2019 Research news
Music is an essential element of both the tourism offering and promotion in branding a holiday destination, according to researchers writing in the International Journal of Tourism Policy. Indeed, music can make a tourist destination unique and distinctive. Christian Stipanović, and Diana Grgurić of the University of Rijeka, working with Nataša Jurina of the City of Krk Tourist Board, Krk, Croatia, discuss the details.
Krk is the most populous islands of the Adriatic Sea, lying towards the north near Rijeka on the Dalmatian Coast in the Bay of Kvarner. It covers more than 400 square kilometres as does the neighbouring island of Cres, although Cres has a population of three thousand or so compared with Krk's approximately 20000 inhabitants. It is a popular tourist destination being connected to the mainland by a concrete bridge and in relatively close proximity to Slovenia, Hungary, Southern Germany, Austria, and Northern Italy.
The team reports that the traditional music of Krk, whether performed live or recorded music at various venues and locations across the island is an important part of the authenticity, culture, and heritage of the island. “Recently the destination has sought to innovate its music offering to reflect the island's sustainable development strategy and, by implementing its own development concept model,” the team writes.
The team's study shows that audio management represents a crucial dimension of an integrated tourism product based on sustainable development and indigenous values. They add that it can improve the destination's tourist offering and the overall experience for visitors but only if there is planning for music, noise control, and acoustic design, in venues for instance.
Stipanović, C., Grgurić, D. and Jurina, N. (2018) 'Audio management in the development and branding of Krk Island', Int. J. Tourism Policy, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp.319-336.
Research published in the International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy shows how a neural network can be trained with a genetic algorithm to forecasting short-term demands on electricity load. Chawalit Jeenanunta and Darshana Abeyrathna of Thammasat University, in Thani, Thailand, explain that it is critical for electricity producers to be able to estimate how much demand there will be on their systems in the next 48 hours. Without such predictions, there will inevitably be shortfalls in power generation when demand is higher than estimated or energy and resources wasted if demand is lower than expected.
The team has used data from the electricity generating authority of Thailand (EGAT) to train a neural network via a genetic algorithm. The results are compared with the more conventional back-propagation approach to prediction and show that the system is much better and predict the rise and falls in electricity demand. The genetic algorithm neural network (GANN) approach takes about 30 minutes to train for prediction compared with 1 minute for back-propagation training of a neural network. However, the added value of much more accurate predictions far outweighs this additional time and effort.
Jeenanunta, C. and Darshana Abeyrathna, K. (2019) 'Neural network with genetic algorithm for forecasting short-term electricity load demand', Int. J. Energy Technology and Policy, Vol. 15, Nos. 2/3, pp.337–350.
An ego network is one perspective on social network analysis, it looks at the individual and their circle of friends and the connections that fan out from that person. Writing in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Tinghuai Ma of Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China, and colleagues describe a way to look at an ego network and to automatically and accurately glean information about the community surrounding the person at its centre. Obviously, by applying such an analysis to different individuals it should be possible to build up a picture of the wider community. The approach developed by the team could be useful users themselves, allowing them to take control of their contacts in an automated manner.
The team can build up circles of friends from their analysis. In a three-step process that looks for the similarities between user attributes, features of network structure, and the contact frequency between the central user, the ego, and their friends. "We compare the similarity among attributes of users first, the team reports, they can then "divide all friends by the similarity of properties between any friend and the central user.”
Xing, F., Ma, T., Tang, M. and Guan, D. (2019) 'Friend circle identification in ego network based on hybrid method', Int. J. Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp.224–234.
A soundscape workshop offered young people an opportunity to participate in the conversation surrounding the urban sonic environment, changes in it, and its future. The outcomes are discussed in the International Journal of Electronic Governance in the context of a large, creative Europe project known as "The People's Smart Sculpture".
Aura Neuvonen of the Department of Film and Television at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, in Helsinki, Finland, examined the issues of creating and experiencing soundscapes in the mobile soundscape workshop. "The soundscape platform and the workshop method was created to experiment with mobile and participatory methods with sound and sonic experiences," she explains. The sub-project entitled "Neighbourhood as a living room" was focused on finding new ways to make exhibitions at the Helsinki Museum of Technology more interesting especially to young people. The findings could have wider implications for other museums, galleries outdoor installations, and events.
During the workshops, participants generated soundscapes using a mobile tool known as "Soundspace" and an Audio Digital Asset Management System developed at Metropolia. Having created their soundscapes, they listened to each other's and discussed their experiences and opinions. "The participants' focus on hearing, listening and observing their surrounding sonic environment increased when emotional engagement and personal experiences were acknowledged during the workshop," Neuvonen explains, an important point in the wider context of taking part in the discussion about our aural environment.
Neuvonen, A. (2019) 'Experiencing the soundscape with mobile mixing tools and participatory methods', Int. J. Electronic Governance, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.44–61.
How might we ensure that our young people are safe and secure while being sociable online? That is the question addressed by a team in the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research.
In the age of online social networks and social media, countless millions of us are connected to internet services other individuals and corporations almost constantly. We rely heavily on social media to obtain and share information, news, and multimedia content. Moreover, we share much of this information with relatives, friends, and other online users. What is not always obvious to many users is just how much of our personal and private information is being shared across these networks and with the corporations that offer the services, often at no obvious financial cost to us, but ultimately at some cost to our privacy and perhaps our security.
Ajith Sundaram of Anna University, in Chennai and P. Radha of the SNT Global Academy of Management Studies and Technology, in Coimbatore, India, have investigated the impact of phishing, profile squatting, image tagging, spamming, cross profiling, and other activities on youth security and safety online. Their modelling of social media activity does show that security and privacy concerns have a moderating effect of perceived privacy on trust. The pair offers practical and theoretical implications that could be applied irrespective of whether an individual or an organization is being discussed. The researchers highlight best practice that might be employed to protect online privacy.
Sundaram, A. and Radha, P. (2019) 'Social media security and privacy protection concerning youths. 'How to be safe, secure and social'', Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp.453-471.
Vaccination is the most effective and safe preventive strategy against many childhood infectious diseases. We can vaccinate effectively and safely against potentially lethal and debilitating diseases including measles, mumps, influenza, smallpox, tuberculosis, Rubella, poliomyelitis, and various other diseases. However, there are still outbreaks where vaccination is not available and increasingly in the era of contrarian thinking where vaccines are not taken as an option by some parents for their children, we are seeing the re-emergence of epidemics of these horrendous diseases.
Now, mathematician Kazeem Oare Okosun of Vaal University of Technology, in Gauteng, and Oluwole Daniel Makinde of Stellenbosch University, South Africa, have derived and analysed a deterministic model for the transmission of childhood disease perform optimal control analysis of the model. Writing in the International Journal of Computing Science and Mathematics, they report on how a disease might be controlled optimally to reduce the devastating impact of an epidemic. Their approach also looks at how financial costs might be minimized in efforts to control a childhood disease.
Vaccination has proven to be the most effective prevention strategy against childhood diseases, the team writes, the need to achieve an optimal level of vaccine coverage is essential to controlling the spread of childhood disease in the twenty-first century, they add. Prevention is ultimately better than cure the research suggests especially given that many of the most debilitating and lethal diseases have no effective pharmaceutical, or indeed, any other form of, treatment.
Okosun, K.O. and Makinde, O.D. (2019) 'Mathematical model of childhood diseases outbreak with optimal control and cost effectiveness strategy', Int. J. Computing Science and Mathematics, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.115–128.
Lead is a poisonous metal and a significant environmental pollutant. An important source of waste is the lead used in car batteries. Research published in Progress in Industrial Ecology - An International Journal shows how lead, scrap plastic, and sulfuric acid from used car batteries might be retrieved based on a mathematical reverse logistics network model.
Najme Roghani Langarudi of the Department of Industrial Engineering, at Amirkabir University of Technology-Tehran Polytechnic, in Tehran, Abdolhossein Sadrnia of the Department of Industrial Engineering at Quchan University of Technology, both in Iran, and Amirreza Payandeh Sani of the Department of Industrial Engineering, at the Islamic Azad University of Semnan Branch, United Arab Emirates, explain a five-layer framework that involves reverse logistics based on collection, remanufacturing, repair, recycling, and disposal. The approach has two objective functions - to minimise costs and avoid carbon dioxide emissions. "In order to show the practicability of the presented model, a numerical example using general algebraic modelling system (GAMS) software was applied," the team explains.
The team points out that traditional manufacturing is usually undertaken in a forward logistics management sense. With increasing environmental awareness, however, life cycle and cradle-to-grave assessment of a product and its end of life disposal or recycling are increasingly important. In this context the notion and benefits of reverse logistics become critical. A closed-loop supply chain offers a viable approach to automobile batteries, the team suggests.
Langarudi, N.R., Sadrnia, A. and Sani, A.P. (2019) 'Recovering lead, plastic, and sulphuric acid from automobile used batteries by mathematical reverse logistics network modelling', Progress in Industrial Ecology - An International Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.63-83.
Enterprise social media (ESM) is an open and public platform that facilitates employee discussions about work-related matters. However, there are known disadvantages. Now, writing in the International Journal of Agile Systems and Management, researchers reveal their findings with regards to the impact of ESM and employee psychological wellbeing and the modulating role played by communication quality in this context.
Abdul Hameed Pitafi of the School of Management, at the University of Science and Technology of China, in Hefei, Anhui Province, China, Shamsa Kanwal of the School of Public Affair there, and Adnan Pitafi of the Mehran University Institute of Science, Technology and Development (MUISTD), in Sindh, Pakistan, explain how researchers and even practitioners are rather vague about the advantages of ESM. The teams carried out a study based on information processing theory to investigate whether or not an employee's "psychological safety" is positively correlated with their "agility"; agility being their ability to react to and to adopt environmental changes rapidly and in an appropriate manner.
A study of 167 employees who adopted ESM in the workplace, lends new understanding to the team's hypotheses. "The existing investment in ESM is insufficient to achieving better employee agility," the team says. "Managers should take appropriate steps in implementing ESM and improving the psychological safety and, consequently, the employee's agility. The findings in this study are an important attempt to provide guidance and knowledge to managers regarding the positive side of ESM."
Pitafi, A.H., Kanwal, S. and Pitafi, A. (2019) 'Effect of enterprise social media and psychological safety on employee's agility: mediating role of communication quality', Int. J. Agile Systems and Management, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.1–26.
