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  • Researchers in India have expanded the well-known theory of planned behaviour to obtain useful marketing and policy insights concerning the sustainability choices of consumers when it comes to food. The work, published in the International Journal of Sustainable Society, analysed data from 440 Indian households via self-administered questionnaires, which were then analysed using structural equation modelling. The addition of three variables – environmental knowledge, personal norms, and product attributes – not commonly used in traditional TPB model allowed the researchers to extract implications for various stakeholders, including producers, marketers, government agencies, and policymakers.

    Priyanka Garg and Ashish Kumar of the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University in New Delhi, and Raj Kumar Mittal of the Chaudhary Bansi Lal University in Haryana, India, demonstrated that their extended model could account for much of the variance in behavioural intentions. It showed that product attributes are the strongest predictor of sustainable food consumption behaviour. By contrast, and perhaps surprisingly, social norms had far less influence on the choices made by consumers. This, the team suggests, implies that factors such as food labelling, quality, and price must play a significant role in shaping choice rather than societal and peer pressure.

    This research sits in the middle of growing global food and environmental crises. We are seeing continued population growth, environmental degradation and habitat loss, as well as the detrimental effects of climate change. As such, there are increasing pressures on agriculture and food resources. This is all despite, and perhaps in some ways, because of technological advances. There is a pressing need to shift our approach to food security towards more sustainable options. Sustainable dietary practices, including the consumption of local and plant-based foods rather than intensively produced meat products, could play a role in this. The side effects might even be a boost to our overall health, as well as a reduction in the environmental impact of food production. However, making such changes requires commitment and our ability to overcome many deeply ingrained cultural and social practices.

    There is potential to change attitudes through clear, informative food labelling as well as educational campaigns to emphasize the benefits of sustainable food products. If marketing strategies can be aligned with addressing the ongoing crises, then consumer preferences might change and we could see the more widespread adoption of sustainable food choices. However, the market share for sustainable food products remains low. This suggests the need for a concerted effort from all stakeholders – producers, marketers, governments, and campaigners – to persuade consumers to make the sustainable choice.

    Garg, P., Kumar, A. and Mittal, R.K. (2024) 'Sustainable food consumption behaviour: what really matters!', Int. J. Sustainable Society, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.125–149.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSSOC.2024.139496

  • The "five whys" technique is a problem-solving approach that involves repeatedly asking "why" to uncover the root cause of a failure. It is widely used in manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, aerospace and aviation, and in the service industries. However, it has limitations, not least a lack of understanding of how to use the approach correctly. Research in the International Journal of Six Sigma and Competitive Advantage has now looked at how the method can be used as either a superficial brainstorming tool or a rigorous investigative process and that understanding the approach in detail is essential to good quality control and safety in many different sectors.

    The "five whys" is the modus operandi of many a root-cause analysis. It is a systematic approach that can be used to identify the causes of a given problem or failure so that a recurrence might be prevented. Matthew Barsalou of QPLUS in Manama, Bahrain, Beata Starzynska of Poznan University of Technology in Poznan, and Maria Konrad of Spawmet Zbigniew Kaczmarek in Ostrów Wielkopolski, Poland, explain that the efficacy of the "five whys" method works by alternating between asking "why" and conducting empirical investigations to validate each cause identified. For instance, if a bolt breaks and the answer to the question "why?" is simply because it was a weak or faulty bolt, then simply replacing it with a stronger bolt may well fail to address the underlying issue if the true cause of the bolt's demise was vibration in the system. The correct use of the "five whys" ensures that the underlying cause is found and mitigated.

    The team has carried out a comprehensive review of the literature in this area and categorized the descriptions of the "five whys" problem-solving approach into three distinct groups. The first is the simplified approach that merely asks why without empirical evidence. The second is the empirical approach that requires actual investigation following each "why?". The third is ambiguous use, where the item in the research literature was unclear as to the precise usage of the method. The researchers found that more than half of the research literature described the "five whys" as a simple brainstorming tool. Only a minority highlighted the necessity of empirical investigation to validate each step.

