Research Roundup: January 2022
Building Public Trust in Vaccines
Public health officials have made it clear: If the world wants the COVID-19 pandemic to end, more people must be vaccinated. But in many countries, vaccination rates have not yet hit the 70 percent to 90 percent threshold that experts say is required to reach herd immunity.
Four U.K. researchers have released a study exploring what governments can do to increase vaccination rates. The team includes Kausik Chaudhuri, senior lecturer at Leeds University Business School; Anindita Chakrabarti, a teaching fellow at Leeds; Joht Singh Chandan, a clinical lecturer in public health at the Institute of Applied Health Research at the University of Birmingham; and Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, a professor of economics at the Birmingham Business School and Centre for Crime Justice and Policing at the University of Birmingham.
The research team first analyzed data from the U.K. Household Longitudinal Study to determine public attitudes toward the vaccine. They found that people from lower socioeconomic groups or from ethnic minority backgrounds were most likely to express distrust of the government’s push for vaccination.
For instance, 50 percent of Black people and 28 percent of South Asian people surveyed reported that they did not want to be vaccinated. By comparison, only 9 percent of white people said the same. Economic status also was a significant indicator—those who reported feeling well-off financially were nearly three times more likely to say they were willing to be vaccinated than those who were struggling financially.
“Our study shows that hesitancy is at least partly driven by people feeling disenfranchised by the state or not trusting government personnel,” says Chaudhuri. “We found that participants who agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that ‘public officials don’t care,’ or who felt that they ‘don’t have a say in what government does’ were least likely to want to get vaccinated.”
If governments want to increase the uptake of vaccines, they should focus on building the people’s trust in the public sector, argues Bandyopadhyay. He notes that the fact that government officials in the U.K. have attended large public gatherings, after telling the public to stay in isolation, has only served to erode that trust.
Government officials must “look at new and innovative ways to engage with citizens, as well as be transparent in their communication to refute fake news related to vaccines,” says Bandyopadhyay. “Similarly, it is imperative that politicians and officials maintain high ethical standards during times of emergency like the pandemic when there is reduced oversight.”
International Higher Ed Partnerships Support SDGs
A new study finds that international partnerships between higher education institutions make significant positive contributions to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. While international higher ed partnerships were linked to successful outcomes in all 17 SDGs, three goals have been affected most strongly: Quality Education (SDG 4); Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (9); and Partnership for the Goals (17).
This study was conducted by the consultancy firm Technopolis Group on behalf of the British Council and the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). The British Council is dedicated to creating inclusive and globally connected education systems that support economic and social growth. The ACU is a member organization of 500 universities in more than 50 countries that are working together to build a better world through higher education.
The study highlights ten case studies. One case focuses on a partnership between universities in the U.K. and in Somaliland to address Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3). Another highlights GroFutures, a partnership among 11 partner universities and research institutes across seven countries. Their program focuses on supplying access to clean groundwater to communities and industries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has led to progress toward achieving Zero Hunger (2), Gender Equality (5), Clean Water and Sanitation (6), and Life on Land (15).
For international higher ed partnerships to be successful, they must be based on mutual trust, open communication, shared version, a long-term commitment to collaboration, and engagement among senior leaders.
According to the researchers, the interdisciplinary nature of international higher education partnerships is one reason they result in progress toward the SDGs, which are inherently complex. Because they bring together scholars from across the university, higher education institutions are well-positioned to develop solutions and train the next generation of responsible leaders.
For these partnerships to be successful, however, they must be based on mutual trust, open communication, shared version, a long-term commitment to collaboration, and engagement among senior leaders of participating institutions, the researchers emphasize. Factors that make such partnerships less effective include complicated governance, resistance to change, and unpredictable funding.
“We need to maintain and grow sustainable and innovative funding environments for higher education, based on the principles of equitable partnerships,” says Joanna Newman, chief executive and secretary general of the ACU. “This study provides valuable evidence of the benefits that international partnerships between universities deliver for individuals, communities, and societies.”
Online Ratings Can Predict Business Failure
Most marketers would agree that bad online ratings aren’t a good sign for any business. But can online ratings indicate whether a business’s failure is imminent?
Three European researchers have created a new model that they say can use online ratings to predict business failure with 78 percent accuracy. They include Christof Naumzik, a doctoral candidate at ETH Zurich in Switzerland; Markus Weinmann, a professor of information systems at the University of Cologne in Germany; and Stefan Feuerriegel, director of the Institute of AI in Management at LMU Munich in Germany.
After analyzing more than 64,000 online ratings of restaurants, the three researchers placed each restaurant in one of three categories: those that are “well-run” and attract mostly positive ratings, those that attract “bad ratings but [are] running,” and those that are “at risk.”
They found that what set apart “bad ratings but running” establishments from those at risk of failure was both the type of complaints customers made in their reviews and the consistency of those reviews. Those in the first category primarily attracted complaints related to customer satisfaction, but they offered customers other benefits such as convenient hours, good locations, and drive-through services. As a result, their ratings tended to be fairly steady from customer to customer.
