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March 12, 2018

Associate Professor, Policy, Lazaridis School of Business and Economics

My research interests and papers fall into a variety of topics but the common thread among them, broadly speaking is knowledge: as a critical organizational resource, as a source of competitive advantage, in the context of changing technologies, how it affects decision-making. I have examined knowledge qualities and how they are acquired through acquisitions and/or alliances. I have also explored the advantages of small organizations and when these advantages might allow them to overtake larger firms, particularly in the context of disruptive technologies. My work on organizational reputations as an asset and understanding when it creates advantage based on how consumers use reputation to make purchase decisions.

I have recently migrated my research to examine knowledge and technology in the context of university student transition and education. I teach large classes of first year students and for many years I have observed their struggles with adjusting to university and managing the transition. In particular, information overload creates a great deal of stress that can impede performance and not being able to find information can reduce success.

My recent paper, "Using chatbots to aid transition," reviews the outcome of the implementation of a chatbot - an automated assistant that students can "converse" with through Facebook Messenger to more easily find course information, university resources and answers to frequently asked questions. I found that students felt a little more in control of course-related information and requirements. Many students indicated that the reminder messages that the chatbot sent prompted them to work on course requirements.

Most interesting and consistent with prior studies was the finding that many students felt that the instructor was more approachable. The reason for this, based on the literature, is that the students view their phones as a private space, and having a message arrive from their "professor" in the form of the chatbot suggested a more personal connection.

My next steps will be to continue to explore university education and transition and how technology can be harnessed to help students succeed in both areas. This generation of students uses technology in different ways than previous cohorts of students- it represents an opportunity to "meet them where they live" and help students to succeed. An added benefit is that we are also exposing them to interesting organizational uses of technology that they might encounter or implement in the workplace.

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