Why have so many people become dependent on their smartphones. This almost ubiquitous communication and information tool seems to be perpetually in so many and taking our undivided attention even when the "real world" has much to offer. Research published in the International Journal of Mobile Communications discusses the various factors that have led to this state of dependence.
Repeated studies show that large numbers of smartphone owners never disconnect, many check their device repeatedly throughout the day, every day, many keep their phones at their bedside, and for a large number of people, the smartphone has usurped more traditional information sources, such as radio, television, print publications, and even human conversation and face-to-face social interaction. To some extent where observers of the early adopters of smartphones perhaps saw them as the object of conspicuous consumption, today, with more mobile phones than people in the world, they have become something of a mundane artifact, despite their information, communication, and computational power.
Sylvia Chan-Olmsted of the Department of Telecommunication at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, USA and Min Xiao of the Department of Advertising there have explored the role of dependency on and usage of other media platforms, multiplatform media use, mobile ownership and perceptions, smartphone functions, and various consumer characteristics. Their analysis suggests that while the television and the personal computer remain important information media, it is, perhaps obviously, the simple portability of the smartphone, which essentially combines television, computer, and telephone, that has enthralled so many in recent years.
Chan-Olmsted, S. and Xiao, M. (2019) 'Factors affecting smartphone dependency of media consumers', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp.353-375.
Computing with words is a computational method where the objects of computation are words and propositions drawn from a natural language rather than the ones and zeroes of binary. Computing with words is perhaps what makes humanity a unique animals species in many regards allowing us to communicate detailed abstract concepts, to reason, to make predictions based on experience and observation. Moreover, we can do those things even with a lack of empirical data, with imprecise, or fuzzy, information, and other deficits.
Now, Arindam Dey of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, at Saroj Mohan Institute of Technology, Hooghly, working alongside Anita Pal of the Department of Mathematics, National Institute of Technology, Durgapur, India, have proposed a generalized algorithm, a generalized Diskrtra’s algorithm, specifically, that might allow a computer to do some of what the human brain can do in the context of solving decision-making problems using information extracted from natural language.
They have devised a computer model that can determine the rank of the shortest path which is a collection of words. In everyday language we would colloquially describe the shortest path between points in a space, the nodes, using fuzzy terms - adjectives - rather than numbers. The new model could allow a computer to describe paths in such fuzzy terms too without the need for raw numerical data.
Such a computer tool could utilise words to make decisions based on information that lacks numerical data and be of real-world applications in designing and running transport systems, in logistics management, and many areas where nodes within a network and the connections between them need to be formulated and considered in an abstract rather than conventionally computational sense.
Dey, A. and Pal, A. (2019) 'Computing the shortest path with words', Int. J. Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, Vol. 12, Nos. 3/4, pp.355-369.
There is much ongoing research into autonomous road vehicles and experimental cars and heavy-goods vehicles have already hit the roads. A paper published in the International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management examines some of the myths associated with driverless vehicles and analyses the route that we might navigate to a new transport destination - the autonomous mobility paradigm.
Alexandros Nikitas, Eric Tchouamou Njoya, and Samir Dani suggest that "Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) could become the most powerful mobility intervention." Unfortunately, despite the paradigm-shifting impact on traffic safety, economics, the environment, social inclusion, and network performance, there are still many complications associated with acceptance by the industry, policymakers, drivers, and passengers to be addressed before this new transport becomes the norm.
The team recognizes that there is a pressing need to frame an unproven, disruptive, and life-changing intervention, against the conventional automobile technologies without generating new misconceptions, overreaching expectations, and with sufficient room to accommodate predictive errors and avoiding hyperbole. If the benefits of this paradigm shift are to be wrought. They discuss eleven myths surrounding connected and autonomous vehicles
- Enhanced traffic safety and accident prevention.
- Better security - more monitoring and control of the vehicles of the new travel eco-system.
- Reduced traffic congestion due to more efficient mobility and parking management.
- Significant time savings - people can use in-vehicle time to be more productive.
- Smoother rides, more cabin space and more relaxed travelling.
- Environmental benefits including less CO2 emissions due to CAVs eco-driving capacity.
- Decreased noise nuisance - CAVs will have more noiseless engines and drive unobtrusively.
- Reduced energy consumption and fossil fuel dependence due to CAVs eco-driving capacity.
- Huge car-sharing and demand-responsive public transport potential.
- Fewer layers of social exclusion - less age, disability and skill barriers in 'driving’ a vehicle.
- Smaller enforcing, policing, insurance premiums and road signage requirements.
Their paper tests these eleven myths that perhaps refer to an overly optimistic CAV development and adoption timeline. By taking this approach they have highlighted unresolved issues that need to be addressed before an inescapable transition can happen. They thus provide relevant policy recommendations on how it might ultimately become achievable.
Nikitas, A., Njoya, E.T. and Dani, S. (2019) 'Examining the myths of connected and autonomous vehicles: analysing the pathway to a driverless mobility paradigm', Int. J. Automotive Technology and Management, Vol. 19, Nos. 1/2, pp.10-30.
The refugee crisis in Europe has become a global humanitarian problem argues Edita Calakovic of the Karl Franzens Universität, in Graz, Austria. Writing in the International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy explains how in the summer of 2015, the problem came to a head and finally gained international recognition as the biggest refugee crisis facing Europe since World War II. Many of the refugees and asylum seekers came from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and number at least one million attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea and begin a new, safer life in 2015 in Europe.
While many people were seeking asylum there was the wider issue of migration to address and this has led to a rising sentiment of alienation. Hundreds of people have died attempting to escape, war, extremists, and tyrants. The image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying face down and dead on a Turkish beach was perhaps a turning point in awareness. His death in attempting to reach the safety of Greece has become a symbol for the suffering of Syrian refugees.
In the bigger political picture, the issue of migration, growing population, and other issues are constantly high on the agenda. Fed by misinformation, disinformation and the often distorted perspectives of those with their own political agendas, the public can either see the crisis as being one with which they must help or persuade their leaders to help or they can turn their backs on those seeking our help, closing borders and reducing immigration allowances irrespective of need.
In this mixed and often polarized debate Calakovic says that migrants and asylum seekers can help themselves by ensuring they quickly become part of the community in the country where they seek refuge, they must attempt to successfully integrate or risk the inevitable rejection by the more right-wing factions within European society. Learning the local language and, if not adopting, then at least learning about and accepting local culture and traditions could play an important part in this integration process. Of course, there should be no pressure to abandon or forget their own cultural traditions and language.
"Even if the anti-immigration and anti-refugee political parties have been doing very well in recent years, this should not stop the refugees to secure multiculturalism," concludes Calakovic.
Calakovic, E. (2019) 'The European refugee crisis in Europe and multicultural integration', Int. J. Foresight and Innovation Policy, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.19-36.
Venezuela is one of the world's biggest oil producers. Is it any wonder that it is a political hotbed? Oil means money, money means power. Unfortunately, none of that seems to have led the country to a settled state. Initially, the discovery of oil led to development and industrialization. But, the wealth ended up in few hands and the poverty was widespread.
Venezuela has proven oil reserves amounting to 300 billion barrels, this is the largest reserve in the world. It also has extensive natural gas reserves and mineral deposits. And, yet this somehow led to extremely high inflation, economic recession and an energy crisis accompanied major politic upheaval which is ongoing at the time of writing but had changed considerably since the research paper discussed here was itself written.
Writing in the International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, Nikolina Jankovic, Mariana Olvera Colin, Melissa Ari, and Agnes Haidacher of the University of Graz, Austria, explain how, as popular unrest rose, Hugo Chávez came to power. He declared war on capitalism and left a divided society and a country currently afflicted by a deep economic crisis. The researchers discuss this rise to power and roles of the various "actors" in the conflict.
The team concludes that the societal imbalances are largely the fault of political corruption. If corruption could be fought, then that would make an essential contribution to poverty alleviation efforts. Such a statement applies in whatever political situation a nation finds itself where there are unethical power struggles.
Jankovic, N., Olvera Colin, M., Ari, M. and Haidacher, A. (2019) 'The divided Venezuela', Int. J. Foresight and Innovation Policy, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.5–18.
If people who work together don't have good interpersonal relationships, and more to the point, there is actual incivility between them, this can seriously impede the flow of knowledge within a company. A survey conducted among workers in the information technology and communications industry is analysed and discussed in the International Journal of Information Systems and Change Management. Incivility is generally characterized, not as physical violence, but as rude behaviour displaying disrespect and a lack of regard for others.
Muhammad Farrukh of Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences, He Ting of SEGi University, and Imran Ahmad Shahzad and Zhou Hua of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Malaysia, found a statistically significant correlation between incivility and knowledge sharing behaviour in ICT companies. There was also a demonstrable mediating effect of perceived organisational support. The team also points out that their analytical approach contributes to theory in this area of management by bonding two opposing poles of social exchange theory in one framework.
"Social exchange theory underpins the basis for studying workplace incivility that is based on a 'tit for tat' pattern and is reciprocal in nature," the team writes. They add that "In a work context, these norms of reciprocity would respond favourable actions of management in a positive way, whereby negative and unfavourable treatment would produce negative reciprocity." In contrast, knowledge sharing is a positive phenomenon and the team points out that it is to the detriment of this that factors that do not lubricate knowledge sharing are ignored by management. It is vital to understand the barriers of knowledge sharing and to overcome them in order to nurture and enhance active knowledge sharing in the workplace, the team suggests.
"This study confirmed the importance and value of a supportive organisational climate for sharing knowledge," the team concludes.
Farrukh, M., Ting, H., Shahzad, I.A. and Hua, Z. (2018) 'Can incivility impede knowledge sharing behaviour?', Int. J. Information Systems and Change Management, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp.295–310.
Research into the changing position and posture of gender in the context of female-dominated occupations first published in Inderscience's International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business (IJESB) has been cited in an important World Health Organization (WHO) report this month.
The WHO report was produced by the WHO Global Health Workforce Network's Gender Equity Hub, (this is co-chaired by the WHO and Women in Global Health). It represents the latest gender and equity analysis of the health workforce. Collectively, the report has taken the first-ever look at the issues of leadership, decent work free from discrimination, harassment, the gender pay gap, and occupational segregation across the entire workforce.
