Job rankings, pricing strategies and more

Compiled by Barry List

US News & World Report came on like gangbusters recognizing the strength of the O.R. profession in its rankings of best jobs. Other recent O.R. and analytics stories in the news included an article by INFORMS President-Elect Ed Kaplan on preventing rape in South Africa, the best and worst U.S. cities for operations researchers, and coverage of Anna Nagurney’s study on cybercrime in Service Science. 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.

Excerpts from INFORMS in the news:

Organization Science study: How some men fake an 80-hour work week

Imagine an elite professional services firm with a high-performing, workaholic culture. Everyone is expected to turn on a dime to serve a client, travel at a moment’s notice, and be available pretty much every evening and weekend. It can make for a grueling work life, but at the highest levels of accounting, law, investment banking and consulting firms, it is just the way things are.

Except for one dirty little secret: Some of the people ostensibly turning in those 80- or 90-hour workweeks, particularly men, may just be faking it.

Many of them were, at least at one elite consulting firm studied by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. It’s impossible to know if what she learned at that unidentified consulting firm applies across the world of work more broadly. But her research, published in the academic journal Organization Science, offers a way to understand how the professional world differs between men and women, and some of the ways a hard-charging culture that emphasizes long hours above all can make some companies worse off.

– New York Times, May 5

Best and worst paying cities in U.S. for operations researchers

Operations Research Analyst
National median wage: $72,596

Best cities
    5. Baltimore ($97,750)
    4. Washington, D.C. ($106,960)
    3. Virginia Beach, Va. ($93,620)
    2. San Diego ($104,880)
    1. San Jose, Calif. ($117,530)

Worst Cities
    5. Tampa, Fla. ($52,830)
    4. Jacksonville, Fla. ($53,210)
    3. Miami, Fla. ($52,870)
    2. Tallahassee, Fla. ($43,440)
    1. Baton Rouge, La. ($40,800)

– Review Journal, May 4

Simple measure can reduce sexual assault in South Africa

Access to toilets for the hundreds of thousands of people in urban settlements is both a public health and moral imperative, critical for avoiding diarrheal and other diseases associated with substandard sanitation and to support the basic human dignity of citizens.

Women with the Social Justice Coalition have also pointed out the special risk that inadequate sanitation facilities poses for them on a daily basis; that of sexual violence they have encountered en route to the toilets, particularly during the evening, nighttime and early morning hours when most people are indoors and they must travel alone to relieve themselves. This phenomenon has been described elsewhere, most recently in a report by Amnesty International in Kenya in a 2010 report called “Risking Rape to Reach a Toilet” and is not limited to South Africa.

As academic researchers we were interested in examining the economic implications of the insights of the women of Khayelitsha. To this end, we developed a mathematical model to look at the link between sanitation and sexual violence in the township, as well as the costs of sexual violence and the expansion of new sanitation facilities there.

Our model, just published today (29 April) in PLoS ONE, is quite basic, where a woman’s risk of rape is tied to what we call exposure time, the number of minutes she must be out of doors en route to a toilet each day.

– Edward H. Kaplan et. al, Ground Up, April 29

Science behind the price of your camera

Pricing strategies exploiting demand with a high price – skimming – or tempting consumers with a low one – penetration – are not as popular as marketers assume, according to new research.

An international study has found that in the pricing of new digital camera models, penetration and skimming strategies were each used for just 20 percent of products.

Strategists have long recommended that marketers use either “skimming” or “penetration” strategies when pricing new products. A skimming strategy involves setting the price for a new or improved product relatively high, to exploit consumer demand for the product and therefore their willingness to pay – for an Apple iPhone, for instance.

A penetration strategy involves selling low – even below cost – with the aim of capturing a large slice of the market early on, eventually reaping profits from economies of scale, perhaps with a price increase later.

Marketers have long assumed that firms adopted one or other of these two strategies when pricing new products, says Associate Professor Marc Fischer of UTS Business School.

However, a study of the pricing of new digital camera models has found that penetration and skimming strategies were each used for just 20 per cent of products. Straightforward competitive or market pricing strategies were used for the remaining 60 per cent.

