Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity

The Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity Conference (URCA) is a premier annual event at The University of Alabama that provides undergraduates an opportunity to highlight their research or creative activity. The Culverhouse College of Business is proud of its undergraduate students’ achievements in research and their participation in URCA. In 2019, 30 Culverhouse Students presented their research results at the URCA.

2019 Participants

Effect of Personal Relationships on Banking Behavior
Mentor: Josh Pierce

One way that people and businesses acquire capital is through a loan. With the amount and risk that comes from lending out money, the process can be a very long, strict, and expensive endeavor no matter who is on either side of the transaction.

My research is focused on how the terms of these loans (and agreements) differ based on the relationship between the firm executives and banks involved in the loan creation process.

Metrics I have used to evaluate differences in banking behavior thus far include:

  • Interest Rate(s)
  • Loan Interval
  • Worth of Loan
  • Collateral
  • Time from Commitment

Interest rate is defined as the proportion of a loan that is charged as interest to the borrower, typically expressed as an annual percentage of the loan outstanding. I express differences in interest rates by the unit of basis points, which are one-hundredth of one percent.

Each individual loan was categorized by a certain risk profile. The ones I have looked at are said have "minimal", "low", "moderate", and "other" levels of risk.

Loans were also categorized by their interval. Examined are zero, daily, two to 30 day, 31 - 365 day, and greater than 365-day loan intervals.

Loan amounts were categorized by being worth (in thousands) $10-$99, $100-$999, $1,000-$9,999, and over $10,000.

The amount of collateral is a directly related to the amount of risk present in a loan, but noticed unique trends between loan terms and collateral in my sample, so I did not feel that including both would be redundant.

The last factor I have looked at so far is time from commitment. Time from commitment is defined as the average time interval between the date on which the loan pricing was set and the date on which the loan was made (weighted by loan amount). Something to note when evaluating loans using this metric is that for loans made without an informal commitment, the resulting assigned value is 0.

My aim is to see how a personal lending relationship impacts these main aspects of a loan. I performed this research by looking through previous research papers as well as gathering loan data from federal reserve branch websites.

Network Spillovers in Contests
1st Place Business, Work-in-Progress Category
Mentor: Paan Jindapon

We generalize Tullock's rent-seeking contest by allowing each player to receive spillover benefits when a "friend" wins the rent and derive equilibrium of the game given various network structures. We find that total effort is maximized when network is empty albeit some players do not participate in the contest. If the network planner's goal is to increase participation, network structures that connect players with different costs of effort may be optimal. We analyze network stability and the network's planner's cost of keeping these structures stable.

Effects of Perspective of Donating Behavior
Mentor: Carlos Bauer

Over the past twenty years, psychology and marketing research have investigated the effects of visual perspective on individual behavior. A number of experiments have shown that the type of perspective one uses while visualizing actions can have an effect on future behavior. In this project, we expand on previous literature to examine the effects of visual perspective on donating behavior and how these effects may be moderated by additional factors. Visual perspective will act as the predictor in our research and will be mediated by hedonic enhancement and internalization. Moreover, the relationship between visual perspective and donating behavior may be moderated by additional influences. We will focus on how past donating behaviors, political affiliation, and religious orientation may attenuate or bolster donation when considering the relationship between visual perspective and donations.

Examining the Relationship Between Creativity Goal Orientation and Self-Reported Creativity in Occupational Therapists
Mentor: Russell Matthews

The present study seeks to examine the relationship between internal creativity goal orientation and self-reported creativity in a sample of health care professionals (i.e., occupational therapists). Creativity is a critical component of delivering health care to patients, particularly with changing regulations that rely on quality as a key driver in payment models. In recent years, there has been a push for medical providers to provide care that is high-quality, innovative, and adapted to the specific needs of the individual patient. 

Occupational therapists work in a unique predicament, relying on the willingness of the patient to complete exercises that intend to adapt the patient's current environment to fit his/her needs with the goal of improving function in daily activities. Occupational therapy is only meaningful and effective when the patient actively participates. These factors place occupational therapists under great pressure and make them more prone to stress and depression. Occupational therapists rely inherently on creativity to develop individualized programs for their patients. In this study, we examine not only the relationship between creative goal orientation and creativity, but also identify factors that may contribute to the strength of this relationship.

