Alok Gupta

University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

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Publications (108)58.83 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: This paper broadens the scope of evaluating the design of economic mechanisms that is traditionally done solely from an economic perspective. We introduce and demonstrate the application of acceptability to evaluate complex economic mechanisms. In particular, we apply our approach to the evaluation of continuous combinatorial auctions, which represent a complex, sophisticated market mechanism that has not been generally available in the online marketplace but has the potential to enhance the economic efficiency of trade for assets with interdependent values. Such auctions are being increasingly used in industry, e.g., to procure logistical services. Intuitively, acceptance and usage of a complex mechanism can be fostered by a design that provides information and tools that meet the users’ task demands. Based on prior research and an analysis of the auction tasks, we discuss practical and innovative information feedback schemes for reducing the cognitive burden of formulating bids in combinatorial auctions. Then, we use constructs from the technology acceptance model (TAM) – which have been consistently shown to be key determinants of technology acceptance in the extant literature – to compare the acceptability of the mechanism under three different information regimes. In addition, we borrow constructs from marketing theory to assess the potential growth in adoption of the mechanism. We compare user perceptions of the three alternative designs in a laboratory experiment with over 130 subjects. Our study constitutes a complementary and novel approach in evaluating the design of complex economic mechanisms. Results indicate a higher adoption and usage potential of the mechanism with advanced information feedback, supporting the potential of combinatorial auctions as a user-acceptable market mechanism with appropriate feedback.
    Journal of Operations Management 09/2013; 31(6):489–503. · 4.40 Impact Factor
  • Nelson Granados, Alok Gupta
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    ABSTRACT: We contend that in order to compete effectively in a digital business environment, firms should develop a transparency strategy by selectively disclosing information outside the boundaries of the firm. We make the case for transparency strategy by showing why it is relevant in the digital business world, and the consequences of not having such a strategy. We then provide some foundations to develop the strategy and make a call for research.
    MIS Quarterly. 06/2013; 37(2):637-642.
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    ABSTRACT: The rapid pace of technological innovation necessitates that information technology IT services firms continually invest in replenishing the skills of their key asset base, the human capital. We examine whether human capital investments directed toward employee training are effective in improving employee performance. Our rich employee level panel data set affords us the opportunity to link formal training with performance at the individual employee level. Using a dynamic panel model, we identify a significant positive impact of training on employee performance. A unit increase in training is linked to a 2.14% increase in an employee's performance. Interestingly, we find that in the IT sector, skills atrophy and consequently high-experience employees reap higher returns from training, which highlights the uniquely dynamic nature of IT knowledge and skills. We also find that general training that an employee can utilize outside the focal firm improves employee performance. However, specific training pertinent to the focal firm is not positively linked to performance. On the other hand, although domain and technical training both enhance employee performance individually, the interaction between the two suggests a substitutive relationship. Thus, our findings suggest that the value of training is conditional on a focused curricular approach that emphasizes a structured competency development program. Our findings have both theoretical and practical significance. Most important, they justify increased human capital investments to fuel future growth in this important component of the global economy. This paper was accepted by Lorin Hitt, information systems.
    Management Science. 03/2013; 59(3):641-658.
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    ABSTRACT: Advancements in information technology offer opportunities for designing and deploying innovative market mechanisms that can improve the allocation and procurement processes of businesses. For example, combinatorial auctions--in which bidders can bid on combinations of goods--have been shown to increase the economic efficiency of a trade when goods have complementarities. However, the lack of real-time decision support tools for bidders has prevented this mechanism from reaching its full potential. With the objective of facilitating bidder participation in combinatorial auctions, this study, using recent research in real-time bidder support metrics, discusses several novel feedback schemes that can aid bidders in formulating combinatorial bids in real-time. The feedback schemes allow us to conduct continuous combinatorial auctions, where bidders can submit bids at any time. Using laboratory experiments with two different setups, we compare the economic performance of the continuous mechanism under three progressively advanced levels of feedback. Our findings indicate that information feedback plays a major role in influencing the economic outcomes of combinatorial auctions. We compare several important bid characteristics to explain the observed differences in aggregate measures. This study advances the ongoing research on combinatorial auctions by developing continuous auctions that differentiate themselves from earlier combinatorial auction mechanisms by facilitating free-flowing participation of bidders and providing exact prices of bundles on demand in real time. For practitioners, the study provides insights on how the nature of feedback can influence the economic outcomes of a complex trading mechanism.
