Latest Projects in Business Education: July 2020

A new podcast at Rice University brings research to the public.

New Projects


The RFID Lab at Auburn University in Alabama is launching the Chain Integration Project, or CHIP, with the goal of implementing communications standards across supply chains. The fact that manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers around the globe use different “digital languages” causes errors and inefficiencies that amount to US$181 billion, according to a study from the university.

While companies began using RFID tags, QR codes, and other data carriers about 15 years ago, the study says, to date there has been no industrywide solution for exchanging serialized data between business partners. CHIP would use blockchain technology to enable data sharing between supply chain partners in a common language on a common platform.

“We want to enable trade partners to share granular, item-level data with one another—a capability that systems today do not support,” says Allan Gulley, RFID Lab research fellow. Working with Nike, PVH Corp., Herman Kay, Kohl’s, and Macy’s, the researchers were able to successfully integrate item-level data streams from source to store, connecting the dots between isolated touch points and creating a history for each product that passed through the supply chain. Altogether, 222,974 products were recorded on the blockchain from 12 different supply chain nodes.

The CHIP initiative is supported by a consortium of 22 brands, retailers, logistics providers, and solution providers that are organized into the Auburn Blockchain Working Group.

The lab has already concluded its proof-of-concept stage. Next, the working group will conduct a study focused on the financial implications of using standardized data-capture systems at various pain points, or problem areas, in the supply chain.

The authors have prepared a white paper with details about the study.


The Maastrict School of Management (MSM) in the Netherlands has launched two projects focused on improving agricultural practices in Africa. Each funded by Nuffic, a Dutch nonprofit dedicated to the internationalization of education, both projects address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030.

The first project is focused on improving the horticulture sector in Jordan by helping individuals cultivate entrepreneurial skills, improve productivity, and adopt more efficient irrigation techniques. MSM is collaborating with the Jordan-based institutions of Shoubk University College, Al-Huson University College, the University of Jordan, and Al-Balqa Applied University. The school also has partnered with several impact-focused organizations based in the Netherlands, including consultancies, training firms, and nonprofits.

The second project aims to support young people and women who are part of the Dogon ethnic group living in the Mopti region of south-central Mali. The school is collaborating with other entities, including Université Delta C in Algiers, as well as other organizations in the Netherlands and Mali. The project will deliver agricultural and vocational training, strengthen and coordinate networks among women, and build the educational capacities of local institutions as a way to help individuals overcome food and nutrition security. The project will run until December 2021.


Two professors from Imperial College London Business School in the United Kingdom have won research grants from the European Research Council. The grants support what the ERC calls “blue skies” research, which refers to science that furthers knowledge even if it does not have real-world applications. Stephen Hansen, associate professor of economics, received around €1,650,000 (about US$1,813,878) to develop solutions for managing the world’s growing cache of unstructured data. Hansen will collaborate with researchers at Columbia University, Pompeu Fabra University, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Pennsylvania, and the big data division of the bank BBVA. Ramana Nanda, visiting professor of entrepreneurial finance, received approximately €2 million (about US$2,220,500) to study “financial frictions,” or constraints that high-potential entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises face when funding their operations.


Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business (Rice Business) in Houston, Texas, has launched a new podcast called The Index. Hosted by Saul Elbein, a contributor to New York Times Magazine and National Public Radio, The Index will examine “the science behind scandals, epiphanies, live performance, and other aspects of our lives,” according to the school. Based on the research of a Rice Business faculty member, each episode will be 25 to 30 minutes in length. Initial podcasts featured Erik Dane, associate professor of organizational behavior, who explains how organizations can set the stage for their employees to have more creative “aha” moments; Peter Rodriguez, dean of Rice Business, who explores the difficulty of making a living in the arts profession; and Utpal Dholakia, professor of marketing, who discusses how people can be more prudent, mindful consumers.


Four lecturers in the Faculty of Accountancy at Universiti Teknologi MARA in Malaysia have received the 2019 ASEAN Federation of Accountants (AFA) Research Grant. Worth approximately US$20,300, the grant is open to applicants throughout the world and is awarded once every two years. The grant will support a nine-month study of how accounting practitioners working for small and medium enterprises are adopting financial technology. The project will be led by Shukriah Saad. She will work with colleagues Kamaruzzaman Muhammad, Erlane K Ghani, Aida Hazlin, and Ts. Mohamad Ridhuan Mat Dang. Also part of the research team is Maisarah Mohamad Saat from the Azman Hashim International Business School, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.


Two research centers at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management in Minneapolis have created a website to track daily state-by-state data from the U.S. Department of Health on the total and current number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. The site also tracks each state’s current hospital bed and intensive care unit capacity, adjusting the data based on each state’s population to allow for valid comparison. The COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project is being conducted by the business school’s Medical Industry Leadership Institute and the Management Information Systems Research Center. The project’s site went live on March 26, and as of early May it was reporting data from the 37 states that are sharing information.


Groups such as the Dutch Research Council, Holland High Tech, and the Delft Blockchain Lab at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) provided €3.3 million (approximately US$3.56 million) to fund Sovreignty4Europe. The project explores the use of blockchain technology to establish reliability, legal compliance, and trust in the internet economy. The project will be conducted by researchers at three schools in the Netherlands: the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) at Erasmus University in Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam (UvA), and TU Delft.

For example, Dion Bongaerts, associate professor of finance at RSM, will use some of the funding to create an online community of 50,000 users, which he will study to evaluate the principles of an “internet of trust.” Bongaerts and other researchers intend to provide a nonprofit alternative to transactional platforms created by companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon.


The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School in the United Kingdom has signed a bilateral research agreement with Abu Dhabi Global Market Academy in the United Arab Emirates. The partners plan to produce research that facilitates financial innovation in the Middle East and North Africa. Under the agreement, the partners will study the regional market and regulations; use data analytics to create digital tools that inform regulatory and business decision making; and create more online and face-to-face fintech-based educational programs in the MENA region, particularly those tailored to regulators and policymakers.