Data for this study were collected from 386 occupational therapists based on validated multi-item measures.  Primary analyses suggest that the relationship between internalized creative goal orientation and perceived externalized pressure to be creativity interact to predict self-reported creatively.  Interestingly, this pattern of effects appears to be further moderated based on the occupations therapist's career stage.

Results from this study will inform occupational therapist hiring decisions, as it is likely that hiring a candidate for his/her creativity goal orientation will affect the degree to which that individual expresses creativity in the workplace. Results may also inform managerial practices, as management has a large impact on the external creative pressure felt by medical providers.

Does Non-Tax Revenue Reduce Political Accountability?
Mentor: Traviss Cassidy

History suggests that taxation leads to representation: in exchange for their tax payments, citizens demand a government that is responsive to their needs. Conversely, non-tax revenue may undermine political accountability, giving incumbent politicians the means to buy the support of pivotal voting blocs, suppress political competition, or line their own pockets. We test this hypothesis in the context of Indonesia, a fledgling democracy where vote-buying and corruption are commonplace. To do this, we construct a new panel dataset on mayoral elections from 2005 to 2015, which we combine with data on the two largest sources of non-tax revenue for Indonesian districts: the general grant and shared oil and gas revenue. We test whether increases in non-tax revenue affect the incumbent's likelihood of reelection, the winner's margin of victory, and the number of candidates running for office. The results will shed light on whether non-tax revenue helps incumbents to reduce political competition and entrench their own power.

Keep Droning On: A Review of Applications, Regulations, and Risks Associated with Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Usage in the United States – Honorable Mention, Completed Work Category
Mentor: Paul Drnevich

By 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration expects the total number of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones, to top 2.2 million units in use within the United States (2018). Increased interest and utilization of UAS units calls for a deeper understanding of their applications, regulations surrounding their use, and risks involved with their utilization. This study provides a review of applications, regulations, and risks involved with the increased popularity of UAS units specific to four sectors of use, including public, private, recreational, and military. Finally, the study proposes an agenda for future research. The following research questions drive the study: 1) What applications drive UAS utilization within the United States 2) Do current regulations help or hurt applications of UAS usage within the United States, and 3) How does risk vary across applications of UAS usage in the United States.

New Venture Challenges and Growth
Mentor: Lou Marino

Entrepreneurs starting new ventures face several challenges, and many of these cross industries and disciplines. For this research project, I have used a qualitative case study approach to identify common challenges and obstacles faced by entrepreneurs. The case studies we have written include MoviePass, Zoe's Kitchen, and BeatBox Beverages. These case studies will be published individually, and the knowledge gained from the qualitative analysis will set the foundation for an empirical research project on rideshare drivers that focuses on these challenges along with growth factors and entrepreneurial perceptions.

Information for each study comes from first-hand accounts and articles related to each industry. After gathering this information, we will look for common challenges between industries along with their solutions in order to draw conclusions about new ventures. For the empirical research project, we will use a survey to collect information from rideshare drivers by posting the link on social media platforms. Once the data has been collected, we will assess results to understand entrepreneurial perceptions in a new industry.

From our current completed case studies on MoviePass and Zoe's Kitchen, common challenges appear to be receiving enough funding, marketing and reaching the desired target market and growing at a healthy rate. These commonalities give us a baseline for our current study on BeatBox Beverages and our future study on rideshare drivers.

If these challenges continue to persist in other industries and companies, we will be able to draw conclusions about general entrepreneurial challenges and how to overcome these before they occur. Additionally, we will identify the changing perceptions of entrepreneurship in the new gig economy.

Locus of Control and Charitable Giving
Mentor: Michael Price

The primary goal of this research is to examine how locus of control impacts charitable giving. Locus of control is the extent to which an individual believes they have control over the events that occur in their own life. Studying the effect locus of control has on charitable donations helps to identify the reasons people choose to give to nonprofit organizations. It also serves as an identification of what kinds of individuals are likely to give. Prior research on locus of control has studied its impact on entrepreneurship and how individuals approach the job search process, but there is a lack of existing research on locus of control within the field of economics of charity. This research seeks to fill this gap. In the past Dr. Michael Price, now of the University of Alabama, conducted an experiment in which over 900 participants were given 80 dollars. The participants were then put through a series of decision-making processes in which they could choose to donate a portion of the 80 dollars to charity. The decisions made by the participants were then analyzed using the statistical software program Stata to study how locus of control affects the size of charitable donations and someone's likelihood to give.

