The American Academy of Business Journal

Vol.  2 * Num.. 2 * March  2003

The Library of Congress, Washington, DC  *  ISSN: 1540 – 7780

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  Development of the Accounting Profession in Taiwan

Dr. Raymond S. Chen, California State University Northridge, Northridge, CA

 

ABSTRACT

Over the past forty years, the economic development in Taiwan has been nothing short of a miracle.  Gross national product (GNP) increased from US$1,562 million in 1960 to US$297,657 million in 2000, which translates to an increase of over 190 times. Per capital GNP increased from US$154 in 1960 to US$14,216 in 2000, an increase of over 92 times.  Taiwan, in short, has become the nineteenth largest economy and fifteenth largest trading economy in the world.  Along with economic development, comes the increased demand of services for the accounting profession.  Although there are many factors attributing to the development of the accounting profession in Taiwan, this paper identifies the most significant factors that assisted in Taiwan’s development of the accounting profession. These factors are evident in the governmental policies designed to attract foreign investments and to further the formation of the domestic capital market.  These, in turn, fostered demand for accounting services, which were clearly influenced by foreign accounting practices that further stimulated professional development.  In Taiwan, certified public accountants have established large practices to meet the growing needs of businesses.  This paper illustrates the diversity, magnitude, and growth of professional services provided by accounting firms.  These services include representing clients in registering businesses, trademarks, and patents with government agencies; as well as in corporate or bankruptcy dissolution.  The growth of the accounting profession over the past four decades has been extremely impressive in Taiwan.  Many developing nations have devoted significant efforts in formulating strategies to foster the development of their accounting professions, and usually focus on highly developed nations, such as the United States of America, for reference in modeling their strategies.  This paper presents Taiwan as an example of strategic planning for the development of the accounting profession in developing nations. Taiwan is a mountainous island, with the Central Mountain Range as its spine running from north to south and its major watershed between east and west. The mountain range occupies more than half of the island. Scores of peaks rise above 10,000 feet with the highest being 13,113 feet.   Around the mountainous area are numerous independent hills, with an average height of 5,000 feet. Taiwan, including the offshore Penghu islands, covers an area of 35,981 square kilometers or 13,892 square miles.  Rivers in Taiwan are wide but short.  They are mostly shallow or dried up in the dry season, while there are floods in the rain-bearing wind season. Soil of alluvial origin on the plains and in the valleys covers about one-fourth of the island and is its chief resource. 

 

Complex Strategic Decision Processes and Firm Performance in a Hypercompetitive Industry

Dr. Johannes H. Snyman, Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma City, OK

Dr. Donald V. Drew, Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma City, OK

 

ABSTRACT

In hypercompetitive environments, where change is rapid and ambiguous, firms need more than just rational or incremental strategic decision processes.  In fact, it is more valid to think of successful firms as pursuing complex strategic decision processes in order to match the environment’s characteristics.  This study investigated the relationship between complexity as a strategic decision process and firm performance.  Consistent with the hypothesis, complex processes were found to be significantly related to higher firm performance than were similar, unitary, or impoverished strategic decision processes. Like the computer industry, the banking industry is undergoing dramatic change.  Deregulation has caused significant consolidation since 1984 and, with the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, additional consolidation is likely to continue (Soper, 2001).  The Gramm-Leach Bliley Act of 1999, which modernized the financial services industry, is increasing convergence between bank and non-bank financial institutions accelerating the pace of mergers and acquisitions (McTaggart, 2000).  Technological developments are also transforming the industry at a revolutionary pace (Giannakoudi, 1999).  ATMs and telephone banking which were introduced in the 1970s, home banking via cable television in the 1980s, and PC banking followed by Internet banking in the 1990s have reshaped the industry.  In the 2000s, new technologies such as multiapplication smartcards and cooperative agreements with mobile phone operators will continue the pace of change (“Banks have no future,” 2000). These technological changes coupled with deregulation and globalization are relaxing entry and exit barriers and increasing consumer demand for better and more sophisticated services, making banking a hypercompetitive industry (Bogner and Barr, 2000; and D’Aveni, 1994).  The hypercompetitive nature of the banking industry is not just limited to megabanks, even small community banks are under attack (Lanham, 2001; and Silverman and Castaldi, 1992).  To compete successfully, small community banks must continually adjust their strategies.  Mistakes are too costly to make and a strategy of imitation leaves one continually in second place, an untenable position for many of these institutions.  Small community bankers must not only pay attention to the content of strategy, they should also focus on the processes by which strategy is crafted.  A simple, easily copied strategic decision process can prove to be as disastrous as the wrong strategy in a hypercompetitive environment.  This study captured the strategic decision processes and financial performance of community banks during the 1990s, a very turbulent decade for banking. 

 

Speech Recognition Technology for the Medical Field

Dr. Harrison D. Green, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL

 

ABSTRACT

This paper focuses on innovative approaches to improving the usefulness of speech recognition technology (SRT) for the medical field.  Two key factors were initially identified which included the need for integration of speech technology with existing applications and the need for continuous update of the users’ speech files on all workstations in a networked environment.  A prototype solution, addressing both of these issues, was installed in a large veterinary clinic in west Texas.  The author used this setup, along with similar software installed on the Internet, as a research laboratory.  Data was gathered through direct observation and interviews with current and potential users.  The results of the study indicate that there are additional factors that are equally important or more important than those originally hypothesized.  These other factors include amount of training, power of macros, and workflow integration.  As a part of my consulting practice in the area of speech recognition, it was found that there is a definite need for continuous speech recognition technology (SRT) in the medical field.  Doctors use many long, technical words that are more easily spoken than typed.  While in the examination or treatment room, having to focus on typing tends to divert the doctor’s attention away from the patient.  Using a tape recorder makes correction difficult and requires the services of a transcriptionist.  This study focuses on a prototype multi-user system for continuous speech recognition that originally was installed in a veterinary office and currently is available over the Internet.  Up until about two years ago, there were several major barriers to the implementation of continuous SRT by professionals.  The computer reaction time was too slow; in other words, there was too much delay time between when a word was spoken and when it appeared on the screen.  Obtaining a high degree of accuracy required extensive voice training, and many professionals were not willing to invest the time required.  In addition, there were very few consultants available with speech technology expertise to assist professionals with initial setup and software usage. To achieve a suitable reaction time for normal conversation, an Intel Pentium III or AMD Athlon processor with a speed of at least 500-megahertz and 128 megabytes of RAM memory is required.  A computer with this much power can be purchased for less than $1,000 and is, therefore, becoming more cost justifiable.  The latest medical version of Dragon Naturally Speaking, 6.0, has higher initial accuracy and reduced training time to achieve 95 percent or greater accuracy. 

 

What determines dividend policy:  A comprehensive Test

Dr. Tao Zeng, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

 

ABSTRACT

This paper designs an empirical work to investigate the determinants of corporate dividend policy under the Canadian situation. It shows that firms pay dividend as a signal and to reduce agency costs. It also shows that liquidity and tax clientele effect are related to dividend policy. The Author gratefully acknowledges that financial support for this research was received from a grant funded by WLU Operating funds, the SSHRC Institutional Grant awarded to WLU, and CMA Canada - Ontario.  There has been a great deal of financial, economic, as well as accounting literature analysing why firms pay dividends, given the fact that effective tax rate on capital gains lower than the effective tax rate on dividends, i.e., the Adividend puzzle@ (Holder et al 1998, Dhaliwal et al 1995, Lamoureux 1990, Chaplinsky and Seyhun 1990, Abrutyn and Turner 1990, Mann 1989, Crockett and Friend 1988, Kose and Williams 1985, Feldstein and Green 1983, Litzenberger and Ramaswamy 1982, 1979, Miller and Scholes 1982, Feldstein 1970, and so on). To shed light on this puzzle, researchers try to figure out the benefits from paying dividends, which may offset the tax disadvantages. Some survey studies find that CEOs choose to pay dividends because they believe dividend can server as a signal to shareholders (Baker and Powell 1999, Abrutyn and Turner 1990, Baker et al 1985); because dividend can reduce agency costs and enforce manager to act in the interest of shareholders (Abrutyn and Turner 1990); because clientele effects exist (Baker et al 1985). Some event studies on signalling effect attempt to test whether a positive equity price response is associated with unexpected dividend increase, or vice visa. Several studies present evidence consistent with this argument (Dielman and Oppenheimer 1984, Aharony and Swary 1980, Charest 1978, Pettit 1977, 1972). Some studies, however, do not find the evidence indicate that dividend changes reflect no more information than that reflected in earnings (Gonedes 1978). Tax clientele studies (Dhaliwal et al 1995) argue that the ownership by tax-exempt or tax deferred investors will increase when firms begin to pay dividends.  This study differs from prior researches on 3 important ways. First, this paper examines the relationship between firm-specific characteristics and dividend policy. Mann (1989) argued that studies should go beyond event studies around dividend announcement days since there may exist underlying factors other than dividend itself that drive the change of return around dividend announcement. Second, this study designs the tests using corporate financial data, rather than taking a survey study.

 

Theoretical Inconsistencies in Accounting: Why Don’t We Depreciate Land

Dr. Jeffry R. Haber, Hagan School of Business, Iona College, New Rochelle, NY

 

ABSTRACT

Accounting is part art and part science, built upon assumptions, principles, existing practice and grounded in constructs that are internally consistent and well thought out.  No matter how much is art and how much is science, it is fully an artifact of the business, economic, social and internal needs of users, both internal and external.  There exists no basis in the natural world for why things in accounting are the way they are.  We have what we have because accountants agree to apply a set of principles handed down by a group of policymakers.  In a systematic way, developed over many years, policies, procedures, rules and regulations stand alone and interrelate, explain why things are done and why things are not done, have been decreed and put into practice.  These policies, rules and regulations are developed to handle situations large enough and broad enough in scope to merit the attention of the profession.  When developing the set of rules that define and re-define current accepted accounting practice, it would not be reasonable to expect a rule developed for every possible transaction.  The world is too complicated for that.  It is more logical to have constructs defined in a way that allow inference and application in the handling of transactions.  However, it would be expected that where rules do exist they be followed, and further, applied to analogous situations.  As explained in ARB 43, the purpose of depreciation is the systematic and rationale allocation of the cost of an asset to the period of benefit.  Plant, property and equipment is subject to depreciation.   Historically, the land that is inseparable from the plant has not been subject to depreciation, though a literal reading of ARB 43 without the benefit of historical perspective would not indicate this treatment, since the cost of the productive facility includes the cost of the land as much as the building and improvements.  No precedent exists in an accounting pronouncement for this treatment.  Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 93 (Recognition of Depreciation by Not-For-Profit Organizations) is the first statement to explicitly state that land is not depreciated.  So when a building is acquired, the cost of the building is spread to the years of economic benefit, except for the cost that we allocate to land.  In some fashion, the total cost of the building, which usually includes in a single stated price the land, the building and the improvements, is allocated among at least those three components.  The arbitrary amount allocated to land is recorded as land and not depreciated.  The amounts allocated to building and improvements are recorded in the respective accounts and depreciated over the period of benefit.  Following long standing practice, land is not subject to depreciation.  For all these reasons, the same can be said for buildings. 

 

Factors on Channel Integration Decisions of Taiwanese Manufacturers in the Export Market

Lanying Huang, Nova Southeastern University, FL

Chin-Chun Hsu, Research Fellow, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO

 

ABSTRACT

The intent of this paper is to examine the nature of the determinants of export channel integration decisions of Taiwanese small- and medium-sized exporting companies and the findings of this study sheds new light on the characteristics of exporting companies in the newly industrialized countries.  . It provides empirical evidence that the phenomenal international channel integration of small- and medium-sized Taiwanese exporting firms is due to a combination of several theory-based factors.  Exporting is the most common way for manufacturers to do business in foreign markets. Firms still export on a regular and permanent basis even though they have been long involved in international business arena. In the beginning of exporting, a firm has to make two strategic decisions, that is, where and how. Firms first choose the target country to market their products, and then identify the most suitable type of export distribution channel structure to use. It is important that alternative structural arrangements, which entail differing degrees of commitment and risk, should be considered before initial entry into a foreign market since distribution structures are difficult to change and the wrong decision may leads to long-lasting inefficient performance.  Several theoretical frameworks have been offered to explain the distribution mode decision. However, they alone are not sufficient to explain variation in the degree of channel integration (Anderson & Coughlan, 1987; Klein, Frazier, & Roth, 1990). The production cost perspectives (Stern &El-Ansary, 1992) maintains that scale economies are the basis in deciding channel structure. The transaction cost paradigm (Williamson, 1975, 1981) states that forward integration is likely to be attractive when asset specificity is high as well as when there is a high environmental uncertainty. The internationalization process theory (Johanson & Wiedersheim-Paul, 1975; Johanson & Vahlne, 1977) implies that international experience influences the degree of commitments into a foreign market. The strategic rationale perspective implies the need to incorporate strategic corporate objectives in deciding channel integration structure, and asserts the competitive advantage of forward channel integration with differentiation strategy. This study attempts to incorporate several theories into a unified framework by adopting an eclectic approach, which addresses recently from Hill, Hwang & Kim (1990), Osborne (1996), and Aulakh & Kotabe (1997) to better explain channel integration decisions.  Most of the available research has focused on channels of distribution for firms from developed countries. Very little research has been done on the decision-making processes of firms from developing countries (Anderson & Tansuhaj, 1990; Da Rocha & Christensen, 1994) or newly industrialized countries (NIEs). It is now widely recognized that some newly industrialized country such as Taiwan is increasingly emerging as economic powerhouses.  This study examines the factors affecting export channel integration decisions of Taiwanese small- and medium-sized exporting companies over the past decade. It provides empirical evidence that the phenomenal international channel integration of small- and medium-sized Taiwanese exporting firms is due to a combination of several theory-based factors. This study also provides insights into the international competitiveness of firms based in newly industrialized countries.

