Thursday, July 3, 2008

PhD Top in Ireland

Put twenty-one very smart European PhD students in Information Systems together with six excellent faculty members in a remote area (in this case Oughterard in the Connemara area nearby Galway, Ireland) and you have a necessary and sufficient condition for a successful ECIS 2008 doctoral consortium.

Intense discussions about rigor and relevance of each of the twenty-one PhD projects and "how to manage your PhD project" were combined with a boat trip on the Corrib Lake, a GPS exercise to find a nearby Castle, and the well-known Irish pub hospitality .

Smart Business Networks in Beijing

Together with Tsinghua University in Beijing we organized the third Smart Business Network discovery event (May 18 - May 23, 2008). A great event - not only because our Chinese hosts surprised me with a giant birthday cake - but also because of the discussions among academics and business executives about the potential role of smart business networks.

For example a great Chinese example of an online auction market is Alibaba and they provided an excellent presentation during the event about their strategy and operations.

Mike Rothkopf

One of the best and most inspiring researchers of auctions is Mike Rothkopf. He passed away last February, see the in memoriam web site.

We have known Mike Rothkopf as an outstanding leader in the international research community: very inspiring for us and he motivated us a lot to understand and improve the functioning of auctions in a business context.

We invited Mike for Otto Koppius` PhD defence (May 2002) and Laura Rothkopf was joining him on their trip to the Netherlands. We showed them the Dutch flower auctions and Mike was amazed by the speed of the flower auctions and the complicated logistics and he was very happy to go into all the details.

We regularly discussed his and our auction research - usually at the annual INFORMS conferences. He inspired many researchers around the world and was a true leader in improving our field by creating research results that were conceptual outstanding and exceptional relevant for practice. For my own research, Mike's paper with Ron Harstad "Modeling Competitive Bidding: A Critical Essay" (Management Science 40, pp. 364-384, 1994) was a real stimulus for me to dive into the real world of auctions.

25 Years of Electronic Markets Research

At the ICIS conference in Montreal (December 10, 2007) Bruce Weber (LBS) and I organized a panel with Yannis Bakos (New York University), Thomas W. Malone (MIT), Robert I. Benjamin (Syracuse University), and Rolf T Wigand (University of Arkansas). Here is my welcome statement:

"It is an honor for me to welcome you to this panel with the topic “electronic markets: theory and evidence from twenty years of research”. Twenty years ago Tom Malone, Yoanne Yates, and Bob Benjamin wrote their very influential article “electronic markets and electronic hierarchies”. That article is a point of reference for most of us and after eighty-seven we came in a roller coaster called electronic markets – think of the early examples like Aucnet, think of the boom and bust of electronic markets makers around 2000, think about the giant successes of online auctioneers like eBay and Google.

In this panel we will look back to the roller coaster we were in the last 20 years and create a moment of reflection before we are heading for the next roller coaster (roller coaster 2.0 as we use to call it in our field). At my first ICIS in New York in 1991 people asked me what I was doing and I explained that my research was about electronic auctions with flowers and then most people would stare at me as if I was coming from Mars (I was actually coming from the Netherlands!). Nowadays electronic auctions are everywhere as the new routers in the packet-switching economy.

In this panel we ask ourselves some questions and here I will borrow from the Mars story of Herbert Simon in his 1991 paper “Organizations and Markets”. Simon said:
“Imagine a mythical visitor coming from Mars approaching the Earth with a telescope that reveals social structure (p.27). The firms are shown as solid green areas, market transaction are red lines connecting firms. No matter which economy our visitor approached, the green areas would be the dominant feature of the landscape”.

Related to the impact of IT our questions are: Did we see the last twenty years more dark green (electronic hierarchies) or more dark red lines (electronic markets).
And what could explain from a theoretical point of view the changes. And what is the next step?