Predicting Audit Quality based on Digital Footprints gathered from Social Media
Mentor: Chezham Sealy

The past two decades have seen exponential growth in social media use. It has expanded from a platform primarily used by teenagers and young adults, to an integral part of society utilized by many businesses and professionals. Facebook is one such platform that allows users to connect and share their lives, opinions, and ideas. The use of social media platforms leaves behind a digital footprint of the user, which based on prior psychology research, can be analyzed to reasonably predict personality traits and other psychological characteristics. This paper examines whether digital footprints collected from the social media accounts of professional auditors can be used to identify specific personality traits that could predict their ability to provide high-quality audits. Utilizing psychology theory related to the Big 5 personality traits and other key psychological characteristics, we gather digital footprint information and place participants in an experimental setting in which we administer a diagnostic audit test. From this research, we hope to establish a reasonably accurate job performance assessment that can be applied in real-life scenarios to better assign auditors to jobs more suited towards their personality, and ultimately increase overall firm audit quality.

Setting the Tone for Executives: A look at how article tone impacts the performance perception of male vs. female CEO
Mentor: Vishal Gupta

This research study was conducted to investigate the differences in tone between news articles regarding male and female CEOs in times of executive turnover. By attempting to utilize a tone analysis of various texts regarding male and female CEOs, we sought to find a potential correlation between anxious/emotional tones in female articles and tones of agreeableness/analytical skill in male articles. Our expectation was to discover statistically significant amounts of anxious/emotional tonal correlation in the articles about female CEOs, while the articles about male CEOs would have a greater agreeableness/analytical tonal correlation. In order to test our expectations and potential hypothesis, we ran multitudes of articles through the tone analyzer AI software from Overlay (formerly ParseMate), to produce an output of tonal correlation percentages. We selected articles from dates ranging from 6 months prior and 6 months following for both the male and female CEO variable following a leadership transition. The CEOs chosen were from companies on the S&P 1500 from 2010 to present and who had an executive level transition between 2010 and 2018. Once reliable tone analyses were completed, our goal was to investigate whether or not these tonal variations potentially impacted perception of CEO performance, thus leaving female CEOs worse-off in comparison to their male counterparts.

Automated Assessments Using Google Streetview and Tenrsorflow
Mentor: Erik Johnson

This project utilizes both Google Streetview and Tensorflow to develop an A.I. model that can accurately detect the window area and house-frontage area of a home from the image recognition data it collects from Google Streetview. This model can be used to determine how window area affects the value of a real-estate property, given certain data points such as average income of the area and proximity to local parks.

Google Streetview is a technology featured in Google Maps which allows the user to view an interactive, 360-degree view of the area surrounding a given street location. Tensorflow is an open-source software library that allows users to perform a number of tasks, among which is developing object detection models through machine learning. This project combines the possibilities of Tensorflow with the vast amount of information available with Google Streetview in order to automate the assessment of window area and house-frontage area.

How Female CEOs Shatter the Glass Ceiling
Mentor: Lixiong Guo

"How Female CEOS Shatter the Glass Ceiling" is presented by Lauren Dutch under the guidance of Lixiong Guo. At the end of 2018, only 24 of the Fortune 500 companies were led by female CEOs. This research seeks to analyze the conditions through which female CEOs rise to power so that we can better understand the underrepresentation in the C-suite. In our research, we used Factiva to scan through press releases related to CEO turnovers at 572 different companies and noted the conditions surrounding each turnover, i.e. forced turnover, succession plan, activist investor pressure, family ties, outsider versus insider, etc. Through our research and the related literature, we have discovered that female CEOs typically rise to power when the firm is in good health and the turnover is not forced. Females are not seen by the board as being fit to take over a struggling firm, perhaps due to stereotypes surrounding female characteristics.

State Lottery Demand Analysis
Mentor: Erik Johnson

Some claim that the lottery is a tax on the poor. State lotteries such as Powerball and Mega Millions provide a lucrative source of revenue for state governments. In 2016, Americans spent $80.5 billion on lotto games, up from $73.8 billion the previous year. These state-sponsored lotteries operate as a monopoly that sells directly to its citizens. State lotteries are unique due to their size and commercial marketing. This project was about analyzing lottery demand and the reasons why people buy lottery tickets. Lotteries shed light on economic behavior and choices involving risk. We investigate the sales response associated with the relative size of the jackpot along with other demographics and whether the increase in sales is persistent. The goal of this research project is to explore the local sales response to large-prize winning tickets and gain insight into how consumers make economic decisions.

