 years of a career, while the wage effects persist. There is a small positive effect on the probability of obtaining an advanced degree. Second, for the period as a whole, these effects are differential across college majors. High-earning majors are somewhat sheltered when graduating into a recession relative to the average major, experiencing significantly smaller disadvantages in most lab or market outcomes measured. As a result, the initial earnings and wage gaps across college majors widen by 33% and 8%, respectively, for those graduating into a large recession. Most of these effects fade out over the first 7 years, but impacts on wages and a measure of occupational match quality persist. Higher paying majors are also slightly less likely to obtain an advanced degree when graduating into a recession. Our third set of results focuses on a recent period that includes the Great Recession. Early impacts on earnings are double what we would have expected given past patterns and the size of the recession, in part because of a large increase in the cyclical sensitivity of demand for college graduates. The effects are also dispersed much more evenly across college majors than those of prior recessions.

The Rising Cost of Consumer Attention: Why You Should Care, and What You Can Do about It

June 23, 2014 Comments off

The Rising Cost of Consumer Attention: Why You Should Care, and What You Can Do about It (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Attention is a necessary ingredient for effective advertising. The market for consumer attention (or “eyeballs”) has become so competitive that attention can be regarded as a currency. The rising cost of this ingredient in the marketplace is causing marketers to waste money on costly attention sources or reduce their investment in promoting their brands. Instead, they should be thinking about how to “buy” cheaper attention and how to use it more effectively. Research in the emerging field of the Economics of Attention shows how this can be achieved. Here, I argue that, irrespective of the means to attain it, attention always comes at a price. I also show that the cost of attention has increased dramatically (seven‐ to nine‐fold) in the last two decades. To counteract this trend I propose novel approaches to lower its cost or use attention more efficiently by adopting multitasker‐tailored ads, Lean Advertising, and Viral Ad Symbiosis. To guide the choice of which approach to take, I propose the Attentioncontingent Advertising Strategy, a framework to match the most effective approach to the quality of attention contingently available. As the value of attention rises, marketers need to become better managers of attention. This paper is intended to help them in this regard.

Wisdom or Madness? Comparing Crowds with Expert Evaluation in Funding the Arts

June 19, 2014 Comments off

Wisdom or Madness? Comparing Crowds with Expert Evaluation in Funding the Arts
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

In fields as diverse as technology entrepreneurship and the arts, crowds of interested stakeholders are increasingly responsible for deciding which innovations to fund, a privilege that was previously reserved for a few experts, such as venture capitalists and grant‐making bodies. Little is known about the degree to which the crowd differs from experts in judging which ideas to fund, and, indeed, whether the crowd is even rational in making funding decisions. Drawing on a panel of national experts and comprehensive data from the largest crowdfunding site, we examine funding decisions for proposed theater projects, a category where expert and crowd preferences might be expected to differ greatly. We instead find substantial agreement between the funding decisions of crowds and experts. Where crowds and experts disagree, it is far more likely to be a case where the crowd is willing to fund projects that experts may not. Examining the outcomes of these projects, we find no quantitative or qualitative differences between projects funded by the crowd alone and those that were selected by both the crowd and experts. Our findings suggest that the democratization of entry that is facilitated by the crowdfunding has the potential to lower the incidence of “false negatives,” by allowing projects the option to receive multiple evaluations and reach out to receptive communities that may not otherwise be represented by experts.

Online Harassment, Defamation, and Hateful Speech: A Primer of the Legal Landscape

June 18, 2014 Comments off

Online Harassment, Defamation, and Hateful Speech: A Primer of the Legal Landscape
Source: Fordham Center on Law and Information Policy (via SSRN)

This interdisciplinary project focused on online speech directed at women and seeks to provide a primer on (i) what legal remedies, if any, are available for victims of sexist, misogynist, or harassing online speech, and (ii) if such legal remedies and procedures exist, whether practical hurdles stand in the way of victims’ abilities to stop harassing or defamatory behavior and to obtain legal relief. The study concluded that while online harassment and hateful speech is a significant problem, there are few legal remedies for victims. This is partly due to issues of jurisdiction and anonymity, partly due to the protection of internet speech under the First Amendment, and partly due to the lack of expertise and resources on online speech at various levels of law enforcement. Given this landscape, the problem of online harassment and hateful speech is unlikely to be solved solely by victims using existing laws; law should be utilized in combination with other practical solutions.

The objective of the project is to provide a resource that may be used by the general public, and in particular, researchers, legal practitioners, Internet community moderators, and victims of harassment and hateful speech online.

The evolution of the UK tax base

June 18, 2014 Comments off

The evolution of the UK tax base (PDF)
Source: Sheffield Political Research Institute (University of Scheffield)

Taxation takes many different forms, encompassing progressive taxes such as income tax, regressive taxes such as Value Added Tax, and taxes targeted on private enterprises such as corporation tax. The economic downturn significantly affected tax revenues, and the Coalition Government since 2010 has sought to cut some taxes, to boost economic recovery, but at the same time raise others, in support of deficit reduction. It is important to consider, therefore, what impact these changes have had on the nature of the UK tax base as a whole. The evidence shows that regressive taxes now make up a higher proportion of tax revenues, and both progressive individual taxes and taxation targeted on private enterprises make up a lower proportion. Furthermore, revenue from business taxes is set to contract even further, even as economic growth returns, as proposed cuts are fully implemented.

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