    MIS Quarterly. 03/2013; 37(1):55-76.
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    ABSTRACT: We use an economic experiment to demonstrate that socially mediated trust levels are higher in online social networks, even though the notion of friendship formation in such networks is understood less than physical-world tie formation. We do so by designing a novel Facebook application to play a non-anonymous Investment Game that allows us to study the linkage between three different “strength of social ties” measures derived from users’ Facebook activity and an experimentally derived measure of trust. For the average user, we find that each additional “wall-post” made on a friend’s Facebook wall is associated with a 6.5% increase in trust. Similarly, we find that each additional photo in which two friends jointly appear (a signal of social affinity and physical world ties) is associated with a 2.3% increase in trust. Our study endogenously uncovers latent heterogeneity in Facebook users’ notion of friendship. For non-selective pairs of users, who are less selective in tie formation, we find that the shared friendships associated with their ties are do not predict trust. This provides the first evidence that traditional measures of dyadic-trust like embeddedness that are widely used in the analysis of physical world social networks do not directly carry over to online social networks. In contrast, both revealed preference style measures, which we obtain from the Facebook API, that capture dyadic interactions between users, as well as credible indicators of offline friendships, such as being tagged on a photograph together, are strongly predictive of trust for the average user. Methodologically, our study showcases how large-scale online social networks can serve as platforms that takes social science and experimental economics research that is traditionally done in the physical laboratory to real-world subjects in a highly generalizable setting. .
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    Alok Gupta, Dmitry Zhdanov
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    ABSTRACT: Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) networks are a form of collaboration where several firms share resources such as diagnostics, prevention tools, and policies to provide security for their computer networks. While decisions to outsource security operations of an organization may seem counterintuitive, there are potential benefits from joining a MSSP network due to pooling of risk and access to more security-enabling resources and expertise. We provide structural results that explain the reasons for firms to join a MSSP network. We also characterize the growth of MSSP network size under different forms of ownership (monopoly vs. consortium). Our results illustrate the need for initial investment in MSSP networks to overcome initial stalling effect and illustrate that while need for initial investment may increase the optimal network size for a consortium, it has no impact on the optimal network size for a profit maximizing monopolist.
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    ABSTRACT: External financing is critical to ventures that do not have a revenue source but need to recruit employees, develop products, pay suppliers, and market their products/services. There is an increasing belief among entrepreneurs that electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM), specifically blog coverage, can aid in achieving venture capital financing. Conflicting findings reported by past studies examining eWOM make it unclear what to make of such beliefs of entrepreneurs. Even if there were generally agreed-upon results, a stream of literature indicates that because of the differences in traits between the prior investigated contexts and venture capital financing, the findings from the prior studies cannot be generalized to venture capital financing. Extant studies also fall short in examining the role of time and the status of entities generating eWOM in determining the influence of eWOM on decision making. To address this dearth of literature in a context that attracts billions of dollars every year, we investigate the effect of eWOM on venture capital financing. This study entails the challenging task of gathering data from hundreds of ventures along with other sources including VentureXpert, surveys, Google Blogsearch, Lexis-Nexis, and The key findings of our econometric analysis are that the impact of negative eWOM is greater than is the impact of positive eWOM and that the effect of eWOM on financing decreases with the progress through the financing stages. We also find that the eWOM of popular bloggers helps ventures in getting higher funding amounts and valuations. The empirical model used in this work accounts for inherent selection biases of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and we conduct numerous robustness checks for potential issues of endogeneity, selection bias, nonlinearities, and popularity cutoff for blogs. The findings have important implications for entrepreneurs and suggest ways by which entrepreneurs can take advantage of eWOM.
