Top researcher studies impact of social media

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A UT professor’s research in management information systems earned him the top spot on a list of 130 researchers whose work ranks among the most influential in their field, according to a study that measured the publicity of the researchers’ published work. Two professors — from the University of Arizona and the University of Utah — rated business professor Andrew Whinston’s achievements using a system called the h-index for management information systems, which evaluates professors based on how many scholarly articles they have published and how many times those articles have been cited by other scholarly publications. “Whinston has long been one of the research powerhouses here at the school,” said David Wenger, a director for the McCombs School of Business. “The thing that is distinctive is that, despite the fact that he’s a long-time researcher and a very senior member of the faculty, his research is very cutting-edge.” Currently, Whinston is researching social networking platforms such as Twitter. Whinston’s current research is on how the use of Twitter relates to businesses. To test this, Whinston and his research associates examined how much the public tweeted about three summer blockbusters released in 2009 and compared that to how well the movies did at the box office. In addition to receiving this recognition, Whinston was also the first person to publish a book about electronic commerce, and in 2009, he received the Career Award for Outstanding Research Contributions at UT. The study recognized the achievements of a total of 130 researchers, including two other UT business professors, Anitesh Barua and Sirkka Jarvenpaa, who have researched outsourcing and business strategies respectively. “Whinston is in a different league altogether, and we are privileged to have someone like him as a colleague here,” Barua said. “He is just so far out in terms of what he sees coming that the rest of the world kind of sees 10 years late, so it’s wonderful.”