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An analysis of case studies of research and development intensive companies published in the International Journal of Technology Management reveals that companies do not necessarily perceive R&D as a cost, per se. The international team reports and assesses the different strategies companies can employ to respond to growing research costs. Because on the bottom line, R&D is a cost.

Their work shows that companies do see the expense of R&D as a secondary factor. "The main drivers of research investments are based on the expected value of innovations, risk and strategic competence development, and anticipating uncertainty concerning the kind of research that might be needed in the future," the team writes.

Karl-Heinz Leitner of the Center for Innovation Systems and Policy, at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, in Vienna and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Applied Business Studies at the University of Graz, also in Austria, and colleagues in Italy, The Netherlands, and the USA, emphasise that while there is a large body of research literature on studying the different strategies that might be used to exploit R&D investments, researchers actually know little about the relative importance of controlling costs. Their analysis of case studies of European and US firms that are R&D intensive reveals much about how R&D costs are perceived.

They found that "value creation" is the predominant emphasis of R&D managers and cost does not appear to be a key factor in directing and managing R&D nor in their response to growing R&D costs. However, there is no binary decision to be made between cost control and value creation. They conclude that it is important for R&D managers to develop dynamic capabilities and business models that can adjust the company's R&D agenda to the changing technological, market and regulatory environment.

Leitner, K-H., Poti, B.M., Wintjes, R.J.M. and Youtie, J. (2020) 'How companies respond to growing research costs: cost control or value creation?', Int. J. Technology Management, Vol. 82, No. 1, pp.1–25.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2020.107407

Facial biometrics for security applications is an important modern technology. Unfortunately, there is the possibility of "spoofing" a person's face to the sensor or detection system through the use of a photograph or even video presented to the security system. A team from China has now developed a counter-measure that could preclude face spoofing and make such biometric security systems far less prone to abuse. The team reports details in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering.

Fei Gu, Zhihua Xia, Jianwei Fei, Chengsheng Yuan, and Qiang Zhang of Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, explain how anti-spoofing technology usually looks to illumination differences, colour differences, or textures differences to spot issues with the presented face to determine whether or not the face is a photo or video rather than a live human in front of the security camera. However, even these approaches are vulnerable.

In order to make a stronger anti-spoofing system, the team has proposed a method based on various feature maps and convolution neural networks for photo and video replay attacks. They explain that facial contour and specularly reflected features are taken into account when verifying a face so that depth and width can be determined, aspects of a living face that are not present in a photograph. Their proof of principle shows remarkable performance against multiple datasets and shows that the method can defend not only photo attack, but also video replay attack with a very low error rate.

Gu, F., Xia, Z., Fei, J., Yuan, C. and Zhang, Q. (2020) 'Face spoof detection using feature map superposition and CNN', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 22, Nos. 2/3, pp.355–363.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCSE.2020.107356

The rules surrounding information have changed with the ongoing development of the digital world. Information has become accessible to almost everyone around the world, any time of the day or night, at the touch of a mobile phone screen or the click of a mouse.

Writing in the International Journal of Big Data Intelligence, a team from Italy, reiterates this point and points out that at this stage in the evolution of those rules there are now a handful of central hubs providing almost all of the information that the vast majority of the population accesses: the major search engines, such as Google and Baidu, the big social media networks, Facebook and Twitters, and a few other repositories, such as Wikipedia and their more local equivalents in Russia, China, and other parts of the world that have certain barriers to globalization.

Massimo Marchior and Enrico Bonetti Vieno of the University of Padua, explain how a system like Wikipedia has many pros but also various cons. It has been enormously successful as a dynamic, online alternative to conventional encyclopedia. However, the distributed nature of its content, sources, and editors, also gives rise to some problems. Fundamentally, the team writes "everybody can contribute and so also manipulate information in a way that is practically invisible to the general public."

They describe the "Negapedia" system, which is an online public service that offers a more complete picture of the underlying layers of Wikipedia. It involves big data analysis and the need to overcome information overload, but it also offers novel insights into the important issue of Wikipedia categorisation, analysing the problem of presenting general users with easy and meaningful category information. Negapedia can, the team reports, reveal the social turbulence that underlies much of the content and the editorial battles that take place, particularly surrounding controversial subjects, such as politics, religion, conspiracy theories, and activism and advocacy.

An additional point of interest that emerges from this study is the connection between controversial information and the level of interest in that subject matter. "We found out that there is in fact correlation between topics of high interest to users and conflict, thus showing that controversy seems to be tightly linked with popularity." They add that perhaps one aspects drives the other. "To some extent, controversy (negativity) can be seen as a natural phenomenon arising from people interest," they add.