    Information Systems Research 12/2012; 23:976-992. · 2.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Healthcare is an important social and economic component of modern society, and the effective use of information technology in this industry is critical to its success. As health insurance premiums continue to rise, competitive bidding may be useful in generating stronger price competition and lower premium costs for employers and possibly, government agencies. In this paper, we assess an endeavor by several Fortune 500 companies to reduce healthcare procurement costs for their employees by having HMOs compete in open electronic auctions. Although the auctions were successful in generating significant cost savings for the companies in the first year, i.e., 1999, they failed to replicate the success and were eventually discontinued after two more years. Over the past decade since the failed auction experiment, effective utilization of information technologies have led to significant advances in the design of complex electronic markets. Using this knowledge, and data from the auctions, we point out several shortcomings of the auction design that, we believe, led to the discontinuation of the market after three years. Based on our analysis, we propose several actionable recommendations that policy makers can use to design a sustainable electronic market for procuring health insurance.
    International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics 12/2012; 12(4):303-22. · 0.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Combinatorial auctions—in which bidders can bid on combinations of goods—can increase the economic efficiency of a trade when goods have complementarities. Recent theoretical developments have lessened the computational complexity of these auctions, but the issue of cognitive complexity remains an unexplored barrier for the online marketplace. This study uses a data-driven approach to explore how bidders react to the complexity in such auctions using three experimental feedback treatments. Using cluster analyses of the bids and the clicks generated by bidders, we find three stable bidder strategies across the three treatments. Further, these strategies are robust for separate experiments using a different setup. We also benchmark the continuous auctions against an iterative form of combinatorial auction—the combinatorial clock auction. The enumeration of the bidding strategies across different types of feedback, along with the analysis of their economic implications, is offered to help practitioners design better combinatorial auction environments.
    Management Science 04/2012; 58(4):811-830. · 1.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Electronic auctions are increasingly being used to facilitate the procurement of goods and services in organizations. Multiattribute auctions, which allow bids on multiple dimensions of the product and not just price, are information technology–enabled sourcing mechanisms that can increase the efficiency of procurement for configurable goods and services compared to price-only auctions. Given the strategic nature of procurement auctions, the amount of information concerning the buyer's preferences that is disclosed to the suppliers has implications on the profits of the buyer and the suppliers and, consequently, on the long-term relationship between them. This study explores novel feedback schemes for multisourcing multiattribute auctions that require limited exchange of strategic information between the buyer and the suppliers. To study the impact of feedback on the outcomes and dynamics of the auctions, we conduct laboratory experiments wherein we analyze bidder behavior and economic outcomes under three different treatment conditions with different types of information feedback. Our results indicate that, in contrast to winner-takeall multiattribute auctions, multisourcing multiattribute auctions, with potentially multiple winners, allow bidders (i.e., suppliers) to extract more profit when greater transparency in terms of provisional allocations and prices is provided. We develop several insights for mechanism designers toward developing sustainable procurement auctions that efficiently allocate multiple units of an asset with multiple negotiable attributes among multiple suppliers.
    Journal of Management Information Systems 04/2012; 28(4):199-229. · 1.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We compare two strategies for outsourcing the development of information services projects: multisourcing and single-sourcing. We model these sourcing strategies when incentive contracts are based on a verifiable project metric that may or may not be aligned with the project outcome. We also model the interdependence of client and vendor efforts so that the verifiable metric may or may not be separable in these efforts. When the verifiable metric and the project outcome are aligned, single-sourcing performs better than multisourcing if the client and vendor efforts are interdependent, and as well as multisourcing if the efforts are independent. When the metric and outcome are misaligned: (i) multisourcing performs better than single-sourcing if the client effort is independent of the vendor efforts; (ii) the choice of sourcing strategy is nuanced based on the trade-off between the degree of misalignment and moral hazard if the client and vendor efforts are interdependent.
