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Research picks

  • Research published in the International Journal of Sustainable Aviation, looks at the opportunities and challenges facing the aviation industry in its aspirations to employ electric aircraft rather than adopt biofuels.

    Diego Lentini of Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy and Hernán Tacca of the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, explain how the growth of air travel in recent years, Covid pandemic aside, has led to a massive increase in emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances. New ways to power aircraft that are carbon neutral, pollution free, and sustainable are now urgently needed the industry is to become sustainable. Dedicated airframes are now needed in order to make the transition to sustainable, electrically powered aircraft.

    Fundamentally, putative electric aircraft suffer from a significant limit on their range. Other types, such as turbo electric aircrafts require liquid hydrogen, which brings its own serious challenges. And, hybrid-electric aircraft require smaller wings and thus can handle only a smaller load.

    The team's analysis of current technological solutions and proposals suggests that many of the options envisaged for electric aircraft can give "only a limited relief of the aviation environmental impact, and imply substantial extra costs." Turbo aircraft fed by liquid hydrogen may well offer a viable alternative provided the hydrogen is sustainably sourced, the team suggests, but this would require serious consideration in terms of safety. The team concludes that before electric fleets become tenable for the aviation industry there needs to be a "paradigm shift in the fuel infrastructure development, and above all, a decisive policy shift in the way environmental problems are tackled." There perhaps remains a significant delay in departures before we see electric aircraft taxiing to the runways and taking to the skies.

    Lentini, D. and Tacca, H.E. (2020) 'Opportunities and challenges for electric propulsion of airliners', Int. J. Sustainable Aviation, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp.247–259.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSA.2020.112645

  • Progress in image processing has allowed many advances in medicine. Work published in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology now shows how an efficient and optimised system for image processing can be used to distinguish cancerous lesions on the tongue from other non-cancerous features.

    Mahnoor Rasheed, Ishtiaq Ahmad, Sumbal Zahoor, Muhammad, and Nasir Khan of The University of Lahore in Pakistan, point out that tongue cancer is a rare form of cancer, but nevertheless can be very debilitating and in the worst cases just as lethal as other cancers. Advanced and precise early detection of cancer of any kind can lead to a better prognosis and outcome for the patient.

    The new approach to tongue cancer detection involves a two-step process. In the first, advanced filtering techniques are applied to "clean" images by removing noise from the micrographs obtained from tissue cultures. In the second phase, the image is segmented to allow the computer algorithm to analyse the details in the image and discern those features associated with cancer. The team tested three segmentation and detection techniques and while all three worked well, the most efficient and accurate was the marker controlled watershed method.

    The team explains that the field of medical science for the detection of cancerous cells in different parts of the body is vast and challenging. An iteration of this sort focusing on a specific form of cancer takes medicine a step forward in this ongoing battle.

    Rasheed, M., Ahmad, I., Zahoor, S. and Khan, M.N. (2020) 'An efficient and optimised system for detection of cancerous cells in tongue', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 34, No. 4, pp.391–412.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJBET.2020.112424

  • In the face of ongoing conflict and environmental degradation, how might a nation, such as Nigeria, build a democracy that might be sustained? That is the question addressed by work published in the International Journal of Sustainable Society.

    Adaora Osondu-Oti of the Department of International Relations and Diplomacy in the College of Social and Management Sciences at Afe Babalola University has studied environmental degradation across Niger Delta and the attendant conflict in that part of the world using a qualitative case-study approach.

    "Niger Delta is one of the most polluted cities in the world with resultant conflict that has caused immeasurable harm to the people," writes Osondu-Oti. She suggests that the Nigerian government must work assiduously towards ensuring environmental sustainability and responding to the plights of the people. This is the peaceful route towards a sustainable democratic society amid the double jeopardies of environmental degradation and conflict.

    The region, Osondu-Oti says, has suffered massive pollution of land, water, flora, and fauna, which have decimated the resources on which it depends since oil was first discovered in the Niger Delta in the 1960s. It is said that democracy is receding and the people in such places are not benefiting from its promise in the way that they had hoped.

    "Economic, social, and environmental sustainability are crucial for legitimacy, smooth functioning, and ultimately the sustainability of democracy," Osondu-Oti writes. "Yet, little steps are being made towards achieving sustainability in the country, as evident in the Niger Delta region."