Marchiori, M. and Vieno, E.B. (2020) 'To beat or not to beat: uncovering the world social battles with Wikipedia', Int. J. Big Data Intelligence, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.110–125.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBDI.2020.107377

The calcium mineral from which many shellfish, such as cockles, make their shells can be used to form nanoparticles. These nanoparticles can then be "loaded" with small drug molecules, such as anticancer drugs.

Writing in the International Journal of Nanotechnology a team from Malaysia and Nigeria explains how nanoparticles made from the cockleshell material calcium carbonate aragonite can be used to carry the anticancer drug doxorubicin. These drug-loaded nanoparticles have been used to successfully treat dogs with solid tumours.

Treating solid tumours is problematic in cancer therapy because the malignant mass is often inaccessible to conventional anticancer drugs. High doses are needed to attack the tumour, but this comes at a price in terms of side-effects, such as damage to the heart with doxorubicin, for instance. Finding ways to target the tumour with the drug more directly would mean a lower dose could be used and still have the same effect but without the cardiotoxicity.

Cockle shell-derived calcium carbonate has been shown to have potential as a drug-delivery agent by using it to fabricate nanoparticles to carry the drug. The present team has now carried out a prospective single centre, non-blind open clinical trial of repeated doses of the nanocomposite on dogs with solid tumours in their bones over the course of fifteen weeks.

The team reports no major adverse effects and success was seen in treating bone cancer in the dogs with great improvement in the quality of life of the animals.

Danmaigoro, A., Selvarajah, G.T., Mohd Noor, M.H., Mahmud, R., Ahmed, H., Abubakar, M.Z. (2019) 'Targeted delivery of doxorubicin-loaded cockle shell-derived CaCO3 aragonite nanoparticles on dogs with solid tumours', Int.J.Nanotechnol., Vol 16, Nos. 11/12, pp. 730-749.
DOI: 10.1504/IJNT.2019.107365

Can direct advertising work for leading brands in an emerging market such as India. The question is answered with respect to the marketing of honey in the International Journal of Comparative Management.

R.K. Srivastava of the University of Mumbai and his team have measured the impact of direct comparative advertisements in eastern culture for honey, a low-involvement product (compared to something like a readymeal). The study used the Elaboration Likelihood Model to explain why Patanjali brand honey has been so much more successful than others and how religious belief and gender affect buying behaviour.

The paper explains that when a product or a brand is contrasted with another brand in an advertisement to show the other brand to be inferior, this is commonly referred to as comparative advertising. Of course, the advertisers tread a thin line between promoting their product as superior and defaming the rival manufacturers. Nevertheless, comparative advertising in the US has been shown to be more effective than standard advertisements in generating attention, message processing, brand awareness, favourable sponsor brand attitudes, and purchase intentions.

Of course, it is important for companies to know whether that relative success might apply in other markets, where gender, religion, class, and other factors may still play a potent role in nudging consumers to a particular brand and not another. Fundamentally, if comparative advertising is shown to be effective, then it might open market inroads for challenger brands in a marketplace essentially monopolised by the bigger players.

Having demonstrated that gender and religion can affect perception of honey brands, the team hopes to now extend their study to other demographic factors such as income, ethnicity, education, occupation, body weight, health condition, and habits and to other commodities.

Srivastava, R.K. (2020) 'Will direct comparative advertising works for a leading brand? A study of the honey market', Int. J. Comparative Management, Vol. 3, Nos. 1/2, pp.125–141.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCM.2020.107338

Christina Öberg of the School of Business at Örebro University in Sweden has investigated the "shape" of female representation in the corporate boardroom. Her findings suggest that representation may not be the issue per se when it comes to gender equality at the highest level in management but rather how well "nested" female board members are and the perception of their roles and rank on the board and the effect of being on more than one board and how those connections are interlocked.

Writing in the International Journal of Comparative Management, Öberg has found that the power of women on boards varies with various different factors. Among those are the existence of few or many interlocks on the board, the number of representations held by the female board member, the fragmented or large network that the female board member is part of, and whether the network consists of direct or indirect links.

Öberg points out that the gender diversity debate has led to a new focus on the question of female board representation. In some countries, this focus has led to welcome legislation. The important point is that for too long representation on corporate boards has not reflected society's gender composition nor looked to equality. This new work contributes to research on gender diversity by introducing relative power as an important concept related to interlocks on the board and to the shape of interlock networks. There are implications for ensuring that boards represent gender diversity and have equality and also for how directors might benefit from this and be guided by such research in the appointment of board members.

