Faculty Research Proposals

For resources regarding future research, please visit the University Research Resources page.

Funded Gies Research Proposals 2021

A generous and forward-thinking anonymous donor provided a $1 million to the College in Spring 2021 to support faculty research. The Dean’s Office is pleased to award twenty-two research grants using these funds. We congratulate each investigator team whose exciting projects are provided below. 

Total funding allocated and accepted to date: $979,913

Notes: The asterisk (*) indicates the project's principal investigator. Boldface indicates that an investigator is a Gies assistant professor, doctoral student, or postdoc. 

The Economic Effects of Small Business and Consumer Credit: Cutting-Edge Data and Research Using the GCCP

Julia Fonseca* and Jialan Wang  |  Gies College of Business  |  $118,000

This proposal combines leading-edge research projects by Gies faculty and students with data infrastructure that supports future research at Gies. It adds to an ongoing collaboration between the PIs and the Data Science Research Service (DSRS) to build the Gies Consumer and Small Business Credit Panel (GCCP). The GCCP is a rich dataset combining individual-level data on small business loans, personal credit, and alternative credit that has never before been used in academic research. The initial version of the GCCP is currently being rolled out and has received broad interest from Gies faculty for wide-ranging research projects.

This proposal describes four projects that will use the GCCP to study several important topics: the reliance of entrepreneurs on personal credit, unequal access to finance by women and minority entrepreneurs during COVID-19, the effects of market power and monetary policy on credit markets, and innovations in credit bureau data. We seek funding for research assistance, data analytics, and an expansion of the GCCP. This funding is critical because the data provider purges information on an ongoing basis, and a timely update is necessary to preserve the ability to conduct research and to study the effects of the COVID-19 economic crisis.

Building Health Data Infrastructure Using Medicare Administrative Data

Tatyana Deryugina, David Molitor, and Nolan Miller*  |  Gies College of Business  |  $100,000

We propose to acquire a new panel data asset consisting of 15 years of Medicare administrative data for a 100% sample of the U.S. elderly and disabled populations. With an average of 50 million individuals per year during the sample period, this dataset will contain annual information on demographics, summary health information, and detailed information on hospital visits. Because it is a 100% sample, the data are nationally representative for the elderly and disabled populations demographically, geographically, and in terms of health status. After initial purchase, the data will be accessible by researchers at Gies and throughout the campus by applying to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and securing a project-specific data use agreement for a nominal per-project fee of $2,000. Beyond providing a data source that is comprehensive enough to study rare health events and impacts on particular subpopulations, the data can also be used early in the research process to apply for external funding from sources such as the NIH or NSF. The Interdisciplinary Health Science Institute, Carle-Illinois College of Medicine, NCSA, Gies DSRS, and campus Data Justice Initiative have expressed interest in these data, potentially creating new opportunities for collaboration across the units.

Business Analytics Collaboratory

Vishal Sachdev, Ramanath Subramanyam, and Sridhar Seshadri*  |  Gies College of Business  |  $100,000

We propose to form a Business Analytics Collaboratory as a systematic way to create and enhance corporate interactions such that area faculty can identify new research opportunities, and students from undergraduate and graduate programs benefit from the latest application of analytics. The investment in the Collaboratory will supplement our current investments in undergraduate and graduate programs, particularly, the new MS in Business Analytics program. We request support to identify firms, scope out research projects, publicize our efforts, make connections and develop new ideas. In the Collaboratory: (a) Faculty will work with firms in boundary-spanning research problems at the interface of business processes, healthcare operations, public policy, and analytics. (b) Firms will share problems and learn best practices from faculty and each other, thus enriching our research /teaching endeavors. (c) Build upon such interactions for pedagogical innovations such as, innovative data cases, sponsored data competitions, and more. (d) Create opportunities for faculty engagement with alumni‚ where alumni can be both participants or sponsors. (e) Develop deeper relationships with firms to become corporate affiliates. And (f) Facilitate student engagement with industry mentors and analytics practice.

