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- Mindful healthworkers in a pandemic
A study in the International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, has looked at the psychological health benefits of adopting "mindfulness" as an intervention to help healthcare workers reduce their personal stress levels during a medical crisis, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Mental health issues have risen to the top of the healthcare agenda in recent years and were perhaps brought even closer to the fore as COVID-19 spread around the world. Those challenged with looking after the sick and dying often had little opportunity to look after themselves in between highly stressful and demanding shifts caring for critically ill patients. A diverse and international research team from centres in China, India, Indonesia, Iraq, and Thailand has looked at how mindfulness as a mental health intervention affected 600 physicians and nurses working on COVID-19 wards during 2021.
Mindfulness has its roots in various cultural traditions found in religions and holistic health practices with their roots in Asia but also emerges from cultures and practices elsewhere in the world. It might be succinctly defined as "living in the moment". This pithy state belies a much broader concept of being focused on the present, one's current environment, and the task or recreation in hand. It is generally thought of as being a tool to allow one to detach oneself from problems and worries while they are not in one's immediate periphery so that rather than dwelling on past happenings or future worries one is "mindful" of only those things that are immediate and require one's attention at the present moment.
Being mindful is not to forget or ignore any aspects of one's life, relationships, and commitments, but to find a way to not be distracted by those issues that are beyond one's control or observations at a given time. As an intervention, is thought to reduce undue anxiety, stress, and tension so that the mind and body can recover from the acutely stressful times. Both mental and physical stress involve raised levels of stress hormones in the body, often raised blood pressure, and other physiological changes that can be harmful if held at high levels over prolonged periods leading to chronic depression, constant anxiety, and physical harms such as heart problems.
The team found that those healthcare workers who were able to follow the practice of mindfulness saw greatly reduced anxiety levels, less depression, and an improvement in what is known as self-efficacy, which is the belief in one's ability to carry out a required task to the best of one's ability and to achieve particular goals.
Jaenudin, J., Komariah, A., Chupradit, S., Chupradit, P.W., Kurniady, D.A., Singh, K., Ahmed, A.A.A., Mustafa, Y.F. and Alkhayyat, A. (2022) 'Study of the role of mindfulness intervention based on stress reduction in psychological distress and self-efficacy among the health industry staff during COVID-19 pandemic', Int. J. Work Organisation and Emotion, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.172–185.
- Predicting pandemic progression
A new predictive model described in the International Journal of Critical Infrastructures suggests that we need to be conscientious in our decision-making with regard to the spread of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic this infectious agent has caused.
Sunil Gupta and Durgansh Sharma of the Department of Cybernetics in the School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in Dehradun, India, point out that others have used various mathematical models to help them track the spread of COVID-19 with a view to predicting the next wave in the pandemic cycle. The team has used the auto ARIMA (auto-regressive integrated moving average method) model to give them an accurate picture of the evolving pandemic as it might unfold in a future 100-day period. This could be useful for policymakers and healthcare leaders hoping to get ahead of any major outbreaks based on emerging data from the pandemic.
The model is built on data from December 2019 to August 2020 from Johns Hopkins University, the first few months of the pandemic, but can be adapted to new data now that proof of principle has been demonstrated. It can offer insight into the way the disease might continue to spread or not during the next three months from when the model is run on recent data.
Gupta, S. and Sharma, D. (2022) 'Prediction of COVID-19 spread in world using pandemic dataset with application of auto ARIMA and SIR models', Int. J. Critical Infrastructures, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp.148–158.
- Remote learning prep
Remote learning has been a growing area of education for many years, but in the early part of 2020 with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a sudden new pressure as schools and other educational establishments were forced to close their doors to pupils and students in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. This emergency situation taught us many lessons about how remote learning might be made more effective and how assessment of a student's progress through the curriculum might be made.