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    ABSTRACT: The Internet has brought consumers increased access to information to make purchase decisions. One of the consequences is an increase in the price elasticity of demand, or the percent change in demand due to a percent change in price, because consumers are better able to compare offerings from multiple suppli- ers. In this paper, we analyze the impact of the Internet on demand, by comparing the demand functions in the Internet and traditional air travel channels. We use a data set that contains information for millions of records or airline ticket sales in both offline and online channels. To our knowledge, this is the first study that uses massive sales data to compare consumer demand functions in the two channels. The re- sults suggest that consumer demand in the Internet channel is more price-elastic for both transparent and opaque online travel agencies. We discuss the broader implications for multi-channel pricing strategy and for the transparency-based design of online selling mechanisms.
    Information Systems Research 03/2012; 23(1). · 2.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We study the role of different contract types in coordinating the joint product improvement effort of a client and a customer support center. The customer support center's costly efforts include transcribing and analyzing customer feedback, analyzing market trends, and investing in product design. Yet this cooperative role must be adequately incentivized by the client, since it could lead to fewer service requests and hence lower revenues for the customer support center. We model this problem as a sequential game with double-sided moral hazard in a principal-agent framework (in which the client is the principal). We follow the contracting literature in modeling the effort of the customer support center, which is the first mover, as either unobservable or observable; in either case, the efforts are unverifiable and so cannot be contracted on directly. We show that it is optimal for the client to o er the customer support center a gain-share contract when efforts are unobservable, even though it can yield only the second-best solution for the client. We also show that the cost-plus contracts widely used in practice do not obtain the optimal solution. However, we demonstrate that if efforts are observable then a gain-share and cost-plus options based contract is optimal and will also yield the first-best solution. Our research provides a systematic theoretical framework that accounts for the prevalence of gain-share contracts in the IT industry's joint improvement efforts, and it provides guiding principles for understanding the increased role for customer support centers in product improvement.
    Information Systems Research 10/2011; · 2.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Many enterprises that participate in dynamic markets need to make product pricing and inventory resource utilization decisions in real-time. We describe a family of statistical models that address these needs by combining characterization of the economic environment with the ability to predict future economic conditions to make tactical (short-term) decisions, such as product pricing, and strategic (long-term) decisions, such as level of finished goods inventories. Our models characterize economic conditions, called economic regimes, in the form of recurrent statistical patterns that have clear qualitative interpretations. We show how these models can be used to predict prices, price trends, and the probability of receiving a customer order at a given price. These “regime” models are developed using statistical analysis of historical data, and are used in real-time to characterize observed market conditions and predict the evolution of market conditions over multiple time scales. We evaluate our models using a testbed derived from the Trading Agent Competition for Supply Chain Management (TAC SCM), a supply chain environment characterized by competitive procurement and sales markets, and dynamic pricing. We show how regime models can be used to inform both short-term pricing decisions and longterm resource allocation decisions. Results show that our method outperforms more traditional shortand long-term predictive modeling approaches.
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    ABSTRACT: The Internet is making a significant transition from primarily a network of desktop computers to a network variety of connected information devices such as personal digital assistants and global positioning system-based devices. On the other hand, new paradigms such as overlay networks are defining service-based logical architecture for the network services that make locating content and routing more efficient. Along with Internet2′s proposed service-based routing, overlay networks will create a new set of challenges in the provision and management of content over the network. However, a lack of proper infrastructure investment incentive may lead to an environment where network growth may not keep pace with the service requirements. In this paper, we present an analysis of investment incentives for network infrastructure owners under two different pricing strategies: congestion-based negative externality pricing and the prevalent flat-rate pricing. We develop a theoretically motivated gradient-based heuristic to compute maximum capacity that a network provider will be willing to invest in under different pricing schemes. The heuristic appropriates different capacities to different network components based on demand for these components. We then use a simulation model to compare the impact of dynamic congestion-based pricing with flat-rate pricing on the choice of capacity level by the infrastructure provider. The simulation model implements the heuristic and ensures that near-optimal level of capacity is allocated to each network component by checking theoretical optimality conditions. We investigate the impact of a variety of factors, including the per unit cost of capacity of a network resource, average value of the users' requests, average level of users' tolerance for delay, and the level of exogenous demand for services on the network. Our results indicate that relationships between these factors are crucial in determining which of the two pricing schemes results in a higher level of socially optimal network capacity. The simulation results provide a possible explanation for the evolution of the Internet pricing from time-based to flat-rate pricing. The results also indicate that regardless of how these factors are related, the average stream of the net benefits realized under congestion-based pricing tends to be higher than the average net benefits realized under flat-rate pricing. These central results point to the fallacy of the arguments presented by the supporters of net neutrality that do not consider the incentives for private investment in network capacity.
