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  • Research in the International Journal of Business Excellence has investigated how a company's human resource management practices can affect the way in which employees balance two different types of behaviour at work: exploitation, where they focus on the effective use of existing resources effectively and exploration where the employee tries out new ideas and takes risks in their job with a view to improvement. The researchers also considered the notion of psychological capital in this context.

    Sirikul Cheewakoset, Patchara Popaitoon, and Pasu Decharin of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand surveyed 419 employees in large banking organisations in Thailand and looked at the relationships between exploitation and exploration and flexibility-oriented human resource management (FHRM) systems.

    The researchers found that different aspects of FHRM had different effects on employee behaviour. Moreover, their findings suggest that appropriate human resource practices could have a strong impact on employees, particularly those with psychological capital – a positive attitude and confidence. Indeed, the right combination allowed employees to balance exploitation and exploration most effectively with a positive effect on their work and ultimately, by implication, with the company's targets.

    The team points out that independent research has often suggested that successful companies must excel at both exploitation and exploration. However, historically these two seemingly contrary approaches have been kept separate within the corporate ethos. Both perhaps driving the company but without a direct connection to each other. The new findings suggest that bringing the two approaches together and ensuring a positive balance within the company could have a synergistic effect overall. Allowing employees to strengthen the core activities but also to generate new business, improve the service offered to customers, devise new products, and seek out and target new market segments.

    The team concedes that the current study relates directly only to the banking sector in terms of the data they have obtained. Future studies might be extended into other sectors to develop a sense of whether or not the same human resource tools can be used elsewhere in order to improve the balance between exploitation and exploration.

    Cheewakoset, S., Popaitoon, P. and Decharin, P. (2023) 'Flexibility-oriented human resource management system and employee ambidexterity: a moderating role of psychological capital', Int. J. Business Excellence, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp.288–308.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJBEX.2022.10050300

  • An automatic detection system that can scan people entering a public or private space and determine whether they are wearing a protective face covering or not and whether that face covering is being worn correctly is discussed in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing. Such a detection system could hook into an alert system on the smartphones of visitors to a space or allow stewards to offer guidance to those entering the space who need to be advised on the wearing of a face covering.

    Despite the fact COVID-19 remains an ongoing health threat to people, many public and private spaces have, at the time of writing, forsaken the need for visitors and employees to wear a face covering in order to reduce the spread of infection. However, given that the virus undergoes constant evolutionary change, there may well be an urgent need once again to "mask up". Notwithstanding the emergence of another airborne pathogen in the future.

    Vishnu Kumar Kaliappan and Dugki Min of Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea, and Rajasekaran Thangaraj, P. Pandiyan, and K. Mohanasundaram of the KPR Institute of Engineering and Technology, S. Anandamurugan of Kongu Engineering College in Tamil Nadu, India, point out that wearing a face mask in public places, particularly enclosed spaces, is one of the most effective strategies for protecting individuals from this disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO is yet to lower the status of COVID-19 from pandemic. At the time of writing, there were around 1.4 million new cases in the previous seven days and almost 10000 deaths reported in that time.

    The team's algorithmic approach can determine whether a person is wearing a mask and whether or not that mask is in place correctly (not below the nose or chin, for instance). It is based on an object detection model known as YOLO version 5. YOLO is an abbreviation in this context for "you only look once". It has an accuracy of 99.4 percent. Such precision would make much easier the job of stewards or ushers in a space there to ensure correct mask wearing. The system copes with masks of different sizes, shapes, and colours.

    Kaliappan, V.K., Thangaraj, R., Pandiyan, P., Mohanasundaram, K., Anandamurugan, S. and Min, D. (2023) 'Real-time face mask position recognition system using YOLO models for preventing COVID-19 disease spread in public places', Int. J. Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp.73–82.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2023.10053539

  • It has often been suggested that search engines are making us stupid. With so much information, and disinformation, at our fingertips, are we inclined to simply seek and search rather than analyse and learn? Researchers in the have flipped this notion, with a particular focus on personal healthcare and the academic wing of the most well-known search engine, Google Scholar. Writing in the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, the team suggests that by bringing artificial intelligence tools into the frame, search engines could actually help make us smarter not dumber.

