Award-winning doctoral dissertation links marketing interventions to social outcomes

University of Notre Dame marketing professor Yixing Chen received the 2020 John A. Howard/AMA Doctoral Dissertation Award in recognition of the excellence of his doctoral dissertation, “Linking Marketing to Social and Economic Outcomes: The Case of Cancer Prevention and K-12 Education.

Yixing Chen
Yixing Chen

The American Marketing Association Foundation sponsored the annual award as part of its effort to recognize individual marketers who are making an impact in the marketing profession and community. Eligible candidates included graduates who completed their doctoral degrees in marketing and consumer behavior-related topics between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sept. 30, 2020 in any part of the world.

A team of reviewers judged the research entries based on originality, the value of the findings to practitioners and to the field of marketing, conceptual and methodological rigor, and other criteria. Chen will be recognized for the award, which was announced in January, during the AMA Winter Academic Conference in February.

Chen is an assistant professor of marketing at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and a faculty affiliate of the Harper Cancer Research Institute and the Eck Institute for Global Health. He studies the social impact of marketing interventions. His research interests also include quantifying the return on investment in the context of digital markets such as social media.

Chen’s award-winning dissertation included two essays that sought to measure and improve the effectiveness of marketing spending for school districts and health care institutions. In his first essay, “Investigating the Academic Performance and Disciplinary Consequences of School District Internet Access,” Chen quantified the payoffs of a school district’s spending on internet access and examined whether home internet access makes this institutional spending more effective.

His conclusion was a “cautious yes;" increased spending did raise test scores. He also found that the academic gain was greater for schools in counties with better access to high-speed internet at home. However, Chen discovered a downside in that the number of disciplinary problems also increased as internet access spending increases. Overall, for a school district, a one-standard-deviation increase in annual internet access spending produced the financial gain of approximately $820,000 to $1.8 million and disciplinary losses of $25,800 to $53,440.

In his second essay sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, “Improving Cancer Outreach Effectiveness Through Targeting and Economic Assessments: Insights from a Randomized Field Experiment,” Chen examined investigates how health-care institutions should design outreach programs to boost liver cancer screening rates while saving more money for the health care system. Currently, organizations often launch outreach programs as “one size fits all” campaigns. Chen looked at whether screening rates could be improved through varying the outreach communications according to the patient profile. He showed that a personalized outreach program can simultaneously improve screening rates by up to 24 percentage points and the return on outreach program by up to 96%.

Chen’s research has appeared in the Journal of Marketing and the Journal of Marketing Research. In addition to receiving the John A. Howard/AMA Doctoral Dissertation Award, he was a finalist for the Journal of Marketing MSI/H. Paul Root Award. At Notre Dame, he teaches marketing analytics at the undergraduate and graduate level. He earned his Ph.D. in Business Administration (Marketing) from the Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School.

Originally posted on Mendoza News.