The report is a clarion call for gender-transformative policies and measures to be instigated by policymakers and leaders. It suggests that if global targets such as universal health coverage are to be achieved then these policies and measures must be implemented urgently. "This report serves as an essential resource to all policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, educators and activists that must make it part of their core business to understand and effect change," the WHO authors write.
The IJESB paper cited in the WHO report was authored by Nnamdi Madichie, currently Director of the Centre for Research & Enterprise at the Bloomsbury Institute in London. He offers a gender entrepreneurship slant on the evolving landscape of the "culinary underbelly". The well-known occupations stereotypically associated with women more than men social work, nursing, and elementary education.
The research cited brings to the boil the notion of "chef life" and gender segregation in the world of the commercial kitchen. Traditionally it seems cooking has been the preserve of women, in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. The modern culture of celebrity chefs and the prestige associated with glamorous restaurants has, however, enticed men to don the white apron more than ever before. It is as if men have adopted and adapted to this one last bastion of female career choice.
Author of the IJESB paper had this to say following the publication of the WHO report:
My research article speaks to the conversation on misplaced gender stereotypes and the changing dynamics in the social workforce. It also highlights subtle elements of occupational segregation, safety in the workplace and the empathy of the collective in occupations. These issues, in addition to several others, have prompted both scholarly and policy intervention across unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral levels.
Madichie, N.O. (2013) 'Sex in the kitchen: changing gender roles in a female-dominated occupation', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp.90–102.
'Delivered by Women, Led by Men: A Gender and Equity Analysis of the Global Health and Social Workforce Human Resources for Health Observer' – Issue No. 24 (March 2019). ISBN: 978-92-4-151546-7
The human body is well equipped to maintain an adequate level of hydration through the various biological feedback control mechanisms of homeostasis. However, this regulation relies on an adequate supply of water. While there is much mythology surrounding how many glasses of water we each must drink daily to stay healthy. Many people sip at a water bottle throughout the day in the belief that this will keep them well hydrated without considering the possibility that it might nudge their systems to expect such levels of water consistently and so when they have no access to their bottle they feel far more thirsty and suffer a feeling of dryness more than another individual who drinks water only when they feel thirsty and is perfectly well hydrated nevertheless.
Of course, the problem with recommendations for how much we each need and when we should drink it varies from person to person, changes with body weight, environment and specifically temperatures and humidity, personal fitness level, physical activity, age, and illness.
Monitoring water intake, which comes from drinks and food, of course, is the top of a paper published by a team in China in the International Journal of Embedded Systems. Bin Dai, Rung-Ching Chen, and Yuan-Yu Ding of Xiamen University of Technology. They have used "fuzzy" reasoning taking into account the various personal factors such as age, weight, temperature, activity level etc, to develop an application on the Arduino platform that uses Bluetooth electronic scales to connect to a smart phone and can monitor a person's water intake and give them a recommendation on whether they need to drink more or less water.
Dai, B., Chen, R-C. and Ding, Y-Y. (2019) 'A practical approach for estimating human daily water intake', Int. J. Embedded Systems, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp.210–219.
Storing one's personal or company data on remote storage systems "in the cloud" is an increasingly popular way to reduce internal computing costs and to provide all the securities of off-site backup without having to deal with encryption and data limits in-house. A team from Tunisia has now looked at an identity-based cryptographic scheme that cloud computing providers might employer to make that data even more secure.
Manel Medhioub of the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management of Sfax, ESPRIT School of Engineering, Sfax and Mohamed Hamdi of the School of Communication Engineering (Sup'Com), Ariana provide details in the International Journal of Grid and Utility Computing. They point out that while cloud computing and remote storage systems have many advantages there is always the issue of outsourcing one's data to a third party in terms of critical security, confidentiality, integrity, authentication, anonymity, and resiliency.
The team's approach to addressing that issue lies in an ID-based authentication approach in which the cloud tenant is assigned a private key generator function, technically the IBC-Private Key Generator (PKG) function, which is certificate free and so removes one of the possible entry points for a malicious third party. The tenant can then use this to issue public elements to each of its users but keep confidential and private from the provider the resulting IBC secrets. The team suggests that their approach might be used by a popular cloud storage service, such as Dropbox.
Medhioub, M. and Hamdi, M. (2019) 'An identity-based cryptographic scheme for cloud storage applications', Int. J. Grid and Utility Computing, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.93–104.
What role might science and technology parks have in the context of corporate social responsibility? That is the question researchers from Spain address in a paper in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management.
José Moyano-Fuentes, Antonia Rodríguez-Martínez, and Juan José Jiménez-Delgado of the University of Jaén, explain their work as flowing in the stream of research that investigates the factors that explain corporate social responsibility. They use reasoning derived from institutional theory to examine the effects of the sense of belonging to such a park, the involvement of institutions with links to the park, and the know-how that exists within the park. The research literature has paid much attention to geographical concentrations of companies and been used in some areas to justify the benefits to companies of setting up in such environments.
The study of some 239 companies based on science and technology parks reveals that all three aspects have a significant positive influence on the corporate social responsibility of those companies. However, "know-how" was shown to be of only secondary importance when compared to the corporate sense of belonging and the role played by institutions associated with the parks.
"The literature has also paid significant attention to geographical concentrations of companies and justified the benefits to companies of setting up in such environments," the team writes. Fundamentally, "Companies could be observed to want to pay back society in return for the benefits that they obtained from being located in a science and technology park," the team adds.
Moyano-Fuentes, J., Rodríguez-Martínez, A. and Jiménez-Delgado, J.J. (2019) 'Territorial agglomerations and corporate social responsibility: the role of science and technology parks', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp.180–203.
Mobile computing is pervaded society the world over across all walks of life. Smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets are always on, always connected, always in our hands. But, why? Why has grasping a device for the constant feed of novel information grabbed us so tightly? Writing in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, a team from South Korea and the USA discusses the effects of personal motivation and computing characteristics on ubiquitous mobile device usage.
Changsu Kim of the School of Business, at Yeungnam University, Gyeongbuk-Do, South Korea, Jongheon Kim of the Department of Information Systems, at Auburn University Montgomery, Alabama, and Dan Kim of the Department of Information Technology and Decision Sciences at the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA, have focused on intrinsic and extrinsic values that the mobile user experiences when possessing, interacting with, and using ubiquitous computing via mobile devices. The study extends previous research on the use of ubiquitous computing by introducing a theory from consumer research and applying gratifications theory.
The team makes the broad assumption that ubiquitous computing characteristics and user motivation can be considered as the key features of the adoption of such devices. Their results clearly reveal that user attitudes towards the adoption of ubiquitous computing mobile devices are positively related to the individual's innovativeness, sociability, and ability to personalise their device. In addition, the team reports, users generally perceived the utility of mobile devices through UC dimensions, including mobility, context awareness, interoperability, and personalisation.
Kim, C., Kim, J. and Kim, D.J. (2019) 'Effects of personal motivation and computing characteristics on ubiquitous mobile device usages', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.127–156.
Is there a link between levels of air pollution, a country's economic growth, and the happiness of its citizens? That is the question Zahra Fotourehchi and Habib Ebrahimpour of the Department of Management and Economics, at the University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, in Ardabil, Iran, hoped to answer in their paper just published in the aptly named International Journal of Happiness and Development.
Prior research into a putative link between economic growth and happiness has not offered researchers the chance to reach a consensus. The results have been mixed. In an attempt to reconcile this state of affairs, the team has looked at gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and its impact on happiness by taking into account the role of air pollution in each country using annual unbalanced panel data for 59 countries between the years 2005 and 2015.
It is curious that the team's analysis suggests that rising per capita GDP leads to a decrease in happiness if the air pollution level is sufficiently high but in contrast, if air pollution is low, rising GDP leads to an increased level of happiness. "We also found that leaving air pollution out of the analysis led to about 15-27% underestimation of the income effect, the team reports. "These results provide some important implications for policymakers seeking to increase economic growth without aggravating happiness."
Fundamentally, "Our research emphasises that improving air quality is an important policy measure to increase happiness in developing countries. Along with economic growth, the current focus on related costs of physical health ignores other hidden costs of pollution on mental health (happiness). If counting these additional costs, the benefits of reducing pollution would be higher," the team concludes.
Fotourehchi, Z. and Ebrahimpour, H. (2019) 'Happiness, economic growth and air pollution: an empirical investigation', Int. J. Happiness and Development, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp.1-13.
In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU in a national referendum vote. At the time of writing, the economic implications of the so-called British Exit from the EU, "Brexit" are yet to be fully clarified. Writing in "Global Business and Economics Review", Jeremy Head of the International Business and Economics Research Group (IBERG), Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, analyses the possible impacts of different Brexit scenarios on inward foreign direct investment (FDI) to the UK.
Head demonstrated that the "harder" forms of Brexit are likely to have worse outcomes in terms of inward FDI to the UK. He also suggested that the export platform FDI will be potentially significantly affected too. "The effects of Brexit could also be diverse in different industries, given the different motives for FDI, and also diverse in terms of the type of activity of the FDI," explains Head. He also points out that the effects will not be evenly spread across the UK given the patterns of FDI in the UK. There are clear policy implications...
Even though there was slow economic growth in the UK between 2010 and 2015 following the 2018 economic crash, FDI remained an important component of the UK economy. It was reported in 2016, that FDI amounted to the equivalent of almost US$40 billion for 2015. The flows led to a stock of inward FDI in the UK of $1.5 trillion by 2015. Most studies suggest that inward FDI boosts gross domestic product (GDP). Indeed, there is broad agreement that the UK’s membership of the European Union led to greater inward FDI than the country would otherwise have experienced and it is a matter of record that GDP increased. A 2015 report suggested that EU membership enhanced UK inward FDI by 25 to 30 percent.
However, there is some research that suggests that countries outside the EU benefit in terms of inward FDI and thence GDP significantly and that it may well be that the UK would have been better off outside the EU in some economic sense. Unfortunately, there is no way to carry out randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in the world of economics. Moreover, how things might have been is generally an irrelevant consideration in future prosperity or otherwise, especially given political machinations and the personal and partisan agendas of those playing out the script on behalf of the electorate.
Head, J. (2019) 'An analysis of different Brexit outcomes and their effect on inward FDI to the UK', Global Business and Economics Review, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp.139-155.
