Monday, April 2, 2018

Does Amazon have a sweetheart deal with USPS?

The US Postal Service has lost significant sums of money every year for at least a decade.  President Trump claims that USPS's contract with Amazon has made things worse.  This article in VOX provides some insights to help analyze Trump's claim.  Key takeaways:

  1. Shipping and packages is the only major component of USPS's revenue stream that is increasing, growing by $2 b in 2017 over 2016.  
  2. First class mail and marketing mail revenue are down by $3 b over the same period.  
  3. USPS costs are largely fixed.  Delivery takes place over the same routes every day; the same sorting and shipping operations take place each day as well, subject to some seasonal fluctuations.  
  4. Unlike any private company, USPS must pre-fund its pension and retiree health benefits for the next 75 years.  This costs $6b annually and accounts for most of USPS annual losses.  
As long as the Amazon contract covers the variable costs of weekend deliveries, USPS comes out ahead.  Could USPS charge Amazon a higher rate?  That depends on whether Amazon could find close substitutes for package delivery.  I would not underestimate them.  

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Economics of tipping

Tips are welcome in many occupations and are absolutely expected by restaurant servers who are paid well below the minimum wage.  Recently some restaurants have eliminated tipping, increased hourly wages and then hiked menu prices to compensate.

How do incentives change in a no-tip restaurant?  Under tipping the wait staff has two incentives: (1) provide good service because many customers have a "pay-for-performance" ethos and (2) upsell the customers because most base their tip on a percentage of the total tab.  In most cases tips are not shared with cooks and dishwashers, leading to less than optimal teamwork.  Finally tips are risky; restaurant traffic goes up and down with the weather and some customers are less than generous.  The result is partial alignment with the incentives of the restaurant owner.

Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, has moved to the no-tip model.  The benefits, he argues in a recent WP op-ed, include more predictable income for wait staff and improved performance management (managers are in a better position to do this than customers).  But the implementation has been far from seamless.  With pay the same on every shift, servers who begged for weekend shifts (with their higher sales volume) now want to work the quieter weekdays.  Some customers balked at the higher menu prices, especially the ones that were less than generous tippers.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

FT ranks NC State Online MBA #17 in the world

More great rankings news for NC State's MBA program.  On Monday the new Financial Times global rankings of online MBAs came out and our program placed #17, up one spot from last year.

FT also ranked programs on specific dimensions.  NC State's online MBA placed #1 in the world in two categories: program delivery and online interaction.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

NC State MBA ranked in top 10 for ROI

NC State’s full-time MBA program has just been ranked in the top 10 in the country for best ROI by SoFi, a financial services company that makes student loans.  

We came in at #8.  The top school for ROI was Wisconsin.  The other schools include Brigham Young, Florida, Harvard, Houston, Loyola, Pitt, Stanford, and Villanova.  SoFi calculates ROI as the ratio of average starting salary to average debt.  The data come from 60,000 student load financing applications over three years (2015-2017).  

The ranking is already getting play in the leading MBA blog Poets and Quants run by John Byrne who launched the Business Week rankings years ago.  

We have been saying for years that our MBA program is a great value, so it is rewarding to see some outside confirmation.  Kudos to the faculty and staff who have been so dedicated to the career success of our students and alumni!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

NC State MBA faculty research on diversity and innovation

Poole College of Management faculty members Roger Mayer and Richard Warr have published a study in the journal Financial Management that shows that companies can profit from diversity.  Mayer and Warr found that companies with a more diverse workforce (in terms of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation) produce more new products and obtain more patents.  Warr was interviewed recently on WUNC-FM radio about the study.

Monday, January 15, 2018

NC State online MBA rises in US News rankings

NC State's online MBA rose 4 spots to #14 in the US in the latest US News and World Report rankings.  The program ranked very strongly in terms of student engagement and admissions selectivity.  The program has been in the top 20 every time US News has ranked online MBAs.  Our growing enrollment provides further evidence that NC State offers a great online MBA and a fantastic value.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Anatomy of a tariff

Great WP column by George Will today discussing the likely tariff the US will be imposing on washers and dryers.  This is a classic case where the largest domestic producer Whirlpool has bought out its biggest domestic rival (Maytag) but now claims it needs to be protected from Samsung and LG who have produced more innovative machines at lower prices.  Money quote: Whirlpool is "more adept at manipulating Washington than it is at making washing machines."

Thursday, December 7, 2017

College degrees needed? Watch what employers do, not what they say

Do you need a college degree to get ahead today?  Two recent headlines caught my eye.  In each case an enterprising reporter or academic does a survey of employers.

Exhibit A: WSJ reports the results of a US Labor Department survey which finds that less than 20% of all jobs require a college degree.  So maybe college is a waste of time??

Exhibit B: Harvard B-school prof Joseph Fuller finds in his survey that employers are requiring college degrees not so much because the current job requires college level skills but because college grads are more adaptable and do not require training.

A college degree continues to be one of the best investments that young people can make, leading to a lifetime learning differential 55-65% above those who stop their schooling at high school.  Are employers so stupid that they would pay that much more for nothing?  Beware the cable channel talking heads proclaiming that college is a waste of time and money.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Great ratings news for NC State's MBA

NC State's Jenkins MBA received more great rankings news from Bloomberg Businessweek and the QS Global MBA rankings.  Bloomberg ranked the full-time program #36 among public universities and #70 overall.  The program ranked #28 overall in the super-critical job placement dimension with 92% placement in 2016 within three months of graduation.  NC State's MBA also did well on the employer survey, placing #54 overall.

NC State's full-time MBA placed in the #111-120 category in the QS Global MBA rankings.  The program placed #58 in the world on the employability dimension, which reflects employer feedback and placement statistics.  Focusing solely on US schools, NC State's MBA came in at #53 overall, #30 on employability and #46 on thought leadership.

Rankings for the part-time and online programs will appear in the spring.