By comparison, businesses at risk of failure were more likely to receive reviews that swung from very positive to very negative, indicating that their level of customer satisfaction was inconsistent. As a result, businesses in this category had a failure rate double that of those in the other two categories.
“Using mere online ratings, we were able to detect seven out of 10 failures, even several months ahead,” says Weinmann. That means, he adds, that this model might provide an early warning sign to marketers and business owners, alerting them to trouble while they still have enough time to improve their operations.
The paper, “I Will Survive: Predicting Business Failures From Customer Ratings,” is forthcoming in the journal Marketing Science.
The Art of Selecting Data Management Software
Choosing data management software for faculty reporting is an important factor in any business school’s ability to pursue and maintain accreditation. But determining which software will best meet a school’s needs can be a difficult process.
A recent paper in Organization Management Journal offers recommendations intended to make the selection of data management software less fraught. The paper is co-authored by three U.S.-based researchers. They include Rita Jeanne Shea-Van Fossen, associate professor of management at the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Rosa Di Virgilio Taormina, who until recently was the assistant director of operations, assessment, and accreditation at the Berloton School of Business at Salem State University in Massachusetts; and JoDee LaCasse, a consultant based in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania.
The team created an 18-question online questionnaire and conducted interviews in which accreditation administrators were asked what factors went into their selection of data management software. Many respondents noted that they prioritized a system’s reporting capabilities, ease of use, company responsiveness, and initial cost over its compatibility with a universitywide system.
One-third of respondents said that vendor demos factored heavily in their selection. Other respondents’ decisions were informed by a colleague’s referral (nearly 28 percent) and prior experience with a system (21 percent).
Respondents prioritized a data management system’s reporting capabilities, ease of use, company responsiveness, and initial cost over its compatibility with a universitywide system.
Once they had selected a system, most indicated that they would stick with that same platform going forward (76 percent).
Survey respondents offered their advice for others in the process of selecting a system. One administrator noted, “Take your time to map out everything you want to capture before buying anything and prioritize the most important things you wish to track. You will never get 100 percent of what you want in any system, so priorities really help.”
More than half of respondents—53 percent—reported disappointment with the quality of customer service they received post-purchase. At least one administrator advised other schools to “make sure what a company is promising you is actually what they deliver.” Respondents also pointed out that the cheapest software might not be a true value if it does not offer all the features a school needs.
An administrator at a smaller school also noted that sometimes the best solution is one a school creates for itself: “If you have a small school … it might be worth considering whether you can develop something in-house and costing that out.”
The paper offers further recommendations related to implementing new software, engaging faculty in its use, and maintaining it for the long term. “This study,” the co-authors write, “should help schools be more effective in evaluating systems and more efficient in the resource investments to implement a system.”
CEOs Prepare for Stakeholder Capitalism
Ninety percent of C-suite executives believe that capitalism is permanently shifting away from maximizing shareholder value toward prioritizing stakeholder value. Moreover, 80 percent of CEOs say that this shift is occurring at their own firms. That’s according to a survey conducted by The Conference Board, a nonprofit business membership and research group based in New York City.
The survey, along with a series of roundtable discussions and podcast interviews with C-suite executives, has inspired a new report, “Toward Stakeholder Capitalism: What the Shift Means for CEOs and the C-suite.”
The executives report that their companies are under widespread pressure to protect the environment; focus on social issues; prioritize worker well-being; embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion; and have a positive impact on their communities. These leaders say that companies of all sizes and across all sectors will need to adjust their positioning.
“As companies balance the competing interests among multiple stakeholders, with inevitable trade-offs and disappointments along the way, it’s critical for there to be a high level of trust among the C-suite and board, between C-suite executives and the functions they lead, and between the company and its stakeholders,” says Paul Washington, executive director of The Conference Board ESG Center. “This is particularly true as governmental and other institutions are experiencing a breakdown of public trust, and the public is turning to businesses for competent and credible leadership.”
The leaders surveyed note that, to create stakeholder-focused companies, they will need to take the following steps:
- Have candid, open discussions with their boards about what this shift means for their organizations.
- Set appropriate objectives and adopt consistent strategies tailored to their companies’ missions.
- Foster environments of collaboration and accountability.
- Gain a more holistic understanding of the needs of stakeholders by seeking out multiple sources of information.
- Spend more time engaging with internal and external stakeholder groups, as well as with a wider range of partners, including nontraditional partners such as NGOs.
- Demonstrate humility and bring their authentic selves to their leadership, so that they are better able to connect effectively with stakeholders and attract, retain, and motivate employees.
“The evolution of capitalism underway is not a zero-sum game. Shareholder value and stakeholder value are not mutually exclusive,” says Lori Esposito Murray, president of the Committee for Economic Development, the public policy center of The Conference Board. “Firms that focus on the long-term welfare of their employees, customers, and communities are better positioned to deliver long-term value for their investors. Moreover, a focus on stakeholders is vital to sustaining capitalism itself.”