Gies Business Research Lab

Jessen Hobson, Sharon Shavitt, and Jennifer Themanson*  |  Gies College of Business  |  $99,480

Over the first year, Gies Business Research Lab (GBRL) has prioritized expanding current participant pools to include alumni, online master's programs, and community members in order to provide researchers with expanded and unique opportunities to recruit a diversity of participants. Our priority at GBRL is to collaboratively facilitate as many behavioral projects as possible, fostering an environment that supports innovation in study design and methods. GBRL is focused on responding to the emerging needs of Gies researchers and providing tangible support and structure that leads to demonstrable excellence in data collection, analysis, and publication. With this mission in mind, the three main goals of this funding proposal are to serve the emerging needs of behavioral researchers across the college by growing, cultivating, and maintaining participant pools, support efficient and rich data collection through best practices related to recruitment, management, and incentivizing studies, and provide support for innovative and pioneering research methods employing new technologies and designs that expand the business relevance of Gies research and promote Gies Innovation and Excellence in Research.

The Academic Contributions of Underrepresented Minority Accounting Faculty in the US: A Qualitative and Textual Analysis of the Pre-Civil Rights Era

Nerissa Brown, Martin Persson,* and Kecia Williams  |  Department of Accountancy  |  $68,796

The accounting profession has long recognized the need to increase workplace diversity, as highlighted by the Pathway Commission report in 2012 and several recent initiatives to support underrepresented minority students, professionals, and scholars. Nonetheless, the most recent report from the American Council on Education (2019) finds that underrepresented minority scholars continue to occupy only a tiny fraction of university appointments and that they face higher barriers to promotion and tenure compared to their peers, despite no discernable difference in job performance. Our research project explores the historical presence and contribution of underrepresented minority scholars to the development of accounting thought before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination and segregation in higher education. We are not aware of any prior studies exploring this topic, although historical evidence suggests that underrepresented minority scholars’ contribution has and continues to shape our discipline. The funding proposal seeks to defray the cost of creating a unique dataset of all English language accounting articles published by underrepresented minority scholars from 1881 through 1964. The main product of our research project is aimed at a proposed special issue of The Accounting Review focused on diversity and social justice, with auxiliary articles targeted at other top-tier journals.

Multicultural Insights Lab

Jack Goncalo, Maria Rodas, Sharon Shavitt, and Carlos Torelli*  |  Department of Business Administration  |  $67,803        

We are seeking large financial support to launch the Multicultural Insights Lab (MIL) to benefit multiple faculty in BA. This initiative would leverage our unique expertise in cross-cultural behavior in BA, and address timely research questions prompted by major demographic and societal changes impacting U.S. cultural values and norms. Specifically, MIL will focus on investigating how the contrast between individualistic and collectivistic cultural ideals confounds efforts to address major societal and business challenges (e.g., debates pitting individualistic views about the right to refuse to wear a mask against the collective need to battle COVID-19), and help marketers and managers understand and respond to these cultural contrasts. The MIL initiative will support cutting-edge multicultural academic research, as well as disseminate findings from this research to practitioners and others through courses (e.g., MOOCs, executive education modules), consulting, and conferences. These objectives align with Gies’ strategic priorities of fostering excellence in research and expanding access to our world-class education. This initiative will also help Gies to claim a unique leadership position in this pivotal area.

Determinants and Consequences of Voluntary Tax Transparency Disclosure by Multinational Corporations

Benjamin Osswald and Anh Vuong Persson*  |  Department of Accountancy  |  $49,728

The landscape of corporate tax transparency has changed dramatically within the last decade. Since 2013, several governments have adopted or are currently considering adopting country-by-country reporting, a new framework that requires multinationals to disclose tax payments and economic activities in every jurisdiction in which they operate to the relevant tax authorities. Although these reports remain confidential, many multinationals voluntarily disclose this information to the public. Given the tremendous demand from both regulators and investors for access to these reports and the reputational and proprietary costs of disclosure, our project set out to understand the determinants and consequences of this voluntary disclosure practice. The findings from our study will help regulators and investors to understand the factors that drive firms' decisions to be more tax transparent and inform managers on the economic consequences of their disclosure choice. To answer these research questions, we aim to create a unique granular dataset on voluntary country-by-country report disclosures of the largest multinationals headquartered in more than 70 countries. This dataset will allow us to examine our main research questions set out above and other important questions related to tax disclosure, transparency, and corporate social responsibility.

