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The Europe 2020 Strategy sees micro and small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as the backbone of the European Union's drive towards a smart, sustainable, inclusive, and growing economy. Diogo Ferraz and Elisabeth Pereira of the Department of Economics, Management, Industrial Engineering and Tourism (DEGEIT), at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, address the question as to the role of small knowledge intensive firms in the EU in this context.
Writing in the International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development, the team explain how they have investigated the relationship between a set of variables that characterises small knowledge-intensive firms and gross domestic product (GDP). They have also looked at the importance of business expenditure on research and development. The research involved analyzing econometrics across 24 EU member states for the period 2008 to 2012 using panel data and cluster analysis. The team found that those nations with high growth values in such companies also have the biggest growth in GDP R&D expenditure.
The team's findings lend support to the strategic decisions of Europe 2020 Strategy, they explain, reinforcing the relevance of SMEs as a key driver for economic growth, innovation, employment, and social integration. The researchers add that, "The relevance assumed by the European Commission about SMEs and the strategy of a competitive European economy based on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth leads to the importance of small knowledge-intensive firm in the European context."
Ferraz, D.E. and Pereira, E.T. (2018) 'The economic role of small knowledge intensive firms in European member states', Int. J. Knowledge-Based Development, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp.221-243.
Online social networks, such as the well-known Facebook, allow users to form connections with each other quickly and easily. A user might invite another to become their "friend", "like" a page they have created on the system, or join a group that forms a community within the overarching community. Of course, it is implicit that one should only "friend" people one knows. But, there are millions if not billions of connections where a user may not be even a passing acquaintance in the offline world and yet well connected to another person in the online.
Researchers in Switzerland, David Weibel and Bartholomäus Wissmath of the Department of Psychology, at the University of Bern, have investigated what inspires a person to accept a friendship request from another on Facebook. It seems that there is something of a stereotypical response: "men prefer cold calls from attractive women while women favour unattractive friends", the team has found. The research builds on earlier work from Wang in 2010 that used fictitious user profiles to study what kinds of response to friendship requests might be seen in an online social network.
In the new work, the team sent out actual friendship requests to 800 Facebook users from male or female profile owners who were considered either attractive or unattractive. The study corroborated Wang's 2010 finding and showed that approximately one in ten users responded to the cold calls, the unsolicited friendship requests from previously unknown users. They also demonstrated, as had Wang, the way in which men responded. However, they found that female users accepted invitations from unattractive profile owners rather than from attractive profile owners, regardless of the profile owners' gender.
"Unlike our offline appearance, the shape of our online appearance is much more malleable and can be rapidly adapted in more subtle ways. Moreover, we believe that this study also raises in offline friendships," the team adds.
Weibel, D. and Wissmath, B. (2018) 'Friendship acceptance on Facebook: men prefer cold calls from attractive women while women favour unattractive friends', Int. J. Web Based Communities, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp.249-256.
Bring your own device (BYOD) is now common in the workplace. Rather than the employer providing specific gadgets, such as smartphones, tablet computers, and laptops workers are allowed and even encouraged to use their personal device in the work environment. From the employee perspective this can simplify the transition between working at home and in the office, for instance. However, it has also led to an always-available attitude that means one's work-life balance is distorted by the fact that work colleagues and one's boss can almost always connect to you even when you are not officially working. Moreover, they expect to be able to connect out of hours too.
There is a putative price to pay for employers who facilitate BYOD and all its benefits of lower costs for IT infrastructure and 24/7 access to their staff and that is the so-called cyber-security risk. By allowing any device into the building and on to the network, a workplace must accede that a device compromised by external malware or one setup maliciously by an unhappy employee, for instance, might wreak havoc on an unprotected system, interfere with day-to-day business and potentially disrupt an entire enterprise.
Fabricio Rivadeneira Zambrano of the Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro de Manabi, in Chone, Ecuador and Glen Rodriguez Rafael of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, in Lima, Peru, have looked at the differences between security in the BYOD environment as opposed to the employer-provided device approach. It has previously been shown that productivity is much greater in the BYOD environment, but the use of illicit file-sharing, social media, and other apps is commonplace too.
