School of Business News Wed, 22 Feb 2017 22:48:39 -0500 MYOB en-gb When Managing Change, the Mission is the Best Message

GradyThere is an old story Victoria Grady likes to tell of a NASA employee who, when asked about his job by then-President John F. Kennedy, replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

The employee was a janitor.

“That’s how NASA makes its employees feel,” Grady, an assistant professor of management in George Mason University’s School of Business, said recently. “The mission is well-defined and they hold onto it.”

Service to the mission—a “transitional object,” Grady called the sentiment—is a reason NASA is one of the federal agencies best at handling organizational change and disruptions, Grady’s research found.

“It’s what enables them to maintain some level of success and performance and productivity,” she said.

Grady’s research into more than 100 federal agencies was sponsored by and done in conjunction with Booz Allen Hamilton, of McLean, Va., a provider to the federal government of management and technology consulting services. Patrick McCreesh, a senior associate at the company and part of the research team, called it the first deep dive into understanding federal employee reactions to change.

“The academic applications are we can monitor agencies over the years to see which are better at managing change efforts,” he said. “The practical application is government leaders can easily understand the impact that forthcoming changes might have on their agency.”

That is important because, as Grady points out in her research, the average length of an executive appointment is 2 1/2 years. That’s a lot of change. There is even more in Washington, D.C., this year with the installation of a new presidential administration.

“Change causes a lack of stability,” Grady said. “The optimal scenario is to minimize or mitigate those symptoms so you don’t suffer a decrease in performance or profitability.”

The research has been featured on the Bloomberg Government website in a series of blog posts co-authored by Grady and McCreesh, including an analysis of the “change management challenge” President Donald Trump faces in setting up his administration.

Grady, a founding member of the Association for Change Management Professionals and author of “The Pivot Point: Success in Organizational Change,” worked her research with data from the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.

That data was incorporated into Grady’s own Change Diagnostic Index, which measures intensity of behaviors related to change and anticipates strategies that might work best within an organization to make change initiatives easier; strategies such as using workplace leaders to deliver messages and supporting skills development while change happens. Having that “transitional object” is key, as well.

“NASA is different than the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Science Foundation is different than any organization,” Grady said. “The constant is they all have a transitional object they hold onto. They’ve been able to hold on to their mission.”

General Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:50:49 -0500
Changing How Hospitals Think about Budgeting can Save Money

Nirup Menonhospital, associate professor of information systems and operations management, has always been interested in researching health IT and the value it brings to hospitals. In his most recent research though, Menon stepped out of his specialty to apply a concept from accounting information systems to hospital budgeting.

“When I was looking at hospital data, I noticed that there’s extensive budgeting information that nobody has touched. It’s just sitting there,” he said.

“I wanted to approach it more from an information systems budgeting point of view because I wanted to see how much people are allocating to IT. However, it developed into budgeting for a whole organization.”

Menon and co-authors Akhilesh Chandra, University of Akron, and Birendra Mishra, University of California, Riverside, wanted to make budgeting processes more effective in hospitals.

Like many organizations, hospitals often experience asymmetric ratcheting, or spending less money but not decreasing budgets.

“Being human, we know that managers want to have enough money on their hands,” Menon said.

Managers want financial flexibility in case of unexpected costs or a sudden budget decrease. As such, they budget for more than they spend to ensure they have extra money on hand.

Instead of looking at budget data for each department, Menon and his colleagues applied a concept called transaction cycles to group budget expenditures by business process. The concept consists of five cycles: production, expenditure, financial, revenue, and human resources.

Each cycle was mapped to an aspect of healthcare, production to patient care; expenditure to IT, purchasing, and transportation; financial to fiscal services; revenue to patient accounts, admitting, and medical records; and human resources to hospital administration, personnel, and employee benefits.

The researchers collected data from 99 hospitals in Washington state, which had 12 years of consecutive budget data.

“We went to hospitals and looked at their budgeting accounts, and we classified them into these five cycles. Then we analyzed the data of actual spending versus budgeted data, as to how much the hospitals were adjusting along the cycles,” Menon said.

They found that patient care, which correlates to the production cycle, has more asymmetric ratcheting than other cycles. Menon said spending less money than was budgeted for patient care was expected because it brings the most revenue to the hospital.

