Business & Economics, 2012
  • Theory at Work: Exploring Service Operations at a Retailer Using Queuing
    Christa Alvich, Jarred Blumensheid
    Mentor: M. Ali Ülkü

    Waiting in lines is not only unpleasant, but also costly. Thus, unnecessary waiting degrades the customer’s perception of service quality, which in turn might hurt the bottom-line of the service provider. In this study, we explore the dynamics of waiting lines at a retailer using management science techniques. How can one mathematically model and improve the costumer’s shopping experience with reduced waiting times? Drawing on various well-established queuing models, we quantify the expected queue length and the average time a customer waits in line before checking out. We then formulate a cost-optimization problem in which the decision variables are the number of active check-out lanes and the service capacity sales associate. Our model elevates the tradeoff between the operational costs and the congestion in the system: it is needless to keep all of the lanes open when the rate of customers who want to check out is not sufficient to warrant so. Therefore, we specifically investigate the threshold number of customers waiting in a queue above which triggers the activation of another check-out lane. This policy enables management to set a certain service level (i.e., expected average waiting time) that is acceptable by the customers. Along with an analytical framework to monitor and control the performance measures of such a waiting line, we also develop a simulation-based optimization model to help management make better decisions. We provide numerical examples and sensitivity analyses to reveal further managerial insights that can be used not only in retailing, but also in other service industries.
     

    Technology and Income Disparity
    Jarred Blumensheid
    Mentor: Saurav Roychoudhury

    For years, political scientists and economists have debated the topic of income disparity. This topic is at the forefront of social issues today as politicians’ petition for their view on the gap between the rich and poor. What causes income disparity? Many arguments and theories have emerged from this question. Today, technology and science are advancing faster than ever before. World economies that fail to adapt to these advances are often left behind by those that do. In this study, econometric analysis was used to examine various world economies to determine if a nation’s use of technology has an impact on its population’s income disparity. This research shows that developing nations have the highest income gap. This is primarily because as technological advances are implemented, additional and unique skill sets are required. In addition, developed nations have a lower income gap than that of developing nations because of increased spending on social programs. Understanding the many factors that impact the distribution of income is important as it allows us to become better informed on the complex issues that society is facing today.
     

    Optimizing the Payroll Tax Structure to Sustain a Strong Social Security System in the United States
    Calvin Cooper
    Mentor: M. Ali Ülkü

    The U.S. Social Security Administration was originally formed in 1935 to provide a safety net for elderly citizens in order to reduce poverty amongst the most vulnerable citizens of the U.S. Since then, social security has provided benefits to retirees and significantly has reduced homelessness and poverty. However, aggravated by the looming federal budget deficit, lower revenues and a rapidly aging population, projections predict that funds available for social security benefits will not be sufficient to sustain future generations. Reforming the U.S. social security system is not an option; it is an obligation. To that end, this paper provides an analytical framework that offers opportunities to raise revenues and to cut unnecessary expenditures. First, a mathematical programming model with the objective of maximizing revenues generated from the social security payroll tax is developed and solved to optimality. The results suggest that, even by including another bracket in the current social security payroll tax structure, revenues can still be raised while allocating benefits fairly and without creating additional tax liabilities for middle- and low-income earners. The mechanics of the mathematical models are illustrated by numerical examples, and sensitivity analyses are conducted to provide more empirical insights for policy makers.
     

    Hope Quilt
    Jennifer Davis, Daston Campell, Brooke Fox, Jesi Howell, Courtney Otto, Jennie Pabst, Ryan Ross, Mary-Helen Skowronski, Ashley Stotesbery, Jessica Woodruff
    Mentor: Michelle Barsnack, Sharon Stout-Shaffer, Deborah Shields, Amy Oehlschlaeger, Andrea Thomas, Renda Ross, Dina Lentsner, Janette McDonald, Andrea M. Karkowski

    Art has been used as a way to inspire hope in people through times of crisis. The purpose of this project was to create a hope quilt. Students studying hope imagined what hope looked like and portrayed hope through a symbol or an image. Students were asked to think of a color that represented hope for them and then were asked to think of a symbol that represented hope for them. Students then designed the image that incorporated their color of hope and used different quilting techniques. Each piece was stitched together to create an enlarged quilted wall hanging. This project expands our understanding of hope by exploring the colors, images and symbols associated with hope.
     