 

The Role of Advertising Played in Brand Switching

Dr. Jane Lu Hsu, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan

Dr. Wei-Hsien Chang, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan

 

ABSTRACT

Consumer satisfaction is an important subject pursued in marketing.  Since even satisfied customers would try alternatives for higher satisfaction levels, customer satisfaction cannot be considered as a sole indicator for brand loyalty.  Brand switching behavior is critical for newly issued brands to survive in the marketplace at the introduction stage and for firms to realize how to avoid losing existing customers.  This paper examines the influences of advertising on brand switching behavior among young adults in Taiwan using survey data.  Two durable goods, laptop computers and mobile phones, and two consumable goods, sports shoes and carbonated drinks, are considered.  Results indicate that for durable goods, a large percentage of young adults can be classified as innovative consumers and have high tendencies to switch brands.  For consumable goods, multi-loyalty is common.  Consumers with different levels of advertising perceptions have various possibilities to switch brands. Satisfying and retaining customers to sustain business are usually firms’ top priorities in marketing strategies.  Customers generate more profits to companies when they stay loyal to the brands.  Loyalty is considered providing fewer incentives for consumers to engage in extended information searching among alternatives (Uncles et al., 1998).  Hence, advertisements of competitors are less effectively to be acknowledged by the loyal customers.  Since the cost of retaining a loyal customer is one-fifth the cost of attracting a new one, serving repeat customers can be cost effective (Barsky, 1994).  Building brand loyalty reduces the costs of advertisements designed to draw new customers (Reichheld and Sasser, 1990; Heskett et al., 1990; Pappers and Rogers, 1993).  Therefore, satisfying and retaining customers are advantageous since the overall marketing costs can be cut down (Rundle-Thiele and Bennett, 2001).  The common belief is that satisfied customers have repeat purchasing behavior, then long-term profits are provided to the companies.  However, offers from competitors can attract even loyal customers to try alternatives or new brands.  As mentioned in Jones and Sasser (1995), the relationships between satisfaction and loyalty are neither simple nor linear.  Consumers switch brands not simply because they are dissatisfied with the current brands, but may because they want to try new brands, they are attracted by the discounts offered by other brands, or because the current brands are out of stocks.  Furthermore, advertising provides incentives and stimuli for consumers to switch brands.  Dick and Basu (1994) argue that relative attitude and repeat patronage affect customer loyalty.  They classify loyalty into four dimensions, loyalty, latent loyalty, spurious loyalty, and no loyalty.  Bloemer et al. (2002) discuss latently dissatisfied customers to be early warning signals since these customers report overall satisfaction but have latent characteristics of dissatisfied customers. 

 

Taxation of E-Commerce

Dr. S. Peter Horn, School of International Management Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussees, France

 

No other innovation, or way of doing business, has revolutionized the international economy faster than the Internet. It took generations for the Industrial Revolution to play out around the world while the Internet Revolution has unfolded in less than a decade. The speed of this change has been astounding. In the Industrial Age, as change took place, governments were able to react accordingly. In the Internet Age, today's innovation is tomorrow's standard. Government are finding that they must act on Internet time, which is a daunting challenge.  This paper examines the current state of affairs with regards to the taxation of Internet commerce.  It analysis the historical perspective of the United States of America, the OECD, the WTO, and the European Union, and attempts to answer the question “What happens next?”. The biggest standards battle in the history of the digital revolution has again heated up and the fight is about taxes – taxes on e-commerce. The unprecedented growth in the Internet during the “internet bubble economy” highlighted the glaring problems with current taxation laws that address the remote purchases of goods and services.  While these problems and concerns may have been sidelined during the past couple of years with the “busting of the internet bubble”, the worsening of the worldwide economic slowdown and the surfacing of the global war on terror; they have not been adequately addressed. And, Internet commerce is not dead.  Recent statistics released from the US Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce shows that Internet commerce has risen during the last quarter of 2001 and the first quarter of 2002 in comparison to the last quarter of 2000 and the first quarter of 2001. There estimate of U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the first quarter of 2002, not adjusted for seasonal, holiday, and trading-day differences, was $9.849 billion, an increase of 19.3% from the first quarter of 2001.  Total retail sales for the first quarter of 2002 were estimated at $743.8 billion, and increase of only 2.7% from the same period a year ago.  E-commerce sales in the first quarter of 2002 accounted for 1.3 % of the total sales while in the first quarter of 2001 e-commerce sales were 1.1% percent of total sales.  The United Kingdom statistics also show a startling increase in e-commerce sales.  The Interactive Media Retail Group (an industry body for global retailing) is now collecting hard date on online sales to UK consumers.

 

Accounting Practices for Interest Rate Swap Derivatives

Dr. Raymond S. Chen, California State University Northridge, Northridge, CA

 

ABSTRACT

There has been a tremendous proliferation in the use of derivatives by many companies in recent years.  Some companies utilize derivatives as a type of investment instrument.  Others utilize derivatives as a risk exposure management tool.  With the prodding of the SEC to improve the accounting for and disclosure of derivative financial instruments, Financial Accounting Standard Board (FASB) issued SFAS No. 133, “Accounting for Derivative Instruments and for Hedging Activities,” in June 1998.  However, because of the complexity of derivatives and accounting rules adopted, the effective date of Statement No. 133 was delayed two fiscal years, to begin after June 15, 2000.  This paper illustrates the accounting principles and procedures for swap contracts.  The illustration of accounting rules applied in swaps will provide readers with better understanding of accounting rules for derivatives and how hedging accounting contributed to the complexity of Statement No. 133. To make the accounting rules for derivatives transparent and easily understandable, FASB should undertake a comprehensive approach to account for all financial instruments at fair value when the conceptual and measurement issues are resolved, regardless if the underlying financial instruments are hedged or not.  Under this comprehensive approach, it will eliminate the complex and inconsistent hedging accounting rules.  With the lack of accounting guidance and the resulting inconsistencies in accounting practice for financial instruments and transactions, the FASB decided to add projects on financial instruments to its agenda in 1986. [1].  These financial instrument projects were supposed to address accounting issues on liabilities and equities, recognition and measurement, and hedging.  Of these issues, the FASB considered the issue of the most relevant measurement attribute for financial instruments a priority.  Prior to the issuance of the SFAS No. 133, the fair value was required for certain investments but not for certain liabilities.  With the exception of held-to-maturity debt securities and equity method investments, the fair value was used in accounting for investments as reflected in SFAS No. 115, Accounting for Certain Investments in Debt and Equity Securities. [2].   The FASB had rejected the fair value reporting for liabilities partially because of the difficulty in obtaining a reliable fair value, as many liabilities do not trade in an established market.  However, in the Exposure Draft on accounting for derivative and similar financial instruments and for hedging activities, the FASB made a fundamental decision that the fair value is the most relevant attribute for financial instruments.  That decision was incorporated into SFAS No. 133, which stated that the fair value for financial assets and liabilities provides more relevant and understandable information than cost-based measures. [3].  Measuring all financial assets and liabilities at fair value is a fundamental requirement in derivative accounting.  However, in the absence of derivative transaction, fair value is not required to be used in accounting for liabilities. 

 

Behavior of Prices of Oil and Other Minerals over the Last Few Decades: A Comparative Analysis

Dr. Abdulla M. Alhemoud, Arab Open University, Kuwait

Dr. Abdulkarim S. Al-Nahas, Arab Open University, Kuwait

 

ABSTRACT

This paper tries to find out whether the price changes of oil over the last three decades were significantly different from those of other primary commodities. The paper examines briefly the changing conditions of the oil market and investigates the behavior of oil prices during the period 1966 – 2000. The Johansen’s maximum likelihood method was applied to test for co-integration between oil prices and the prices of non- fuel commodities. Fluctuations in oil prices were compared with those of other 13 minerals during the same period. The analysis suggests that the decline in OPEC’s market share, combined with the rise of the elasticity of the demand for oil have weakened OPEC’s market power as measured by the relative surplus of price over marginal cost.. The statistical results also suggest that the coefficient of variation for oil prices during the period 1966-2000 was much higher than that of other mineral prices. Oil prices enjoyed a much stronger upward trend than prices of other minerals during the last three decades. The econometric results suggest that there is evidence of co- integration between the oil price index and the non- fuel commodity price index. The prices of most, if not all, primary commodities suffer substantial fluctuations, particularly over the long- run. There is little doubt that primary commodity markets exhibit considerably greater instability and uncertainty than those of manufactured commodities (Thiburn, 1977). Unfortunately, the fortunes of developing countries are associated with the prospects for primary commodity exports. This is so since many developing countries are heavily dependent on primary commodities for up to three- quarters of their export earnings, compared to approximately one – fifth in the case of developed Western economies. For example, the percentage of leading single commodity exports to total exports in oil – exporting countries in 1998 ranged from 43 per cent in the case of Ecuador to 98 per cent in the case of Saudi Arabia (IMF, IFS Yearbook, 2000).  The number of leading commodities varies from one to four in developing countries, with an average of two. As far as the non- oil exporters are concerned, single commodity exports as a percentage of total exports ranges from five per cent in the case of China to 94% in the case of the Bahamas. The variation of the number of the leading commodities in this case ranges from one to nine, with an average of three commodities (Adams and Behrman, 1992).  The aim of this paper is to find out whether the price changes of oil over the last three decades (1966 – 2000) were significantly different from those of other primary commodities. This comparison is essential to highlight the special case of the oil producers.  The paper is divided into five sections. Section one examines briefly the changing conditions of the oil market over the last few years.

 

Leadership in the Government of the Gambia: Traditional African Leadership Practice, Shared Vision, Accountability and Willingness and Openness to Change

Dr. Michael Ba Banutu-Gomez, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ

 

ABSTRACT

Interview data was obtained from 20 experienced senior Gambia Government Officials in the seven departments. This study focused only on those influence of leadership practices which can be termed meaningful practice since the primary aim of this research was to discover how the influence of leadership practice in government organizational culture in The Gambia, is associated through success stories told by senior government officials. The findings from this study were used to develop a model to help us understand leadership practice in African government. Many scholars of leadership cite challenges as the ideal time for leaders to provide their people with the motivation for change (Schein, 1992).  The Gambia is in challenging state now because it is an African country that depends, on a regular basis, on aid from countries outside of Africa.  The Gambia is in challenges of self-sustainability. It is suspected that the role a government leader plays in the organizational culture of the government in The Gambia will determine, in a significant way, if this nation is able to adapt to future changes in its internal and external environment. A “Learning” type of organizational culture is considered by most organizational culture thinkers to be the most flexible type of organizational culture because members are open to a process of continual learning of new skills and knowledge. (Kotter, Senge 1990).  The Gambia has a long leadership history and legacy, which must be examined and understood in order to access current leadership trends.  This traditional African leadership practice has been passed down from generation to generation despite British colonization, the slave trade and current Western influence.  In ancient West Africa, the king was the servant and shepherd of the people (T’Shaka, Oba, 1989).  His main and most important function was to serve the people.  Contrary to popular belief, dictatorship was never part of the indigenous African political tradition.  There were few despotic chiefs in traditional Africa.  While some African chiefs ruled for life, they were appointed with the advice and consent of a Queen Mother and/or a Council of Elders.  Nobody declared himself “chief-for-life” and his village to be a “one-party state” in indigenous Africa (Ayittey, George, 1991).  Even today in The Gambia villages and town discussions are held under a Baobab tree or a Bantaba, which is a meeting place to discuss issues pertaining to the community. These discussions are lead by the Alkalo who is the head of the village. Sometimes, the meetings are lead by elderly council. Although, the Alkalo and the elderly council lead the discussion, they in no way make decisions automatically. The whole community makes decisions through consensus process.  Some societies, however, did not have kings or chiefs.  It was in societies without Chiefs and Kings where African democracy was born.  Age groups governed these Chief-less societies, where the people were grouped according to age, and the elders’ deliberations were held in the presence of the community. 