    Luuk P.A. Simons, Mark A. Neerincx, and Catholijn M. Jonker of the Faculty of Computer Science at Delft University of Technology in Delft, Netherlands, refer to an infamous article from 2008 in The Atlantic magazine entitled "Is Google making us stupid?". In it, the technology, business, and culture writer Nicholas Carr, provocatively suggested that browsing for information was a suboptimal approach to reading and acquiring knowledge. Opinion has waxed and waned in the many years since.

    Now, the Delft team hopes that we are mature enough to recognise that there are problems with blithely relying on search engine results without applying the skills of critical thinking. They also suggest that the use of hybrid AI in combination with a search engine such as Google Scholar might empower us. The researchers have focused on the notion of health self-management for employees that offers empowerment over medicalisation of illness. They suggest that for high-performance companies seeking the best from their employees, such an approach to healthcare might, in many cases, lead to increased productivity, resilience, and agility in the organisation's teams. The approach might also improve the health of the workforce, especially when one considers the rising average age of employees in many sectors.

    The hybrid AI approach to using Google Scholar for personal healthcare might, the team suggests, help users cope with the more than half a million new health-related documents published every year. They have home in on two particularly common health problems – high blood pressure (hypertension) and type-2 diabetes – both of which can be managed and even reversed to some degree with lifestyle changes. Earlier research has often shown that many people value the potential to have more control over their own health especially when faced with potentially debilitating health conditions.

    "For diseases of affluence, if 'health is what happens between doctors' visits', the AI support system proposed here may offer us a cheaper, more effective channel to deliver future healthcare," the team concludes.

    Simons, L.P.A., Neerincx, M.A. and Jonker, C.M. (2022) 'Is Google making us smart? Health self-management for high performance employees and organisations', Int. J. Networking and Virtual Organisations, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp.200–216.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJNVO.2022.10053605

  • New research in the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies has looked at how comparative international law (CIL) can be used to better understand international migration law (IML). CIL is a research area that compares and analyses the laws and legal systems of different countries and regions. It can be used to show the similarities and reveal the differences in legal systems with a view to identifying best practices and emerging trends and how these might affect legal systems at the national level.

    In the new work, Gillian Kane of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the University of Galway, Ireland, has shown how CIL could enhance the analysis of international migration law by offering insights into the interaction between different migration regimes within states. The work also reveals the limitations of CIL, but suggests that CIL should become the focus of increased attention with implications for policymakers and stakeholders.

    Migration is, of course, nothing new, but ever-increasing global mobility driven by a wide range of factors means there are new contexts for understanding migration and its governance. There is now a pressing need to understand the legal world with respect to migrant workers, refugees, and trafficked persons among others. "Given that migration, by its very nature, often transcends state borders, international law's central role in migration governance is unsurprising," Kane writes. She points out that the research perhaps raises more questions than it answers, such as "where to from here?" but might also point to how to answer such questions.

    It could be time for scholars in this research area to reflect on how CIL, either alone or used in parallel with other approaches, could boost their research. "As IML scholars begin to explicitly adopt CIL frameworks, where appropriate, and engage in reflection about the insight and understanding which CIL can provide, the answer to the question of 'where to from here?' will emerge in practice," Kane explains.

    Kane, G. (2023) 'Comparative international law: enhancing migration law enquiry?', Int. J. Migration and Border Studies, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.149–165.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJMBS.2022.10051275

  • There are significant privacy concerns surrounding the use of smart phones with camera-based assistive technology. The primary concern being that visually impaired users relying on such technology for facial recognition and object identification purposes may be exposing themselves and others to compromise through liberal software permissions on their device or should their device, connections, or the software be breached in some way by third parties.

    There are significant privacy concerns surrounding the use of smart phones with camera-based assistive technology. The primary concern being that visually impaired users relying on such technology for facial recognition and object identification purposes may be exposing themselves and others to compromise through liberal software permissions on their device or should their device, connections, or the software be breached in some way by third parties.