Understanding Dynamics of Distinct Minorities in Work Groups

Denise Loyd*  |  Department of Business Administration  |  $49,500

Organizations are focused on increasing their diversity. However, even with proportional representation, some social categories will remain in the distinct minority in groups. Thus, understanding experiences in these groups is critical. I focus on the experience of solos and minority duos (one of exactly two members of a minority subgroup). I examine how group composition affects the behavior of members of the majority towards members of the minority, specifically the extent to which the majority members include duos in the groups’ activities relative to solos. If individuals in groups with duos are less concerned about how their actions toward members of the duo appear to others, they may be less attentive to making sure they include them in the group. In this case, increased diversity may actually result in decreased inclusion. Further, I explore how group composition affects how solos and duos relate to others in the group. The presence or absence of a similar other in a group can lead to cooperation with, competition against, or simply indifference toward other group members. This work will enhance scholarly understanding of dynamics in diverse groups and help leaders better manage diversity.

Business Models and Business Innovation

Dylan Boynton, Deepak Somaya,* and Jingya You  |  Department of Business Administration  |  $41,267

A research program on business models and business model innovation is proposed, with its primary focus being the creation of a novel transformative dataset on business models. Taking advantage of a major change in disclosure requirements in the United Kingdom, this longitudinal dataset (2014-2021) would include the business models of all firms listed on the London Stock Exchange and would be complemented by financial and stock market data. Two main research projects are proposed that will use this dataset. The first project will examine the digital transformation of companies following the COVID-19 pandemic and assess the drivers of firms' adoption of various digital business model innovations and their impacts on performance. This research promises to provide valuable insights into how firms respond to significant external shocks and how business model innovations affect firm performance. The second project will use text analysis of companies' self-described business models in order to address important definitional questions in the field about what constitutes a business model and how it differs from strategy. It is anticipated that the research database of business models will also serve as a valuable research platform for PhD dissertations and other large-scale projects at Gies.

Levering Insights from Pioneering Business Ethics Scholars to Inform Future Research & Pedagogical Approaches

Elizabeth Luckman,* Gretchen Winter, and Patricia Werhane  |  Gies College of Business  |  $39,750

A multidisciplinary team of diverse tenure-stream and specialized faculty will create relevant and innovative classroom educational materials that explore emerging issues of professional responsibility pertinent to today's complex, global business environment. The educational materials will focus on true-to-life ethical dilemmas in business and thereby help meet expressed demand by surveyed Gies faculty so they can enrich their students’ thinking about ethics and professional responsibility issues. We also will lever qualitative and quantitative research methods to glean and organize insights from 50 business ethics pioneering scholars, who have expressed their views on pressing research questions about business ethics. The collective insights and different themes expressed by these scholars will inform the agenda for future research on business ethics and professional responsibility across numerous disciplines including accounting, AI and business analytics, finance, diversity and inclusion, and entrepreneurship.

Can Interventions Enhance Meaning in Life and Meaningful Work That, in Turn, Reduces Occupational Stress and Employee Motivation?

Sarah Ward*  |  Department of Business Administration  |  $39,097

Stress experienced at work is a key threat to worker and organizational well-being, leading to poor motivation, performance, and health as well as increased turnover (American Institute of Stress, 2017). Over 80% of employees experience stress at work and report it as a key source of psychological and physical illnesses (American Institute of Stress, 2017). Despite these problems, few reliable solutions exist for reducing workers’ stress. Identifying how to mitigate workers' stress is a crucial goal with substantial theoretical and practical importance. Studies in the proposed research will investigate whether meaning in life and meaningful work can facilitate lower occupational stress and improved work motivation. These studies will also examine mechanisms that account for the stress-reduction benefits of meaning and examine if these stress-reduction benefits also promote improved work motivation. Importantly, this project will involve developing and testing stress-reduction interventions aimed at enhancing meaningful work and meaning in life among workers in high-stress occupations. Together, these studies will clarify how meaningful work and meaning in life can reduce stress and promote improved motivation.

