Professor Nishtha Langer’s research looks at the economics of Human Capital and the business value of Information Technology (IT). She is interested in empirically analysing how firms can use their IT assets most effectively. She has applied econometric modeling and simulation techniques to evaluate the challenges and value of e-Commerce. She has partnered with leading Indian IT service providers to research on optimum allocation of project managers to outsourcing projects.
The rapid pace of technological innovation necessitates Information Technology (IT) services firms to continually invest in replenishing the skills of their key asset base, the human capital. We study the impact of human capital investments in the context of the Indian IT services industry, which has experienced double digit growth rates in the last decade. Indian IT services firms invest significant resources towards training and education of their employees. We examine whether these human capital investments directed towards employee training are effective in improving employee performance and productivity. Our rich employee level panel data set affords us the opportunity to link formal training with performance at the individual employee level. Controlling for unobservable employee characteristics and possible selection bias, we find significant a positive impact of training on employee performance. An additional training course, on an average, helps employees improve their performance by 3.6%. We also investigate the mediating role of employment related characteristics and the type of training on the link between training and performance. We find that employment characteristics such as work experience and whether the employee is a direct hire from an educational institution or a lateral hire from another IT services firm play a significant role in shaping the impact of training on performance. Interestingly, we find it that there is systematic superiority in the high experience laterals’ ability to extract value from firm-provided training. We find significant differences between the impact of specific versus general training and domain versus technical training on performance. We also find that domain and technical training have a substitutive relationship. Taken together, these findings suggest that the value of training is conditional upon a focused curricular approach that emphasizes a structured competency development program. Our findings have both theoretical and practical significance, most important of which is that they justify increased human capital investments to fuel future growth of this important component of the global economy.
Many firms introduce electronic channels in addition to their traditional sales channels and observe increasing buyer usage immediately after the introduction but subsequent buyer usage declines. Firms must understand the underlying factors that drive channel usage and how these factors change over time and across buyers. Using panel data pertaining to the purchase histories of 683 buyers over a 43-month period, we estimate a buyer response model that incorporates buyer heterogeneity, channel inertia, and dynamic pricing. We find that channel usage is both heterogeneous and dynamic across buyers, and the firm’s allocation decisions of products across channels, if not aligned with buyer behavior, can alienate some buyers. Based on the parameter estimates from the buyer response model, we propose an improved channel allocation that enables firms to selectively attract more buyers to the e-channel and improve revenues. Channel acceptance increases as a result of smart allocation when firms understand and account for individual buyers’ channel usage behavior.
RFID technology is being widely embraced in the supply chain, by manufacturers, retailers, and logistics firms. Although its advocates include retail giants like Wal-Mart, not everyone is enthusiastic about its benefits. It is not clear whether RFID is a boon or a curse to the supply chain: the growing market size of this technology may just be an issue of compliance. With a view to establishing the real benefits of RFID, we conducted a field study with GENCO, a third party logistics company that deployed RFID at one of its outbound logistics operations with a goal to reducing customer claims. Our analysis found that the RFID implementation had a significant impact on the outbound process: The intensity of claims incidence fell substantially after RFID deployment. After controlling for other factors in our model, we confirm that RFID was a key factor that contributed to the positive outcomes at this return center. The current study underscores the potential of RFID for today’s businesses.
This study examines the role of project managers’ (PMs’) practical intelligence in the performance of software offshore outsourcing projects. Drawing on the information processing literature, we argue that software offshore outsourcing projects operate in highly uncertain environments, and are prone to severe information asymmetries and challenging management issues. These issues lead to unforeseen critical incidents that must be resolved adequately for the projects to succeed. We posit that PMs can use practical intelligence to effectively address and resolve these critical incidents and the level of PMs’ practical intelligence positively affects performance in these projects. Further, we identify complexity and familiarity attributes of the project, team and PM that affect the information processing needs of the project and exhibit moderating effects on project performance. To evaluate our hypotheses, we analyze longitudinal data collected in an in-depth field study of a leading software vendor organization in India. Our data include project and personnel level archival data on 530 projects completed by 209 PMs. We also employ the critical incidents methodology to assess the practical intelligence of the PMs who led these projects. Our findings indicate that PMs’ practical intelligence has a significant and positive impact on project performance. Further, the benefits from PMs’ practical intelligence are higher for projects that are more complex or that have lower levels of task, team or client familiarity. Our study contributes by conceptualizing and measuring PMs’ practical intelligence and relating it to objective measures of project performance, providing unique empirical evidence of the importance of practical intelligence in a PM, and examining how the effects of PMs’ practical intelligence are moderated by the project context. Given that PMs with higher practical intelligence are scarce resources, our findings also have practical implications for the optimal resource allocation and training of PMs in software offshore services companies.