Senior Project Abstracts 2012

Name: Alderson, Thomas

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: T. Nonnenmacher, R. Ormiston

Title: Theme Parkonomics: Making the right investment

Abstract: This study analyzes the theme park market from a managerial perspective. Management faces many issues when making yearly investment decisions that carry a great deal of uncertainty. There is very little research done to provide theme park managers with reliable insight as to which investments will hold the highest long and short term payoffs. With this factor of uncertainty, it is difficult to project which investments will be successful and which will force parks into bankruptcy. I conclude that the effects will be different for all parks as they are all diverse in the way they implement strategy and shape their goals. An essential component that shapes market interaction is the “theme” of the park, which is any parks core competency. With various themes will come various impacts for specific investments, which forces the market to be seemingly unpredictable. As each park maintains a theme, they must also consider their decisions to be particular to the park and the consumer base.

Name: Bacon, Edward

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Casler, S. Martin

Title: Inflationary Trends : Underlying Determinates Over the Business Cycle

Abstract: The inflation rate is considered a critical measure of an economy’s health. Therefore, understanding what determines inflation and understanding how inflation correlates to other economic measures is an important objective in developing a strategy to maintain a stable economy. This paper first analyzes the historical trends of inflation, events such as the oil shocks of the 1970’s and the hyperinflation in Germany that occurred after World War I. This paper then reviews the theories and models of inflation, including the Phillips curve, which is the relationship between unemployment and the inflation rate, as well as the aggregate demand price adjustment model, which examines the relationship between the price level and deviations of GDP from potential. Finally, regression analysis is used to provide insight on the quantitative relationships between the economic elements that cause inflation and the strength of these relationships. These three components are combined to explain historical episodes of inflation and to offer explanations for inflationary changes throughout economic cycles.

Name: Bagnato, Brittany

Date: Spring 2012
Major: Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Onyeiwu, R. Ormiston

Title: Competitive Strategies in the Bookstore Industry: An Empirical Study of Borders and Barnes & Noble

Abstract: This study examines competitive strategies in the bookstore industry. It primarily covers the years 1995 through 2011, which encompass two fundamental shifts in the industry: e-commerce and e-readers. Industry leaders, Borders and Barnes & Noble, are juxtaposed in order to explore competitive strategies within the bookstore industry and identify practices contributing to Borders’ liquidation and Barnes & Noble’s success. The sources used to analyze each firm’s strategies include their annual reports, financial data, and consumer reports. Once analyzed, financial performance indicators are utilized as a means of assessing the firms’ strategic success. Financial performance indicators for this study include earnings per share, goodwill, return on assets, sales, and debt ratio. Analysis indicates that Barnes & Noble’s supremacy is largely connected with its ability to integrate emerging industry trends into its core competencies and further enhance its brand within the ultra-competitive market. The instability that the bookstore industry is experiencing, however, implies that Barnes & Noble must diligently work to remain competitive amid rivalry at both the digital and in-store levels.

Name: Bernhard, Ryan

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: T. Nonnenmacher, J. Golden

Title: “Don’t be Irrelevant” Google Inc.’s Pervasive Strategy to Success

Abstract: The evolution of the Internet, and its derived technologies has lead to the development of products, firms, and industries; all which utilize its unique and expansive power. As a direct result, search engines and their respective industry have experienced tremendous growth and now command a multi-billion dollar market. Emerging as the dominant player, Google Inc. has managed its way to a 60% market share and generates profits of nearly $10 billion annually. As foundation for measurement renowned business theorist, Michael Porter, has developed ideas on competition and strategy that have been an integral part of the management discussion for over 20 years. With the understanding and application of these theories a pervasive analysis is performed on the search engine operator Google Inc. The comprehension of its strategic position within the search engine industry and the relevant business activities undertaken to attain extensive profitability, provide the tools discern: the succinct and powerful strategy Google applies firm-wide and the significance of its ability to do so with such success.

Name: Bolanos, Miguel

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Casler, J. Liu

Title: Financial Institutions and U.S. Economic Growth: Expansionary and Contractionary Effects

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of the finance industry on the Gross Domestic Product in the United States. The study examines factors that cause fluctuations in GDP growth, including the growth of the financial sector, technological shocks, changes in the size of the capital stock, and demand side shocks that affect GDP over time. These fluctuations are studied through various variables that explain GDP growth, such as the changing output shares of finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (FIRE), services, and manufacturing; mortgage debt; technological change; inventories; labor force participation rates; wealth effects; and investment. There are three important subperiods into which the explanatory variables are broken down and tested: the period before the Great Moderation; the Great Moderation; and the Great Recession era. The study further examines potential causes of the recent increase in economic volatility, with a focus on the instability in the housing market, and especially the financial sector. In addressing the effects of the finance industry on GDP, a regression model is employed to provide empirical evidence of determinants that are significant to economic growth. The regression model results suggest that the ratio of FIRE share relative to manufacturing share in periods one and three, investment, inventories, and interest rates in the first period, all are statistically significant in determining GDP growth. Conversely, the coefficients for the ratio of FIRE share relative to service share, mortgage debt growth, inflation in the first period, labor force participation rate, interest rates in the second and third periods, and increases in personal wealth in the second and third periods, are statistically insignificant in determining GDP growth. Based on this evidence, the study makes use of the theoretical and empirical findings to address conceivable recommendations on how GDP growth can be best stimulated in the years to come.