Öberg, C. (2020) 'The shape of female board representation', Int. J. Comparative Management, Vol. 3, Nos. 1/2, pp.53–72.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCM.2020.107337

New research suggests that a different approach to modelling the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, could be beneficial for developing new strategies for coping with the ongoing global pandemic. Details are reported in the International Journal of Simulation and Process Modelling.

Shan Bai of the Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie (KIT) in Germany has evaluated how well two approaches to epidemiological modelling – a system of first-order ordinary differential equations (ODEs) and spatial agent-based model (ABM) – work in the face of different interventions. She explains that specific intervention strategies are introduced and the effectiveness of the strategies can be assessed by comparing the results of the models with or without these strategies.

It is now relatively well-known that a proportion of people carrying the virus might have mild symptoms or be apparently asymptomatic but nevertheless shed viral particles in their bodily fluids, specifically saliva and mucus from the respiratory tract. These particles may enter the respiratory tract of other people through various physical mechanisms, such as exposure to a sneeze or cough from the infected party, simply being in close proximity and breathing the same air or touching surfaces that on which infectious droplets have landed followed by transfer from hand to face and thus the eyes, nose or mouth.

The joint mantras of stay socially distanced from other people, do not touch your face, and wash your hands thoroughly and frequently remain good advice in the face of this health crisis. Moreover, given the nature of Bai's analysis of the situation, she says that "It is thus very important to assess the potential for sustained transmission, taking such infected people into account, in order to thoroughly understand the transmission dynamics of the infection and evaluate the effectiveness of control measures." This is where solid epidemiological modelling comes into play especially as new knowledge about this emergent virus and the complex disease it causes is obtained.

The spatial ABM integrates several new features to the epidemic models compared to the ODEs-based model, Bai adds. "The implementation of spatial ABM brings novel features to the epidemics modelling: new states being easily incorporated; the parameter illustrating the moving willingness of people; and sub-models for hospital beds to reflect demands of medical resources," Bai adds. The results suggest that the flexible nature of ABM make it a useful addition to the toolset of epidemic simulation models.

Bai, S. (2020) 'Simulations of COVID-19 spread by spatial agent-based model and ordinary differential equations', Int. J. Simulation and Process Modelling, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp.268–277.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSPM.2020.107334

Research published in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering, investigates how optimal routes might be calculated for emergency vehicles responding to a shout.

Jiao Yao, Yaxuan Dai,and Yiling Ni of the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, Jin Wang Changsha University of Science and Technology, both in China, and Jing Zhao of Delft University of Technology, in The Netherlands, look at this issue of queing traffic and how it impedes the movement of emergency vehicles.

The team lists the various types of vehicle they are considering: ambulances, natural disaster rescue vehicles, fire trucks, police vehicles, engineering rescue vehicles, municipal repair vehicles, traffic accident vehicle rescue equipment, evacuation vehicles, and emergency rescue vehicles. They point out that drivers of these vehicles cannot judge the optimal route in real-time as a situation develops and normal and additional traffic moves around the road systems they are attempting to circumnavigate.

The team has simulated three major situations that might unfold in an emergency situation and used a computer to devise a way to work out the more optimal routes that would allow the emergency vehicles to reach the scene quicker. In one situation, their approach gives a time saving of 22.2% but in another they can actually half the time in transit. They ultimately come to the conclusion the traffic lights used only in emergencies are essential to allow vehicles to breach the queues safely and reach the emergency in a timely manner.

Yao, J., Dai, Y., Ni, Y., Wang, J. and Zhao, J. (2020) 'Deep characteristics analysis on travel time of emergency traffic', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp.162–169.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCSE.2020.107271

Graphene is a form of the chemical element carbon. Well-known forms of carbon include the world's hardest material, diamond, and the soft black material known as the "lead" in a pencil, which is graphite. Graphite can be visualized as layers of carbon atoms stacked together in sheets with each sheet resembling a hexagonally woven chicken wire fence or a very thin honeycomb. Graphene is to all intents and purposes a single sheet from one of those stacks. It is thus one of the thinnest materials known, an atomic monolayer of carbon atoms.

It has become the focus of much research in recent years with its potential to weave the fabric of a future of molecular electronics devices because of its unique chemical, optical, and electronic properties.

Now, writing in the International Journal of Biomedical Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, a team from Malaysia reports on advances in how graphene sheets might be modified for different applications by attaching different chemical groups to the sheets. Geoffrey Ijeomah and Fahmi Samsuri of the Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Felix Obite of the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, and Mohamad Adzhar Md Zawawi of the Universiti Sains Malaysia, discuss the chemical functionalization of graphene with a view to its development as sensor materials for environmental monitoring, biomedical research, and medical diagnostics as well as in other areas.