The researchers concluded that using transaction cycle budgeting is more efficient than doing department-based budgeting. By creating budgets for the five business cycles instead of budgets for dozens or hundreds of departments, there is less over budgeting.

“The transaction cycle level budgeting does not follow departmental lines, rather it follows process logic, meaning some of the problems with department-level budgets can be avoided,” Menon said, citing issues like budget slacks, budget padding, and asymmetric ratcheting.

The overall budget would be lower as it would more accurately reflect a hospital’s costs or expenditures for the budget cycle. With rising healthcare costs, controlling budget allocations is likely to keep hospitals financial sound and reduce the need to increase costs for patients in the future.

The research has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Information Systems.

General Mon, 20 Feb 2017 09:04:10 -0500
Management Senior Launches Peer-to-Peer Shipping Company

RayanWhenever Rayan Rahman would travel to India, he’d take requests from friends and family for products they wanted from the U.S. “The price difference is huge and things aren’t always available there,” Rahman, a senior management student, explained.

Because of his personal experience with high shipping costs, Rahman decided to create Airposted, his own peer-to-peer shipping service. The goal is to help buyers get access to products that aren’t available where they live or receive products at a lower price and help travelers earn extra money while traveling.

“There’s nothing like this, so it’s worth a shot,” he said, crediting the Mason Innovation Lab with initial funding for the company. The Mason Innovation Lab, which is part of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, provides a physical space, community, and support for Mason entrepreneurs.

Airposted allows buyers to post the goods they’re looking for and chat with travelers coming to their country. After a bidding process, the buyer will pay Airposted the cost of the product and the negotiated traveler’s fee, and the traveler will purchase and deliver the product to the buyer. Once the trade is complete, Airposted releases the money to the traveler.

The site officially launched in September 2016 and has received half a million hits with users from more than 20 countries.

Raisa Rahman, a marketing student and Rahman’s cousin, serves as co-founder and chief product officer. She describes her role as being the intersection between the design team and the developers. Raisa is responsible for creating the design for how the product looks, branding, and working with developers to track bugs.

“The sharing economy seems to be doing so well for things like ride sharing and home sharing, so we figured why not go into the shippingRaisa industry because it really needs some innovation,” she said.

Rayan Rahman describes the site as a “very new concept,” and has marketed the site mostly through Facebook and Instagram. “It didn’t go viral, but we started to get traction,” he said. To date, 200 transactions have been completed on Airposted.

The company has focused its efforts on India, other parts of Asia and Europe. Rayan Rahman said there’s never a shortage of buyers, “but the problem from Airposted’s end was getting the travelers here.”

Recently he visited the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange to discuss Airposted and the role Mason has played. After graduation, he plans to start looking for and raising venture capital in Silicon Valley for the company. Airposted has roughly 25,000 users, but “we want to really grow faster than this,” he said.

“We’ll see what happens from there. My whole idea was to have small stores in airports for Airposted.” That’s the future I think.”

General Mon, 13 Feb 2017 11:01:40 -0500
Student Ambassadors Offer Authentic View of Mason Experience

Student AmbassadorsWhen Max Gocala meets with prospective students and their families, he wants to make them feel welcomed, impressed, and enthused with a Mason education. As the undergraduate recruitment and outreach coordinator, Gocala recognized he’s limited in what he could offer from an actual student’s perspective though.

His desire for an authentic look at life as a student prompted him to create the School of Business Ambassador Program.

“If a student’s up there, it’s a whole new spin on that and they can relate to what students are really looking for in our programs,” Gocala said. “We want to make sure that students know what we have to offer and why they can get a world-class education.”

Ambassadors attend School of Business events for prospective freshmen and transfer students to share their own experiences in the classroom and on-campus.

“I love being a Patriot because of all the opportunities that I have had. I have grown not only in character, but also in my academic knowledge. I enjoy all of the friendships I have made through social events, clubs, classes, and housing,” said Madison Strano, an accounting sophomore.

Strano sees the ambassador program as a way to gain more leadership experience.

Sahar Kandahari, a marketing senior, is a second generation Patriot. Her mom graduated from Mason with her bachelor’s degree in 2000, and a master’s degree in 2014.

