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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Future Business Leaders Committed to Changing the World for the Better


Saudi Arabia is economically evolving as they diversify their economy away from oil because of scarcity concerns. Understanding the impact that entrepreneurship has on their economy is valuable considering Saudi Arabia released Vision 2030, which is a set of entrepreneurial-driven initiatives that aims to diversify their economy.

Although the first affordable housing program begin in 1917, the United States still faces a significant shortage of affordable housing today. The shortage disproportionately affects low-income workers who cannot afford to live near their jobs and face growing commutes. In order to mitigate the worsening effects of the shortage on lower income workers, non-governmental organizations are increasingly engaged in workforce housing development. This research draws on the extant literature, key informant interviews and surveys of affordable housing experts, and case studies of actual workforce housing development projects to create a set of “promising practices” that colleges and universities can deploy to develop much-needed workforce housing for some of their employees.

Author: Emily Arnold, Class of 2020
Faculty Advisor: Jim Johnson, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

The integration of social media marketing into the Theatre District has shifted Broadway from a passive experience to a multi-dimensional dialogue. A Broadway show’s cast and creative team now have the opportunity to connect with fans directly as well as to release social media content to the public for further show enjoyment. What research has yet to address, however, is the extent to which an effective social media presence directly translates into increased ticket sales. My research explores this question by analyzing the effect an active Twitter presence has on weekly ticket grosses for six long running Broadway shows. To examine this relationship, I first performed a series of difference-in-difference estimations to determine if simply creating a Twitter account impacted weekly ticket grosses. I then went into greater depth and ran a multiple regression analysis to determine the extent to which volume of show-related tweets impacted weekly ticket grosses. The results indicate that Twitter and volume of tweets likely do not have a discernable impact on ticket sales.

Author: Elizabeth Lang, Class of 2020                 
Advisor: Richard Blackburn, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Medicaid work requirements are a relatively new policy, coming into effect January 2018. While the current literature focuses on coverage loss for Medicaid recipients, this honor thesis examines the impacts of implementing Medicaid work requirements in North Carolina. I examine the effects of Medicaid work requirements on payer mix, operating margins, and uncompensated care costs of Disproportionate-Share Hospitals in North Carolina. Using a quantitative approach with hospital data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this study concludes that work requirements significantly impacts payer mix, operating margins, and uncompensated care costs. The results indicate that work requirements could decrease the Medicaid payer mix by 2% at hospitals. Additionally, my research suggests that operating margins improve between 1.8% and 2.0% while uncompensated care costs increase between 3.3% and 3.4%. The results indicate that while hospital margins could improve with work requirements, the increases would be outweighed by the increases in uncompensated care costs.

Author: John T. Noble, Class of 2020  
Advisor: Saravanan Kesavan, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

The topic of gender and law firms is becoming increasingly important as the number of women graduating from law school continues to rise. Concurrently, large, influential companies are demanding increased diversity in their legal representation. Building on prior research pertaining to gender diversity, I explore the relationship between gender diversity and business performance of a law firm, specifically exploring whether gender diversity within a law firm impacts the amount of revenue generated by a law firm. Using linear regression analysis, I explore the relationship between the percent of female employees and percent of female partners within a law firm and the annual revenue growth rate experienced by that firm. I explore the influences of headquarter location, national versus regional scope, and firm age on the relationship between gender diversity and law firm performance.

Author: JoLynn Smith, Class of 2020 
Advisor: Sreedhari Desai, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Recent studies highlight females’ positive impact within the business world and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, however, females lag behind their male counterparts in funding accumulation. Previous research identified three primary causes to this discrepancy: (1) lack of females in the financial capital industry, (2) implicit bias, and (3) female- versus male-owned company characteristics and owner attitudes. What isn’t addressed, however, is an analysis of the industries pursued by females versus males. My study identifies and attempts to understand underlying causes in gender funding differences based on industry. I use a mixed-method approach of quantitative and qualitative analysis. My findings suggest (1) industry does not exhibit a significant role in gender funding differences, (2) implicit bias continues to plague females, and (3) females are underrepresented across all industry lines. Females receive fewer investment dollars than their male counterparts, appearing to directly correlate to the limited number of females entering the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Author: Abby Staker, Class of 2020   
Advisor: Maryann Feldman, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

The United States’ position on trade and the Federal Open Market Committee's outlook both govern the pricing of equities, debt, and other derivatives domestically and internationally. Unprecedented executive influence on trade and the Fed, coupled with a president’s unpredictable and instantaneous communication on Twitter, inspired banks and trading firms to create indexes, bots, and derivatives to account for this phenomenon. This thesis asks the question: how do President Donald Trump's tweets affect the broader stock market in terms of pricing and volatility? I use intra-day event study analysis on a sample of 2148 President Donald Trump tweets to evaluate the market impact of general tweets. I segmented the tweets into Fed-related tweets, Trade-related tweets, and other tweets before evaluating the pricing and volatility impacts using the SPX index and VIX index respectively. I found significant differences between the market reaction to trade-related tweets and Fed-related tweets and other tweets.