An important conclusion from their review is that among the fundamental synthetic methods for the fabrication of graphene, such as chemical vapour deposition, mechanical exfoliation, reduction of graphite oxide, thermal deposition, and unzipping carbon nanotubes are sensitive to the exact conditions used and that affects the reproducibility when functional, chemical groups, are attached to the graphene layers.

"An improved understanding of the workings of graphene at the molecular level will ultimately advance graphene surface engineering and its applications in sensor development and technology," the team concludes.

Ijeomah, G., Samsuri, F., Obite, F. and Zawawi, M.A.M. (2020) 'Recent advances in chemical functionalisation of graphene and sensing applications', Int. J. Biomedical Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Vol. 4, Nos. 1/2, pp.1–48.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBNN.2020.107177

People can usually make a good guess at a person's age by looking at their face and assessing the smoothness or otherwise of their skin, the general condition of the skin, jowls, and other features. Face recognition software, on the other hand, can recognise a face with varying degrees of success based on the training data used by estimating age has not yet become a trivial computational matter. Part of the problem is that faces change from moment to moment as we show our emotions through laughter, frowns, sadness, disgust, and other facial expressions.

Now, a team from India, writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, describes a new approach to age estimation that fuses local and global features in an image of a person's face to look through the facial expression to estimate a person's age.

Subhash Chand Agrawal, Anand Singh Jalal, and Rajesh Kumar Tripathi of the GLA University, Mathura, explain how they use the Viola-Jones algorithm to pick out a face from any given photograph. It then partitions the face into 16 by 16 non-overlapping blocks and applies a grey-level co-occurrence matrix to these blocks. This then allows the system to calculate four facial parts – eyes, forehead, left and right cheek – from the facial image. The algorithm then examines the detail in these blocks according to region examined and compares it with similar blocks from a training set of faces where the age of the person in the photograph was already known.

"Our experimental results show that fusion of local and global features performs better than existing approaches," the team writes. Their tests were able to estimate a person's age in a photo to within a mean absolute error of 6.31 years for a neutral expression and at similar values for angry. For happy, sad, disgusted, and surprised the errors were slightly higher although generally better than the state-of-the-art algorithms against which they tested their approach.

Aside from refining the system, they will also next attempt to apply it to photographs with complicated backgrounds and to faces of different ethnicities.

Agrawal, S.C., Jalal, A.S. and Tripathi, R.K. (2020) 'Local and global features fusion to estimate expression invariant human age', Int. J. Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp.155–171.
DOI: 10.1504/IJISTA.2020.107224

Journal news

Prof. Ali Sher from Yorkville University in Canada has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of International Journal of Organisational Design and Engineering.

International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management will publish a special issue on "Mitigating Climate Change". The special issue will be based on a selection of expanded papers presented at the combined event for the Sustaining Tomorrow 2020 Symposium and Industry Summit (which was sadly cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and Mitigating Climate Change 2021 Symposium and Industry Summit, which is still set to go ahead at the University of Windsor, Canada, on 24-25 June, 2021.

International Journal of Global Energy Issues will publish a special issue on "Sustaining Tomorrow Globally". The special issue will be based on a selection of expanded papers that were to be presented at the Sustaining Tomorrow 2020 Symposium and Industry Summit. (The event was sadly cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The cancelled conference will be combined with the Mitigating Climate Change 2021 Symposium and Industry Summit, which is still set to go ahead at the University of Windsor, Canada, on 24-25 June, 2021.

Associate Prof. Fabio Cassia from the University of Verona in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Management Development. He will be joined by its new Executive Editor, Assistant Prof. Francesca Magno of the Università degli Studi di Bergamo.

Dr. Yan Luo, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Computer Aided Engineering and Technology, has released a call for special issue proposals for the journal. Details are available here.

Newly announced title: International Journal of Student Project Reporting in Engineering and Computing Science

Newly published title: International Journal of Big Data Management

The International Journal of Comparative Management's Editor in Chief, Prof. K.S. Reddy, is pleased to announce the following awards for 2019:

  • Highly Commended Paper Award: Dr. Geeta Duppati (University of Waikato, New Zealand), Prof. Narendar V. Rao (Northeastern Illinois University, USA), Prof. Frank Scrimgeour (University of Waikato, New Zealand) and Dr. Neha Matlani (University of Delhi, India), for the following paper: Gender diversity reporting, performance, and exogenous shocks: Evidence from New Zealand. International Journal of Comparative Management 2019 2(3/4), 203-228
  • Outstanding Reviewers: Prof. Vincenzo Pisano (University of Catania, Italy); Dr. Godfred Amewu (Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Ghana); Dr. Boonlert Jitmaneeroj (University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Thailand); Miss Sayoni Santra (Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India)

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