“I would like to share my experience as an undergraduate to help new students transition into Mason smoothly. I hope to be a valuable resource for students and look forward to making connections with them,” she said.

Senior marketing major Niels Bulskov joined the ambassador program to share his unique experiences as a student entrepreneur. “I hope to show people that studying at Mason isn’t just a chance to plant your future opportunities, but also to build something great today,” he said.

Bulskov has started his own business, Ground Control Coffee, while at Mason and has received financial and mentorship support from Mason along the way.

“We want anyone who has shown that being a Mason student has helped them to succeed. We want someone who’s going to be relatable to students, so someone who’s been involved or set themselves apart and has shown that Mason is their home,” Gocala said.

School of Business ambassadors serve for a year, and must have at least a 3.0 GPA and be in their second semester at Mason. Two recommendations, with one being from a faculty member, are needed to apply.

To apply to become a School of Business student ambassador or learn more about School of Business undergraduate programs, contact Max Gocala.

General Tue, 07 Feb 2017 08:27:35 -0500
Living the 'American Dream': Management Student Awarded First Mason Dream Scholarship

PosadasKelly M., a management student, will be graduating with her bachelor's degree this summer. Her mom is her "biggest inspiration," and like most parents, she wanted her children to "get a good education and have a good life."

In other words, Kelly is living her mother’s "American dream."

That dream started when Kelly was six. Her family left Honduras seeking a better life in the Unites States. “Unfortunately, circumstances pushed my mother to bring my brother and I here illegally,” said Kelly, who has lived in Alexandria for the last 16 years.

Kelly wasn't affected by this until she was a junior in high school and learned she couldn't get an ID, license, job, or apply to just any university. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) policy allowed her to spend two years at Northern Virginia Community College before transferring to Mason.

"Although I still had to pay out-of-state tuition and received no government financial aid, I felt blessed to have the opportunity to continue into higher education," she said.

After paying out-of-state tuition for two semesters, Kelly was able to start paying in-state tuition in 2014 under a Virginia policy change for DACA students.

Kelly continued on to Mason and was the first School of Business student to be awarded the Mason Dream Scholarship. The scholarship provides funds to Mason business students whose immigration status may hinder them from accessing higher education. It's awarded based on merit and financial need, and is inclusive of documented and undocumented immigrants.

"It's a blessing, because it’s not something you expect. It’s motivation to keep doing well," Kelly said.

Lisa Gring-Pemble, a School of Business associate professor and director of social entrepreneurship and global impact at the school's Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, created and funded the scholarship after working with the Mason DREAMers advisory board. Mason DREAMers, a nonpartisan student organization, works to create a more inclusive environment for undocumented students.

"Their level of education and advocacy on behalf of the DREAMers was nothing short of remarkable, and I wanted to do something to support them somehow," she said.

Her obligation as a professor to support the students and the leadership potential she saw in the DREAMers inspired her to create the scholarship.

Kelly balances her academics with an internship at the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, a job with the NOVA Pathway Program helping at risk students transition from high school to higher education, and helping her mom start a new business in the hospitality industry. So far she has helped with proposals and marketing plans and will continue to work with her mom after she graduates this summer.

"I think this is a great way of paying her back for everything she's done, because she's the main person who's been helping me through all of this, financially and emotionally. I feel like this is my way of giving back to her," Kelly said.

Eventually Kelly would like to look for other management job opportunities that offer a fast-paced environment. She also intends to pursue a master’s degree.

"This is the land of opportunity and it just takes someone to encourage and motivate you, or have it within yourself to push for something better," she said.

Gring-Pemble hopes the Mason Dream Scholarship serves as motivation for other students. Her goal is to get the scholarship endowed to be able to support more than one DREAMer student at a time.

"There are more DREAMers than this one scholarship will ever be able to serve," she said, adding that she’d like to have an endowed university-wide scholarship for DREAMers too.

Contribute to the Mason Dream Scholarship. 

General Mon, 30 Jan 2017 11:31:24 -0500
Super Bowl Commercials May Not Pay Off for Companies

Super BowlThe Super Bowl is the sporting event of the year, drawing expansive viewership and media attention each year from the game itself to the halftime performance and the commercials. Companies pounce upon the opportunity to display their most creative and entertaining ads in the homes of hundreds of millions in the U.S. and abroad, but the millions it costs to run an ad may not be worth it.

