ISU business experts address layoffs, virtual appeal, customer relationship management

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University's College of Business experts can plug into today's hottest business topics, including layoffs, social media and customer relationship management.

LONG-TERM LAYOFF HARM -- Hardly a day goes by when there's not news of more layoffs. But while those cuts may help the corporate bottom line, ISU management professors say they often produce long-term harm. "Long-term data suggests that layoffs are usually counter-productive," said Tom Chacko, chair of management and marketing. According to Chacko, companies that view their employees as human capital -- assets to be nurtured and developed as much in tough times as the good times -- outperform those who take the profit-driven approach and make layoffs. "Protecting the bottom line through cutting employee costs is not a sustainable strategy," he said. "It makes the firm unprepared for the recovery phase in the normal economic cycle." Paula Morrow, a University Professor of management, also warns that layoffs may damage loyalty among retained employees when good times return. "How you handle management decisions when times are tough will have a lot to do with how employees commit to the company when good times return," she said. "Companies really have to find ways to recommit and re-engage their employees if they're forced into making layoffs." Morrow is known internationally for her research in work commitment. CONTACT: Chacko at (515) 294-8115, or; Morrow at (515) 294-8109,

EXPLAINING THE DIGITAL DEMAND -- The world seems to be increasingly all a twitter about social online networking. From Twitter, to Facebook, to 3-D virtual worlds like Second Life, more people seem to be linked in each day. But why? A team of five ISU researchers -- led by Brian Mennecke, an associate professor of management information systems -- explains it through Embodied Social Presence® (ESP), a theory they say presents a framework for understanding interactions and communication activities in multi-user virtual environments. In a related paper, they analyze previous research on participation in virtual environments, as well as their own study of 59 ISU students who are Second Life users. CONTACT: Mennecke, (515) 294-8100,

TIME IS RIGHT FOR CRM -- Focusing on customer relationship management (CRM) -- how firms can use data to guide customer acquisition, development and retention activities -- can be even more important during tough times. So says Doug Walker, an ISU assistant professor of marketing, who teaches a course and conducts research on CRM. He contends that CRM has great value when budgets are tight and companies are looking for higher efficiency. "CRM pays off, for both the firm and the customer," he said. "You learn what your customers need over time. So then it becomes less about the products that you have on the shelves, and more about developing products that your customers really want." Walker says CRM allows firms to become more cost-effective in their approach. CONTACT: Walker, (515) 294-6941,