 

An Empirical Study on Professional Commitment, Organizational Commitment and Job Involvement in Canadian Accounting Firms

Dr. Leslie Leong, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain CT

Dr. Shaio-Yan Huang, Providence University, Taiwan

Jovan Hsu, Nova Southeastern University, FL

 

ABSTRACT

Professional commitment in accounting firms is the acceptance of professional norms and goals. This study attempts to investigate the relationship between professional commitment, organizational commitment and job involvement of external auditors in professional organizations (public accounting firms) in Canada. First, it is to investigate the relationship between external auditors’ organizational commitment and professional commitment in accounting firms. The second purpose of the study is to examine the relationship between external auditors’ job involvement and professional commitment. The results of regression and correlation matrix indicated a positive relationship between professional commitment, organizational commitment and job involvement. From this study, we conclude that professional commitment is influenced by organizational commitment and job involvement in accounting firms. These results also supported the fact that the constructs influence the ethical behavior expected of external auditors. The effect of the work environment on professional employee attitudes and behavior has become an important research issue in behavioral science (Lachman & Aranya, 1986; Meixner & Bline, 1989; Montagna, 1968).  The study of professionals has long been concerned with the relationship between professionals and their employing organizations.  Recently, however, the commitment of professionals to the norms and values of their profession has become a popular focus of research as well (Aryee, Wyatt & Min, 1990; Baugh & Roberts, 1994; Hall, 1967; Thornton, 1968).  The accounting profession, like any other profession, exists only through wide public acceptance.  Public acceptance of a profession means that society perceives a need that can best be met by highly trained professionals who have some minimally acceptable standards (Roberson, 1993).  In the public accounting profession, professional commitment is the acceptance of professional norms and goals; therefore, high professional commitment should be reflected in a greater sensitivity to issue involving professional ethics (Lachman & Aranya, 1986).  Since professional commitment is very important to public accounting profession, this study will examine some possible factors that can affect the professional commitment in public accounting professionals. According to Aranya, Pollock and Amernic (1981), professions carry power and sublime prestige because professionals possess bodies of knowledge which are linked to the central needs and values of their social system.  Therefore, society expects that professionals should have strong professional commitment (PC) to serve the public, above and beyond material incentives.  Unlike other professions, the accounting profession exists primarily to serve the interests of third parties (public) rather than a second party (client) (Aranya, et al, 1981). 

 

U.S. Earnings Inequality in the 1990s

Dr. Jongsung Kim, Bryant College, Smithfield, RI

 

ABSTRACT

Using weekly earnings data from CPS, this paper attempts to identify and interpret the pattern of earnings inequality in the U.S. from 1994 to 1999, with a special emphasis on earnings inequality within and across certain ethnic groups.  Young Hispanic workers with lower education were identified as the most vulnerable group, White and Asian workers with college education in their prime age wound up at the other extreme in the earnings distribution.  To reduce earnings inequality, the long term focus should be on the improvement in educational attainment, worker’s training, and placement of workers after graduation. The U.S. earnings and income inequality widened in 1980s, and this pattern continued to persist in the early 1990s.  Even after the economic downturn that ended in 1991, the period of growing inequality persisted as income disparities continued through the early 1990’s (Karoly, 1996).  The widening disparity in the 1980s and early 1990s runs counter to the historical pattern of a narrowing of the disparity in income during the periods of economic growth (Blank and Card, 1993).  After the U.S. economy experienced a business-cycle trough in 1991, household income continued to drop until 1993 when median income reached its lowest level for most demographic groups.  However, by year 2000 the U.S. economy has recovered so remarkably that the median household income was $42,148, reaching the highest level ever recorded in the Current Population Survey (CPS) in real terms.  Further, all major ethnic groups reached a new all-time high in median household incomes in 2000: $45,904 for non-Hispanic Whites, $30,439 for Blacks, $33,447 for Hispanics, and $55,521 for Asian and Pacific Islander households (DeNavas-Walt, Cleveland, and Roemer, 2001).  Despite the strong economic expansion in the 1990s that brought about these remarkable records, earnings and income inequality in the U.S. have increased substantially in the last decade (Dadres and Ginther, 2001).1  For example, the share of aggregate income received by the lowest 20 percent household decreased from 4.2 percent in 1968 to 3.6 percent in 2000, while the share of household income received by the richest 5 percent increased from 16.6 percent in 1968 to 21.9 percent in 2000.  During 1980s and early 1990s and eventually until 1994, the increase in earnings and income inequality in the U.S. was not confined to between groups classified by schooling and experience. 

 

North American Free Trade Agreement – Is It Delivering What It Promised?

Dr. Balasundram Maniam, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX

Dr. Hadley Leavell, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX

Dr. Richard Thaler, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX

 

ABSTRACT

In 1994 the United States, Canada, and Mexico entered into a trade alliance that we know today as the North American Free Trade Agreement.  The agreement was constructed to allow for monumental progress to be made in trade flow, foreign direct investment, and economic liberalization within the region.  Evidence indicates that this alliance has indeed successfully accomplished many pre-set objectives in a relatively short period of time.  The successful accomplishments achieved by the partners in this alliance could well establish a model for expansion of bilateral agreements throughout the hemisphere. Regional trade alliances are formed between countries in an effort to maximize trade opportunities through preferential access to their markets for members within the alliance.  The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) joined Canada, the U.S., and Mexico into an agreement intended to increase trade and investment, eliminate tariffs, reduce non-tariff barriers, and establish provisions concerning the proper conduct of business in the free trade area.  The extent to which this agreement has achieved its intended objectives is a source of great debate.  This study will examine the data currently available relating to the initiatives of NAFTA.  It will review literature relating to this subject from 1992 to present.  It will begin by specifically identifying the main objectives of this agreement, which includes the economic and political motivations.  The extent to which NAFTA has successfully accomplished its intended mission will then be discussed in detail.  This will be followed up by arguments questioning whether or not the parties involved in this agreement are truly reaping the anticipated benefits of this accord.  It will conclude by assessing the overall success and impact of this agreement on the economies of these three countries, and by doing such, identify whether NAFTA has delivered what it promised. In December of 1992, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico signed a trade agreement we know today as NAFTA.  The alliance was a new, improved, and expanded version of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement signed in 1988 (Hufbauer, Schott, 1993).  After ratification by the three legislatures, the major intent of this alliance was to increase the level and fluency of trade between the U.S. and its northern and southern neighbors, thereby, improving resource allocation.  This would be achieved by the elimination of trade barriers and by use of other methods of trade liberalization practices.  NAFTA was specifically designed to eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers on regional trade within five to fifteen years.  This was to include liberalization of trade in the area of agricultural products.  Quotas and tariffs relating to the textile and apparel industry would also be phased out.  NAFTA’s passing created financial opportunities due to the liberalization of investment rules in the region. 

 

A Financial Appraisal of Florida’s Environmental Horticulture Industry

Dr. John Haydu, University of Florida, Mid-Florida REC, Apopka, FL

Dr. Alan Hodges, University of Florida, Dept. of Food and Resource Economics, Gainesville, FL

Dr. John Cisar, University of Florida, Ft. Lauderdale REC, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

 

ABSTRACT

Information was collected from 37 wholesale nurseries on sales, production, operating expenses and net returns in 1999. Nursery products represented among the sampled firms included container and field-grown woody ornamentals, tropical foliage, and flowering plants. This information was compared to data from 1990 and 1995 to examine financial changes that have occurred among nursery businesses. In 1998 the average nursery had annual plant sales of $2.71 million (M), total income of $2.89M, and net firm income of $548 thousand (K). Firms used an average production area of 55 acres, employed 49 full-time equivalent (FTE) persons, and managed total capital of $5.26M. As a share of value produced, costs were 34.7 percent for labor, 26.1 percent for materials, 5.0 percent for equipment/facilities, 10.0 percent for overhead, 3.8 percent for depreciation, 3.9 percent for interest, and 4.6 percent for management. Net profit margin averaged 18.9 percent and rate of return on capital investment was 7.9 percent. Compared to previous results for 1990, firms in 1998 were significantly larger—sales increased 66 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, production area increased 95 percent, employment increased 114 percent, total capital managed increased 122 percent, net worth increased 99 percent, and net income increased 45 percent.  However, profitability and productivity were lower—net margin decreased 19 percent, rate of return on net worth decreased 20 percent, value produced per square foot decreased 11 percent, and inventory turnover declined 27 percent. These results confirm that profitability in the Florida nursery plant industry has continued to decline as the industry becomes increasingly competitive. Nursery and greenhouse crops, also referred to as “floriculture and environmental horticulture” by the USDA, represent the sixth largest agricultural commodity group in the United States, with a farm gate value of $12.1 billion in 1998, up 2  percent from the previous year (Johnson, 1999).  This value has grown an average of $440 million per year since 1990, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in U.S. agriculture. This expansionary trend is due to the strong demand for landscape plants and the relatively high unit value of nursery crops. Demand for landscape plants in particular has been driven by a strong national economy and an increase in new housing developments which are large consumers of landscape plants, bedding plants, and sod. The high unit value of ornamental crops is illustrated by the fact that nursery farms account for only one-fiftieth of U.S. farms, yet generate one-sixth of total farm cash receipts. The average floriculture and environmental horticulture farm yields nearly four times the net income as does the average traditional food and fiber farm, and horticulture crops routinely outperform all other farm commodities in terms of net income per farm (Johnson, 1999).

 

 Structural Adaptation in the Florida Ornamental Plant Nursery Industry in the 1990s

Dr. Alan W. Hodges, University of Florida, Food & Resource Economics Department, Gainesville, FL

Dr. John J. Haydu, University of Florida, Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, Apopka, FL

 

ABSTRACT

The state of Florida has a large industry for producing ornamental plants, which continues to grow rapidly.  Industry surveys were conducted in 1989, 1994 and 1999 to evaluate economic trends.   Survey results suggest that the industry has undergone significant structural changes during the 1990s in response to increasing competition and industry maturation. Consolidation has resulted in larger firms, with the market share for firms having at least $1 million in annual sales increasing from 74 to 84 percent.  Other economic trends include greater labor productivity, increasing diversity of ornamental plant products, less seasonality in product sales, a shift in markets from landscaper to retailer outlets, especially mass merchandise chains, wider distribution of products outside the state of Florida, increased forward contracting, increased advertising, and greater use of telephone contacts for sales.  Ornamental plants are the sixth largest agricultural commodity group in the United States, with a farm level value of $12.12 billion (Bn) in 1998 (Johnson, 1999).  Ornamentals are also the fastest growing major segment of U.S. agriculture, with sales increasing by 30 percent between 1991 and 1998, representing average annual growth of 2.0 percent in inflation-adjusted terms (Figure 1). This growth was due to the continued strong demand for plants, driven by a robust economy, expansion in housing, and increasing per capita consumption. Retail expenditures for plant products in the U.S. reached $54.79 Bn, or $203 per capita in 1998, and increased 2.1 percent annually (inflation-adjusted) between 1986 and 1998 (Figure 2). Nursery and greenhouse products are classified as floriculture crops and nursery crops. Floriculture crops, including annual and perennial flowering plants, cut flowers and cut cultivated greens, and foliage plants, were valued at $3.93Bn in 1998, while nursery crops such as woody ornamental trees and shrubs, sod, and unfinished plant products represented $8.18Bn in sales or roughly two-thirds of industry value. The state of Florida is the second largest producer of ornamental plants in the United States, following California, and ornamentals are the second largest agricultural crop in Florida, following citrus. A recent study showed that in year 2000 there were over 5000 commercial firms in Florida's ornamental plant industry, which accounted for $2.25Bn in sales, $3.48Bn in total economic output impact, $2.52Bn in total value added impact, and employment of 54,000 persons directly and in related businesses (Hodges and Haydu, 2002). Ornamental plant growers in Florida managed 126,000 acres of production area in 1997 (NASS, 1999).

 

The Legal Regulation of E-Commerce Transactions

Dr. Everett Durante Cordy, Albany State University, Albany, GA

 

ABSTRACT

E-commerce is firmly established as the new way to do business in the new economy.  E-contracts, Internet Banking, and digital signatures have become standard tools of conducting business.  How has the law responded to this new way of doing business?  What about torts and crimes that are committed while doing business in cyberspace?  What is the appropriate forum to resolve disputes that arise when doing business electronically?  It is the purpose of this article to review how the law is dealing with these and other questions which arise when engaging in e-commerce transactions Technological innovation has spawned new ways to transact business.  Motivated by concerns for improvement in profitability, efficiency, speed, competitiveness, and customer relationship building, businesses have increasingly adopted technology-based systems to transact business with other businesses, private consumers and governmental agencies.  Despite the recent dot.com shakeout, e-commerce has emerged as an entrenched part of, and in many instances the preferred way, transacting business.  It has become a fundamental part of the corporate enterprise. According to Forrester Research, the world Internet economy is predicted to reach $1 trillion dollars by the end of 2001.  On-line advertising is expected to reach $33 billion worldwide by 2004, and U.S. on-line spending will exceed $6 billion in 2001.  North America will lead global e-commerce transactions to $6.9 trillion in 2004, while 60% of the world on-line population and 50% of on-line sales will be made outside of the U.S. by 2003.  U.S. business trade over the Internet skyrocketed to $251 billion in 2000, up from $109 billion in 1999.  According to Computer Industry Almanac, there will be 165 million on-line users in the U.S. by 2002, and over 490 million and 765 million users worldwide by 2002 and 2005, respectively.  In 2000, over 65% of all U.S. businesses, and over 50% of businesses worldwide, are estimated to engage in some type of e-commerce transaction, and the numbers are growing.  E-cash, smart cards, "click-on" contracts, digital signatures, web hosting, and e-commerce transactional solutions have all become synonymous with the preferred ways to transact business in today’s "new economy". 

