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- Autonomous for the people
A realistic notion of the self-driving car has emerged in recent years and much research is being done to make it a reality. Such vehicles could revolutionize many aspects of life allowing those with limited mobility, sight, or other impediments to driving to be car users nevertheless with all the benefits of independence such vehicles bring to the individual. Additionally, there are those who may never have learned to drive and yet could reap the rewards of car ownership without the complication of understanding steering wheels, brakes, and accelerators.
Writing in the International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, a team from Germany discusses the market opportunities associated with an aging society. They focus on the transition from advanced driver assistance systems to the fully autonomous vehicle of the future that would enable personal transport for many more people.
Timo Günthner, Heike Proff, Josip Jovic, and Lukas Zeymer of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Duisburg, Germany, explain how there is stagnation in the marketing of conventional cars. As such, comfort and safety features are being pushed to the fore by innovative manufacturers eyeing the prize of selling to an older, richer market more concerned with such features than youthful exuberance and performance, as it were.
The pensionable "silver market", as the team refers to it, is growing and increasingly willing to consider assisted driving systems, such as automatic parking and the like. It will be no great leap of the imagination to shift up a gear, figuratively speaking, and increase automated driving protocols to the point where the cars of the future for this niche will be fully autonomous, given appropriate regulatory approval. The team adds that there is not a simple linear relationship between age and willingness to pay and so more research in this area is needed while the technology that will ultimately underpin it matures over the next ten to fifteen years.
Günthner, T., Proff, H., Jovic, J. and Zeymer, L. (2021) 'Tapping into market opportunities in aging societies – the example of advanced driver assistance systems in the transition to autonomous driving', Int. J. Automotive Technology and Management, Vol. 21, Nos. 1/2, pp.75–98.
- eSpectator sports
Video games can be spectator sports in just the same as traditional sports, such as football, ice hockey, tennis, athletics etc. The majority of sports spectators view traditional sports remotely, commonly via a television with only relatively limited numbers of people able to attend a sports event. This was always the way, but the current Covid pandemic has precluded attendance at live sports events for and pushed spectating further online. Gaming has only ever had a limited number of live spectators and so the positioning of eSports as online sporting events had a head start.
New research published in the International Journal of Business Information Systems, looks at eSports from the perspective of a new era in spectator games from the perspective of the consumer rather than the gamer. Alan Smith of the Department of Marketing at Robert Morris University, Moon Township, Pennsylvania and Amber Smith-Ditizio of the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas, USA, discuss accessibility, competitiveness, and socialisation in eSports.
Specifically, the team focuses on accessibility, which includes pricing models and media in which players can spectate and participate. Competitiveness encompasses how players improve their skills, take part in tournaments, and the notion of equality. The socialisation aspect of the research looks at the sense of community that emerges, how gamers can play with friends, and content generated by that community. Most viewers report that they use the internet to spectate on eSports.
The team points out that in order to understand this emerging industry more completely it is necessary to if not discard then untether the research from studies of conventional sports. There is much to learn about how consumers of eSports, who are commonly participants in those activities themselves, sit within this burgeoning realm. Clearer understanding will hopefully lead to progress and improve the way in which future videogames are developed, how professional teams might become better organised as well as pointing to how corporate sponsorship might evolve.
Smith, A.D. and Smith-Ditizio, A.A. (2021) 'eSports: a new era of spectator games from a consumer's viewpoint', Int. J. Business Information Systems, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp.406–431.
- Social shopping
Online shopping has been with us for many years. The World Wide Web opened up to the commercial world back in the mid-1990s. However, the web itself has been displaced to a large degree by social networking and online life for many exists almost exclusively on these apps and sites rather than the broader internet. As such, commercial concerns hoping to keep pace with constant change must adapt to take advantage of social networking in the same way that bricks-and-mortar shops had to adapt to the emergence of web rivals. Could the social network be the new shopping mall?
Melanie Wiese of the Department of Marketing Management at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, discusses the prospects in the International Journal of Business Information Systems. She has investigated how quickly users are taking to the online marketplace of the biggest international social networking system, Facebook and considering the moderating role of trust in this environment. Completed surveys from almost 400 uses in South Africa provide the raw data for her analysis.
Fundamentally, Wiese's results show that it is perceived enjoyment and usefulness that are the most important factors determining whether or not a Facebook user will make a purchase through this system. She found that while privacy risk and social norms were not significant influences. Indeed, among the Facebook users surveyed, the majority were more trusting of shopping through Facebook than more conventional online shopping. Her findings could guide those hoping to sell their wares on Facebook helping them to improve their marketing strategies.
The alignment of social networking and shopping has been a possibility for many years, perhaps first mentioned in the research literature in 2010, but hinted at long before that.