    Osondu-Oti, A. (2020) 'Can Nigeria build a sustainable democratic society in midst of environmental degradation and conflict?', Int. J. Sustainable Society, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp.326–341.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSSOC.2020.112440

  • Once we emerge from the Covid pandemic, there will remain a need for some level of social distancing in public places such as restaurants or at the very least an increase in automation for serving and billing. Writing in the International Journal of Simulation and Process Modelling, a team from Japan has investigated how restaurants might best manage scheduling when staff are working alongside robotic counterparts.

    Takashi Tanizaki of Kindai University, Takeshi Shimmura of Ritsumeikan University, Nobutada Fujii of Kobe University, and Antonio Oliveira Nzinga Rene of Toyama Prefectural University, explain that the use of robots in the workplace has increased in recent years. Robots can carry out the more mundane, or low-value-added, tasks that are perceived as too menial for staff. This also frees up employees to improve customer relations, boost return visits to an establishment, and even improve profit margins for the owners.

    In all, the team suggests that balancing customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and management satisfaction may well be mutually exclusive to some degree. The team's study has focused on finding a way to boost all three without any increase in one leading to a negative impact on the others.

    "The simulation results show that increasing the utilisation of robots for low value-added work and hall staff for high value-added work with customer contact contributes to improvements in customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and management satisfaction in restaurants," the team writes.

    The question remains though...how much do you tip a robot?

    Tanizaki, T., Shimmura, T., Fujii, N. and Rene, A.O.N. (2020) 'Staff scheduling in restaurants where hall staff and robots cooperate', Int. J. Simulation and Process Modelling, Vol. 15, No. 6, pp.571–583.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSPM.2020.112467

  • Exploiting nostalgia is a well-worn emotive approach to enticing customers to purchase a product or service. New work in the International Journal of Electronic Marketing and Retailing, has looked at how a person's character affects whether or not they are susceptible to what is commonly referred to as nostalgia marketing. One of the main findings from the work is that given a high-quality product nostalgia marketing will be successful even given a concomitant high price, the team has found.

    Kyunghee Kim, Ahreum Hong, and Yannan Li of the Graduate School of Technology Management at Kyung Hee University in South Korea explain how nostalgia appeals at an emotional level for many people. It is used in many areas of human endeavour books and movies, fashion and food, and more broadly in the marketing of such things. "People often have good memories of their past and enjoy looking back to happy times," the team writes. "They enjoy being reminded of happy memories with family and friends." As such, incorporating themes or products from the past marketers can create a unique emotional feeling in their putative customers.

    The team points out that there are negative associations with nostalgia. In recent years, rather than being perceived as a positive thing, there has been a suggestion that nostalgia is somehow a psychological problem associated with an unrequited desire for the past. This is then associated with melancholy, depression, and loneliness. A more holistic view of nostalgia would be inclusive of such negative connotations but also the more positive side. A balanced view of nostalgia would see it as a complex emotion or mood associated with reflection on the past whether people, experience, ideas, or objects that are no longer part of someone's present situation.

    The team suggests that marketers need to reflect on how nostalgia "ain't what it used to be" if they are to benefit from improved sales when exploiting this emotion in their advertising efforts.

    Kim, K., Hong, A. and Li, Y. (2021) 'Effects of consumer personal characteristics and psychological factors on nostalgia marketing', Int. J. Electronic Marketing and Retailing, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.89–109.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJEMR.2021.112256

  • AI, or artificial intelligence, is attracting great attention across many industries, even food production, according to research published in the International Journal of Society Systems Science.

    Darrell Burrell of Florida Institute of Technology, in Fort Lee, Virginia, USA, and colleagues point out that given the growing world population, which is expected to reach almost ten billion by 2050 there is an urgent need to develop properly sustainable agricultural practices and ensure food security at a much higher level than has ever been attempted in the past. This, they suggest, might only be possible with the rapid development of technologies such as AI.

    With a global population of around 7.8 billion people in 2021, there are at least a billion people who suffer chronic hunger and malnutrition. This crisis is a result of inefficient food production and distribution systems, the team says and undeveloped agricultural land. We need a process improvement initiative to address this problem now, but also to create contingency for the growing population.

    "These new technologies are creating the need for new educational and new awareness programs to inform and train farmers on the existence and utilities of these new advances," the team writes. Agricultural students and others need to be taught about robotics, computer science, cybersecurity, information security, and engineering, and other tools that will be needed to on farms of the future. They add that the technologies need to be opened up to parts of the world where food security is not guaranteed and people are chronically hungry too. Humanitarian aid and hunger aid must be apportioned to developing and underserved countries to help them advance food security and solve this global problem.