 

The Legal and Regulatory Response to Predatory Lending in the Mortgage Industry: With Emphasis on the State of Georgia

Dr. Everett D. Cordy, Albany State University, Albany, GA

 

ABSTRACT

Throughout the 1990s, the financial deregulation of the consumer financial services industry has given rise to the rapid growth of the “predatory lending” (or fringe banking) industry, which includes check cashing outlets, payday loan companies, rent-to-own stores, high cost first and second mortgage companies, sub prime auto lenders, traditional pawn shops, and the growing business of auto title pawn companies.  This article examines the legal and regulatory response to predatory lending in the mortgage industry in the United States, with an emphasis on practices and legislations in the State of Georgia. Predatory lending practices have ruined the financial lives of thousands of vulnerable people, especially the elderly, minorities and female homeowners.  A relatively recent by-product of growth and diversification in the financial services industry, predatory lending has grown explosively in the last ten years.  “Predatory lending” in general is the practice of making loans to customers who have poor credit but who have home equity, and charging high interest rates, loaning amounts that are beyond the ability of the customer to repay.  Often the end result is that the customer loses the home or is forced to file bankruptcy or must be rescued by family members.  Companies engaged in predatory lending disproportionately target minorities, low income families, the elderly and female home owners, according to surveys, presumably because they are frequently less able than other home owners to understand financial terminology and have less access to conventional financing (or at least are less aware than others of alternative methods of financing).  The exact definition of “predatory lending” is a matter of regulation and policy debate, particularly as pressure mounts to eliminate it.  Further discussion on this point is in Sections Four and Five of this report.  The term is commonly used to include such features as these, according to Gramlich: making unaffordable loans based on the assets of the borrower rather than on the borrower's ability to repay an obligation ("asset-based lending"); inducing a borrower to refinance a loan repeatedly in order to charge high points and fees each time the loan is refinanced ("loan flipping"); engaging in fraud or deception to conceal the true nature of the loan obligation from an unsuspecting or unsophisticated borrower.  

 

Corporate Governance: A Theoretical Perspective

Dr. Malek Lashgari, CFA, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT

 

ABSTRACT

Corporate governance mechanism varies significantly among different countries. These differences appear to be a function of their respective economic structures and cultures. The underlying reason for these corporate governance systems, however, is the stakeholders pursuit for preserving their respective share of profit earned by business enterprises. This paper reviews corporate governance systems in Germany, Japan, and the United States. While these countries differ in their respective corporate governance structures, the basic underlying link among them appears to be explained by existing theories developed in various branches of science. These theories are well developed in economics, thermodynamics, and philosophy.   Common stockholders have the right to elect their representatives on the board of directors of a corporation. Members of the board of directors assume the responsibility of monitoring, directing and appointing the firm’s managers. In this manner disperse shareholders are potentially empowered in setting direction, monitoring performance and controlling distribution of profits of the corporation. In particular, this internal control mechanism is purported to integrate the interests of common stockholders and  executive managers of a corporation by rewarding good corporate performance. The board of directors has the right and responsibility to remove poorly performing managers.  Historically, dissatisfied shareholders have “walked away” from the corporation by selling their shares at depressed prices and thereby incurring losses. Alternatively, major shareholders either through hostile actions, “investor activism” or a friendly approach, “relationship investing” have pursued their objectives in monitoring corporate managers. Furthermore to the extent that U.S. corporate laws permit, competing managers would remove incompetent ones and take over poorly performing firms. These aforementioned actions collectively are purported to add value for the existing shareholders. Cross shareholding is common in Germany, in which a large percentage of corporate shares are held by banks as their respective creditors, large investors and other interested companies. The members of the “supervisory board,” who are elected by common stockholders and employees, approve major corporate decisions. This supervisory board appoints members of the “management board” who are responsible for running the firm. Corporate executives report to the supervisory board and major shareholders. 

 

Performance Measures and Profitability Factors of Successful African-American Entrepreneurs:  An Exploratory Study

Dr. Barbara L. Adams, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, SC

Dr. Viceola Sykes, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, SC

 

ABSTRACT

This exploratory study was conducted to determine what financial and non-financial measures executives of African-American companies perceive as important and what factors they used to measure their success.  The chief executives of some of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses are making it clear that they will not be held back by conventions or boundaries that have plagued many minority owned companies.  In spite of the record growth of black-owned businesses in recent years, there has been little research on such companies.  Data for this study was collected by a survey of the chief executives of Black Enterprise Magazine’s 100 list, which includes the top 100 industrial/service companies and the top 100 auto dealers, ranked according to revenue.  The results indicate that both financial and non-financial performance measures and profitability factors are an integral part of the management strategies employed by “successful” African-American entrepreneurs. The growth of African-American businesses has been expanding significantly over the last decade.  A report published by the Milken Institute (1998) indicates that from 1987 to 1992, the number of minority-owned firms (Blacks, Hispanic and Asian) grew at a rate of 4.7%, which was double the rate of all U. S. firms.  In comparison, African-American owned businesses increased at a rate of approximately 8%.  Despite this record growth, the report indicates that African-American businesses remain underserved by the capital markets because of  “perceptions of being small, unprofitable and unfavorably located.” While the success or failure of a business can be attributable to many factors, the significance of each may differ among companies depending on the nature of the business, location, background and/or ethnicity of the majority owners.  For example, African-Americans may face certain barriers such as more stringent capital acquisition hurdles, not usually encountered by majority-owned companies.  Each year, Black Enterprise Magazine (2000) publishes a list of Black-owned businesses (B.E. 100s) that have risen above negative perceptions and are not held back by conventions or boundaries that many Black-owned businesses face.  According to the editors of Black Enterprise, (p.108) “these are companies that have become powerhouses of the New Economy – “companies that are staking their claims, rewriting the rules and embracing an economy driven by technological innovation, high productivity and soaring financial markets.”

 

Enterprise Middleware Management: Enterprise Java Beans (EJB)

Dr. Mustafa Kamal, Central Missouri State University, Warrensburg, MO
Shah Mumin, Central Missouri State University, Warrensburg, MO

 

ABSTRACT

Java plays a dominant role in developing programmable web, and object-oriented design by forcing us to think about our design of inanimate objects in terms of real-life examples. Enterprise Middleware Management (EMM) seeks to integrate current legacy systems with the client/server, and the web-based applications.  The Enterprise Java Beans (EJB), seeks to provide state-of-the-art middleware solutions for today’s complex and ever changing 3-tier to n-tier computing architecture. The J2EE provides “highly available, secure, reliable and scalable” enterprise applications.  Because of the added layer of Internet and eCommerce, client/server model is somehow obsolete in web based enterprise application services.  Enterprise services are constructed using distributed applications, consisting of several tiers: client requesting information, data resources on the back end, and one or more middleware applications.  Integrating current legacy systems with the client/server, and the web-based applications is a critical component in the success of EMM. Although a number of approaches are available, EJB seems to provide a state-of-the-art middle ware solutions for today's complex and ever changing 3-tier to n-tier computing architecture.  Java has revolutionalized the idea of programmable web and the concept of object-oriented design.  We started to think about our design of inanimate objects in terms of real-life examples.  Enterprise middleware management seeks to integrate current legacy systems with the client/server and web-based applications.  Although Java client-side applications and applets were a huge success, server-side programming was introduced to overcome many of the shortcomings associated with the client-side programming.  The Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), with Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) as a major component, seeks to provide state-of-the-art middleware solutions for today’s complex and ever changing 3-tier to n-tier computing architecture. The Java 2 Enterprise Edition is initiated by Sun Microsystems to provide “highly available, secure, reliable and scalable” enterprise applicaions (Sun Microsystem, 2001).  Because of the added layer of Internet and eCommerce, the client/server model is somehow obsolete in web-based enterprise application services.  Enterprise services are constructed using distributed applications consisting of several tiers: client requesting information, data resources on the back end, and one or more middleware applications running in between to control flow of information and data security.

 

Validating Decision Models in Operational Research

Dr. Awni Zebda, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX

 

Abstract

Over the years, operation researchers and management scientists have suggested that decision models should be used only if their benefits exceed their costs.  However, the cost-benefit analysis lacks practical applicability because of the difficulty of measuring the costs and benefits of models.  Thus, researchers have often used model validity as a surrogate for model value.  This paper examines and evaluates some of the different methods used and/or proposed for validating models.  The understanding of the limitations and shortcomings of the different validation methods is essential for the appropriate use of these methods in validating decision models. Decision analysts and researchers develop quantitative decision models to aid decision making in business organization.  As noted by many researchers (e.g., Finlay and Wilson [1987], Hill and Blyton [1986]), establishing the value of these models is a necessary prerequisite for their use by practicing managers.  According to Gass [1983, p. 605], "the inability of the analyst [and researcher] to demonstrate to potential users ... that a model and its results have ... credibility" is one of the primary reasons that decision models are not widely used in practice.  The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the most widely recommended method for evaluating decision models, model validity, and its limitations as a means for establishing the value of decision models.  The understanding of the shortcomings of different validity tests is essential for their effective use in validating decision models.  The paper is organized as follows.  In the next section a framework for validity tests is provided.  Section three examines the use of the subjective method in validating decision models.  Sections four and five discuss and evaluate the concept of validating models by examining their predictive ability.  Section six examines assumptions validity.  Section seven examines the use of model confidence as an alternative to model value and model validity.  Finally, a summary and concluding remarks are provided. 

 

Gateway Hardware Case; A computer-based interactive case for an Accounting Principles II course

Michael J. Krause, Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY

 

ABSTRACT

The Gateway Hardware Case offers a challenge both to academics and to their students.    This case is an expository one (fact-based case) rather than a narrative one (story-based case).  Gobeil and Philips (2001) studied expository and narrative cases.  Among their observations, they found that the narrative- style case helped “low-knowledge” students do a better job with applying case facts. The Gateway Hardware Case consists of five modules.  (Some academics may say that such sub-division disqualifies the presentation from even being called a “case”.)   Aside from a possible semantics debate, research should be undertaken to see if sub-dividing an expository case improves “low-knowledge” students ability to apply case facts  to the extend that they are able to do so with the narrative  style case.  As to undergraduate students, the Gateway Hardware Case gives them an opportunity to study in detail the end of the accounting cycle when an entity employs a primitive bookkeeping system.  To facilitate this endeavor, the case requires students to use Microsoft Excel as the means to organize and refine the original unadjusted data.  At the end of the case, the student should be able to appreciate the value that a CPA firm adds to general purpose financial statements when undertaking an engagement where the raw bookkeeping data lacks an accrual accounting focus.  Gateway Hardware’s accounting system is primitive.  Except for a sales journal, the corporation simply keeps track of transactions using the cash basis.  At the end of the year, the outside CPA firm reviews the internal bookkeeping and prepares required adjusting entries so that the financial statements can be put into compliance with generally accepted accounting principles.  You might find it interesting that a 1993 AICPA report found a considerable number of CPA firms studied had no audit clients. In this case you will function as the outside CPA contracted to prepare the annual financial statements. You will proceed by reading and analyzing narratives associated with fifteen “Adjusting Journal Entries”.  However, technically speaking, not all narratives describe adjusting entries in the strictest use of the term.  Some entries will be correcting entries necessary because the rudimentary accounting system employs a bookkeeper with limited accounting knowledge.  And one “adjustment” will simply be a reclassification entry that could go unrecorded without affecting the final calculation of net income.  The case consists of five modules.  In the first module you must develop a worksheet template using Microsoft Excel.  

 

Digital Divide and Implications on Growth: Cross - Country Analysis

Dr. Antonina Espiritu, Hawaii Pacific University, Hawaii

 

ABSTRACT

The growing importance of information and communication technology (ICT) in today's new or knowledge-based economy provides many opportunities for countries to accelerate their economic growth. However, there seems to be a large and growing gap in terms of access to and use of information and communication technology among and within developed and developing countries, otherwise known as the digital divide. Using a sample of 36 countries, this paper explores the role of ICT on economic growth and tests the existence of digital divide. The regression results suggest a positive and significant relationship between internet use and growth. Also, the hypothesis of no digital divide was rejected and found a significant evidence of differential growth between developed and developing countries due to difference in internet access and usage. Developments in information and communication technology (ICT) have opened up new and different possibilities of economic and social changes from which developed and developing countries can potentially benefit. Given the trend in ICT, it does not only accelerate the diffusion of information and technological know-how but also provide a virtual setting for instantaneous human interactions and easy access to global markets. Hence, the potential benefits from an internet-enabled transformation of business organizations into so-called global production networks are vast. The internet can help reduce transactional costs as it can drastically reduce the time it takes to transmit, receive and process routine business communication tasks. The internet has also expanded the scope for management of information as browsers can be used to access the information systems of suppliers and allow business transactions to be completed much more quickly.  However, there is a large and growing concern about disparities between industrialized and developing countries, especially with respect to internet access and use which have touched off a worldwide debate about the existence of global digital divide. According to the World Economic Forum / Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP Survey of 1,020 global CEOs, half believe that the internet will widen the economic gap between developed and developing countries while 38% believe it will narrow it. Undoubtedly, the question remains open -- can the internet act as a powerful equalizer and bring about an even playing field to the global marketplace or will it reinforce the existing income inequalities within and between countries? This paper intends to address this issue by using a traditional growth model to examine the effect of internet along with other factors relevant to economic growth. Specifically, two main hypotheses are to be tested. First, in order to explore the relationship between the use of internet and income growth, a hypothesis that increases in the number of internet users translates to higher growth is to be examined. The second hypothesis of interest in this study is to test empirically the existence of the so-called global digital divide between those who have and those who do not have access to the internet and its implications on output growth.

