Friday, January 9, 2009

Online Reverse Auctions

Ulad Radkevitch defended on October 10, 2008 his PhD thesis entitled "Online Reverse Auctions for Procurement of Services".

Here follows the text of my "laudatio":

"It is a privilege for me to be the first one to congratulate you with your PhD degree. Ulad congratulations! And co-promotor Otto Koppius is joining me in congratulating you with this result. We are proud that you made an excellent contribution both to theory and practice resulting in not only a dissertation but also publications such as in Decision Support Systems.

You started your time at Erasmus Univeristy with an internship with professor Ron Lee. During that internship we met and we had a discussion about the pro’s and con’s of executing a PhD project. The result was that you applied in 2003 to the PhD project 'The Impact of Reverse Auctions in Business Networks'.

From the beginning you were happy with this topic and very focused – you had already yourself some experience about the role and impact of online reverse auctions. However, the beginning was not easy. Developing a coherent research proposal with a coherent conceptual framework was a struggle but the comments of the external reviewers were positive, helpful and rewarding. The result is an empirically coherent dissertation.

The first part of your thesis (chapter 2, 3 and 4) deals with in-depth analysis of transaction data of online marketplaces like eLance and RentaCoder. In your dissertation you write on page 84 'To extract data from the website of the online marketplace we used Kapow RoboSuite. A web extraction agent; Microsoft Excel and SPSS were employed at the stage of data processing and analysis'.

I know that this one liner does not fully reflect your enormous efforts to develop a very sophisticated agent system that extracted data from web sites. I remembered that during that period I walked into your office and that your computer was running day and night to get thousands of transactions from these markets. In total 14,086 events are analyzed in these three chapters (and that is just a selection of the data set you build). But you did not only build, test and run the software but also set up good relationships with the people of these markets for example with the founder of RentACoder.

The second part of your thesis the case study of a construction project in Amsterdam was also a challenge. Jan Siderius – founder of Negometrix suggested this case to analyse the impact of online reverse auctions in detail. It is one of the first studies that follow such a project in great detail and you did show that you are able to execute both quantitative and qualitative studies at a very high quality level. With the help of Wouter Vermeer you were able to cope with Dutch language barriers and the typical (sometimes) unwritten rules of the construction industry.

Doing research is important but also presenting research to the outside world is a critical aspect of PhD research. I think one of the highlights of your PhD project was the presentation at ICIS in Milwaukee in 2006. In preparing the presentation I remembered we had some very intense discussions ( I really had to act here as the tough supervisor) but your performance at ICIS was just great. Afterwards we enjoyed a beer tasting evening in one of the typical Milwaukee bars.

Otto Koppius and I have excellent memories about our discussions (ranging from topics such as the essence of Snir and Hitt’s work and how to do better; the design of a new bachelor course on IT outsourcing; or the impact of online reverse auctions on the performance of industries worldwide). But also about your cohesive role you played in our department as a socially conscious person; new faculty members were introduced by Ulad in the Rotterdam scene and other cities in Europe.

Overall, you have shown via hard work, discipline, and intellectual curiosity that you are now an independent thinker. That is a key asset in today’s world that is complex and volatile. I am sure you will use this asset in a wise way. All the best."

One can download Ulad's dissertation at the ERIM website.

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