New Venture Creation through Incubators & Accelerators: What Value Is Created and Who Captures It? Implications for Research, Teaching, and Practice
Mentor: Paul Drnevich

Incubators and accelerators are organizations focused on training and mentoring novice entrepreneurs to help them turn their ideas into profitable businesses by providing aspiring new ventures with office space, technology and legal/administrative support resources, coaching, and other services needed to launch a venture and raise capital. Through this early stage multi-method study, we seek to review, integrate, and examine the current state of academic research on incubators and accelerators. Using a resource and capabilities perspective and applying a value creation and capture logic, our objective is to discern the contributory roles for what type of value is created and who captures it among the key stakeholders including entrepreneurs, institutions, investors, universities, and the ecosystems in which they operate. Through this review and assessment, we provide a typology of the current state of research on these subjects in terms of what questions have been asked, what findings have been supported, and what their implications are for research, teaching, and practice. Key findings indicate that incubators and accelerators may provide more value for novice entrepreneurs than experienced ones, and that in general, such programs may divert scarce university resource allocation away from other types of innovation activity and decrease patentable knowledge generation. We contribute to the ongoing conversations on these topics by offering a detailed agenda for future research and practice.

Empowerment and Entrepreneurship as Means of Improving Overall Well-Being of Women
Mentor: Gina Simpson

The participation of women in entrepreneurial ventures has catalytic implications for social and economic development in rural countries (Sharma, Sapnadua, & Hatwal, 2012). Development, while most often measured in economic terms, can also be seen as the process of increasing overall well-being. This review frames empowerment - through freedom in economic and social contexts - as core means of development by increasing overall well-being. Despite being widely argued as integral to development, there are still disparities and barriers that impact women's ability to partake in entrepreneurial activity (Bayeh, 2016). Analysis of academic journals and articles in the fields of entrepreneurship and empowerment reveals a critical relationship between entrepreneurship and empowerment that plays a critical role in improving overall well-being for women who have engaged in income-generating opportunities.

Fund managers and Morningstar: a dynamic analysis of mutual fund risk profiles
Mentor: Christopher Whaley

The average American investor often seeks financial return through intermediary institutions rather than directly purchasing securities in financial markets. One of these intermediaries is mutual funds, in which $16 trillion in U.S.-based assets are currently held. Investors benefit from understanding risk profiles of financial instruments which allows for more informed decisions on the allocation of their capital. For mutual funds, one notable resource that many individuals, institutions, and financial advisors employ to assist in decision making is the use of the Morningstar star rating system. Mutual funds are rated on a five-star scale, with five stars indicating top performance, and one, or even no stars suggesting subpar performance.

Existing literature gives substantial weight to competitive and efficient security pricing in comparison to that of behavioral responses within financial firms. In this study, we investigate how mutual fund managers may alter investment behavior given particular star ratings or star rating shifts. This study extracts archival data from the Morningstar Direct database and runs regression discontinuities to determine if Morningstar rating dynamics impact the implied level of risk of any given mutual fund. Using a panel of U.S. open-end, large-cap mutual funds, historical star-rating is linked to the overall risk of the fund. Initial evidence on performance shows a short-term increase in risk for a fund following a four to five-star rating shift with subsequent mean regression. We further conduct a difference-in-difference design to estimate any counter-factual evidence using the same dataset. Evidence using this approach is mixed and we provide a further discussion of the resulting implications.

2019 IPOs-- Where are the Women?
Mentor: Theresa Welbourne

Women taking on executive leadership jobs is no novel concept, and they are applauded at least on the surface of our culture. Our research examines where exactly women appear in the top management of companies that have recently gone public. We wanted to gain understanding on what role higher education, industry, and geographic location play in the leadership and gender composition within companies that have issued an IPO in 2018. IPOs are of interest to me personally because companies that go public are planning on expanding, and looking at trends in recent IPOs can be an indicator of the future business cycles. Another interest to me personally is the possibility of geographic significance and correlation to patterns in executive education. Findings show that a significant portion of the companies is headquartered internationally, but registered in the United States stock exchange. Of the 185 companies that issued an IPO last year, only nine of them are lead by a woman. I looked through each company's prospectus and coded the management data to find patterns. Top leadership statistics holds significance to me because I wonder about the people behind the corporations that make headlines. Who is making the decisions that impact business? When I code this data and discover individuals who lead innovative companies, especially women, it inspires me to discover more about the professional opportunities that made them successful. That is why while continuing this research, I began to pay special attention to where the executives were educated. The data shows small geographic groupings of companies based on industry, and patterns of executives being educated at the same institutions. Previous literature on the topic, including Dr. Welbourne's prior research work, reveals that while having women listed in management positions in the prospectus may correlate to a lower initial stock price, it positively impacts company health and a higher stock price later in the company's life.

