Archive for the ‘Freeman News’ Category

Goldring Institute brings the world to Freeman this summer

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

As John Trapani listened to the names of graduates at this year’s Freeman School diploma ceremony, a thought struck him: Nearly half of the 700-plus degree recipients were from outside the U.S.

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The Freeman School was recently ranked fifth in the nation for studying business abroad and fifth in the world for international business.

“I leaned over to one of our faculty members and said, ‘What you’re witnessing is the export of educational services,’” laughs Trapani, the Martin F. Schmidt Chair of International Business. “We’re exporting our services to China, Latin America and elsewhere, and that’s a good thing for the United States.”

As executive director of the Goldring Institute of International Business, Trapani has been exporting Freeman School educational programs for 25 years, but in the last several years, Trapani says the number of students enrolled in those programs has reached an all-time high.

“We don’t always get the recognition for it, but we have more than 500 students from around the world pursuing our master’s degrees right now,” Trapani says. “That’s a huge number for a school our size.”

The size and scope of the Freeman School’s international initiatives surprised even Dean Ira Solomon.

“When I was a candidate for the dean’s position, nobody really told me the extent to which the school has such a heritage of global engagement,” Solomon says. “There are other schools around the country that really beat their chests about these things, but we’ve been relatively quiet about it. That’s something I’d like to change, because there aren’t many other schools with the breadth and depth of experience in global business that we have.”

John Trapani has helped make Freeman one of the top schools in the nation for international business.

John Trapani has helped make Freeman one of the top schools in the nation for international business.

Summer is traditionally the time when many students in the Freeman School’s international programs travel to New Orleans to take classes in fulfillment of their campus residency requirements. This summer, the Goldring Institute welcomed more than 150 international students to campus for classes in conjunction with a variety of programs.

Those programs included the CENTRUM-Tulane Global EMBA program, a 48-hour dual degree program for executive students in Lima, Peru; the ICESI-Tulane Global MBA program, a 36-hour dual degree Master of Management program for MBA students in Cali, Colombia; the UFM-Tulane Master of Management program, a 36-hour dual degree master’s program for students in Guatemala City, Guatemala; and the Latin American Faculty Development PhD Program, a business doctoral program for faculty members at leading universities throughout Latin America.

While there was a lot of activity on campus this summer, it was just one small part of the Freeman School’s international summer programs. In addition to the students who visited New Orleans this summer, the Goldring Institute and the Stewart Center for Executive Education sent more than 250 students to Europe, China, Latin America and India for coursework in conjunction with various programs.

In a January Financial Times survey, students ranked the Freeman School fifth in the world for international business, and in July, education and careers website Business Research Guide rated Freeman as the fifth best school in the country for studying business abroad, a ranking based on commitment to excellence in international business education, variety of study abroad options for full and part-time students, and focus on global exchange with educational institutions across the globe.

While those rankings might surprise people who associate international business with high-profile institutions like the Wharton School, Trapani says they don’t surprise him one bit.

“I think what it tells us is our students like what we’re doing and think we really know what we’re doing,” Trapani says. “We may not be the biggest, but if our customers think we’re doing a good job, that’s a very good thing.”

 


Freeman welcomes 10 to faculty for 2014-15

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Dean Ira Solomon is pleased to announce the following appointments to the faculty of the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University.

Fee5-(2)-125C. Edward Fee joins the Freeman School as the Morton A. Aldrich Professor of Business and professor of finance. Fee, a visiting professor at the Freeman School in 2013-14, was previously the Philip J. May Endowed Professor of Finance at Michigan State University. His research interests are primarily in the areas of corporate finance and corporate governance, and include mergers and acquisitions, managerial labor markets, and the interaction of corporate financial policy with product market relationships. He has published in leading finance and accounting journals, including The Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Review of Financial Studies, The Journal of Business, Journal of Accounting and Economics, and The Accounting Review. His article “Managers With and Without Style: Evidence using Exogenous Variation,” co-authored with Charles Hadlock and Joshua Pierce, won the 2014 Michael J. Brennan Award for the best paper in the Review of Financial Studies. Prior to beginning his academic career, Fee traded commodity options and futures. He has an MBA from Tulane University and received his PhD from the University of Florida.

