Category Archives: research

EPIC Spotlight: Qin Weng

Data. Businesses love it, and students want to learn all they can.

When Qin Weng taught business analytics last fall, she discovered that her classes consisted of students with a wide variety of majors who were eager to learn how to interpret data to get meaningful information. “Companies are looking for these skills to better utilize their data,” says Weng, who joined the Walton College as an information systems assistant professor last August.

And exploring data can be fun. In her classes, Weng asks her students to look at all kinds of topics that utilize data. They returned with a variety of ideas that included examining students’ drinking habits and their academic performances to predicting the winners of athletic events.

The discovery element keeps things interesting. “It’s like fishing for something you don’t know,” she says.

During her first semester at Walton, Weng taught Business Analytics and Visualization to undergraduates and Data Analytics Fundamentals to graduate students. She says her classes are tough by design, and she finds that when she challenges her students, they deliver. “It’s really mind-blowing at the end of the semester when they present their ideas,” she says.

Weng grew up in the Jiangsu Province in east China, north of Shanghai, and earned a degree in international business studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University. She became fascinated with software programs used for data analysis, such as Excel and SPSS. These programs enabled her to collect data and, more importantly, gain insightful findings.

She came to the United States to further her education and earned her master’s degree at Virginia Commonwealth University. Following graduation, Weng worked for an insurance company in various roles, including as a business analyst, serving as a liaison between business divisions and the technology department. She created applications that helped data flow more efficiently between the company and government agencies, such as Medicare and Medicaid. Weng also facilitated data-filled reports to help company managers in their decision-making.

In her several years working in the healthcare industry, she saw a continued divide between business and technology. She wanted to bridge those gaps. She also missed graduate school and research. Weng was accepted to the doctorate program at the University of Pittsburgh, where she had the opportunity to work on a large-scale, government-funded project to build digital infrastructure to enable transformative scientific research through the Global Environment for Networking Innovation (GENI). Through the project, she researched different topics, including the control methods in project management and the collaboration networks among project participants. Her research has been published in Information Systems Research.

Weng earned her Ph.D. and came to Walton, a place that captured her attention with the school’s scholars, whom she also found to be friendly. It’s a good fit. “This is one of the most amazing places I have ever been,” she says.

She also enjoys the Women of Walton gatherings, which made her feel proud to be among the female faculty at the college. She says she found Anne O’Leary-Kelly, organizer and Walton senior associate dean, to be caring in her mission to boost morale and build relationships among faculty and staff.

Weng is using that energy in her research as well as to inspire students.

“I hope my teaching can spark their interest in business analytics,” Weng says.

Article on Women’s Entrepreneurship Wins Best Paper Award at AMJ

An article by researchers from the Department of Information Systems at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas and collaborators from Hong Kong and France published in the Academy of Management Journal was named the best paper of the year published in the journal. Continue reading Article on Women’s Entrepreneurship Wins Best Paper Award at AMJ

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.

Walton College Research Professor Honored by North American Case Research Association

David Hyatt
David Hyatt

A research associate professor of supply chain management in the Sam M. Walton College of Business has been honored by the North American Case Research Association for his collaboration with an Arkansas Company—Delta Plastics—to produce a written case study on the introduction of a new product. Continue reading Walton College Research Professor Honored by North American Case Research Association

Psychological Stressors Affect Truck Driver’s Experience and Contribute to Shortage in Industry

A 2017 study published in the Transportation Journal gives insight into truck driver woes with a rigorous phenomenological research approach. What does that mean, exactly? These authors went straight to the source and talked to truck drivers about what phenomena cause them stress.

Using this qualitative research methodology, they were able to gather data in two ways: face-to-face interviews with truck drivers and online blogs. Sixty-one participants were asked to describe their experience as a truck driver, and their interviews were transcribed so the researchers could easily find statements about how drivers handle their job. These statements were grouped into themes or categories that became the findings for the study relating to the essence of the truck driver experience.

Being a truck driver is a grueling and often thankless job. Time away from home and family, poor pay and a generally unhealthy lifestyle make it an unattractive career. Recent statistics from the American Trucking Associations show turnover rates were in excess of 90 percent last year, and with the projected growth of demand, the industry is going to experience a painful shortage in the upcoming years. The number of truck drivers leaving the industry is skyrocketing, and new drivers are not there to backfill the void.

Because almost every finished good eventually ends up on a truck, this is a far-reaching problem that hits almost every industry. Here are a few of the types of psychological stress found in the study:

  • Truck drivers experience loneliness and isolation. They also experience health issues that go unaddressed because of inadequate healthcare options, uncertainty about where to find affordable care and tight delivery windows while on the road. Being away from home and an overall unhealthy lifestyle take a tremendous emotional and physical toll.
  • A multifaceted issue, truck drivers feel disrespected by car drivers on the road, customers, dispatchers and managers. While some might say that drivers should not take all the animosity personally, the fact is that they do. They feel they are being slighted as human beings, and that the truck-driving profession is snubbed and met with disdain.
  • The most challenging piece of the puzzle seems to be the regulatory environment. While most drivers understand the intent behind many of the regulations, they often feel stress-related burdens regarding their pay, eligibility to drive and being told how to do their job. Safety is the intent behind most regulations, but drivers feel that the reality is very different.

TruckThe findings in this research are timely. This past December, the Electronic Logging Device rule went into effect. These ELDs are automatically logging the hours of the truckers, and experts are already predicting increased costs for transportation. When it costs more to move products, the increase in transportation cost will eventually be passed on to consumers in cost of goods. The research team plans to conduct a follow-up study in the near future on the psychological stress related to these new ELD rules.

Stephanie Thomas, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management, was a co-author of the research regarding truck driver stress.
Stephanie Thomas, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management, was a co-author of the research regarding truck driver stress.

What are the implications of these truck-driver stressors to business and to consumers? Consumers need truck drivers. They need the products that truck drivers deliver, and consumers want them in a timely manner. Many companies today are working to improve the truck driver experience in a number of ways such as providing different routes, improving compensation or providing well-being resources. For their part, consumers can improve the experiences of truck drivers as well by being more aware of these stressors and by promoting a more respectful driving experience.

Read more and watch a supporting video at the Supply Chain Management Research Center website or the latest article to be published at Transport Topics at www.ttnews.com the week of August 20.

Walton College Establishes Blockchain Center of Excellence

Building on its history as a global leader in information systems research, the Sam M. Walton College of Business Department of Information Systems at the University of Arkansas has established the Blockchain Center of Excellence to discover and disseminate innovative uses of the emerging technology and to teach students its importance to the future of business and digital security.

Continue reading Walton College Establishes Blockchain Center of Excellence