The next economic hurdle? Achieving critical mass

August 21st, 2015

In the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has staged a remarkable economic comeback, adding thousands of jobs, attracting billions of dollars in investment and topping a host of “best-of” lists — everything from top cities for export growth to cities with the biggest increase in number of college graduates.

GNO Inc. chief Michael Hecht told a Freeman School audience that the region's next big challenge will be achieving a critical mass of companies and workers. (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)

GNO Inc. CEO Michael Hecht told a Freeman School audience that the region’s next big challenge will be achieving a critical mass of companies and workers. (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)

But in a talk at Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business on Wednesday (Aug. 19), the head of the nonprofit charged with leading the region’s economic development efforts said the hard part is just starting.

“I think our challenge over the next 10 years is building critical mass,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of GNO Inc. “[Harvard Business School professor] Rosabeth Moss Kanter said change is easy at first, but it gets hard in the middle. Here’s the thing: We’re getting to the middle.”

Hecht was the featured speaker at Katrina+10: New Orleans Now, a discussion of the city’s business environment 10 years after Katrina. Sponsored by the Freeman School and the Tulane Association of Business Alumni (TABA), the program also featured Gary LaGrange, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans, as well as remarks from Freeman School Dean Ira Solomon and TABA President Chris Bonura.

Hecht said New Orleans is currently caught in what amounts to a chicken-and-egg situation: Some workers are reluctant to move here because of the limited number of employers and some employers are reluctant to move here because of the limited numbers of workers.

To reach the so-called tipping point — the point at which economic development becomes self-sustaining — Hecht said the region will need more companies, more employees, more venture capital to support growth and a regional brand that goes beyond food, music and Mardi Gras.

“That’s going to be hard work,” Hecht said. “But if we can get to that point and become self-sustaining, then economic development is going to become much more organic. We’re not there yet, but I’m incredibly optimistic about our chances.”

LaGrange followed Hecht with a discussion of the port’s accomplishments of the last 10 years as well as goals for the future. While port cargo is at a 14-year high, LaGrange said significant infrastructure investments will have to be made to continue to attract new companies.

“It’s all about financing for infrastructure improvements,” LaGrange said. “In order to maintain our competitive advantage, we’re going to have to find additional sources of financing.”

Bonura said Katrina+10 was the first of what he hopes will be many programs designed to bring alumni back into the classroom for educational events centered on important business topics. The presentation was broadcast over the web to alumni around the country.

Research Notes: Daniel Mochon and Janet Schwartz

August 5th, 2015

Daniel Mochon


Janet Schwartz

Daniel Mochon and Janet Schwartz’s paper “Gain without pain: The extended effects of a behavioral health intervention” has been accepted for publication in Management Science. Financial incentive programs are an attractive way to for firms to help customers improve health behaviors such as better nutrition, increased exercise, better medication adherence and smoking cessation. While research from behavioral economics shows that these programs can improve a specific health behavior while financial incentives are in place, less is known about how they influence people’s behavior in other areas or after the incentives stop. For firms hoping to leverage insights from behavioral economics on a large scale basis, these effects are crucial to understand. If a nutrition intervention gets people to eat healthier for some period of time, but also causes them to stop exercising then there may be little overall value in this approach. In the paper, Mochon and Schwartz examine these important questions. Their research, conducted in collaboration with Discovery Health, looked at the extended impact of imposing a financial penalty on customers who failed to improve their nutrition behavior. Those customers, whose households were receiving a generous 25 percent discount on healthy groceries, agreed to put their discount on the line by promising to increase their healthy food purchases. For each of the following six months, those who met the goal kept their discount; but those who did not had to repay it to the company. Although this precommitment was a somewhat painful and irrational approach, the intervention successfully helped households improve their healthy grocery shopping during the entire intervention. In fact, Mochon and Schwartz found that these households even continued their new healthy habits for six months after the penalty was removed. Buying more healthy food did not lead people to become lax in other areas of their health — those who agreed to the penalty exercised just as much as they had before. And, despite imposing a penalty on loyal customers, the results showed that overall customer engagement was not reduced. Taken together, the authors demonstrate how insights from behavioral economics can be implemented on a large scale basis, and can be done without compromising health in other domains or threatening customer loyalty. Mochon and Schwartz are assistant professors of marketing at the A. B. Freeman School of Business.

Four alums named to DiversityMBA Top 100 Under 50 list

July 23rd, 2015

Four alumni of Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business are among the honorees in the 2015 DiversityMBA Magazine Top 100 Under 50.

UPDATED-DiversityMBA-325The list, compiled by DiversityMBA Magazine, recognizes exceptional minority and multicultural executives — including African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, foreign nationals and women — who have achieved success in highly competitive corporate, government or entrepreneurial environments. The 2015 list was chosen from a pool of 300 nominees. Executives and emerging leaders selected for the list represent 25 disciplines, 15 industries and 20 different graduate degrees.