UPDATE: This post was scheduled just as news came in that the Fair Isle Bird Observatory had been destroyed by fire on Sunday, 10th March 2019). Thankfully, nobody was injured in the fire. Plans are already afoot to rebuild, but that will take time and money.
Richard Butler of Strathclyde Business School at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, UK, is worried about the impact of niche tourism, specifically birdwatching, on the well-being of a remote island and its residents. Writing in the International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, he explains how birdwatching has been the predominant form of tourism on Fair Isle, the most remote of the inhabited British islands since tourism began there in 1905.
The research analyses data collected in two surveys of the resident population that were carried out half a century apart. "The information obtained allows a longitudinal examination of the impact of tourism on the well-being of island residents and resident attitudes towards, and involvement with, tourism, and reveals that attitudes have remained positive throughout the half-century of study," Butler reports. Moreover, the numbers, location, and nature of tourists and tourism are identified as key factors in the positive relationship between residents and visitors. Tourism has benefited Fair Isle in terms of environmental, sociocultural, and economic well-being.
Fair Isle has a world-famous bird observatory and represents something of a pilgrimage site for keen birdwatchers. Aside from resident species, the position of the island halfway between Shetland and Orkney at about seven degrees south of The Arctic Circle makes it a likely place for migrants and vagrant bird species from other continents to pass through on their various travels. Even if many of the human residents departed the island there would likely still be enthusiastic ornithologists and amateur birdwatchers who would take to the see in order to reach the observatory.
"While it would be naïve to claim that the current nature of tourism is completely sustainable or perfect, it is closer to sustainability than in most tourist destinations, and overall achieves a measure of symbiosis with both the human and non-human environment with positive effects upon resident well-being," Butler concludes.
Butler, R.W. (2019) 'Niche tourism (birdwatching) and its impacts on the well-being of a remote island and its residents', Int. J. Tourism Anthropology, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp.5–20.
Researchers in China have designed an improved energy-aware and self-adaptive deployment method for autonomous underwater vehicles. The team of Chunlai Peng and Tao Wang of the Guangdong University of Technology, in Guangzhou, provide details in the International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control.
The researchers explain that autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are essential mobile robots that can travel underwater and perform tasks that are considered to hazardous for people to carry out for various reasons. There are, however, problems that face the operators of AUVs, specifically the fact that control algorithms are not necessarily optimized for distance nor energy consumption.
The team’s approach to enabling energy awareness, as well as self-adaptive deployment, has now been tested with ten AUVs. Their work demonstrates that they can reduce energy consumption with their algorithm in the test AUVs by almost a third. This could be a real boon for marine environment monitoring, military missions, search missions after the loss of a craft at sea, and perhaps even after a tsunami, earthquake or other geological catastrophes.
The team concludes their paper with a nod to the future direction of their research. "Future work will study an energy-supplying problem during the ocean rescue that generating trajectories for AUVs to rendezvous with energy-carrying robots, such as mobile charging stations, i.e., a rendezvous problem for AUVs and mobile charging stations," they explain.
Peng, C. and Wang, T. (2019) 'An improved energy-aware and self-adaptive deployment method for autonomous underwater vehicles', Int. J. Modelling, Identification and Control, Vol. 31, No. 2, pp.182-192.
Maize is perhaps the single, most-important cereal crop in the world. It is consumed by millions of people and is a staple for a large proportion of the global population. It is also used for animal feed and its total production far outstrips rice and wheat. It is also converted into other edible products such as corn syrup and corn starch as well as useful, but inedible products, like bioethanol. Unfortunately, as with many vital crops, there are significant pests and diseases that can devastate the harvest or damage the product afterwards, during transportation and storage prior to consumption.
Writing in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics, Enquhone Alehegn of the Bahir Dar University, in Ethiopia, has used a support vector machine and image processing to develop a recognition and classification system for maize diseases. Alehegn points out that Ethiopian maize is afflicted by some 72 diseases that attack different parts of the plants. Visual observation and chemical analysis are commonly used to identify a particular infection in the plants' leaves. However, such approaches require experts, time, and often costly equipment and facilities. His new approach side-steps many of the problems of conventional disease detection and classification.
He explains that he used 640 images from a dataset of 800 to train the algorithm and the other 20% for testing. "Based on the experiment result using combined (texture, colour and morphology) features with support vector machine an average accuracy of 95.63% achieved." It should be possible to improve accuracy by optimization of the image segmentation part of the analysis.
Alehegn, E. (2019) 'Ethiopian maize diseases recognition and classification using support vector machine', Int. J. Computational Vision and Robotics, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.90–109.
Many people enjoy luxury and those that don't have access to luxury goods and services often aspire to it. Writing in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, a team explain how in the "West" the notion of luxury, which has existed for millennia was perhaps considered sinful or wasteful but is now a way of life for many people and as mentioned an aspiration for others. With worldwide economic growth, globalization, and many other factors the notion of luxury and it accessibility to the nouveaux riches is now essentially independent of one's location, provided one is sufficiently "riche", nouveau or otherwise.
The team has used multi-dimensional scaling used to map the aspiration to possess and willingness to purchase luxury products in the near future among Indian women, looking at the type of luxury products women desire and their ability and wont to buy them. The team adds how the luxury market is growing rapidly in India and although still in its infancy, it is already in double figures of billions of dollars.
"With evolved tastes, awareness and worldliness, Indian consumers are willing to pay a premium for a well-designed, quality product," the team reports. Specifically, the team found that lifestyle products are the most appealing and include jewellery (as was always the case), designer clothes, luxury vehicles, exotic holidays, top-end mobile phones, laptops, and other gadgets.
The team suggests that their paper will be invaluable in marketing research and for marketers themselves looking to understand and exploit luxury brands.
Chacko, P.S., Ramanathan, H.N. and Prashar, S. (2019) 'Desire and likeliness to buy luxury products: mapping perceptions using multi-dimensional scaling', Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp.123–136.
Finding ways to maximize influence on social networks is a significant endeavour for a wide range of people including those involved in marketing, election campaigns, and outbreak detection, for instance. Technically in a network scenario, "Influence maximisation deals with the problem of finding a subset of nodes called seeds in the social network such that these nodes will eventually spread maximum influence in the network."
Writing in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering researchers from India point out that this is one of a class of difficult-to-solve problems known as NP-hard problems. In their paper, they focus on providing an overview of the influence maximisation problem and cover three major aspects. First, they look at the different types of inputs required. Secondly, they investigate influence propagation models that map the spread of influence in a network. Finally, they look at approximation algorithms proposed for seed set selection.
The study provides new insights into how a marketing campaigner might trigger a viral response to a product launch through the very careful selection of key influencers whose word of mouth promotion would reach and affect the maximum number of people. Similarly, it could be used to spread a political message more rapidly than by traditional canvassing methods. But, from the scientific perspective, the very same tools and insights could help us to better understand how a few infected individuals might lead to the emergence of an epidemic.
"Scope for future work in the area of influence maximisation lies mainly in finding efficient solutions to the extensions of the basic influence maximisation problem", the team concludes and to finding ways to handle the vast and growing amounts of data that networks can generate in a short space of time.
Tejaswi, V., Bindu, P.V. and Thilagam, P.S. (2019) 'Influence maximisation in social networks', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp.103-117.
Brands have to vie with each other to grab our increasingly diminishing attention spans across a much wider range of media, from traditional print and broadcast to the rapidly changing social media that are so readily scrollable. Writing in the International Journal of the Business Environment, one research team explains how it has looked at the impact of social media on brand commitment and tested the mediation role of perceived value and brand image.
Homa Kavoosi Kalejahi and Mojtaba Ramezani of the Islamic Azad University, in Tabriz, Iran and Reza Rostamzadeh from the University's Urmia campus explain how firms always found it difficult to make their brands distinct through traditional means because branding is not only about a company's share of the market, but also the consumers' perception of that brand. In many ways, the advent of online social media has increased the customers' engagement with brands, but there are so many choices available that finding a way to stand out from the crowd in any given market remains a conundrum from marketing departments the world over.
The researchers undertook a case study of the consumer electronics company LG and looked at how brand commitment is influenced by perceived value and brand image. The team's analysis confirms the hypothesis but also poses new questions about marketing in the era of online social media and creating a unique brand that distinguishes itself from the competition.
Kalejahi, H.K., Ramezani, M. and Rostamzadeh, R. (2019) 'Impact of social media on brand commitment: testing the mediation role of perceived value and brand image', Int. J. Business Environment, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp.191–208.
There is a complementary role between conventional marketing and advertising and electronic word-of-mouth (e-WOM) for motion pictures with high and low production costs, according to an analysis by researchers in Chile and Spain. They suggest that understanding the roles of advertising and e-WOM in the era of social media and social networking can have a big impact on low-budget movies compared to the blockbuster, perhaps even allowing low-budget movies to become surprise blockbusters and leading even the biggest budget movie to fail as a "rotten tomato".
Guillermo Armelini of the Universidad de Los Andes, in Santiago, Chile, and Jorge González and Julian Villanueva of the University of Navarra, in Madrid Spain, detail their findings in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising.
The team tested the two forms of promotion using a novel methodology in experience goods modelling, that endogenise the effect of e-WOM, advertising, revenues per screens and screens – the main constructs of our study. They applied the approach to a random sample of 202 movies.
The team found that "The advertising impact on revenues and e-WOM is more critical for high than for low-production budget movies. However, a higher positive effect of advertising on-screen allocation is found for movies with lower budgets."
They suggest that their findings have implications for managers: from the demand side, advertising affects the attention of moviegoers beyond a certain threshold and it has a ripple effect on e-WOM. In other words, e-WOM is unlikely to succeed as an exclusive approach to marketing. By contrast, they also showed that cinema owners consider advertising investment as a signal of quality for movies with a limited production budget.
Armelini, G., González, J. and Villanueva, J. (2019) 'The complementary role of advertising and electronic word-of-mouth for blockbusters and low-budget motion pictures', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.1-21.
Growing rice is an intensive business. But, in China where it is the primary food crop, mechanisation has not reached maturity, although it is as high as 90 per cent in some provinces. Writing in the International Journal of Information Technology and Management, researchers have looked at the fuel consumption index and the working efficiency index as the main basis for a rice transfer machine.
