The Business Review, Cambridge

Vol. 15 * Number 1 * Summer. 2010

The Library of Congress, Washington, DC   *   ISSN 1553 - 5827 

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Using Six Sigma Methods to Evaluate the Reliability of a Teaching Assessment Rubric

Dr. John E. Knight, University of Tennessee at Martin

Sandra Allen, Columbia College Chicago

Dr. Daniel L. Tracy, University of South Dakota

 

ABSTRACT

Six sigma methodology has been developed and utilized in a wide variety of business applications with the intent of improving the overall quality of some facet of business operations.  It also has been used to improve educational quality in academia. In this paper, the authors demonstrate the use of the six sigma method to establish the reliability of a teaching and assessment rubric.  The paper presents a straightforward, illustrated approach to data collection and analysis with emphasis on the measurement and reduction of intra-rater and inter-rater variance. Six sigma methodology has been developed and utilized in a wide variety of business applications with the intent of improving the overall quality of some facet of business operations.  Six sigma focuses on a series of sequential steps to define and solve a problem utilizing data collection and analysis.  One of the important steps in the development of a quality system is the identification and use of an acceptably precise measurement system so that the data are repeatable from replication to replication.  Six sigma methodology also has been applied to a variety of academic situations with the intent of improving educational quality (Raifsnider & Kurt, 2004).  This paper will illustrate how these procedures can be utilized to test the reliability of teaching rubrics in the process of improving the assessment of student work. Rubrics have been extensively utilized in colleges as a way to define important dimensions of learning and to establish a grading scale to assess student performance relative to the learning dimensions.  Methods to assess the reliability of grading rubrics have been examined using sophisticated mathematical and statistical procedures that are often difficult to apply.  Six sigma procedures offer a simpler method with comparable results for testing both intra-rater and inter-rater reliability and for assessing grading instrument appropriateness.  These procedures are widely available on the internet and are easy to use.  This paper demonstrates how the six sigma method can help establish the reliability of a teaching and assessment rubric.  The focus of the six sigma method is the reduction of measurement variance which is a critical component in the continuous improvement process.  Thus, the authors discuss the collection of appropriate data and the analysis of the data with emphasis on the measurement and reduction of intra-rater and inter-rater variance.  The authors also present an illustrative example utilizing the method and the sequences of the improvement process. Rubrics are one means of developing a paradigm for assessing learning.  The rubric provides a framework for identifying the important learning dimensions in a body of knowledge. It attempts to stipulate a grading scale for each dimension so that assessment can be thorough and consistent (Stevens & Levi, 2005).   A rubric collaboratively developed for a multi-section course taught by various instructors can also provide a means of standardizing the instruction and providing students with at least some assurance that their work will be judged equitably regardless of the instructor.  Finally, rubrics provide an essential framework of measurement and a quantitative baseline upon which suggestions for improvement can be made and then tested.  The philosophy of continuous improvement requires no less than a reliable measurement upon which improvements can be assessed.  The academic literature suggests that rubrics should be valid and reliable. Validity essentially requires that the dimensions and their relevant weights have been identified as targeted skills that students will need for future success (Allen & Knight, 2009).   Some researchers suggest that the reliability of the rubric is also part of validation; others may disagree.  But most researchers agree that the ability to consistently measure performance is critical to the rubric‘s acceptability.  Consistency of measurement focuses on two criteria – intra-rater reliability and inter-rater reliability.  Continuous improvement efforts must be directed toward reducing the variance of components based on the relative proportion of the total variance assigned to each category.  Many complex statistical measures have been developed to describe the reliability of a rubric.  Simpler methods that provide similar results will be more practical for a wider audience of academicians who look to determine rubric reliability.  As a method, the six sigma philosophy enjoys widespread industrial importance.  One of the sequential six sigma steps requires developing a capable measurement system.  In six sigma this step is identified as an “R and R” study - repeatability (intra-rater reliability) and reproducibility (inter-rater reliability) study.   The procedures and steps are routine and widely available on the internet and six sigma texts.  Analogous to the use of six sigma in industry, the rubric (with its learning assessment dimensions) presents different quality characteristics of the desirable product while the scales for each dimension represent the gage used to measure each dimension.  In industry a gage must be assessed to statistically discern between assessing the variation inherent in measuring the same product twice and assessing the overall variation in the product.  In learning assessment the grades developed by applying the rubric must be able to be consistently applied so that the variation in grading the same paper multiple times is a small percentage of the overall variation of grades for all papers.  If the ratio of the intra-rater variation is less than 10% of the overall variation, the measurement gage would be deemed adequate by industrial standards.  A ratio of 10% to 30% would be considered marginally adequate but a system in need of continuous improvement.  The same standards would seem to apply in assessing student performance using the rubric. 

 

Restoring the Eco-System of the Indian River Lagoon

Sheila F. Emanuel, Davis College of Business, Jacksonville University, FL

Dr. Gordon W. Arbogast, Associate Dean, Davis College of Business, Jacksonville University, FL

Colonel Paul Grosskruger, Davis College of Business, Jacksonville University, FL

 

ABSTRACT

By 2050, the population in South Florida is projected to grow to over 11.6 million.  These increases in population will not be able to be achieved without careful management of regional water resources.The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was designed to meet this challenge head-on.  Besides managing water resources, the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers (COE) is working with a variety of federal, non-federal, state agencies, municipalities, and a variety of interested groups to restore and preserve the ecosystems throughout the state of Florida. This paper is an effort to ensure that the methods involved apply modern management science techniques so that the alternatives developed support the Central and South Florida (C&SF) project.  In so doing the COE can be assured that it is meeting the objectives of the CERP and C&SF projects in the most cost effective and efficient manner. The Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) is located in downtown Jacksonville.  Comprised of close to 1000 employees, it is the second largest civil works district in the nation.  Along with maintaining an extremely complex system of flood control works, the district’s projects are often designed for multi-purpose uses such as storage of water for municipal and industrial use, navigation, irrigation, development of hydroelectric power, conservation of fish and wildlife, and recreation. The district provides planning, engineering, and management assistance to other federal agencies, such as coral reef restoration for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), design and construction of sewage treatment facilities for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dredging support to the Navy and Coast Guard, and restoration of El Morro in the Caribbean for the National Park Service.  The district also activates to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with disasters in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The Jacksonville District also exercises regulatory authority, primarily in the area of dredge and fill activities, including dock construction, residential fills, sanitary landfills in wetlands and major port expansion. The district constructs shore protection projects and has active programs on Florida’s east and west coasts and in Puerto Rico for the cleanup of formerly used defense sites.  The Jacksonville District is a key player along with many other federal and local agencies for many ecosystem initiatives throughout central and southern Florida, such as the Upper St. Johns River floodplain management project and the Kissimmee River environmental project.  The most aggressive project that the district is currently heading up is the multi-billion dollar Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project (CERP), which encompasses sixteen counties and an 18,000 square-mile area.  Included are 1000 miles of canals, 720 miles of levees, and several hundred water control structures.  Upon completion, the project will restore the south Florida ecosystem and meet the water needs of south Florida for the next 50 years. This research focuses on one component of the CERP effort.  Decision analysis is used to evaluated the COE‘s construction alternatives.  Thereafter, project management techniques are employed to find the critical path for the Corp’s construction alternative. In 1905, the Everglades Drainage District was established as a result of the Florida legislature to drain the Everglades. Undrained land was sold as parcels of a “tropical paradise” to northerners, and railroads connecting North Florida to the Keys was constructed.  Unfortunately, Lake Okeechobee continued to drain into the Everglades making drainage an ongoing project.  In 1928 a devastating hurricane struck Belle Glade with winds of 135 miles per hour.  A wall of water from Lake Okeechobee drowned over 2000 people in one hour.  As a result, the Federal Government recognized the need for water control around Lake Okeechobee in order to ensure the region’s agricultural future.  In 1930 congress passed the Rivers and Harbors Act, which authorized the construction of the Herbert Hoover Dike, a massive levee around the southern rim of Lake Okeechobee.  In 1948 Congress authorized a massive public works project called the Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Project for Flood Control and placed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in charge of constructing the massive water delivery system for south Florida.  By 1962 engineered structures constructed by the C&SF Project had cut off the northern Everglades from the central and southern Everglades.  The Corps had begun channelizing the Kissimmee River in the interests of flood control, which resulted in some 48,000 acres of marshland being destroyed.  Periodic severe drought conditions followed decades of drainage, leading to dramatic wildfires across the Everglades.  This had the adverse effect of consuming the region’s precious organic soils.  Between 1970 and 1971, a period of extreme drought heightened awareness of water supply and environmental problems in south Florida.  The Governor’s Conference on Water Management in south Florida concluded that water quality was deteriorating significantly and that water quality was insufficient during the dry season.  The Water Resources Development Acts of 1992 & 1996 authorized the U.S. Army COE to review the existing C&SF Flood Control Project, and develop a comprehensive plan to restore and preserve south Florida’s ecosystem, enhance water supply, and maintain flood protection. The Water Resource Development Act of 2000 authorized a comprehensive Everglades restoration and supported the Everglades C&SF restudy report which recommended a 30 year-plus restoration of south Florida’s ecosystem. Congress then appropriated the requisite funding.  Florida’s Governor, Jeb Bush, in the Everglades Investment Act committed the state to 50% of the Everglades restoration costs. In 2001 the U.S. Congress passed the Restoring the Everglades, an American Legacy (REAL) Act (S.2797), authorizing and initiating funding for the $7.8 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) developed by the Jacksonville District, U.S. COE.  Since 2002, scores of agencies and organizations have been involved in a very deliberate planning process to formulate the CERP, which will restore and preserve south Florida’s natural ecosystems while enhancing water supplies and maintaining flood control. The current plan encompasses over 68components that are grouped into 40 complex projects.  The Indian River Lagoon- South Project is a separate element of the overall CERP and one of the projects.

