The Eller Times Research.
Eller College of Management, The University of Arizona (logo). The Eller Times.

May 2005

The Eller Times Research—sharing highlights of innovative research conducted by Eller faculty and students.

In this issue: Boosting job performance, managing water rights, advancing entrepreneurship, exploring illegal immigration, and mining data from nanotechnology patents.

Special Announcement.

New Eller MBA Programs Offered this Fall

The Eller MBA program will offer new programs in the fall designed to meet the needs of today’s complex business environment:

The Eller Executive MBA: For accomplished managers with significant professional experience, this 14-month accelerated program moves beyond the basics to focus on advanced topics in management and organizational leadership.

Eller MBA Dual Degrees: Designed to advance growth through innovation, these programs allow technology-oriented students to concurrently earn two graduate degrees—the Eller MBA and a degree from the Colleges of Engineering, Science, or Optical Sciences.

Both programs are now accepting qualified applications. For more information, contact the Eller MBA office at or 520.621.4008.

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Research Briefs.

Are Happy Workers Better Workers?

Dr. Russell Cropanzano.
Management and Policy professor Russell Cropanzano.  

Contrary to popular belief, happy workers are not better workers. At least not according to decades of studies. But research by Russell Cropanzano, management and policy professor, and Thomas Wright (University of Nevada, Reno), found that academics historically relied on a measure of “job satisfaction” to gauge happiness. Managers, on the other hand, rely on a much broader concept of psychological well-being (PWB) when gauging happiness.

Putting it all together, Cropanzano surfaced clear and significant findings:

1. PWB does consistently predict job performance. That is, happy employees are better employees.

2. The combination of job satisfaction and PWB makes for the best predictor of all.

One side of the issue is familiar: It benefits an organization to do what it can to keep employees happy. But the darker side of the coin is that it may be possible to maximize employee performance by not promoting, or not hiring, people with low PWB. The issue hasn’t yet been challenged in court, and Cropanzano hopes it never will be.

Border Enforcement: What Really Happens When Things Tighten Up?

Dr. Manuela Angelucci.
  Economics assistant professor Manuela Angelucci.

Increased border enforcement reduces the number of illegal entrants, but does it actually reduce the number of illegal entrants living in the United States? The answer seems obvious: Of course! But economists like economics associate professor Manuela Angelucci look past the seemingly obvious, considering how a change in incentives can have unanticipated effects.

Angelucci examined border enforcement and migration from the 1970s and 80s and found that increased enforcement actually had almost no impact on the number of people living illegally in the United States. Heightened enforcement reduced immigration, but the reduction was canceled by an offsetting boost in retention. For example, a seasonal worker might decide to stay in the United States through the off-season rather than return to Mexico and face the increased cost and risk of re-immigrating.

Angelucci suggests that border control may have other subtle but important effects, as well. For example, tighter enforcement might select for more highly skilled workers—perhaps only workers who expect a higher return will make the greater investment of time, energy, and money necessary to cross. It’s a question that hasn’t been addressed, and Angelucci intends to find the answer, exploring the unexpected effects of policy with economic and econometric analysis.

Water Wars: Schlager Wins NSF Grant to Study State Struggles with Water Rights

Dr. Edella Schlager.
Public Administration and Policy associate professor Edella Schlager.  

Edella Schlager, associate professor in the School of Public Administration and Policy, and alumna Tanya Heikkila (MPA ’98, Ph.D. ’01), assistant professor at Columbia University, recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the mechanisms for conflict resolution built into interstate river compacts, the agreements around rivers that cross state lines.

For years, these compacts lay untested as rivers met and exceeded state needs. But over the past several decades, unchecked population growth and development have taxed the resources of the rivers, leaving the states that share them scrabbling to claim their fair shares and giving rise to legal conflicts that have advanced all the way to the Supreme Court.

Schlager will launch the study on the heels of research published with co-authors William Blomquist (Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis) and Heikkila in the book Common Waters, Diverging Streams: Linking Institutions and Water Management in Arizona, California, and Colorado. As the first book to explore through research the topic of conjunctive water management—the integrated management of surface water and groundwater—Common Waters was the top-selling book for publisher Resources for the Future Press earlier this year.

Nanoscale Research No Small Undertaking

Zan Huang.
  MIS Ph.D. candidate Zan Huang.

Imagine a bio-compatible implant that could restore hearing to the deaf or a car so lightweight that fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions plummet.

These technologies challenge scientists to think small—very small, as in 8,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. They require working at the nanoscale and building objects atom by atom, molecule by molecule. Sound like science fiction? In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing areas of scientific development, as revealed by research conducted in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Lab at the Eller College.

Using proprietary text mining and data visualization technologies developed in the AI Lab, Ph.D. candidate Zan Huang (MIS ’05), working with MIS McClelland Endowed Professor Hsinchun Chen and researchers from the Eller College and the National Science Foundation (NSF), has been analyzing massive amounts of nanotechnology information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which includes patents for technologies developed around the world.

The Eller study—conducted in partnership with and through a grant from the NSF—is unique in that it analyzes and presents USPTO data in a number of ways. For example, natural language analysis enables content maps that visually show how patents cluster in topical niches, while citation networks use neatly organized webs of lines and arrows to show how various units of researchers impact others.

The results of the study paint a fascinating picture of the nanotechnology field. The 8,500+ new nanotechnology-related patents granted in 2003 marked an increase of about 50 percent over the prior three years, compared to roughly a four percent increase for patents overall, making nanotechnology one of the fastest growing areas of innovation. The study also shows the United States leading the field, with more than 37,000 NSE-related patents granted between 1976 and 2002, followed by Japan with some 5,600+ in the same period.

In the Interest of Innovation: Colloquium Generates Research for Advancing Entrepreneurship

Dr. Patrick Jones.
UA Office of Technology Transfer director Patrick Jones.  

Research at universities may hold the keys to some of the most important social advances of this century, but transferring those knowledge sets to channels for real-world impact remains a tremendous challenge.

Exploring the issues around that challenge, ten papers commissioned for the 2005 Colloquium in Knowledge Transfer, co-presented by the Karl Eller Center and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, will be published as volume 16 of the journal series Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Growth, published by Elsevier Press and edited by Gary Libecap, UA economics, entrepreneurship, and law professor and director of the Karl Eller Center.

The Colloquium brought together 20+ researchers and educators from leading universities across the country—including UC-Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford—with expert knowledge on issues of intellectual property, technology transfer, and university entrepreneurship.

Patrick Jones, director of The University of Arizona Office of Technology Transfer, views the future of knowledge transfer through IP and university entrepreneurship as organizational philosophies, not simply courses and programs. To facilitate that transition, the Karl Eller Center will soon initiate research among university entrepreneurship stakeholders to better understand their needs.

“University entrepreneurship and knowledge transfer is changing so rapidly,” explained Sherry Hoskinson, associate director of the Karl Eller Center. “We need to anticipate where it’s going and start planning to be out in front tomorrow.” From that vantage, university researchers can truly begin to transfer and commercialize those lab-locked discoveries with the potential to transform society.

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The Full Story on The Eller Times Research

Full-text articles on much of the research featured in each issue can be downloaded from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) website.

You can also often find links to research articles on faculty web pages: try the Eller College Faculty Directory or search faculty expertise.

Research Briefs.