 

Using the Problem-based Learning to Enhance Student’s Key Competencies

Dr. Chen-Jung Tien, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan

Dr. Jui-Hung Ven, China Institute of Technology, Taiwan

Dr. Shoh-Liang Chou, National Tao-Yuan Senior Agricultural and Industrial School, Taiwan

 

ABSTRACT

From the trends of educational reforms in recent decades, many advanced countries have viewed the key competencies as important assets of people. The key competencies are important features of working life and therefore essential to boost and maintain employment, so that the promotion of the key competencies has become an integral part of secondary and even in higher educational systems in many countries. This paper aims to compare the key competencies among different countries, including the SCANS of America, the key skills of UK, the key competencies of Australia, and the ten basic competencies of 1-9 integral curriculum of Taiwan. This paper also explores the key competencies that can be developed in the problem-based learning (PBL) and how to use the PBL to enhance student’s key competencies.  Because of the rapid changes in technology, economy and working environment nearly two decades, many advanced countries have been emphasizing on the development of key competencies of people to maintain employability and continuing learning. Raizen (1989) indicates that general skills are new workforce competencies that enable people working in different workplaces. Such skills, not restricted in specific workplaces, are the concept of key competencies. Hereafter, many researches emphasizes the importance of key competencies, such as “generic skills” of Stasz (1990), “work force basics” of Department of Labor (SCANS, 1991), “new work skills” of Resnick & Wirt (1996), and “new model worker” of Flecker & Hofbauer (1998). All skills or competencies listed above, though in different terms, are the concept of key competencies.  Many recent researches also emphasize the importance of the key competencies. OECD  (2000) suggests that a country should enhance the human capital to meet the globalization and knowledge based economy by increasing the key competencies of people. Hesketh (2000) points out that communication skills, learning abilities, problem solving skills, teamwork skills and self-management skills are considered first by the England employers. Those key competencies are even more important than the professional competencies. Stasz (2000) suggests that people in the new economical era should have two-dimensional skills, inter-personal skills and intra-personal skills. The former includes teamwork and leadership and the latter includes motivation, attitude, continuing learning, problem solving, negotiating with colleagues and customers, analytical ability and applying technology. The scholars in Taiwan also have the same views.

 

A Theoretical Model for Matching Entry Modes with Defensive Marketing Strategies

Dr. Mansour Lotayif, Plymouth University, Plymouth, Devon, UK

 

ABSTRACT

Given the fact that entry modes and defensive marketing strategies represent two different streams of literature, it was thought there is no relationship between them. The following endeavor resembles a thrown stone in a stagnated lake by trying to match between them. The four pillars: opportunities or risk offered by each defensive strategy and entry mode; continuity probability of these risks and opportunities; resources and time needed to deploy each strategy and entry mode could help facilitate this mission. Consequently, the two literatures were analyzed and based on certain assumptions; the matching model has been suggested.  Pan and Tse, (2000); Jean-Pierre and Hennessey, (1998); Miller and Parkhe, (1998); Goodwin and Elliott, (1995); Woodcock et al., (1994); Erramilli and Rao, (1993); Erramilli and D'Souz, (1993); Terpstra and Sarathy, (1991); Dahringer and Muhlbacher, (1991); Erramilli, (1989); Boddewyn et al., (1986); Sapir, (1982); and Shelp, (1981) argue that, entry modes could be wholly-owned and fully controlled entry modes (e.g. branches, subsidiaries, representative and agency offices), shared-owned and shared controlled entry modes (e.g. joint ventures and partially mergers and acquisitions), contractual entry modes (e.g. licensing, franchising, and calculated alliances), and purely marketing oriented entry modes (e.g. direct and indirect exporting entry modes), as shown in Figure (1).  Traditionally, the focus across entry mode literature was mainly concentrated on the factors and the conditions behind the use of each entry mode. From this perspective, four main schools of thought have been put forward to explain the choice of entry modes; Gradual incremental involvement (Luo and O'Connor, 1998; Chu and Anderson, 1992; Johanson and Vahlne, 1990; Root, 1987; Davidson, 1980; Johanson and Vahlne, 1977; Dubin, 1975; and Stopford and Wells, 1972). This school connects between the commitment of resources in the target market and both the risk in this market and the international experiences the organization has. Therefore, the higher the risk in the target market, the less the resources commitment entry modes deployed in that market. Also, the higher the organization experiences, the more tendency to use high resources commitment entry modes. Transaction Costs Analysis (TCA) (Kumar and Subramaniam, 1997; Ghoshal and Moran, 1996; Erramilli and Rao, 1993; Erramilli, 1989; Kogut and Singh, 1988; Beamish and Banks, 1987; Anderson and Gatignon, 1986; Williamson, 1986; Williamson, 1985; Davidson and McFetridge, 1985; and Caves, 1982). In TCA school of thought, entry mode decision is dealt with as if it is a transaction.

 

What has happened in the Business World of On-Line Distance Learning?

Dr. Richard Gendreau, Bemidji State University, Bemidji, MN

 

ABSTRACT

On-line distance education has been around long enough to establish a track record all over the world. This paper looks at what has happened in the business world of on-line distance education. There are proposed changes in federal regulations affecting financial aid with more universities doing on-line distance education. Both on-line and traditional classroom education are moving towards assessing the outcomes of their students. The U.S. Department of education is becoming involved in the accreditation process. Several institutions have dropped out of the on-line distance education market. Educational institutions and the U.S. Military are heavily involved in developing and offering on-line distance education all over the world.  The United States Distance Learning Association defines distance learning as "the acquisition of knowledge and skills through mediated information and instruction, encompassing all technologies and other forms of learning at a distance (Roblyer and Edwards, page 192)." Mediated information is the information processed between the professor and the student. It is the exchange of insights (Heerema and Rogers, pages 14 and 16). The text, Instructional Technology for Teaching and Learning, (Newby, Stepich, Lehman, and Russel, page 210), defines distance learning as "...an organized instructional program in which teacher and learner are physically separated." On-line distance learning courses are offered to students anytime, anywhere, and anyplace utilizing computers to access the Internet, computerized presentations, and e-mail (Nasseh, Marklein, and Kauffman).  The government needs to take a realistic view towards financial aid and on-line distance education. At the present time there are two rules that directly affect on-line distance learners' ability to qualify for financial aid. The first is the 12-hour rule, which requires the learner to be in a physical classroom for at least 12 hours a week. The second is the 50-percent rule, which forbids an institution from offering federal financial aid if more then 50-percent of its courses or students are involved with distance education (Carnevale, page A51). 

 

Product Architecture and Product Design: A Complexity Perspective

Dr. Tony Brabazon, University College Dublin, Ireland

Dr. Robin Matthews, Kingston Business School, London

 

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to develop a conceptual framework which can be employed to provide insight into the impact of product architecture on the process of product design of assembled products.  The key argument of this paper is that product design can be considered as a search process which takes place on a design landscape, the dimension and topology of which is determined by the choice of physical components and the choice of architecture of interconnections between these components. Not all design landscapes offer equal opportunity nor are all landscapes equally difficult to search. Designers may trade-off these two items. A representation of both the design landscape and the related search process is constructed in this paper. Kauffman’s NK model is utilised to examine the impact of interconnection density and structure on the topology of the design landscape.  The Genetic Algorithm, is introduced as a means of modelling the learning process implicit in product design. It is argued that the algorithm can incorporate a variety of relevant search heuristics. The combination of the NK model and the genetic algorithm provides a framework which through a simulation methodology, can be used to investigate the impact of different modular structures on process of product design.  This paper examines a component of the product design problem and has as its objective, the development of a conceptual framework which is capable of providing insight into the impact of product architecture on the process of product design of assembled products, and the evolution of these designs over time. A complex systems perspective is adopted as it is considered that products are systems of components (Tushman and Nelson, 1990) which can  exhibit emergent properties (Holland, 1995). The functionality of a product depends not just on the behaviour of the individual components but also on the ‘architecture’ of the interconnections  between these components. Individual modules in a product’s design may  contain varying numbers of components (or other sub-modules). They may have differing internal connection structures between their components and differing external connection structures with other modules and/or components within the product. Product design represents the creation: ‘of solutions … that satisfy perceived needs though the mapping between functional elements and the physical elements of a product’ (Loch, Terwiesch and Thomke, 2001, p. 664).  This definition draws a clear distinction between a product’s functional elements, which represent the individual operations or traits that comprise the overall performance of a product, and the physical elements which represent the parts, components and sub-assemblies that implement the product’s functions (Loch, Terwiesch and Thomke, 2001).

 

Country of Origin:  A Critical Measure in Work Commitment Studies within Multi-Cultural Contexts

Dr. Adela J. McMurray, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

 

ABSTRACT

This multi-method study examines Country of Origin (COO) as a measure at the individual level, in the work commitment literature. An International literature review uncovered that many of the existing empirical studies appear to share a common oversight in their approach to uncovering work commitment within multi-cultural contexts. These studies omit to include the COO variable and in doing so, create difficulties in drawing work commitment comparisons in multi-cultural contexts, such as Australia and the USA. This study provides evidence that the inclusion of COO as a measure in multi-method studies undertaken in multi-cultural contexts has the potential to yield a more accurate picture of work commitment. Measurement may be either quantitative or qualitative yet is a central issue in research because it defines the links between theories and the data used to test them. Quantitative measurement focuses on the systematic allocation of values to variables that may signify events, objects, or a person’s characteristics whereas qualitative measurement focuses on labels, qualities and names. This multi-method study using both quantitative and qualitative measurement, addresses measurement equivalence within a multi-cultural population. The creation of measurement equivalence across groups is a reasonable precondition to carrying out cross-group comparisons but is seldom tested in organizational research (Vandenberg and Lance, 2000).  The theoretical underpinnings of the methodology in this study departed from the singular use of rational and scientific models grounded in the Lewinian field theory dominant in the work commitment literature. Instead, the study offered a synergy between Lewinian Field theory and social construction whilst specifically examining Job Involvement (JI) and Protestant Work Ethic (PWE). No research methodology is free of bias. Each has weaknesses and this may only be corrected by ‘cross-checking’ with other methodologies within the single study (Webb et al, 1966:175). Although the rational elements in all three companies dictated the main theoretical thrust in the design of the study be that of empiricism, these findings were crosschecked, expanded and explained by the fieldwork data, which was gathered and analysed from the symbolic interactionist approach.

 

Measuring Predictive Accuracy in Agribusiness Forecasting

Dr. Carlos W. Robledo, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA

Dr. Hector O. Zapata, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA

Dr. Michael W. McCracken, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

 

ABSTRACT

A recurrent need in business forecasting is that of choosing a best forecasting model. A model choice is often made by the minimization of a criterion such as the mean squared error (MSE). The model with lower MSE is considered better for forecasting; however, the statistical significance of such nominal differences is rarely questioned, an important concern to a decision maker who may be undecided about updating an existing model or adopting a new one. Recent developments in the forecasting literature (Diebold-Mariano, 1995; Stock and Watson, 1999) introduce out-of-sample tests for significance in the equality in MSEs.  This paper provides an empirical evaluation of these tests using quarterly data, 1981:3-1999:4 for the U.S. wheat market. Models are updated using fixed, rolling, and recursive schemes. It is found that for consumption, inventories, exports, prices and production nominal MSE comparisons would favor a model over another. However, when testing the significance in MSE improvements, the results suggest that increments of even 15% may not justify choosing a new model. A Monte Carlo experiment warns that nominal differences in MSE comparisons, when post-sample size is small, may generate only seemingly better forecasting models. Recent changes in U.S. agricultural policy have encouraged agricultural producers and agribusiness managers to become more conscious of the need for market intelligence in agricultural decision-making. This trend gained momentum in the1996 farm legislation (the Fair Act) through the elimination of farm subsidies in the form of target pricing and the introduction of transitory payments.  Similar provisions have been enacted in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (the FSRI Act), which move agriculture towards a freer market environment. For forecasting researchers, this new agribusiness decision environment creates an opportunity for revisiting and/or developing structural models that reflect market dynamics and forecast market trends accurately. Farmers and agribusiness firms that trade in grain markets, for instance, use outlook information for deciding when and how to sell or buy. Policy makers usually need information such as projections of acreage, production and prices while formulating policies.  But how is the choice of a best forecasting model made? Typical forecasting exercises measure accuracy via point estimates.  In a two model comparison, for example, mean squared errors (MSEs) are estimated and the model with the smaller MSE is considered better for forecasting.  Forecast users, however, rarely know the extent to which they may rely on such relative improvements in MSEs. In other words, a decision maker may benefit more from knowing that a 10% reduction in MSE, for instance, is significant compared to a 15% reduction that may not.