 

A Correlational Study of Culture and Leadership Expectations in a Mexican Manufacturing Plant

Dr. Sergio Matviuk, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA

 

ABSTRACT

Existing cross-cultural leadership and management literature indicates that national culture has an impact on key management and leadership concepts and practices. However, the challenge is to determine how the relationship between these two variables occurs. This article reports the finding of an empirical study on the correlation of culture dimensions with leadership behavior expectations. The focus of the study was to explore how such correlation takes place and was conducted in a manufacturing plant in Mexico. Hofstede (1980) cultural dimensions theoretical framework and concepts of leadership prototypes (Lord et al., 1982; Lord et al., 1984)  and  behavior expectations (Berger et al., 1985,) were used as  theoretical basis. The Values Survey Module (Hofstede, 1980) and the Leadership Practices Inventory (Kouzes and Posner, 1997) were the instruments used to collect data. Canonical Correlation Analysis (CCA) was used to explore the correlational canons of the two variables of the study. Findings suggested that participants with low power distance, high individualism, and high uncertainty avoidance are also more likely to have low expectations regarding their leaders’ performance in all five leadership behaviors assessed in this study. This study’s results provide insights on how culture and leadership behaviors interact and contribute to the development of a general theory about the impact of national culture on leadership behaviors expectations. Many prominent cross-cultural management and leadership researches such as Hofstede, (1980, 1984, 2001), House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman & Gupta (2004), House, Hanges, Ruíz-Quintanilla, Dorfman, Javidan, Dickson et al. (1999), House, Wright, & Aditya, (1997) and Javidan & House (2001) have indicated that culture has an impact on leadership concepts, behaviors and styles. Laurent (1986) even quantified the phenomenon and said that culture has three times more influence on key managerial assumptions and values than any other distinguishing characteristic, such as gender, level of education, or occupation. However, Dorfman, Hanges and Brodbeck’s (2004) question; “Does culture influence leadership, and, if so, why and how?” (p. 711) still occupies the attention of cross-cultural leadership and management scholars and researchers. Findings from the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) project, the most comprehensive cross-cultural leadership research project available in the existing literature, indicate that although we know culture does influence leadership in many areas, there are still a lot of questions about why and how variations of such an influence occurs differently from country to country (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman & Gupta, 2004). This article contributes to this discussion by reporting the results of an empirical study on how particular cultural dimensions correlate with leadership behaviors expectations of employees of a manufacturing plant in Mexico. In order to explore such correlation, Hofstede’s (1984) cultural dimensions were used to assess how they correlated as a set with a set of five leadership behaviors denominated as exemplary by Kouznes and Posner (1997). Due the study considered a multidimensional independent variable (culture dimensions set) and a multidimensional dependent variable (leadership behaviors expectations set), canonical correlation analysis (CCA) was used to assess the correlation between these two sets of variables.  This study contributes to empirical research on the correlation of culture as a multidimensional independent variable with leadership behavior expectations as a multidimensional dependent variable and is aimed to identify how such a correlation occurs among employees of a particular manufacturing plant in Mexico. Thus, the research design used in this study may serve as a model to be replicated in other countries to determine if the cannon of correlations found through this study are also evident in other cultural contexts. From this perspective this study is exploratory in nature and constitutes the foundation for future studies and may contribute to the formulation of a general theory on how culture impact on leadership perceptions.  Lord (1985) and Lord et al. (1982) developed the leadership categorization theory based on the cognitive categorization theory. The central premise of the leadership categorization theory is that “perceiving someone as a leader involves a relatively simple categorization (leader/nonleader or leader/follower) of the stimulus person into already exiting categories” (Lord et al., 1982, p. 104). Lord et al., (1982) and Lord et al. (1984) suggested three levels of leadership categories which are hierarchically organized. The most general level is denominated superordinate level and contains the attributes of most leaders. This category helps individuals to differentiate between leaders and nonleaders. The second level of leadership categories is denominated basic level. This level include less general information about levels allowing individuals to identify types of leaders such as military, religious, or political leaders. The least inclusive level of leadership categorization is called subordinate level. In this level of categorization, hierarchical and contextual information is included, for example to determine a differentiation by levels of management or differentiation by rank for military leaders.  Lord et al.’s (1982) and Lord et al.’s (1984) leadership categorization theory involves the concept of leadership prototypes. When a person identifies somebody as a leader, it is because that individual’s characteristics and traits match a cognitive prototype about leaders that the person has cognitively generated. A prototype is the best exemplar of a category, and a prototypical category member would possess the most representative traits or attributes of the category (Rosch, 1978).  Gudykunst and Kim (1997) stated that among the traits and attributes that define a prototype are behavior expectations. Expectations are “self-other relational structures that organize behaviors among interactants” (Berger et al., 1985, p. 32); therefore, expectations involve people’s anticipations and predictions of other’s behaviors. Besides, expectations not only predict regularities of other’s behaviors, but they also develop preferences about how others should behave under certain circumstances. Then, leadership behavior expectations are people’s preferences about how a leader should behave in most of the situations.  Based on the previous arguments, it is possible to say that the superordinate level of the cognitive prototype of leaders that people possess include the behavior expectations people hold about leaders. This means a leader can be defined by people’s ideal set of expected behaviors. Thus, those who behave in a way that matches that ideal set of expected behaviors will be considered leaders. The idea of a cognitive set of ideal behavior expectations can define leadership was very important for this study, because how it will be explained later, this study assesses leadership behavior expectations of a group of employees of a Mexican manufacturing plant by asking them to rank a number of statements about a set of leadership behaviors of an ideal leader.

 

Regression Analysis on the Per Capita Calorific Value for Different Countries

Praveen Kumar Parthasarathy, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

 

ABSTRACT

This paper delves into the various factors contributing towards the per capita calorific value for various countries.  In order to predict a linear model, regression analysis technique was chosen. A total of 10 factors were considered. In particular, the per capita calorific value was determined for the African continent by considering Africa as an indicator variable in the regression analysis. The data set was taken from the World Resources Institute website and MINITAB commercial software was used for the analysis.  Data cleaning was initially done to remove the missing values for some countries. Eigen value and VIF analysis were then done to determine the multicollinearity between the variables. Based on the value of the conditional number, some variables were removed from the model. Best Subset regression and stepwise regression were then performed and the best model for the per capita calorific supply was determined. Model adequacy check and validation were then performed on the reduced model. The analysis revealed some obvious results such as dependency on meat consumption and cereal yield although factors like trade heavily influenced the result. Interaction terms were considered with the "Africa" indicator variable but did not significantly contribute to the reduced model.  The reason why this particular data set was chosen is as follows:  Per capita caloric value is a very important criterion in determining the development potential of a country. Most of the countries of the world have an agrarian economy where majority of the population are employed in agriculture. For example, 60% of the Indian population works in her fields contributing a sizeable proportion to the GDP.  It cannot be said explicitly that industrialized countries have better per capita calorific value. A look at the data set shows us that some not so developed countries like Iran have a high per capita calorific value.   Factors such as water, fertilizer and trade between countries have been taken into account. This is because: It has been found that dry countries like Iran and Egypt have a higher per capita calorific content compared to countries like India which has abundant supply of fresh water. It is therefore interesting to study the effect of water on the calorific intake. The fertilizer production and yield is directly proportional to the development of a country. For example, many farmers in India still use natural manure since they cannot afford fertilizers. Again, taking the Indian context as an example, milk and rice are exported in large quantities in exchange for meat from countries like Brazil and U.S.A. This does have an impact on the calorific content in the people’s food as it depends on the buying potential.  The data set initially had 120 variables, 20 of which had to be removed due to missing values. The remaining data set were divided into analyses and validation data sets in the ratio 4:1.This data set had some missing values which were removed. All the variables considered for the regression analysis were continuous regressor variables. One indicator regressor variable –“Countries in Africa” was chosen since there is not much study being done to analyze the agriculture potential of this continent. For the data set considered, the response variable (y) is “Per Capita Calorific Supply”. There are 10 regressor variables, 1 indicator variable. Interaction effects between the regressor and indicators are also considered. The complete model is illustrated in appendix 1. The regression analysis was done using Minitab software. Based on the results obtained, reasonable conclusions were formulated.  The dataset initially contained 120 data points out of which 20 had missing data and were removed. First the full model containing all the 10 regressor variables was used for regression analysis. Standardization was done using Minitab since the variables had different units.  It can be seen that many regressor terms seem insignificant (as they have high p-value). This shows that the value of R2 increases as we add more regressor to the model, and higher value of R2 doesn’t mean that the model is superior. The R2adj = 49.6% is considerably low. The values of Variance Inflation are also high indicating multicollinearity between the regressor. Centering of regressor didn’t help in reducing the VIF’s.  Normal Probability Plot: This plot didn’t reveal any problem and hence normality assumption is valid.  Residuals versus the Fitted Value: The plot of residuals against the fitted values didn’t show any pattern. It indicated constant variance.  Histogram of the residuals: This plot looks good. Residuals versus the order of data: There is no obvious pattern and we can say that the residuals are independent It is desired to check the presence of multicollinearity between the regressors. The following methods are used to perform the analysis:  Eigen system analysis;  . Variance Inflation Factors (VIF)

 

Can Firms Improve their Bottom-line Performance from Providing Information Systems Support for Strategic Decision Making?