    Creating and Maintaining a Diverse University Workforce (Honors Capstone Project)
    Kelly DeBrouwer
    Mentor: Andrea Thomas

    The United States has commonly been referred to as a melting pot in terms of diversity. While many realize the benefits and difficulties of living in a diverse culture, most do not recognize the effort put behind diversifying universities. It is typical to look at diversifying the student population, but a diverse faculty and staff has an equally significant impact on the atmosphere of a university. Most students overlook the faculty and staff side to the university experience, but as a business student and human resources employee, I hope to shed more light on this topic. My project includes a literature review discussing the positives and negatives of having a diverse workforce specifically in the university setting, as well as a diversity plan that has the potential to be implemented at Capital University. Through a literature review on workforce diversity, I found that not only is creating a diverse workforce important to a business or university, but maintaining a supportive atmosphere can be equally important. By creating a diversity plan for Capital University, I hope to positively affect both the student and employee experience.
     

    Moor Consultants Internship: Amazing Gifts of Hope
    Janelle Homier
    Mentors: Lynn Dailey, David Schwantes

    The Moor Consultants Program is an internship program for high achieving business students. Each semester a student is chosen to complete an internship with a local social enterprise. The internship is sponsored by the George Moor Chair in Business and Economics; thus, participating social enterprises receive free business consulting to further their social missions. The social enterprise chosen for spring 2012 was Amazing Gifts of Hope (AGH), a company that sells fair trade jewelry and accessories while donating part of the profits back to rescue and recovery programs for people around the world. As a consultant for AGH, I conducted a product line analysis - determining which product lines to maximize and which to discontinue. I also chose a target market for AGH to pursue and developed a partial marketing plan including determining product, pricing, and distribution decisions for AGH to implement. The goal is to make AGH a more effective and efficient social enterprise to further AGH's mission of giving hope to those who need it most.
     

    Accounting Internship Experience
    Caitlin King, Stephen Kall, David Pickering, Jacob Wilson
    Mentor: Steve Mellum

    The accounting internship program is a professional field experience available to senior accounting majors in the School of Management and Leadership. Past internship sponsors have reported how valuable the program has been to their organization and its role in providing support for respective clients. A case study design is used to assess learning outcomes for the field experience. For a period of ten or eleven weeks we took on full-time entry-level employment responsibilities. These responsibilities were designed to introduce us to an accounting organization’s day-to-day operations and required us to apply accounting theory to practice. The organizations we worked with during our internship experience were local and national Certified Public Accounting firms and private industry. Outcomes of this program include: (1) valuable work experience, (2) guidance and direction for career planning, (3) enhanced development of strong work habits, and (4) creation of a portfolio to display professional accomplishments. We describe the entire internship process from the interview process to the exit interview on our last day on the job.
     

    Optimal Sizing of Buffer Capacity for a Semi-Continuous Production System: The Cases of Venture Capital Decisions and Publishing in Scholarly Journals
    Sean T. Malone
    Mentor: M. Ali Ülkü

    The storage capacity of inventory within a production process is called buffer. A queue builds up before the buffer when it is at its maximum capacity. Thus, average waiting time for a unit in the queue is directly related to the size of the buffer. In the case of venture capital investment decisions, unnecessary waiting time can result in prospects seeking capital from other venture capital firms. Therefore, the venture capital firm would lose out on any expected returns from any ventures they were unable to retain because of excessive decision durations. The impact of waiting time is also observable in scholarly publishing. The journals’ decision durations for acceptance or rejection influence where an author will submit his manuscript. The central research question addressed is: What is the buffer size that minimizes the total system-wide costs? The formulation and the analysis of this optimization problem hinge on the celebrated Little’s Law in the field of Operations Management. Via extensive sensitivity analyses, the utility of the mathematical models developed in this research are highlighted by offering managerial insights and easy-to-implement recommendations.

     

    Optimal Pricing Decisions for a Start-Up Company in the Car Rental Industry (Honors Capstone Project)
    Alexander Maze
    Mentor: M. Ali Ülkü

    The car rental industry is worth more than $20 billion, accounting for 1.4% of the total GDP in the U.S., where car is the main mode of transportation. It is thus crucial to have a deeper look into the pricing decisions of the car-rental agencies (CRAs). This research aims to shed light on and to provide an analytical framework that can aid management of CRAs in making optimal pricing decisions while achieving the service expectations of the customers. Under the case of private information, and given the pricing scheme of the competitor, this research investigates and compares various multi-part pricing schemes, such as “fixed plus per-mileage,” to determine which one yields the maximum target profit for the sustainability of a start-up CRA. Regarding the value of transparency in service pricing to the customer, this research also studies the impact of the variability of probability distributions of mileage on the optimal prices and the resulting revenues. The determination of and the conditions under which a pricing scheme is superior to the others are attained by the theory of optimization and various operations management techniques.


