Taking the RB Challenge

RB, a multinational consumer goods company, challenged students at the Sam M. Walton College of Business to think about the corporation’s product in totally new ways. While the challenge competition lasted only two days, the winning team continues to reap the benefits.

Last fall, Lindsey Wagaman, a junior at the University of Arkansas double-majoring in marketing and supply chain management, teamed up with fellow students — Sydney Brooks, a senior majoring in marketing, and Dylan Seelye, a senior majoring in finance — to accept the two-day RB business challenge: present a solution on how to increase market share of MegaRed Krill Oil, an omega-3 supplement.

On the first day, student teams reviewed sales and research on MegaRed, a Schiff Vitamin brand that is a subsidiary of RB, a multinational consumer goods company. RB executives coached teams and delivered feedback on presentation strategy and approach.

Wagaman, Brooks and Seelye gathered information, collaborated on ideas and developed a presentation.

“My team agreed that the majority of people who took krill oil pills were affluent middle-aged to elderly adults. We decided to position MegaRed products as a preventative measure for the whole family in order to expand the target market,” Wagaman said. “To do this, we proposed krill oil gummy vitamins for kids, biscuits and oil for dogs and subscription boxes. We highlighted different marketing aspects such as a heart mascot on the gummies and connections to popular nonprofit organizations like the American Heart Association.”

On the second day, student teams presented solutions to RB. While Wagaman, Brooks and Seelye’s team won the challenge, they received more than just bragging rights.

“Hands-on experience is one of the most valuable skills students can have. Having the opportunity to work on a real problem faced by a company helps students change their perspective and think about issues differently,” Wagaman said. “Many of the questions recruiters ask in interviews are about past experience in particular situations. Being able to draw on these experiences as answers to interview questions is a simple way to highlight hands-on experience and give students an upper hand when job hunting.”

Jordan Fry was the RB representative I gave my executive pitch to. As I was going through my involvement and experience he continually asked me why I do the things I do, and what I’m passionate about. I had never taken a step back to think about what I was really passionate about from a professional standpoint before. This question was asked throughout the two-day competition. Because of the push to connect the personal aspect to our professional careers, my group and I incorporated personal stories and experiences into our presentation.”

My group and I have remained in contact with RB representatives since the challenge,” Wagaman said. “We have been able to meet with them to further develop our solutions from the challenge and receive executive mentorship. I’m looking forward to maintaining my relationship with RB and continuing to work with them on our ideas.”

RB Challenge Benefits
“The most impactful part about RB’s Challenge to me was the amount of direct feedback each student received. On the first day of the challenge we each gave our executive pitches to an RB representative. Students received one-on-one feedback including tips for interviews and professional advice. Direct feedback is not something most employers or representatives give to students seeking internships or careers,” Wagaman said. “I would recommend all students apply for the spring RB Challenge because it’s a valuable opportunity that not many students get.”

Students have the opportunity to take the RB Challenge on Thursday, Feb. 7, by registering on Handshake no later than Thursday, Jan. 31. 

Find out more about the RB Challenge through the Career Development Services at theSam M. Walton College of Business by emailing Catherine Beasley, corporate programs manager, at cbeasley@walton.uark.edu.

About RB 
RB — the world’s leading consumer health and hygiene company — never tires of challenging the norm, and keeps giving people innovative solutions for healthier lives and happier homes. Visit RB.com for more information on RB’s career opportunities and graduate programs.​

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

Chartwells Partnership Promotes McMillon Innovation Studio Health Initiative

Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services at the University of Arkansas has made a commitment to support a health and well-being program at the McMillon Innovation Studio at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. The McMillon Studio’s mission is to catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas.

“As an organization, Chartwells/Compass Group is passionate about helping reduce food insecurity in the campuses and communities we live and work in,” said Andrew Lipson, resident district manager for Chartwells at the University of Arkansas. “I hope this initiative will educate people about making smarter food choices and provide them with better access to those food choices.”

The health and well-being program at the McMillon Innovation Studio will research various challenges with a specific focus on food insecurity and access to healthy foods.

“The partnership uses design thinking principles and puts innovation in action to discover solutions that achieve better health and well-being outcomes on campus and the larger community,” said Jessica Taylor, health and well-being program director at McMillon Innovation Studio and graduate student in the School of Social Work. “We put the customer at the heart of what we do.”

The projects are student-led and receive advice from advisory boards and local experts. The McMillon Innovation Studio also has design teams in the areas of supply chain and seamless commerce.

“I’m excited about what’s on the horizon for our teams,” said Rachel Sullivant, director of student engagement at McMillon Innovation Studio. “Our health and well-being program is a natural partnership for Chartwells. Together, we can make positive change for our students, the broader campus and the community.”

About Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services
Chartwells, a division of Compass Group North America, provides dining services for 280 colleges and universities nationwide. For more information about Chartwells, visit ChartwellsHigherEd.com or DineOnCampus.com.

About McMillon Innovation Studio
The McMillon Innovation Studio is a physical hub of innovation supporting creativity, entrepreneurship, and collaboration between all disciplines on the University of Arkansas campus. We exist to shape the future of commerce by developing and enabling students to be catalysts of innovation. Learn more about McMillon Studio at mcmillonstudio.uark.edu.

Walton College Offers Online Degree in Supply Chain Management

The Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas now offers an online bachelor’s degree in supply chain management. Through a partnership with the university’s Global Campus, Walton College now supports three online bachelor’s degree programs: supply chain management, general business and accounting.

“I am proud to add a supply chain management degree to our lineup of online degree offerings,” said Matthew Waller, dean of the Walton College. “It opens up a world of possibilities for nontraditional students, no matter where they live or work.”

The online program in supply chain management will prepare students for leadership roles in a fast growing, complex and demanding field. Supply chain talent must be able to excel with the emergence of analytical capabilities as the market expands globally. Therefore, companies are continuously seeking new talent to keep pace with the rapidly changing interface of the supply chain.

“Businesses are currently experiencing a shortage in supply chain talent, so adding the online supply chain degree program reflects our ongoing efforts to advance the college’s vision for being a catalyst for transforming the lives of our students, while contributing great talent to the industry,” said Brian Fugate, chair of the Department of Supply Chain Management.

Students can begin the supply chain management bachelor’s program and complete all four years of coursework online. Students with past college credit can also complete the rest of their bachelor’s degrees online. To graduate, scholars must complete at least 120 credit hours, including the university’s core requirements and select Supply Chain Management courses.

Walton College’s Department of Supply Chain Management is ranked 15th in the nation by the 2018 U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Colleges” and by leading research and advisory company Gartner in its biennial North American Supply Chain University Program Survey.

“Online degree programs provide the flexibility needed by some students to overcome barriers of time, distance and life demands,” said Don Judges, vice provost for Distance Education. “The new online supply chain degree is the perfect complement to the U of A’s growing list of online bachelor’s and graduate degree programs.”

The new program is one of about 40 online programs offered completely or primarily online by U of A academic colleges and schools.

Online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree options are showcased on the University of Arkansas ONLINE website, as well as online certificate, licensure and endorsement programs. Online programs are administered by the Global Campus, which is a U of A support unit.

About the Department of Supply Chain Management: In addition to faculty expertise, our students benefit from the Walton College Supply Chain Management Research Center, which connects students to industry executives, internships and job opportunities. Recognizing the quality of the supply chain program faculty and graduates, U.S. News & World Report has rated the Walton College supply chain program among the best in the United States.

About the Global Campus: The Global Campus supports U of A colleges and schools in the development and delivery of online programs and courses. It provides instructional design services, technology services and assistance with marketing, recruiting and strategic academic development.

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.