 

Teaching the Quality Service Consulting Project to Business School Students

Dr. Gene Milbourn, Jr., University of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD

 

ABSTRACT

This paper will provide an outline on how to structure a consulting project for business school students on the topic of quality service.  It will suggest a step-by-step program that a team of students can follow during a 3-4 week semester segment to develop a set of recommendations to improve the quality service of an enterprise.  Three models are featured: the five-factor quality service model of Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry; the customer driven company model of Whitely and the Forum Corporation; and, the customer value analysis model of Gale.  While not intended to be a literature review, some research is reviewed as appropriate for pedagogical purposes.  Compete surveys, scoring keys, templates for each segment of the consulting project are provided in the appendices. The cover of Time magazine asked the question “Pul-eeze! Will someone Help Me?”  The accompanying article reported the deterioration of customer service to be due to the general economic upheavals such as high inflation, labor shortage, and low-cost business strategies.  Prices increased 87% during the 1970’s and to keep prices from further skyrocketing, customer-service training was slashed and computers and self-service schemes were introduced in wholesale fashion [Time, 1987].  Businesses were seen to have developed the same habits and inattention to quality service that had plagued American manufacturers on the quality issue in years past.  Today,  e-commerce  retailers are forcing the bricks-and-mortar businesses to upgrade their customer focus to be competitive.  Data now exists that suggest that the economic well being of companies fluctuate with the quality of service.  The Strategic Planning Institute found in studying the confidential data provided by thousands of business units – the PIMS database—that quality service leads to very positive financial and strategic outcomes.  Grouping business into those providing low and those providing high quality service, it was found that, in addition to maintaining a price differential of 11%, return on sales was 11% higher and annual sales growth was 9% higher in the group providing high quality service.  In addition, the high service quality group experienced a 4% positive change in market share while the low service quality group registered a –2% change  [Gale, 1994].   An earlier report concluded that many companies “overinvest in cost reduction and capacity-expansion projects because they believe they can “run the numbers” to “justify” a project.  They underinvest in quality service improvement because they have not learned how to calibrate its strategic or financial payoff.” 

 

Personalization and Customization in Financial Portals

Dr. Altan Coner, Yeditepe University, Istanbul, Turkey

 

ABSTRACT

In today’s Internet economy, customers have more choices than ever. Their expectations for individualized and special treatment from corporations have never been more demanding. As an important segment of Internet economy, in order to meet their customer expectations, financial institutions present personalized and customized solutions to catch one-to-one relationships with their customers. Therefore, transforming raw data of customers into meaningful recommendations or suggestions become an important process for financial portals. Moreover, the concept of personalization and customization has expanded in scope to emphasize a much broader notion of customer relationship management (CRM). CRM takes personalization and customization from a portal technology to a corporate philosophy where the understanding of customer experience and behavior in a portal becomes a critical issue for the enterprises. This research paper examines preferences of customers regarding personalization and customization in financial portals.  In marketing history, we can see a number a different philosophies that guide a marketing effort. From mid C19th to early C20th, during industrial revolution, production concept was widely accepted. According to production concept, demand for a product was greater than supply. As Henry Ford mentioned, "Doesn't matter what color car you want, as long as it is black.” This was a typical quote during the “production concept” era. 1920's to mid 1930's World War II to early 1950's, businesses understood that emphasis was needed to sell the product to increase profits. In this era selling was the main purpose of a business. Demand for a product was thought to be equal to supply. So, they focused on advertising facilities. 1930's to World War II 1950's to present, supply for a product were greater than demand. This created an intensive competition among suppliers. Companies first began to determine what the consumer wanted, then produced what the consumer wanted, and then sold the consumer what he/she wanted. That was the beginning of marketing era.  Actually, the signals for the importance of customer satisfaction had already been mentioned before 1960s. In 1912, LL Bean founded on the marketing concept, in his first circular: "I do not consider a sale complete until goods are worn out and the customer still satisfied.

 

Work Values Ethic: A New Construct for Measuring Work Commitment

Dr. Adela J. McMurray, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Don Scott, Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia

 

ABSTRACT

This study reviews recent research on work ethic constructs and the resultant development of a construct for measuring a work values ethic in an Australian manufacturing environment. The construct was tested for validity, using confirmatory factor analysis and was found to represent a valid measure. It was also tested for reliability using Cronbach’s alpha and showed a satisfactory level of reliability in line with other previously developed measures for this construct. The findings suggest that, in an Australian manufacturing context, the Protestant Work Ethic (PWE) is not a valid construct and should be replaced by the Work Values Ethic (WVE) construct. There are six forms of work commitment, which are regarded as being relevant to an employed individual, five are universal and one is non-universal. The universal forms of work commitment are: work ethic endorsement, which encompasses the importance of work itself including 'Protestant Work Ethic'; Job Involvement, which relates to the extent to which one can identify with and is absorbed in one's job; affective (attitudinal) Organizational Commitment, which refers to an individual's emotional attachment to their organization; Calculative Commitment, which deals with an individual's perceived costs of leaving the organization; and Career or Professional Commitment, which relates to the importance an individual places on their occupation for each form of work commitment. Union Commitment is regarded as the non-universal form of work commitment because its applicability is declining in various countries namely the United States (Morrow, 1993). This paper examines the work commitment component called Protestant Work Ethic (PWE), both as an existing measure, and in its transition to a new measure of a ‘Work Values Ethic (WVE)’ for use in an Australian Manufacturing environment. PWE is considered to be a psychological construct and has been studied in a wide range of contexts and in various disciplines such as psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology and the social sciences (Wentworth & Chell, 1997). Today, it is predominantly found within the social psychology literature and is viewed as holding a significant position in the sociology of knowledge (Kebede, 2002). PWE is also the oldest concept of work commitment and its origins are found in the publication entitled "The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism" (Weber, 1905)   Hamilton (1996) states that there are a number of flaws in Weber's original work that cast doubt on its authenticity and relevance.

 

Human Resource Management Practices, Strategic Orientations, and Company Performance: A Correlation Study of Publicly Listed Companies

Dr. Simon K. M. Mak, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Dr. Syed Akhtar, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

 

ABSTRACT

This study examined the relationships of human resource management practices with strategic orientations of organizations and their financial performance. The human resource management practices included job description, internal career opportunity, job security, profit sharing, training, performance appraisal and voice mechanisms. Strategic orientations comprised cost, quality and innovation. Data were collected from 63 publicly listed companies through a questionnaire that contained objective measures of human resource management practices and subjective measures of strategic orientations. Company performance was measured in terms of return on equity. Correlation analysis indicated that only job description and profit sharing correlated positively and significantly with the company performance across both managerial and non-managerial employees. Except for internal career opportunity, other human resource management practices were associated with one or more strategic orientation. Results favour a mixed approach to the adoption of human resource management practices based on both strategic orientations and company performance. In recent years, researchers have focused on how a firm’s employees can collectively be a unique source of competitive advantage that cannot be imitated by competitors (Barney, 1991). Human resources are not as readily imitated as equipment or facilities are. Thus, investments in firm-specific human capital can further decrease the probability of cross-company imitation (Jones & Wright, 1992; Wright & McMahan, 1992). Bailey (1993) observed that human resource management (HRM) practices could enhance the return from employees’ discretionary efforts, which would lead to payoffs that were greater than the relative increase in costs incurred.  Based on a survey of 495 firms, Delaney, Lewin, and Ichniowsky (1989) observed that specific practices in the following areas represented "sophistication" in human resource management: human resource planning, job design and job analysis, employee selection and staffing, training and development, performance appraisal, compensation, grievance and complaint procedures, employee involvement and participation plans, information sharing programmes and attitude surveys.

 

Usable Web Based Simulated Annealing and Tabu Search for the Facility Layout Problem

Dr. Hong-In Cheng, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

Dr. Patrick E. Patterson, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

 

ABSTRACT

Facility layout problems arise commonly in manufacturing systems where it is desired to minimize material handling cost. Typically, heuristic methods are developed to solve these problems because of the inefficiencies and restrictions of optimal methods. To solve facility layout problems on the World Wide Web (WWW), we chose the quadratic assignment problem (QAP) formulation and two intelligent search heuristics. Java was used to program several applets. We first solved an unknown QAP using simulated annealing (SA) and tabu search (TS) methods programmed in C/C++. Through result comparison SA and TS were verified as useful heuristic methods for this problem type. Efficient values of the search algorithm variables that provide good solutions while minimizing CPU time are recommended. Web based simulated annealing (WBSA) applets that present layout solutions and the total layout costs were then developed. The WBSA applet was tested on a well-studied QAP, comparing competitive configurations with other heuristics. A TS applet developed to perform web based tabu search (WBTS) was also shown to be a good method for providing useful layouts. Finally practical rules are presented for interactive interface design of web-based program by the usability test. A facility layout represents the spatial arrangement of all facilities in a manufacturing system. It represents the spatial assignment of workstations, machines, material handling facilities, storage spaces and offices. The facility layout is very important in a manufacturing system because material handling, storage level and the productivity of the operator can be directly affected by the facility layout.  The facility layout problem has been studied for decades. However, it still remains an interesting problem for researchers working on combinatorial optimization problems. The objective of the facility layout problem is to design a block layout that minimizes the total layout cost. Total layout cost is usually referred to as material handling cost, and is expressed as the product of workflow and travel distance. After a block layout is determined, further work converts the block layout into a detailed layout that assigns specific facility locations, aisle locations, input/output points, and so forth (Figure 1). The illustrations below demonstrate two different forms of a facility layout.

 

Measurement of Intangible Success Factors in Four Case Organizations

Dr. Antti Lönnqvist, Institute of Industrial Management, Tampere University of Technology, Finland

 

ABSTRACT

This paper focuses on the measurement of organizations’ intangible success factors. They consist of the amount and quality of intangible assets, the use of intangible assets and the actions related to intangible assets. Their management and measurement is considered important because of the critical role of intangible assets for many organizations. Although several methods have been developed for measuring intangible success factors, there are problems in applying them in practice. The topic is analyzed both theoretically and empirically. The research questions are how the intangible success factors to be measured are chosen, what they are like, and how they are measured. Four case studies are presented and analyzed in order to provide concrete examples and to discover answers to the research questions.  Intangible assets consist of, e.g., the employees’ competencies, organization’s relationships with customers and other stakeholders, culture, values, image and management processes (See e.g. Edvinsson and Malone 1997 or Sveiby 1997). They are critical for most organizations. Thus, the management of intangible asset has emerged as an important practice and a research area (Petty and Guthrie 2000, p. 161). Performance measurement of intangible assets is also an active research area. There are several methods available for measuring intangible assets. However, organizations have not widely adopted them (Lönnqvist 2002; Nordika 2000) and none of the newly developed measurement tools have been commonly accepted.  This paper focuses on measurement methods that can be used as managerial tools of a business unit or even a smaller organizational unit. The measurement is carried out by first identifying the measurement objects and then designing their measures. Measurement objects are usually called success factors. The measurement of intangible assets should take into account the dynamic nature of these assets.

 

Subjective Productivity Measurement

Dr. Sari Kemppilä, Tampere University of Technology, Finland

Dr. Antti Lönnqvist, Tampere University of Technology, Finland

 

ABSTRACT

Productivity is an important success factor for all organizations and, thus, it should also be managed. Productivity measurement is a traditional tool for managing productivity. There are several different methods for productivity measurement. In certain situations, these traditional methods may not be applicable suggesting that there is a need for other kind of measures. An alternative approach for the traditional methods is subjective productivity measurement. Subjective productivity measures are not based on quantitative operational information. Instead, they are based on personnel’s subjective assessments. The data is collected, e.g., using questionnaires. The objective of the paper is to present subjective productivity measurement as a new and potential managerial tool for productivity measurement. In addition, some evidence regarding the practicality and usefulness of the method is presented. The paper is based in reviewing studies in which subjective productivity measurement has been used. At the moment, there are only a few experiences regarding the use of subjective productivity measures. There are several problems regarding the validity, reliability and practical using principles of the measures. Despite the problems, subjective productivity measurement appears to be very potential method for measuring productivity in situations where the objective methods fail. Productivity is an important success factor for all organizations. Improvements in productivity have been recognized to have a major impact on many economic and social phenomena, e.g. economic growth and higher standard of living. Companies must continuously improve productivity in order to stay profitable. Therefore, productivity should also be managed. Productivity measurement is one traditional and practical tool for managing productivity. (See e.g. Uusi-Rauva and Hannula 1996; Sink 1983).  There are several different methods for productivity measurement. Most of the methods are based on quantitative data on operations. In many cases, it is quite difficult and sometimes even impossible to collect the data needed for productivity measurement. An example of this situation is the work of professionals and experts. Their work is knowledge-intensive and the inputs and outputs are not easily quantifiable. Therefore, the traditional productivity measures are not applicable.

