PROFESSORS INVESTIGATING IMPACTFUL RESEARCH TOPICS
What put many professors over the edge and onto this year’s list was their research into impactful issues and topics. Tinglong Dai, who is an associate professor of operations management and business analytics at Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business was one of our highest-scored professors on this year’s list. Not surprisingly considering where Dai is a professor, much of his research revolves around healthcare.
“I study healthcare operations, and my most recent research looks at how to roll out COVID-19 vaccines efficiently and equitably,” Dai says. Previously, Dai had researched the role of airline transportation in organ transplantation. Dai and his coauthors found that by creating a new airline route, the number of kidneys shared across regions by 7.3%. Now Dai is also looking at the potential impact of artificial intelligence in the healthcare space.
“These days, I am paying increased attention to human-AI interaction, especially how clinicians interact with AI,” Dai explains. “As AI applications become more powerful, one would expect clinicians to use AI more often. My research shows clinicians may avoid using AI if they worry about liability implications or how they are perceived by their peers. Nevertheless, it’s my conviction that AI won’t replace clinicians, but in the long run, clinicians who use AI will replace those who don’t.”
Likewise, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management’s Amanda Starc is examining potential improvements in healthcare markets. “Currently, I am spending a lot of time thinking about the relationship between competition and quality in healthcare markets,” she says. “When product quality is difficult to observe, consumers and producers make suboptimal choices and investments. I’m looking at this problem for both insurance plans and hospitals. We argue that there are huge differences in mortality rates caused by the insurance plans in which Medicare beneficiaries enroll. Unfortunately, consumers do not know how to find plan that improve their health because there is not unbiased information about plan quality. This means plans do not have incentives to improve health outcomes.
“Quality incentives are important for hospitals as well. For example, hospitals that can attract highly profitable patients may invest more in quality. These hospitals want to make themselves irreplaceable in private insurance networks. We find strong evidence that hospitals located near profitable patients have higher quality.”
TWO 40 UNDER 40 FROM OPPOSITE COASTS TEAMING UP
Meanwhile, Columbia’s Matz and Stanford’s Ashley Martin, who also made this year’s list, are investigating how hiring women into leadership positions can change gender stereotypes.
“The way we approach this topic is to look at the extent to which an organization’s language changes as a result of hiring a female CEO or appointing more women to their board of directors,” Matz says. “We apply novel methods in natural language processing that allow us to capture the semantic meaning of words (e.g. woman, her or she) and see how closely the meaning of these words is related to the meaning of agentic, leadership-relevant traits that are typically associated with men but not women (e.g. decisive, determined, independent).”
Matz says they have found hiring women into leadership positions shifts organizational language such that “women are being associated more strongly with agentic — and therefore leadership-congruent — traits.”
“What’s pretty cool about this is that the intervention doesn’t come with a trade-off or backlash for women who are oftentimes perceived as less likable if they display agentic behaviors,” Matz continues. “In our case, the association between women and agency increases the most for the positive aspects of agency (e.g. active, resilient, persistent), and they are perceived and described just as likable as before. What can we learn from this? When hiring minorities we often talk about the immediate benefits to organizations that come from increased representation. That’s amazing in and by itself. But what we show is that hiring underrepresented minorities can actually do a lot more: It can help organizations battle insidious stereotypes by changing the associations, meaning, and interpretations of what it means to be, for example, a woman, black, or homosexual.”
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN THE BUSINESS WORLD
The Yale School of Management’s Saed Alizamir is using methodologies from operations research to solve managerial problems between public and private interactions while pushing social impact.
“More specifically, I am interested in examining how social responsibility can be promoted in the business world, particularly by incorporating the specific elements of decision-making into the analysis,” Alizamir explains. “My research investigates the role of public agencies (such as governmental institutions and NGOs) in enhancing the operational practices of business firms toward generating social value. Overall, the goal of my research is to inform public policy decisions in sustainability and public health domains.
“Some of my recent work includes the study of subsidy incentives for renewable energies, promoting sustainable practices in agricultural supply chains, demand response programs in residential electricity markets, and managing warning mechanisms against public health crises.”
Rutgers University’s David Dwertmann’s primary research goal is to produce research that impacts employees, organizations, and societies.
“I study diversity and investigate how organizations can shape the social environment in which people work through organizational climate and leadership to successfully employ individuals from marginalized backgrounds,” Dwertmann says. “I mostly focus on groups that are increasingly important but have not received the research attention commensurate with their importance: people with disabilities (PWD) and immigrants. My research contributes to our theoretical understanding of the factors that allow for inclusion and the barriers to achieving it.”
No matter what they study or how well they transfer knowledge to smart, young aspiring professionals, all of the 40-under-40 profs are academic stars in their own right and among the most promising profs of their generation.
See the next page for the list of all 40 under 40 business school professors for 2021.