    The team followed up their review by surveying organisations about their use of the "five whys" method. This survey vindicated the review findings to reveal that many organisations simply used the "five whys" as a brainstorming method rather than an investigative approach. However, they note that those organisations that used the method frequently were more likely to recognize the importance of thorough investigation to back up the answer to each question "why?"

    The problem that is obvious in retrospect is that the approach is being misused widely, leading to ineffective solutions and unresolved issues. Brainstorming alone is usually insufficient to identify the true cause of a problem, whereas empirical investigation after each "why" ensures solutions are based on verified causes, leading to more reliable and effective problem-solving.

    Barsalou, M., Starzynska, B. and Konrad, M. (2024) 'Five whys: a possible path to failure', Int. J. Six Sigma and Competitive Advantage, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp.19–32.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSSCA.2024.139599

  • Research in the International Journal of Mining and Mineral Engineering introduces a new approach to controlling mineral processing that uses active sensing. This method embeds intelligence within sensor systems, significantly reducing the need for human intervention in the process to improve efficiency and precision in mineral separation processes. Even tiny improvements in efficiency can have a major economic impact on processing of ores containing copper, lead, and zinc, and even more so in the case of precious metals.

    Active sensing involves the integration of intelligent sensor systems that minimize human involvement by optimizing measurement processes. These systems use a combination of different measurements to put detailed information into the broader context. Primary measurements are precise but limited in range while auxiliary measurements provide broader, but more diffuse, data that can be used to guide the primary sensors to specific areas of interest that need detailed measurements.

    Mikko Salo, Teijo Juntunen, and Risto Ritala of Tampere University in Tampere, Finland, have looked at this approach for froth flotation, an important process used in mineral processing. Froth flotation separates minerals based on how they interact with water, their water-repellent, or hydrophobic, character. A slurry of mixed minerals and water is treated with reagents to make certain particles hydrophobic, this makes them accumulate on air bubbles and so rise to the surface as froth. This froth containing much of the mineral of interest from the slurry can be scooped off as concentrate for further purification and processing. The remaining slurry, known as tailings, flows out of the system.

    In most contexts, X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis is used to measure mineral concentrations in froth flotation. While XRF is precise, it is slow and expensive. It also only works sequentially, typically measuring multiple slurry lines one after the other, which also reduces efficiency.

    As a cost-effective alternative, visible and near-infrared (VNIR) spectral measurements might be used. VNIR measurements works faster, with one measurement every three seconds, instead of one every five minutes with XRF. But VNIR data is less accurate than XRF and needs continuous calibration based on XRF data.

    To overcome these limitations, the researchers have developed a control architecture using a linear quadratic Gaussian (LQG) controller with exception handling. They have used a simulated environment with plant data from the froth flotation process to test this approach. They demonstrated that the architecture optimizes the measurement sequence and incorporates interruptions when VNIR data detects anomalies. This ensures timely and accurate responses to process disturbances.

    Salo, M., Juntunen, T. and Ritala, R. (2024) 'Active sensing in froth flotation', Int. J. Mining and Mineral Engineering, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp.111–130.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJMME.2024.140070

  • Research in the International Journal of Management Practice has looked at the relationship between job stress and well-being in people who are pet owners. The work suggests that pets can play a significant part in their owners' lives beyond the obvious role of owning a pet. Jehn-Yih Wong, Ying-Ying Cheng, Chia-Ying ChouHua, and Shih-Hao Liu of Ming Chuan University in Taipei, Taiwan, surveyed 228 pet owners in order to investigate how job stress impacts life satisfaction and emotional exhaustion and to determine whether a strong attachment with a pet can ameliorate these potentially detrimental effects.

    Job stress is defined as anxiety, dissatisfaction and other negative emotions associated with one's work. They can all affect emotional and physical health. The researchers reiterate earlier findings that found that high levels of job stress are linked to decreased life satisfaction and increased emotional exhaustion. They raise the idea of coping mechanisms and used structural equation modelling and multi-group analysis to tease out the relationships better pet owners with a strong emotional attachment to their animals and job stress.

