Urban League Honors Dean Matthew Waller

Matthew A. Waller, dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, will receive the Whitney M. Young Award for his work to improve the lives of underserved Arkansans at a luncheon hosted by the Urban League of the State of Arkansas on Dec. 5 at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock.

“It is quite an honor for me to be a recognized by the Urban League,” said Waller. “An integral part of the Walton College mission is to serve all Arkansans, something I take seriously. To aid us in our mission, Walton College leans on our Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the oldest diversity office of any SEC business college. We also provide scholarships and academic support resources to assist and retain students. This support is important to our school, industry and state.”

The luncheon, chaired by Lottie Shackelford, former mayor of Little Rock, recognizes the contributions of individuals who help provide equal opportunities for all Arkansans.

Waller was chosen for the honor because of his commitment to diversity and inclusion at Walton College and within the state.  Annie Abrams, a longtime civil rights activist, will also be recognized at the event.

For additional information or to purchase tickets for the event, contact the Urban League at info@urbanleagueark.org

Napoleon’s Hubris, Ali’s Rope-a-Dope

Business Executives Also Base Decisions On Studying Their Rivals, Submissive or Provocative CEOs May Draw Attacks On Their Firms

Jason Ridge

History is replete with examples of military commanders and sporting combatants using their perceptions of rival decision-makers in deciding how to engage those rivals – such as Russian commanders employing Napoleon’s hubris against him and Muhammad Ali devising the ‘rope-a-dope’ strategy knowing his opponent would be ultra-aggressive.

According to a new study published in November’s Strategic Management Journal, modern business executives appear to be applying the same principles.

Prior research suggests that decision-makers actively gather information about their rivals’ likely actions and to a very high degree, base competitive maneuvers upon that information.  

“Despite this practical reality, however, neither the theories that explain the role of executives in a firm’s actions nor competitive dynamics research advance theoretical explanations of how this rival-based phenomenon unfolds,” write the authors, Aaron Hill, University of Florida, Tessa Recendes, Oklahoma State University and Jason Ridge, University of Arkansas.

The researchers saw a need to better understand how attackers’ perceptions of a rival CEO affect attacks on the CEO’s firm, and they articulate how CEOs possessing certain psychological, behavioral, and social characteristics may unknowingly precipitate competitive attacks on their firms. 

Their study integrates into management theories insights from victimology that explain how individuals are subject to more attacks if they possess characteristics others perceive as either more submissive or more provocative.

 “If rivals perceive a focal firm’s CEO as more submissive and hence, less willing or able to respond to attacks, those rivals will have less fear the CEO will attempt to counter in ways that might damage the attacking firm,” the authors say.

“For example, more submissive CEOs may be seen as unlikely to respond to a price cut directed at their firms. . . Attacks on firms led by such individuals, then, pose little threat to the attacking firm and provide greater prospects for strategic advancements without the fear of reprisal.”

Similarly, there are two reasons why a firm led by a CEO who is perceived as provocative would be subject to more attacks.

“First, more provocative individuals are attacked by rivals who seek to restore their view of what ‘ought to be’ or what they consider normal,” say the authors. “The attackers are motivated to ‘get even’ for perceived provocations.

“Second, more provocative individuals may threaten others’ relative standing or security, provoking attacks out of self-preservation (i.e., to ‘save face’ and/or to reduce or remove peril).”

For hypotheses testing, the researchers used a sample of Fortune 500 CEOs from 2000 to 2016 and employed videometric measurement of CEOs where third-party raters used validated instruments to assess personal characteristics. They then combined the videometric measures of CEOs with data drawn from RavenPack News Analytics. RavenPack uses a patented algorithm to classify and aggregate press releases, which are commonly used to capture a firm’s competitive actions.

The results: As CEO submissiveness increases from the mean value to one standard deviation above the mean, attacks on the CEO’s firm rise as follows: Pricing and Product Attacks nearly double while Marketing and Expansion Attacks increase about 64 and 48 percent, respectively.

Victimology research suggests that “victims” are seen as easier targets than those considered being “provocative” — even if being provocative is still a strong predictor.