Xin Yang and Zhenxiang Zeng of the School of Economics and Management, Hebei University of Technology, Jinyu Wei of the School of Management, at Tianjin University of Technology, and Xinjiang Cai of Yanshan University, explain how they have determined the best model for an optimal working ratio and efficiency, which not only satisfies the requirements of a short payback period on investment but also gives the operator long service life of the equipment.
The team explains that in most areas of China, manual handling is still the main way in which harvested rice is taken from field to transportation. Of course, given that rice grows in wet land, those fields are still wet, muddy after the harvest and manual handling is slow, inefficient, and uncomfortable for the handlers. "This problem cannot be ignored, because the traditional way has become the bottleneck of the realisation of full mechanisation of the rice farming," the team explains. The insights gained from the team’s analysis of mechanical picking could ultimately boost the amount of mechanization in other provinces allowing rice farming to become more efficient as the population continues to grow.
Yang, X., Zeng, Z., Wei, J. and Cai, X. (2019) 'The research on the selection of the rice transfer machine', Int. J. Information Technology and Management, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp.63-73.
The rock group Pink Floyd famously proferred that "we don't need no education" while singer Alice Cooper celebrated the fact that "school's out!". But, we do need education, just not necessarily provided in the traditional style of lectures.
Can blended learning that avoids the conventional lecture structure be a useful tool in higher education? An experiment by Kevin Anthony Jones of the School of Computer Engineering, at Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore and Ravi Sharma of the School of Business, at the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand, suggests might be so in the teaching of software engineering.
The pair has chronicled a ten-year blended learning program at a leading technological university where the concept of online courses and the technology are already very familiar to educators and students alike. However, over the course of ten years the outcomes were not quite what might have been expected from a technological starting point.
"Though there were few technical problems, it required behavioural changes from teachers and learners, thus unearthing a host of socio-technical issues, challenges, and conundrums," the team reports in the International Journal of Digital Enterprise Technology. They add that "Education is a changing journey, not a prescribed destination, where learners, teachers, and administrators must reinvent themselves to harness the positive in this disruptive innovation of blended learning – closely related to flipped classroom – which combines eLearning with face-to-face and peer, interactions in problem-based learning."
The bottom line is that while blended learning has many benefits it does not necessarily lead to better delivery outcomes cost savings. Nevertheless, it makes higher education a more customisable proposition that can be adapted for different learning styles and so make it more accessible to a wider range of students.
Jones, K.A. and Sharma, R.S. (2019) 'An experiment in blended learning: higher education without lectures?', Int. J. Digital Enterprise Technology, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp.241–275.
Can consumerism ever by environmentally friendly, or "green" to use the common vernacular? And, how does going green tally with customer satisfaction? Researchers in Taiwan are developing a green customer satisfaction index (GCSI) model to explore green consumer behaviour. The model takes into account various factors including perceived quality, corporate social responsibility, expectation, brand image, perceived value, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty.
The research shows that perceived quality has a positive impact on green corporate social responsibility. That perceived quality positive effects perceived value, satisfaction, and loyalty. Also that corporate social responsibility improves brand image. Brand image has a positive impact on perceived value and perceived value positively correlates with satisfaction. Finally, satisfaction has a positive impact on loyalty and expectation positively effects perceived quality and brand image.
The bottom line then is that "When the customer's expectations are higher, the enterprise will pay more attention and strive to meet the customer's expectations which in turn improves the enterprise's perceived quality and brand image." However, the research found that customer expectation has no significant effect on green perceived value and satisfaction.
"Green consumption can drive changes in the mainstream consumption patterns and, prompt companies to introduce green products that, meet customer and environmental protection needs," explains Kuang-Heng Shih of the Department of International Business Administration, at the Chinese Culture University, Taipei City. "Green products not only enhance business but also benefit social and environmental sustainability," he adds, paraphrasing earlier work that the present research corroborates.
The work focused on interviewing customers of three eco-smart hotels in northern Taiwan and thus has limitations but the extension of the modelling to a wider geographical region and beyond the hospitality industry could also reveal implications for the greening of other areas of consumerism.
Shih, K-H. (2018) 'The grass is greener: developing and implementing a green consumer satisfaction index', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 16, No. 5, pp.573–591.
From the ancient amphora to the Californian carafe, how does wine change through time and is this most traditional of skills as susceptible to innovation as other areas of human endeavour?
Writing in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Julien Granata, Beysül Aytaç, and David Roubaud of Montpellier Business School in France discuss developments through history into the modern world of business clusters in the wine industry. They suggest that while wine suppliers focus on technical innovations, winegrowers develop organisational innovations to address the problems they face such as a lack of resources, climate change and other issues.
Historically, innovation has been perceived as giving rise to both creation and progress while at the same time bringing about substitutions. The net effect of this is that the sum of the technical advances, social progress, and new skills created through innovation always add up to more than the job losses that change entails and the obsolescence of some products. That said, disruptive innovators rarely usurp the old-school approaches and products entirely even if they might take up some of the slack in the market. Californian wine-growing clusters might offer innovation but they are at the bottom line still selling containers of wine just as the ancient Egyptians did in seventh millennium BCE.
Granata, J., Aytaç, B. and Roubaud, D. (2019) 'Innovation developments in the wine industry: a journey from the amphorae of old to the California wine cluster', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 36, No. 3, pp.249–255.
Manal El Rhazi, Arsalane Zarghili, Aicha Majda, and Anissa Bouzalmat of the Intelligent Systems and Applications Laboratory at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, in Fez, Morocco, together with Ayat Allah Oufkir of the University's Medical Center of Biomedical and Translational Research, are investigating facial beauty analysis by age and gender.
Writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, the team explains that our faces are the first source of information we see and while beauty may well be in the eye of the beholder and perhaps more than skin deep, attractiveness is often tied very closely to the first sight of a person's face. As such, several studies have been conducted in aesthetic medicine and image processing that might allow attractiveness to be measured in the adult human face.
The team has now proposed an automatic procedure for the analysis of "facial beauty". In their approach, they first detect the face zone on an image and its feature areas, they then present a novel method to extract features and analyse aesthetic qualities.
"Experimental results show that our method can extract the features corners accurately for the majority of faces presented in the European Conference on Visual Perception in Utrecht (ECVP) and Faculdade de Engenharia Industrial (FEI) images databases," they report. They add "That there exists a difference in the facial beauty analysis by gender and age, due to anatomical differences in specific facial areas between the categories."
The main difference by gender is observed in the forehead and chin while the main differences by age take place in areas like the eyebrows, nose and the chin. The eyebrows descend from a high position to a lower one which makes the eyes look smaller, and thus suggestively less attractive. Similarly, the nasal tip descends gradually causing enlargement of the nose, and the chin descends in the same manner as the nose and eyebrows, aspects of facial characteristics that are often considered less appealing than their opposite.
El Rhazi, M., Zarghili, A. Majda, A., Bouzalmat, A. and Oufkir, A.A. (2019) 'Facial beauty analysis by age and gender', Int. J. Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, Vol. 18, Nos. 1/2, pp.179–203.
Snejina Michailova of The University of Auckland Business School in New Zealand and Nigel Holden of Leeds University Business School, UK, offer the intriguing question: How can research on culture in international business be made more interesting? Writing in the European Journal of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management, they suggest that an oft-overlooked aspect of business research is its potential for "interestingness". They suggest that this is a curious omission from existing reviews and analyses.
The pair has now looked at two interconnected issues that sociologists and management scholars have wrestled with for quite some time: namely, what exactly is interesting research and why does it matter? They have made the suggestion that contextualization is important and have highlighted the need for more research into language. Moreover, they advance the case for research into intracultural variation.
"Conducting research on these three topics involves a break with national value systems, on the one hand, and the embrace of non-cultural variables, on the other," the team writes. "The current shifts and changes in the world open up new vistas of truly interesting research, at which international business scholars can and indeed should be at the forefront."
They suggest that when we consider the BRIC countries and so-called emerging markets, the context of the USA as the "default business nation" for benchmarking activity is not necessarily the best approach and moreover is somewhat restrictive.
"The shift in the world's economic centre of gravity opens up new vistas of truly interesting research, at which cross-cultural management scholars as a specialist sub-group of IB scholars can and indeed should be at the forefront," the team concludes.
Michailova, S. and Holden, N.J. (2019) 'How can research on culture in international business be made more interesting?', European J. Cross-Cultural Competence and Management, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp.1–12.
What does it mean for a worker to have a "voice"? The moral and sociological implications are more far complicated than a cursory listen to employee voice…or silence…might at first suggest. The employee voice might influence suggestion-box systems, grievance systems, dispute reporting and resolution, whistle-blowing, issue selling, upward influence with management, voice through collective representation, also known as unionisation, employee participation, and employee involvement in the management or company development.
Now, a US team has used advanced bibliometric mapping tools to plot the sciencebase of the voice and silence literature. "Our findings indicate that employee silence and employee voice are terms that are largely claimed by the organisational behaviour (OB) and human resource management (HRM) literature," the team reports in the International Journal of Bibliometrics in Business and Management.
Debra Casey of Temple University, Philadelphia and Steven McMillan of Penn State University, Abington, both in Pennsylvania, USA, explain how they examined 376 articles, notes, and book chapters from the Web of Science (WoS) system. Importantly, from the perspective of reviewing the literature in this area and understanding the sociological and political implications, they found that the terms are defined much more narrowly in this part of the literature than they are in the industrial relations or employment relations disciplines, where one might imagine a clearer definition of the terms might be even more important.
"One of the benefits of using bibliometric techniques is that they provide a quantitative analysis that many times confirms what the astute researcher already knows," the team reports. "We hope that by further exploring and clarifying this important area of scholarship, both seasoned scholars and those new to this area will have a better appreciation of their own 'invisible college' and how to make good use of it," they add.
Casey, D.L. and McMillan, G.S. (2019) 'Employee voice and silence: a bibliometric analysis of the literature', Int. J. Bibliometrics in Business and Management, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp.251-266.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been widely adopted by higher education institutions for teaching more widely on-campus courses. Writing in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, a team from Hong Kong explain how they have carried out case studies and examined best practice for running a MOOC.
Kam Cheong Li and Billy Tak-Ming Wong of The Open University of Hong Kong, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China, demonstrated three principles that can help with the development and ongoing maintenance of MOOCs. First, the division of labour in the implementation of a MOOC is important. Secondly, technology must be used effectively. Finally, a MOOC must be adaptable so that a course might be redesigned based on teacher and learner experience with the MOOC. They point out that there are many diverse ways in which MOOCs have been implemented on-campus, specifically.