Gans0I5990s-125Ganapathi (Gans) Narayanamoorthy, who joins the faculty as associate professor of accounting, comes to the Freeman School from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he served as an assistant professor of accountancy. He also served as an assistant professor at Yale School of Management. Narayanamoorthy’s research focuses on the capital markets area in accounting, with particular emphasis on market efficiency and litigation risk. He is also a bank accounting expert. Narayanamoorthy has published extensively in the top journals in accounting, including the Journal of Accounting Research, Journal of Accounting and Economics, Contemporary Accounting Research, and Review of Accounting Studies. Prior to entering academia, Narayanamoorthy was an investment banker managing public offerings of large corporations, including Fortune 500 companies. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India, his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India, and his PhD from the University of Rochester.

Huffman-125-v2Assistant Professor of Accounting Adrienna Huffman comes to the Freeman School from the University of Utah, where she recently completed her PhD. Huffman’s research focuses on capital markets, with an emphasis in valuation and financial reporting. Her dissertation explores the implications of asset measurement attributes for firm valuation. At Utah, Huffman’s dissertation was granted the competitively-awarded, university-wide Marriner S. Eccles Research Fellowship in Political Economy for originality, creativity and potential for research success. Prior to her academic career, Huffman worked for the U.S. Department of Commerce as a statistician at the Census Bureau. She earned her undergraduate degree with honors in economics from Washington University in St. Louis.

Kapadia-125-GCR_2276-001Nishad Kapadia, who joins the faculty as assistant professor of finance, comes to the Freeman School from the Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University, where he served as an assistant professor of finance. Kapadia’s research is focused on empirical asset pricing and has appeared in the Journal of Financial Economics. Kapadia has also worked with KPMG Consulting in London and Bombay on projects that included business strategy, technology selection and risk management for financial services firms. He received his bachelor’s degree from St. Xavier’s College in Bombay, his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India, and his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kazan-OsmanKazan_Managemen-Osman Kazan joins the Freeman School’s tenure-track faculty as an assistant professor of management science after serving as a visiting professor in 2013-14. Kazan received his PhD in 2013 from the University of Texas at Dallas, where he specialized in electricity pricing and retail power management. His research explores decision making associated with energy issues such as smart grids and renewables, and he often uses empirical methods to estimate power generation costs and map consumers’ demand patterns through behavioral experiments. Prior to beginning his academic career, Kazan worked as a senior management consultant for technology companies including Sabre and Hewlett-Packard. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, and a master’s degree in operations research from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Khokher-125-GCR_2278-001Assistant Professor of Finance Zeigham Khokher joins the tenure-track faculty after serving as a visiting professor in 2013-14. His research interests include energy finance, with an emphasis on reduced form and structural models. Prior to joining the Freeman School, he served as a visiting faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Securities and Exchange Commission. As an assistant professor at Western University’s Ivey Business School, Khokher received numerous teaching awards. He is the co-author of “Exhaustible Resource Price Dynamics,” which was published in the Journal of Finance. Khokher earned a BBA (Finance), BA (Mathematics), MS (Mathematical Statistics) and PhD (Finance) from the University of Texas at Austin.

Ro-125-GCR_2268-001Joon Ro, assistant professor of marketing, received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. His research uses empirical models to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing strategies and make policy recommendations, especially in creative industries such as movies and video games. Ro’s dissertation focused on firms’ dynamic pricing strategies under the presence of used goods markets and consumers’ dynamic product adoption. He has a BA and MA in economics from Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, and an MS in economics from the University of Texas at Austin.

Senot-125-v2Assistant Professor of Management Science Claire Senot comes to the Freeman School from the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, where she recently received her PhD. Senot’s research interests include health care operations, quality management and organizational learning. Her paper “Process Management Impact on Clinical and Experiential Quality: Managing Tensions between Safe and Patient-Centered Health Care,” published in the Manufacturing & Service Operations Management (M&SOM) journal, received the INFORMS 2012 Industry Studies Best Paper Award. Prior to beginning her academic career, Senot worked in operations management in Sydney and Chicago. She holds a master’s degree from Audencia Graduate School of Management in France and an MBA from Ohio State University.

Ebrahim-125-GCR_2293Sherif Ebrahim joins the Freeman School as a lecturer in strategy and innovation and director of entrepreneurship and innovation education with the Levy Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship. Ebrahim had served as an adjunct professor of strategy and innovation at the Freeman School for the past several years. Ebrahim is president & CEO of Strategic Management Group and managing partner of SMG Capital. He is a board certified health care executive, a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, an NAPH Managed Care Public Policy & Finance Fellow from New York University, and a Health Systems Management Fellow from Tulane University and the state of Louisiana.

