The rapid growth in e-commerce has led to a concomitant increase in consumers’ reliance on digital word-of-mouth to inform their choices. As such, there is an increasing incentive for sellers to solicit reviews for their products. Recent studies have examined the direct effect of receiving incentives or introducing incentive policy on review writing behavior. However, since incentivized reviews are often only a small proportion of the overall reviews on a platform, it is important to understand whether their presence on the platform has spillover effects on the unincentivized reviews which are often in the majority. Using the state-of-the-art language model, Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) to identify incentivized reviews, a document embedding method, Doc2Vec to create matched pairs of Amazon and non-Amazon branded products, and a natural experiment caused by a policy change on Amazon.com in October 2016, we conduct a difference-in-differences analysis to identify the spillover effects of banning incentivized reviews on unincentivized reviews. Our results suggest that there are positive spillover effects of the ban on the review sentiment, length, helpfulness, and frequency, suggesting that the policy stimulates more reviews in the short-run and more positive, lengthy, and helpful reviews in the long run. Thus, we find that the presence of incentivized reviews on the platform poisons the well of reviews for unincentivized reviews.
Identifying inter-firm relationships is critical in understanding the industry landscape. However, due to the dynamic nature of such relationships, it is challenging to capture corporate social networks in a scalable and timely manner. To address this issue, this research develops a framework to build corporate social network representations by applying natural language processing (NLP) techniques on a corpus of 10-K filings, describing the reporting firms’ perceived relationships with other firms. Our framework uses named-entity recognition (NER) to locate the corporate names in the text, topic modeling to identify types of relationships included, and BERT to predict the type of relationship described in each sentence. To show the value of the network measures created by the proposed framework, we conduct two empirical analyses to see their impacts on firm performance. The first study shows that competition relationship and in-degree measurements on all relationship types have prediction power in estimating future earnings. The second study focuses on the difference between individual perspectives in an inter-firm social network. Such a difference is measured by the direction of mentions and is an indicator of a firm’s success in network governance. Receiving more mentions from other firms is a positive signal to network governance and it shows a significant positive correlation with firm performance next year.
In this paper, we build on the network structural hole concept of organizational theory to theorize an individual firm-specific strategic competitive positioning (SCP) construct. We use unsupervised document embedding approaches to operationalize the SCP construct by capturing each firm’s relative competitive and strategic positioning in a strategic similarity matrix of all existing U.S. publicly traded firms’ annual corporate filings. This approach enables us to construct a theoretically driven firm-level SCP measure with minimal human expert intervention. Our construct dynamically captures competitive positioning across different firms and years without using artificially bounded and often outdated industry classification systems. We illustrate how the dynamic measure captures industry-level and cross-industry strategic changes. Then, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our construct with an empirical analysis showing the imprinting and dynamic effects of SCP on firm performance. The results show that our dynamic SCP measure outperforms existing competition measures and successfully predicts post-IPO performance. This paper makes significant contributions to the information systems and organizations literatures by proposing an organizational theory-based unsupervised approach to dynamically conceptualize and measure firm-level strategic competitive positioning. The construct can be easily applied to firm-specific, industry-level, and cross-industry research questions in many contexts across many disciplines.
IT risk, especially cybersecurity risk, has rapidly increased and become a top concern for researchers, regulators, firm managers, and investors. This study creates a novel firm-level IT risk measure applicable to all US-listed firms by applying the BERTopic topic modeling to risk factors reported in Item 1A of the 10-K annual reports. We validate the measure with multiple approaches including cross-validations, presenting illustrative excerpts of IT risk factors, conducting cross-sectional and over-time distribution analyses, and analyzing firm characteristics associated with IT risk. The measure is found to be heightened in IT-intensive industries and for firms with larger sizes, higher profits, and better growth potential, and it can predict future data breaches. Using this ex-ante IT risk measure, we examine the relation between IT risk and stock price crash risk, which reflects a firm’s propensity to stock price crashes. Our findings suggest that IT risk is positively associated with crash risk, and we also identify that downward operating risk and predictability for data breaches are two mechanisms for the crash risk effect of IT risk. By decomposing IT risk into cybersecurity risk and non-cybersecurity IT risk, we find that both types of IT risk increase crash risk, but the effect of cybersecurity risk is stronger than that of non-cybersecurity IT risk, consistent with their different risk natures. We further observe that the novelty and readability of IT risk factors strengthen the crash risk effects of IT risk, consistent with the notion that the novelty represents updated and increased IT risk, and readability improves the understanding of IT risk. Lastly, difference-in-differences analyses reveal that IT risk increases stock price crash risk, not the other way around. We conclude the paper by discussing academic contributions and practical implications in the context of the SEC’s directives on reporting and managing IT risk and cybersecurity risk.