Their study shows that there are many technical solutions and policies that are implemented in the BYOD workplace and these are commonly addressed by the corporate IT department to protect servers from malware and to block inappropriate use of personal devices on the corporate network. However, one aspect that is rarely addressed is the human factor, malice or ignorance, for instance. This must be looked at more closely the issues faced to allow BYOD to thrive and to bring all of its benefits to the workplace without the problems.
Zambrano, F.R.R. and Rafael, G.D.R. (2018) 'Bring your own device: a survey of threats and security management models', Int. J. Electronic Business, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.146–170.
The music business has changed dramatically in the last couple of decades since the massive expansion of the internet, the development of music file compression algorithms, and the concept of anonymous file-sharing services. The business has perhaps been slow to respond to the technological change having attempted, often through the law, to try and stem the tide of illicit file sharing with scant regard for the fact that those who use such systems to obtain digital goods, such as music, are now entrenched and rather reluctant to go back to the old model of paying for those goods.
However, the emergence of on-demand streaming services has taken some of those users who felt some degree of guilt and given them an offering that, while not as lucrative as the original models of physical sales, offers an alternative revenue stream that is absent with what might be thought of as that conventional non-demand streaming service, the radio. Of course, users are keen to get as much from a streaming service as they can for free. The job of the services' marketing departments is to convert those free streamers into subscribers.
US researchers have surveyed hundreds of music streaming users and found that social influence primarily affects a consumer's attitude towards music streaming. This, in turn, drives their purchase intention, or otherwise. In contrast, the user's simple hedonic performance expectancy seems to push those who already subscribe to maintain their subscription. Fundamentally, the music industry must begin to understand what is driving different types of user and to respond to their needs in a way that they never have before if they are to survive and thrive.
Chen, C.C., Leon, S. and Nakayama, M. (2018) 'Converting music streaming free users to paid subscribers: social influence or hedonic performance', Int. J. Electronic Business, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.128-145.
Smart farming uses technology to access real-time information on crop yields and soil-mapping, fertiliser application, weather data, and intelligent assessment and so improve agricultural efficiency and crop yields. However, for some economies, there remains a huge gap between farmer and app, as it were. For those valuable commodity products such as cocoa and coffee beans, the mobile technology revolution is yet to reach the farm in anything but the most superficial way.
Researchers in Canada, writing in the International Journal of Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics, highlight how that gap might be narrowed specifically for cocoa bean growers in Ghana. Ultimately, their research could help farmers find ways to use smartphones to access agronomic information on cocoa management, carry out self-assessment exercises on cocoa pod infestation, as well as perform stock analyses of their produce. They also suggest that technology could open up a crowd-sourcing forum for farmers to discuss issues and problems.
The team has already shown the farmers would be receptive to such technology having obtained positive feedback in most cases from 32 cocoa producers with regard to the concept of a forum and all of them were keen to use an app that could help them improve cocoa production. The team hopes that the success of their research will push stakeholders and policymakers to improve smart agriculture in Ghana where the government is yet to invest in technology in the way that has happened in advanced nations.
Lomotey, R.K., Mammay, A. and Orji, R. (2018) 'Mobile technology for smart agriculture: deployment case for cocoa production', Int. J. Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp.83-97
Researchers in Italy have devised a new social network analysis-based approach to studying research scenarios. The multidimensional picture they can obtain of research in a set of countries using this technique can reveal interest and might even be able to detect hubs operating within those countries. Paolo Lo Giudice and Domenico Ursino of the University 'Mediterranea' of Reggio Calabria, Paolo Russo of Negg International, in Rome, explain that such improved understanding might lead to new insights into how socio-economic factors influence research.
The team has investigated the North African countries of Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia in the anticipation of providing new knowledge to policymakers who might then be able to sustain the accumulation of scientific and technological capabilities in the region in a way that has not been possible previously.