Name: Brown, Michael

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee:

Title:  The Effects of Clustering and Entrepreneurship on Industries and Regions

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of the finance industry on the Gross Domestic Product in the United States. The study examines factors that cause fluctuations in GDP growth, including the growth of the financial sector, technological shocks, changes in the size of the capital stock, and demand side shocks that affect GDP over time. These fluctuations are studied through various variables that explain GDP growth, such as the changing output shares of finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (FIRE), services, and manufacturing; mortgage debt; technological change; inventories; labor force participation rates; wealth effects; and investment. There are three important subperiods into which the explanatory variables are broken down and tested: the period before the Great Moderation; the Great Moderation; and the Great Recession era. The study further examines potential causes of the recent increase in economic volatility, with a focus on the instability in the housing market, and especially the financial sector. In addressing the effects of the finance industry on GDP, a regression model is employed to provide empirical evidence of determinants that are significant to economic growth. The regression model results suggest that the ratio of FIRE share relative to manufacturing share in periods one and three, investment, inventories, and interest rates in the first period, all are statistically significant in determining GDP growth. Conversely, the coefficients for the ratio of FIRE share relative to service share, mortgage debt growth, inflation in the first period, labor force participation rate, interest rates in the second and third periods, and increases in personal wealth in the second and third periods, are statistically insignificant in determining GDP growth. Based on this evidence, the study makes use of the theoretical and empirical findings to address conceivable recommendations on how GDP growth can be best stimulated in the years to come.

Name: Carr, Kirsten

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Onyeiwu, R. Ormiston

Title: Competitive Sustainability of “Mom and Pop Shops:” A Case Study of Portman’s Farm Market

Abstract: This Senior Project explores how a small business like Portman’s Farm Market is able to maintain competitiveness. The project investigates what drives, motivates, and distinguishes small scale firms and allows them to remain competitive. By conducting a case study of Portman’s Farm, the project provides insights into what has enabled it to evolve with the changing times, yet remain a staple in the local economy since its founding in 1932. By looking at Portman’s evolution, conscious economic decisions made by the owners, and data found from studies on other small scale firms, I conclude that the following are important for competitiveness amongst small, family-owned firms: adaptive strategy making, owner knowledge, excellent staff, and quality products.

Name: Casale, Carly

Date: Spring2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Onyeiwu, J. Sickafuse

Title: Going Green as a Source of Sustainable Competitive Advantage in the Hospitality Industry

Abstract: This paper investigates how “going green” could serve as a source of sustainable competitive advantage in the hotel industry. Using Marriott Hotels Inc. as a case study I analyzed what sets this environmentally friendly hotel apart from its competitors. I researched exactly what Marriott does to be environmentally friendly and how that could possibly help them to gain competitive advantage. I used Michael Porter to determine if their green initiatives are categorized as a sustainable strategy. I also used financial statements, reputational surveys, and comparisons of other hotels to strengthen my paper. This paper will be significant because we are currently in a time where the green movement is in full force and the government is starting to implement regulation on corporations to help preserve the environment. Many major corporations are faced with the decision of going green or not going green. I originally believed that the evidence would show that making the choice to green a company would be both economically beneficial and boost a corporation’s reputation. I also believed that a green strategy for Marriott would ultimately create sustainable competitive advantage. After researching Marriott’s strategy, set of activities, competitors, and financial statements, I found that they do not have a strategy according to Michael Porter and, so far, have not been able to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage over their rivals in the hotel industry.

Name: Dejong, Andrew

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee:S. Casler, S. Martin

Title: Changes in the Distribution of Income Between High School and College Graduates: An Empirical Analysis

Abstract: Over the past several decades, income growth of American workers with college degrees has outpaced that of individuals with only a high school education. As a result, a wage gap has formed between these classifications of workers. The goal of this paper is to identify the factors creating the income inequality between workers with different levels of education. Therefore, this paper introduces the wage gap and the accompanying economic and social issues. Next, using the theory of wage determination, it introduces potential factors contributing to the wage gap. Finally, by means of empirical analysis, this study quantifies the causes of the income inequality taking place in the United States, concluding with real-world implications and remedies for the problem at hand.