    Information Systems Research 01/2011; 22:215-232. · 2.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Prior IS research on technological change has focused primarily on organizational information systems and technology (IS&T) innovation; however, there is a growing need to understand the dynamics of supply-side forces in the introduction of new technologies. In this paper we investigate how the interdependencies among information technology components, products, and infrastructure affect the release of new technologies. Going beyond the ad hoc heuristic approaches applied in previous studies, we empirically validate the existence of several patterns of supply-side technology relationships in the context of wireless networking. We use vector autoregression (VAR) to model the co-movements of new component, product, and infrastructure introductions and provide evidence of strong Granger-causal interdependencies. We also demonstrate that substantial improvements in forecasting can be gained by incorporating these cross-level effects into models of technological change. This paper provides some of the first research that empirically demonstrates these cross-level effects and also provides an exposition of VAR methodology for both analysis and forecasting in IS research.
    Information Systems Research 07/2010; · 2.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Internet has brought about significant changes in the availability of market information in many in- dustries. E-commerce technologies provide sellers with opportunities to design electronic mercantile me- chanisms that reveal, conceal, bias, and distort market information, depending upon their goals and mar- ket position (e.g., suppliers versus intermediaries). In particular, in information-intensive industries where electronic markets play an important role, many firms are using advanced technologies to put inno- vative strategies into play that are based on the provision of differential information to their customers. We examine the role of information transparency in electronic markets. We contend that there is an op- portunity to develop research on sellers' strategies regarding information disclosure to customers and competitors. For that purpose, we develop a set of concepts and a framework to guide future research. We then propose an interdisciplinary agenda for research on the emerging and increasingly important top- ic of transparency strategy, which we define as the set of policies and decisions that a firm makes to dis- close, conceal, bias, or distort market information.
    Information Systems Research 06/2010; 21:207-226. · 2.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This article aims to discuss the use of common neurophysiological tools, such as psychophysiological tools (e.g., EKG, eye tracking) and neuroimaging tools (e.g., fMRI, EEG) in Information Systems (IS) research. There is much interest in the social sciences in capturing objective data directly from the human body, and this interest has also been gaining momentum in IS research (termed NeuroIS). This article first introduces several commonly-used neurophysiological tools, and it then discusses several application areas and research questions where IS researchers can benefit from neurophysiological data toward developing a research agenda for NeuroIS. The proposed research areas are presented within four fundamental levels of analysis - individuals, groups, organizations, and markets - that are typically used to examine the use of IT.The article concludes with a set of recommendations on how to use neurophysiological tools in IS research along with practical suggestions for establishing NeuroIS as a viable sub-field in the IS literature.
    MIS Quarterly 02/2010; 36(3):679-702. · 4.66 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
58.83 Total Impact Points


  • 2005–2013
    • University of Minnesota Twin Cities
      • • Department of Information and Decision Sciences
      • • Department of Computer Science and Engineering
      Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
  • 2002–2013
    • University of Minnesota Duluth
      • Department of Computer Science
      Duluth, Minnesota, United States
  • 2009
    • Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
      • Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)
      Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands
    • Rotterdam School of Management
      Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands
  • 2008
    • Pepperdine University
      • The George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management
      Malibu, CA, United States
  • 2006
    • Arizona State University
      • Department of Information Systems
      Phoenix, AZ, United States
  • 1996–2004
    • University of Connecticut
      • Department of Operations and Information Management
      Storrs, CT, United States
  • 2001
    • Northeastern University
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1994–2001
    • University of Texas at Austin
      • Department of Economics
      Austin, Texas, United States