MOOCs allow huge numbers of students to participate in a course at the same time in far greater numbers than is possible with a conventional on-campus lecture and tutorial approach to teaching. It has also been demonstrated in the past that MOOCs can be used to improve accessibility, equity and inclusiveness of education given that many people might be excludes from a conventional course for any number of reasons depending on personal circumstances and geopolitics of a particular campus.
"Following the trend of adopting online technology for teaching in higher educational institutions, this study illustrates how 'online technology can be used to deliver hybrid courses with reduced class time without compromising student outcomes'," the team concludes.
Li, K.C. and Wong, B.T-M. (2019) 'Advancing teaching with massive open online courses: a review of case studies', Int. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp.141-155.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects communication, social skills and other behaviours. Characteristic of some cases in both children and adults is repetitive movements or unusual behaviour - stereotyped movements.
A research team from France and Morocco describe in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, an automated detection system for diagnosing stereotyped movements that uses the motion detector system of the "Kinect" video game. The Kinect system is based on a webcam type peripheral computer device that allows the player to control the computer through movements and gestures (as well as spoken commands via a microphone input). The Kinect was originally an add-on for Microsoft's Xbox gaming console.
The team of Maha Jazouli of Sidi Mohamed Benabdellah University, in Fez, Morocco, and colleagues have used a $P Point-Cloud Recogniser to identify multi-stroke gestures as point clouds as recorded by the webcam component of the Kinect and its processing system for gesture and movement determination. Their new methodology can automatically detect five stereotypical motor movements: body rocking, hand flapping, finger flapping, hand on the face, and hands behind back.
The researchers report that for many people with ASD tested using this system, satisfactory results were obtained in identifying stereotyped movements. They suggest that the system might be used in a clinical setting or in the home as a temporary smart surveillance system to augment early diagnosis of ASD by expert clinicians.
Jazouli, M., Majda, A., Merad, D., Aalouane, R. and Zarghili, A. (2019) 'Automatic detection of stereotyped movements in autistic children using the Kinect sensor', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 29, No. 3, pp.201-220.
Extracting relevant information from the scientific literature about side effects and adverse drug reactions to pharmaceutical products is an important part of data mining in this area. Writing in the International Journal of Data Mining and Bioinformatics, a team from China has developed a new search strategy that offers the optimal trade-off between retrieving pertinent abstracts and coping with the vast amounts of information available.
The team's "corpus-oriented perspective on terminologies" of side effect and ADRs could be, they suggest, an important tool in a thriving area of pharmaceutical research and development – drug repurposing.
Alex Chengyu Fang of the Department of Linguistics and Translation, at City University of Hong Kong, Yemao Liu, Yaping Lu, and Jingbo Xia of the College of Informatics at Huazhong Agricultural University, Jing Cao of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan, China, describe their approach as offering a useful compromise between the relevance of the content retrieved given a large body of work. The terms "side effects" and "adverse drug reactions" are commonly used interchangeably and the latter might in some sense be considered a euphemism of the former term used by members of the public.
Indeed, side effects and ADRs are synonyms. The two, of course, have many hyponyms, terms that are essentially related to examples of both side effects and ADRs, which by definition are the hypernyms to those hyponyms. These terms too must be retrievable by any data mining algorithm that analyses a body of work and is intent on seeking relevant abstracts discussing the "hypernyms. Phrases such as "adverse drug event", "drug toxicity", "undesirable effects", and others all fall into the same clade and so must be involved in the retrieval.
Fang, A.C., Liu, Y., Lu, Y., Cao, J. and Xia, J. (2018) 'A corpus-oriented perspective on terminologies of side effect and adverse reaction in support of text retrieval for drug repurposing', Int. J. Data Mining and Bioinformatics, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp.269–286.
Rice straw is the waste product of growing rice. Normally, it is simply burned adding sooty pollution to the local air and nudging up atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. What if there were a better alternative to simply burning this material? Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management a team from India offer an alternative. Pardeep Aggarwal and Anu Prashaant of Amity University in Gautam Budh Nagar, India, suggest that rice straw could instead be utilized for power generation or bioethanol production.
Unfortunately, the team explains, some farmers believe that rice straw open burning can remove weeds, control diseases and release nutrients for the next crop. There is little evidence that rice straw burning does anything but pollute. Rice straw length, low elevation land, and even the great distance from farmhouse to farmland are additional factors that influence the field burning of rice straw. Rice straw cannot be used as cattle feed either and there is very little time between successive crops to do much with the fields other than eradicating the stubble.
In order to make the alternative proposition viable both commercially and logistically, they explain that there is a need for a sustainable supply chain management of rice straw. At the moment, there is but a single 12-megawatt power plant that uses 100% rice straw as its fuel, one million tonnes annually, but that is a fraction of the tonnage of this agricultural waste product. The team points out that the numbers of rice straw power plants in China too is low and actually falling. However, the environmental and economic benefits of utilizing a ubiquitous waste product could make power production and bioethanol production tenable given the right geopolitical conditions.
The team concludes from the study that "only when such infrastructure with proactive planning is available, a secured supply of rice straw can be maintained for continuous year-long operations of a power plant."
Aggarwal, P. and Prashaant, A. (2019) 'Economic utilisation of rice straw – an effort for preventing social hazard', Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp.97-112.
Spirituality is good for the bottom line, according to research from India. Writing in the International Journal of Business Excellence, researchers from Anna University, in Chennai explain how spiritual theories in India are based on the principle of unanimity, integrating physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of people through dharma (righteousness). They point out that the Bhagavad Gita highlights the practice of spirituality and ethics in the workplace. In their paper, they review twenty years of research into the spiritual aspects of business practice in this context and define workplace spirituality from a new perspective. They also delineate its dimensions as a persistent positive state of work environment that promotes spiritual awakening and enhances business ethics.
The team suggests that there is a need for a new wave of spirituality in business suggesting that workers must carry out their tasks not only with their brain and limbs but also with heart and spirit. They add that "Western" thought has often been concerned with spirituality and finding links to "Eastern" philosophy. "Workplace spirituality is applicable to practically every organization," they suggest, in the West or the East.
The team has extended the theory of the positive relationship between workplace spirituality and business ethics. Indeed, they suggest that supporting and nurturing spiritual practices in an organisation can maximize the “triple bottom line": people, profit, and planet.
Srilalitha, R. and Supriya, M.V. (2019) 'Workplace spirituality: insights from the Bhagavad Gita', Int. J. Business Excellence, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.210–229.
Electronic health records (EHRs) are becoming more and more prevalent. There is thus an increased risk of data leaks, breaches or other ways in which personal and private medical information might be compromised. As such, a team from India has now described an efficient two-stage encryption for securing personal health records stored "in the cloud".
KrishnaKeerthi Chennam and Lakshmi Muddana of Gitam University, in Hyderabad, explain how accessibility to remote servers for the storage of huge amounts of data – the storage aspect of cloud – computing is an efficient and cost-effective alternative to on-site data storage. Given the vast amounts of medical information stored in patient records, this is a useful alternative for any healthcare facility. The cloud approach also means that patient EHRs are more readily available to a healthcare worker regardless of their location, whether with the patient in their home, at the doctor's surgery, in hospital, in an ambulance en route to another site, or perhaps even at the scene of an accident.
Regardless there is a critical need for EHRs to be safe from the prying eyes of third parties whether simply other members of the public, unconnected health workers or those with malicious intent. The team explains how their approach uses a hierarchical clustering algorithm that determines the different user roles associated with the EHRs. Once clustering is done twofish-based encryption algorithm is used to lock down the data. The team's novel approach to encryption has lower encryption and decryption times than other approaches.
Chennam, K. and Muddana, L. (2018) 'An efficient two stage encryption for securing personal health records in cloud computing', Int. J. Services Operations and Informatics, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.277–296.
Bullying is as old as humanity, but in today"s world of ubiquitous and always-connected devices, there is a whole realm of bullying that can take place out of sight but be just as devastating to its victims – cyberbullying. Detecting and so having the opportunity to prevent cyberbullying in open online forums and social networking sites, for instance, requires technology that can automatically detect trollish and thuggish behaviour. Once detected, the problems that victims face might be addressed but more importantly, the cyberbullies might be shut down or otherwise punished.
Writing in the International Journal of Autonomic Computing, a team from India reveals their algorithm which detects and weighs the words in forums and calculates whether or not particular clusters of words are associated with cyberbullying behaviour.
The team explains the problem and why it matters so much: "Cyberbullying has emerged as a major problem along with the recent development of online communication and social media. Cyberbullying has also been extensively recognised as a serious national health problem, in which victims demonstrate a significantly high risk of suicidal ideation," they write. They add that "This proposed framework shows better results while the action is to stop the online users becoming the victims of cyberbully."
Sheeba, J.I., Devaneyan, S.P. and Tata, P. (2018) "Improved cyberbully detection techniques using multiple correlation coefficient from forum corpus", Int. J. Autonomic Computing, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.152–171.
The presence of tiny deposits of calcified tissue in the breast remains an important indicator of early breast cancer. However, the standard diagnostic, the X-ray mammogram, cannot always distinguish between benign tissue artifacts and such microcalcifications because there is a great diversity in the shape, size, and distributions of these deposits. Moreover, there is only very the low contrast between malignant, cancerous areas and the surrounding bright structures in the mammogram.
Writing in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, a team from Algeria explain how they have devised an effective approach based on mathematical morphology for detection of microcalcifications in digitized mammograms. The approach first extracts the breast area from the image, removes unwanted artifacts and then boosts contrast and eliminates noise from the image.
The team has now tested their approach on 22 mammograms with a known outcome. They successfully compared the "diagnoses" they obtained with their technology with a radiological expert manual examination of the mammograms. The team says that their approach is quick and very effective, especially in terms of sensitivity. They suggest that a digital analysis of this sort could be used to complement conventional examination of mammograms by a radiologist and perhaps help to reduce the number of false positives and false negatives that occur with X-ray mammography.
Hadjidj, I., Feroui, A., Belgherbi, A. and Bessaid, A. (2019) 'Microcalcifications segmentation from mammograms for breast cancer detection', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp.1–16.