Name: Devlin, Justin

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics Thesis
Committee: A. Baskan, S. Martin

Title: A Theoretical Study on the Collectables Market

Abstract: The collectables market is an interesting and unique section of the economy; however, few economists have chosen to write about it. The many unique traits this market possesses make it an interesting study subject in economic behavior. In general, collectable goods share several defining traits. Primarily, all collectables goods are non-reproducible; that is to say, all the number of collectable goods in the market is fixed after the initial production. This simple, but powerful, trait will give the supply curve its unique features. Furthermore, non-reproducibility will be responsible for many of the phenomenon surrounding the collectables market. In addition, collectors gain utility from the collectable in regular use as well as its contribution to his or her existing collection. This is a trait of set completion, and when it is combined with how a collectable goods’ value is primarily driven by the taste, preferences, and expectations of the consumers, one will be able to design the demand curve to fit this market. Finally, using the above ideas and a regression, it can be shown that the price of a collectable good is partially determined by its scarcity, the number of collectors in the market, the taste, preferences, and expectations of the consumers, and the overall health of the economy.

Name: Dilley, Hallie

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Casler, J. Liu

Title: The Determinants of Employment Growth: Differential Impacts for Men and Women

 Abstract: In this paper, an examination of the determinants of employment growth for both men and women is performed, as well as an evaluation of how the Great Moderation and other structural changes contribute to employment growth fluctuations. Understanding the factors that affect employment growth is important because they are indicators of expansion in the economy and represent an increase in economic opportunities available to the citizens of a country. The theory of cost minimization is used to model employment growth as a function of the labor force participation rate, the real wage growth rate, the real price of capital growth rate, the real productivity growth rate, the real service sector output growth rate, and the real manufacturing output growth rate, along with a recession dummy variable and a dummy variable that captures the effects of the Great Moderation. An empirical analysis of the theoretical model is performed through an elasticity-weighted sum of these growth rates. From this analysis, a better understanding of the causation of changes in employment growth is obtained. We conclude that the determinants of employment growth affect men and women differently, with women benefiting in the majority of circumstances related to more recent times.

Name: Donahoe, Matt

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: R. Ormiston, J. Sickafuse

Title: Payroll Distribution: The Effect on Winning Percentage in the National Football League

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to see if the ways NFL teams distributed their payroll has any effect on winning. In order to do this, I calculated the Gini coefficients, using player’s cap value, for every team between the years 2000 and 2009. The Gini coefficient measures inequality, especially in income. I decided to calculate two different Gini coefficients for each team: a Gini coefficient with quarterbacks included and a Gini coefficient without quarterbacks included. I constructed 4 different regression models with winning percentage as the dependent variable in each model. There were various independent variables included in each model. Most importantly, the results explained that in regression Models 1 and 2, neither Gini coefficient had a statistically significant effect on winning percentage. In Models 3 and 4, both Gini coefficients had a statistically significant effect on winning percentage.

Name: Ehmann, Matthew

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Onyeiwu, J. Sickafuse

Title: US Banking Regulation and Their Impact on Performance: A Case Study of M&T Bank

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between US banking regulations and the performance of US banks. Through the examination of regulations and the subsequent years of M&T bank’s financial statements and stock prices, it will be concluded that these regulations have a positive financial impact on the performance of banks. Through examining each of these factors, there will be a clear understanding that US banking regulations have helped to stop bank failures and given certain banks a performance boost.

Name: Feige, Jason

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: A. Baskan, J. Liu

Title: Future Trends in China’s Steel Industry

Abstract: This paper looks at China’s steel industry’s recent history from the 1980s to today. It presents a background on historical events that affected the industry which have included numerous government initiatives and a trend towards non-state owned enterprises. It then looks at what recent research has been performed on the steel industry. Much of the research has made use of the stochastic frontier model to quantify the effect of technological changes. Due to a lack of complex raw data, a more confined research question was chosen for this paper. I explored various models that firms may use when upgrading capital and different market structures that exist such as monopolies and perfectly competitive markets. From there, I related the models to China’s steel industry and found that it most closely matches an oligopoly, although imperfectly. I then make use of the limited data available to form various trends. I find that overall growth has occurred in the Chinese steel industry from 1994 through 2009 and should continue to grow into the foreseeable future. Two government incentive programs were found to be the main cause behind this trend. This paper could be extended with an introduction of more complex data sets. The ideal goal would be to acquire individual data on specific firms and then form a regression using the stochastic frontier model used by other researchers.

Name: Flickinger, Michael

Date:Spring 2012

Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: A. Baskan, J. Liu

Title: South Korean Chaebols: Factors Contributing to Dissolution

Abstract: Korean business groups, called chaebols, have not dissolved as the Korean economy has developed around them. This study will examine statistics and articles concerning Korean capital markets, product markets, the labor market, government policies, and the structure of chaebols to determine why chaebols have not dissolved and what factors are/could cause them to break up. Through investigating these factors, and their impact on Korea over the course of its economic development, this analysis finds that the pre-established, entrenched position of chaebols and their integral role in the Korea economy has been, and remains a key reason why chaebols have remained intact. Another factor is the complex, inter-business, ownership structure that has developed because of laws regarding financial institutions owing industrial companies. Current trends that could potentially lead to the weakening of chaebols include a growing unemployment crisis that is increasing entrepreneurial activity, government regulation regarding ownership, investment and structure, and increased higher education and international competition. However, weakening chaebols could affect the global market, as the top electronics manufacturer, Samsung, and fourth largest automobile manufacturer, Hyundai, are both chaebols.