     

    The Moor Consultants Program: Restoration Automotive
    Alexander Maze
    Mentor: Lynn Dailey

    The Moor Consultants Program is an internship program for high achieving business students. Each semester a student is chosen to complete an internship with a local social enterprise. The internship is sponsored by the George Moor Chair in Business and Economics; thus, participating social enterprises receive free business consulting to further their social missions. Restoration Automotive is a non-profit 501C-3 public charity focused on repairing vehicles. It exists to help the people of Central Ohio by providing honest, affordable and quality car care. Restoration Automotive is rooted in Christian values and operates almost entirely on the hours offered by inspired volunteers. Since its inception in 2008, Restoration Automotive has reached well over 1,000 families and has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in relief to Central Ohio citizens. Restoration Automotive is not struggling in generating customers, but rather investor interest. In an attempt to provide a solution to this problem, the current business environment was analyzed and a three-phase marketing plan was developed. The implementation of this strategy is intended to grow investor awareness and increase the interest of potential volunteers and patrons.

     

    Optimal Design of Pathways in a Local Attraction Site: The Case of Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
    Noreen Murphy
    Mentor: M. Ali Ülkü

    Local attractions, such as zoos, are important for the economic well-being of the region in which they operate. A major cause of guest dissatisfaction in these local attractions is long waiting lines and congestion in pathways and exhibits. Using Operations Research techniques such as queuing theory and location analysis, I developed an analytical framework to help management make better decisions on how to increase guest service level, specifically by optimizing pathways in a local attraction. Among others, the primary research questions addressed include: How do the key exhibits on pathways influence guests’ self-guided tour? What are the optimal locations on the pathways of the mobile retail, food, and beverage carts so that a desired traffic of guests is achieved for each exhibit? To test and validate the research findings, we use data from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (CZA), Columbus, OH. Building on the parameter values calibrated from CZA, a mathematical model was developed to identify the primary pathways for CZA. Finally, both quantitative and qualitative insights are offered to improve guest attendance and satisfaction that are applicable to the operational enhancement of any local attraction.

     

    Accounting Internship Experience
    Eric Rapp, Stephen Roberts, Katelinn Rutherford
    Mentor: Steve Mellum

    The accounting internship program is a professional field experience available to senior accounting majors in the School of Management and Leadership. Past internship sponsors have reported how valuable the program has been to their organization and its role in providing support for respective clients. A case study design is used to assess learning outcomes for the field experience. For a period of ten or eleven weeks we took on full-time, entry-level employment responsibilities. These responsibilities were designed to introduce us to an accounting organization’s day-to-day operations and required us to apply accounting theory to practice. The organizations we worked with during our internship experience were local and national Certified Public Accounting firms and private industry. Outcomes of this program include: (1) valuable work experience, (2) guidance and direction for career planning, (3) enhanced development of strong work habits, and (4) creation of a portfolio to display professional accomplishments. We describe the entire internship process from the interview process to the exit interview on our last day on the job.

     

    Analysis of Ordering and Pricing Policies of Fashion Goods for an Off-Price Retailer
    Sasha D. Simpson, Sierra R. Ho
    Mentor: M. Ali Ülkü

    Fashion goods (e.g., designer garments) lose value over time, and thus they are perishable. Off-price retailers (OPRs) such as Marshalls in the U.S. and Winners in Canada, are able to sell those off-season fashion goods even at a 65% discount because they purchase clearance merchandise from the wholesales of the original designers at a lower price. Naturally, the demand for those goods is extremely uncertain as the trends in fashion change frequently. In addition, many retailers over order or designers over produce creating more demand-supply imbalances in the fashion market. OPRs try to take advantage of this situation by making deals on those secondary-market top brand labels. Motivated with this industrial observation, we study the problem of ordering and pricing decisions of a fashion good, with the objective of maximizing sales profit for an OPR. To provide a decision framework for more efficient operational policies, we employ a host of Management Science analytical tools including inventory management, dynamic pricing, and optimization. Along with future research directions, we offer numerical examples and sensitivity analyses of the optimal ordering, pricing and inventory trajectories that yield insightful recommendations to the better marketing and operations management of perishable goods.