Varadharajan_O0I3133-125Anu Varadharajan joins the Freeman School as a lecturer in accounting and associate director of the Master of Accounting program. She comes to the Freeman School from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she served as a lecturer in accountancy and where she consistently appeared on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent. Prior to beginning her academic career, Varadharajan spent nine years with PricewaterhouseCoopers as a tax manager and as regional finance director for PwC’s Northeast Region. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the National University of Singapore, an MBA from the University of Rochester, and is a member of the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA). Varadharajan is also an entrepreneur with her own line of natural, organic, handcrafted skin care products.

In addition to the tenured/tenure track and lecturer appointments, Dean Solomon also named three professors to one-year visiting appointments. Steven Wei Ho was appointed visiting assistant professor of finance, Srini Krishnamoorthy was appointed visiting assistant professor of management science, and Debjeet Pradhan was appointed visiting assistant professor of accounting.

“An outstanding faculty is the foundation of every great business school, and this group of scholars and educators is truly outstanding,” said Dean Solomon. “I’m very happy to welcome them to the Freeman School and Tulane University.”

 


Freeman 50 welcomes the Class of 2016

Monday, August 18th, 2014

The Freeman School rolled out the red carpet for incoming MBA students on Thursday (Aug. 14) with a first-of-its-kind networking reception for students in the full-time and professional programs.

Lauren Siegel (MBA '15), left, and Christine White (MBA '09) helped welcome incoming MBA students to the Freeman School at a reception hosted by the Career Management Center and the Freeman 50 .

Lauren Siegel (MBA ’15), left, and Christine White (MBA ’09) helped welcome incoming MBA students at a reception hosted by the CMC and the Freeman 50.

Hosted by the Freeman 50, the business school’s young MBA alumni advisory board, in conjunction with the Career Management Center and the Stewart Center for Executive Education, the MBA Welcome Reception was designed not just to welcome new students to Freeman but also to introduce them to networking and hopefully help them create a support system for the next two years. Faculty, staff and more than 50 MBA alumni attended the reception to meet, mix and mingle with the new class.

For graduates from the class of 2014, the event amounted to a mini-reunion, but it was also a way for them to give something back to the Freeman School and offer incoming students some still-fresh insights about the MBA program and the job search process.

“It was a great opportunity to meet the new students and share our experiences with them,” says Eryn Bell Wood (MBA ’14), a member of Freeman 50. “They really seemed to enjoy the interaction with us as we just graduated in May.”

To see more photos from the Freeman 50/CMC  MBA Welcome Reception, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.

 

 

 

 

 


Student take part in MBA-mazing Race

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Do you know where in New Orleans the fountain dedicated to Sophie Gumbel is? How about where to find the “meteorite” on Tulane’s campus?

As part of the challenge, students had to find the fountain dedicated to Sophie Gumbel and create a photo homage to the opening of "Friends."

As part of the challenge, MBAs had to find the fountain dedicated to Sophie Gumbel and create a photo homage to the opening of “Friends.”

Locating those obscure landmarks were two of the challenges this year’s incoming MBA class took on as part of Team Engagement Challenge (TECh), an Amazing Race-style team-building exercise held as part of orientation.

While the competition resembled a traditional scavenger hunt — perform seven difficult tasks in two hours — TECh was actually designed to acquaint students with Tulane and New Orleans while at the same time requiring them to use their creativity, networking skills and social media savvy. Their challenges included tasks like locating sculptures and artwork on Tulane’s campus as well finding a former K&B Drugs on the edge of campus and conducting interviews with business owners on Maple Street. Instead of collecting things along the way, the students proved they had solved their challenges by uploading photos and videos to a special Facebook page and competing for the highest number of likes.

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Students were asked to locate the Doll House, the smallest house in New Orleans with its own postal address.

“As future executives, MBA students need to be connected to the community, so this was a way to help  jump-start that process,” said John Clarke, associate dean for graduate education. “New Orleans is a microcosm of the world, so we want students to be aware of and be a part of the local community. By developing their understanding of how things work here, they can develop an understanding of how things work in the rest of the world.”

According to event organizer Morgan Molthrop, co-owner of tour and corporate events firm Custom New Orleans, the Freeman School is the first business school in the nation to “gamify” team-building activities with social media.