Dr. Michael J. Zhang, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut

 

ABSTRACT

While information systems (IS) have long been designed and used to support strategic decision making by top managers, there has been scant empirical research assessing the bottom-line performance impact of such IS support. Drawing from the recent resource-based approach to studying the strategic impact of IS, this paper argues that firms may achieve profitability gains from providing IS support for strategic decision making if the IS support was complemented by firm-specific organizational culture and structure. This argument received some initial support from a field study.  Information systems (IS) have long been designed and used to support top managers and their work. Yet, we currently have limited knowledge about whether firms may enjoy economic benefits from providing IS support for strategic decision making by top executives, given the scant research attention to the bottom-line impact of such IS support. A better understanding of whether IS support for strategic decision making may contribute to the firm’s competitive performance is critical to the research and practice of IS development and deployment for top executives for several reasons. First, in view of the strong influence of top managers and their decision making on firm performance (Eisenhardt and Martin, 2000; Adner and Helfat, 2003), assessing the bottom-line impact of IS support for strategic decision making would be of considerable interest to firms and their top managers. Second, several studies have found that top executives in many companies do not adopt IS in their decision making (Young and Watson, 1995; Fitzgerald, 1998; Ikart, 2005). While user behavior issues, systems characteristics and other factors may have caused low system usage among top executives, the lack of empirical evidence for the performance influence of IS support for strategic decision making could be a key contributing factor (Orlikowski, 2000; Pijpers et al., 2001). Third, providing IS support for strategic decision making typically requires substantial investments in IS resources (hardware and software) and hence begs the question of whether such IS investments would actually improve the firm’s bottom-line performance. Indeed, prior empirical studies on IS impacts on firm performance have produced mixed results (Ravichandran and Lertwongsatien, 2005), and there is growing skepticism towards the strategic value of IS as computer hardware and software become inexpensive, accessible and easy to imitate these days (Carr, 2003).  The main purpose of this paper is to investigate the bottom-line performance impact of IS support for strategic decision making. Drawing from the resource-based theory of competitive advantage, it is argued that the existence of certain complementary assets may be the key to obtaining competitive advantage from providing IS support for strategic decision making. The paper also seeks to provide empirical evidence for this argument by employing both survey and archival data collected in a field study. The rest of the paper proceeds as follows. The next section first reviews the current literature on how IS can be used to support strategic decision making by top managers and then identifies two critical complementary resources (firm-specific organizational culture and structure) that may increase the likelihood of obtaining superior firm performance from the IS support. The third section describes the research methodology and the findings of the study. The last section presents the research and practical implications of the research findings.  The literature on IS developed and deployed for executive decision making reveals two general types of support IS can provide to top executives to enhance their strategic decision making capacities. The first type of IS support is timely and effective information search and gathering.  It is evident in the executive information systems (EIS) research that the systems improve top executives’ ability to retrieve critical internal and external information in a timely manner by providing such data retrieval and tracking functions as on-line access to external databases, drilling-down analysis of aggregate data, highlighting of exceptions and variances, and presentation of information in graphical and tabular forms (Young and Watson, 1995; Jones et al., 2000; Ikart, 2005). Moreover, by facilitating easy and efficient collection of quantitative data, the use of EIS frees up more time for top executives to gather soft, qualitative data they rely on heavily in making strategic decisions (Rockart and Long, 1988; Volonino et al., 1995). Empirical studies on the organizational impact of EIS have reported quicker identification of potential problems or opportunities and more successful new product introduction accrued from using EIS (Leidner and Elam, 1993; Sayeed and Brightman, 1994; Ahituv et al., 1998). The developments of data warehousing, data mining, and information filtering software in more recent years have further strengthened top managers’ ability to search for critical information.  Today, data warehousing can be used to integrate data from different transactional systems and combine the integrated internal information with external information into a database optimized for complex data retrieval and analysis (Hedelin and Allwood, 2002). An information filtering system that employs multiple autonomous agents to reduce information overload can also be developed to help top managers find relevant information quickly (Tu and Hsiang, 2000). Data mining systems represent another useful search tool in that they enable discovery of significant trends and patterns from existing databases (Ein-dor, 1999).  The second type of assistance IS offer to strategic decision making is to facilitate fast and yet comprehensive decision analyses. Researchers who study IS support for executive decision making have argued that the use of certain IS may significantly increase the extent of a senior executive's decision analysis without slowing down the whole decision process. Molloy and Schwenk (1995) reported that the use of EIS, decision support systems and expert systems helped strategic decision makers generate and analyze a greater number of alternatives, thus increasing the comprehensiveness in the decision making process. Bonabeau (2002, 2003) described how some new developments in computer-based scenario analysis and simulation such as agent-based modeling, open-ended search and artificial evolution enabled the executives in companies like Hewlett-Packard and Macy’s to identify and evaluate a large number of decisions options that would be too expensive and risky to explore in the real world. As these new IS have become more and more sophisticated and cost effective, top managers of today can perform numerous what-if scenarios in a matter of seconds (Bonabeau, 2002; Hedelin and Allwood, 2002).

 

Is Free Trade Good for Working Americans?: Lessons from North America Free Trade Agreement

Dr. Ki Hee Kim, William Paterson University of New Jersey, Wayne, NJ

 

ABSTRACT

Free trade is a hot-button issue. Everywhere. And it always has been. Free markets don’t exist (White, 2008). Is free trade good or bad for America? Yet both the question and the answer have become muddied in recent years by a growing suspicion on the part of ordinary Americans that trade, coupled with technology, is allowing business to send more and more jobs overseas to places like Bangalore and Shanghai (Benjamin, 2009).The regional agreement among the government of Canada, the US, and Mexico that went into force on January 1, 1994, was intended to implement a free trade area among the three countries and to set up infrastructure to manage it. The goals of NAFTA were manifold to eliminate barriers to trade and assist the cross-border movement of goods and services, to create an environment of fair completion, to increase investment opportunities, to offer protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, to develop and enforce successful procedures for implementing and enforcing the agreement, and to develop a framework for further agreement (Global Finance, 2008). Fifteen years after its inception, the debate still continues; some argue that NAFTA has fashioned a dynamic partnership between diverse nations, created growth, and fostered jobs and investment opportunities for all; while others argue that NAFTA has increased income disparity, worsened environmental policy, exploited labor, and relaxed policy for foreign ownership over Mexican resources, land, banks, business and otherwise. Why such divergent views? (Public Citizen). I will examine both sides of the debate to ensure NAFTA was a good deal for working Americans. Remarkably, many of NAFTA’s most passionate boosters in Congress and among economist never read the agreement. They made their pie-in-the-sky promises of NAFTA benefits based on trade theory and ideological prejudice for anything with the term “free trade” attached to it. Now, 15 years later, the time for conjecture and promises is over: The data clearly show that the vast majority of Americans think NAFTA was a damaging mistake and other defenders of the NAFTA status quo have been put on the defense (Public Citizen, 2008). EPI (Economic Policy Institute) economist Robert Scott documents the job displacement and declining job quality that NAFTA imposed on the US economy. Growing trade deficits with Mexico and Canada after NAFTA took effect reduced employment in high-wage, trade-goods industries, resulting in a substantial loss of income for such workers (The Archives, 2007). Almost fifteen years after the implementation of NAFTA. The reality of the region is far from the original promises of this treaty, and the majority of people did not benefit from the agreement: poverty remained the same or grew, concentrations of wealth skyrocketed, the purchasing power of minimum wages declined as did social spending, and immigration from Mexico reached historical highs (Lemus, 2008). While the financial crisis that stuck in 2008 has caused unemployment to rise sharply, this has nothing to do with the 15-year old trade agreement. The vast of majority of economists believe the agreement has had little net effect on the number of jobs. So who is right or who is wrong? In this project, I will focus on analyzing issues related to NAFTA’s impact on working Americans to justify that NAFTA is still a good deal for working Americans. NAFTA created the world’s largest free-trade zone, with a combined population of almost 400 million and more than $6 trillion in combined gross domestic product (Advocate540, 2008).  Canada’s prosperity is built on its openness to international trade and investment. The Unites States is a market economy whose businesses are world leaders in the manufacturing and high-tech sectors. Trade liberalization has transformed and modernized Mexico’s vibrant economy by successfully boosting trade and investment flows (Table 1). Is it fair to blame NAFTA for America’s job loss? Probably not. Economists point out that trade agreement doesn’t have much effect on the total number of jobs. Instead, they shift employment pattners, with some sectors losing jobs and other gaining them. It’s true that America has lost more than 3 million manufacturing jobs since NAFTA’s adoption, but those jobs went primarily to China, India, and other low-wage offshore manufacturing centers, not to Mexico (Advocate 540, 2008).  Defenders of NAFTA have two main responses. One is that its damage to workers is exaggerated. But NAFTA was supposed to make thing a great deal better for workers, not-even a little-worse. The second response is that the problems of inequality are largely the result of domestic policies and have nothing to do with globalization (Faux, Salas, & Scott, 2006).  U.S. employment increased over the period of 1993-2007 from 111.8 to 137.6 million people, a 24% increase. Proponents point out that had there been any significant negative impact on the labor force because of NAFTA. The U.S. experienced a 48% increase in real GDP form 1993-2005. The unemployment rate over his period was an average of only 5.1%, compared to 7.1% from 1982-1993, before NAFTA was implemented (http”//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/). Proponents reject the claims of some that the free trade agreement is destroying the manufacturing industry and causing displacement of workers in that industry. The numbers of workers in the manufacturing industry with job loss actually decreased from 13.8% in 1991-1993, per-NAFTA years, to 11.8% in the years from 1993-1995 (Ibid.). Organized labor, some environmental groups and many politicians are very much opposed to NAFTA and any extension of it. They say that global trade shifts manufacturing jobs out of the U.S. to lower wage countries ( Bowman). NBC/WSJ studies in public opinion survey show that American general public believe that trade agreements between the U.S. and foreign countries have hurt the U.S. (Table 2).

