Big data debate, work stress issues and more

Compiled by Barry List

INFORMS Vice President Marco Lübbecke’s pointed op/ed response on CNN Online was at the top of recent news by INFORMS members and publications. An upcoming study in Management Science gave disturbing news about stressors at the workplace. Read the latest below.

Visit the INFORMS Newsroom at for news about analytics and INFORMS press releases. Remember to share your news-making research with INFORMS Communications. Contact Barry List at or 1-800-4INFORMs.

And now, INFORMS in the News:

Point/Counterpoint on Big Data: INFORMS VP on CNN Online

In his CNN opinion piece, “The Big Dangers of Big Data,” Konstantin Kakaes of New America raises some interesting points about the ways that designing certain types of Big Data projects could lead to bad societal results.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kakaes’ column appears to be part of a larger narrative that is skewing the perception of the importance of advanced data analytics to economies, societies and families around the world.

Big Data is not merely the accumulation of vast amounts of information, but a collection of interconnected and interrelated data points that, when analyzed carefully, helps business leaders make decisions that lead to increased profitability and job creation, assists doctors and scientists in understanding critical factors about health care, helps policymakers better protect the public from potential terror attacks, and much more.

Marco Lübbecke, CNN Online, Feb. 12

Negative effects of work stress highlighted in upcoming Management Science study

We’re working ourselves to death – literally – and spending billions of dollars staving off poor health in the meantime.

In a working study submitted to Management Science, researchers from Harvard and Stanford – Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer, and Stefanos Zenios – looked at 10 common workplace conflict areas, from work-life balance and shift work to unemployment and lack of health coverage. A common theme: The biggest things that cause stress are also the ones that heap on the most health care costs.

The biggest are lack of insurance, a demanding job and work-family conflict.

Fast Company, March 4

5 Job Related Stressors More Likely to Kill You than Second-hand Smoke

Job-related stress can be even more deadly than second-hand smoke exposure.

That’s according to a study being published next week in the scholarly journal Management Science. Work-related stress, the study finds, is partly to blame for up to $190 billion in health care costs. Specific workplace stressors contribute to 120,000 deaths in the U.S. each year – more than the number of deaths from diabetes, Alzheimer’s or influenza.

Huffington Post, March 4

Organization Science on the Oscar Curse

Sure, it’s the most prestigious award that Hollywood has to offer, but that coveted Oscar statue might also be a bad omen for some of the actors who receive it, a new study suggests.

Male Oscar winners are three times as likely as other actors to get a divorce during their first year of marriage, the study found. And the news is nearly as bad for the runners-up. Male actors nominated for an Academy Award are twice as likely as non-nominated actors to later wind up getting a divorce from their spouses within the first year of marriage, according to the study.

“We always think about status and moving up as something good, but we also observed all the misery that comes with certain dramatic increases in status,” Michael Jensen, a strategy professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the study’s lead author, told Live Science…

The study was published online in the January edition of the journal Organization Science.

Huffington Post, Feb. 22

UPS’s Orion is Lavish O.R.-based Deployment

UPS won’t say how much money it has invested in Orion. But management and information technology expert Thomas H. Davenport, a distinguished professor at Babson College near Boston, believes Orion is the largest deployment of operations research, and that UPS spent $200 million to $300 million to develop it, excluding many years of investments in underlying driver technology and communications infrastructure.

Wall Street Journal, Feb. 16

Marketing Science: Tension between sales and market managers

It all starts with the sales rep. He or she is on the front line of the battle for corporate revenue. They also are the first and sometimes last contact point a customer has with the company. So who better than to turn to about advice on said customers, correct, than the sales rep? For that reason, when the sales reps urge headquarters to come down a notch on pricing, their opinion should seriously be considered, right?

Maybe, according to academic research on the subject – but first have the sales reps strenuously argue the case as to why a price should be lowered.

So found a study that ran in the November issue of Marketing Science, a publication of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

The study, called “Why do sales people spend so much time lobbying for low prices?” was conducted by Duncan Simester, the Nanyang Technological University Professor of Management Science, and Juanjuan Zhang, Associate Professor of Marketing, both at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Computer World, Feb. 27