    Intriguingly, the team found that while pet attachment did not actually influence a person's overall life satisfaction, it had an effect on emotional exhaustion in those suffering job stress. Pet owners with stronger attachments to their pets actually reported higher levels of emotional exhaustion than those with weaker attachments. This seems to be a counterintuitive finding that suggests that while pets provide significant companionship and emotional support, a deeper attachment may also amplify the emotional burden during stressful periods. Conversely, it might be that those people with strong attachments to their pets are more likely to be in touch with their emotions and able to recognise and express that kind of exhaustion more readily than others.

    Less paradoxically, those pet owners who felt a strong bond with their pets did report that the negative impact of job stress on life satisfaction was less pronounced. Similarly, the reported greater emotional exhaustion associated with job stress in those people was somewhat mitigated by having a pet. This indicates that pet attachment can serve as a form of social support, helping to buffer against the adverse effects of stress in a manner similar to support from close human relationships.

    Wong, J-Y., Cheng, Y-Y., ChouHua, C-Y. and Liu, S-H. (2024) 'Job stress and well-being: the moderating role of pet attachment', Int. J. Management Practice, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp.448–462.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJMP.2024.139697

  • A study in the European Journal of International Management sheds light on gender differences in how job embeddedness affects expatriates. This is especially true when individual face unexpected challenges, the research suggests.

    Job embeddedness theory says that individuals who feel a strong sense of integration with their work environment and community are less inclined to leave their jobs, even during difficult times. The theory hinges on three primary dimensions: fit, links, and sacrifices. "Fit" describes the alignment an individual feels with their job and community. "Links" refer to their interpersonal connections, both at work and within the community. "Sacrifices" are the perceived costs associated with leaving their current environment. The more embedded someone is in terms of these various factors, the less likely they are to leave their job, particularly when they face unexpected events, "external shocks", that might prompt them to reconsider their position.

    Sonja Sperber of Vienna University of Economics and Business in Vienna, Austria and Christian Linder of the University of Côte d'Azur, Suresnes, France, explain that research in this area has tended to focus on male expatriates. As such, there is an obvious and significant gap in our understanding of job embeddedness. The team hopes to begin to fill this gap. They have analysed data from expatriates in the United Kingdom and used Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to identify what factors influence employment turnover intentions among male and female expatriates having faced some kind of shock.

    Migration and the movement of skilled female workers in particular has become an important trend in recent years and is not expected to decline. It is known that many female expatriates face issues not experienced by their male counterparts. Many of these issues are associated with why they have migrated, the cultural adjustments they must make, the balancing of family responsibilities, and the management of gender stereotypes. These factors can affect their experience and also whether they choose to remain in their position when faced with shocks.

    The team found that the concept of "fit" appears to be more crucial for female expatriates. This suggests that women tend to prioritize how well they align with their job and community. In contrast, male expatriates apparently emphasize the "sacrifices" involved in leaving their job, indicating a greater focus on the costs of leaving their current position.

    Such differences point to a need to consider gender-specific perspectives in job embeddedness theory and human resource management practices. Understanding the differences will allow HR managers and others to develop more nuanced and effective support mechanisms for expatriate employees. A one-size-fits-all approach is wholly inadequate, the work would suggest. Gender-sensitive human resource policies could be critical in helping expatriate employees cope with shocks, and at the same time help organizations with the retention of their skilled international workforce.

    Sperber, S. and Linder, C. (2024) 'When the going gets tougher: international assignments, external shocks and the factor of gender', European J. International Management, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp.537–567.
    DOI: 10.1504/EJIM.2024.139797

  • Cross-border e-commerce has transformed international trade. Nowhere are the changes more keenly felt than in China where e-commerce has moved business away from traditional, large-scale trade towards more fragmented, personalized, and frequent transactions. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) along with solo entrepreneurs are now at the forefront of this change.

    Banban Mao of Hunan Vocational College of Commerce and Hua Tian of the Hunan International Economics University, China, discuss the impact of this change on the "green" food industry. The sector focuses on environmentally friendly and sustainable food production and has embraced technology such as "big data" and collaborative innovation where information sharing and coordination across the entire supply chain, from producer to retailer is critical to success. Writing in the International Journal of Information and Communication Technology, the team discusses how the implementation of intelligent supply chain collaboration and the integration of online and offline operations can allow the green food industry to respond more effectively to market demands and the evolving internet economy.