The question of how much energy a virus needs to replicate in its host translates into how likely a single infection is to become an epidemic. Writing in the International Journal of Exergy, Sevgi Eylül Ferahcan, Ayse Selcen Semerciöz, and Mustafa Özilgen of the Department of Food Engineering, at Yeditepe University, in Istanbul, Turkey, explain how poliovirus is an RNA virus which proliferates in the host's intestines ultimately leading to a crippling disease.
Despite its apparent eradication through extensive worldwide vaccination, there have been major polio epidemics in modern times. In 1988, 350,000 cases were reported. The team has calculated mass, energy, and exergy balances to show that the energy and exergy leeched from a host cell by a single virus are 4.65 × 10-19 and 3.35 × 10–17 kilojoules, respectively. During the 1988 epidemic, a total of 1.627 × 10–9 kJ of energy and 1.174 × 10–7 kJ of exergy was exploited by the multitude of viruses in infecting more than a third of a million people. The energy and exergy are used in the biochemical machinations of replicating the virus and its RNA by exploiting the molecular machinery of the host cells.
These are small numbers in terms of energy and exergy, as such the team argues that it is the almost vanishingly small figures that facilitate the spread of the virus to epidemic levels so readily. It almost makes the disease "going viral" inevitable, the team suggests. As such, it serves as a cautionary tale that we must be ever vigilant as old and new viral diseases emerge or pay the toll in the huge numbers of people that might be afflicted during an epidemic.
Ferahcan, S.E., Semerciöz, A.S. and Özilgen, M. (2019) 'Extremely small energy requirement by poliovirus to proliferate itself is the key to an outbreak of an epidemic', Int. J. Exergy, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp.1–28.
Social media has become a useful tool for the rapid dissemination of information. Writing in the International Journal of Emergency Management, a UK team describes their investigations into whether or not the likes of Twitter can be integrated effectively into emergency management.
Sophie Parsons and Mark Weal of the Web and Internet Science Group, at the University of Southampton, Nathaniel O'Grady of the Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute, at the University of Manchester, and Peter Atkinson of the University of Lancaster explain that at the moment integration remains ambiguous. The team has used the winter floods of 2013-2014 as a case study to reveal the pros and cons of social media in this context.
The team found that emergency responders were wont to post cautions and advice during an emergency. However, it seems from their results that information about structures and utilities affected by any given incident would be most likely to engage and be of use to the public. Moreover, the team found that responders do perceive social media as a useful tool for them to effectively deliver information to the public. However, while that might be the case, responders did not appear to fully exploit it in the emergency studied.
The team concedes that before they can say whether or not social media is an effective tool for emergency management, there remain several questions about how it might fulfill a useful role for emergency responders and the public that rely on them during an incident. Uppermost among those questions are: Who are the responders' followers on social media? Are the responders actually reaching the public in emergency situations? Do the public find the responders' social media activity useful in an emergency? What do the emergency responders actually gain by having a social media presence? If future research can answer these questions then we might be in a position to make the most of social media in the event of an emergency.
Parsons, S., Weal, M., O'Grady, N. and Atkinson, P.M. (2018) 'Social media in emergency management: exploring Twitter use by emergency responders in the UK', Int. J. Emergency Management, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp.322–343.
"The digital divide is the gap between those who are digitally literate and those who are not, between those who do and do not have access to digital environments." So begins a paper in the International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning from Gila Cohen Zilka of the Department for Teaching Social Science and Communication, at Bar-Ilan University, in Ramat Gan, Israel. She has now investigated the implications of the digital divide for the "online" safety of children and adolescents.
Cohen Zilka studied three hundred forty-five Israeli children and adolescents who participated in her mixed-method study. Fundamentally, the research found that youngsters who have digital equipment at home displayed higher eSafety skills and computer literacy than did children who have no digital equipment or those who have only a few such devices, as one might perhaps expect. A lack of access to information and communications technology (ICT) results in a lack of or limited skills in this critical area of modern life. One result is that those youngsters on the wrong side of the digital divide are at greater risk of cyberbullying and other problems, online hazards and the problem of predatory adults, than the more computer literate with better access to ICT at home.
She concludes on the basis of her research, that it would be desirable for children and adolescents who are part of a disadvantaged population in terms of access to ICT to be encouraged and educated and given greater access to computer time and eSafety skills in school or in public digital environments. The work corroborates the earlier research of others that those youngsters that are especially vulnerable to internet risks are often those whose families have financial difficulties, are part of a minority or immigrant group, are in poverty, have disabilities, or have simply moved from one educational setting to another.
Zilka, G.C. (2019) 'The digital divide: implications for the eSafety of children and adolescents', Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.20–35.
After the Second World War of 1939-1945, Western democracies had attempted to reconcile their criminal law in democratic, "republican" terms aimed at the citizen. However, in the last two decades, new criminal law has been written that pertains not to the citizen, but to the foreigner. Writing in the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, Alessandro Spena of the Department of Law, at the University of Palermo, Italy, discusses these new laws. The research focuses on how these new laws essentially treat foreigners as inferior to the citizen and proffer fewer human rights on those individuals when compared to the natives of a given nation.
Spena describes the ephemeral, and yet legally consequential notion of good and bad citizens, good and bad foreigners and 'ugly' mass-foreigners that invokes the neologism of "crimmigration". He further explains how in contemporary criminal law, citizens have renewed importance despite the notion of globalization. Indeed, while globalization is apparent in many developed countries and those we might refer to as "developing" nations, the natural geological, geographical, and political obstacles to human mobility are becoming more apparent.
Indeed, globalization and an urge to become more cosmopolitan both have their opponents and populism and nationalism are on the rise with worries among some pundits and political observers that these are beginning to lead towards fascism in some arenas. Reaction and collective anxieties about political borders, and an "us and them" attitude that has arisen in some quarters during the last two decades are growing stronger as concerns about unfettered immigration get nudged higher up the agenda by those with their own political power agenda.
Of course, the notion of us and them is entirely artificial as is the notion of borders and national identity. Human mobility has been extant since we took our first steps from the cradle of humanity. Moreover, we are all the same within, there are good, bad, and ugly among us and our legal system recognize this and the humanity of us all whether "citizen" or "foreigner".
Spena, A. (2018) 'The good, the bad and the ugly: images of the foreigner in contemporary criminal law', Int. J. Migration and Border Studies, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp.287–302.
The seminal research on the concept of product globalization was published by Levitt in 1983. And yet, business, branding, and marketing researchers are yet to settle on a clear understanding of how an international product is perceived by people from different parts of the world. A product, such as the caffeinated soft drink, Red Bull, may well be considered an international brand but how is this originally Austrian product and its associated "cartoon character", really perceived by people in France and Great Britain, for example? Researchers from Germany writing in the International Journal of Comparative Management hoped to find out.
Kerstin Bremser and Véronique Goehlich of the Department of International Business, in the Faculty of Business and Law, at Pforzheim University, Nadine Walter of the University's Department of International Marketing carried out an exploratory study. They found through their analyses of viewers' perceptions of advertisements that cultural background affects a person's feelings towards the marketing character associated with this soft drink and in addition the articulation and style of the background music are perceived in different ways by the British and French respondents to the research.
The team points out that celebrity endorsement is often a strong factor in marketing products, but in the case of Red Bull, it uses more traditional advertising, especially on television, where cartoon-like advertisements that centre on the slogan that 'Red Bull gives you wings' is the focus rather than an association with a famous person who purportedly imbibes the drink. The advertisements are standardised between nations but for the language of any narration or written word display. That said, Red Bull used Napoleon as a famous character in their advertising campaign for 2012 and there would likely be a very different perception of that between the British and the French.
However, the team found that although the perception of Napoleon is very different, the branding and sloganising of the campaign transcended these cultural differences. The same famous person can still convey the same meaning to the consumer despite their feelings, positive, negative, indifferent, to that celebrity, in this case, a controversial historical figure.
Bremser, K., Walter, N. and Goehlich, V. (2018) 'A comparative study on global commercial advertisement perceptions – British and French viewers' responses to Red Bull', Int. J. Comparative Management, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.333–354.
Researchers in the USA have found a way to extract information from the well-known internet search engine, Google, that can be used to assist with understanding trading on the stock market. The approach follows, what the team refers to as "a long short-term memory approach".
Writing in the International Journal of Financial Engineering and Risk Management, Joseph St. Pierre, Mateusz Klimkiewicz, Adonay Resom and Nikolaos Kalampalikis of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Worcester, Massachusetts, explain how they have extracted Google search indices from a Google trends tracking website. This allows them to study the putative investor interest in stocks listed on the Dow Jones index (Dow 30). Essentially, they accomplish this task by using a long short-term memory network that finds correlations between changes in the search volume for a given asset with changes in the actual trade volume for that asset.
"By using these predictions, we formulate a concise trading strategy in the hopes of being able to outperform the market and analyse the results of this new strategy by backtesting across weekly closing price data for the last six months of 2016," the team reports. In that proof of principle based on historical data they demonstrated a success rate of 43% and suggest that their algorithm would be scalable beyond the narrow scope of their study and so might be applicable to numerous other assets on the market.
The study begins by citing the received wisdom that the "market" cannot be outperformed and that any attempt to predict stock market rises and falls is effectively doomed to failure. However, given that some investors do regularly "beat" the stock market and make a profit, this conventional theory perhaps does not hold universally and there might be algorithmic methods that look at live data that might allow some investments to predictably outperform the market. They say that their 43% success rate is significant and worth exploring further.
St. Pierre, J., Klimkiewicz, M., Resom, A.and Kalampalikis, N. (2019) 'Trading the stock market using Google search volumes: a long short-term memory approach', Int. J. Financial Engineering and Risk Management, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.3-18.
Does the emergence of national democracy lead to economic wealth? Researchers in Hong Kong and the UK suggest that the face pace of change in a new democracy actually leads to detrimental effects initially to a country's macro-economy. However, if the state reaches the well-developed stage, then ultimately it will become democratised without external pressure.
Writing in the International Journal of Data Analysis Techniques and Strategies, Rita Yi Man Li and Edward Chi Ho Tang in the Department of Economics and Finance, at Hong Kong Shue Yan University, and Tat Ho Leung in the School of Environment, Education and Development, at the University of Manchester, UK, explain how they have carried out research on 167 countries. They used the democracy index, corruption perception index, inflation, population, number of internet users, the balance of trade, foreign direct investment, and other factors to determine democratic state and national wealth. They also included sub-indices such as the electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, culture, and civil liberties, to ensure they got a clear picture of each country's specific level of democracy.