Writing in the International Journal of Learning and Change, Anžela Jurane-Bremane Vidzeme of the University of Applied Sciences in Valmiera, Latvia, has considered the perceptions of educators on how assessment has changed in the wake of remote learning. At the time, the acute problem was to cancel face-to-face classes and ensure that students studied from home. Video conferencing, email, and social media replaced the conventional teaching tools and the student's own home became their ad hoc classroom. It was recognized at the time, that little preparation had been made for such a scenario, despite decades of warnings about a coming pandemic, and educators and students alike had to learn to cope with the new situation rapidly. Many perhaps did not and with hindsight, it is obvious that the system could have and should have been more prepared for such a crisis.
Jurane-Bremane describes the situation that arose in education across the globe in the wake of the pandemic as "chaotic". There were obvious gaps in the knowledge and skills of educators plucked from the classroom and lecture theatre and plunged into this new online realm. While youngsters may well have been very familiar with the digital world, often described as they are, as digital natives, many were ill-prepared for the inversion of the conventional educational system. At this point in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that we fully learn the lessons from the obvious failures of government and educational systems to ensure that we are much better prepared for a similar eventuality when it arises.
The work of Jurane-Bremane sought the opinions of Latvian educators and offers some conclusions from that survey that may well help when the next crisis forces students out of the classroom and back online. Specifically, the guidance offered points to how best to approach assessment of student progress on their course given that the traditional methods, such as practical work and examinations might again become inaccessible. A key finding is that there is a need to emphasise the understanding of feedback in the training and professional development of educators.
Jurane-Bremane, A. (2022) 'Changes of assessment in remote learning: educators' perceptions and findings', Int. J. Learning and Change.
- Green performance and education
A surprising discovery about a company's green credentials and performance is published in the European Journal of International Management. An international team from Japan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand has found that the educational level of female company directors correlates with positive environmental activity in that company in companies with their headquarters in Asia but not those based in Western nations. The findings could have implications for the greening of many industries across the globe.
Gayani M. Ranasinghe of the Department of Industrial Management at Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, in Kuliyapitiya, Yuosre F. Badir of the Asian Institute of Technology in Pathum Thani, Thailand, and Björn Frank of Waseda University, in Tokyo, Japan, point out that companies are under increasing pressure to improve their green credentials. This pressure is not simply for the purposes of marketing, strategic performance, and profits, of course, but because our environment is under incredible stress from pollution, waste, and climate change. So-called "green" practices and performance are high on the agenda, the term umbrella term "green" alluding whimsically to plant life as a proxy for a healthy planet.
In addition to the discovery that superior green performance among Asian companies correlated with having well-educated female directors, the team also found that financial "slack" and the intensity of research & development (R&D) exert a non-linear effect on a company's green performance. The new work solidifies diffuse findings from the research literature regarding the various financial and non-financial factors that affect a company's green performance, the team suggests. The findings were based on the green revenue scores recorded in the international publication Newsweek's green rankings survey. Additionally, the team applied cross-classified hierarchical linear modelling of multi-source data from 156 companies included in that survey.
Ultimately, the team suggests, having more female directors and better-educated directors on the company board can help a firm to achieve "a superior green performance by altering its environment-related decision outcomes".
"We stress the importance of having a strategic configuration of organisational resources that supports the firm in developing a unique set of human, relational and technical capital and of other capabilities that drives green performance as a key basis of competition in today's corporate world," the team concludes.
Ranasinghe, G.M., Badir, Y.F. and Frank, B. (2022) 'Organisational resources as facilitators and inhibitors of green performance: non-linearities, interactions and international differences', European J. International Management.
- Artificial intelligence in the automotive industry
Artificial Intelligence, AI, is set to be a generationally disruptive innovation just as with previous industrial revolutions. Research in the International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management looks at how the automotive sector might be affected in terms of job losses and changing roles within the industry driven by AI.
