Business Briefs: The Usefulness of Business Degrees, Attention-Getting Orange & Don’t Judge an Emotion by its Face

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Welcome to Business Briefs! The world of academic publications features fascinating findings from real-world experiments in business and the marketplace. Here are some key takeaways and applicable nuggets of knowledge that may be helpful for your business.

Do You Need a Business Degree?

Given the expense of college education, it seems like a fair question to ask: For those who want to work in business, how important is a college degree for success in a business field?

One research team set out to answer that question. Or at least part of that question. Researchers looked at CFI skills, which stands for Cross Functional Integration skills. Even spelled-out, it’s not the most transparent term. The researchers defined Cross Functional Integration skills as soft skills, skills that help facilitate a long-term success strategies in business.

That is, people with good CFI skills can manage lots of variables at once – interpersonal dynamics, marketing, production, distribution. They can work across departments to make big projects happen.

Those sort of skills are important in business, but they’re not necessarily easy to teach. 

To investigate the role of CFI on the job and in education, the researchers collected survey data from 160 hiring managers, and 160 business students. The managers were asked to rate the CFI skills of employees with whom they worked. Meanwhile, the students were asked to assess whether their college classes were preparing them to work across professional departments. The results suggested that there was a gap between the skills hiring managers saw in the field, and the skills offered in college classes. 

How to bridge the gap? The researchers suggested that adding college coursework that addresses Cross Functional Integration skills would be helpful, and they extended that recommendation to suggest that colleges themselves work on blending departments. On the bright side, the researchers also noted that the gap between manager and student observations was “not large,” so colleges are doing a pretty good job overall in preparing students. 

Read more here

Cross-functional Integration Skills: Are Business Schools Delivering What Organizations Need? – Derrick E. D’Souza, Danuse Bement & Kenneth Cory, Decision Sciences

What Does Orange Mean?

Red and yellow have been popular colors in marketing for a long, long time. But it’s fair to question whether those colors are still magical in the digital world. In a study that recruited 152 participants, researchers recently updated our understanding of human associations between colors and emotional triggers with respect to the online world. 

The participants were asked about their reactions to proposed online “coupon” designs that featured different colors prominently. The results?

Extensive use of blue was associated with tranquility. 

Extensive use of black was associated with sophistication.

Extensive use of white was associated with comfort.

Brown was seen as boring; red was attention-getting.

And one color seemed even more attention-getting than red: Orange. 

Read more here

Are Colors Emotional Triggers in Digital Branding? – Joana Sampaio Correia & Dora Simões, Marketing and Smart Technologies

Workplace Emotion Detection

Putting aside the innate creepiness of workplace software that assesses your emotional states during the day, the objective of a recent University of Michigan study was to assess the accuracy of software that can read emotions through your work computer’s built-in camera. 

Researchers recruited 15 participants, and asked them to keep a time-stamped diary about their work day. In their diaries, the participants would recorded their tasks and emotional states.   

At undisclosed times during the day, the webcam in their desktop would also record their face.   

The emotion detection software had eight different possible labels to use: anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise and contempt, along with a “neutral” label.  All in, the software has a historical accuracy rate of 87%.

Over the course of the study, 331 diary entries were collected, and 215 of those entries were made at the same time the webcam captured data. The assessments of emotional states agreed 35.4% of the time. That’s not awesome, but it’s better than a random guess. Given context data, the accuracy rate went up to 58.6%. 

Of the many conclusions that may be drawn from the research, one particularly helpful one is this: You can’t always guess how someone is feeling, just by looking at their face. 

Read more here

“I Didn’t Know I Looked Angry”: Characterizing Observed Emotion and Reported Affect at Work – Harmanpreet Kaur, Daniel McDuff, Alex C. Williams, Jaime Teevan & Shamsi T. Iqbal, CHI