The study was conducted by Associate Professor Fischer, Professor Martin Spann of Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, and Professor Gerard J. Tellis, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, and has just been published in Marketing Science journal.

– Sydney Morning Herald, April 21

How investors trip themselves up

Parent trap. A third study found that investors put more money into mutual funds when the share price of the fund’s parent company is outperforming the market than they put into mutual funds run by companies whose share prices are lagging behind.

For most of the companies in the study, running mutual funds was a relatively minor source of revenue. That suggests that the inflow of investor money wasn’t driving the parent company’s share price, according to Clemens Sialm, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who co-wrote the study, which also included fund firms such as T. Rowe Price Group and Janus Capital Group.

The study, which didn’t include companies whose shares aren’t publicly traded, such as Vanguard Group and Fidelity Investments, is due to be published in Management Science, another peer-reviewed journal.

– Wall Street Journal, April 17

US News gives top rankings to field of operations research

In 2015, US News & World Report ranked “operations research analyst” as:
    No. 4 Best Business Jobs
    No. 8 Best STEM Jobs
    No. 20 Hundred Best Jobs

– US News, 2015 US News: O.R. among top six hot jobs for MBA grads

Graduate school isn’t like undergrad when, in theory, you could take a year or two to choose a major and poke around different career paths. The process moves a little faster as an MBA student. You don’t need to set your target job in stone, but you should have a solid idea or two in mind, so you’re ready to make the most of your courses – as well as networking and recruitment opportunities.

The following jobs are well-suited for MBA graduates, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts hiring growth and solid salaries for each of them.

No. 6. Operations research analyst: These analysts use statistics to identify and troubleshoot problems usually relating to production, logistics and sales. It’s possible to find an entry-level position with just a bachelor’s degree, but higher-level operations research analysts usually have an MBA with a specialization in production and operations management.

– US News, March 17

US News: O.R. seals the deal for MBA grads

Electrical engineer Ajay Mehta was working at Union Pacific Railroad in Houston, overseeing two dozen employees charged with testing, installing and maintaining the signal and road-crossing systems, when he decided to get an MBA to broaden his perspective and choices.

Armed with a business degree focused on operations research from Boston University School of Management – class of 2012 – Mehta today works for Ericsson Consulting in Dallas, helping a range of businesses solve problems and make decisions.

The MBA grounded Mehta in business analytics, which entails mining data and using statistical modeling to inform strategic decisions. He relies on both to craft the best software and infrastructure solutions for clients to help them increase revenue. While data analytics in the business arena is often associated with tracking customer behavior and improving marketing approaches, “operations is the part of the business where the work actually gets done,” Mehta says.

– US News, March 13

Stolen data worth less over time

A new model examining cybercrimes adds an important way of examining the perishable value of stolen data so policy-makers can plan against future hacks like the recent Anthem data breach, according to a study in the Articles in Advance section of Service Science, a journal published by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

INFORMS is a leading professional association for professionals in advanced analytics.

“A Multiproduct Network Economic Model of Cybercrime in Financial Services” is by Anna Nagurney, the John F. Smith Memorial Professor of Operations Management at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Nagurney is an INFORMS Fellow. It describes a computer-based model that captures the network economics of cybercrime activity and permits the policy evaluation of interventions.

A novel feature of the model is its inclusion of the critical time element and perishability of stolen cyber financial products with, as in the case of fresh produce, the value (and, hence, the black market price) decreasing over time. It also identifies different demand prices for different financial products, with certain credit cards being more valuable because of credit limit, expiration date, and continent of origin.

– Forensic, March 11

Sustaining an analytics advantage

The use of analytics is increasingly commonplace in business – and as a result, it’s hard to gain a lasting competitive advantage from analytics. Nonetheless, there are companies that have done just that over time.

– Peter C. Bell, MIT Sloan Management Review, spring 2015

INFORMS journal cited in U.S. Supreme Court brief

Obergefell v. Hodges, which will bring issues related to same sex marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court, includes a reference to “Diversity and Performance” by Feng Li and Venky Nagar, published in Management Science. Learn more about the case at SCOTUS Blog.

– U.S. Supreme Court, 2015