Funding the Future: Exploring Fundraising Opportunities for the University of Alabama Honors College
Mentor: Robert Witt

The University of Alabama Honors College currently lacks a Director of Development like other colleges within the University, while our alumni have belonged to a primary college in which they received their degree. These issues have put the Honors College at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to financially support resources and opportunities for our current students. This research aims to find funding opportunities, both in the present and the future, that will benefit the University of Alabama's Honors College by engaging current students, alumni, and parents, while also conducting an internal review of the College's current resources in comparison to similar institutions. Current students are being surveyed as to whether or not the Honors College has managed to meet their expectations, giving the administration an idea as to future fundraising success. Students are also being asked for their unique narratives that will be utilized when approaching donors. Finally, we are examining the resources of our Honors College in comparison to similar institutions, including those that are vying for the same caliber of high-achieving students. This will help form a more comprehensive view of our college that will allow us to prioritize funding areas with the biggest need. Once we have compiled both quantitative and qualitative information, the Honors College will be better equipped to request funding from our alumni, parents, and students in the future.

The Effects of Long-term Stress and Congestion on Time Preferences
Mentor: Michael Price

Congestion is found to increase stress and aggressive driving behavior. Stress is found to affect discounting behavior. However, existing literature on present bias is limited and has mixed results. In addition to filling the gaps in the literature about present bias, we seek to understand how stress influences time preferences and consistency, whether stress effects sophistication about time inconsistency and demand for commitment, and if there are different effects across time of stress on time preferences, sophistication, and commitment. By January 2019, the Interstate 20 (I20) will be shut down for construction, which will force 300,000 cars per day to take alternate routes and increase congestion, which in turn we expect to increase stress. In order to measure the effects of the congestion on stress and present bias, we will survey a random sample of registered voters ages 18-65 in Jefferson and Shelby County. Through the course of the study, we will administer a total of five surveys. The first survey will be a pilot survey, the next two surveys will take place while the construction is still going on, and the last two surveys will take place after the construction has been completed. The survey will include basic questions about the subjects commute and stress level and an optional study to estimate individual-level present bias, sophistication and demand for commitment. We will replicate the design by Augenblick et al. (2015). In addition to the surveys, we will collect biomarkers from a subset of the subjects to measure their long-term stress level. Our results will shed light on the mixed results on the stability of economic preferences. We will gain a better understanding of how preferences are formed and what influences them. We particularly clarify how long-term stress and congestion will shape our decision-making involving intertemporal trade-offs.

Cuba's New Real Estate Market and Its Ramifications
Mentor: Quoc Hoang

The November 2011 law that permits Cubans to buy and sell residential real estate is among the most impactful of the reforms undertaken in Cuba since Raul Castro became president in 2008. It opens a potential source of capital to the 84 percent of households that own their homes by ending a prohibition on the essence of property rights-the ability to buy and sell it. It has created a new and unusual real estate market where brokers were only recently allowed to operate, no mortgage finance is available, and local demand is hampered by a lack of cash to make purchases.

The main provisions of the law allow Cubans and foreign nationals legally residing in Cuba to buy and sell homes at prices they set between themselves. Ownership of one residence and one vacation home is permitted. Properties may also be transferred by donation or through swaps.

In response to these reforms, Cuban Americans and other foreign investors are beginning to buy properties through Cubans who live on the island. Retirees, especially, are selling their homes to buy smaller ones, retaining a nest egg from the sale. The new policy, with an assist from a more recent judicial decision, is leading homeowners to update and register their property titles. The policy does not directly address the serious shortage of residential units, but the government is beginning to implement policies that, if expanded in time, will increase the housing stock.

Through this research I will examine Cuba's real estate market at this early stage of development, describing the functioning of the sector and role of foreign nationals. I am basing my research on reviews of Cuban laws and regulations as well as interviews with participants in the market.