"Shopping on social networks presents an opportunity for users to complete transactions within the social network's environment, while it provides brands the opportunity to meet consumers in their space," says Wiese. She adds that researchers and marketers alike need to quick to respond to changes in this fast-moving online environment if they are to make credible and timely predictions. There needs to be a sense of urgency, she suggests, as otherwise cutting edge research quickly becomes out-dated historical artifact rather than forward looking.
Wiese, M. (2021) 'Shopping on social networks: is this the storefront of the future?', Int. J. Business Information Systems, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp.303-326.
- The bank of the living dead
The term "zombie firm" was coined in the late 1980s in the context of "zombie banks". In fiction, the word zombie itself usually refers to a monstrous creature that is animated and yet dead. In the context of finance, however, we might think of a zombie as a commercial organization that remains active and yet is unable to pay its debts nor generate a profit. Moreover, the life of a zombie firm is often prolonged artificially by subsidies from third parties such as governments and foreign investors.
Nguyen Thi Tuong Anh, Doan Quang Hung, Nam Hoang Vu, and Bui Anh Tuan of the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, Vietnam, suggesting that addressing the problem of zombie firms is an important issue at the international level. They point out that many zombie firms are state-owned and invested in foreign transition economies. Writing in the International Journal of Business and Globalisation, the team explains how they have used longitudinal data concerning enterprises and the local business environment in a transition economy to devise a solution to the problem.
They demonstrate that driving out persistent zombie firms in manufacturing industries might be possible by reducing entry costs to a market to facilitate greater competition. The approach, they suggest, may not be effective in non-manufacturing industries.
The team concludes, based on their study of zombie firms in Vietnam, that rather than offering subsidized bailouts to such firms, governments should use market-based instruments to eradicate the zombies and stronger firms to emerge better adapted to the market.
Anh, N.T.T., Hung, D.Q., Vu, N.H. and Tuan, B.A. (2021) 'Does lowering entry cost counter the persistence of zombie firms?', Int. J. Business and Globalisation, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp.333–354.
- Luxurious social media
A business case study in the International Journal of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation shows how producers of luxury goods can benefit from a social media presence. Specifically, the team focuses on luxury watchmakers and their Instagram accounts.
Armansyah Adhityo Pramono, and Fitri Aprilianty of the School of Business and Management at the Institut Teknologi Bandung, in Bandung, Indonesia, have tracked the Instagram activities of five luxury watch brands in order to glean information about what works and what does not work on this photography-based sharing platform.
The team discusses the nature of the luxury watch market. It is a growing, sizeable, and profitable market but highly competitive and volatile, they write. There are complexities that need to be understood in order that a brand improve awareness among its target market.
Fundamentally, the team has demonstrated a positive association between social media marketing in this context, the relationship between brand and customer and purchase intention. It seems, as one might expect, that content that engages with the value customers place on status symbols such as luxury watches and their hedonism correlates with purchase intention but has not yet been used frequently in social media marketing for such brands.
In order to reap the rewards of investing in Instagram use for marketing of luxury watch brands, those brands must focus on the values that influence purchase intention the most but also improving the degree of engagement with their putative customers, the team suggests. In a world where social media is commonplace and everyday, brands must highlight exclusivity and authenticity as well as their association with high-status people and world events.
Conversely, there are aspects of marketing commonly used by non-luxury goods, such as consumer feedback and even consumer-led design that do not seem to have much effect on purchase intention of luxury watches. Similarly, special offers and promotions are not as important in this sector. After all, it is the luxurious quality of a brand that is the main appeal not its value for money. Luxury goods are commonly status symbols for hedonists and these characteristics are wherein their appeal lies and can be targeted on social media.
Pramono, A.A. and Aprilianty, F. (2020) 'Social media and luxury brand: what luxury watch brands need to know when on Instagram', Int. J. Technology Transfer and Commercialisation, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp.316–336.
- Automated weed and feed
Conventional crop-spraying with herbicide to kill weeds among a crop wastes a lot of the herbicide and raises environmental concerns. A smart crop sprayer might identify weeds growing through the crop and spot spray only the unwanted plants. Work from a team in China published in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering, looks at the real-time segmentation of a cornfield to detect weeds that could be used to control such a smart crop-sprayer.
Uncontrolled weed growth in a crop leads to reduced yields of that crop. However, herbicides to selectively kill the weeds are expensive and also lead to pollution. It is in the best interests of farmers the world over and for the sake of the environment, that herbicides are used as efficiently and as effectively as possible.