 

Globalization - Trends and Perspectives of a New Age

L. Garrett Tabor and Dr. Balasundram Maniam, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX

 

ABSTRACT

 Times are changing and the world known now will never be the same as the day before.  Step into a broader light and the vision portrays a common unified marketplace held with the regulatory supervisions and constraints of a governing authority fueled behind capitalism.  Due to globalization’s abrupt emergence, this study was conducted to express the possibilities and ideas associated with globalization, as well as some of its concerns.  Globalization can be primarily held responsible for changes in business structure, cultural mingling, and transformations in institutional frameworks.  It is also responsible for leading innovations in technology and developing practices in today’s business world.  Indeed, globalization has become the product of our time.  Since the 1960s, nations began to get more involved in foreign affairs which loosened border constraints.  The collapse of boundaries allows for favorable trade, economic advantages and the movement of a diverse worldwide culture.  The intensive transmission of resources in both capital and labor invented a new era for the rise of adventure-capitalism and economic opportunity.  In the mid-1990s and throughout the twenty-first century the rapid growth in business operations stretched across the globe, accelerating the growth of more diverse cultures and societies.  Today, globalization is no longer an idea but an imperative strategy institutions and firms must incorporate into their frameworks for long-term growth and prosperity.  The purpose of this report sets out to identify past and present trends commonly seen in the process of globalization and review differing perspectives connected with such a diverse, unified network aimed at global economic expansion and reform.

 

Performance of Foreign Firms After Their US Listing Upgrades

Dr. Kam C. Chan, Pace University, Pleasantville, NY

Dr. Hannah Wong, William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ

Dr. Annie Wong, Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, CT

 

ABSTRACT

 This study examines the stock and earnings performance of foreign firms after they have upgraded their American Depositary Receipt listings from the US non-exchange markets to major US stock exchanges. Using a sample of American Depositary Receipts upgraded to major US stock exchanges in 1994-2002, we find that there is significant negative stock performance based on a four-factor pricing model. We also find poor earnings performance after their exchange upgrades. The poor stock and earnings performance occur mainly in the second year after the listing upgrade. Foreign firms often list their shares in the US markets in the form of American Depositary Receipts (ADRs). ADRs can be listed on major stock exchanges, namely, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the American Stock Exchange (ASE), and the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System (NASDAQ). They can also be traded in the Pink Sheets, Portal, or the Bulletin Board. Foreign firms listed on major US exchanges are subjected to stricter Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and stock exchange regulations than their counterparts traded in the non-exchange markets. ADR listings provide quite a few benefits for both US investors and foreign firms. For example, ADRs offer a convenience way for US investors to invest in foreign firms on US exchanges with share prices quoted in US dollars. US investors also receive their dividends in US currency. Cross-listing in the US is often considered as a way for foreign firms to reduce the barrier of investment in segmented international markets. An US listing also allows foreign firms to increase investor interests and to raise capital in the deep and highly liquid US markets (Karolyi 2006).

 

Layoffs and Liability in a Lagging Economy

Joey Robertson and Dr. Laura L. Sullivan, Sam Houston State University, TX

 

ABSTRACT

 When it comes to owning or running a business, one of the most unpleasant tasks a manager will face is that of having to terminate an employee.  When circumstances add to this already horrifying proposition the existence of a lagging economy, one where that employee may struggle to find other employment, it becomes a very daunting task.  It is in these trying times that owners and managers may be tempted to cut corners in the termination process in order to protect that employee from unnecessary stress.  Unfortunately it is in these times of a struggling economy that sticking to a company’s established layoff or termination procedures is most critical.  The concept of involuntary terminations is rarely a significant part of a business school’s curriculum, yet this area is a potential minefield of liability.  This paper takes a look at involuntary termination due to a lagging economy and how managers might try to limit their legal liability in this normally stressful circumstance made worse by the panic associated with a fear of not being able to find other employment. “Find a good job and work your way up the ladder”.   These are words that many of us may have heard as our parents tried to instill in us the work ethics and values which would make us successful.  It is clear in these trying economic times working hard is not enough, and being a dedicated employee is not enough.  By now most of the marginal, poorly motivated employees were terminated long ago.  The sharp economic downturn has affected every corner of our society and many hard working, dedicated employees are on the streets.  Many people have exhausted their unemployment benefits and have either taken part-time jobs or given up on finding regular employment all together leaving the true unemployment rate at 16.8% in August 2009 (1). 

 

How Cloud Computing Enhances Competitive Advantages:  A Research Model for Small Businesses

Dr. Dothang Truong, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, NC

 

ABSTRACT

 Cloud computing is perceived as the next step in the evolution of information technology resource distributed systems with the capability to enable businesses and users to access applications from anywhere in the world on demand. Although the term “cloud computing” becomes famous, the research of cloud computing is inadequate and limited to technical aspects only. It is still not clear to businesses how cloud computing can help them improve their competitive advantages. The purpose of this research is to develop a research model of cloud computing from managerial perspective and focus on small businesses. We use the resourced based view theory to propose a research model which explores the influence of cloud computing related resources on a small business’ competitive advantages. Cloud computing is an emerging computing paradigm which promised to provide opportunities for delivering a variety of computer applications in a way that has not been experienced before (Sultan, 2009). With cloud computing, businesses and users can have access to applications all over the world through any web browser. We can imagine a cloud computing system as a virtualized computer system that contains all software and applications needed for businesses. Cloud computing provides businesses with a fundamentally different model of operation in which the service providers are responsible for hard parts in using software: installation, upgrade, maintenance, backups, failover functions, and security. As a result, the users of cloud computing services will see the increased reliability and cost decline due to economies of scale (Educause, 2009). They don’t need to invest in their own servers or employ staff to take care of them. Instead, they just need to pay for the services on demand. These advantages are important for businesses, but they become more crucial for small businesses who have limited resources. Using cloud computing services will save them a lot of time and money and makes their operations more effective (Quittner, 2009).

 

Generational Differences and Challenges to Future Health Care Coverage Options

Dr. Debra Hunter, Troy University-Atlanta

 

ABSTRACT

 Organizations are spending enormous resources to attract and retain employees. However, with the rising cost of healthcare, companies are now looking for ways to minimize their healthcare cost.  Unless change occurs quickly, organizations under financial distress will be forced to minimize their health care liabilities.  Offering less attractive benefit programs to individuals may backfire on efforts to recruit and retain the most attractive employees.  As mentioned earlier, employers will limit the amount of health service options available or pass these obligations to government programs. If an organization is comprised of individuals that are strongly opposed to participation in universal healthcare plans, efforts to reduce health care liability which forces employees to participate in such plans will have a negative impact on the organization affecting job satisfaction, morale and retention efforts. With the recent discussions on universal healthcare coverage plans for all, this paper seeks to address which generational groups would most likely be support health care reform.  Based on the generational composition of the organization, an understanding of preferences along generational lines might have significant implications for organizations attempting to minimize their heath care liabilities.  Perhaps one of the most prosperous nations in the world, the United States government does not provide basic health care to all its citizens (Wealthiest Nations, 2002).  Opinion polls indicate that health-care concerns are leading among other issues such as terrorism, illegal immigration, or the rising cost of petrol.  Some Americans feel that universal health care is not a role that the government should be involved in.  

