INFORMS in the News

Top jobs, blood supply and more

Compiled by Ashley Kilgore

INFORMS members, initiatives and journals continue to make news on a wide range of topics in a variety of forums. Following are recent examples of “INFORMS in the News.”

Operations research analyst among top jobs for 2017

U.S. News & World Report has released its list of the “2017 best jobs” and has ranked operations research analyst among the top five best jobs in business.

The new rankings offer a look at the year’s best jobs across 15 categories – from best-paying jobs to diverse sectors like business and technology – to help job seekers at every level achieve their career goals. The rankings take into account the most important aspects of a job, including growth potential, work-life balance and salary.

- U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 11

Uncertainty in blood supply chains creating challenges for industry

INFORMS member and University of Massachusetts, Amherst professor Anna Nagurney discusses the uncertainty facing blood supply chains, currently a multibillion-dollar industry, due to fluctuating demand over the past decade. Hospitals are now requiring less blood as compared to a few years ago because of changes in medical practices, at times leading to a surplus in overall supply. This has resulted in a relatively strong supply and a weak demand for blood at the blood banks. This gives hospitals the upper hand while negotiating with the suppliers, enabling them to demand lower prices.

Nagurney and her colleagues have been researching the positive impact supply chain analytics tools can have for the blood industry moving forward. According to Nagurney, it is imperative to apply supply chain analytics tools derived from industry to assist in both supply side and demand management to make for the best utilization of a lifesaving product that cannot be manufactured – that of human blood.

- The Conversation, Jan. 8

In bots we distrust

Despite the fact that algorithms can outperform humans at a wide range of tasks, from selecting baseball recruits to diagnosing illness, many people still have an irrational distrust of them.

In an upcoming issue of the INFORMS journal Management Science, a study conducted by three business professors explores this phenomenon, referred to as “algorithm aversion,” and how to overcome it. In three separate but similar experiments, the researchers discovered if individuals are able to adjust the output, they are more likely to use an algorithm.

“I believe that this could generalize to a wide variety of forecasting domains,” says study co-author Berkeley Dietvorst of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, “such as predicting demand for products, hiring decisions, admissions decisions, medical diagnoses, deciding which prisoners to release, stock market predictions, etc.”

He also sees applications outside of forecasting. For example, keeping the steering wheel and brake pedal in autonomous cars should reduce resistance to the technology by offering veto power.

- The Boston Globe, Dec. 31, 2016

Watch your assets!

Pharma, biotech, software and similar businesses may recognize the inherent asset value of their data, but most business owners tend to be much more concerned about other assets, such as hardware and inventory, because they are seen as having a more direct day-to-day impact, says Joe Carella of the University of Arizona.

INFORMS Past President Ed Kaplan provides input on the importance of business owners recognizing the value of their data, and that the more it is used in decision-making, the greater the impact.

“Getting owners to see that data can drive new efficiencies and effectiveness, challenging others in the organization to produce quality information, and seeking and seizing opportunities to make improvements – even in areas that one wouldn’t typically consider – can be challenging, but it will also have the greatest return on investment,” says Kaplan.

- Inc. Magazine, Dec. 15, 2016

The “Carrot and Stick” approach to policymaking

Why do people accept some policies and reject others when the outcomes are the same? Getting the desired results depends on the policy’s messaging and whether people’s behavior is voluntary or obligatory. Policymakers can benefit greatly from the “carrot and stick” approach when describing or introducing new policies. A new study in the INFORMS journal Management Science suggests that by understanding how people evaluate policies, marketers and policymakers can better frame and improve acceptance rates.

Study participants favored outcomes that reward positive and voluntary behavior. Likewise, people tend to favor punishing people’s behavior when it runs afoul of an obligation or rule but oppose preferential treatment for those who did not break the rules.

-, Dec. 15, 2016
For links to all of the articles mentioned above, visit

Ashley Kilgore ( is the public relations manager of INFORMS.