Indeed, the study also found that as CEO provocativeness increases one standard deviation from the mean, the rise in attacks are smaller but also meaningful: Pricing, Product, Marketing, and Expansion Attacks increase about 50, 27, 35, and 58 percent, respectively.

The study is important because a single competitive attack or series of attacks can often have negative ramifications for firms directly while also triggering firms to respond by dedicating valuable resources, which could otherwise be directed elsewhere, toward counter-attacking. Increasing attacks anywhere from about 25 percent to 100 percent likely has substantial implications for firms.

It is possible that providing knowledge about how CEO characteristics precipitate competitive actions toward their firms may aid in prevention and intervention strategies.

However, in assessing if attacks on the CEO’s firm are mediated by the attacked firm’s competitive actions, the research results suggest that the attacks are not mediated by the attacked firm’s competitive actions.  And that holds true for both firms led by “submissive” CEOs and “provocative” CEOs.

The study, Second-order effects of CEO characteristics: How rivals’ perceptions of CEOs as submissive and provocative precipitate competitive attacks, was published in the Strategic Management Journal, the official journal of the Strategic Management Society, which is comprised of 3,000 academics, business practitioners, and consultants from 80 countries.

Moore Selected as Walton College Employee of the Quarter

Amy Moore, administrative specialist III for outreach, has been named employee of the first quarter by the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

Anyone in the college may nominate colleagues for the award, which is given to employees who show superior customer service that enhances the image of the college above and beyond the scope of that employee’s job description.

Along with Moore, Alice Frizzell, assistant director of information systems graduate programs; Monica Gammill, assistant director in the accounting center; Rachel Hobby, assistant MBA director at the Graduate School of Business; and Amanda Waters, administrative specialist II in the Department of Management, were also nominated for their contributions to Walton College.

The winner receives a certificate of appreciation and a cash prize. Winners are chosen by Walton College Dean Matt Waller, the associate deans, the assistant deans and the Walton College Staff Council.

Taking Care of Customers and Environment Pays Off, Study Shows

Sebastian Garcia-Dastugue, Supply Chain, Faculty
Sebastian Garcia-Dastugue, Supply Chain, Faculty

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Findings by a University of Arkansas supply-chain management researcher suggest that, in the field of logistics, companies that excel in customer service and environmental sustainability also perform better in sales growth and cost efficiency.

Read the full story in Newswire.

IT Executive Forum for College Students To Be Held Nov. 1

The Information Technology Research Institute is hosting an IT Executive Forum for College Students on Thursday, Nov. 1, from 4-5 p.m. in the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development auditorium at the Sam M. Walton College of Business on the University of Arkansas campus.

Attendees will hear from information technology executives and may ask them questions about careers and the technology industry. The technology leaders represent Walmart, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., Tyson Foods, Acxiom, FedEx and Movista. The panel will field questions from students. Intermittently, door prizes will be drawn for attendees.

For additional information, contact Eric Bradford, managing director of the Information Technology Research Institute, at ebradford@walton.uark.edu.

Jebaraj to Serve on National Economics Board

Mervin Jebaraj, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research center at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, has been selected to serve on the board of the Association for University Business and Economic Research.

The Association for University Business and Economic Research is a professional association of leading university-based economic research centers and affiliate organizations across the United States.

“I am excited to represent the University of Arkansas at a national level on AUBER’s board,” Jebaraj said. “This position will allow wonderful collaborations, encourage sharing of best practices and provide the latest in research.”

Kathy Deck, the 2017-18 AUBER president, director of Community and Economic Research Partnerships at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business and former Walton College director of the Center for Business and Economic Research center, welcomed new board members.

“The AUBER organization continues to add value for regional economic experts at universities across the United States,” Deck said. “The newly elected board of directors bring their enthusiasm and talent to AUBER and will continue the good work of supporting our membership with vital programming and connection opportunities.”

The board elections were announced October 16 at AUBER’s 2018 conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, which was hosted by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah.

For more information about AUBER, visit auber.org.