World Class Faculty & Research / March 31, 2017

Fearless Idea 31: Quantify the Power of Reputation

SMITH BRAIN TRUST — People who share copyrighted content on digital piracy sites don’t get paid or protected from lawsuits. So why do they do it? “The major motivation is building reputation in these online communities,” says Kalinda Ukanwa, one of 34 women PhD candidates at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. “They want bragging rights.”

In two working projects for her dissertation, Ukanwa is studying the effects of reputation within customer engagement environments. When it comes to illegal file sharing of songs and other content, her analysis with Smith School professor David Godes shows that lawsuits from lobby groups and individual producers within the entertainment industry can have unintended consequences. “The lawsuits seem to create more piracy,” she says.

One reason is because litigation shuts down or scares away established file sharers, creating openings for ambitious rivals to step forward and fill the void. “People are motivated to acquire reputation, and they work in a realm where nobody thinks uploading pirated content is a bad thing,”  Ukanwa says. “So the lawsuits create a vacuum where other people can grab a larger share of voice.” 

In a related project, Ukanwa is working with Smith School professor Roland Rust to quantify the effects of racial group reputation on bank service. “When giving loans, banks might consider more than individual credit worthiness,” she says. “The collective reputation of a person’s racial group might also influence decisions.”

Ukanwa, who has an MBA and two industrial engineering degrees from Stanford University, says both projects aim to help marketers better understand reputation dynamics to improve customer interaction. “There are broad applications beyond copyright protection and banking,” she says.

Ukanwa previously worked as an engineer, financial analyst and executive at Walt Disney, Citigroup, Viacom and Kaplan. Other women PhD candidates at the Smith School include:

Accounting and information assurance students Jin Kyung Choi, Ruyun Feng, Cody Hyman, Sijing Wei, Yue Zheng and Viktoriya Zotova.

Finance students Wen Chen, Anne Duquerroy and Xiaoyuan Hu.

Information systems students Jaehoon Jeong, Lanfei Shi and Yang Pan.

Managerial economics students Soomin Cho and Roxanne Jaffe.

Marketing students Xian Gu, Jin Hee Huh, In Hye Kang, You Jeung (Nicole) Kim, Yuechen Wu and Xindi Zhao.

Organizational behavior/human resource management students Rujiao (Helene) Cao and Insiya Hussain.

Operations management/management science students Lida Apergi and Ziwei Cao.

Supply chain management students Heidi Celebi, Camil Martinez, Xiaodan Pan and Xinyi Ren.

Strategic management and entrepreneurship students Ying Geng, Hyeun Jung Lee, Najoung Lim, Audra Meade and Liyue Yan.

About this series: The Smith School faculty is celebrating Women’s History Month 2017 in partnership with ADVANCE, an initiative to transform the University of Maryland by investing in a culture of inclusive excellence. Daily faculty spotlights support activities from the school’s Office of Diversity Initiatives, culminating with the sixth annual Women Leading Women forum on March 30, 2017.

Other fearless ideas from: Rajshree Agarwal  |  Ritu Agarwal  |  Leigh Anenson  |  Kathryn M. Bartol  |  Christine Beckman  |  Margrét Bjarnadóttir  |  M. Cecilia Bustamante  |  Rellie Derfler-Rozin  |  Waverly Ding  |  Wedad J. Elmaghraby  |  Rosellina Ferraro  |  Rebecca Hann  |  Amna Kirmani  |  Hanna Lee  |  Hui Liao  |  Wendy W. Moe  |  Courtney Paulson  |  Louiqa Raschid  |  Rebecca Ratner  |  Rachelle Sampson  |  Debra L. Shapiro  |  Cynthia Kay Stevens  |  M. Susan Taylor  |  Vijaya Venkataramani  |  Janet Wagner  |  Yajin Wang  |  Yajun Wang  |  Liu Yang  |  Jie Zhang  |  Lingling Zhang  |  PhD Candidates



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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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