António B. Moniz, Marta Candeias, and Nuno Boavida of the Nova University of Lisbon, Campus de Campolide, in Lisboa, Portugal, suggest that sustainability policies, protectionism, and consumers preferences are already leading to major changes in the automotive industry. AI, however, with its broad-spectrum, problem-solving algorithms could revolutionise the kind of industrial robotics used in the automotive industry as well as the software and data communication tools used there. It could even radically change the design and development processes making many workers wholly redundant but creating novel roles in much lower numbers.
The researchers have looked at how AI might enhance product quality, reduce or at least control costs, and improve productivity. They have also examined the implications for human resources in terms of productivity and industrial relations. Their findings based on the collection of new data as well as secondary statistical analyses put various case studies in the automotive industry into context.
They found that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Portuguese automotive industry was growing and the size of the total workforce increasing. Moreover, the trend towards increasing automation in the industry has not yet had an impact on employment. Their explanation is that to use the innovations in this sector requires highly skilled workers capable of implementing the automation, including AI, and ensuring that it ultimately boosts productivity and profit. However, the converse of this finding is that the less educated, less skilled employees may struggle to maintain their place in the workforce as technology adapts around them if they cannot keep pace with the rapid changes we see in this, and indeed many other industries.
Moniz, A.B., Candeias, M. and Boavida, N. (2022) 'Changes in productivity and labour relations: artificial intelligence in the automotive sector in Portugal', Int. J. Automotive Technology and Management
- A model of sustainable healthcare
What might a sustainable social healthcare enterprise look like as a mode of public healthcare delivery? Research from Thailand seeks to answer that question in the International Journal of Productivity and Quality Management.
Nuttasorn Ketprapakorn of the School of Business at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Sooksan Kantabutra of Center for Research on Sustainable Leadership in the College of Management at Mahidol University, both in Bangkok, explain that while there are many concepts covered in the research literature on social enterprise and sustainable enterprise little is found by way of theoretical models in this area. Researchers and practitioners alike need a model that allows this area to be developed.
Specifically, the team points out that the United Nations reported in 2020 that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for some 41 million deaths annually, almost three-quarters of all deaths. As such, the team has focused on exploring the role of a sustainable social healthcare enterprise in pursuing good health and well-being for all to reduce these figures. A model of sustainable social healthcare should help considerably in this regard.
The team has used a sociological research approach known as grounded theory to study the issues. They took Theptarin Hospital as a useful case study through which to develop their theoretical model of a sustainable healthcare enterprise. Theptarin is a small hospital founded in 1985 and having 80 in-patient beds. It is well known for its research into diabetes and its training in this area of medicine. Earlier work demonstrates that it is a sustainable healthcare enterprise. The team also points out that it has previously been described as meeting 15 of the 19 sustainable leadership elements.
The team developed a concept through their work that suggests that a healthcare enterprise might be sustainable if it incorporates five key factors: inspiring a social vision, developing a widely shared organisational culture, creating relevant knowledge, generating a national momentum, and having an international impact. Their study has implications for management and the future development of research in this area beyond the developing world.
Ketprapakorn, N. and Kantabutra, S. (2022) 'Toward a sustainable social healthcare enterprise development model', Int. J. Productivity and Quality Management.
- The pandemic in The Gulf
A study in the Global Business and Economics Review looks at the economic and psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nations of the GCC (the Gulf Cooperation Council).
Talla M. Aldeehani of the Department of Finance and Financial Institutions in the College of Business Administration at Kuwait University, in Kuwait, and Moid U. Ahmad of Scholeio Education in the National Capital Region (NCR), India, explain that they have investigated how government support may have ameliorated the detrimental psychosocial and economic effects of the pandemic on individuals and industry.