An Examination of the Diverse Ways COVID-19 Disrupted Supply Chains across Different Industries

Anton Ivanov,* Ashen Mehmet, Ujjal Mukherjee, and Sebastian Souyris  |  Department of Business Administration  |  $34,000

COVID-19 has globally disrupted supply chains in healthcare, automotive, natural resources, energy, and other sectors. However, disruption of different sectors and tiers of supply chains has been different. We intend to understand sources of disruption of supply chains, strategies that help supply chains recover from disruption, and evaluate the effectiveness of different risk mitigation strategies that can help supply chains in preparing for future potential disruption. Our research aims are threefold: (i) collect and organize global supply chain data to estimate the impact of COVID-19 related disruption, (ii) model the time to recover from the supply chain disruption, and (iii) model potential future risk mitigation strategies. The intended outcomes include academic research papers that address two important aspects of supply chain: understanding vulnerabilities and preparedness for disruption. This work is a continuation of the ongoing efforts towards mitigation of COVID-19 from the team that is currently engaged in understanding COVID-19 testing and vaccination strategies, and prediction of diffusion of the disease. We seek funds towards supporting data collection and research support. This funding will enable us to extend current work in practically significant and theoretically interesting directions, and addresses the intersection of supply chains and disruptive events such as COVID-19.

Predicting Visits from Driving Data and Its Privacy Trade-Offs: A Deep Learning Model

Fernando Luco and Unnati Narang*  |  Department of Business Administration  |  $32,376

U.S. drivers record 3.22 trillion miles on the roads each year. Granular information about their movement is constantly tracked by apps on their smartphones. This information can be useful for retailers to interact with consumers real-time. However, collecting these granular data also leads to privacy concerns among consumers who may feel invaded by the extent of real-time tracking, and regulators who are concerned about how firms treat consumer data. Thus, such tracking introduces a trade-off between the value of these data and privacy concerns for firms. Furthermore, modeling spatio-temporal driving data is challenging because they are computationally intensive and high dimensional. To solve these challenges, we propose a deep learning algorithm that combines convolutional neural network (CNN) and a long short-term memory model (LSTM) using individual driving trajectories in order to learn from driving data, predict retail visits and quantify value-privacy trade-offs. Our efficient modeling approach will be tremendously useful for studying important spatio-temporally heterogeneous global phenomena, including movement patterns during a pandemic, and the implications of data-tracking by firms in retail, freight, and shipping. Thus, such an approach can benefit researchers across different domains including marketing, information systems, supply chain, and public policy at Gies, on campus and beyond.

Studies on the Role of Auditing in the Government Sector

Bethany Brumley, Keith Czerney, Anne Thompson,* Devin Williams, and Wei Zhu  |  Department of Accountancy  |  $25,000

Funds data acquisition to conduct studies examining the role of auditing in the $3.8 trillion municipal bond market and governmental/not-for-profit sectors (these purchases provide financial statement data and an audit report mapping file). The first study examines the impact of COVID-19 on audit planning and audit adjustments using a unique set of audit work papers for state and local governments. Second, we will test the presumption in professional standards that unpredictability in audit programs is important for detecting and deterring fraud by exploiting a shock to auditors’ scoping decisions imposed by the Office of Management and Budget. Third, we will augment an existing study with promising results by examining whether municipal bondholders perceive differences in audit quality when the auditor is voluntarily registered with the PCAOB. Finally, we will test whether the online launch of the Federal Audit Clearinghouse impacted the municipal bond market. These purchases will benefit at least four researchers in the College, are aligned with the College's strategic priorities for excellence and innovation, further the university’s land-grant mission, and position researchers in the College to respond to future RFPs.