 

Financial Flexibility, Financial System, and Organizational Change

Dr. Chaiporn Vithessonthi, Mahasarakham University, Thailand

 

ABSTRACT

 This article investigates whether financial systems affect a firm’s capital structure choice. I predict that firms operating in a country with a bank-based financial system tend to have a high ratio of bank loans to total debt than firms operating in a country with a market-based financial system. I contribute to the finance and management literature by analyzing the conditional effect of financial systems on corporate capital structure and organizational change. More specifically, I predict that financial flexibility is positively associated with organizational change and that financial system structure moderates the effect of financial flexibility on organizational change. Furthermore, I argue that firms operating in a country with a bank-based financial system tend to undertake strategic/organizational change that can be considered as a first-order organizational change, while firms operating in a country with a market-based financial system tend to undertake strategic/organizational change that can be considered as a second-order organizational change.  The issue of whether a firm should use higher financial leverage has drawn the attention of many scholars (e.g., Brennan and Schwartz, 1978; Desai et al., 2004; Jensen, 1986; Jensen and Meckling, 1976). Much of the prior research on the corporate capital structure has provided different views on the use of debt in a firm’s capital structure.

 

Managing Change at Ultrasound Coronary Systems

Dr. Michael Albert, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA

 

ABSTRACT

 This case describes an organizational change program implemented at a medical instruments company that develops, manufactures, and markets medical instruments to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The case summarizes problems the company experienced with new product development projects and describes actions taken by the human resources manager to initiate a change process in this area. Comprehensive data from actual group interviews with four product development project teams is included in Appendix A. Teaching Notes appear in Appendix B.  Mary Young, Human Resources (HR) Manager at Ultrasound Coronary Systems (UCS) for the past two years, had just returned to her office after completing the final group interview with a new product development team comprised of engineers, and research and development personnel. In addition to heading the HR function, Mary Young had skills in the planning and implementation of organization change programs. It had been three weeks since she met with the CEO, Rich Ferrel, requesting his approval and support for this project. During that meeting, Mary Young had recommended that the company analyze factors related to successful vs. unsuccessful new product development projects. Since the company had been experiencing a variety of problems in this area, the CEO approved Mary’s proposal.  Now that Mary Young had completed group interviews with four product development teams, she needed to analyze the data, write a brief executive summary, and then meet with Rich Ferrel next week to discuss the data and recommend a process to improve new product development projects. 

 

Correlates of Organizational Commitment and Knowledge Sharing via Emotional Intelligence: An Empirical Investigation

Dr. Silva Karkoulian, Nour Al Harake, and Dr. Leila Canaan Messarra

Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon

 

ABSTRACT

 This study investigated the relationship between organizational commitment and knowledge sharing via emotional intelligence. Participants were 120 individuals working in medium size enterprises in Lebanon. The overall results supported the idea that commitment (affective and normative) to the organization has a positive effect on knowledge sharing. However, emotional intelligence mediated the relationship between them such that the relationship between normative commitment and knowledge sharing remained positive, but affective commitment was not a function of knowledge sharing anymore.  In today’s “knowledge-intensive economy”, the available knowledge in an organization is an important asset. Thus, knowledge sharing between departments and individuals is a critical process (Osterloh and Frey, 2000; O’Dell and Grayson, 1998), and the organization can only start to efficiently manage this resource when group and individual knowledge is transformed into organizational knowledge.  Knowledge sharing is perceived as crucial for the success of an organization (Chow et al., 2000; Davenport and Prusak, 1998; Nevis et al., 1995; Drucker, 1993;). It is then imperative that we understand the various factors that influence knowledge sharing behaviors (Mooradian et al, 2006). However, in order to share knowledge, it is important to change employees’ behaviors and attitudes so that they will willingly share their knowledge (Moffet et al., 2003; Lee & Choi, 2003; Jones et al., 2006).

 

The Role of Gender Differences on Students' Entrepreneurial Attitudes: A Cross-Country Comparative Study of Croatia and Poland

Dr. Marina Dabic, Maja Basic, and Ivan Novak, University of Zagreb, Croatia

 

ABSTRACT

 The importance of tailoring the educational content from a demand side perspective is increasingly being examined by researchers willing to raise the entrepreneurial activity with the purpose of advancing national development and growth. The use of self-assessment to determine students’ entrepreneurship attitudes represents well accepted practice in field of entrepreneurship research. In order to address this void, this article examines the social dimension of entrepreneurship within the informal institutional setting. This paper aims at finding a causal relationship between gender and entrepreneurial attitudes of university students and making a cross-county comparison among three countries at differing stages of development: Croatia as the EU candidate country, Poland as a new member of the EU and France as an older member of the EU. A theoretical foundation was found in the Ajzen’s Theory of planned behavior with a survey conducted and statistically analyzed on 1024 students in 2009. 694 students from University of Zagreb, Croatia (330 males and 364 females) and 330 students from Poznan University of Economics, Poland (102 males and 228 females) participated in the study. The role of educational and public policy necessary to facilitate entrepreneurial motivation as a key driver of a new venture creation is given a detrimental role.

 

Green Growth and Labor Market in Korea

Namchul Lee, Ph.D., Fellow, Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education & Training

 

ABSTRACT

 The green growth of key industries in the Korea economy is important aspect of the technological shift. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), which is taking the lead in the green economy initiative of the United Nations, has selected the Korea as the first case study in a series of policy analyses. The primary focus of this paper analyzes the changes in structure of labor force participation, employment, unemployment, earnings and projection (2009-2018) of new growth engine industry such as green technology industry, high-tech fusion industry, high-valuable service industry .in Korea.  The green economy is considered being able to both creating green jobs, ensuring real, sustainable economic growth, and preventing environmental pollution, global warming, resource depletion, and environmental degradation in Korean workers.  Korea has been experiencing remarkable economic growth since the 1960s. (1) This has resulted in its real GDP per capita increasing rapidly enabling the once developing country to join the ranks of advanced nations from 1960 to 2009. (2) The majority of this growth can be attributed to knowledge accumulation, rather than to the accumulation of traditional factors of production of physical capital and labor. Korea had achieved this knowledge-based growth by investing heavily in education and training, boosting innovation through intensive research and development.  

 

Simulation Games and Their Use in Education at Economics Institutions in the Republic of Croatia

Jovana Zoroja, University of Zagreb, Croatia

 

ABSTRACT

 Education is a changing process. The new student generations differ from their older counterparts as they have grown up playing video games. Lecturers are adopting methods to students' requests in order to improve their communication and cooperation. Apart from this, course programs are changing and new methods are implemented. Educational simulation games improve studying, make students' active participants in the lecture and represent a teaching method that suits students' habits and their requests.  The thesis tackles the concept of simulation games and their role in education. In order to estimate the ratio in simulation games usage, a survey was made in economics educational institutions in Croatia. The following goals have been achieved: (1) the respondents stated reasons on applying simulation games (2) the respondents stated reasons on why they don't use simulation games (3) the respondents defined courses where students would benefit from applying simulation games.  Changes occur much faster and more intensively today thanks to information technology and the information flow. The computer science era makes technology an inevitable factor in the everyday life, both in private and business matters of a person. Education therefore demands changing and adaptation. New generations of students grew up with computer games and are much more interested in practicalities then reading or absorbing theoretical facts.

 

The Income Tax Process for U.S.A. Teachers Working Overseas

Dr. Inam Hussain, University of Texas Arlington, Arlington Texas

 

ABSTRACT

 

Many teachers are working aboard in the new universities in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. USA tax laws and IRS code require that all US citizens and Alien Residents pay Income Tax on any worldwide income. Non US residents are required to pay income tax on their income they earned in the USA. About 44 percent of the taxes collected by IRS can be attributed to the individual income tax. Taxation regulations when teaching abroad are reviewed in this study. USA tax laws and the IRS code require that all US citizens and Alien residents pay Income Tax on their world wide income. This income tax is important revenue for the US government. Of taxes collected by the IRS about 44 percent can be attributed to the individual income tax. Taxation when teaching abroad is reviewed in this study, specifically the exclusion of earned income. Also studied are the Earned Income Exclusion and strategies to avoid the State Income Tax.  Teaching aboard offer unique opportunities for in-depth cross-cultural experience. You are exposed to new cultures and languages. Personal development is achieved with this exposure. One can expand knowledge of a foreign language by being exposed to native speakers. A foreign language as spoken can be quite different than what is learned in a classroom.  This exposure prepares you for a future in a global society, which is daily becoming more global. Even accounting and auditing standards are becoming global today. US teachers often work teaching English as a Second Language, teaching Business Administration and Physical Sciences, all taught in English.

 

The Impact of Leadership Styles on Export Behavior of the Firm; An Empirical Investigation

Dr. Edward Vitale and Dr. Silva Karkoulian, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon

 

ABSTRACT

 

The purpose of this research was to empirically test the relationship between the leadership styles (transactional and transformational) and the export behavior of the firm, number of years exporting, and the volume of exports.  The result of the study showed that transformational leadership was positively and significantly related to export behavior, number of years, and export sales volume. The question of why firms export and others don’t, and the variables that affect export behavior have preoccupied researchers for a number of years. An abundant literature exists on export behavior of the firm in mature economies, such as the US, Canada and the UK. However, a literature search reveals that very little work done on export behavior in developing economies and especially in the Arab world.  This study attempts to investigate export behavior of firms in the Arab countries more specifically in Lebanon. The choice of Lebanon for fielding this research are many; among these; is the presence of two American Universities, the population being bilingual or trilingual (English, French and Arabic), high literacy rate, and the fact that Lebanon has had continuous contact with the West through immigration.

