Monday, October 24, 2016

Research and Evaluation in the Nonprofit Sector: Implications for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Nonprofit Quarterly
Jodi Benenson and Abby Kiesa
October 19, 2016

Research and evaluation have long influenced activities in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofit organizations are increasingly establishing or being asked to establish metrics or to conduct evaluations for a variety of reasons. Indeed, research, evaluation, and data regularly inform philanthropic and policy decisions, and vice versa. We live in a data-driven society that has furthermore become obsessed with big data, a term that describes the ability to collect and analyze data on every participant or even every transaction. Thus, instead of periodically surveying or interviewing a sample of a nonprofit’s members or employees, organizations can now create and use databases that measure every contact, activity, donation, or half hour of an employee’s time.
Organizations that use big data have an unprecedented ability to understand whole populations, track and assess particular individuals, and develop strategies that influence behavior. The use of research and evaluation so broadly and the emergence of such data interest require us not only to think about the velocity, complexity, variability, and variety of data but also about what we do with the data, because big data does not always translate to better data. There are also, of course, ethical considerations vis-à-vis how we gather data—“big” or otherwise—and what use we put them to.
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Friday, October 14, 2016

Science Group Seeks to Guide Silicon Valley Philanthropists

Erika Check Hayden
October 13, 2016

Poring over a list of the top 50 US philanthropists in 2014, physicist Marc Kastner noticed that 16 were based in California, compared with just 6 in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey combined.

“That made it pretty clear where I should be,” says Kastner, who established the offices of the Science Philanthropy Alliance in Palo Alto, California, when he was named the organization’s first president in February 2015. The alliance is made up of philanthropic organizations that encourage funding in basic research and advise other philanthropists — especially new ones — on how to go about it.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

As Concerns Grow About Using Data to Measure Faculty, a Company Changes Its Message

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
October 11, 2016

Just a few years ago, Academic Analytics, an upstart company providing data on faculty productivity, talked of helping cash-strapped universities save as much as $2 billion by identifying their lowest-performing professors.

At many universities, "an awful lot of the scholarly work is being carried by a relatively small proportion of all of the people," said a company founder, Lawrence B. Martin, back in 2013. The value of stanching such waste could be "staggering," Mr. Martin said.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Working Papers of the Week: October 7, 2016

By Jessica McCann

Welcome to Working Papers of the Week! Our goal is to highlight the valuable and interesting research Kennedy School faculty members are doing here and abroad by featuring new working papers recently uploaded to the site.

This week in working papers:

Liquidity Risk in Sequential Trading Networks
Kariv, Shachar, Maciej Kotowski, and C. Matthew Leister

This paper develops a model of intermediated exchange with budget-constrained traders who are embedded in a trading network. An experimental investigation confirms the theory’s baseline predictions. Traders adopt monotone strategies with higher-budget intermediaries offering to pay more for tradable assets. Traders closer to the final consumer in the network experience systematically greater payoffs due to lessened strategic uncertainty. While private budget constraints inject uncertainty into the trading environment, they also serve as a behavioral speed-bump, preventing traders from experiencing excessive losses due to overbidding.

To read the full working paper, click here.

Don’t miss out on our faculty members' other recent working papers! Browse our latest faculty working papers by number or follow RAO on Twitter at @HKS_Research to stay in the loop.