    AI representation of someone using assistive tecnhology on their phone

    Writing in the International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics, Hyung Nam Kim of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA, discusses user perspectives and the state of digital privacy issues in this realm. He has carried out a small-scale survey of users with visual impairments who use this technology and associated software.

    The survey revealed that very few users had much knowledge of the privacy policies and potential risks of using assistive technology and were generally unaware of the potential issues that might arise with privacy and security breaches of personal information. Kim has developed the research to help form a conceptual framework that could be used to help researchers and professionals in this field to provide better support and education for those with visual impairment relying on this technology in their everyday lives, whether at work, in public, or even in the home.

    Given that a significant proportion of people with visual impairments in the USA are just as likely as fully sighted people to use and engage with social media sites such as Facebook, there is a pressing need to improve and enhance their privacy awareness given the additional layer of risk they must face in using extra software to interact and engage online and so remain independent.

    Kim, H.N. (2023) 'Digital privacy of smartphone camera-based assistive technology for users with visual disabilities', Int. J. Human Factors and Ergonomics, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp.66–84.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHFE.2022.10051733

  • Research in the International Journal of Arts and Technology has looked at how generative adversarial networks (GANs) might be used to transform an artistic image with a given style into a similar image with a different style. For example, a Western abstract transformed into a Chinese figurative image. Tests with this type of artificial intelligence, AI, and the results of questionnaires about the generated art reveal how people in the East and West might perceive artistic style differently when presented with such images. The work might also help us understand art appreciation, concept of beauty and whether or not AI can somehow "understand" art in a parallel manner.

    Mai Cong Hung of Osaka University and Ryohei Nakatsu, Naoko Tosa, and Takashi Kusumi of Kyoto University, Japan, explain how a new paradigm in AI – big data + deep learning – has emerged. This approach to AI is developing rapidly with many positive results and benefits to those in the field and beyond. There is always the underlying notion that given that the neural networks used in AI are based on our brains there might be some parallels with how these networks function with our own thought processes. Indeed, AI has surpassed human ability in some areas, for instance in playing Shogi (Japanese chess) and Go. These are games of logic and planning but the question arises as to whether AI can compare in terms of creativity and art.

    The team found that by converting one artistic image into the style of another artist there were able to anonymise the image so that the viewers' perception of the image was not coloured by preconceived notions about the artist. They found that volunteers perceived an original abstract artwork by Kandinsky transformed to look like a new abstract painting by one of the authors to be similar in characteristics. They suggest that this might suggest that Western abstract art and Eastern figurative art have very close parallels. It may be that they are essentially interchangeable semantically. They do concede that at this point it is not possible to automatically determine the origins of the original artwork as being from the Western tradition or the Eastern.

    Hung, M.C., Nakatsu, R., Tosa, N. and Kusumi, T. (2022) 'Learning of art style using AI and its evaluation based on psychological experiments', Int. J. Arts and Technology, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp.171–191.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJART.2022.10045168

  • We know that bees are important to natural ecosystems and also to human agriculture and horticulture. They are great pollinators of so plant flowering plant species and are also a source of food and materials we have used for thousands of years, namely honey, honeycomb, and beeswax.

    Here's the sting in the tale though. Bees are in decline. The problem is partly due to habitat and climate change but also because of our growing reliance on pesticides for food production. Conservation and rewilding efforts are often stymied by building construction. So, what if we could incorporate bee-friendly habitats into those very buildings?

    Writing in the International Journal of Sustainable Design, a UK research team discusses the design of a bee brick, which can be incorporated into the stonework of a new building, or perhaps even replace some bricks in older buildings. The bee brick is aimed at providing habitat for solitary bees, which are far more common pollinators than the more familiar honeybee.