“Tulane should be very proud of being the first program with the vision to step up their game, so to speak,” Molthrop said. “These MBA students nailed the technology and showed tremendous enthusiasm. It’s no wonder New Orleans is becoming known as the entrepreneurial capital of the U.S.”

To see more photos from the Team Engagement Challenge, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.

 


Dean Ira Solomon remembers Beau Parent

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Today I attended Beau Parent’s funeral service. The passing of Professor Parent is a sudden, tragic and very, very sad life event. It is extremely painful for the family—I know first hand as I fairly recently lost one of my parents. And, it is painful for his friends and colleagues, especially those of us within the extended Freeman School community.

Such life events can provide an opportunity for reflection. While I only knew Beau for a little more than three years, I learned early on that Beau Parent lived a life of purpose and impact. We often say that we are in the business of transforming the lives of our students. Beau began for Freeman that transformation for hundreds of students each semester and, over his more than 35-year career, literally thousands of Tulane University students. Beau was a highly ethical, extremely hard-working, and totally dedicated educator. Beau also had a special talent for teaching relatively large numbers of students. Yet he was able to establish personal relationships with many of his students. As I have travelled to cities around the U.S. and, for that matter, around the globe, I am asked about Beau as much or more than any current or past member of the Freeman faculty. Beau indeed did have a special and rare talent.

He very much will be missed!

Ira Solomon, Dean
Debra and Rick Rees Professor
A. B. Freeman School of Business
July 28, 2014

 


Business school mourns legendary accounting teacher

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

During Beau Parent’s accounting lectures at the A. B. Freeman School of Business, he would pause, look around his class and say in a booming voice, “Make sense? Make sense?” But the news of Parent’s sudden death just doesn’t make sense to the thousands of students who learned accounting from the legendary Tulane University instructor.

“Beau Parent helped everyone understand accounting and get through that class,” one of his colleagues said. (Photo by Sabree Hill)

“Beau Parent helped everyone understand accounting and get through that class,” one of his colleagues said. (Photo by Sabree Hill)

When word began to spread that the 73-year-old Parent died on Sunday (July 20), calls of concern from former students began streaming into the school. For 37 years, Parent taught Financial Accounting to every business undergraduate.

A memorial service will be held on Monday (July 28) at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, 6367 St. Charles Ave. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m., with a memorial mass at 11 a.m. A reception will follow in the Kendall Cram Lecture Hall at the Lavin-Bernick Center on the Tulane uptown campus.

“It’s difficult, starting the fall term without Beau in his classroom,” said Michael Hogg, professor of practice who has known Parent for nearly 25 years. “He was one of the most gifted teachers I’ve ever met.”

A CPA, Parent was a frequent winner of the BSM Honor Roll teaching award, and also earned the James Murphy Award for Excellence in Teaching. Twice he received the Howard Wisner Award given by undergraduates to teachers who demonstrate special interest in students. He was faculty adviser for the school’s chapter of Beta Alpha Psi honorary national accounting fraternity.

Parent developed the school’s five-year Master of Accounting program, taking pride in helping students get internships at firms all across the country, Hogg said.

Parent’s Tulane roots extend throughout his family. His daughter Colette Raphel is university registrar; his daughter Christine Smith is a professor of practice who teaches accounting; his son-in-law David Raphel is assistant technical director in the Department of Theatre and Dance; and his widow, Elizabeth Parent, is an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Dance.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made in memory of Parent to the Tulane University Scholarship Fund, Office of Development, P.O. Box 61075, New Orleans, LA 70161, or at this website. Gifts will be used to support scholarships for students like those he taught and mentored throughout his career.

– Carol Schlueter


Freeman launches new MFIN program in China

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

The Freeman School has partnered with the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, one of the premier academic institutions in China, to establish a new international master’s program for finance professionals.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is one of the leading academic institutions in China.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has been called the top think tank in Asia.

The Tulane-GSCASS Professional Master of Finance program is an 18-month 34-credit post-experience master’s program targeted at individuals in government, banking, finance, insurance and other industries. Unlike the Freeman School’s New Orleans Master of Finance program, a one-year pre-experience program, the Tulane-GSCASS Professional MFIN is aimed at working professionals in Beijing.

“It’s a different market altogether,” says John M. Trapani III, Martin F. Schmidt Chair of International Business and executive director of the Goldring Institute of International Business. “We’re training people who are already in financial market positions, so the curriculum has been tweaked to reflect that.”