    The team points out that these changes have not been without their challenges. The rapid rise of cross-border e-commerce has meant an increased reliance on third-party platforms, and this builds information silos and complicates data sharing and transparency. The researchers add that the complex nature of the supply chain also makes it difficult to verify product legitimacy and quality as well as adding logistical challenges that reduce efficiency.

    Additionally, high cross-border payment costs and security risks, coupled with the various international regulations and legal standards, add obstacles to what might otherwise be seamless trade operations.

    Blockchain technology might well offer a way to address many of these problems. Blockchain provides a secure and transparent method for recording transactions and sharing information. Thus, by establishing a cross-border e-commerce alliance chain, blockchain could be used to streamline intermediary processes and enhance trust among participants. The research demonstrates how technology might add value to the green food supply chain.

    Mao, B. and Tian, H. (2024) 'Business model based on the synergistic drive of flexible supply chain and digital marketing', Int. J. Information and Communication Technology, Vol. 24, No. 8, pp.1–19.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJICT.2024.139868

  • Education has already been transformed radically by technological advancements and by societal changes. Traditional, classroom and lecture-based models have evolved into more interactive and engaging approaches. However, challenges remain, and the student experience is not always as they and their educators might hope for. A study in the International Journal of Information and Communication Technology has looked at how virtual reality (VR) technology might be integrated with Internet of Things (IoT) teaching platforms to create a more immersive and interactive educational experience for certain parts of the curriculum.

    Dafei Wu of the School of Information Engineering at Hunan University of Science and Engineering in Yongzhou, Hunan, China discusses how VR technology provides an immersive environment and could for many students enhance traditional teaching methods by offering a dynamic and engaging platform. When combined with the IoT that allows interconnected devices to interact with their environment and exchange data, the potential of VR might be opened up even further, changing how educational content might be delivered and so experienced.

    Wu suggests that this kind of integration could lead to novel teaching methods paradigm to the benefit of students. It might even be tailored to be more closely aligned with society and industry requirements from the educational system. Conventional teaching methods often keep theoretical and practical learning separate, the world of VR technology coupled with the IoT might help better support teaching objectives and student development.

    Fundamentally, with such an approach, students might access course materials and engage with content at any time and anywhere, thus allowing them to experience continuous learning and develop skills at their own pace within the overall educational framework. This, Wu suggests, might be particularly useful on courses where the demand for resources often exceeds availability.

    "Simulation results demonstrate VR's extensive applicability, offering a broader and more open educational platform," concludes Wu. He adds that "Future endeavours should focus on effectively combining immersive IoT with higher education to enhance educational outcomes."

    Wu, D. (2024) 'Design and implementation method of immersive IoT teaching platform based on virtual reality technology', Int. J. Information and Communication Technology, Vol. 24, No. 8, pp.76–89.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJICT.2024.139865

  • Recent upheavals in the global market have put supply chains under immense pressure and the logistics and road transportation sectors are struggling to keep apace with geopolitical tensions, rampant inflation, and the rising demand for sustainability as well as many other issues. Rising energy costs and a shortage of qualified drivers are also adding to the burden. Research in the International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering has looked at the potential for Horizontal Logistics Collaboration to overcome many of the problems.

    Taher Ahmadi, Jack A.A. van der Veen, and V. Venugopal of the Nyenrode Business Universiteit in Breukelen, The Netherlands, and Mehdi A. Kamran of the German University of Technology in Oman, Muscat, Oman, discuss how HLC involves different companies combining their transportation or logistics activities to mutual benefit in the face of the afore-mentioned growing challenges. This strategy aims to enhance economic, social, and environmental outcomes by optimizing the use of vehicles and so reduce transportation costs as well as carbon emissions.

    However, while the theoretical benefits of HLC are well-documented, practical implementation has not lived up to expectations, the work suggests. The main obstacle is a lack of understanding regarding the hidden coordination costs, particularly those associated with inventory and warehousing.