“I like football and I like money, so why not pair stock returns with football,” said Stefan Hock, assistant professor of marketing, of his interest in researching whether Super Bowl ads are worth the expense.

“The Super Bowl attracts every year more viewers and media attention for its advertisements than any other event in the U.S.,” Hock said, but the advertisements come with a hefty price tag. The cheapest 30-second commercial for the February 2016 Super Bowl was $4.5 million and this year, “it’s projected to be $5 million.”

“As a firm you’re wondering, is that investment worth it?” Hock said, noting that previous research has produced mixed results.

Hock and co-researchers Sascha Raithel from Free University of Berlin and Charles Taylor from Villanova University found that the ads can be worth it, but not for every company. “As with most things, there are good advertisements and bad advertisements. Our findings show that good advertisements, advertisements that increase customer-brand equity, only those commercials help firms,” he said.

Hock describes customer-brand equity as “a construct that measures customers’ feelings, thoughts, experiences, and images with a certain brand.” If the commercials are increasing positive feelings for the brand among consumers, firms are more likely to experience increases in stock price following the Super Bowl.

However, there is a ceiling effect. “Firms that have a very high pre-Super Bowl brand equity, firms that have a very favorable impression in the minds of consumers, those firms have a harder time benefitting from those commercials because they’re already at a very high level,” Hock said.

General Mon, 30 Jan 2017 09:02:44 -0500
Dr. John Hillen Receives Prestigious US Navy Civilian Award for Ethics Study

hillen awardDr. John Hillen, professor of management and executive-in-residence at George Mason’s School of Business, recently received the Meritorious Public Service Award from the U.S. Navy. It is the third highest civilian award the U.S. Navy can bestow.

The award was bestowed on Hillen, a decorated U.S. Army combat veteran, for his meritorious service over the past nine years as a member of the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel. As a personal advisor to four Chiefs of Naval Operations, Hillen provided expert peer level advice on essential Naval and National Security matters. He also led several studies for the Navy, including one on teaching and training ethics in the service.

The citation given to Hillen reads, in part, “Hillen’s leadership and superb council on the Navy Ethics study led to significant recommendations that were of great value to the Chief of Naval Operations. His contributions to studies on Iran, Agile Information Technology, Rightsizing the Civilian Workforce, and Survivable Communications directly impacted operational improvements and had a significant influence on U.S. Navy policies and programs.”

Hillen said, “It was a great honor to help advise the head of the U.S. Navy for many years and lead several studies that impact the service. In particular, the study on teaching ethics in the Navy, which is an essential part of the curriculum in my leadership class in our MBA program.”

Hillen was presented the award on January 24 in a ceremony at the Pentagon from the head of the U.S. Navy, Admiral John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations.

General Thu, 26 Jan 2017 10:38:46 -0500
Technology Management Program was a ‘Launching Pad’ for Career at Ford

DuhartAfter spending nearly 10 years working in cyber security for the federal government, Greg (Robert) Duhart Jr. was looking to convert his in-depth technical experience into managerial expertise. Mason’s MS in Technology Management program “served as outstanding preparation” for his career transition.

Upon completion of his degree in 2016, Duhart was one of only three people Ford Motor Company hired for its Information Technology Leadership Program. The three-year program is “designed to inject and groom talent into Ford IT through targeted internal and external recruiting,” Duhart said. “It is both humbling and an honor to be a member of such a great group of people.

Duhart is the cyber security and big data analytics lead within the Enterprise and Emerging IT organization. He leads all security efforts including policy, testing, assessments, and strategic framework development as part of the largest big data analytics effort in the history of Ford.

“I love the dynamic nature of my role and how Ford Motor Company is transforming. In many ways, we are on the bleeding edge of scaled security in the big data analytics space. The people, mission, and servant leadership culture at Ford is simply outstanding,” he said.

Duhart found his time in the Master’s in Technology Management program to be “challenging, inspiring, and totally worthwhile.” He chose to pursue his master’s at Mason because it was the only university in the Washington, D.C., area to offer three key factors: an in-person, cohort based experience, a challenging curriculum in management and technology with a focus in entrepreneurship, and brilliant faculty advisors.

