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Friday, December 12, 2014 at 3pm

HBS Professor’s US$4 Fallout and Other MBA News Snippets

HBS professor issues apology

An associate professor at Harvard Business School (HBS) found himself at the center of attention this week, after holding a Chinese restaurant to account for charging him US$4 more than the restaurant’s website prices indicated for a takeout meal. The website’s prices, it transpired, were out of date.

Out of date website prices anger Harvard Business School professor

A lengthy email exchange between Harvard Business School’s Ben Edelman, and Ran Duan of the Sichuan Garden and the Baldwin Bar was published in full on boston.com, in which repeated referrals are made to Massachusetts law and the rights of consumers (by Edelman) and Duan is left questioning why someone would go to such great lengths when he’d been quick to offer an apology and refund, writing: “I apologize for the confusion, you seem like a smart man, but is this really worth your time?”

The HBS professor defended his position as one of civic duty in Business Insider, arguing that if large companies are held to account for making false statements, then smaller companies shouldn’t be able to get away with it either.

However, a day later, he apologized for the manner in which he went about his complaint, writing in a statement on his own website:  “I was very much out of line. I aspire to act with great respect and humility in dealing with others, no matter what the situation. Clearly I failed to do so.”

Students at Harvard and HBS, meanwhile, decided to launch a fundraising campaign to counter the negative attention the university received. The campaign asks fellow students to “flip the script by donating $4” to the Greater Boston Food Bank and has already raised more than US$5k at the time of writing.

FSU College of Business Lecturer resigns over Facebook comments

The management department at Florida State University (FSU) College of Business was also on the receiving end of some unwanted press attention this week, when a long-serving member of its management department was exposed for an offensive Facebook post.

Deborah O'Connor took issue with a post from a New York beauty consultant which displayed support for a government decision to investigate the death of 12-year-old, Tamir Rice, who was shot by police while carrying what turned out to be a replica gun.

The senior lecturer’s lengthy experience of over 15 years at FSU College of Business – where she taught business communications to undergraduates – didn’t prevent her from responding with comments containing language that, according to reports, ran the full gamut of expletives concerning race, religion and sexual orientation.

She resigned the following day, saying that her departure had been encouraged but not demanded by FSU College of Business – which has no rules governing its employees’ use of social media. 

Dry cleaning index devised at Rutgers Business School 

If you’re wondering whether the US economy has really turned a corner, then you could try heading down to your nearest dry cleaning establishment.

Rutgers Business School’s Farrokh Langdana argues that a greater truth about the level of unemployment might be hiding in the midst of people’s shirts and blouses.

The finance professor at Rutgers Business School came up with a Dry Cleaning Index, or DCI, when trying to look for a way to redress an inherent flaw in official unemployment figures – that they count the number of unemployed people seeking work, regardless of whether they are actively attending interviews.

This is where the DCI, based on the business reported by dry cleaners, comes in – as a place customers would go to get their best work clothes spruced up for that big interview.

"The index provides information that was not previously available, and it captures, to some extent, the mobility of workers back into the work force to look for work," Langdana told NJ.com.

With the DCI measured on a scale where anything beneath 50 indicates a slowdown, and above 50 an optimistic outlook, Rutgers Business School students found New Jersey to have a 62.5.  

“It’s a little outside the box,” admitted Rutgers Business School spokesman, Dan Stoll, “but from an economic indicator point of view, it provides an interesting perspective in New Jersey.”

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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