 

The Value of Information Sharing in a Build-to-Order Supply Chain

Dr. Gisele Mendy Bilek, UPPA University, IAE Pau, France

 

ABSTRACT

 In an environment of mass customization where demand information can be placed in advance, the question of the information’s best use arises in the Build-to-Order Supply Chain (BTO-SC). The primary focus of a BTO-SC is meeting individual customer requirements through product flexibility requiring the ability to leverage information technology through an integrated network of suppliers, as well as analyzing optimization models in scheduling production. As a result, this study focuses on analyzing the value of sharing information in a BTO-SC and the efficiency of scheduling coordination mechanisms between buyers and suppliers. New scheduling co­ordination rules allowing synchronous production in an unreliable environment ap­proach have been benchmarked in the automotive industry as an appropriate method to increase the performance of a BTO-SC. The utilization of the concept of Order Penetration Point (OPP) makes it easier to analyse the interdependence of buyer-supplier processes.  Over the past twenty years, the evolution of the economic environment of companies has led to an increasing tension on flows, in particular for companies specializing in mass customization. Mass customization implies the creation of a large volume of a variety of products which requires specific mechanisms for managing the supply chain's complexity (Coronado et al. 2004). Previous studies have investigated supply chain conditions and structures that can adequately support mass customization (Feitzinger and Lee 1997). Manufacturing practices such ASTS (Advanced Store Supplier) and ASS (Advanced Site Supplier) closer structures or delayed differ­entiation, in the automotive industry are no longer sufficient to face new challenges. Moving to mass customization in a Supply Chain frequently leads to excess lead times and huge stocks. This creates conflicts in a manufacturing system where information sharing becomes too difficult (Chen et al. 2000).

 

The Relation Between Motivational and Behavioral Cultural Intelligence and the Three Dimensions of Cross-Cultural Adjustment Among Arabs Working in the USA

Dr. Grace K. Dagher, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon

 

ABSTRACT

 This study investigates the relation between two facets of cultural intelligence and the three dimensions of cross cultural adjustment. Participants were Arabs working in the United States of America for a period of six months to five years.  Using factor analysis and correlation analysis, the results of this study provides empirical support for Cultural intelligence scale and provides a support to the majority of the hypothesized relations. Moreover the results of this study provide insights for managers and future research.  For a number of years the number of businesses going internationally has increased.  With the increase of international businesses, an increase of cross-cultural interaction at the different levels and aspects of our life around the world took place. Today’s society is more culturally diverse than ever (Ang, Van Dyne, & Koh, 2006), and as a consequence individuals at the beginning of the twenty-first century are faced with more challenges arising from cross-cultural encounters than they have ever been (Ying & Han, 2006). Issues related to cultural diversity are especially important for today’s workforce as it is more culturally diverse than it has ever been. The failure to interact successfully with others from different cultures is one of the main difficulties, challenges, and expenses facing organizations and individuals around the world (Ang et al., 2006; Shaffer, Harrison, Gregersen, Stewart, & Ferzandi, 2006).

 

The Impact of Product Designations on Consumer Decisions: The Case of Croatian Olive Oil

Jerko Markovina, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Dr. Vincenzina Caputo, University of Naples Parthenope, Italy

 

ABSTRACT

 

There is an increasing awareness among consumers about the origin and health safety of the food they consume. This study uses choice experiment methodology to determine the importance of product designations (country of origin, method of production and health claims) on consumer buying decisions. The experiment offers several product alternatives including domestic and foreign products, those produced organically and conventionally as well as products with or without health claims provided on them.  Multinomial logit and random parameter logit models are used to determine the relative importance of olive oil attributes. The results show strong consumer preference for domestic product and organic method of production. Besides that, it is found that health claims are a relatively unimportant attribute.  These results are consistent with previous studies which showed that consumers considered origin the most important attribute of the product. In conclusion, the managerial implications and future directions of research are discussed.  In the markets increasingly saturated with different food products, modern consumers are finding it more difficult to make informed choices.  As Gil et al. (2000) state in their paper “…food consumption in most developed countries has attained a saturation point in quantity terms, and consumer food choices are broader than in the past. In this saturated market environment, distribution channels, marketing activities, diversification strategies, and food quality are increasingly important.

 

Development of Web Corporate Communications Function by Official Web Sites and Value Added Ranking: Case of Croatia

Ivana Bilic, University of Split, Croatia

 

ABSTRACT

 

The complex and dynamic modern business environment driven by empowerment of individual stakeholders and supported by technology has launched a new era of disclosure of a business. The advent of the Internet has changed the way how companies do their business and how they communicate with all interested stakeholders. Driven and empowered by new communication technology development stakeholders have raised their expectations and now require more information about companies, products and services. The development of the web, especially of WEB 2.0 with its two-way, mostly read-write web and ability of stakeholders to communicate with one another, social networking etc. make companies more vulnerable than ever before. Upgrading of Corporate Communication function to strategic level can be correlated with companies’ high performances. In response to the dynamic and stakeholder oriented environment, companies with strategic positioning of corporate communications function try to assure a two-way dialog with its stakeholders through the official web site. The aim of this paper is to provide evidence of transparency of selected companies’ corporate communications function disclosure on their official web sites. The development of corporate communication function is observed through the components such as: basic web disclosure, online selling and presenting companies’ product/service, media relations, investor relations, employee relations, CSR, disclosure of corporate strategy, corporate communication executives’ direct contact and evidence of electronic media communication.

 

Effects of Religious Diversity on the Employees’ Perception and Reaction

Dr. Leila Canaan Messarra and Dr. Abdul-Nasser El-Kassar

Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon

 

ABSTRACT

 With increased globalization and emigration, religious diversity is becoming an essential part of workforce diversity. Drawing from the Lebanese experience, the aim of this paper is to highlight some concerns that might affect religiously diverse organizations around the world. Surveys were administered to 349 employees working in medium size religiously diverse organizations to determine their perceptions of religious discrimination in their organizations. Descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, chi square and regression analysis found a positive relation between education and the perception of religious discrimination in the workplace. In addition, positive measures taken by the companies when dealing with religious diversity issues positively influences employees’ perception and reaction   The world today has been transformed into one global village. In fact, people easily emigrate from one country to another, integrate into new societies, and start new lives. They attend schools, universities, then incorporate into the work force of the new culture. Countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and others have become a harbor for many diverse cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities and religions. Thus, one of the challenges currently facing organizations is workforce diversity. According to Robbins & Judge, 2007, (p.17) workforce diversity means that “organizations are becoming more heterogeneous in terms of gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and inclusion of other diverse groups”). While many have learned to recognize and respond to these differences, such as in the areas of ethnic diversity, gender diversity, racial diversity etc., the attention nowadays is slowly turning towards managing religious diversity.

 

Network Neutrality and the Meta-Frontier Analysis on the Efficiency of Internet Application Service Providers

Dr. Junseok Hwang and Dr. Daeho Lee, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea

 

ABSTRACT

 The principles of openness and nondiscrimination played a fundamental role in the development of the Internet in its initial stages. Since this early dynamic was established, however, the role of Internet service providers (ISPs) has expanded with the development of various applications. Different characteristics of each application require different amounts and stabilities of bandwidth. As applications evolve and require wider and more stable bandwidth, ISPs try to maximize their profit by controlling application service providers, which has caused a network neutrality debate. This article categorizes application services into four groups by bandwidth-usage attributes and latency sensitivity. By estimating the efficiency of these four groups, efficiency differences between the four groups are estimated so that the discrimination of ISPs can be seen when network neutrality is not kept. Meta-frontier analysis is used to compare efficiencies of companies with different production functions. Finally, a Tobit regression model is used to determine which variables explain the difference of efficiencies between the four groups.  With the development of broadband Internet, many applications requiring broad bandwidth and high quality of service (QoS) have been developing actively. As applications require wider and more stable bandwidths, ISPs try to control their Internet services to maximize their profit, which has caused network neutrality (NN) debates.

 

Network Management for Clusters of Excellence:  A Balanced-Scorecard Approach as a Performance Measurement Tool

Florian Welter M.A., Rene Vossen M.A., Dr. Anja Richert, Adj. Professor Ingrid Isenhardt,

RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

 

ABSTRACT

 Supplementary Cluster Activities constitute an important organisational part within the structure of the German Cluster of Excellence “Tailor-Made Fuels from Biomass” at RWTH Aachen University, because they focus on the entire clusters efficient networking process and successful strategic cluster development. As research teams from different scientific fields collaborate, the strategic management of interdisciplinary processes becomes necessary to enhance scientific cooperation. Therefore, amongst other measures of cluster development, a Balanced-Scorecard-Approach is implemented to measure the performance of the entire Cluster of Excellence. With the annual implementation of the Balanced-Scorecard-Approach, crucial key performance indicators have been collected, compared and analysed for the strategic management of the Cluster of Excellence, to facilitate innovation activities through adequate measures.  Since 2006, huge financial investments in science have been made, due to the efforts of the German Federal Government, to promote excellent university institutions in Germany. The initiation and development of Clusters of Excellence were conducted in this context. Clusters of Excellence are scientific networks with heterogeneous partners of scientific institutions which follow a common vision.  During the first five years of the funding period, each Cluster of Excellence was financed with approximately 40 million Euros.