The team surveyed citizens of the GCC states and used moderation-mediation techniques and other analytical tools to draw conclusions from the data obtained. The GCC, more formally the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf is an intergovernmental political and economic union that comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The fundamental conclusion is that government support significantly reduced stress levels in individuals during the period studied, October to December 2020. Loss of earnings caused by the pandemic being a major stress factor for workers with men aged 50 and over being worst affected economically. This period coincided with the second wave of infection from the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and would have seen enforced lockdowns, quarantine, hospitality closures, and other restrictions in place in many places in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus.
The researchers say that the conclusions they have drawn might have relevance to nations beyond the GCC. They suggest that policymakers might best serve their citizens and businesses by putting in place a technological framework and other measures to ensure a more effective response to a future pandemic.
Aldeehani, T.M. and Ahmad, M.U. (2022) 'Economical and psychosocial effects of COVID-19: evidence from the GCC economies', Global Business and Economics Review, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp.457–469.
- Electronic word-of-mouth
A word-of-mouth recommendation for a product or service is often the best possible marketing. You purchase a product that suits your budget, find it also suits your needs, and then tell your friends or contacts about it, who then go on to make their own purchase.
In the world of always-on and always-connected communications tools such as email messaging, and social media, companies can now benefit from electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) recommendations. They can benefit passively or they can actively encourage recommendations from their customers. Fundamentally, word-of-mouth recommendations are perceived as more trustworthy than advertising messages pushed on putative customers by a company.
Research in the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research looks at the relationship between eWOM, brand relationships, and purchase intention in the smartphone industry. Samer Elhajjar of the University of Balamand in Tripoli, Lebanon, used structural equation modeling to analyse the results from 350 questionnaires. "Structural equation modelling is a statistical method made up of multivariate techniques that study the relationships between dependent and independent variables according to the proposed hypothesis," explains Elhajjar.
The participants in the study were men and women from different age groups, lifestyles, backgrounds and income levels. His study reveals a strong connection between brand and eWOM and suggests ways in which companies might utilize what might be seen as a universal tool of communication between businesses and customers. The study fills an obvious gap in the research literature, suggests Elhajjar.
"It is vital for brands to integrate the reality of digital culture into their own," Elhajjar writes. " A number of factors determine the need for brands to continually evolve, especially in an era of digital communication." This applies to almost any product or brand. Moreover, those brands that have adapted to and adopted a social media presence and increased audience engagement can more often reap the rewards of eWOM than those companies that have ignored it.
Elhajjar, S. (2022) 'Impact of electronic word-of-mouth on brand relationship and purchase intention: the case of the smartphone industry', Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp.263–279.
- SME crisis management
Very few businesses have not been affected detrimentally by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Research in the International Journal of Globalisation and Small Business, looks at how small to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) might respond to such a crisis and rise to the challenges it brings.
Ratan J.S. Dheer of the Department of Management at Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti, USA, and Aidin Salamzadeh of the Faculty of Management at the University of Tehran, Iran, explain how we have seen the laying off employees, supply disruption, financial uncertainties, and company closures across SMEs in the wake of the pandemic. However, the picture of the impact of the crisis on SMEs remains incomplete. As such, we do not yet have a clear understanding of the full impact of the disease on this sector of the commercial world. Without a complete picture, we cannot hope to address the ongoing problems holistically nor find ways to cope when the next such crisis arises, as it inevitably will.
In their research paper, the team discuss key measures that might be implemented to mitigate the negative effects on SMEs. They discuss the advantages and the limitations of those measures and ultimately offer not a complicated nor extensive framework but a simple roadmap by which smaller companies might navigate their route through a future crisis and the external shocks it brings.
The team explains that there are two important measures that might be put in place before a crisis occurs. The first is to accept organisational vulnerability, forewarned is forearmed. Secondly SMEs should be proactive in scanning the environment, ever watchful of indicators of a coming crisis.
Once a crisis has hit, then mitigation measures are needed. First, SMEs must evaluate the scope of the crisis and how they might cope, if they can. Secondly, SMEs must renew their focus on innovation in order to take advantage of opportunities that arise in the wake of the crisis. SMEs must also keep communications channels open with their stakeholders and at the same time display resilience and empathy as appropriate.