This year’s Freeman School honorees are Gary Cao (MBA ’97), vice president of Cardinal Health; Ruben Garcia Espejo (MBA ’01), vice president of finance, EnLink Mindstream; Shane Price (MBA ’09, MGM ’09), senior consultant, Engage Partners; and John Suarez (BSM ’04, MBA ’10), financial adviser, Merrill Lynch.

Cao and Garcia were honored as executive leaders while Price and Suarez were chosen as emerging leaders.

Diversity MBA Magazine is an internationally distributed publication targeting women and multicultural professionals in corporate America and government as well as entrepreneurs and business students.

The honorees will be featured in DiversityMBA Magazine’s summer 2015 issue and will be honored in September at the magazine’s Business Leaders Conference and Awards Gala, which this year takes place at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Oak Brook, Illinois.

To learn more about the honor and see the complete list of this year’s honorees, visit


Research Notes: Geoffrey Parker

July 17th, 2015

Parker-125-2Geoffrey Parker’s paper “Envelope Modeling of Renewable Resource Variability and Capacity,” co-authored with Xiaoyue Jiang of Tulane University’s Computer Science Department and Ekundayo Shittu of George Washington University, has been accepted for publication in Computers & Operations Research. Parker is the Norman Mayer Professor of Business and professor of management science at Tulane’s A. B. Freeman School of Business.




Research Notes: Jennifer Merluzzi

June 26th, 2015

Jennifer_Merluzzi_125Jennifer Merluzzi‘s paper “The Specialist Discount: Negative Returns for MBAs with Focused Profiles in Investment Banking,” co-authored with Damon Phillips of Columbia University, has been accepted for publication in Administrative Science Quarterly. Merluzzi is an assistant professor of management at Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business.


Selling consumers on healthy eating

June 23rd, 2015

Tulane University School of Medicine has opened up a new front in the battle against obesity and diet-related disease: the kitchen.

The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine is a groundbreaking program of the medical school that trains future physicians in the fundamentals of food, nutrition and cooking so they can better help their patients make practical dietary changes. The center boasts the world’s first full-time teaching kitchen owned by a medical school, and its curriculum has to date been licensed to a dozen medical schools across the country.

Marketing professors Harish and Mita Sujan and Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine Executive Director Timothy Harlan, left to right, are working together on research to help doctors better assist their patients in achieving diet-related goals.

Marketing professors Harish Sujan, left, and Mita Sujan, center, are working with Dr. Timothy Harlan, right, executive director of the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine, on research to help doctors better assist their patients in achieving diet-related goals. (Photo by Tricia Travis)

“We’re trying to teach physicians to have a different conversation with their patients about food,” says Dr. Timothy Harlan, executive director of the center, associate clinical professor of medicine and an accomplished chef.

While food and nutrition are the focus, the center also incorporates research from other disciplines, including — perhaps surprisingly — business. For the last several years, Harlan has been working with Harish Sujan and Mita Sujan, marketing professors at the A. B. Freeman School of Business, to use insights from consumer behavior research to help doctors communicate their health recommendations to patients more effectively. Their most recent study investigates how healthy individuals achieve their diet-related goals.

“There’s a lot of research that looks at self-regulation, but researchers have not systematically studied what good self-regulators actually do in life,” says Mita Sujan, the Malcolm S. Woldenberg Chair of Marketing at the Freeman School. “We’re trying to figure out what people who are good self-regulators do to regulate their eating and then build those skills and strategies into the curriculum.”

Last year, Sujan co-authored a study that looked at what successful participants in an exercise program did to achieve their goals. What she discovered was that good self-regulators also tend to be good planners.

“What we show in the paper is that giving people planning aids is really big,” Sujan says of the study, which was published in Journal of Consumer of Psychology. “It really, really drives their ability to self-regulate.”

Sujan says that individuals who have difficulty self-regulating can significantly improve their outcomes by focusing not on distant goals – such as lowering cholesterol or losing weight — but rather on specific short-term strategies. Those tactics include planning ahead (such as packing a lunch instead of dining out), substitution (opting for fresh fruit instead of cake), moderation (ordering a small size instead of a large), restraint (eating only half a dessert or entree), and developing intrinsic interest (resolving to find a recipe to make a better-tasting, healthier dessert).

Instructors at the Goldring Center are already using Sujan’s recommendations in their classes, but Harlan says the long-term goal is to conduct tests to determine which strategies are the most successful. Those strategies can then be formally incorporated into the curriculum to help improve its efficacy.

For Sujan, who has studied the ways consumers make decisions for 30 years, it’s rewarding to see her research being applied so quickly and for such an important purpose.

“I think the academy is changing, especially in marketing, which is such an applied field,” Sujan says. “We’ve moved from lab studies to field studies that tell us what people actually do to make good decisions, and our work with Tim is a great example of that shift.”