Name: Fowler, Jordan

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics Thesis Committee: S. Onyeiwu, J. Sickafuse

Title: The Economic Impact of Professional Sports on Local Economies: The Case of Pittsburgh

Abstract: The research on the effect of professional sports teams on local economies has generally produced negative results. The biggest supporting argument is that cities are forced to pay for very expensive stadium subsidies or their respective teams will relocate to a new city. In many cases, previous research has proven this to be true. To my knowledge, no previous research extensively examined the city of Pittsburgh and its three professional teams in particular. This paper explains what previous researchers have argued and then explores the extent to which the city of Pittsburgh fits into their analysis. The findings regarding Pittsburgh and its three teams are different than what many would expect. It seems to be favorable for the city to host the Penguins, Pirates, and Steelers. The city developed beneficial plans to build all three teams brand new stadiums and in return the teams attract people to the city. Other cities hosting professional teams should try to reach deals similar to Pittsburgh’s if they are in the process of building a new stadium for their respective team. If other cities choose to duplicate Pittsburgh’s success, then future research should show that it is in fact beneficial to host a professional sports team.

Name: Hall, Kenneth

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics/Political Science
Thesis Committee:  T. Nonnenmacher, B. Harward

Title: Does Wall Street Regulate its Regulators?: A Notice and Comment Analysis of Interest Group Competition at the SEC

Abstract: This paper implements a notice and comment analysis of interest group influence on bureaucratic rulemaking and public policy outcomes. The study is conducted on eight final rules issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that have been derived from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Commenters are divided into five groups that reflect the general interests competing for SEC influence. Influence is measured by examining the final rule changes that commenters explicitly advocated for or against during each of the notice and comment periods of the eight rules. These findings are then applied to assess the validity of agency capture accusations that have been issued against the SEC. The results reveal that commenters representing business interests dominate in the total number of preferential changes from proposing release to final rule; however, no undue influence is observed that indicates industry group commenters realize a greater level of influence over the SEC than those from other groups. Commenters from the industry group are shown to frequently conflict with one another and, when unified in policy preference, are no more successful in achieving a favorable change than groups in direct opposition to them. More importantly, this paper demonstrates the limitations of previous research employing a notice and comment analysis and provides the first step in correcting some of the methodological problems traditionally associated with it.

Name: Haskell, Ethan

Date:   Spring 2012
Major(s) Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Casler, S. Martin

Title: Major League Baseball Attendance and Its’ Economic and Noneconomic Variables

Name: Henrickson, Keegan

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Casler, J. Golden

Title: Determinants of Durable Manufacturing Employment Growth

Abstract: Although the United States currently remains the world’s largest producer of manufactured goods, and manufacturing is still touted by some as America’s economic backbone, employment in the sector has trended steadily downward since 1979. The purpose of this project is to ascertain the determinants of employment growth in durable manufacturing, a subsector of manufacturing that produces goods that are expected to last approximately three years or more, in order to explain the causes of and potential solutions to this decline. The paper considers the history of durable manufacturing in the United States from Colonial times to present day. This historical background provides a preliminary discussion of factors affecting employment in the sector that is integrated with and supported by economic theory. The theory of the firm, specifically cost minimization subject to producing a desired level of output, provides the theoretical foundation to examine eight potential determinants of durable manufacturing employment growth discussed in the historical overview of American durable manufacturing. These determinants are then examined using an empirical model. The empirical model employed in this study examines the effects of growth in wages, price of capital, productivity, net exports share of GDP, service sector output, and manufacturing sector output, along with the effects of recession and the Great Moderation, on the growth of durable manufacturing employment. This empirical analysis is quantified using a multiple regression model which utilizes data from 1965-2010. The major findings of the empirical analysis are applied to real world situations in order to suggest strategies for the U.S. government, manufacturing firms, and individuals who must respond to the challenges facing this vital economic sector.

Name: Hilldorfer, Julie

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s):
Economics
Thesis Committee:
S. Onyeiwu, R. Ormiston

Title: The Role of Advertising in Corporate Performance; An Empirical Analysis

Abstract: Today’s average consumer in the United States has seen increased incentive to purchase certain products as a result of heavy advertising. Consumers are influenced to buy based on familiarity of a product’s purpose and brand from advertisements rather than researching fundamental information about which product is actually best for them. Advertising for a company can be seen to lead to distinctive competencies and the acquiring of new competitive advantages through effectively communicating products and their advantages to customers. It has been seen through other studies and literature reviewed in this paper that a company is able to use the advantage of advertising for it’s products in order to increase it’s overall sales to consumers. This paper examines if the performance rates of firms can be positively related to the amount of firms’ advertising expenditures. A model is developed to explain that the variable of advertising expenditures can in fact have a positive effect on organizations’ market performance, specifically for net sales, for numerous companies in selected industries.