In the post-crisis world, SMEs must engage in learning while recovering from the crisis. It is perhaps a cliché but lessons must be learned if an SME is to move forward in the post-crisis world and be ready for a future crisis. The team also offers advice for policymakers that might be heeded if they are to help the SMEs cope, especially in the post-crisis stage.
SMEs must also prepare and learn to help themselves. Nevertheless, there remains a need to support SMEs so that society and the economy might emerge into the post-crisis world in a better position than might be seen if no measures were taken. "Now is the time for scholars and policymakers to act," the team asserts. They suggest that the agenda they have set in their paper could stimulate further research into crisis management.
Dheer, R.J.S. and Salamzadeh, A. (2022) 'Pandemic threats: how SMEs can respond to the challenges from global crises', Int. J. Globalisation and Small Business, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.1–17.
- The Polygons of Fraud
In the bad old days of fraud – corruption, non-disclosure of information, self-dealing, cover-ups, lying, insider trading, and embezzlement were rife. They still are, but they have been given a digital edge by modern technology. This has made crime easier for many more people, but conversely, technology has also provided new tools for detection and prevention.
Research published in the International Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Performance Evaluation looks at the world of fraud in the online realm and shows that it remains a multidimensional and complex world of crime driven, commonly, by greed, sometimes by necessity, but also by a failure of morality that exploits its victims heartlessly. The study author Parvati T. Soneji of the Department of Commerce at Banasthali Vidyapeeth in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, hopes to unravel some of the complexities of modern fraud.
In the world of business, says Soneji, "The desire for achievements, fear of losing one's job, challenges meeting financial targets for bonuses, unhealthy competition, and criminal collaborations" might all lead a person into instigating or participating in financial fraud. There are many factors that might lead someone in management to take this route, personality traits, beliefs and attitudes, social customs, institutional rules and regulations, ethical values, and even the organisational culture within which they work.
Soneji addresses fraud theory through the simple triangle of opportunity, pressure, and rationalization. In this theory, a putative white-collar fraudster spots a loophole or opening that gives them the opportunity, the factors that influence them in deciding whether or not to exploit the opportunity apply the pressure, and post-fact they might then explain away their decision and actions to alleviate their guilt.
This simplistic triangle is expanded to a four-cornered diamond that adds capability, whether or not the would-be fraudster has the knowledge and skills to carry out the fraud. Finally, a fraud pentagon adds the very personal notion of the potential criminal's character in terms of their level of arrogance. With all five factors in place in the fraud pentagon, the committing of the crime is almost inevitable.
Such theories of fraud can give context to the after-effects of the fraud and the evidence left behind. This might allow investigators to trace back the end result to its beginnings in order to identify the perpetrator. It might also give those who would endeavour to prevent fraud an insight into the psychological and other factors that might be exposed and addressed before a crime is committed.
Soneji, P.T. (2022) 'The Fraud theories: Triangle, Diamond, Pentagon', Int. J. Accounting, Auditing and Performance Evaluation, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp.49–60.
New Editor for International Journal of Internet of Things and Cyber-Assurance
Prof. Shingo Yamaguchi from Yamaguchi University in Japan has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Internet of Things and Cyber-Assurance.
New Editor for International Journal of Information Quality
Prof. Barbara Klein from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Information Quality.
New Editor for International Journal of Applied Cryptography
Associate Prof. Weizhi Meng from the Technical University of Denmark has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Applied Cryptography.
New Editor for International Journal of International Journal of Applied Pattern Recognition
Prof. Yin Wang from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of International Journal of Applied Pattern Recognition.
World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development is now an open access-only journal
We are pleased to announce that the World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development is now an Open Access-only journal. All accepted articles submitted from 1 June 2022 onwards will be Open Access, and will require an article processing charge of US $1500.