P&Q’s Favorite MBA Professors Of 2019

Paige Parker Ouimet of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School is Poets&Quants’ Professor of the Week

Paige Parker Ouimet, UNC Kenan-Flagler

One of the greatest health crises currently facing the country is the rise of opioid use and deaths spreading across the U.S. — particularly rural America. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School professor and researcher Paige Parker Ouimet has been examining the opioid epidemic’s impact on the economy. Ouimet and fellow Kenan-Flagler colleagues assistant professor Elena Simintzi and PhD candidate Kailei Ye, found that labor shortages caused by opioid addiction had a negative effect on companies that had facilities in the areas most affected. 

“We find that opioid abuse is associated with greater investment in IT, investment which likely reflects labor-saving automation,” the authors write. “These results suggest that the opioid epidemic may have permanent negative effects on local labor markets.”

The paper, titled “The Impact of the Opioid Crisis on Firm Value and Investment,” was published last spring.

“We document a negative and significant relation between the growth in historic opioid prescriptions at the county level and the change in labor force participation, supporting the argument that higher rates of opioid prescriptions negatively impacted the supply of workers,” they write.

“We also show that firms respond to labor shortages due to opioids by investing in automation technologies,” they continue. “The effect is concentrated in states hardest hit by the opioid crisis and firms that rely more on low skill labor. In effect, the firms are substituting capital for labor.”

While the opioid epidemic is often researched and covered from a social and political perspective, Ouimet and her colleague’s research highlights a less talked about impact on the American workforce and economy.

Uday Rajan of Michigan Ross is Poets&Quants' Professor of the Week for his research on Bitcoin

Uday Rajan of Michigan Ross is Poets&Quants’ Professor of the Week for his research on Bitcoin

Uday Rajan, Michigan Ross

Remember Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? Yeah, they seemed to take a moment out of the limelight in 2019. But they’re very much still around. And as data around cryptocurrencies continue to grow, business school researchers continue to quietly go about studying and understanding the digital currencies. One of those professors is Uday Rajan of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Rajan teamed up with a professor and former student from the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business for one of the most robust reports looking at cryptocurrencies called “Cryptocurrencies: Stylized Facts on a New Investible Instrument.”

Rajan and his colleagues were able to quantify cryptocurrencies’ massive daily volatility and compared coin offerings to initial public offerings of stocks. Their most important finding, however, was how much the crypto solar system revolves around Bitcoin, the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency.

Like many of the professors featured above, we appreciate Rajan’s commitment to understand and examine an innovative and new area that not many others know much about.

Jennifer Aaker, Stanford GSB

No matter who you are, at some point in life, you will have a negative experience or failure. But failure or a negative experience can be key to a more whole life and deeper understanding of the meaning of life says research from Jennifer Aaker, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In a paper published last spring, titled “It’s Not Going to Be That Fun: Negative Experiences Can Add Meaning to Life,” Aaker and her co-authors examine the impacts of failure on Americans.

“Negative experiences can serve to boost meaning because they stimulate comprehension (understanding how the event fits into a broader narrative of the self, relationships, and the world),” write Aaker, Kathleen D. Vohs of the University of Minnesota, and Stanford GSB PhD student Rhia Catapano. “…Negative experiences can bring pain and suffering, [but] may have the side benefit of aiding meaning in life.”

Aaker and her fellow researchers surveyed hundreds of Americans over a few months and asked them if they lived happy and meaningful lives, among other things.

“When people are able to envelop negative experiences (e.g., divorce, trauma) into a broad understanding of their life’s narrative, they gain a sense that their lives have meaning compared to people whose life stories contained negative experiences that were not recognized as part of the broader pattern,” Aaker and her colleagues conclude.

Aaker was our 2018 Professor of the Year and continued her impressive and impactful work into 2019.


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