    Kate Christman and Laura Hodsdon of Falmouth University's Penryn Campus and Rosalind Shaw of the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall, explain that there are some 250 species of bee in the UK. 9 out of every 10 of these species is a solitary bee species, one that does not congregate and swarm with its own kind to build and maintain a hive. And, of the solitary bees around one in twenty makes its nest in a cavity. Creating suitable habitats for these master pollinators should be a priority in construction, especially given that the incorporation of suitable cavities in a number of bricks used in a building could be done relatively easily.

    The team's bee brick is a "fit and forget" component of construction. There is no ongoing maintenance and the solitary bees will find the bricks, use them to test and represent no threat to the occupants of the building. The team's design has to be durable and strong enough, of course, to substitute for a standard building brick. It would benefit from being low-cost and made from recycled materials.

    As such, china clay waste found in abundance in Cornwall is the material of choice the team suggests. Add some granite aggregate and cement as a binder, and the team had the right recipe for their bee brick. Each bee brick has 18 cavities moulded part-way into the otherwise solid structure. There is the potential to have different colours to fit more aesthetically with a given construction project or even to highlight the presence of the bee bricks in a site.

    The team explains that "The Bee Brick provides a nesting site for solitary bees, adapting and rethinking how existing building components are used. Made using locally sourced recycled materials, it offers the dual function of being a construction material that also promotes biodiversity."

    Christman, K., Shaw, R. and Hodsdon, L. (2022) 'The Bee Brick: building habitat for solitary bees', Int. J. Sustainable Design, Vol. 4, Nos. 3/4, pp.285–304.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSDES.2022.10052860

  • As we sit once more on the cusp of major change in our world with the advent of machine learning, algorithm-driven decision-making, and so-called artificial intelligence, it is time once again to ask a question that piqued commentators during the industrial revolution of the 19th Century: Does social change drive technological innovation or is the path taken by society determined by new technology.

    Writing in the European Journal of International Management, Fred Phillips of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, USA, suggests that there is no need to answer such a question. Indeed, given that it can be argued perfectly well that both perspectives are true and that both perspectives are false, it is time for us to recognise that society and technology form a continuous feedback loop with each other. A nudge from one, leads to a change in the other, but that change then drives additional in the other and so on. We can thus say goodbye to determinism and welcome the circle of innovation.

    The nuances of each deterministic viewpoint – society driving technological change and technology leading to societal change – were noticed by Schumpeter in 1943 who argued for a feedback cycle to explain change. However, most research since has been divisive talking of a social determinism or technological determinism as if the two paradigms could somehow exist in isolation. Phillips argues that we must now recognise the feedback loops as underpinning change and innovation. Such recognition could provide a clearer vision for innovators and technologists, policymakers and economists, businesses and society.

    Phillips points out that our current technology and the nature of society today allow us to see more clearly the feedback cycles that underpin both and to override the linguistic biases that lead us into deterministic deadends when we could instead be rolling forward.

    Phillips, F. (2023) 'Goodbye to determinism: the circle of innovation', European J. International Management, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp.295–306.
    DOI: 10.1504/EJIM.2020.10021762

  • There are many different forms of autoimmune disease, but by definition they all have one thing in common – they arise when the body's immunological defences go awry and attack our cells or trigger biochemical changes that lead to inflammation and other responses that can be detrimental to our health. There are at least 150 different autoimmune diseases, some of them have the status of rare disease while others, such as Type I diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease are quite common.

    Research in the International Journal of Bioinformatics Research and Applications has looked at several autoimmune diseases using bioinformatics to help improve our understanding of these important diseases.

    Durbadal Chatterjee, Jyoti Parkash, and Arti Sharma of the Central University of Punjab in Bathinda, India, have focused on eight autoimmune diseases: Addison's disease, Graves' disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, myasthenia gravis, pernicious anaemia, psoriatic arthritis, systematic lupus erythematosus, and vasculitis. They explain that science is yet to determine the genetic and biochemical pathways that give rise to these diseases.

    The researchers point out that some autoimmune diseases don't tend to become apparent clinically at a single moment but symptoms gradually emerge in the patient ultimately leading to a diagnosis. Unfortunately, the problems are difficult to disentangle from the observations of autoimmune disease as some run in families, some are triggered by infection, and others arise because of environmental factors. It is possible that a combination of factors underpins the emergence of some diseases and that the specifics might be different from patient to patient. It is worth noting that genetics will inevitably have some role to play even if it is not the entire explanation.

