OBU MBA students and faculty publish academic paper

By Abigail Chadwick, Assistant News Editor

In March, an academic journal published a case study by students and faculty in OBU’s Master of Business Administration program. The study was published in the Management and Economics Research Journal.

The project was completed by Dr. Daryl Green, assistant professor of marketing and management, Dr. Craig Walker, Wheeler professor of economics and three MBA students: Abdulrahman Alabulththim, Michele Phillips and Daniel Smith.

The paper looks at the gig economy, essentially the economy of freelancing. There are two main features of freelancing.

One is that it allows companies access to cheaper labor because they don’t have to go through a long hiring process or provide lots of benefits. Two is that it allows freelancers more flexibility on where and when they work.

According to the paper, “Gig economies are those economies where individuals market their skills, whether in unskilled labor markets, such as Uber drivers, or as skilled professionals, such as coders who bid out their services on sites such as Upwork.”

The paper looks at gig economy, but specifically it is a case study on Upwork, a website that helps freelancers and employers connect.

“One of the things that I try to do is I try to connect [the students] to real world situations, so they do case studies, ” Green said. “This particular research
was done on Upwork. Upwork is the largest freelance website in the world.”

The group’s research resulted in three main findings.

According to the paper these findings are, “A. The gig economy is here to stay, offering unlimited opportunities to workers worldwide… B. Freelancers will continue to struggle with insignificant income on Upwork owing to global competition… C. Upwork should further differentiate itself from the competition.”

Not much research has been done on Upwork, so one purpose of the paper is filling in gaps in the research.

“If you go into databases in the library there’s not a whole lot of things about Upwork as a company,” Green said. “Five years from now, if something happens with Upwork, students across the country are going to be trying to find out do we have any research? and they’ll be going to our paper to help them build their research.”

Having an academic paper published benefits the individuals involved in the research. It also helps the program and university involved.

“Participation in scholarly research increases the knowledge of all those involved,” Walker said. “For faculty members it helps us to stay current in our field and contribute to field. The publication of this study in a peer-reviewed journal enhances the reputation of everyone involved including the Dickinson College of Business, the MBA program, and OBU.”

Publication is particularly helpful to the students involved. These MBA students are already working in their fields and academic publication can help their reputation.

“To work along with your professor and to publish something, that’s valuable,” Green said. “I think it’s a big deal. A lot of these MBA students are working in the industry and it helps them stand out, build their brand, build their credibility.”

The publication of this paper was a group effort. The students and teachers worked together to complete it.

“Dr. Green worked with students to develop the original idea for the project,” Walker said.

“He brought an early draft to me and asked me if I wanted to participate in the project. With Dr. Green’s assistance, the students applied the business research skills they have acquired in their MBA program to review news articles, academic literature and websites to evaluate the gig economy and the platforms available to participants in the gig economy,” he said.

“From there we all worked to improve the quality of the final article.”

The paper started off as a class project. The students spent much of last semester doing the research as an assignment for their class about four months of research that they did,” Green said.

“The first part of the class the students had to work virtually and they had to try and pull together the research.”

The students continued the project after the class ended.

“I asked them to go 130 percent by doing this,” Green said. “This was extra work. I mean the class was already done. They were engaged in getting this paper done outside of the
classroom and that just shows you how dedicated they were to get it done. It takes a special type of student to do this outside of the classroom.”

The paper was finished last December, after a semester of work. After final alterations, it was sent for a peer-review. It was approved for publication about a month later.

“Dr. Walker and myself we looked at it, critiqued it and then after several alterations submitted the paper,” Green said. “It took about a month for them to evaluate it and get back with us; I’ve written papers and I hadn’t heard anything for three to four months, so it was very fast, so I think that was good.”

The paper can be accessed online at https://merj.scholasticahq.com/article/3399-fueling-the-gig-economy-acase-study-evaluation-of-upwork-com.

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