Hiring and Assimilating Disabled Workers into Distribution Centers
Mentor: Alex Ellinger

As consumers increasingly choose to make their purchases from the comfort of their own homes rather than visit brick and mortar stores, the need for fast-moving fulfillment distribution centers is proliferating. The "Amazon Effect" that is so significantly changing the way people shop is also associated with an acute shortage of blue-collar workers in the retail distribution industry. Traditional organizational responses to the scarcity of warehouse labor are for firms to increase hourly wages and integrate automation and robotic product fulfillment technologies. Our research identifies an innovative human capital management approach that provides a timely, alternative solution to this important business problem. Descriptive overviews of exemplar firms that are leveraging blue ocean strategy (BOS) to hire and assimilate disabled workers into their distribution centers are presented as well as best practices for partnering with local disability service agencies to ensure that proactively hiring disabled warehouse workers creates mutual value and improves productivity. Finally, the corporate social responsibility and social impact implications of successfully hiring and assimilating disabled workers are discussed with the intent of encouraging firms in the retail distribution industry to view the traditional business problem of hiring warehouse workers from a new and alternative perspective.

Facebook Marketing at Pickens County Medical Center
Mentor: Jef Naidoo

We initiated a marketing campaign with Pickens County Medical Center (PCMC) to develop and distribute targeted advertising to increase utilization of all hospital services with an emphasis on preventive medicine.

Rural hospitals are in a crisis and are rapidly closing throughout the United States. Contributing factors to these hospital closures include unfavorable demographics ("aging, poor, and declining populations"), the financial state of the hospital, and changes in delivery of care (Wishner et al, 2016). PCMC is losing its market share and has services that are under-utilized. In addition, PCMC provides a large amount of charity care which cuts into the revenues. The closure of PCMC would have a devastating impact on the county. It would force residents to find healthcare in other counties and would force the closure of the largest employer in the county, the federal prison. In previous years, the hospital has marketed based on the premise of use the hospital or lose it, which called into question the quality of the hospital. The quality of the hospital is one of the top factors when deciding to pursue healthcare outside their home county (Wynveen, 2009). Promoting the quality of the hospital through trials of various promotional materials is key to changing the perception of the hospital and increase utilization.

Data is still being generated but we will conduct a comparison of the various types of engagements we use and determined the most impactful ones. Facebook posts have varied in form and message, and we will collect more data before doing predictive analysis.

Initial Facebook engagement has far exceeded a typical Facebook page of the same size, yet lags behind comparable rural hospitals in Alabama. Two rural hospitals had engagement rates of 45% and 10%, while PCMC had an engagement rate of 6% in the same time period. Testimonials fostered the most engagement. Further analysis will be conducted to identify the gaps between PCMC and other rural hospital marketing.

Testimonials with people well-integrated in the county performed the best. Photos and videos had the highest engagement. We are continuing to gather data to test our initial conclusions of testimonials having the highest engagement.

The Evolution of Technology and Its Impact on Patient Outcomes in Healthcare – 1st Place Business, Completed Work Category - 1st Place Business, Completed Work Category
Mentor: Kimberley Stowers

This project reviews the evolution of technology in healthcare and how these advancements will impact and shape the U.S. health system going forward. The purpose is to inform researchers and practitioners of the changing trends in healthcare innovation and how the delivery of care will transform as a result. We completed a search of industry and academic articles, analyzing the literature to identify changes in medical technology from the 1800s until the present. Based on this review, we proposed four broad categories of technology that currently exist in healthcare: decision support systems, medical robots, telemedical devices, and electronic health records. We also identified several challenges that exist with the ongoing use of these technologies. Finally, we make predictions about how they will be used in the future. Our findings provide insights to readers regarding the evolution of healthcare technology and how these capabilities can be expected to influence how care is delivered in the future.

The Socio-Economic Impact of Nonprofits in West Alabama – 2nd Place Business (tie), Completed Work Category
Mentor: David Ford

The research of non-profits is an innovative study as it changes the way nonprofits write their request for proposals. Traditionally, many non-profits must rely on pathological reasoning to write their grant application. However, there has been a shift in society where concrete data are a better justification to support their request. As a result, by studying the economic and social impacts of non-profits, we can produce the numbers that they need to develop a request for proposal based on research. The purpose of this study was to quantify and analyze the effects of nonprofits in their surrounding community. Our study specifically focused on West Alabama nonprofits, with the goal of providing numerical data about the economic and social effects of non-profit organizations in the seven-county region disprove the common notion of non-profits as simply "charities" by exhibiting the substantial influence that they actually do have.