Name: Hippert, Robert

Date:Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Casler, S. Martin

Title: Output Growth in the Insurance Industry: An Empirical Analysis

Abstract: Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in early 2010, the insurance industry has been a major topic of conversation regarding the American economy. The insurance industry as a whole is an important aspect of the economy and is continuing to become a growing industry within the economy. This study analyzes the insurance industry’s growing role in the economy. The first chapter gives an overview of the insurance industry and how it currently relates to the economy by analyzing it compared to gross domestic product. The second chapter presents the insurance industry as a monopolistically competitive profit-maximizing firm to define the cost and revenue factors within the insurance industry. The third chapter presents a regression model showing the insurance industry’s share of GDP as a percent. Finally using the information provided by the model the information, a final discussion of how the insurance industry is growing and the potential for growth in the future.

Name: Horst, Loren

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s):Economics
Thesis Committee:T. Nonnenmacher, R. Ormiston

Title: Churnovers: Regulation, Realignment, and Competitive Balance in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, 1978-2011

Abstract:The college football landscape is a rapidly changing industry where teams frequently forgo traditional partnerships for better competition and more lucrative media contracts. Competitive imbalances and the opportunity for strategic positioning have caused “churning,” the realignment of teams between different conferences and independence, for decades. This study will examine why schools change conferences. NCAA rule changes have affected competitive balance and have caused changes in the athletic unions between schools. Media contracts controlled by conferences make independence a rare success. Currently, conference affiliation is the standard of positioning a school in the national athletics scene, but independence was much more common just two decades ago. Throughout the permeation of conference membership, the majority of churning has faced upward movement toward better and more established conferences for the obvious reasons of greater exposure and better competition. If this trend continues, how will the NCAA interact with superconferences of 16 or more schools? Since the profitability of football programs is so vital to the athletic departments and schools to which they belong, this historical narrative study of churning since major college football distinguished itself from less athletically emphasized divisions of the NCAA will bring to light the reasons why schools organize activity the way they do.

Name: Huang, Mengyang

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s):Economics
Thesis Committee:A. Baskan, J. Liu

Title:Chinese Housing Market during Transition: A Case Study of Shenzhen

Abstract:This paper aims to provide an overview of Chinese housing market in transition with a case study of Shenzhen, the first city to embrace the privatization of the housing market. The study questions why housing prices have increased so fast recent years and what are the major factors influencing the urban housing price in China. These factors include social, economic and policy factors. Price to Income Ratio will be used to measure the housing affordability for people in Shenzhen. After an empirical study on the housing price dynamics in Shenzhen from 2005 to 2010, it is concluded that Shenzhen housing market is majorly influence by its GDP, population and floor space of housing completed. However, the market is still under tight government control, since housing price cannot be fully explained by market fundamentals. Last, a discussion on the influence of policies like the property tax will be provided to explore the possibilities of a healthy and sustainable housing market.

Name: Isayev, Kamran

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s):Economics
Thesis Committee:S. Onyeiwu, J. Sickafuse

Title:The Effect of FDI on Economic Growth in Developing Countries: A Case Study of Azerbaijan

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relationship between FDI and economic growth in Azerbaijan. Some of the similar studies implied that FDI positively contributes to economic growth. However, others have found opposite results. I will be testing for the hypothesis that FDI has a positive impact on economic growth in Azerbaijan. Most importantly, there are no empirical studies which analyze the relationship between FDI and economic growth in Azerbaijan. As part of my empirical analysis, I plan to examine the effect of FDI on domestic investment to see whether FDI crowds in or crowds out domestic investment. The methodology used in my paper consisted of a case study and empirical analysis. My case study involved interviews of economists and of government officials in Azerbaijan. According to the information obtained from those interviews, FDI has positively contributed to the Economic Growth in Azerbaijan. However, empirical analysis has revealed that the relationship between FDI and Economic Growth is negative. The result is surprising and can be linked to the fact that my data had a small number of observations. The major problem that I have detected about the flow of FDI to Azerbaijan, was the fact that more than 90% of it was flowing into oil and gas sector. Thus, in order reap more benefits from FDI flows Azerbaijan should put some effort to attract FDI in other Economic Sectors.