EMBA classes take studies to Paris and Beijing

June 22nd, 2015
In a classroom on the campus of historic business school ESCP Europe in Paris, adjunct lecturer Alain Dumont leads a discussion with Executive MBA students from the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University. (Photo by Caryn Lang)

In a classroom on the campus of historic business school ESCP Europe in Paris, adjunct lecturer Alain Dumont leads a discussion with Executive MBA students from the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University. (Photo by Caryn Lang)

Executive MBA students studying at Tulane University need passports for their program finale, an International Business Seminar. In early June, 18 of the students traveled to Paris and 19 others went to Beijing for eight days of lectures and visits with global companies.

“Students meet with business and government leaders to learn about doing business in the host countries,” says Caryn Lang, associate director of executive education with the A. B. Freeman School of Business, who accompanied the group that visited Paris.

Students from the Freeman School’s EMBA programs at the New Orleans uptown and Houston campuses attended the seminars as the capstone events ending their programs of study.

The seminars include a combination of lectures and company visits “designed to give participants a face-to-face, insider perspective into the challenges facing businesses, including economic, marketing, logistical and political, and the success, failure and planned responses to those challenges,” she says.

The group in France toured and met with executives at the U.S. Embassy, Domino’s Pizza Europe and the Paris offices of Coca-Cola Enterprises and global fashion retailer Hermès. Presentations at Hermès offered dramatic contrasts in the marketing of prestige and mass-marketed retail products, Lang says.

In Beijing, the students visited sites such as the U.S. Embassy, Peking Union Medical College Hospital and multi-national companies Schlumberger and Chevron.

The Stewart Center for Executive Education is recruiting now for the next EMBA class, which starts in January 2016. For more information, register for the EMBA webinar to be held on Wednesday, July 1, from noon until 12:30 p.m.

–Carol Schlueter (


Management prof earns 2015 Most Influential Article Award

June 15th, 2015
Lei Lai

Lei Lai

Assistant Professor of Management Lei Lai has been named a recipient of the 2015 Most Influential Article Award from the Conflict Management Division of the Academy of Management. The award will be presented at the Academy of Management’s 75th Annual Meeting, which will take place in August in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Lai and co-authors Hannah Bowles and Linda Babcock earned the award for their article “Social incentives for gender differences in the propensity to initiate negotiations: Sometimes it does hurt to ask.” Originally published in 2007 in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, the paper investigates differential treatment of men and women when they attempt to negotiate. Lai has served as an assistant professor or management at the Freeman School since 2009. Her research interests include the glass ceiling for women and minorities, gender and negotiations, employment relations and organizational justice, social networks, and emotions and decision making.

Tulane Business Forum surveys changing business landscape

June 8th, 2015

With technology and shifting demographics changing the way companies do business, what can executives do to ensure that their organizations stay on top?

Warner Thomas

Warner L. Thomas

Thomas Ryan

Thomas L. Ryan

For its 36th annual program, the Tulane Business Forum looks at the changing business environment and highlights corporate leaders who are taking bold steps to adapt,  innovate and rise above the competition. “Changing Landscapes: Business Leaders Taking Action” will feature presentations from prominent business people who have distinguished themselves by embracing disruption and adjusting to change.

This year’s morning keynote speaker is Warner L. Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health System, who will discuss how Ochsner is embracing change to provide health-care consumers with high-quality, coordinated care at a lower cost.

Delivering the luncheon keynote will be Thomas L. Ryan, president and CEO of Service Corporation International, North America’s leading provider of deathcare products and services. Ryan will discuss how SCI has managed to leverage its competitive advantages to remain relevant to its customers.

The Tulane Business Forum will take place on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, from 8:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Others speakers at this year’s forum include:

  • Jennifer W. Allyn, managing director, Diversity, PricewaterhouseCoopers (New York)
  • Adam Bryant, “Corner Office” columnist, The New York Times (New York)
  • Andrew J. Champagne, CEO, Hollywood Trucks (New Orleans)
  • Michael A. Fitts, president, Tulane University (New Orleans)
  • David Nason, president and CEO, GE Energy Financial Services (Stamford, Conn.)
  • Ira Solomon, dean, A. B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University (New Orleans)

The Tulane Business Forum is a presentation of the Tulane Association of Business Alumni (TABA), which represents over 19,000 alumni worldwide. Each year, the forum features speakers of national and international renown who address topics of interest to the business community.

Forum registration, which includes continental breakfast and lunch, is $200 for the general public and $150 for Tulane alumni. Accountants can earn five Continuing Professional Education credits, and engineers can earn five Professional Development Hour credits by attending. For more information or to register, visit or call 504-861-7921.


CNBC: Better Bet? MBA vs. CFA

June 5th, 2015

CNBC logo

From CNBC, June 3, 2015:

John Clarke, professor of practice and associate dean for graduate programs at the Freeman School, and Kurt Schacht, managing director of the Standards and Financial Market Integrity division of CFA Institute, appeared on CNBC’s Power Lunch  to discuss the benefits of an MBA versus CFA designation.

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