Undergraduate Research Awards
Participating Asper faculty
There is widespread recognition that businesses have an important role to play in addressing serious social and ecological issues facing humankind (e.g., climate change, economic inequality). According to the literature on sustainable management, it is helpful to think of three different approaches to business, ranging from least to most sustainable:
1) a Financial Bottom Line (FBL) approach places primary emphasis on maximizing profits and leaves caring for social and ecological well-being to other stakeholders (e.g., government);
2) a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) approach seeks to maximize profits by reducing negative social and ecological externalities (e.g., reduced packaging reduces ecological footprint and financial costs; daycares at workplace reduces stress and turnover costs);
3) a Social and Ecological Thought (SET) approach seeks to optimize social and ecological well-being while remaining financially viable (i.e., a SET approach does not seek to maximize profits). For example, Winnipeg’s Eadha Bread bakery sources local organic ingredients (enhances ecological well-being), bakes only sourdough products (enhances the ability of the body to absorb nutrients), and supports local community-building projects (e.g., customers can purchase “coupons” that are placed on a bulletin board for people who cannot afford a loaf).
This research project aims to contribute to an on-going study of SET businesses in Canada (including how they compare to TBL and FBL firms). The student will collaborate with the research team in the following activities (which may be modified based on the interests of the student).
1) Identify and add new businesses to the existing sample of local firms that operate according to SET, TBL and FBL management practices and principles;
2) Arrange, undertake, record, and transcribe interviews with managers from SET, TBL and FBL businesses. Note that depending on the interests of the student, these interviews may focus on a particular industry and/or on a specific business discipline (e.g., supply chain, marketing, finance). Note also that, as in the summer of 2021, these interviews may be done via phone/Zoom calls (especially outside of Winnipeg);
3) Help to analyze interview data (under guidance of researcher);
4) If appropriate, participate in writing a scholarly paper, research report, and/or teaching case based on the findings.
The student will work with Bruno Dyck (and likely other faculty members involved in this research project).
Why do games like This War of Mine, Garry’s Mod, and Mount & Blade allow gamers to make mods? Why are many other games not moddable by gamers? Product development has traditionally been the business of producer firms who rely on their own development teams to develop the products. However, with the rise of digital platforms that enable ordinary people to participate in the product development process, users of products become a new source of product development. As a result, it becomes a viable choice for firms to engage open product development by involving users. This choice, however, involves a trade-off. On the one hand, opening a product for user involvement makes it possible for the firm to source free input from users and take advantage of that. Indeed, users can be sources of innovation. On the other hand, opening a product for user involvement may lead to the firm’s loss of full control of the product. Hazards like controversial mods may threaten the image of the firm. Given this trade-off, I ask: what factors drive firms’ choice to open their products for user involvement? I seek to address this question by focusing on game developers on Steam, the dominant digital distribution platform for PC video games. Specifically, I would like to explore firm- and product-level factors.
Dr. Mingzhi Liu
Department of Accounting and Finance
Boards of directors and executive officers are responsible for overseeing corporate operations and governance. Due to the public exposure, corporate directors and officers (D&Os) face a variety of risks that can often result in lawsuits, some of which may lead to financial losses for D&Os. In practice, therefore, many corporations purchase D&Os liability insurance in order to protect them from personal liability and financial losses incurred by business decisions. In the U.S., the total corporate D&Os liability insurance premiums written amounted to about $2.91 billion dollars per year (SNL Financial, 2014). However, insuring D&Os against allegations of “misbehaviors” is controversial due to its effect on accountability. In other words, it can cause unintended moral hazard problems, as purchasing corporate D&Os liability insurance reduces the disciplining effect of shareholder litigation and decreases corporate reporting transparency, which in turn encourages corporate risk-taking behaviors.
My main objective of this project is to investigate how executive compensation (e.g., annual cash salary/ performance bonus, long-term cash/share incentives, options) would affect the decision of purchasing corporate D&Os liability insurance (e.g., insurance premium and coverage). Under my guidance, the Undergraduate Research Award recipient is expected to collect information about executive compensation and auditing information for Canadian public companies in the S&P/TSX Composite Index from a publicly available source: the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR). At the end of the project, the recipient is encouraged to display the work in the poster competition for undergraduate student researchers.
How does educational attainment affect entrepreneurial career choice? The question has gained rapidly increasing attention from scholars studying entrepreneurship. However, the extant literature has provided conflicting views on the effect of education on entrepreneurship. On the one hand, some theoretical arguments and empirical findings suggest a positive effect of educational attainment on entrepreneurial career choice. On the other hand, other research argues for, and finds, a negative effect instead. The divergent findings are a major motivation for our study, as they suggest potential complexities in the relationship between educational attainment and entrepreneurial career choice.
We suggest that to untangle the effects of one’s educational attainment, it is critical to recognize that while these effects may be powerful, education will not enter into entrepreneurial choices in an isolated and simple way. That is, the effect of one’s educational attainment is embedded in the social context. Nor should we treat entrepreneurship as a simple, monolithic activity that presents would-be entrepreneurs with a dichotomous choice, as is often done, if we are to fully understand how would-be entrepreneurs make use of the human capital that education provides.
In this study, we try to reconcile this tension by re-examining the relationship between education and entrepreneurship from a more sociological perspective by looking at how the multi-level social context condition the effect of education on entrepreneurship. We will also examine how the different types of entrepreneurship (necessity vs. opportunity) moderate the effect of education. By doing so, our study tries to address the tension that currently exists in the literature and generates policy implications related to entrepreneurship.
I have a keen interest in working with our bright and competitive undergraduates at the University of Manitoba, and I am willing to involve them in this research to help collect and analyze data. Candidates with strong academic backgrounds in statistics, actuarial science, business analytics, and computer science and engineering are strongly encouraged to apply. Computer programming skills (with SAS, R, Stata, Python, etc.) is a plus.
Canadian companies are taking corporate social performance seriously, with some introducing a new Chief Sustainability Officer position to their leadership teams. However, many firms that have invested heavily in corporate social responsibility (CSR) have also been flagged for corporate social irresponsibility (CSiR). For instance, BP received several honours for good CSR practices, but its Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 triggered an industrial disaster that was perceived as a major CSiR incident. CSiR tends to invoke a strong public reaction and attract negative media attention, creating unfavourable consequences for firms. However, we lack a comprehensive understanding of what factors contribute to and what consequences result from CSiR, as well as the co-existence of CSR and CSiR, as in the BP example. The proposed project utilizes the benefits of advanced meta-analytic techniques to analyze the data from different quantitative studies that treat CSiR as a construct distinct from CSR. The project will also develop a teaching case to unpack the interactions of identified factors. This set of studies will explore the relationship between CSiR and its antecedents and outcomes, with special attention to CSR-CSiR coexistence. Under my guidance, the Undergraduate Research Award recipient is expected to search, collect and download related literature and data, code and analyze them accordingly. At the end of the project, the recipient is encouraged to display the work in the poster competition for undergraduate student researchers. The potential participants in the project need to pay attention to details, be proficient in Excel and have a basic knowledge of business and management. Your experience with statistical analysis software tools such as SPSS, SAS, R or STATA will be an asset.