Name: Ismail, Naveed

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Onyeiwu, R. Ormiston

Title: The Collapse of the American Automobile Industry: Ford Motor Company’s Drive for Competitive Advantage in the Midst of the Financial Crisis of 2008

Abstract: The aim of this work is to examine the American automobile industry during the past decade and understand what led to its collapse, with both GM and Chrysler filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after the financial crisis of 2008. The research also explores why Japanese firms such as Toyota and Honda were able to enter the U.S. market so successfully and began to take market share from the Big Three. A case study of Ford Motor Company’s strategy was used to investigate why the company survived the financial crisis, while GM and Chrysler did not. The research concludes that Ford Motor Company’s management made tougher decisions, had a superior retrenchment and restructuring strategy, had a better relationship with the UAW, and had a stronger product line.

Name: Johnson, Daniel

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics/Environmental Science
Thesis Committee: T. Nonnenmacher, C. Waggett

Title: The Next Generation of Recycling: Analysis of Single Stream Recycling

Abstract: The goal of this senior project was to determine if single stream recycling positively influences the recycling rate. This project starts with a review of the economic literature devoted to the waste management industry and is followed by an environmental review of the problems with current waste management practices. Next there is an explanation of single stream recycling and a discussion of the theory of why single stream recycling is expected to increase recycling. Data that I collected from Casella Waste Services, Inc on the recycling practices of Worcester, MA is then presented. I was able to run a regression that tested whether the age of a single stream recycling program has an effect on the recycling rate.

The regression was run for four different variables; recycling tonnage produced per month, the recycling tonnages produced per household per month, the recycling rate per month, and the garbage tonnage per month. All though the R2 results was extremely low, the results were as expected; the longer a single stream recycling program had been in place, the higher the recycling tonnage per month, recycling tonnage per household per month, and the recycling rate per month and the lower the garbage tonnage per month. This senior project is concluded with a review of a recent regression on the cost of solid waste disposal and recycling and then a discussion on recycling.

Name: Louer, Terry

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: T. Nonnenmacher, K. Pinnow

Title: German Food Policy 1914 to 1918

Abstract: This paper will examine the successes and failures of the German Food system and consider the role that food policies played in Germany’s ultimate defeat in World War I. The Wilhelmian Empire relied heavily upon imported food to feed her citizens. When war was declared and the British blockade installed, the entire country was forced to seek alternative means to import food and make the maximum use of native stocks. The methods that were chosen can be traced in four distinct phases. The first was the retreat from the free market. The second phase involved the introduction of central controls including maximum prices, government ownership of foods, and the use of ration cards. The tertiary period involved the “ersatz’ economy, an effort to stretch and wring every scrap of food and vitality from the country. The fourth phase involved the perfection of centralized food control and Germany’s ultimate collapse.

Name: Maiorana, Michel

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Casler, R. Ormiston

Title: Unemployment and the Unemployment Rate: A Study

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to analyze the determinants and theory of unemployment and the unemployment rate. Due to the most recent 2007-2009 recession, unemployment and the unemployment rate have become an important problem in the U.S. economy that needs to be addressed. Exit and entry of discouraged and underemployed workers, women and teenagers in the labor force, and the entry and exit of baby boomers and illegal immigrants are measurements that are possible factors in changes in unemployment. The significant variables that affect the unemployment rate from the regression results are real service growth, real manufacturing growth and real investment growth. These variables indicate that economy should focus on economic growth polices by stimulating investment, production and service provision.

Name: Muscara, Cory

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Onyeiwu, R. Ormiston

Title: Cost Containment within the Health Care Industry: The Role of a Patient-Centered Model of Care
Abstract: This senior composition illustrates the economic burden facing the United States with regard to rising health care costs. It confirms chronic illness as the primary contributor to this crisis and uses Data collected across 50 states to further explore the determinants of these diseases. A detailed analysis of three of the most costly and preventable diseases—diabetes, heart disease, and lung cancer—found certain health behaviors to be most responsible for these chronic illnesses. The results suggest a patient-centered model of care, with an emphasis on behavior change techniques, to be most effective in preventing chronic illness and resolving this economic crisis.

Name: Myers, Matt

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: T. Nonnenmacher, R. Ormiston

Title: Uncertainty in Hiring: The NFL Draft

Abstract: The ability to hire the best worker is vitally important to the success of any organization. Using the theoretical frame work of George Akerloff, Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz, I answer the question of whether or not NFL teams have improved in their ability to draft players, specifically using the linebacker position. Although I do not find a concrete answer in my results, it seems that there has been some improvement in drafting successful players, indicating better decision making. The NFL draft is obviously inefficient and NFL teams are still making questionable decisions, however. These ideas prompt a discussion of whether or not NFL teams should spend more money on scouting.

Name: Onozaki, Maiko

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: A. Baskan, J. Liu

Title: Determinants of Foreign Direct Investment

Abstract: This paper examines the determinants of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The determinants of FDI are widely studied by researchers and economists. Nevertheless, each one has a different conclusion of what are the important factors to make FDI. To overcome this confusion, this study divided the FDI into two major components; FDI (Greenfield Investment) and cross-border M&A. Based on Dunning’s OLI theory, I made an assumption and confirmed with the regression analysis that the Ownership advantages (O) are more important factors in choosing investment for the M&A than the FDI. On the other hand, the Location advantages (L) are more important factors for the FDI than the M&A. These results explain well about the contradicting results the researchers have been making. Even within the same country, the determinants of the FDI can vary depending on which entry mode (Greenfield Investment or cross-border M&A) a company wishes to take.