Underrepresented Employment, Firm Ownership, and Wealth

Robert Brunner, Justin Leiby,* and Anh Persson  |  Department of Accountancy  |  $25,000

This project will explore mechanisms to increase underrepresented groups' employment, firm ownership, and wealth accumulation when high barriers to entry are present. We focus on the role of social networks that develop among high status actors, a common barrier to success for underrepresented groups. The project will explore these networks and examine how public policies intended to increase diversity affect the evolution and negative effects of these networks. To collect data, we will collaborate with the State of Illinois to reengineer its processes to collect, manage, and process data on the diversity of participants in the state’s cannabis industry. This will involve redesigning the state's existing survey that all market participants must complete and building a web-based tool to host and administer the redesigned survey. We believe this proposed research project advances multiple strategic priorities of the Gies College of Business, most importantly by directly influencing the regulation of diversity, equity, and inclusion practices in Illinois. It will also open potential avenues for research, curricular, and co-curricular collaborations between Gies and the State of Illinois.

The Influence of Cash Provision and Financial Advice on Entrepreneurial Growth in Low-Income Brazilian Communities

Carlos Inoue* and Leandro Pongeluppe  |  Department of Business Administration  |  $19,840

Entrepreneurship has the ability to create wealth and improve the standards of living. Yet, most entrepreneurs fail at growing their business due to capital constraints and lack of management experience. This project seeks to evaluate the impact of cash provision and financial advice on entrepreneurial growth in low-income communities in Brazil. In partnership with a non-governmental organization (Banco da Providencia), a leading provider of financial technology solutions (Stone), and municipal governments in Brazil, we will randomize cash grants and financial advice to micro-entrepreneurs in multiple low-income communities in the country. We will be able to track business decisions of entrepreneurs using Stone’s financial technology solutions and examine the impact on business growth and personal income. This project will enrich our understanding about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial programs and provide lessons to governments and communities in low- and middle-income countries.

Machine Learning and Fundamental Analysis

Vic Anand* and Theodore Sougiannis  |  Department of Accountancy  |  $19,100

We propose two machine learning-based fundamental analysis projects. In the first project we will attempt to improve the forecast accuracy of extant models with additional predictors that have been shown to have predictive ability, such as nonfinancial information (e.g., firm life cycle, order backlog), past market information (i.e., information the market has impounded into prices), and macroeconomic expectations. In addition to predicting earnings, we will explore the prediction of cash flows given that prior related papers have focused only on the prediction of earnings, and theoretical valuation models establish an equivalence between cash flows and earnings in fundamental analysis. Therefore, whichever can be predicted more accurately will be more useful in forming investment portfolios. In a second project, we will compare the investment performance of magnitudes and directions (i.e., up/down) predictions. While prediction of magnitudes is theoretically more desirable, it also comes with potential larger error than the prediction of directions. It is an empirical issue whether the prediction of magnitudes generates better investment performance than the prediction of directions. In case both perform equally well on average we will perform conditional analysis to discover the conditions under which one performs better than the other.

The Influence of Virtual Reality on Investor Judgments and Decisions

Kimberly Mendoza,* Roshan Sinha, & Michael Yip  |  Department of Accountancy  |  $17,876

The use of virtual reality (VR) is growing in a vast number of industries and settings. Individuals can currently find business-related VR experiences, such as viewing new technologies/products, attending investor meetings, and visually comparing financial data for investment funds. As the use of VR increases, it is likely this technology will be used in more investor experiences such as earnings calls. Prior research finds that greater immersion experienced through VR leads to stronger emotional responses than less immersive devices, such as videos. The purpose of our study is to investigate how more immersive technology such as VR will influence investor judgments and decisions. We plan to conduct two experiments to answer our research question. In both experiments, participants will assume the role of an investor watching an earnings call either via video or VR. We will also manipulate whether the earnings news is good or bad. We will measure investor judgments and decisions after the call. Our second experiment will explore the process and theory for why individuals respond differently in the VR modality. We are applying for this grant because creating a fake earnings call and a VR application are more involved and expensive than a typical experimental study.