The data available for scientometrics and bibliometrics investigations of scientific and technological research continues to grow apace. There is therefore an urgent need, if use is to be made of this "big data", to develop the necessary tools examine and interpret this data and to plot out meaning and extract knowledge from it. The team's success with their social network analysis (SNA) approach now points them towards developing the approach still further to extract knowledge patterns about patent inventors and how they cooperate, to verify the presence of 'power inventors' in a given country, and to verify the existence of a backbone and of possible cliques among them.
Giudice, P.L., Russo, P. and Ursino, D. (2018) 'A new social network analysis-based approach to extracting knowledge patterns about research activities and hubs in a set of countries', Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.147-186.
Are environmental changes in the Mediterranean region influencing human mobility in the West Asia and North Africa (WANA) region? That is the question that Bruno Venditto of the Institute of Studies on Mediterranean Societies, at the Italian National Council of Research, in Naples, Italy, sets out to answer in the International Journal of Migration and Residential Mobility.
He points out that for this region, mobility has been an important aspect of humanity for millennia. However, in today's environment of climate change marginalizing those who live on the fringes of the habitable zones of the world, there are growing issues of broader security and geopolitical challenges to face too, including water scarcity. While other observers have warned of mass migrations that might arise because of climate change and the problems it brings in this region, their predictions often ignore the rich heritage of human mobility in this region as well as not necessarily taking into account the adaptability of the people of this and neighbouring regions.
"Human mobility is a prominent feature of the geographic area of the WANA countries, 'pull' factors (such as the presence of rich countries, the commonality of language and culture, etc.) and 'push' factors (represented by persistent poverty, political and social instability leading to conflicts, environmental calamities, just to mention a few) have made the movements between and within the states, a phenomenon typical of the region," explains Venditto. He adds that migrants moving from Sub-Saharan Africa towards the Western European countries often stop in the nearer countries along the journey, creating what is now known as transit migration. This does lead to potential instability and conflicts in and among the countries affected.
Venditto concludes that ultimately, we must consider both environmental and climate effects with a broader perspective on how they might influence migration. This will require a multidisciplinary approach that can grasp the complexities and variables that drive or slow migration.
Venditto, B. (2018) 'Water, migration and environment in a Mediterranean perspective', Int. J. Migration and Residential Mobility, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.283-299.
Sanguinarine is a natural product, a chemical made by certain plants including the bloodroot plant (Sanguinaria canadensis), the Mexican prickly poppy (Argemone mexicana), Chelidonium majus, and Macleaya cordata. It is a slightly toxic polycyclic ammonium ion, an alkaloid, and has been demonstrated to have antitumour and antiviral properties. It also blocks the formation of blood vessels, it is antiangiogenic, and so has even greater potential as an anticancer agent.
Now, a team from Russia has investigated the potential of this compound to be delivered to diseased target sites in the body using nanoscopic carriers known as liposomes. The team suggests that the liposomes can more efficiently deliver the putative drug compound to cancer cells than it simply being delivered by conventional chemotherapy methods (as a drug solution given either by mouth or intravenously).
Their tests revealed that the liposome preparations gave a prolonged release of the drug rather than it being processed quickly by the liver and excreted by the kidneys as happens with conventional drugs. Indeed, the drug-bearing liposomes showed a dose-dependent response in terms of cytotoxicity in the laboratory against B16 cells (experimental mouse melanoma cells).
"Liposomal sanguinarine may have advantages for in vivo anticancer therapy, due to its lower toxicity and 'passive targeting' as a result of enhanced permeability of tumour vessels," the team reports in the International Journal of Nanotechnology.
Feldman, N.B., Kuryakov, V.N., Sedyakina, N.E., Gromovykh, T.I. and Lutsenko, S.V. (2018) 'Preparation of liposomes containing benzophenanthridine alkaloid sanguinarine and evaluation of its cytotoxic activity', Int. J. Nanotechnol., Vol. 15, Nos. 4/5, pp.280-287.