 

United States Versus International Financial Statements

Dr. Gurdeep K. Chawla, National University, San Jose, CA

 

ABSTRACT

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires foreign companies offering their securities in United States (US) exchange markets to restate or reconcile their financial statement according to US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).  The requirement is designed to provide domestic investors with standardized financial information which can be used in making appropriate investment decisions.  However, the requirement makes it more expensive for foreign companies to do business in US.  This study will evaluate the quality of financial information provided by US GAAP and compare it with the quality of financial statements prepared according to International Accounting Standards (IAS).  A sample of standards issued by International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) will be compared against the US GAAP.  The standards selected for comparison are based upon major differences noted in form 20-F, reconciliation or restatement of financial statements prepared according to foreign accounting standards to US GAAP filed by foreign companies with SEC, and outlined by other authors and experts such as "Doing Business" series by Price WaterhouseCoopers.  The study will be helpful in determining whether SEC should continue to require restatement or reconciliation of foreign statements according to US GAAP. It will also be beneficial to IASB in evaluating its accounting standards and need, if any, for developing additional standards in its efforts to harmonize accounting standards across national boundaries.  A foreign company's (Gulf International Bank) financial statements, prepared according to IAS, were compared against a domestic company's (Microsoft) financial statements, prepared according to US GAAP, to note the appearance of similarities between IAS and US GAAP financial statements.  In addition, Foreign companies' SEC filings (Form 20-F) were reviewed for major differences that materially affected financial statements noted in reconciliation or restatement of foreign financial statements according to US GAAP.  It is a good source to study differences between foreign accounting standards and US GAAP. 

 

Exchange Rate Crises and Firm Values: A Case Study of Mexico’s Tequila Crisis

Dr. Cathy S. Goldberg, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Dr. John M. Veitch, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

 

Abstract

Exchange rate crises that lead to large devaluations in a country’s currency generally result in significant economic disruptions for that country. One group of firms, however, is expected to benefit from this event – export-oriented firms. A significant devaluation should raise an exporter’s profits as the increase in the value of foreign currency revenues brings higher expected future profits. In an efficient market, the value of export firms should be less affected by a currency crisis than firms that are primarily focused on the domestic economy. We conduct an event study of the effects of the 1994 Tequila crisis, and consequent peso devaluation, on a cross-section of Mexican firms. We find that export firms as a whole outperform non-export firms in the months after this crisis. In corporate finance, the value of a firm should equal the present discounted value of its future free cash flows. A firm’s Free Cash Flows (FCF) depend crucially on the interplay between its revenues and expenses. To the extent that a firm’s revenues and expenses are in different currencies, exchange rate changes will change the firm’s future FCF’s in its home currency and therefore the market value of its stock.  A firm whose expenses and revenues are primarily generated within the local economy may be negatively impacted by a currency crisis that produces a significant devaluation of the domestic currency. To the extent the currency crisis results in a sustained contraction of the domestic economy, non-export firms may experience declining unit sales, revenues and profits. Thus a currency devaluation should generally have negative impacts on the value of non-export firms in the affected economy. Note that firms that rely on imports of raw materials are likely to suffer the greatest falls in value due to the increase in their expenses as well as a decline in revenues.  In contrast, a firm that is primarily an exporter may be positively affected by the same currency crisis. The firm’s expenses in local currency are not directly affected by the devaluation, but its revenues in foreign currency now translate into larger amounts of local currency. Export firms are thus likely to experience increases in their profits and future free cash flows denominated in local currency.

 

Improving Quarterly Earnings Estimates: The Predictive Ability of the Cash Reinvestment Ratio

Dr. Wray E. Bradley, The University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK

 

ABSTRACT

Quarterly earnings per share forecasts are widely used by securities analysts, investors, management, and auditors.  One of the best mathematical models for forecasting quarterly earning per share is the Brown-Rozeff univariate ARIMA model (Brown and Rozeff, 1979).  This model has been shown to outperform other univariate models and is considered a benchmark generally specified parsimonious model (Lobo and Nair, 1990; Lorek, et. al, 1992).  In this study, the Cash Reinvestment Ratio (CRR) is used as a transfer function in a firm specific bivariate ARIMA model (enhanced model).  The enhanced model outperforms the benchmark Brown-Rozeff model in terms of Mean Absolute Percentage Error (MAPE), Mean Square Error (MSE), and Mean Absolute Error (MAE).  The implication of these findings is that the inclusion of appropriate cash flow information, that serves as a proxy for economic events that are not yet represented in the accounting earnings stream, can result in better time-series forecasting models.  This is an important finding since time series models are often a preferred tool for forecasting quarterly earnings per share.  The accuracy of forecasting models used by management and financial analysts is often superior to mathematical models.  It has been suggested that this is because management and analysts incorporate proprietary information not available to the public into their models (Collins and Hopwood, 1980; Chatfield, Moyer and Sisneros, 1989).  However, some researchers have challenged the contention that information outside the general public purview is a significant source of firm valuation.  Rather, these researchers suggest that there is fundamental accounting information in public financial statements that is not being fully utilized (Ou and Penman, 1989; Bernard and Thomas, 1990; Lev and Thiagarajan, 1993; Olson and McCann, 1994).  The premise of this article is that the accuracy of an ARIMA forecasting model will be improved by capturing additional unused or under utilized fundamental accounting information in a frugal manner.  It has been shown that financial analysts routinely use fundamental (publicly available) accounting information to revise their proprietary forecasts (Abarbanell and Bushee, 1995).  It follows that mathematical forecasting models can be enhanced by incorporating more information from publicly available financial statements. 

 

The Effects of the EC Banking Directives on Greek Financial Institutions

Dr. Cathy S. Goldberg, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Dr. Themis D. Pantos, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
 
ABSTRACT

This paper analyzes changes in systematic risk and in shareholder wealth for banks and investment firms in Greece resulting from the introduction of the European Community Banking Directives. We examine the changes in the return structure of these institutions as the Banking Directives unfold. Our results indicate that systematic risk increased because of these particular Directives for both banks and investment firms. The effect on shareholder wealth, however, for both groups was neutral.Trading blocs have played an increasingly important role in the liberalization of trade flows during the 1990’s. In the realm of financial services these liberalization efforts within trade blocs have taken the form of the harmonization of regulatory regimes across member countries. These harmonization initiatives generally entail the opening of previously closed markets in banking and investment services to increased competition. As a result, financial institutions have been forced to abandon their previous focus on domestic capital markets and turn increasingly to the regional or international arena to survive.  This paper examines the economic implications of moving from a segmented financial system to a universal one, with special reference to how the EC’s “Banking 1992” initiatives impacted the Greek banking system.  The literature on regulatory regime changes is ambiguous as to the effect on shareholder wealth and systematic risk. Competition may increase profit volatility but also increase mean expected returns as a result of cost savings. Decreased regulation may allow institutions to diversify more effectively, reducing their systematic risk, or enter riskier areas, increasing their systematic risk. It is clear the net effect of various regulatory reforms on Greek banks and investment firms becomes an empirical question.  In this study, we address two specific questions; (i) how was the value of Greek financial institutions affected by the introduction of the European Community Banking Directives, and (ii) how did these regulatory reforms affect the systematic risk for these institutions.  Little empirical work exists on how the systematic risk of a financial system for a small open economy like Greece is impacted by regulatory changes within a larger trading bloc.

 

Cointegration and the Causality Between the Real Sector and the Financial Sector of the Malaysian Economy

Dr. Mazhar M. Islam, Sultan Qaboos University, Al-Khod, Oman

 

ABSTRACT

This paper investigates the long-run  equilibrium relationship,  and the causality  between  the  financial and the   real sectors of  the Malaysian economy using monthly observations from March 1990 through May 2001. The financial variables  are interest rate, inflation rate, exchange rate, stock return, and real sector is proxied by industrial productivity. Augmented Dickey Fuller  & Phillips-Perron unit root  tests are applied to check for  stationarity in each series.   Unit root tests  show all  variables  are non-stationary in levels, but stationary in  their first differences. Johansen multivariate  cointegration test supports the long run equilibrium relationship between the financial sector and the real sector. The Granger test shows unidirectional "Granger causality"  between the(financial sector  and  real sector of the economy.  Studies on the short and the long-run relationships between  economic variables are abundant, especially with respect to developed countries.  Among others, most recently Maysami and Hui (2001) examined the short-run and the long-run relationships between stock returns and interest rate, inflation, money supply, exchange rate, real economic activities of Japan and South Korea. Using Hendry's  (1986) general-to-specific approach to error correction modeling during the period Q1 1986 to Q4 1998,  their results suggest the existence of cointegrating relationships between macroeconomic variables and the stock returns of the two countries. However, they argued that the type and extent of the relationships differ depending on each country's macroeconomic setting.  Their findings  of the positive relationship between industrial production and Korean stock returns are similar to those of Kwon et al. (1997), Kaneko and Lee (1995), and Mukherjee and  Naka (1995). Fama (1990)  argued that stock price reflects expectations of earnings, dividends, interest rates, and information about future real economic activity may be reflected in the stock price before it occurs.  Moreover, stock returns will affect the wealth of investors which in turn affect the level of demand for consumption and investment goods.  Schwert's (1981) study shows that growth of industrial production is a major determinant of long-run stock returns. 

 

An Examination of Cross-Cultural Negotiation: Using Hofstede Framework

Dr. Lieh-Ching Chang, Shih-Hsin University, Taiwan

 

ABSTRACT

A successful cross-cultural negotiation requires an understanding of others and using that understanding to realize what each party wants from the negotiation. The international negotiation experts understand the national negotiation style of those on the other side of the table, accept and respect their cultural beliefs and norms, and are conscious of personal mannerisms and how they may be viewed by the other side. In the past decade, many significant cross-cultural researches have explored differences between Chinese and North Americans in both interpersonal and organizational contexts. Citizens of both countries acknowledge they do not know much about each other, though they hold definite stereotypes of each other (Gudykunst 1993). However, the growth in international trade between Chinese and North Americans in recent years necessitates a better understanding of customs and expectations in cross-cultural negotiations. Therefore, there are many researchers have sought to examine and detail the similarities and differences between Chinese and North Americans.  This study is to explore cultural variations using Hofstede’s (1980, 1991) framework in Chinese and North Americans. Because culture is so important in the negotiation process, this paper will also review the five cultural dimensions of Hofstede (1991) and place these in both societies.  With the globalization of product markets and expansion of economic activities across national borders, cross-cultural differences are emerging as a significant factor in the management of organization (Redpath and Nielsen 1997). In recent years, an economic power has forged in China. When the economic situation becomes recession around the world, China looks like an awakening sleeping lion. Therefore, China has made economic progress and has opened itself to foreign during the last 25 years. By June 1999, China had approved more than 332,700 foreign-funded enterprises such as automobile, chemical, computer, electronics, food, beverage, retailing, banking, and insurance, with foreign investments of more than $286 billion (Che 1999). China becomes a new market-driven in the global marketplace. There are numerous U.S. and other Western companies, large and small, believe first-mover-advantage and are willing to develop China big market.

 

Aligning Training and Organizational Performance Goals Via Simulation

Dr. J. D. Selby-Lucas, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Dr. William Swart, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Dr. Charles S. Duncan, Army Training Support Center, Ft. Eustis, VA

 

ABSTRACT

Simulation has been used for some time to forecast labor requirements, redesign facility layouts, and examine employee and customer traffic flow.  However, when industry and government consider extending the use of simulation to study the alignment of training and organizational performance goals and the impact of implementing those goals at the frontline level of activity, organizations will realize substantial benefits.  Alignment of organizational performance goals and training is not something that has always concerned us.  It seems easier to busy ourselves getting better and better at doing those things that may no longer need to be done.  Improving process can become all consuming, regardless of whether anyone is really benefiting from the products.  Changing product lines, or re-organizing can consume large amounts of energy, and "may" prove fruitful, but one really does not know until all the data is in, and then and only then can we tell if the new line is selling, and if people know how to produce the new products with consistent quality. Many a company touts a corporate goal or vision as an expression of their guarantee to the consumer.  Phrases including words as quality, service, excellence and other similar superlatives are commonly communicated guarantees from corporate advertisers.  However the same people who approve the slogans have little way of knowing whether corporate changes announced from the Headquarters will be implemented in such a way as to guarantee the company’s quality goes unaltered.  How then does one go about aligning the training programs of an organization with the organizational performance goals?  A primary key to organizational growth is the proper training and alignment of personnel, in relation to agency goals and ultimately corporate goals.  At the center of any successful company are successful employees.  Such people are those who know their jobs, do them willingly, and are committed to the goals of the corporation.