Name: Pucalik, David

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Onyeiwu, S. Martin

Title: A Study of Academic Performance in Pennsylvania Public Schools: A Case for McKeesport Area High School

Abstract: Numerous studies have analyzed the determinants of academic performance in public schools. Other studies have taken certain business strategies and applied them to non-profit organizations to explain how such organizations can sustain positive performance. High schools operate as non-profit organizations, in which performance is measured in terms of student performance. This paper seeks to explain the effects of certain socioeconomic variables on student performance. The results from this paper’s empirical analysis are applied to a high school that has struggled to meet state performance standards for five consecutive years. Two major conclusions can be drawn from this paper. First, struggling school districts must identify and learn to understand the diverse needs of their students. Second, struggling school districts must adopt a coherent strategy and adhere to that strategy for consecutive years. Only then, will struggling school districts begin to experience continual increases in student performance.

Name: Richards, Michael

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: T. Nonnenmacher, S. Martin

Title: Are Fireworks Regulated In The Public’s Interest?

Abstract: This senior research paper aims to determine if regulation is implemented in the public’s interest by examining the relationship between regulatory action and injuries due to pyrotechnics, specifically display-type pyrotechnics, over the past three decades. Through an explanation of the history of fireworks one will see how regulatory institutions and regulation, as well as technological advancements have transformed the industry over time to increase the safety of the audience. This paper also shows how the pyrotechnic industry operates as an oligopolistic market in which there are high barriers to entry, product differentiation and profit maximization. Finally, public interest theory and the alternative hypothesis of special interest theory, along with a regression analysis will be used to answer the question: are pyrotechnics regulated in the public’s interest?

Name: Saylor, Rebekah

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Onyeiwu, J. Liu

Title: How Book Publishing Firms are Responding to Changes in the Market: An Empirical Analysis

Abstract: The past few decades have marked a critical era for the book publishing industry with regard to technological advancements. For many years, publishing firms were small, family-owned businesses that printed and bound texts. In recent times, the printing process has been digitalized and print is being replaced by the electronic book. Substitutes for books in the entertainment realm- such as television, movies, videogames, and the Internet – are becoming more popular and technologically developed.

This senior project explores how the aforementioned technological changes have affected the book publishing industry and examines the ways in which individual firms have reacted. Using quantitative data and regression techniques, disruptive technologies within the industry are identified and their overall effect on the industry is discussed. Surprisingly, results did not invariably show a negative correlation between technological progress and the success of publishing firms. Disruptive technologies may not necessarily be threatening the book publishing industry.

Name: Stoyer, Steve

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Onyeiwu, J. Liu

Title: Promoting Fuel Efficiency in the Auto-industry: Mandates or Incentvies

Abstract: As a consequence of an economy in recession and increases in gas prices, consumer demand in the auto market has shifted toward more fuel efficient vehicles. Initially General Motors, Ford and Chrysler were slow to respond to these changes and experienced large losses in their market shares. The purpose of this paper is to determine whether government mandates or market incentives should be employed so that the “Big Three” can regain lost market share. A case study between Ford and Honda during the years of 2002-2011 was used in the empirical analysis. The goal of this comparison was to gauge if there was a competitive advantage linked to specific fuel efficiency standards, in either firms’ country of origin. Based on the empirical analysis and reviewing performance in various markets, it appears that allowing firms to respond to market incentives has greater benefit that government imposed mandates.

Name: Sunia, Aioletuna

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: T. Nonnenmacher, S. Martin

Title: The Effects of the Minimum Wage in the New Jersey Fast-food Industry and American Samoa Tuna Canning Industry

Abstract: Card and Krueger (1994) are widely known for contradicting the conventional economic theory of minimum wage effects. In their evaluation of the New Jersey fast-food industry after the minimum wage increase in 1992, they found that employment had risen. American Samoa’s tuna canning industry experienced a similar increase in employment after the minimum wage increased in 2007, 2008, and 2009. However, at the end of 2009, employment in the tuna canning industry was cut in half. The purpose of this paper is to seek an explanation for the minimum wage effects in Card and Krueger (1994) and the American Samoa tuna canning industry (2007-2009). The two research questions are as follows: 1) what accounts for the effects of the minimum wage increases in the New Jersey fast-food industry and American Samoa tuna canning industry? And 2) what labor market model encompasses those effects? The answers to these questions are pursued by analyzing and comparing the economic factors of each case at the firm, industry, labor market, local economy, and U.S. economy levels. As a result, I found that the effects of both cases are accounted for by a combination of dynamic monopsonistic labor market models and institutional economic theory.