Anderson Sasaki Vasques Pacheco and Karin Vieira da Silva of the Centro Universitário de Brusque in Santa Catarina, Brazil, Maria João Santos of ISEG (the Lisbon School of Economics and Management), Portugal, have endeavoured to create a scientific framework for the most relevant research outputs on social innovation.* They looked at more than one thousand papers to outline the historical evolution of social innovation studies, the scientific fields that have done the most research on this theme as well as those works with the greatest influence over subsequent research. The result is a map of this field and how it has changed over the years.
The team points out that while there has been an increased interest in studying social innovation in recent years, the resulting heterogeneous research output is difficult to assess. Moreover, this diversity of research type and output has perhaps hindered the development of a coherent paradigm for the understanding of social innovation.
"Currently, any researcher wishing to embark on studying this theme would have to wade through a tide of articles with multiple definitions and various means of analysis of distinct and different aspects of social innovation," the team laments.
With this in mind, their efforts could provide an integrated vision of the scientific field and so allow research to move forward much more effectively. They explain that the main contribution of their present work derives from the guidance it might provide to those hoping to carry out research in this field by identifying which articles and theoretical conceptualisations are the most relevant in their associated fields of knowledge.
Pacheco, A.S.V., Santos, M.J. and da Silva, K.V. (2018) 'Social innovation: what do we know and do not know about it', Int. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 24, No. 3, pp.301-326.
*Social innovation is defined in Wikipedia as "new strategies, concepts, ideas, and organizations that aim to meet social needs resulting from working conditions, education, community development, and health."
Its objectives are to extend and strengthen society using open source methods and techniques, innovations with a social purpose, such as activism, online volunteering, microcredit, distance learning, and more.
There has been a considerable amount of hyperbole expounded around the topic of cloud computing. However, it is a paradigm that offers many benefits to those with limited computing resources or simply a need to shift the processing and data storage to external systems and reap the benefits of distributed, networked tools and memory.
Now, Aurelia Nicholas-Donald of Virginia State University Petersburg and Mo Adam Mahmood and Laura Lunstrum of Trevino University of Texas at El Paso, USA, have asked the provocative question: "Does adoption of cloud computing matter?". Writing in the International Journal of Information Systems and Management, they reveal their findings regarding the economic worth of the implementation of cloud computing and how that might affect the market value of a company.
The team used a resource-based view and the efficient market hypothesis to analyse a sample of 136 companies on the US stock exchanges that use cloud computing. Intriguingly, the team found that announcements regarding cloud computing aspirations or executions are actually associated with a drop in market returns, although scientifically speaking these returns are not statically significant. However, the trading volume and the risk of these companies did show a significant increase and both were found to be statistically significant in the face of cloud computing announcements.
The researchers suggest that the stock market reaction is mixed. "The key features affiliated with cloud computing, such as lower startup costs, less training requirement, ease of governance, and ease of maintenance appears to impact the financial outlook of the firm," they explain. However, "The significant increase in volume reflects that investors see the adoption of cloud computing as a means for enhancing the abilities of a business," the team reports.
"We believe the present research shows that cloud computing adoption does provide financial benefits to the adopting firms," the team concludes.
Nicholas-Donald, A., Mahmood, M.A. and Trevino, L.L. (2018) 'Does adoption of cloud computing matter? The economic worth of cloud computing implementation', Int. J. Information Systems and Management, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.328-342.
New Editor for International Journal of Modelling in Operations Management
Dr. Weihua Liu from Tianjin University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Modelling in Operations Management.
New Editor for International Journal of Business and Emerging Markets
Associate Prof. Yam B. Limbu from Montclair State University in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Business and Emerging Markets.
New Editor for International Journal of Services Operations and Informatics
Dr. Daniel Palacios from Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Services Operations and Informatics.
New Editor for International Journal of Intellectual Property Management
Prof. Domingo Enrique Ribeiro-Soriano from Universitat de València in Spain has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Intellectual Property Management.
New Editor for International Journal of Granular Computing, Rough Sets and Intelligent Systems
Dr. Liang Zhou from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Granular Computing, Rough Sets and Intelligent Systems.