How Professional Investors Respond to Alternative Asset Measurement Approaches

Spencer Anderson,* Mike Durney, Shannon Garavaglia, and Kurt Gee  |  Department of Accountancy  |  $10,000

Our study proposes to examine how professional investors view the usefulness of different ways of measuring assets. To examine investors' perceptions, we plan to conduct a comprehensive survey with follow-up semi-structured interviews. This study will be the first to survey professional investors and gather large sample evidence of how and why professional investors use accounting information with different measurements. Our proposal is motivated by the relative lack of empirical data informing standard setting bodies such as the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) surrounding measurement guidance. Existing standards prescribe a mixed-measurement model for companies in which different types of assets are measured in different ways. This mixed-measurement approach assumes that investors prefer different measurements for different assets, and that certain measurements are more useful for certain investing activities (e.g., ascertaining liquidity versus firm value). The FASB is currently developing a Conceptual Framework chapter on measurement to guide their standard setting decisions for measurement. By equipping standard setters with evidence on investor preferences for certain measures, this study can help the FASB develop a conceptual foundation for measurement that is grounded in investors' views, rather than assumptions about investors' views.

Identifying Efficient Network Activity Sampling to Accurately Capture Original Network

Abhijeet Ghoshal*  |  Department of Business Administration  |  $10,000

I will study the sampling process from a network to best represent the original network. These projects will have wide applications, and I believe they can be published in top journals. However, these projects are computationally intensive. In order to properly complete the studies, I need efficient, high-performance computers. The cluster computers provided by the Illinois Campus Cluster Program are suitable for this purpose. Given the long-term nature of the projects, participating in the cluster program by investing in it is the justified approach. For that, I need to invest in at least one node. Through this proposal, I am requesting the money to invest in the campus cluster. The cluster computer can also benefit other faculty in the area who needs high-performance computing.

Does the Strength of Auditor Political Identity and Professional Identity Affect Their Willingness to Speak Up About Signs of Misstated Financial Statements?

Daniel (Yuepin) Zhou*  |  Department of Accountancy  |  $8,300

Auditors work in hierarchical teams in which effective upward communication is critical to audit quality. However, academic research and regulator findings suggest that auditors may at times struggle to speak up. In this study, we examine the joint effects of auditors' workplace identity (professional vs. political identity) and team distribution (distributed vs. non-distributed team) on auditors' willingness to speak up. We propose that auditors with a strong political identity (i.e., focused on advancing their careers) are less likely to raise potential audit issues in distributed teams than in non-distributed teams. We further predict that auditors’ reluctance to speak up in distributed teams can be mitigated when auditors have a strong professional identity (i.e., focused on serving the public interests). We expect our results to address regulators' concern on the impact of distributed teams, a common phenomenon in the current audit environment due to advances in technology and disruptions caused by the pandemic, on audit quality, and inform practitioners on how firms may mitigate the potential negative impact of distributed teams through firm culture and tone at the top.

Social Controls in the Commission of or Resistance to Group Fraud

Estha Gondowijoyo, Christie Hayne,* & Pamela R. Murphy  |  Department of Accountancy  |  $5,000

We analyze 38 stories of group fraud, half from the perspective of someone who committed group fraud and half from the perspective of someone who resisted joining a group fraud. Our goal is to better understand the controls that helped push people toward group fraud or against it. With data collection complete, our analysis examines the effects of social versus administrative controls. Social controls are based on the influence of others (e.g., culture, mentorship, management style) rather than rules or policies to which individuals must adhere (e.g., reward systems, internal controls). We find that social controls are significantly more influential than administrative controls in pushing respondents toward fraud, but that these controls also support respondents’ resistance. For example, management style and culture played significant roles in pushing some respondents toward and others against fraud. Our field study includes tentative control combinations that appear to have an even greater influence on decisions to join or resist fraud. Financial support would permit us to hire an expert in qualitative comparative analysis (QCA)‚ an advanced set theoretic technique that would allow us to identify “causal recipes” or combinations of controls in our data that commonly push individuals toward or against fraud.