Hao Guo, Shengsheng Wang, and Yinan Lu of Jilin University in Changchun have proposed a lightweight network based on the encoder-decoder architecture SResNet. They optimized the model so that it can quickly discern weed plant from crop plant in an image.
"In weed identification, the recognition effect is susceptible to factors like light, occlusion, and image quality, so improving the robustness of weed recognition is still a challenging subject in traditional machine vision," the team explains. Their approach offers a lightweight semantic segmentation model based on the encoder-decoder architecture which takes into account accuracy and processing speed. To demonstrate the benefits of their system, they have compared results with classical semantic segmentation models (SegNet and U-Net) and showed it to have competitive performance. The test frame-rate is almost 70 frames per second and so capable of real-time weed identification in a cornfield. Their average score has almost 99 percent accuracy.
Guo, H., Wang, S. and Lu, Y. (2020) 'Real-time segmentation of weeds in cornfields based on depthwise separable convolution residual network', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp.307–318.
- Ageing, entropy, and waste
One theory of ageing invokes the Second Law of Thermodynamics and suggests that in the long-term, the heat energy generated by metabolic changes causes damage to living systems that accumulates as repair mechanisms cannot keep pace with the damage, entropy accumulates, and this is manifest in the signs of ageing that are all too familiar – greying hair, wrinkled skin, immune compromise, organ failure, cognitive decline.
A team from Turkey, writing in the International Journal of Exergy, point out that as is ever the case with living systems, the picture is far more complicated. Indeed, an individual is not truly a single living thing given the presence of myriad microbes that live on the skin and within the alimentary canal, for instance. Indeed, the team from Yeditepe University in Istanbul explain that the human gut microbiota acts as an autonomous thermodynamic subsystem within what we ought to refer to as the human superorganism. These microbes generate and export their own entropy without causing age damage to their human host.
The team's thermodynamic calculations show that between 12 and 59 percent of the metabolic entropy generated by each of us as a whole is produced by the microbial guests in our gut and exported in faeces. This entropy is not associated with ageing damage.
The researchers explain how entropy removal via the waste stream from a chemical plant is well known and discussed at length in the pertinent scientific literature. Given that we know from the work of Schrödinger and Prigogine that living systems must import energy and export entropy to maintain their living state this new research into the entropy export by the gut microbiota could open up new avenues for research into ageing that have not previously been considered in depth.
Yildiz, C., Yilmaz, B. and Özilgen, M. (2021) 'Fraction of the metabolic ageing entropy damage to a host may be flushed out by gut microbiata', Int. J. Exergy, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp.179–195.
- Coping with eco-anxiety
Climate change represents perhaps the biggest challenge facing humanity, therefore education has an important role to play in teaching students about how we might mitigate the problems but also how to cope with what might be termed eco-anxiety.
A team from Canada writing in the International Journal of Higher Education and Sustainability, suggests that part of a well-rounded university education must provide students with the tools with which to address the challenges presented by the environmental crisis we all face. Part of this education should show them how to be responsible eco-citizens but also give them the skills to become creative, solution-oriented thinkers. With such people entering adulthood and becoming the innovators and leaders of the future humanity might be able to cope with the acute problems and address the chronic problems facing climate and the environment.
Laura Sims and Marie-Élaine Desmarais of the Université de St. Boniface and Rhéa Rocque of the University of Winnipeg, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, suggest that educators "have a responsibility to create inclusive environmental and sustainability educational approaches that are enabling, emotionally supportive, engaging, and praxis-oriented." Their work focuses on the concept of eco-anxiety and how students might be taught to cope with such a problem in a positive and pragmatic way.
At the time of writing their paper, humanity was facing another major challenge – the Covid pandemic caused by a lethal coronavirus that emerged towards the end of 2019. The pandemic is still with us more than a year later. The team adds that the pandemic has taught us many lessons that can equally be applied to education for sustainability, inclusion, and eco-anxiety. "In living this experience, we have seen people come together, changing their lifestyles, and acting individually for collective benefit," they write. They add that the pandemic has shown us that "we can stop our destructive, consumptive path, if need be, at very short notice, and re-imagine other possibilities…we are strong enough, together, to face existential challenges."
Sims, L., Rocque, R. and Desmarais, M-É. (2020) 'Enabling students to face the environmental crisis and climate change with resilience: inclusive environmental and sustainability education approaches and strategies for coping with eco-anxiety', Int. J. Higher Education and Sustainability, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.112–131.
- Local networks for local communities
Despite the growing number of tools being used to anneal so-called big data, researchers are only now beginning to find ways to handle big networks. A new approach described in the International Journal of Data Science, takes a local community approach to studying networks that could have applications in understanding how disease outbreaks become pandemics, defeating terrorist networks, thwarting malware, and understanding the effect of influencers and viral advertising on marketing.