    The new study has investigated the complexities of HLC and developed a quantitative model of two supply chains. Each supply chain includes a single buyer and supplier situated in different regions. The model then compares and contrasts two scenarios: a standalone case in which each buyer manages transportation independently, and a second HLC scenario wherein the buyers coordinate inventory replenishments and deliveries using shared transport vehicles.

    The team found that while the HLC scenario did reduce transportation costs and carbon emissions, it also introduced a downside in terms of higher warehousing costs. This increase stemmed from the need for synchronized, but less-than-optimal, ordering frequencies. The extra warehousing costs could negate the benefits of HLC as well as adding a layer of complexity to the decision-making process for companies considering this collaborative approach.

    Nevertheless, the study shows just how important it is to evaluate the total costs for transportation and warehousing, rather than simply focusing on the potential transportation savings. Of course, there may well be ways to optimize such an approach and make it work better for all parties involved. If collaborating parties can mesh more effectively in terms of geographic proximity and order frequency, then they might gain all the pros with much-reduced cons of HLC.

    Ahmadi, T., van der Veen, J.A.A., Venugopal, V. and Kamran, M.A. (2024) 'Conditions for viable horizontal collaborative transport: insights from a stylised model', Int. J. Industrial and Systems Engineering, Vol. 47, No. 5, pp.1–35.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJISE.2024.139945

  • The emergence of so-called deepfake technology, which commonly involves the generation of fake images, video, and sound that seem so authentic as to confuse even expert viewers and listeners is at the point where it can influence important aspects of our lives, such as politics, finance, and beyond. This new era of deception sees sophisticated image and video forgeries making the headlines. Often these deepfakes are identified quickly, but sometimes the damage may well already be done once the deepfakes are called out, especially given the rate in which videos and other digital media can go viral on social media.

    Digital manipulations that alter or completely synthesize faces, have become alarmingly convincing, contributing to fake news and eroding public trust in digital media. Research in the International Journal of Autonomous and Adaptive Communications Systems has led to a new approach that spots illumination inconsistencies within images and so can identify whether a video or photograph is a deepfake.

    According to Fei Gu, Yunshu Dai, Jianwei Fei, and Xianyi Chen of Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology in Nanjing, China, deepfakes, which can be classified into four main types: identity swaps, expression swaps, attribute manipulations, and entire face synthesis. Each poses different threats and risk to. Identity swaps, where one person's face is replaced with another's, and expression swaps, which transfer facial expressions from one individual to another, are particularly worrying. Deepfakes can cause serious harm to the reputation and perception of the individuals or groups that are being deepfaked.

    The usual approach to deepfake detection is to take a binary classification approach. However, the conventional approach can fail if the video or images are highly compressed or of poor quality. Compression and quality can obfuscate facial features and reduce the trust in deepfake detection.

    Even expert deepfakers can falter when it comes to getting the lighting matched perfectly between altered and unaltered regions in an image or video. It is this issue that Gu and colleagues have focused on in their detection method, which uses a neural network to spot illumination discrepancies.

    Gu, F., Dai, Y., Fei, J. and Chen, X. (2024) 'Deepfake detection and localisation based on illumination inconsistency', Int. J. Autonomous and Adaptive Communications Systems, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp.352–368.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJAACS.2024.139383

  • Middle managers play an important role in an organisation undergoing structural change. They are the ones who must implement the changes, but conversely as employees they will be subject to the very changes they put in place. This can often put them in a place of conflicting demands, where they must manage their own stress and uncertainty while carrying out new directives that will affect their colleagues and subordinates.

    A study in the International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion has taken a major bank as a case study in order to look at how middle managers might cope with this stress during corporate restructuring and what strategies they might use to overcome the stress and find their way around the many challenges.