The program is taught jointly by faculty from the Freeman School and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government institution dedicated to research and public policy that Foreign Policy magazine called the top think tank in Asia. Freeman School faculty will travel to Beijing this summer to teach four courses at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and  students in the program will travel to New Orleans in December to take two classes at the Freeman School. The rest of the program will be taught in China by GSCASS faculty. The inaugural class features 27 students, but Trapani says the program will grow to accommodate up to 40 students per cohort.

“We are delighted that, in the future, many likely finance leaders in China will have earned a Tulane degree,” says Ira Solomon, dean of the Freeman School.

In establishing the program, the Freeman School becomes one of just a handful of U.S. business schools to offer degree programs approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

“This is a big deal,” says Trapani. “To offer a degree in China from an American university, you have to get Ministry of Education approval. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is so powerful and so influential in government, they were able to help us get approval very quickly. Most schools in the U.S. would do almost anything to have a Ministry of Education-approved program. I think this is going to be a great program for the school.”

The Tulane-GSCASS Professional MFIN is the Freeman School’s third international Master of Finance program. In addition to the Tulane-GSCASS  program, Freeman also offers dual-degree international MFIN programs in partnership with Guatemala’s Universidad Francisco Marroquin and Panama’s IESA Panama.

 


Phillips 66 donates $25K to energy program

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

The Freeman School has received a $25,000 gift from Phillips 66 to support student enrichment programs, including courses in energy finance and trading, during the 2014-15 academic year.

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Phillips 66’s Sherri Thomas (second from left) presented a gift of $25,000 to the Freeman School to support student enrichment programs. Also pictured are James W. McFarland, far left, and Geoff Parker, far right, of the Tulane Energy Institute and Jennifer Campbell of Phillips 66.

Sherri B. Thomas, director of early career facilitation at Phillips 66, presented the gift to James W. McFarland, executive director of the Tulane Energy Institute, and Geoff Parker, director of the institute, during a meeting at the school on May 20.

“We recognize the value of a strong energy-focused business education like the one the Freeman School offers,” said Thomas. “We’re extremely proud of the Tulane graduates who work in our company, and we’re excited to support Tulane and other universities that teach skills critical to our company’s success.”

Phillips 66 is an energy manufacturing and logistics company with segment leading businesses in midstream, chemicals, refining and marketing and specialties. Since 2012, the company has donated more than $75,000 to the Freeman School to support student and faculty development programs. Phillips 66 has also been an active recruiter at the Freeman School and a participant in many career development events.

“Phillips 66 has been one of our most dedicated corporate partners from the very beginning,  in terms of both financial support and hiring our graduates,” said McFarland. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with them to improve our energy-related programs and offerings.”


Hannan appointed editor of leading accounting journal

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Professor of Accounting R. Lynn Hannan has been named to a three-year term as an editor of Contemporary Accounting Research.

R. Lynn Hannan was recently appointed to a three-year term as an editor of Contemporary Accounting Research.

Professor of Accounting R. Lynn Hannan was recently appointed to a three-year term as an editor of Contemporary Accounting Research.

The appointment, which began May 1, is a prestigious one. Published since 1984 by the Canadian Academic Accounting Association, CAR is recognized as one of the top five journals in accounting and one of the top 50 in business.

“It’s a great honor to serve as an editor of Contemporary Accounting Research,” says Hannan. “It’s truly one of the leading scholarly publications in the field, and I’m very excited to become a senior member of the editorial team.”

With more than a dozen articles in peer-reviewed journals to her credit, Hannan is one of the nation’s leading scholars in the area of managerial accounting that deals with the social and psychological drivers of decision making. Her research explores the intersection of accounting, management and psychology, focusing on how organizations can improve outcomes via the design of their accounting information and incentive systems.

Hannan joined the Freeman School in 2013 from Georgia State University, where she served as a professor of accounting and director of the accounting PhD program. Prior to beginning her academic career, she worked as an auditor for the state of Pennsylvania and later as a tax manager for Westinghouse Electric Corp. While managing the tax implications of a $6 billion accounting charge at Westinghouse’s financial services division, a loss that almost bankrupted the company, Hannan realized the important role that accounting plays in influencing managers’ decisions. The experience helped spark her interest in the relationship between accounting information and incentive systems.

