Business Research

Affecting Business Affects the World

A healthy connection between business and universities conducting research benefits not only the organization and the university, but ripples outward to the entire economy and often knows no borders. The following examples of Baylor research show professors and students at work in the U.S. and abroad, revealing how interconnected our economies are and how helping one helps everyone.

E-crime and Commerce

Cooperation and awareness are paramount to cyber world safety. One of the biggest differences Randal Vaughn makes is persuading companies to work together. In his role as a cyber security researcher, he chairs a summit of electronic crime researchers who develop approaches to counter fraud and other e-commerce crimes.

The 5-year-old summit occurred because student researchers requested it, said Vaughn, professor of Information Systems. Businesses supply the data. "The quality of the research depends on whether or not we are able to obtain data related to e-crime from businesses or other collaborative groups," he said.

Making businesses aware of the problems comes in part from Vaughn's participating on and moderating panels discussing e-crime. Baylor's Cyber Security Awareness Month each October, which features speakers talking about risks, also contributes to awareness. "That's one of the best things that happen in terms of security-a whole month dedicated to looking at these problems," Vaughn said.

Trade Policy and Ethics

Joe McKinney continues to contribute to the business world with his research first into international trade policy and then, ethics. With about half of his work in international business, the associate director of the McBride Center for International Business works mostly in analyzing policy.

His research in trade policy began more than 20 years ago, when he collaborated with others to organize a conference at Baylor on North American free trade, co-sponsored by the Canadian government. NAFTA, the most far-reaching trade agreement of its time, became reality in 1994. McKinney has testified about it before the House Ways and Means Committee as well as other policy-guiding bodies. "Beginning with work I have done related to NAFTA, I have been asked between 1990 and 2008 to lecture for the State Department in several European countries and Mexico," he said.

Concurrent with trade policy are his ethics studies. Articles he has coauthored in this area have been cited more than 500 times.

Developing Countries

Poor countries occupy Pham Hoang Van's focus. The associate professor of Economics applies economic theory and empirical techniques to study labor markets, international trade, economic growth, industrial organization, and economic history. His work includes:

• A paper on child labor with Kaushik Basu, cited 770 times by other scholarly papers and policy discussion papers by the World Bank, the U.N., and governments.
• Studies of economic growth in East Asia, which he argues experienced significant technological change.
• His recent papers with Emek Basker on the relationship between the growth of U.S. retail chains and expansion of trade with developing countries like China. The work has been widely cited in the popular press.

"These three papers increase our understanding of the relationship between new technology, globalization, and the face of retail," he said. "This understanding has implications for trade and local policy as well as business strategy."

Sports Marketing and Sponsorships

Kirk Wakefield, professor of Marketing and executive director of the Sports Sponsorship & Sales Program, tells clients who sponsor sports teams what kind of return they are getting on their investments. His work includes projects with AT&T, TXU Energy, Cisco, Mountain Dew, and Sunoco, among many others.

Since 2005, Wakefield has used his own Affinity Transfer Model-so named because sponsors count on the fan's affinity for the team to transfer to their brands -to help sports teams show the value of sponsorships. For example, Houston Dynamo fans visit Taco Bell one more time a month compared to non-fans.

"Basically, if you are going to spend $2 million on the sponsorship of a sports team, I can tell you if you are getting your money back and can directly link it to your sponsorship," Wakefield said. "My research has direct application to corporations and teams. They bring a question, and I do research to solve the problem."

Trademark Dilution

Chris Pullig, associate professor and department chair of Marketing, cited three ways his study of trademark dilution has affected business.

His research is taught in PhD and MBA programs when branding issues are covered. Leading law review journals cite his work, and legal scholars are debating it and using it to make policy. Finally, the methods used in the research allow businesses to assess dilution effects, which are difficult to measure.

The original trademark dilution article "Brand Dilution: When Do New Brands Hurt Existing Ones?" coauthored by C.J. Simmons and R.G Netemeyer appeared in the Journal of Marketing, Vol. 70, 2006. After three years, professors begin to know the impact because of queries and statistics that journals keep. "Also, as you continue work in the same area, you discover how much your previous work is used," Pullig said. "It's rewarding when you see work having an impact with students and future business leaders as well as within the marketing discipline and other related areas."

Customer Relationship Management

Morris George, professor of Marketing, finds a wealth of material studying customer habits-and businesses reap the benefits by making existing clients better customers.

George won the 2010 Davidson Award for Best Article in the Journal of Retailing 2008 after researching factors that drive cross-buying-when existing customers of a business buy from additional categories the business offers. George's article "Cross-buying in Retailing: Drivers and Consequences" was coauthored by V. Kumar and Joseph Pancras.

"Many times cross buying is not high because the company does not have the tools to identify the customer who might be inclined to step up purchasing," he said. George's research, conducted with a catalog retailer, gave the company those tools by studying behavior that can predict cross-buying.

In a second study, he examined a product the customer bought, when he bought it, and the catalog the business sent that customer. From that came the optimal catalog mailing policy-sending the right catalog to the right person at the right time. "This helps to improve the customer lifetime value, a measure of future revenue contribution from customers, by approximately 42 percent," he said.

Kirk Wakefield
Baylor University