    Pravitha Jogie, Annemarie Davis, and Catherine Le Roux of the Department of Business Management at the University of South Africa in the City of Tshwane suggest that middle managers generally respond to corporate restructuring in one of two ways. They either cope or they "cop out" and evade the responsibilities placed on them in some way. The team explains that coping usually involves proactive strategies such as positive reframing, where managers view themselves as agents of change and engage with the process. Positive reframing allows middle managers to perceive restructuring as an opportunity for growth and improvement. By contrast, "copping out" refers to disengagement and withdrawal behaviour, such as territorialism, where the middle manager protects their own interests and is perhaps involved in spreading rumours, all of which can disrupt the restructuring process but also provide something of a psychological escape route for the managers who engage in such behaviour.

    The business environment has always been marked by constant change where globalization, economic fluctuations, technological advancements, and international crises affect the way a company operates and its bottom line. The team explains that the financial services sector faces particularly intense competition, regulatory changes, and digital transformation. These factors have led to frequent organizational restructuring for many companies, which puts pressure on the middle managers to interpret, communicate, and implement new structures and strategies.

    The research suggests that it is obviously better that middle managers cope rather than cop out, and points to the learning of new skills and networking with peers and mentors as being useful tools to help in this regard. They even suggest that engaging in hobbies or other "extracurricular" activities might be useful coping mechanisms. It is possible then for a manager to maintain a sense of control and purpose, as this is essential for their mental well-being and their productivity in the workplace, as well as ensuring the same for colleagues and subordinates.

    However, the research often showed the converse. Middle managers might become withdrawn and disengage from the task at hand. This was especially common among managers who felt powerless or unsupported, indicating a need for organisations to foster a supportive environment to ensure smooth restructuring when this is needed.

    Jogie, P., Davis, A. and Le Roux, C. (2024) 'Middle managers' practices during organisational restructuring: coping or copping out?', Int. J. Work Organisation and Emotion, Vol. 15, No. 5, pp.1–21.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJWOE.2024.139912

News

International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index

The International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management is the latest Inderscience title to be indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index.

The journal's Editor in Chief, Dr. Giuseppe Giulio Calabrese, had the following to say:

"Reaching this remarkable milestone is a testament to the hard work, dedication and innovation of each and every IJATM board member in contributing to our mission of issuing an outstanding academic journal in industrial organisation and business management.

The goal of IJATM is to publish original, high-quality research within the field of the automotive industry. Our editors actively seek articles that will have a significant impact on theory and practice. IJATM aims to establish channels of communication between policy makers, executives in the automotive industry, both OEM and suppliers, and related business and academic experts in the field.

IJATM has come a long way, but we still have a lot to accomplish. We have ambitious goals and exciting opportunities ahead of us. I am confident that with the talent and passion of our board members, authors and reviewers, we will continue to grow and improve the indexing status of our journal."

Electronic Government indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index

Inderscience's Editorial Office is delighted to report that Electronic Government, an International Journal has been indexed by Clarivate's Emerging Sources Citation Index

The journal's Editor in Chief, Dr. June Wei, would like to take this opportunity to express her deep appreciation to her Editorial Board Members and to Inderscience's Editorial Office staff. She says, "It is all their hard work and great support over the years that's brought Electronic Government the success of being indexed in Clarivate's ESCI."

New Clarivate Web of Science impact factors for Inderscience journals

Clarivate has recently released its latest impact factors, and Inderscience's Editorial Office is pleased to report that many Inderscience journals have increased their impact factors, particularly the European Journal of Industrial Engineering, International Journal of Knowledge Management Studies, International Journal of Applied Pattern Recognition and International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics.

Impact factors are displayed on all indexed journals' homepages. We congratulate all the editors, board members, reviewers and authors who have contributed to these latest indexing achievements.

New Scopus CiteScores for Inderscience journals

Scopus has now released its 2023 CiteScores. Inderscience's Editorial Office is pleased to report that many Inderscience journals have improved their CiteScores, particularly the following titles:

All CiteScores are available on indexed journals' homepages. The Editorial Office thanks all of the editors, board members, authors and reviewers who have helped to make these successes possible.

Prof. Zongqing Zhou appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Hospitality and Event Management

Prof. Zongqing Zhou from the International Society of Travel and Tourism Educators in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Hospitality and Event Management.