 

Databases, Data Mining and Beyond

Dr. Shamsul Chowdhury, Roosevelt University, Schaumburg, IL

 

ABSTRACT

The paper presents the uses of data mining techniques on databases and explore the possibilities of using CBR methodology to represent the knowledge mined (gained) from the databases  for developing useful system for decision support. A database on injuries was used as a front-end to develop a case-based reasoning (CBR) application for decision support. The preliminary results obtained and experiences with data mining on databases/data warehouses are satisfactory when it concerns knowledge extraction, case representation, retrieval, refinement, reuse ant retainment in CBR. These new emerging technologies (data warehousing, data mining and CBR) could be combined together for implementing application oriented information systems in different service sectors for example in health care, for improved, efficient and cost-effective  services.  Database applications can be found in many areas, such as in business, medicine and other scientific and socio-economic areas. The information content in an operational database can  broadly be classified into two main classes (Sundgren, 1981).   Operative information:  which is absolutely necessary for a certain operation to be performed in the object system;  Directive information:  which is not absolutely necessary, but could be extremely valuable in improving the quality of an operation. Data, which is an asset;  captured in different operational databases (for example: clinical databases, demographic databases, etc.) over time could further  be extracted, transported and integrated together in data warehouses (DW)/data marts for building decision support facilities/systems. Data marts are subsets of DW’s ( Sperley, 1999).  The pool of data in a data warehouse are usually being  explored by data mining tools to extract relevant information/knowledge that otherwise may be hidden and could never be taken into account in decision making processes.  Irrespective of the information context, the purpose of a database could be to derive or infer facts about the universe of discourse in general and thereby improve the quality of decision-making processes. Databases over time could be a resource for building a knowledge base for decision support. 

 

Macro-Finance: Application of Financial Economic Theory for Implementing Macroeconomic Policy

Dr. Ronald W. Spahr, University of Illinois at Springfield, Springfield, IL

Dr. Mohammad Ashraf, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, NC

Dr. Nancy Scannell, University of Illinois at Springfield, Springfield, IL

Dr. Yuri I. Korobov, Saratov State Socio-Economics University, Saratov, Russia

 

ABSTRACT

We define macrofinance as the application of traditional financial economic theory to the macro-economy postulating that macroeconomic activity results from aggregate effects of all domestic private and public saving, investment, net international trade and consumption decisions. We suggest that a single economic policy objective should be the maximization of the composite wealth of the country’s stakeholders, the country’s total population. This national welfare objective is analogous to the financial economic objective of maximizing shareholders' wealth in the case for a single firm. Maximizing owners’ wealth for a single firm involves the discounting of future cash flows (usually dividends) accruing to the firm’s shareholders. For a nation’s economic welfare, a parallel concept may be operationalized by maximizing the present value of a country’s long-run, sustainable, real standard of living, i.e., maximizing discounted future cash flows associated with the consumption component of GDP. We apply the macrofinance methodology to identify characteristics of macroeconomic policy, which may be less transparent given current objectives of economic policy. The multiple objectives of traditional monetary policy was articulated in the United States of America Employment Act of 1946, but since has become the cornerstone of macroeconomic policy for many countries.  The objectives of traditional monetary policy have been interpreted to include shorter-term stabilization of price levels, control of employment and growth levels, stabilization of money and capital markets, and balancing of trade.  These objectives and their resulting implementation by controlling money supplies are adopted almost universally by most central banks. However, because of multiple and sometimes conflicting objectives and short-term emphasis, monetary policy is difficult to delineate for various economic conditions. The thesis of this paper is that the traditional financial economic paradigm for valuation and financial decision-making within the individual firm (corporate finance theory) may, with modifications, be applied to determine policy objectives for a nation’s macro-economy. “Macrofinance” is defined as the application of financial economic theory and practice to the macro-economy, assuming that economic activity results from aggregated effects of private and public decisions regarding all domestic economic savings, investment, net international trade and consumption. 

 

Business Intelligence: Empirical Study on the top 50 Finnish Companies

Dr. Mika Hannula, Tampere University of Technology, Finland

Virpi Pirttimäki, Tampere University of Technology, Finland

 

ABSTRACT

Comprehensive and timely information and knowledge is crucial in generating new products and improving business operations. Business Intelligence (BI) plays a central role in producing up-to-date information for operative and strategic decision-making. This study was carried out in order to find out what BI represents for Finnish large-scale companies in the year 2002. The study is the first comprehensive study of its kind in Finland.  Telephone surveying was used as the primary research method in this study. Individuals responsible for BI activities in the top 50 Finnish companies were telephone-interviewed. Before the actual interview the questionnaire was sent to the interviewees. The response rate reached 92 percent forming a sound basis for the study.  The objective of this study is to find out how common the BI activities are and how BI is currently applied in large Finnish companies. The study examines the initiation and organization of BI activities as well as the future prospects concerning BI activities in the companies interviewed. The research will also examine the key areas of improvement in BI activities, benefits gained from BI as well as the future outlook for the field. The companies researched in the study are categorized into three groups by industry: manufacturing, trade and services, and information and communication technology (ICT). In recent years, Business Intelligence activities have increased significantly in Finnish companies. It is obvious that the effective use of the concepts and processes of Business Intelligence is necessitated by the global business environment in which Finnish companies operate. Comprehensive and timely information and knowledge are crucial in generating new products and improving business operations. Business Intelligence and related Management Information Systems play a central role in producing up-to-date information for operative and strategic decision-making.   There are currently several firms offering BI consultancy or BI systems development in Finland. Business Intelligence terms and practices in companies have not yet become very well established, however, and several different terms are employed for this concept. Most firms think of BI activities as a process focusing on monitoring the competitive environment around them. This study was carried out in order to find out what Business Intelligence represents for Finnish large-scale companies in the year 2002.

 

New Directions for Human Resources in 2002 and Beyond

Dr. Sandra Casey Buford, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA

Dr. Maria Mackavey, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA

 

ABSTRACT

This paper seeks to understand the current HR environment and proposes some ways to work effectively within the present environment. We examine the HR role against Ulrich’s model that defines the roles of successful HR professionals as Strategic Business Partner, Administrative Expert, Employee Champion, and Change Agent.  Ulrich and others (Gubman (1998), Kanter, Drucker, Hammer and Becker) have made a compelling case that the competencies defined by each of these four roles contribute to successful HR practice.  The Masters of Science in Management Program in Human Resources Management at Lesley University has articulated a curriculum that is designed to develop competencies in each of these four areas of HR practice.  It is our contention that the post September 11th environment—marked by uncertainty about the future, failure of corporate boards to exert ethical oversight and the ensuing CEO scandals, together with the downturn of the economy—all are challenging HR’s role as employee champion, business partner and change agent.  Instead, in an increasingly reactive mode, HR professionals find themselves focusing on the more fire-fighting and administrative aspects of their role – firing, hiring, and acting as legal custodians of their organizations.  Our paper briefly describes the major changes the Human Resources profession has undergone since 1970 when it was known as “Personnel.”   The role of Personnel professionals was primarily reactive in nature.  Managers used Personnel professionals to get hiring, firing, payroll and benefits accomplished. These HR roles were traditionally defined as HR Generalist, Employee Relations Specialist, Compensation Analyst, and Recruiter.  The paper outlines the progress made in the 1980’s and 1990’s when thought leaders positioned HR professionals as business partners and value-added members of the organization.  The corollary changes in the workplace wrought through technological advancements, mergers and acquisitions, globalization, restructuring, downsizing, a record number of IPO’s and subsequent increased employee stock distribution facilitated the transformation of HR’s role from a bureaucratic one into a more strategic one.  Many HR professions had the opportunity to become contributors to bottom line profits through cost savings and the execution of growth strategies.  Buzzwords of the time include employee advocate, and employer of choice. 

 

Do Malaysian Investors Overreact?

Dr. Ming-Ming Lai, Multimedia University, Malaysia

Dr. Balachandher Krishnan Guru, Multimedia University, Malaysia

Dr. Fauzias Mat Nor, University Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia

 

ABSTRACT

This paper provides a comprehensive examination of investors’ long run overreaction by integrating firm size, time-varying risk, and sources of profits on the monthly returns of all stocks listed in the Malaysian stock market over the period from January 1987 to December 1999. The results indicate evidence in favor of long run overreaction in both models with and without control for firm size. The results tend to suggest that the one to two- years contrarian strategy of buying loser stocks and selling winner stocks. The integrated results indicate that the contrarian profits gained are mainly due to the overreaction factor rather than firm size effect and time-varying risk. Notwithstanding the evidence of overreaction not being a manifestation of small firm size effect, the overreaction of the loser portfolios were more apparent in the smaller firms than in the larger firms after controlling for firm size. The experience of investing has always been dynamic and uncertain. In theory, financial models assume that investors are rational. Rational investors have access to all information and use all the available information in making their financial decisions. They maximize their expected utility and behave rationally. In reality, Bensman (1997) argued that not only are the species of truly rational people rare, and in fact they may not exist at all. Investors who are merely normal human beings with characteristics of sentiment, regret, and fear tend to look for familiar patterns in predicting future stock prices in a volatile financial market. Investors think that a trend will continue simply because there has been such trends in recent financial markets as studied by Tvede (1999). One could question the degree of representativeness of past price patterns and the durations over which these patterns continue to exist. It thus makes one wonder whether investors often tend to overreact. Hence, this paper is a comprehensive study of investors’ overreaction by integrating associated issues of firm size, time-varying risk, and sources of profits. The findings of this paper contribute empirical evidence of overreaction behavior in the Malaysian context. Section 2 presents a review of past empirical research in this area.

 

Competitive Strategies, Strategic Alliances, and Performance in International High-Tech Industries: A Cross-Cultural Study

Dr. Minoo Tehrani, Western New England College, Springfield, MA

 

ABSTRACT

This research empirically investigates the type of association between utilization of distinct patterns of competition and superior performance across sixteen segments of high-tech industries in the U.S. and European Union.  In addition, the link between strategic alliances and performance differentials is explored.  The results provide insight into similarities and differences in gaining competitive advantages for high-tech firms in a cross-cultural setting.  Identification of factors that give rise to competitive advantage has been a central theme of strategic management research.  Among the salient factors contributing to the superior performance of firms, two constructs, competitive strategies and strategic alliances, have been the focus of several studies.  Utilization of distinct patterns of competition along differentiation, low cost, and focus strategies and positive association to performance of firms have empirical support in strategic management literature (e.g., Baum, Locke, & Smith, 2001; Dess & Davis, 1994; Dowling & McGee, 1994; Porter, 1980, 1985).  However, the findings of research on the relationship between engagement in alliances and superior performance are contradictory.  Several studies report general support for the positive significant association between strategic alliances and performance (e.g., Astley & Fombrun, 1983; Bresser & Harl, 1986; Dunford, 1987; Powell, Koput, & Smith-Doerr, 1996).  Other researchers report the existence of mediating and moderating factors governing this relationship (e.g., McGee, Dowling, & Megginson, 1995; Doz, 1996; Steensma & Corley, 2000).  There are also studies that have found negative or no association between engagement in strategic alliances and firm performance (e.g., Shrader, 2001).  The primary objectives of this article are three-folds: first, find out if utilization of distinct patterns of competition has a similar impact on firm performance across different industries and geographical borders; second, to explore the relationship between engagement in strategic alliances and performance for any direct positive association between the two constructs; third, to highlight similarities and differences regarding these linkages among high-tech firms in the U.S. and European Union (EU), providing insight into successful competition in international high-tech industries. 

 

An Evaluation of Consumer and Business Segmentation Approaches

Dr. Turan Senguder, Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

 

ABSTRACT

The word "market" is specific location where products are bought and sold.  There are few market segments but the most common ones are consumer and business market segments.  Consumer markets include individuals in their household who intend to consume or benefit the purchased products.  Business markets consist of individuals, groups or organizations that purchase specific kinds of products for the purpose of using them to produce other products, to resell or to facilitate the organization's operations.  Marketers use two general approaches to identify their target markets-total market approach and the market segmentation approach.  The total market approach: An organization sometimes defines the total market for particular products as its target market.  When a company designs a single marketing mix and directs it at an entire market for a particular product, it is using a total market approach.  The total market approach can be effective under two conditions.  First, a large proportion of customers in the total market must have similar needs for the product. For example, one size shoe fits everyone.  Second, the organization must be able to develop and maintain a single mix that satisfies customers' needs.  When a company takes the total market approach, it sometimes employs a product differentiation strategy.  Product differentiation is a strategy by which a firm aims one type of product at the total market and attempts to establish in customers' minds the superiority and preferability of this product relative to competing brands.  When product differentiation is used, the firm does not actually differentiate or alter the physical characteristics of the product to its other products. Mainly through promotion, the firm attempts to differentiate in consumers' mind, its products from competitor’s products. Not everyone wants the same type of car, house, furniture, or clothes.  If we were to ask fifty people what type of home each would like to have, we probably would receive fifty different answers, many of them quite distinctive. Markets made up of individuals with diverse product needs are called heterogeneous markets.  In such markets, a marketer should use the market segmentation approach. 

 

 

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Index: The Library of Congress, Washington, DC:    ISSN: 1540 – 7780

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