 

Merger Efficiency Analysis of Horizontal and Vertical Integration in Korea’s Cable TV Industry

Dr. Junseok Hwang, Ahreum Hong, and Daeho Lee, Seoul National University, Korea

 

ABSTRACT

 With digital technology development and the diffusion of digital TV, media and telecommunication convergence has been centering on the digitalization of cable TV. The past 15 years have seen remarkable growth of the cable TV industry through technology innovation and investment in digital facilities. The expansion of MSOs has resulted in economies of scale, and the industry dominates other services such as broadband Internet and Internet telephony. The motivation for vertical integration is profitability and cost advantage, with the marketing efficiency of the system operator (SO) and the stable program distribution of the program provider (PP), as well as the easy distribution of program fee. This study investigates cable TV SOs’ productivity on the basis of metafrontier production function analysis, which shows the technical efficiency and the technical gap ratio of groups using different technologies. This analysis can compare the ratio of the technology gap between the potential cable TV industry and three different technology-based groups: vertically integrated SOs, horizontally integrated SOs and isolated cable TV SOs. The analysis is based on cable TV SOs’ panel data and uses the time-varying stochastic production function.  The past 15 years have seen remarkable growth of the cable TV industry, with the establishment of multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs). With subscribers numbering up to 14 million, the industry has a stable position in the broadcasting sector. This study investigates the efficacy of business consolidation and the limitations of regulation of the cable TV industry. An ongoing debate on the positive and negative effects of business consolidation in the cable TV industry is under way. Lee (2005) mentions the gains from horizontal integration: cost reduction, internally, and increasing competitive power, externally, along with improving economic efficiency. Customers can expect quality improvement with price discounts and channel diversity. Son and Yeo (2002) mentions that horizontal integration leads to increasing numbers of subscribers and improves the system operator’s (SO) operational efficiency from economies of scale. Co-utilization of facilities reduces the investment requirements of digitalization as well as marketing expense. However, horizontal integration has some negative effects, too: decreasing numbers of local channels and their programs, greater price pressures, less motivation to produce higher-quality programs and loss of the synergy of geographical dispersion.

 

Women Leadership in the Arab World: The Case of Queen Rania Al-Abdullah

Sara Itani and Dr. Said Ladki, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon

 

ABSTRACT

 This paper explores the phenomenon of leadership with the intent to improve the practice, to understand, and to influence people while focusing on gender issues.  Queen Rania Al Abdullah, the Queen of Jordan, presents a substantial representation of effective women in power, an inspiration to all women, and most importantly a Female Leader in the Arab World.   The paper analyzes the Queen’s practices to reveal how concepts and ideas of leadership can be shaped and applied in societal reality. The absence of leadership is often seen as an absence of organization.   Leadership’s concepts, practices and variant forms of direction and control are so powerfully ingrained into popular thoughts.  Such thoughts shape today’s dynamics, frame of work, and decision making.  Communities are paralyzed by situations in which people appeal for direction.  Not being led causes people to feel immobilized and disorganized.  Successful acts of leadership are often seen as the synchrony between the initiation of action and the appeal for direction (Pierce and Newstrom, 2007). It is assumed that the actions of leaders along with the openness and responsiveness of followers results in successful leadership. This paper explores the phenomenon of leadership with the intent to improve the practice, to understand, and to influence people while focusing on gender issues.  “Leadership and related phenomena such as power, authority, and influence has been the subject of much theorizing and research” (Suyemoto, 2008). 

 

The Relationship Between Working Capital Management and Profitability for South African Listed Industrial Firms

Dr. Pierre Erasmus, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

ABSTRACT

 Efficient working capital management should contribute to the creation of shareholder value. This paper investigates the relationship between working capital management and firm profitability for a sample containing both listed and delisted South African industrial firms. The results obtained from the full sample indicate statistically significant negative relationships between a firm’s profitability (as quantified by the return on assets in the narrower sense) and its net trade cycle (NTC), debt ratio and liquidity ratio. Similar results are observed if the listed firms are investigated separately. In the case of firms that delisted during the period under review, however, the liquidity and debt ratios appear to play a more important role than the NTC. Based on the results of this study, it would appear that management could attempt to improve firm profitability by decreasing the overall investment in net working capital.  In the fields of financial economics and corporate finance it is generally accepted that the primary financial objective of a firm should be to focus on the maximisation of shareholder value. In order to achieve this objective, the management of a firm needs to ensure that the firm’s capital is invested in value creating, profitable projects that will generate positive net present values. Extensive empirical research has been conducted to investigate the effect of the investment and financing decisions on firm value. More recently, the focus has also increasingly been placed on the effect that working capital decisions exert on firm value (Deloof, 2003. 575; Lazaridis and Tryfonidis, 2006: 35; Nazir and Afza, 2008: 293; Raheman and Nasr, 2007: 279)

 

The Effect of the Changing Economical Environment on the Capital Structure of South African Listed Industrial Firms

Nadia Mans, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

ABSTRACT

 The determinants of capital structure form an important part of the finance profession. Contemporary capital structure theory began in 1958 when Modigliani and Miller indicated that in a perfect capital market, the value of a firm is not influenced by its capital structure. However, when considering, inter alia, the effect of taxes, bankruptcy costs and asymmetric information, the value of a firm could be affected by its leverage. Firms' financing decisions may also be influenced by both firm-specific and economical factors within the country where they are operating. Therefore, a firm's managers should consider the growth rate, interest rate, repo rate, inflation rate, exchange rate and the tax rate when conducting finance decisions, since these factors could possibly influence the cost and availability of capital. In addition, these economical factors often have a significant influence on each other. Prior capital structure research mainly focused on developed countries. However, South Africa provides the ideal environment to consider the effect of economic changes on capital structure within a developing country, due to South Africa's profound economic changes during 1994 and the years to follow. The effect of economic changes on capital structure was examined by using a TSCSREG (time-series cross-section regression) procedure. The regression model is based on a model developed by Fan, Titman and Twite (2008). One-period lags were built into the model to make provision for the effect of economic changes that often only occur after some time.

 

The Effect of Firm Characteristics and Ecnomic Factors on Capital Structures: A South African Study

Annalien de Vries, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

 

ABSTRACT

 The irrelevance capital structure theory by Modigliani and Miller (1958) was the beginning of a debate around the subject of optimal capital structure.  Numerous theoretical and empirical studies have followed their paper to provided statistical evidence that financing decisions do have an impact on the value of a firm.  Over the years, many such studies have been conducted all over the world.  Limited research, however, have been conducted to determine the effect that various firm characteristics and economic factors might have on the capital structure of firms in South Africa.  And more specifically, the majority of South African studies were conducted prior to the demission of apartheid in 1994.  This research, therefore, focus on the post-apartheid period from 1995 to 2008.  The main focus of this study is also to distinguish between listed and delisted firms for the selected period.  Descriptive and inferential statistics were conducted to achieve the objectives of this study.  The results report that listed firms and delisted firms, respectively, are affected by different factors, indicating that differences do exist between these two sub-sets of firms.  Capital structures are one of the most debated topics in financial literature.  The focal point of this debate revolves around the existence of an optimal capital structure.  Ever since Modigliani and Miller’s seminal paper in 1958, numerous theoretical and empirical studies have been conducted in an attempt to prove that an optimal capital structure does exist and that it does have an impact on firm value.  Much of the further research focused on the relaxation of some of the restrictive assumptions made by them. 

 

Brand Loyalty: Emotional Devotion or Rational Behavior – A Study on Mobile Telephones from Eskisehir, Turkey

Dr. N. Figen Ersoy and Dr. Nuri Calık, Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey

 

ABSTRACT

 Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to determine the factors that lead to brand loyalty. These factors have not yet been clearly defined because so many situational and transient agents play roles in its development. We ask questions about who, when, why, for how long, for what types of products, and under what conditions brand loyalty occurs in order to suggest some identifiable determinants. We use the mobile telephone (cell phone) as a test product for the development of brand loyalty.  a. Data collection:  1200 persons over 18 years of age who were selected on a stratified sample basis took the survey, and 1059 responses are eligible to be analyzed. The questionnaire consisted of 50 questions: five on the demographic factors of age, gender, occupation, educational level and personal monthly income; seven on name of the brand used, term of cell phone usage, term of same brand usage, price paid for the cell phone, amount of time used daily, main purpose of cell phone use, and what guided the decision to buy; and 38 questions regarding the user’s practice and the evaluation of cell phones, using a five-point Likert-type scale.

 

The Analysis of Household Savings in Republic of Croatia Using Cointegration Approach

Dr. Ksenija Dumicic and Irena Cibaric, University of Zagreb, Croatia

 

ABSTRACT

 The analysis of household savings determinants in the Republic of Croatia is conducted in this paper using vector autoregression methodology, namely cointegration approach and error correction model. The characteristics of private savings in the Republic of Croatia are described. Then, the determinants of private savings for the empirical analysis are selected. The expected effects of individual determinants of savings regarding economic theory and empirical research are stated. Cointegrating relation, i.e. long run relationship is found among selected variables. The analysis of variance decomposition and impulse response function of error correction model is done. The article concludes by the comparison of theoretical and empirical findings in relevant literature to findings obtained for Croatia. The effects of most variables are in accordance with economic theory and/or relevant empirical research. However, compliance of some variables with the economic theory is proved to be questionable. This research concerns consumer savings’ determinants in the Republic of Croatia. Private savings, by definition, is equal to disposable income of consumers reduced by their spending.