    The team has probed the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database of genetic information surrounding these conditions and identified 668 genes associated with this group of diseases. The team found that most of these genes are involved in processes related to the activity of the immune system, intracellular signalling, and metabolism. However, while these genes are expressed and active in healthy people, they are silenced or have altered activity levels in people with these various autoimmune diseases.

    The researchers found that one gene in particular, PTPN22, was present in seven of the eight diseases we studied. PTPN22, or protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22 is a member of the so-called PEST family of protein tyrosine phosphatases. It acts to lower T cell receptor (TCR) signalling, which keeps activity and biochemistry steady, it maintains homeostasis, in T cells until they are needed by the immune system to fight disease.

    The findings open up the possibility of finding pharmaceuticals that might be used to control errant behaviour of the proteins associated with the given gene and so perhaps modulate the problematic autoimmune response in patients. The work might also provide useful clues as to how more targeted immunotherapy and stem cell treatments might be developed, that would again allow medicine to control the harmful immune response in these diseases.

    "With the development of proteomics, genomics, and metabolomics, far more sensitive and specific methodologies will be developed in the future. Improved understanding of protein-protein interactions and specific targets anticipate further improvements in challenges of autoimmune diseases," the team concludes.

    Chatterjee, D., Parkash, J. and Sharma, A. (2022) 'A bioinformatics approach to solving the puzzle of autoimmune diseases', Int. J. Bioinformatics Research and Applications, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp.415–459.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJBRA.2022.10052770

  • A significant amount of electrical energy could be generated from municipal solid waste in the Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi metropolitan areas of Indonesia, collectively known as Jabodetabek.

    Research published in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management used historical data on municipal waste available from the Regional Environmental Agency and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, to build a model of the electrical potential for the period 2020-2030 based on energy generation estimates from an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) model.

    Moh. Hadianto Ismangoen, Leopold Oscar Nelwan, I. Wayan Budiastra, and Kudang Boro Seminar of the IPB University in Bogor, and Muhammad Achirul Nanda of the Universitas Padjadjaran in Jatinangor estimate that during 2020 more than 800 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity might have been generated from waste and that by 2030, the figure could be well over 1000 GWh given appropriate infrastructure development. The team says such figures should be sufficient incentive for policymakers to develop an integrated waste management system in the Jabodetabek metropolitan area to utilise the vast quantities of solid waste – more than 8 million tonnes annually – and to produce biogas from the "organic" part for electricity generation.

    Such a solution will help a developing region cope with its solid waste but does raise the issue of pollution and carbon emissions, which are inescapable as the biogas must be burned to heat water to generate steam to turn the turbines. Of course, there can be enormous net benefits when compared to burning fossil fuels in the absence of solar, wind, tidal, hydroelectric, or other alternatives.

    Ismangoen, M.H., Nanda, M.A., Nelwan, L.O., Budiastra, I.W. and Seminar, K.B. (2022) 'Estimation of energy generation from municipal solid waste in the Jabodetabek Metropolitan Area, Indonesia', Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp.453–471.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJEWM.2022.10034017

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Dr. Mario Pavone appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Swarm Intelligence

Dr. Mario Pavone from the University of Catania in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Swarm Intelligence.

Prof. Wei Huang appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Information Systems and Management

Prof. Wei (Wayne) Huang from the Southern University of Science and Technology in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Information Systems and Management.

Prof. Benoît Eynard appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Product Lifecycle Management

Prof. Benoît Eynard from Université de Technologie de Compiègne in France has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Product Lifecycle Management.

Prof. Ciro Troise appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Electronic Trade

Prof. Ciro Troise from the University of Turin in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Electronic Trade.

Associate Prof. Zhenling Liu appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Vehicle Information and Communication Systems

Associate Prof. Zhenling Liu from the Henan University of Technology in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Vehicle Information and Communication Systems.