From the analysis of financial documents from fiscal years 2011-2015, we found that direct economic impact equaled $68,015,526 in 2015 from just the seven selected non-profit organizations. This is calculated with all expenses being combined with $5,079,551 in donated value provided to the community and $1,498,477 provided in volunteered value. The indirect and induced effects of nonprofit action can be indefinite in addition to the known direct impact.

From our research, we find that nonprofits have the ability to take inputs that are not highly valuable to some and turn them into outputs that are very important to people who are in need. When accounting for all the education, support, healthcare services, and many other programs led by these organizations, the return on investment is significant in many ways. In an increasingly commercial climate, the impact of non-profits has been overlooked. It is important for us not to let this trend continue, as NPOs are capable of affecting a large portion of the community in ways that are not addressed by their profit-driven counterparts.

The Next Generation of Marketing: Entering the Digital Age
2nd Place Business (tie), Completed Work Category
Mentor: Susan Fant

While it is evident the future of marketing is changing, and digital marketing is becoming more prominent amongst future generations, nobody seems to know exactly what digital marketing is, and what all it entails. Digital marketing is not just the creation and publishing of content. Digital marketing is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media. It differs from traditional marketing in that it uses multiple channels and means that enable an organization to examine marketing campaigns and audience engagement. Digital marketers monitor things like what content being viewed, how often it is being viewed, how long it is being viewed, sales growth (or decline), and what works and does not work. These millennial and gen z generations have begun shaping the future of marketing and have made digital marketing an absolute necessity for companies. The millennial generation is defined as people born between 1981-1995, while gen z is defined as being born between 1996-2010. The biggest difference between the two generations is the environment they grew up in, and major events that occurred throughout their childhood. The millennial market consists of approximately 77 million people. Out of those 77 million people, 84% of those people are more likely to view an ad on a social media platform than a print ad. On average, millennials spend approximately 25 hours online per week. Millennials make up the largest purchasing power, with a $200 billion dollar buying power. With a purchasing power that large, it is vital for marketers to target that generation, and create content they'll pay attention to. The gen z is said to become the most influential generation in the next few years. Their current population is approximately 65 million people. It is said that gen z will make up 40% of all consumers in the United States by 2020. How should marketers begin to tackle such a large market, we will provide further discussion by reviewing the creation of a large international social media community through a partnership with The Mono Project.

Which Global- and Country-Level Economic Changes Matter Most for Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions?
Mentor: Paul Drnevich

Changes in both global and country-level economic conditions present numerous challenges to international organizations. Country-level changes such as declining GDP growth, trade conditions, and/or increasing regulations or inflation often drive a firm's inward contraction of focus. Conversely, expanding global markets often drive an outward expansion of focus as organizations respond and adjust to external opportunities created by changing global and country-level conditions. Given increasing technological interconnectedness and global economic interdependencies, a firm's strategies and investment decisions can be heavily influenced by different fluctuations in global and country-level economic conditions dependent on the configuration of conditions of firm-, country-, and global-level variables. We theorize and empirically assess how different changes in economic conditions affect the frequency and value of cross-border M&A (CB M&A) activity and determine which matter more to develop new insights for both theory and practice. Our findings from a multi-level model using a 13-year panel of CB M&A activity by multinational enterprises illustrates how the complexity of a firm's strategic decisions interacts with the type of both global and country-level economic fluctuations. In the future, we plan to expand the research to include the impact of global political uncertainty and instability, in light of the effects of Brexit, US-China trade war, and the global rise in populism.

Klaro Aqua Water Filtration Business Proposal for Mexico
Mentor: Kimberley Williams

Our company leaders have engaged in many hours of research in order to thoroughly examine and develop our business proposal from every possible angle. We have every major element of our plan, including the foreign location, geographic factors, labor market, and economy.

We chose Mexico as the location for our enterprise after recognizing the country's need for improved water sanitation. While Mexico has improved its infrastructure significantly over the last several decades, including water supply and sanitation facilities, there is still much to be done in order to bring Mexico's water safety and quality into the twenty-first century. We believe that our company can carve out a niche in this area that will be both profitable and beneficial to the welfare of the Mexican people.