The received wisdom always seemed to suggest that democratization leads to economic growth. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union are often cited in such discussions. But, the flip side of this is the examples of China and Singapore, which are not considered democratic nations in the "Western" sense where economic freedom and equality do not prevail. It seems apparent that an electoral system leads to the establishment and protection of personal rights and private property, which are often precluded in the non-democratic nation. However, the team has found that with the assistance of the political sector, the economic sector cannot perform at as high a level as it otherwise might and so it is demonstrable that the emergence of democracy can slow economic growth indirectly for a short period at least until it is well established and a nation "developed".
Li, R.Y.M., Tang, E.C.H. and Leung, T.H. (2019) 'Democracy and economic growth', Int. J. Data Analysis Techniques and Strategies, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.58–80.
Rauno Rusko of the Faculty of Social Sciences, at the University of Lapland, in Rovaniemi, Finland, has studied the roots of and the features of smart specialisation associated with brand slogan management. Writing in the International Journal of Public Policy, he explains how the European Union is using the smart specialisation concept in its documents, plans, and regional fieldwork to portray itself as a growth-efficient organisation.
However, it is obvious that smart specialization is not the sole preserve of the EU. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation And Development (OECD), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) all utilize this concept, although perhaps to a lesser degree than the EU. Moreover, within the EU itself the concept has been used with greater success in regions within the EU than the EU as a whole. Rusko suggests that the temptation exists to simply see this concept as little more than a slogan, however, its benefits and utility are apparent. Indeed, it is a process in which the EU is the rule maker and gatekeeper for funding innovations and investments in the region as a whole.
Intellectual reform intellectual was launched to achieve as wide an influence as possible and to enhance competence and to boost regional learning and research and development. Rusko has shown that "The instruments of marketing research, such as brand, slogan, brand management, and brand slogan management, provide incremental value to public management discussions, such as the smart specialisation discourse. " However, although place branding does not necessarily need sloganisation, "It is easy to understand that, if the EU is a brand, then smart specialisation is supporting this brand in a way that is typical for slogans in the business sector," Rusko adds.
Rusko, R. (2018) 'The European Union's smart specialisation launch and brand slogan management', Int. J. Public Policy, Vol. 14, Nos. 5/6, pp.320–342.
A new research paper in the International Journal of Economics and Business Research uses log-linear models to study the correlation between happiness, employment and various demographic factors.
Sultan Kuzu of the Department of Quantitative Methods, in the School of Business, at Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey together with Sevgi Elmas-Atay and Merve Gerçek of the Department of Human Resources Management there, explain how unemployment is an important economic measurement. It is studied in the context of a nation's development as well as in a sociological context. Importantly, it is known to be closely associated with welfare, quality of life and psychological health of individuals.
The team has now looked at unemployment not as an abstract, statistical concept in the macroeconomic arena but from the personal perspective based on "micro" level data acquired from household surveys carried out by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK). Log-linear models were used to analyse the data and these showed clearly that employment is related to a person's happiness and gender and that there is a statistically significant difference between happiness and gender in a developing country such as Turkey.
Kuzu, S., Elmas-Atay, S. and Gerçek, M. (2019) 'The analysis of unemployment, happiness and demographic factors using log-linear models', Int. J. Economics and Business Research, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp.87–105.
Taiwan is one of the most important suppliers of electrical and electronic products in the world; as such it is itself also an important consumer of those products. This means that the amount of electronic waste, e-waste, generated from information technology (IT) products, home electrical appliances and lighting, is increasing rapidly there.
Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management, Wen-Tien Tsai of the Graduate Institute of Bioresources, at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, in Pingtung, Taiwan, explains how he has investigated the regulatory promotion of e-waste recycling in Taiwan. He found that although the annual quantity of e-waste recycling through the implementing agencies seemed to increase more than tenfold from 7,321 tons in 2001 to 74,421 tons in 2015, there is evidence that the recycling market in Taiwan has matured in recent years partly because of the country's ageing population and slow economic growth. Tsai also highlights the case of fluorescent lighting tubes and how mercury can be successfully recovered from these at end-of-life.
He points out how the waste composition is still shifting as new products emerge in the realm of personalised medicine, electric vehicles, IT products, novel consumer electronics products, and an increased diversity of food products and home electrical appliances.
We must address these novel waste streams and find ways to recycle such goods, especially those that contain toxic materials, including mercury. Tsai adds that the improper management and disposal of waste or discarded items could lead to significant environmental harm and harm to human health. In addition, there is a need to retrieve from such goods rare elements that are of limited supply such as precious metals and mineral elements.
Tsai, W-T. (2019) 'Current practice and policy for transforming e-waste into urban mining: case study in Taiwan', Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp.1-15.
With every news story, the concepts of data mining healthcare information move higher still up the research and policy agenda in this area. Clinical information and genetic data contained within electronic health records (EHRs) represents a major source of useful information for biomedical research but accessing it in a useful way can be difficult.
Writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Engineering Informatics, Hassan Mahmoud and Enas Abbas of Benha University and Ibrahim Fathy Ain Shams University, in Egypt, discuss the need for innovative and effective methods for representing this huge amount of data. They point out that there are data mining techniques as well as ontology-based techniques that can play a major role in detecting syndromes in patients efficiently and accurately. A syndrome is defined as a set of concomitant medical symptoms and indicators associated with a given disease or disorder.
The team has reviewed the state of the art and also focused on reviewing the well-known data mining techniques such as decision trees (J48), Naïve Bayes, multi-layer perceptron (MLP), and random forest (RF) techniques and compared how well they each perform in the classification of a particular syndrome, heart disease.
The team concludes that in experiments with a public data set, the RF classifier provides the best performance in terms of accuracy. In the future, they suggest that data mining will benefit healthcare and medicine significant for building a system able to detect a specific syndrome.
Mahmoud, H., Abbas, E. and Fathy, I. (2018) 'Data mining and ontology-based techniques in healthcare management', Int. J. Intelligent Engineering Informatics, Vol. 6, No. 6, pp.509–526.
Face recognition is becoming an increasingly common feature of biometric verification systems. Now, a team from India has used a multi-class support vector machine to extend the way in which such systems work to take into account a person's age. Jayant Jagtap of Symbiosis International (Deemed) University in Pune, and Manesh Kokare of the Shri Guru Gobind Singhji Institute of Engineering and Technology, in Nanded, India, explain that human age classification has remained an important barrier to the next generation of face recognition technology but could be a useful additional parameter in security and other contexts.
The team's novel two stage age classification framework based on appearance and facial skin ageing features using a multi-class support vector machine (M-SVM) can classify, the team suggests, classify images of faces into one of seven age groups. Fundamentally, the system examines characteristics of the image coincident with facial skin textural and wrinkles and is accurate 94.45% of the time. It works well despite factors such as genetics, gender, health, life-time weather conditions, working and living environment tobacco and alcohol use. Indeed, accuracy is more than 98% in the first step wherein adult and non-adult faces are distinguished.
"The proposed framework of age classification gives better performance than existing age classification systems," the team reports. They add that future research will look to improve accuracy still further for use in real-time applications. This will be done through the development of an algorithm for extracting facial skin ageing features and through the design of an efficient age classifier, the team concludes.
Jagtap, J. and Kokare, M. (2019) 'Human age classification using appearance and facial skin ageing features with multi-class support vector machine', Int. J. Biometrics, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.22-34.
Sentiment analysis is an increasingly important part of data mining, especially in the age of social media and social networking where there is endless opinion and commentary that could be of use to a wide range of stakeholders in commerce, other businesses, and even politics.
Now, an innovative and efficient method of sentiment analysis of comments on the microblogging platform, Twitter, is reported in the International Journal of Data Mining, Modelling and Management by a team from India. Hima Suresh of the School of Computer Sciences, at Mahatma Gandhi University, in Kottayam, Kerala and Gladston Raj. S of the Department of Computer Science, Government College, also in Kerala explain how sentiment analysis centres on analysing attitudes and opinions revealed in a data set and pertaining to a particular topic of interest. The analysis exploits machine learning approaches, lexicon-based approaches and hybrid approaches that splice both of the former.
"An efficient approach for predicting sentiments would allow us to bring out opinions from the web contents and to predict online public choices," the team suggests. They have now demonstrated a novel approach to sentiment analysis surrounding the discussion of a commercial brand on Twitter using data collected over a fourteen-month period. Their method has an unrivalled accuracy for gleaning the true opinion almost 87% of the time in their tests using a specific smart phone model as the target brand being studied. They suggest that accuracy could be improved still further by incorporating a wider lexicon that included Twitter slang, for instance.
Suresh, H. and Raj. S, G. (2019) 'An innovative and efficient method for Twitter sentiment analysis', Int. J. Data Mining, Modelling and Management, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.1-18.
Online behavioural targeting and device fingerprinting could be used to combat credit card fraud according to a team from Botswana International University of Science and Technology, in Palapye, Botswana. Writing in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Motlhaleemang Moalosi, Hlomani Hlomani, and Othusitse Phefo explain how there are numerous existing credit card fraud detection techniques employed by card issuers and other stakeholders. Nevertheless, billions of dollars are lost each year to fraudsters.
The team has now combined behaviour and fingerprinting technology to boost the efficiency and efficacy of the fusion approach using Dempster-Shafer theory and Bayesian learning for fraud detection. The approach can spot odd behaviour that is not characteristic of the legitimate user of a given credit card and so detect fraudulent activity on the account. The approach discussed in the paper is at present a theoretical treatise, the next step will be to simulate actual behaviour using synthetic data sets and then apply to a real-world scenario for testing its efficacy. So far efficacy has been demonstrated with data from devices that have already been used in known fraudulent activity.
The team suggests that their approach goes well beyond simply tweaking existing fraud-detection algorithms and could offer what they say is a ground-breaking approach that performs far better than trial and error approaches and reduces the number of false positives.
Moalosi, M., Hlomani, H. and Phefo, O.S.D. (2019) 'Combating credit card fraud with online behavioural targeting and device fingerprinting', Int. J. Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.46-69.