Presented in Chicago Marketing Analytics (Chicago, IL 2013), WeB (Auckland, New Zealand 2014), Notre Dame (2015), Temple (2015), UC Irvine (2015), Indiana (2015), UT Dallas (2015), Minnesota (2015), UT Arlington (2015), Michigan State (2016), Korea Univ (2021)
Dissertation Paper #3
Research assistant: Raymond Situ
The mobile applications (apps) market is one of the most successful software markets. As the platform grows rapidly, with millions of apps and billions of users, search costs are increasing tremendously. The challenge is how app developers can target the right users with their apps and how consumers can find the apps that fit their needs. Cross-promotion, advertising a mobile app (target app) in another app (source app), is introduced as a new app-promotion framework to alleviate the issue of search costs. In this paper, we model source app user behaviors (downloads and postdownload usages) with respect to different target apps in cross-promotion campaigns. We construct a novel app similarity measure using latent Dirichlet allocation topic modeling on apps’ production descriptions and then analyze how the similarity between the source and target apps influences users’ app download and usage decisions. To estimate the model, we use a unique data set from a large-scale random matching experiment conducted by a major mobile advertising company in Korea. The empirical results show that consumers prefer more diversified apps when they are making download decisions compared with their usage decisions, which is supported by the psychology literature on people’s variety-seeking behavior. Lastly, we propose an app-matching system based on machine-learning models (on app download and usage prediction) and generalized deferred acceptance algorithms. The simulation results show that app analytics capability is essential in building accurate prediction models and in increasing ad effectiveness of cross-promotion campaigns and that, at the expense of privacy, individual user data can further improve the matching performance. This paper has implications on the trade-off between utility and privacy in the growing mobile economy.
Data: litigation risk scores for 6134 firms in 1996-2015 [link]
Research assistant: Raymond Situ
This study examines whether and how machine learning techniques can improve the prediction of litigation risk relative to the traditional logistic regression model. Existing litigation literature has no consensus on a predictive model. Additionally, the evaluation of litigation model performance is ad hoc. We use five popular machine learning techniques to predict litigation risk and benchmark their performance against the logistic regression model in Kim and Skinner (2012). Our results show that machine learning techniques can significantly improve the predictability of litigation risk. We identify two best-performing methods (random forest and convolutional neural networks) and rank the importance of predictors. Additionally, we show that models using economically-motivated ratio variables perform better than models using raw variables. Overall, our results suggest that the joint consideration of economically-meaningful predictors and machine learning techniques maximize the improvement of predictive litigation models.
We study the spillover effects of the online reviews of other covisited products on the purchases of a focal product using clickstream data from a large retailer. The proposed spillover effects are moderated by (a) whether the related (covisited) products are complementary or substitutive, (b) the choice of media channel (mobile or personal computer (PC)) used, (c) whether the related products are from the same or a different brand, (d) consumer experience, and (e) the variance of the review ratings. To identify complementary and substitutive products, we develop supervised machine-learning models based on product characteristics, such as product category and brand, and novel text-based similarity measures. We train and validate the machine-learning models using product pair labels from Amazon Mechanical Turk. Our results show that the mean rating of substitutive (complementary) products has a negative (positive) effect on purchasing of the focal product. Interestingly, the magnitude of the spillover effects of the mean ratings of covisited (substitutive and complementary) products is significantly larger than the effects on the focal product, especially for complementary products. The spillover effect of ratings is stronger for consumers who use mobile devices versus PCs. We find the negative effect of the mean ratings of substitutive products across different brands on purchasing of a focal product to be significantly higher than within the same brand. Lastly, the effect of the mean ratings is stronger for less experienced consumers and for ratings with lower variance. We discuss implications on leveraging the spillover effect of the online product reviews of related products to encourage online purchases.
The slandering of a firm’s products by competing firms poses significant threats to the victim firm, with the resulting damage often being as harmful as that from product-harm crises. In contrast to a true product-harm crisis, however, this disparagement is based on a false claim or fake news; thus, we call it a pseudo-product-harm crisis. Using a pseudo-product-harm crisis event that involved two competing firms, this research examines how consumer sentiments about the two firms evolved in response to the crisis. Our analyses show that while both firms suffered, the damage to the offending firm (which spread fake news to cause the crisis) was more detrimental, in terms of advertising effectiveness and negative news publicity, than that to the victim firm (which suffered from the false claim). Our study indicates that, even apart from ethical concerns, the false claim about the victim firm was not an effective business strategy to increase the offending firm’s performance.
Presented in WITS (Auckland, New Zealand 2014), and WISE (Auckland, New Zeland 2014), HICSS (Kauai, HI 2016)
Dissertation Paper #2
This article studies the strategic network formation in a location-based social network. We build an empirical model of social link creation that incorporates individual characteristics and pairwise user similarities. Specifically, we define four user proximity measures from biography, geography, mobility, and short messages. To construct proximity from unstructured text information, we build topic models using Latent Dirichlet Allocation. Using Gowalla data with 385,306 users, 3 million locations, and 35 million check-in records, we empirically estimate the model to find evidence on the homophily effect on network formation. To cope with possible endogeneity issues, we use exogenous weather shocks as our instrumental variables and find the empirical results are robust: network formation decisions are significantly affected by our proximity measures.