Decision Science Digest: September 22, 2022


Ashley Smith
Public Affairs Coordinator

Decision Science Digest: September 22, 2022

BALTIMORE, MD, September 22, 2022 – 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Decision Science Digest is a periodic communique highlighting recent peer-reviewed research published by INFORMS, the largest association for the decision and data sciences, across its 17 journals. This issue highlights four press releases based on the findings of new peer-reviewed articles.

  • Creating Innovation: New Research Uses Ikea Products to Develop New Uses for Products (INFORMS journal Management Science)
  • New Research Finds Obvious Impacts to Brands Showing Support for Black Lives Matter (INFORMS journal Marketing Science)
  • New Research Reduces Traffic Congestion in San Francisco by Increasing the Usage of Electronic Toll System (INFORMS Journal on Applied Analytics)
  • No More Government Food Vouchers? Data Suggests a Way to Allow Healthy Choices to Continue in an Affordable Way (INFORMS journal Marketing Science)

Using Ikea Products to Find New Tips and Tricks for Consumers

It’s easier to solve a problem when you have one. New research in the INFORMS journal Management Science looks at Ikea products and finds that users can develop “fix-it” hacks more often when a problem arises, rather than before it presents itself. The study, “The Emergence of Novel Product Uses: An Investigation of Exaptation’s in IKEA Hacks,” looks at finding new functions or ways to use existing products. In a product-first situation, the user identifies the product to be hacked before seeking a viable need. In a problem-first search, the user has a defined problem before seeking a viable solution. This work shows that users are more likely to find a hack in a problem-first search. Increased hacking experience appears to reduce functional fixedness; meanwhile, increased product modularity increases the likelihood that users will make serendipitous discoveries leading to new functions of an existing product. Link to full article.

New Research Analyzes the Brand Impact of Support for Black Lives Matter

New research in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science finds obvious brand impacts when a company supports the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in consumer responses. The study, “Frontiers: How Support for Black Lives Matter Impacts Consumer Responses on Social Media,” looks at “Blackout Tuesday” in which BLM support occurred on Instagram but not on Twitter. The researchers found a negative impact of BLM support on consumer responses, such as followers and likes. Lone-wolf BLM support leads to negligible effects, large-scale BLM support can lead to strong negative effects. The research also finds that posting self-promotional content exacerbates the negative effects of BLM support. Brands with socially oriented missions suffer less from the negative effects. Customers’ political affiliation also matters; the negative effects of BLM support are amplified/attenuated for brands with mostly Republican/Democratic customers. Link to full article.

Recommendations Increase Usage of Electronic Toll System, Reduce Traffic Congestion in San Francisco

New research in the INFORMS Journal on Applied Analytics provides recommendations to increase usage of an electronic toll collection system to reduce traffic congestion at San Francisco Bay Area toll bridges. These bridges experience extreme congestion and become bottlenecks during peak hours. A solution is the electronic toll collection system called FasTrak, however, people weren’t using it. Researchers developed models and made recommendations to increase usage that they detail in the paper, “Adoption of FasTrak on San Francisco Bay Area Bridges: Impact of Operations Research Models in Relieving Congestion.” These recommendations increased usage from 40% to 70%, and saved travel time resulted in productivity gains of approximately $569 million per year. Link to full article.

How to Continue Healthy Patterns After Government Food Vouchers End, New Recommendation Based on Data 

New research in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science provides data-driven recommendations on how to increase healthy choices after women and children leave the U.S. Special Supplemental Nutrition Program. The program gives food vouchers to young children and mothers. During the program participants have access to products in categories most targeted by the reform, bread and milk, and healthier purchases are made. But the effect decreases significantly within a couple of years after participants exit the program. The article, “The Persistence of Healthy Behaviors in Food Purchasing,” shows that price differences between healthy and unhealthy products play a large role in decreasing the program’s impact. Therefore, the recommendation is a modest post-program subsidy to provide a sustainable way to lengthen the program’s impact and lead to long-term healthier purchases. Link to full article.




INFORMS advances and promotes the science and technology of decision-making to save lives, save money and solve problems. As the largest association for the decision and data sciences, INFORMS members support organizations and governments at all levels as they work to transform data into information, and information into insights that lead to more efficient, effective, equitable and impactful results. INFORMS’ 10,000+ members are comprised of a diverse and robust international community of practitioners, researchers, educators and students from a variety of fields. 





Ashley Smith




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