Ali Choumane and Abbass Al-Akhrass of the Faculty of Sciences in the LaRIFA Lab at the Lebanese University in Nabatieh, Lebanon, explain analyzing huge networks is computationally very expensive in terms of the time and resources needed to process all the nodes and connections between them in order to find hubs and other interesting features. This is especially the case where a network contains densely connected nodes.
Community detection is one approach to circumventing this mammoth task allowing researchers to find the local connections from the busiest of individual nodes. The team is developing an algorithm to find such local communities in a huge network quickly and at a lower computational cost than earlier approaches. The team explains how they start with a seed node and allow the algorithm to iteratively expand on this to identify a community around that node that most resembles known community structures previously seen in real life. Such communities are likely to be the most realistic, after all.
The expansion process builds using a neural network classifier that can discern which nodes ought to be added to the local community and which ought to be discarded. The classifier can be fine-tuned to adjust resolution so that smaller or larger communities can be found within a huge network without the need to retrain the algorithm each time.
"We trained this classifier using three measures that allowed us to mutually quantify the strength of the relation between nodes and communities," the team explains."These measures depend on the proportion of edges that the node has with its community, how much the neighbours of the node are involved in its community and finally the membership degree of the node in the community."
The researchers add that they used the well-known Lancichinetti–Fortunato–Radicchi (LFR) synthetic networks as a benchmark as well as real-world networks from different application domains to demonstrate experimentally the high performance of their approach.
Choumane, A. and Al-Akhrass, A. (2020) 'Supervised local community detection algorithm', Int. J. Data Science, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp.247–261.
- Securing the clouds
Cloud computing has revolutionised the way files are stored and shared and processing carried out from the corporate down to the individual private user level. Security remains a contentious issue. As such, there is an ongoing need to ensure data is protected optimally. Research published in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, discusses an efficient and optimised approach for the secure sharing of files in the cloud.
Cloud computing has been with us for many years now, although still sometimes considered a "new" paradigm. It represents delocalised, distributed, and shared services and allows all kinds of organisations and individuals to offload their storage and computer processing needs on to third-party servers and services, commonly for a fee, in a freemium, model, and occasionally at zero cost to the user.
There are many benefits to cloud computing. Obviously, distributed servers can offer greater processing and storage capacity than local computers. The downside to cloud computing can be the very nature of it in that it is ultimately dependent on a third party for the service and also for privacy and protection of one's data.
Neha Agarwal and Ajay Rana of Amity University in Noida UP and Jai Prakash Pandey of KNIT in Sultanpur UP, India, have proposed an encryption method that offers a hybrid approach comprising a symmetric and asymmetric algorithm. The approach they demonstrate is more secure and more efficient than other current approaches used to protect files for cloud sharing.
Agarwal, N., Rana, A. and Pandey, J.P. (2021) 'An efficient and optimised approach for secured file sharing in cloud computing', Int. J. Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp.232–246.
Inderscience Editor in Chief receives Humboldt Research Award
Inderscience is pleased to announce that Prof. Nilmini Wickramasinghe, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology and the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, has won a Humboldt Research Award.
This award is conferred in recognition of the award winner's academic record. Prof. Wickramasinghe will be invited to carry out research projects in collaboration with specialists in Germany.
Inderscience's Editorial Office extends its warmest congratulations to Prof. Wickramasinghe for her achievement, and thanks her for her continuing stellar work on her journals.
Best Reviewer Award announced by International Journal of Environment and Pollution
We are pleased to announce that the International Journal of Environment and Pollution has launched a new Best Reviewer Award. The 2020 Award goes to Prof. Steven Hanna of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the USA. The senior editorial team thanks Prof. Hanna sincerely for his exemplary efforts.
Inderscience new address
As of 1st March 2021, the address of Inderscience in Switzerland will change to:
Inderscience Enterprises Limited
Rue de Pré-Bois 14
Meyrin - 1216
New Editor for International Journal of Human Factors Modelling and Simulation
Dr. Thomas Alexander from the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Germany has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Human Factors Modelling and Simulation.
European Journal of International Management launches Best Senior Editor Awards
The European Journal of International Management's Editor in Chief and Deputy Editor in Chief, Prof. Ilan Alon and Prof. Wlodzimierz Sroka, have launched a new annual award for EJIM's Senior Editors. They are pleased to announce the following winners of the 2020 Best Senior Editor Awards, and thank them for their continued efforts:
Associate Prof. Cristina Villar of the University of Valencia, Spain
Associate Prof. Diego Francisco Quer Ramon of the University of Alicante, Spain
Prof. Ulrike Mayrhofer of the Université Côte d'Azur, France