     

    Exploring Hope through Play
    Mary-Helen Skowronski
    Mentors: Janette McDonald, Andrea M. Karkowski, Deborah Shields, Sharron Stout-Shaffer, Michaele Barsnack, Renda Ross, Dina Lentsner, Andrea Thomas

    Research has shown that having hope enables the individual to successfully deal with the inevitable challenges encountered in life. Hope may allow us to have a clear sense of what our potential is and how we can make things better. Hopeful individuals feel that they have an important role to play in their family, community and world. By creating a "toy with purpose", I aim to highlight that children can develop an understanding of hope through the creative process of play. To that end, I used fabric to make a wall-hanging with various pieces that can be detached and reattached in a way that encourages children to develop self-awareness and to explore the notion of hope. This project extends our understanding of hope by examining hope through child's play.

     

    Accounting Internship Experience
    Benjamin Snyder, Christine Duraney, Derek Farwick, Tiffany Seymour
    Mentor: Steve Mellum

    The accounting internship program is a professional field experience available to senior accounting majors in the School of Management and Leadership. Past internship sponsors have reported how valuable the program has been to their organization and its role in providing support for respective clients. A case study design is used to assess learning outcomes for the field experience. For a period of ten or eleven weeks, we took on full-time entry-level employment responsibilities. These responsibilities were designed to introduce us to an accounting organization’s day-to-day operations and required us to apply accounting theory to practice. The organizations we worked with during our internship experience were local and national Certified Public Accounting firms and private industry. Outcomes of this program include: (1) valuable work experience, (2) guidance and direction for career planning, (3) enhanced development of strong work habits, and (4) creation of a portfolio to display professional accomplishments. We describe the entire internship process from the interview process to the exit interview on our last day on the job.

     

    Accounting Internship Experience
    James VanMaaren, Jacob Miller, Lauren Powell
    Mentor: Steve Mellum

    The accounting internship program is a professional field experience available to senior accounting majors in the School of Management and Leadership. Past internship sponsors have reported how valuable the program has been to their organization and its role in providing support for respective clients. A case study design is used to assess learning outcomes for the field experience. For a period of ten or eleven weeks we took on full-time entry-level employment responsibilities. These responsibilities were designed to introduce us to an accounting organization’s day-to-day operations and required us to apply accounting theory to practice. The organizations we worked with during our internship experience were local and national Certified Public Accounting firms and private industry. Outcomes of this program include: (1) valuable work experience, (2) guidance and direction for career planning, (3) enhanced development of strong work habits, and (4) creation of a portfolio to display professional accomplishments. We describe the entire internship process from the interview process to the exit interview on our last day on the job.

     

    Applying Management Skills to a Community Fundraising Event: An Internship Story
    Melissa Weber
    Mentors: Andrea Thomas, Eugene Brundige, Board Director for Shalom Zone

    Internships provide opportunities to apply organizational and influence skills learned in management coursework to a real-world problem. My internship included assisting with ticket sales and event organization for a Greater Hilltop Area Shalom Zone fundraising luncheon. The 1-year old organization’s mission focuses on justice, peacemaking, & renewal of the Columbus Hilltop Community. I describe events attended and my participation in fund raising committee meetings to help organize thoughts, tasks, and resources in order to execute the luncheon and the fund raising. Knowledge and experiences are presented within the School of Management and Leadership and to the community; further, the presentation highlights my motivation to seek involvement in similar outreach organizations that target children and adolescents from lower income families with less educational opportunities. The Shalom Zone has a motto: “You will be surprised what can get done if nobody cares who gets the credit and if politics are put aside!”

     

    Figures of Hope
    Jessica Woodruff
    Mentors: Janette McDonald, Deborah Shields, Sharron Stout-Shaffer, Michaele Barsnack, Renda Ross, Dina Lentsner, Andrea Thomas

    Hope can mean different things to different people. Because hope is associated with creative process, I created a visual piece of artwork that allowed me to explore hope in the various contexts of my life and to develop a sense of personal awareness and self-knowing. I took 24 photographs of objects that describe hope to me and make me hopeful. I then developed a book from those photographs which I entitled "Figures of Hope." This visual depiction of my personal definition of hope has given me a deeper understanding myself. The process of sharing explorations of hope has a two-fold outcome: (1) to enhance my personal hope through self-explorations, and (2) to foster others’ hope by sharing these explorations with others. This work can empower others to be more conscious and self-reflective.