    Burrell, D.N., Burton, S.L., Nobles, C., Dawson, M.E. and McDowell, T. (2020) 'Exploring technological management innovations that include artificial intelligence and other innovations in global food production', Int. J. Society Systems Science, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp.267–285.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSSS.2020.112408

  • By combining synthetic polymers and natural materials it is possible to increase the range of characteristics that might be fabricated using 3D printing of components, according to research published in the International Journal of Nano and Biomaterials. In a proof of principle, the team has demonstrated how one such blend emulates the material properties of bone.

    Gajanan Thokal and Chandrakant Patil of Amravati University in Maharashtra, India, have investigated the potential of blends of polyamide (PA12) and nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) with formic acid solution. The team used scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to investigate the structures of the components they produced using 3D printing of these blends. Standard stress and strength tests were also carried out as well as porosity measurements.

    Ultimately, the team demonstrated that certain formulations could mimic the structure and characteristics of bone, perhaps opening up the possibility of printing 3D prosthetic bone parts for surgical repair and replacement. Such materials might have greater biocompatibility than conventional metal implants, the team suggests. There are also the advantages of improving the load bearing and re-implantation opportunities when a prosthetic implant ultimately wears out with use. In addition, such blended materials might well have improved bonding and implantation with the surrounding tissue due to their porous nature when compared with solid metal components.

    The team points out that the specific type of bone their blended material emulates is that of the goat. As such animal trials of implants based on this substance might be carried out in this animal prior to their being used in humans although the specific formulation would inevitably require some modification for human use.

    Thokal, G.N. and Patil, C.R. (2020) 'Finite element analysis of synthetic and natural polymer blends made by 3D printing', Int. J. Nano and Biomaterials, Vol. 9, Nos. 3/4, pp.105–122.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJNBM.2020.112221

  • An international research team has reviewed how big data might be useful in the realm of fashion retailing. They offer their conclusions in the International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy.

    Dag Øivind Madsen of the School of Business, University of South-Eastern Norway, Emmanuel Sirimal Silva of the University of the Arts London, and Hossein Hassani of the University of Tehran, Iran, suggest that big data is disrupting the fashion industry in unprecedented ways and has revolutionized traditional business models. "Leading fashion brands and new start-ups are both using big data analytics to improve business operations and maximise profitability," they explain. In their work, take stock of the research literature in this area and summarise the fashion industry's current position.

    The team points out that there is evidence of many fashion brands actively engaging with social media whilst the most proactive fashion brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Michael Kors, and Pink Boutique, to name but a few, are already making the most of their online presence. They add that they have found evidence indicating that brands such as Zara, H&M, ASOS, Adidas, Hugo Boss, Macy's, Montblanc, Tory Burch, GAP, and Ralph Lauren are using big data analytics to improve their operations.

    They have now identified five main drivers for the use of big data analytics in the fashion industry. The first one is that big data can allow trend prediction. Secondly, it can facilitate waste reduction. Thirdly it can be used to improve the consumer experience and engagement, and marketing. Fourthly, big data can be utilized to improve quality control and reduce the spread of counterfeit garments. Finally, big data can shorten supply chains.

    There remain challenges the team has found as the industry seeks to model its markets and consumer behaviour but big data is weaving the way forward.

    Madsen, D.Ø., Silva, E.S. and Hassani, H. (2020) 'The application of big data in fashion retailing: a narrative review', Int. J. Management Concepts and Philosophy, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp.247-274.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2020.112160

  • Alternative approaches to understanding critique in the field of design studio teaching are discussed in the Journal of Design Research. Jason McDonald of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah and Esther Michela of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA, suggest that rather than viewing critique as being primarily about educational outcomes, such as accumulating design knowledge, or socializing students to a particular profession, they hope their insights will help students move forward as individuals.

    In design education the term "critique" is flexible, the researchers explain it is just as likely to refer to a range of activities in which students receive feedback on their work as being a formal "jury evaluation" of their output. It can also simply be an in-class discussion among instructors and students or even informal, out-of-class help among students themselves. Unfortunately, it is well recognized that critique can be harmful, dominating, and oppressive, in many ways rather than a valuable educational and learning tool.

