Archive for July, 2008

Partisan politics fuels energy debate

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

America’s energy policy took center stage at a special congressional debate hosted by the Freeman School’s Entergy-Tulane Energy Institute, but despite the organizers’ goal of fostering a constructive dialog between parties, the participants in large part stuck to familiar partisan scripts.

“America is addicted to oil, but instead of developing new energy sources, the Republicans are demanding more drilling,” proclaimed Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich). “We can’t drill our way out of high prices. We need to develop alternative energy sources beyond drilling to reduce energy prices and provide a long-term solution.”

“We depend on oil, gas, coal, wind, hydro and nuclear,” countered Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.). “Which of these is the answer to the energy challenge? All of the above and more. Leave no stone unturned.”

The debate, which took place on July 28 in the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life, was part of “Congress Debates,” a series of bipartisan national policy discussions sponsored by the House Democratic Caucus, the House Republican Conference, the Democratic Leadership Council and the Congressional Institute. Joining Stupak and Rehberg in debating the nation’s energy policy were Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.). The event was moderated by Jeanne Cummings of

Throughout the debate, Democrats argued in favor of increasing funding for alternative and renewable energy, cracking down on excessive energy speculation, and improving fuel efficiency standards. The Democrats also voiced strong opposition to lifting the federal ban on offshore oil drilling, noting that 82 percent of the natural gas and 79 percent of the oil in the outer continental shelf is already available to energy companies through existing leases.

“The Democrats are for drilling, but you’ve got to drill responsibly,” Stupak said. “Of about 44 million acres [currently leased], we’re drilling on about 10 million acres. Use it or lose it.”

The Republicans argued for an all-of-the-above, market-driven approach to energy policy including new nuclear plants and tax credits to promote conservation and the development of alternative energy sources, but increasing domestic oil and gas capacity was clearly a priority.

“In the 14 years I’ve been in the House, we’ve cast 24 votes to increase oil and gas capacity in this country, and 85 percent of the time the Democrats vote no,” said Wamp. “The consequences of not having that new oil and gas capacity today are very painful for the people we represent.”

There was one bright spot in all the partisan bickering. When Upton complained that Democrats had voted against an amendment to build the transmission lines necessary to get renewable energies like wind and solar power to the national grid, Inslee invited Upton to become the first Republican cosponsor of his bill to create a national high-capacity grid system to accomplish that goal.

“If there’s not some hidden provision in there, I’ll be on board,” Upton responded. “I’ll be glad to work with you.”

While that pledge may not have been the “minor miracle” that moderator Cummings wryly described it as, it was an encouraging sign that bipartisan solutions to the nation’s energy crisis are at least possible.

Four alums make DiversityMBA Top 100

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Four Freeman School alumni are among the outstanding young executives to make the latest DiversityMBA Magazine list of the Top 100 Under 50 Diverse Executive Leaders. The annual survey of minority executives was featured in the magazine’s summer 2008 issue.

Earning the honor were Bryan Brown (MBA ’93), partner with Porter & Hedges; Timothy W. Goodly (MBA ’95), senior vice president for human resources at CNN Worldwide; Eric Lopez (MBA ’99), vice president for key accounts and national Hispanic sales and marketing at National Life Group; and Vijay Parmar (MBA ’88), founder, president and CEO of GainSpan Corp.

“It’s very gratifying to see our alumni earn this kind of recognition,” said Bill Sandefer, director of graduate admissions. “The Freeman MBA is designed to prepare students to compete in global business, and an important part of that is providing a high-quality, diverse classroom experience. Having four of our graduates among DiversityMBA’s Top 100 Under 50 is a great indicator that we’re achieving that goal.”

DiversityMBA Magazine targets multicultural professionals in corporate America as well as business students and entrepreneurs. The top 100 under 50 executives were selected based on their positions within their companies, the size of the budget they manage, their scope of responsibility, their community service work, and the MBA degree or post-graduate degree they earned.

The four Freeman alumni who made the list were drawn from wide-ranging industries, including banking, media, insurance and high tech.

Brown, who joined Porter & Hedges after four years with the Securities & Exchange Commission, represents and advises clients in capital market transitions and mergers and acquisitions. His experience includes equity and debt offerings, debt tender offers and consent solicitations.

Goodly revised CNN’s performance management and talent-review process, resulting in better identification of high potential talent, and oversaw efforts of CNN’s ActionTeam and Diversity Council, grassroots organizations comprised of employee and manager volunteers.

Lopez implemented a Hispanic virtual marketing and service division within National Life in 2006 to service Hispanic clients, train Hispanic agents and support agents marketing to the Hispanic market. The division provided a bilingual and bi-cultural service to more than 2,000 policy owners without adding any fixed expenses or additional head count.

Parmar founded GainSpan within Intel Corp. in 2005 and spun it off as a separate entity a year later. He built a strategic relationship with Intel that culminated in Intel’s acquisition of the company for $550 million.

To learn more about the survey criteria or see the complete list of the Top 100 Under 50 Diverse Executive Leaders, visit

Timing of messages key to successful product launch, researchers say

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Innovators take note: If you’re thinking of launching a revolutionary new product, plan a two-phased marketing strategy that first emphasizes the product’s benefits and later focuses on the practical aspects of using it. That’s the most effective means of getting consumers to buy a new product, according to a recent article co-authored by researchers at the Freeman School.

“Managing Consumer Uncertainty in the Adoption of New Products: Temporal Distance and Mental Simulations,” by marketing professors Mita and Harish Sujan, assistant marketing professor Manish Kacker, and Raquel Castano, a marketing professor at Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, gathers the results of several studies conducted by the authors on issues related to the adoption of new products. The article appeared in the June 2008 issue of Journal of Marketing Research.

“Consumers have different concerns when they first hear about a new product compared to the time when they consider buying it,” says Mita Sujan. “The key to a successful marketing plan is to shift the message to target these separate concerns.”

According to the researchers, two types of uncertainties dominate consumer thinking regarding new products. If the buying decision is in the distant future, consumers are concerned primarily with benefit-related uncertainties, such as how the product will perform or what others will think of it. If the buying decision is in the near future, consumers are more concerned with cost-related uncertainties, such as how long it will take to learn how to use or how much it will cost.

The most effective marketing strategies for launching new products feature two distinct communication strategies. For new products to be launched in the distant future, the strategy should emphasize the “why” of adoption, for example its use of better technology. For new products to be launched in the near future, the strategy should emphasize the “how to” of adoption, for example tips on operating the product. According to the researchers, synchronizing communication strategies with the timeline leading up to the new product’s launch results in higher purchase rates and, significantly, increased satisfaction with the product after adoption.

The researchers also found that the benefits of a temporally synchronized communication strategy are greatest for highly innovative products such as the iPhone.

These findings have public policy implications as well. If a policymaker wishes to generate popular acceptance of a new initiative, the research suggests that initial communications should emphasize the “why” of the policy change, for example its expected beneficial outcomes. As the date of the policy implementation draws near, communications should shift to emphasize the “how to” of the policy change, or the practical aspects of dealing with the new policy.

Whether you’re introducing a new wireless device or changing the way city occupational licenses are issued, Mita Sujan says a two-phased communication strategy is the key to improving the public’s adoption.

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