“Accounting information helps you make the right decision, but it also influences those decisions,” she says. “How you’re evaluated, for example, can skew the way you process accounting information, perhaps leading you to focus more on short-term results. What I’m interested in is how we can improve accounting to help people make better decisions, in terms of both quality of information and the motivational factor.”

A recent paper by Hannan on framing in incentive contracts explores the issue of motivation. Through a series of experiments, Hannan found that penalty clauses are a greater performance motivator than bonuses, but the effect is moderated by the employee’s perception of the penalty. To the extent that the employee feels the penalty is unfair, he or she is less motivated by it.

Hannan says this type of research — applying insights from cognitive and social psychology to traditional agency theory— is relatively new in accounting.

“Historically, this area of research was based almost exclusively on the utility function — people are motivated by wealth and leisure, so if you want to get someone to do something, you have to pay them,” Hannan says. “What my research does is expand the utility function to include what I call social preferences. In the real world, people don’t just care about money. They also care about things like fairness and their reputations and how they compare to peers. So given these social preferences and cognitive limitations, how can we then present our accounting information in the best way and design contracts in the best way? That’s really my focus.”

Hannan also serves as a director of the Institute of Management Accountants Research Foundation, an international organization of accounting and financial professionals working in business, so she hopes that that role together with her appointment at Contemporary Accounting Research will help to promote accounting education and scholarship at the Freeman School.

“The energy here right now is just amazing,” she says. “Everyone in the accounting area is very collegial, very high-energy. Just really good people. I’m excited to do anything I can to help spread the word.”

 


Can “Smart Mail” help solve USPS woes?

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

The U.S. Postal Service has lost $20 billion in the last two years as it struggles to adapt to a fast changing, increasingly digital business environment. Could the agency help right itself by taking a page from its online competitors? The Freeman School’s Geoff Parker thinks so.

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Geoff Parker recently co-authored a paper for the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General that recommended adding a digital information layer to advertising mail to help it better compete with online advertising.

Parker, professor of management science and a nationally regarded expert in platform economics, recently co-authored a paper for the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General that recommends adding a digital information layer to advertising mail to help the agency better compete with online advertising.

“This is really a first step towards setting up a more effective platform for advertising mail,” says Parker, who co-authored the report with colleagues Marshall Van Alstyne and Tushar Shanker. “Ultimately, platforms are about creating effective, valuable matches between users. When I send you something you don’t want, it’s wasted paper, wasted fuel cost, wasted printing — it’s just waste. If we can eliminate some fraction of that through the use of better information, that’s a win-win all the way around.”

Parker and Van Alstyne are no strangers to postal platforms. In 2012, they co-authored a report for the International Post Corp., a consortium of the world’s largest postal systems, detailing ways to generate additional revenue through digital business models.

That report eventually caught the attention of the USPS Office of Inspector General, which was seeking ideas to sustain and enhance the Postal Service’s lucrative advertising mail business, which generated $16.9 billion for the agency in 2013.

While direct mail offers a number of advantages for advertisers, Parker says its chief shortcoming is the inability for advertisers to know with certainty which consumers want to receive ads and which don’t.

“You know who responded when they make purchases, but you don’t know who was interested but got distracted or who just threw it away, so the feedback loop is slow and noisy,” Parker says. “What we’re trying to do here is get a quicker, more accurate feedback loop and build out a data layer that goes on top of the physical delivery system.”

To generate that data layer, Parker and his co-authors propose a digital coupon mechanism to collect information from mail recipients. Each piece of advertising mail would feature a code that recipients could scan to receive a coupon or cash reward, but those recipients would first have to provide a small amount of feedback indicating what types of ads or advertisers they’re interested in. The Postal Service would then collect that information and use it to help advertisers better target prospective customers.

“It puts the Postal Service in the position of being able to charge for the data layer,” Parker says, “so that they can build a new revenue stream.”

While the Postal Service hasn’t announced any plans to move forward with the proposal, Parker says the fact that it was made public indicates significant interest within the agency.

“This is an incredibly important industry and a very important organization, so it was really exciting for us to think about how to move this traditional industry into the 21st century,” Parker says. “We really enjoy it when the research we do has the potential to make a multibillion-dollar impact.”

Parker, Alstyne and Shanker’s paper, “A Redeemable Information Coupon Mechanism for Advertising Mail,” is available via the U.S. Postal Service website.

 



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