As the coronavirus rapidly spread, wreaking havoc worldwide, School of Management faculty experts responded in a major way, helping local, national and international news media inform the public about critical issues related to the pandemic.
From advice on leading virtual teams, working through disruption, avoiding cybersecurity threats and much more, our faculty provided wide-ranging analysis of COVID-19’s effects on our organizations, economy and lives.
Natalie Simpson, associate professor and chair of the Department of Operations Management and Strategy, was interviewed for a story on National Public Radio about how utility companies and their employees ensured that essential services like water and electricity ran without interruption amid COVID-19. “They run smoothly and uninterrupted from day to day, because they're constantly being tended by human beings, skilled human beings who are making decisions from one moment to the next,” said Simpson.
Nallan Suresh, UB Distinguished Professor of operations management and strategy, was featured in a story in The Wall Street Journal about how divided industrial and consumer-focused supply chains were a challenge for producers and retailers during the coronavirus pandemic. Both systems rely on vetted networks of producers and distributors and other middlemen to deliver goods in ways that are tailored to specific markets. “All those contracts produce lots of rigidity,” said Suresh. “You’re not able to easily shift supplies from one channel to another.”
Charles Lindsey, associate professor of marketing, was quoted in a story in The Washington Post about Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s spread of misinformation and promise to manufacture and deliver ventilators during the COVID-19 pandemic. Musk misstepped in promising medical supplies while Tesla faced a hobbled supply chain, said Lindsey. He advised Musk to better manage expectations. Musk’s other error, he said: weighing in on matters far beyond his expertise. “The medical statements, that’s not helpful at all,” he said, calling the situation “unfortunate.”
Lindsey also was quoted in a Bloomberg Business story about Whole Foods expanding its line of Beekeeper’s Naturals health products. Lindsey said that while demand tied to the coronavirus outbreak was bound to slow down, health and wellness categories could see higher sales throughout the year. “People are just going to be more aware and change their habits going forward,” he said.
Jerry Newman, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus in the Department of Organization and Human Resources, was interviewed for a Wall Street Journal story about how some companies were considering ending bonus pay for hourly employees as some states lifted emergency orders related to COVID-19, while other companies continued to offer such pay. Newman told the Journal that larger employers can typically afford more largesse. “Sometimes money is recognition,” he said. “Financially, when you’re a smaller organization, it becomes more difficult to offer.” The article also was carried by Fox Business and MSN.
Cristian Tiu, associate professor and chair of the Finance Department, was quoted in a CNBC article about why the stock market was up in May—despite high unemployment numbers. “The cause of optimism is, I believe, a lot of oversimplification,” said Tiu. Many investors believed the economy would reopen and a cure for the coronavirus was around the corner, he said.
Veljko Fotak, associate professor of finance, was quoted in a Nasdaq story about the best food stocks to buy during the coronavirus pandemic. “Consumer staples usually outperform the rest of the market during economic downturns,” said Fotak. “In particular, there is an expectation that certain food stocks will benefit from increased grocery spending, as people dine out less.” The story also ran on Markets Insider.
Feng Gu, professor and chair of the Department of Accounting and Law, was mentioned in a Nasdaq story about the need to take earnings reports with a grain of salt during the coronavirus. The author, Baruch Lev, said that even before the pandemic, 50-70% of all companies reported annual losses. “When my colleague Feng Gu and I reverse this senseless accounting expensing of the most important investments of companies (intangibles), we find that 35%-40% of the ‘losers’ are, in fact, profitable companies,” said Lev.
Raj Sharman, professor of management science and systems, was quoted in a story on Al Jazeera and MSN Singapore about South Korea’s extensive use of smartphone alerts and technology to track and contain the spread of coronavirus—and how people's interest in such alerts is changing. “When it comes to emergency notifications, how people comply really varies by the context,” said Sharman. “The impact of the messaging is actually based on one’s perception of the threat.”
Larry Zielinski, executive in residence for health care administration, wrote a column in The Buffalo News about how a new fee structure is needed to save primary care medicine. “Primary care doctors need to be paid to manage the health of their patients over the long term with a reliable stream of income,” according to Zielinski. “In return, they need to be held accountable to improve health and reduce costs by preventing expensive acute care interventions.”