Jing Gong’s research looks at the intersection of economics and information systems, analyzing what impact technology has on consumer behavior and business profitability. One of the thing she most enjoys about her work? The results can be somewhat surprising.
“Some of the findings aren’t intuitive when you first think of them, but if you dig deeper, you can usually find theories to support what’s going on,” Gong said. “For good research, you should have strong theories to support your findings. Or if you can create a new theory, that’s good, too.”
Take her current research, looking at how the growth of Uber has affected car sales in certain Chinese cities. Looking at registration data, she found that car sales had increased an estimated 8 percent per month after Uber entered a market.
“People thought there’d be a decrease in sales and that may be true for people in Philadelphia or New York, they may stop buying cars and start to use Uber to go to restaurants and bars. It’s very easy and they don’t have to worry about drinking or missing the bus or missing other transportation,” she said.
For example, “a lot of marginal people who are deciding whether or not to get a car, if they have the money, are getting the car because it can give them an additional income,” she said.
Or consider Gong’s first published research paper, a collaboration with her Carnegie Mellon University Ph.D. advisor, Prof. Michael D. Smith, and Prof. Rahul Telang, a work that was printed in the Journal of Retailing in June 2015. The researchers looked at how changing the cost of digital movie sale prices affected digital rentals of those movies. Contrary to expectations, reducing movie sale prices did not negatively affect rentals. In fact, price promotions in the sales arena boosted rental sales.
“Traditionally, you would expect one channel to cannibalize the other channel. But here there actually was a positive spillover across channels,” said Gong, who is also doing research that looks at online freelancing platforms and crowd funding sites.
Gong joined the Fox faculty as a tenure-track assistant professor in Fall 2018. In addition to her Ph.D. in Information Systems and Management from Carnegie Mellon, Gong holds a Bachelor’s in Information Management and Information Systems from Beijing’s Tsinghua University. Her research has been used to shape public policy and private marketing decisions.
This Spring, Gong taught Data Analytics, a requirement for undergraduates majoring in Management Information Systems that builds a foundation for storing and analyzing data.
“Teaching them to analyze is a lot of fun,” she said. “We teach student different methods so they can discover hidden patterns in the data or predict what consumers are going to do in the future.”