Author: Ian M. Kenny, Class of 2020
Advisor: Greg Brown, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Historically, the sportswear industry has paid little attention to issues of sustainability. However, today’s consumers are increasingly incorporating sustainability into their purchasing decisions. Sportswear firms have begun to confront these converging realities with sustainable sportswear products. For these new products to maximally succeed, marketers must apply sustainable marketing best practices. This thesis provides a first look at developing these principals through the use of an experimental consumer perception survey featuring twelve unique stimulus advertisements varying across four brands and three constructs: utilitarian, sustainable assertive, and sustainable gentle product claims. The findings of this research suggest that utilitarian claims, in comparison to sustainable claims, promote higher perceptions of sportswear product quality. Assertive claims exhibit a significant negative impact on consumers’ willingness to recommend sustainable sportswear. Finally, the combination of brand, product, and claim add a complexity to sustainable sportswear introduction that must be met with an intimate understanding of consumers.

Author: Christopher Dean Karras, Class of 2020
Advisor: Katrijn Gielens, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Although many coin the United States as “the land of opportunity,” recent research suggests the country does not provide the level of opportunity that many imagined it to have. Research related to the underlying factors behind this lack of opportunity revealed that economic mobility in the United States is impacted by residential segregation, income inequality, school quality, social capital, and family stability. To date, researchers in the United States have yet to explore the potential impact of entrepreneurship—known to be a promoter of economic growth, job creation, and wealth accumulation—on mobility despite a vast body of international literature surrounding the mobility-entrepreneurship relationship. This study finds a significant relationship between entrepreneurship and economic mobility in America by examining the relationship on a county level across the United States.

Author: Ryan R. Herron, Class of 2020
Advisor: Larry Chavis, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

While the number of women in the workforce continues to increase, research suggests their mere presence does not necessarily equate to influence within organizations. Research also highlights a culture of psychological gender inequity which permeates many organizations. My research aims to build on this foundation of gender inequity research by linking early career “token” status to future career decision making. To do so, I developed a survey targeting young professionals (5-10 years out of college), which assessed gender inequity measures (tokenism, “bro” culture, acceptance, inclusion, etc.) in connection to future career trajectory decisions (planned pivots, gender consideration of new organizations, industry switches, etc.). The objective of my research is to identify linkages between these two areas that may increase our understanding of potential best practices for further developing inclusive organizational culture.

Author: Laura Gerlach, Class of 2020
Advisor: Shimul Melwani, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Medicare and Medicaid are two of the primary levers the United States government uses to implement change in the healthcare industry. In an environment of escalating and unsustainable costs, most industry professionals agree CMS policies will continue to change. This thesis asks the question: how do changes (or prospective changes) to Medicare and Medicare affect company valuations? I use event study analysis to assess the market impact of four different events involving Medicaid and Medicare. The results suggest that concentration and exposure to CMS programs are significant factors in value creation and value destruction, and that it is important for business leaders to recognize risk exposures in a changing environment.

Author: Jack Amoroso, Class of 2019
Faculty Advisor: Bradley Staats, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Technological improvements have led to plummeting costs for various renewable energy resources. Renewable energy creates energy without emitting carbon dioxide and is a leading solution in the efforts to mitigate climate change. As climate change becomes harsher, the need to transition to an electricity grid serviced largely by renewable energies becomes more apparent. Whether or not renewable energies can service the entire grid in a cost-effective manner is currently debated by experts. This study evaluates the total costs of servicing North Carolina’s grid with renewable energy or natural gas. This study concludes that natural gas is currently the more economically viable option. However, in the near future, renewable energies will have a cheaper total cost. As renewable energy becomes cheaper, there will be an influx of renewable energies to the grid, and with them a lot of challenges with maintaining the stability of the energy grid.

Author: Matthew Bravante, Class of 2019
Faculty Advisor: Carol Hee, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School