Stacie Petter Awarded Funding from the National Science Foundation

1.17.2024 Alumni News, Article, School News
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Stacie Petter, together with research colleagues, has secured nearly $1 million in funding from the National Science Foundation for an interdisciplinary project related to illicit decision-making within supply networks.

Petter, Area Chair and Professor of Management Information Systems at the Wake Forest School of Business, will collaborate with colleagues Gisela Bichler from California State University, San Bernardino and Felipe Aros-Vera from Ohio University. Together, they aim to develop a theory that can inform interventions to disrupt and deter illicit activity, including human trafficking and fraud, within supply networks. The team will identify possible laws, regulations, business practices, or other interventions that encourage individuals to make decisions that are consistent with legitimate business activities. Bichler serves as the project’s principal investigator and Petter and Aros-Vera serve as co-principal investigators.

“Dr. Petter and her colleagues are making essential strides in understanding and curbing illicit activities within supply networks. Their research not only impacts major industries but also creates an awareness that can pave the way for a safer, more ethical business environment,” said Dean Annette Ranft.

According to Petter, the team’s research will develop models and simulations to understand the factors that affect providers’, buyers’, and suppliers’ decision-making processes in the context of the illicit massage industry. Then, these models will be extended and applied to understand decision-making within other industries that may involve illicit supply networks, such as agriculture and pharmaceutical drugs.

An example of an illicit business decision includes a small business owner paying an individual for their work by using cash and not submitting the appropriate legal paperwork to report the worker’s earnings. As a result, the business owner could gain an advantage by paying employees less for their work, since no taxes would be withheld.

“In this example, the employer and employee are aware of the decision to engage in business practices that circumvent the law, but others engaging in legitimate business may observe this decision, such as the employer’s accountant or tax professional,” Petter said. “By understanding how, when, and why individuals choose to engage in legitimate or illegitimate business activities, we can identify intervention strategies, such as laws, policies, regulations, or business strategies to discourage illicit decision-making in a business context.”

During the later years of the grant, a course will be offered at the three collaborating universities. Students from various areas of study will work together to assist researchers in applying the initial model based on the massage industry to other industries. The project will conclude in July 2027.

“This research is incredibly relevant to us all,” Ranft said, “as these illicit activities can affect the economy, consumer trust, and societal well-being. This project exemplifies the impactful, interdisciplinary work for which Wake Forest School of Business faculty are increasingly recognized.”

Petter has a keen interest in researching topics that are relevant and useful to both the academic and practitioner communities. Her research explores how information systems and technology can add value but also cause harm to individuals and organizations. Petter has also conducted research on the value of gamification and online games in organizational settings.

Media Contact: Danyelle McClinton, , 336.582.0622