Name: Tamburlin, Brian
Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Casler, J. Sickafuse

Name: Vu, Thuc

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Onyeiwu, S. Martin

Title: The Determinants of Teacher Turnover

Abstract: It is common sense to say that people work for money, but can high income and benefits incentinize employees to stay with the firm even though they do not want to work anymore? Do non-pecuniary factors affect turnover decision? Or are pecuniary and non-pecuniary factors equally important in predicting turnover? This project uses teacher turnover to explore these interesting questions.

Teacher turnover has been a problem in America for many years; it costs about 11.5 billions a year. This project studies the determinants of teacher turnover so that schools and policy makers can reduce turnover costs in future. Because of limited data and reasons for teacher turnover are different in each region/state/area, this study focuses only on teacher turnover in North Carolina. In addition, the determinants of teacher turnover might change from time to time. The empirical chapter suggests that pecuniary factor (income) is not important in predicting teacher turnover while some non-pecuniary factors are important. The results support the hypothesis. Due to research constraint, it is recommended to use this project as a reference and further investigation is encouraged to explore the determinants of teacher turnover regularly and frequently in each area.

Name: Wilkins, Travis

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: T. Nonnenmacher, R. Ormiston

Title: Viability of the Open Source Software Model: The Firm & Participant Motivations

Abstract: The open source software movement challenges many standard theories of “the firm,” particularly those concerning organizational issues and motivations. This paper seeks to analyze the viability of the open source software paradigm in relation to preconceived theories of the firm. The first section of the paper examines how the open source model compares to the traditional ideas of a firm. It further introduces issues of structure and governance within an open source project. The second part of the paper looks at the motivations of the firm and individual contributors involved in the open source model. The final section of this paper presents a study of the open source project known as the Linux Kernel. I ultimately would like to determine: 1.) whether or not the open source model should be considered a firm, and 2.) if the open source model can be sustained in the long run.

Name: Williams, Douglas

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Casler, J. Golden

Title: Why has union membership been on the decline?

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to provide an in-depth analysis of why union membership is on the decline. Union membership has been on a gradual decline since the 1980’s. Although unions have a positive effect on the economy like, they decrease wage inequality, increase labor productivity, and lower quit rates, union membership continues to decrease. One main reason why their membership is decreasing is because small business owners are compensating their workers better. Another is the right to work laws which are being implemented in states. The theory explored is the determinants of union employment. This will show how unions seek to raise wages by removing exploitation by monopolist of labor, restriction of labor supply, raising standard wage rates, and shifting the derived demand curve upward. Also, the empirical analysis will show the relationships between all of the independent variables and the dependent variable. The regression results also show how attitudes toward unions have changed since the Ronald Reagan era.

Name: Wittenberg, Jeremy

 Date:Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: S. Casler, J. Golden

Title: Determinants of the Variability of the Dow Jones Industrial Average 1954-2011

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine how stocks are priced using the Dow Jones Industrial Average. This study is important because building a model that will help predict market trends and stock prices enables potential buyers and sellers to hedge their investments effectively. This paper has four chapters. The first examines the Dow Jones Industrial Average as a benchmark for stock prices. The second is a theoretical chapter of a perfectly competitive market. This is important because stock prices are dictated by future expected profits, and an analysis of a perfectly competitive market will help to describe how profits are generated. However, in the long run, there is no profit for the companies. Chapter three uses regression analysis of how independent variables explain variations in the Dow Jones for a sample time period. The final chapter is the conclusion of my paper detailing the overall significance of my senior thesis.

Name: Zipf, Ryan

Date: Spring 2012
Major(s): Economics
Thesis Committee: A. Baskan, J. Liu

Title: Medical Tourism and India’s Corporate Hospitals: A Case of Price Discrimination

Abstract: Within the last decade medical tourism has experienced substantial growth in developing countries around the world. With advancements in medical technologies and favorable exchange rates, developing countries are catering to the medical needs of foreign patients from wealthy nations. India, a current leader in medical tourism growth, has cultivated the market for medical tourists with the emergence of corporate hospitals that provide international patients with an experience that is both medically advanced and a vacation. However, these corporate hospitals also have a responsibility to treat local low-income patients as well. By accessing both markets and operating at utilization rates way above American hospitals, Indian hospitals have been able to keep the cost of treatment extremely low compared to western prices. All patients, however, do not pay the low prices. In order to treat a large proportion of low-income domestic Indians, corporate hospitals have divided their patients into identifiable market segments that exhibit different demographic profiles. They identify which individuals are foreign, have substantial income, and who are willing to pay additional fees for services other than medical treatment. Once identified based on elasticity of demand and willingness to pay, corporate hospitals utilize price discrimination to gather additional consumer surplus from high paying patients, ultimately allowing those who would not traditionally be able to afford treatment to have access to medical care.