“My experience as a Technology Management student has served as a launching pad for both my career, transitioning from government service to a Fortune 10 company, and my personal development-expanding the breadth and scope of my exposure to the technology world,” he said.

Duhart added that his global residency to Taiwan for the program offered a depth of global exposure to technology, an experience “that few have or will ever experience, and one that benefits me regularly in my current role.”

He aims to continue developing a broader IT management perspective at Ford Motor Company. “I came to Mason with applied expertise in the information security realm and my work at Ford IT is exposing me to the wider breadth of the IT space. I look forward to working as a Ford family to revolutionize the mobility solutions industry as an IT leader at Ford Motor Company.”

General Tue, 24 Jan 2017 08:49:37 -0500
Management Professor Encourages Students to Come Out of Comfort Zone with TED Talks

“I want them to challenge themselves to try to communicate in a different way,” said Katie Rosenbusch, assistant management professor.

Rosenbusch’s principle of management course, which every Mason business student must take, was held in an active learning classroom. The classroom offers technology and an integrative space for students to work in teams.

“I really wanted to embed a team atmosphere in this course, and I was trying to figure out how to make it a creative atmosphere and different from anything they’ve done in other courses,” she said.

With the help of the GMU TV station, she settled on TED Talks, in which students would further expand upon managerial concepts based on interviews they had with real managers. The class of 72 was split into teams of four, with seven to 10 minutes for their talk. Topics ranged from employee loss, work/life balance, ethical decision-making, employee motivation, and why soft skills are important. Each group also had to include a personal example to connect with the audience.

“This is very foreign to business students and that was part of the reason I did it. Communication is a primary skill for business, and they really need to learn how to communicate a message in a concise manner. I was trying to build their confidence through the process of learning this,” Rosenbusch said.

She put extra pressure on students by having them rely strictly on their memory when delivering the talk, adding that some students loved the assignment, and for others, it brought stress and anxiety.

“My biggest thing is that if they try, I can see the effort in their videos and that’s all I’m really asking of them,” she said. “As you work your way up in a business world, communicating that message and having that confidence to portray the message is really key, and that’s what I wanted them to get out of this.”

General Wed, 18 Jan 2017 08:38:11 -0500
U.S. News Gives Mason Online Programs High Marks

George Mason University’s national profile continued to climb in the latest assessment of online programs by U.S. News and World Report.

The university’s online master’s program in applied information technology is ranked 36th among U.S. institutions, and its online master’s program in accounting is tied for 63rd.

“The ranking not only speaks to the uniqueness of the program but also the sought-after graduates that the program produces,” Daniel Garrison, director of distance education in George Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering, said of the applied information technology master’s program.

EnterpriseHall 100521 0621Said Karen Kitching, director of Mason’s master’s in accounting program in the School of Business: “Our courses are designed to advance our students’ professional acumen, rather than teach basic accounting, while helping students meet the 150-hour CPA licensing requirement.”

U.S. News defines distance education programs as those in which all required coursework can be completed through internet-based learning technologies with synchronous or asynchronous contact between students and instructors.

In judging the best online programs, U.S. News based its rankings on student engagement, faculty credentials and training, peer reputation, student services and technology, and admissions selectivity.

Garrison said Mason’s students in applied information technology are taught mission-critical leadership skills and technical foundations. They also learn system design, development and management.

“Before even graduating, many students are already highly placed in industry and government,” Garrison said. “This not only adds to the richness of discussion within courses but the integrity of the program and its graduates.”

In the online accounting program, students are taught advanced and emerging topics, such as fraud and governance. Soft skills such as communications, leadership and teambuilding, and technology skills that include data analytics, are reinforced throughout the curriculum, Kitching said.

There also is a mandatory week-long global residency requirement in which students travel with a Mason professor to a foreign country—France is the May 2017 destination—to meet business leaders, and study how global environments impact accounting and business.

“As far as I know, Mason is the only [master’s degree in accounting] program requiring global residency,” Kitching said.

The rakings are the latest accolades for Mason, which is one of 115 universities ranked in the highest tier of research institutions in the country by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

General Tue, 10 Jan 2017 10:07:12 -0500