Mexico faces a dire need for a cleaner, more sustainable future with regards to the future of its water resources management. According to Mexico's National Water Commission, groundwater overexploitation has reached almost 40% of total groundwater use, which is concerning in light of the fact that surface water provides a majority of the supply of Mexican water. The quality of this surface water is also suffering; the National Water Commission estimates that less than 10% of surface water is currently in acceptable condition while more than 50% is very polluted. Our company's products will play an important role in ameliorating this problem by allowing consumers to fully trust and effectively utilize the limited water resources that are available to them.

Kitschy Packaging: How Consumer Expertise and Product Packaging Impact Perceptions – Honorable Mention, Completed Work Category
Mentor: Clay Voorhees

Previous research shows consumers are impacted by a product's packaging. However, these studies focus primarily on how individual aspects of product packaging, such as color, font shape, font size, product size, and product image, impact consumer perceptions of the product. Consumers make purchase choices between many alternatives in a relatively short time, making packaging an essential marketing tool. Packaging is an extrinsic cue that consumers use to make intrinsic inferences about product attributes (Underwood and Klein, 2015); it is, therefore, important that consumer impressions of overall product packaging are examined. Previous research has also addressed consumer preference for the norm in product design and packaging. Normative frameworks have been recommended for product packaging for the purposes of communicating a clearer explanation of the product to the consumer. (Underwood and Ozanne, 2010).

This study extends previous research by exploring the way consumers perceive packaging designs based upon their level of product knowledge. More specifically, it is focused on how a consumer's personal expertise level regarding a product category can influence his or her perception of standard versus kitschy (i.e., garish) packaging. As opposed to focusing on a single element of a product packaging (e.g., color, font, size), this study focuses on the consumer's perception of kitschy product packaging and demonstrates how a person's level of expertise within a product category factors into the way the product is perceived, as well as how it impacts subsequent purchase intentions.

A 2 (consumer expertise) x 2 (product packaging) experimental study in which participants were trained to be experts in a particular product category and then were exposed to standard v. kitschy packaging was conducted.

This research demonstrates consumers who perceive themselves as experts in a particular product category are unaffected by a product's packaging whereas those who are novice consumers are significantly influenced by kitschy product packaging and demonstrate a preference for products in standard packaging.

Shields Up! An Examination of Organizational Changeover Following Significant Data Breaches
Mentor: Matthew Hudnall

The magnitude and frequency of corporate data breaches is growing at an accelerated rate as companies transition to technology-driven databases and systems. In the last fifteen years alone, 9,071 data breaches, encompassing over 11.5 billion individual records, have been publicly reported. With an average cost of $141 per lost or stolen record, it is crucial for companies to react appropriately following the disclosure of a breach. Prior investigations into corporate actions following attacks neglect to explore a crucial aspect in opportune reactionary behavior: time. To quantify the relevant timeline associated with management decisions succeeding a breach, the corporate initiatives of companies who experienced the loss of 10,000,000 or more records in a single attack were tracked and analyzed. This analysis was narrowed to focus on the relevant appointment of new executive hires (CTOs, CIOs, CISOs, and CEOs) in relation to the date of its associated data breach. In addition, the immediate industry experience of any new hire was documented to reveal trends in targeted professionals following a significant breach. Analysis of such events revealed that on average, 61% of companies who were victims of a significant breach did not hire a new chief executive or technology related officer subsequent to the attack. Of those companies who did appoint a new officer, the average nomination of a new technology related official was announced 6.5 months following a breach, 33% faster than the nomination of a new CEO subsequent to a breach. These results demonstrate the unpredictable action companies assume following a breach to minimize disturbances in operations and investor wariness.

Visual First in AGILE development
Mentor: Greg Cottrell

Agile is a standard methodology developers follow in the workforce to create applications in the most efficient way possible, however, Agile is very flexible and it is often disputed which way is the best way to build an application. There is not one set solution to a problem, but many ways to achieve the same goal, however, some methods are more efficient than others. Developers and Agile methodology agree that visual mock-ups should come last during development, that there is no time to make a visual to show to clients. This research paper considers an alternative approach towards the customs of Agile development, by choosing to make visuals first. Agile development is highly adaptable and certain procedures can change depending on the situation, including creating visual mock-ups early in development. Creating visuals first in development allows developers to have a clear tangible understanding of the project, and encourages clients to give more accurate feedback, in turn allowing the developers to provide faster solutions. The key to development is meeting the requirements from the client, and confirming on visuals enables a development team to have a clear objective. I argue that creating visuals first allows developers to succeed and this paper will make developers reevaluate how to build an application.