    While the teaching and socialising aspects of critique remain important, their new perspective is not so much about facilitating the management of the students' education but more about help students take up specific ways of life that are made available through studio participation. The incentive for finding a new approach in this context is that the conventional critique approach exists in a high-stakes form and can have a detrimental effect on a student's wellbeing rather than a positive one. There is a definite need to create healthier studio culture that provides education in a more positive environment. Critique acts upon students and can change them not necessarily for the better.

    The team recognizes that the pros and cons of critique may well be understood by many educators already. "Our intent," they write, "has not been to propose wholly unprecedented ideas about how critiques can take place." They add that rather, "Our aim was to develop a way of speaking about critiques that considers their foremost purpose to be supporting students who are pressing into forms of the self that are opened up through studio participation."

    McDonald, J.K. and Michela, E. (2020) '‘This is my vision’: how students depict critiques along with themselves during critiques', J. Design Research, Vol. 18, Nos. 1/2, pp.57–79.
    DOI: 10.1504/JDR.2020.112057

  • Let's get physical – The poor and disadvantaged tend to report higher rates of mental health issues. It's almost as if social inequality can lead to personal problems. Work published in the International Journal of Behavioural and Healthcare Research, discusses the potential for physical activity to improve mental health in the context of race, ethnicity, and gender and the link with social inequality.

    Jake Jennings of the Department of Economics at California State University, Chico and Iris Buder of the Department of Economics at Idaho State University in Pocatello, USA, explain that many steps have been taken in efforts to address inequality and inequities, but there remains a long road ahead before the gaps are closed. They write how "Positive mental health is more than the 'absence of a mental disorder;' it is integral in a person's ability to fulfill productive activities, find employment, handle adversity, cope with normal stresses of life, and contribute to society." Low socioeconomic status often correlates with poor mental health and a lack of access to the means to remedy that situation.

    The team has now looked at how much physical activity might improve mental health despite inequalities for people of different race, ethnicity, and gender. Researchers have used cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental methods to analyse reporting of the number of mentally or physically healthy days in connection to socioeconomic factors, such as income, education, wealth, and occupation. The present team has now used the US Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data to show the mitigating effects of physical activity on the number of mentally unhealthy days people experience.

    "We believe that this work has important public policy implications, as it can help shape and target policies aimed at increasing physical activity levels," the team writes. Physical activity is good for one's overall health. The new research provides policymakers with new insight into how physical activity might be employed to boost the number of mentally healthy days an individual has.

    Jennings, J. and Buder, I. (2020) 'The mitigating impact of physical activity on mentally healthy days: differential effects based on race, ethnicity and gender', Int. J. Behavioural and Healthcare Research, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.103–116.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJBHR.2020.112166

News

New Editor for International Journal of Space-Based and Situated Computing

Prof. Jianqiang Li from Shenzhen University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Space-Based and Situated Computing.

New Editor for International Journal of International Journal of Business Environment

Associate Prof. Marco Opazo Basáez from the University of Deusto in Spain has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of International Journal of Business Environment.

New Editor for International Journal of Comparative Management

Prof. Vishwanath V. Baba from McMaster University in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Comparative Management.

European Journal of International Management announces Best Paper Awards

The European Journal of International Management's Editor in Chief and Deputy Editor in Chief, Prof. Ilan Alon and Prof. Włodzimierz Sroka, are pleased to announce the following Best Paper Awards:

2020 Award
The expanded model of cultural intelligence and its explanatory power in the context of expatriation intention
European Journal of International Management 2020 14(2)
Nicole Franziska Richter (University of Southern Denmark), Christopher Schlaegel (University of Groningen, The Netherlands), Marian Van Bakel (University of Southern Denmark) and Robert L. Engle (Quinnipiac University, USA)

2019 Award
The influence of competences and institutions on the international market orientation in foreign-owned subsidiaries
European Journal of International Management 2019 13(3)
Sven Dahms (I-Shou University, Taiwan)

2018 Award
Entrepreneurial orientation in a hostile and turbulent environment: risk and innovativeness among successful Russian entrepreneurs
European Journal of International Management 2018 12(1-2)
Daniel J. McCarthy (Northeastern University, USA), Sheila M. Puffer (Northeastern University, USA) and Anna Lamin (Northeastern University, USA)

The Editors congratulate the authors on their significant contributions to research in the field of international management. All winners will receive an online subscription to EJIM and a certificate.

The winning papers are available for free from EJIM's sample articles page.

New Editor for International Journal of Information and Computer Security

Associate Prof. Biju Issac from Northumbria University in the UK has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Information and Computer Security.