 

Shopping Center Visits – A Fad or a Real Change in Consumer Shopping Habits? A Study from Eskisehir, Turkey

Dr. Nuri Calık and Dr. N. Figen Ersoy, Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey

 

ABSTRACT

 

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to identify the major attributes that might affect the purchasing behavior of consumers, many of whom are encountering a shopping center for the first time in their lives. These centers have only recently been established in Eskisehir. Prior studies suggest that while tangible factors (i.e. price, quality, assortment,  availability, discounts, parking facilities etc.) play an important role in shopping center visits,  certain psychological motives (satisfaction, self-image, emotions, exploration expectations, security, etc.) should also be considered to explain the major causes of these visits.  a. Data collection:  A survey was conducted on 1600 persons, all over 18 years of age. They were selected on a stratified sample basis and 1579 responses were eligible to be analyzed. A 50-item questionnaire represented demographic factors such as age, gender, occupation, educational level and personal monthly income. Three were asked as introductory questions relating to the expenditure made, average number of visits, the purpose of visits and the name of the most frequently visited mall. The rest of the 42 questions used a five-point Likert scale regarding the appraisal of the shopping center features. Answers ranged from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” The three shopping centers were also compared.

 

Active Rules in Multiagent Systems – Can Reactive Agents Deal with Physical Conflicts?

Dr. Kornelije Rabuzin, Dr. Mirko Malekovic, and Dr. Mirko Cubrilo,

University of Zagreb, Croatia

 

ABSTRACT

 Active databases are capable to react to certain events by performing some actions. Reactivity is, on the other hand, very important property immanent to agents. This paper explores the connection between the two mentioned fields and demonstrates how active rules can be used to implement reactive agents in multiagent systems. Further on, this paper shows how one such agent can be used in order to solve physical conflicts that may arise in multiagent systems when allocating scarce resources. Multiagent systems were used during the years in many different fields for solving many complex tasks (buying or selling goods, searching, active caching, etc.); it is a well known fact that intelligent agents can solve certain tasks that may seem quite complex. But some problems represent challenges even for agents (one such problem will be described later on). Agents possess certain properties, can communicate among themselves and can exhibit complex behavior, although obeying just a simple set of rules. One can say that autonomous behavior was recognized as a promising paradigm. Among many different types of agents, reactive agents were recognized as well.  Due to communication and interactions, conflict situations occur in multiagent systems. Many proposed solutions can be found and several conflict resolution strategies are presented in the paper.

 

The Effects of TQM on Corporate Performance

Dr. Fatma Pakdil, Baskent University, Ankara, Turkey

 

ABSTRACT

 TQM is a management philosophy aimed at assisting an organization in producing quality and efficient goods and services. It seeks to improve product quality and increase customer satisfaction through the restructuring traditional management practices (GAO, 1991). Achieving high level of quality has become an increasingly important element in competitive success and previous literature perceived TQM as a potential source of competitive advantage (Powell, 1995; Douglas and Judge, 2001). In this manner, this study aims to examine the impact of TQM on corporate performance based on five dimensions with an empirical study performed among TQM practitioners in Europe. Results indicate that there are statistically significant differences on some corporate performance indicators after quality award winner companies began to apply TQM. EFQM Winners show differences specifically between the times applied TQM and non-applied TQM on process performance, employee-related performance, customer-related performance, and sales per employee indicator in financial performance. Similarly, TUSIAD-KalDer Winners indicate a difference on process performance, employee satisfaction, and market share indicator in financial performance.  It is clear that corporations exist for a purpose; to produce high quality, low cost products and services. “Improving the quality of an organization’s products and services is fundamental to business success” (Adam et al., 1997) and “quality is the most profitable way to run a business” (Reichheld and Sasser, 1990).

 

The Role of the Value-Added Tax System in Creating a New Income Source for Government (Kerman Province Case Study)

Mohsen Zayanderoodi, Ph.D., Islamic Azad University-Kerman Branch, Kerman, I.R of Iran

 

ABSTRACT

 This article compared income obtained from value-added tax law and revenue accumulation law in Kerman. In this research, 195 companies are chosen randomly as a sample and payable tax is calculated according to both laws in 2008. The result of these accounting and of the hypothesis test shows that the added value tax law leads to increase in tax revenue.  Resource allocation, fairer income distribution, economic expansion, employment development, economic constancy and maintaining price levels are considered the government’s main economic responsibilities. Governments therefore have to undertake high expenditure find various income sources in order to fund them. An efficient tax system can make this possible. Reforming the tax structure in Third World countries is therefore important..Comparisons of Iran’s tax system with that of other countries shows a gap between its existing situation of tax system and the desired. A value-added tax has attracted the attention of tax policy makers because of avoids double taxation in production and sales, covers the activities of all economic agencies, creates a tax basis, and finally for decreasing the tax evasion as an internal controller practically.

 

Macro & Micro Aspects of the Standard of Living and Quality of Life in a Small Transition Economy: The Case of Croatia

Dajana Cvrlje and Tomislav Coric, University of Zagreb, Croatia

 

ABSTRACT

 Increasing role of quality of life and standard of living took place in countries all over the world, especially nowadays, when numerous effects of the global crisis are felt all over the world. Emerging crisis caused many problems; thereby, in the current situation it is interesting to examine the level of the quality of life and standard of living. The purpose of this paper is to define standard of living and quality of life using objective and subjective indicators. Moreover, special emphasis is on the evaluation of quality of life and living standard in Croatia. After short overview of general development of concepts of standard of living and quality of life, situation in Croatia is analyzed in more details by using different indicators; GDP per capita, shopping basket, GFK basket, households’ expenditures, poverty rate, income inequality, HDI, life satisfaction and happiness, deprivation and optimism about the future. The measures show an increase in the standard of living and quality of life in Croatia, but more importantly, they also show the trend of constant increase in the living costs and the rate of poverty. The level of HDI suggests high level of human development and the results of the level of satisfaction imply that people in Croatia are moderately satisfied with their lives and enjoy a rather high level of happiness. Concerning optimism about the future, Croatian people are mostly optimistic. Standard of living and quality of life have been omnipresent issues in transition countries for many years, especially nowadays, when numerous effects of the global crisis are felt all over the world. The financial security and prosperity of the economic systems disappeared almost overnight with the global financial crisis. This economic storm caused rising unemployment, falling incomes, increasing rates of poverty and declines in overall well-being. Thereby, in the current situation, it is interesting to examine quality of life and standard of living.

 

Optimal Hospital Location With Fuzzy AHP

Dr. Ozlem Aydin and Dr. Guvenc Arslan, Baskent University, Ankara, Turkey

 

ABSTRACT

 The first step in planning to open a new hospital is to select the right location. Because this selection requires optimizing a number of criteria, multi-criteria decision making is an appropriate tool for this process. Hence, quantitative data obtained from either survey or expert opinions are needed. In this study, evaluations of four experts have been taken into consideration for determining the location of a new hospital to be located in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. Since the evaluations are not always quantitative and include subjective opinions fuzzy logic is adapted to known multi-criteria decision methods. In this respect, expert opinions are expressed as fuzzy numbers and  the “Fuzzy AHP” approach is used. Determining the optimal location for a new hospital in Ankara is aimed by using this methodOne of the most important aspects in the health sector is the patients interaction with basic biological and physical requirements such as a hygienic environment, clean water and nutrition. While most of these requirements are not under the control of either the patient or the health institution, some of them may actually be controlled by the health sector. In recent years the number of health institutions is increasing rapidly. Hence, it is becoming more and more important, to consider aspects such as the size of the institution and the room (bed) as well as the personnel capacity, in the initial stages of constructing a new hospital. Health institutions, which have been constructed without planning in the past, show that such institutions frequently did not fulfill their objectives. From the experiences in the past, managers in the health sector realized that they need to consider analytical planning in constructing a new hospital as well as in the services they are planning to provide.

 

Micro Finance in India

Dr. Lamaan Sami, Aligarh M. University, Aligarh-UP, India

 

INTRODUCTION

 Since independence (1947) the Government of India has taken up various activities/programmes and financial services schemes under its Five Year Plans for adequate and timely institutional credit to the rural sector. The rural credit delivery system requires huge volume of low cost deposits that has to be lent at subsidized rates to meet development targets. In order to reduce increasing rural poverty, there is need for providing micro-credit facility to the village entrepreneurs in remote rural areas. Financial inclusion is increasingly being recognized as an important aspect of socio-economic equality where disadvantaged individuals and communities are connected with mainstream financial services, particularly affordable and readily available credit. Accordingly, social policy initiatives have emerged, that have traveled under various names: social investment, micro-finance, community finance and community development finance. These initiatives are seen as the basis of a ‘new economic’ that will create self-sustaining local economies. The government is also promoting community development finance as an aspect of community regeneration with the aim of providing credit to poor communities to stimulate local enterprise and thereby reduce dependency on state support.  The planners and the policy makers have been eagerly searching for a suitable alternatives to reach the ‘unreached’ rural masses. The participatory approach to rural development has emerged as a vital issue in the developmental policies and programmes for rural masses. Micro-finance, through SHGs, is considered as one of the most significant tools to reach this goal. (1)

 

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