Fox Professor Wins Highly Coveted Best-Paper Award at AIB Conference

Dr. Amir Shoham, Associate Professor of Finance at the Fox School of Business, received the SSE/WAIB Award for Increased Gender Awareness in International Business Research in recognition of his research paper entitled, “Do Female/Male Distinctions in Language Influence Microfinance Outreach to Women?” at the recent Academy of International Business (AIB) conference. The Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) and the Women in AIB (WAIB) sponsored the award.

Shoham set out to find a different solution for cultural dimensions than the commonly used survey-based measures. He studied the structure of languages in general and gender marking, particularly in grammar.

“Today’s research that is conducted is mostly survey-based and it’s extremely problematic,” said Shoham. “I wanted to find an alternate way and did so based on language that focused on culture and gender.”

Shoham also collected data based off financial records released from Microfinance Organizations (MFOs) in various countries around the world. MFOs provide financial services to individuals or small businesses in low-income areas, where traditional banking is a scarce resource.

In conjunction with his three co-authors – Estefania Santacreu-Vasut, of France’s ESSEC Business School; Isreal Drori, of the College of Management and Academic Studies in Israel; and Ronny Manos, of Cranfield University in the United Kingdom – Shoham discovered that language influences hybrid organizations’ management of its dual missions.

“The empirical evidence from MFOs’ outreach strategy toward females helped to analyze whether language’s influence depends on MFOs’ profit orientation and the consequences this has for whether there is a tradeoff between outreach and sustainability or whether they are compatible,” said Shoham. “The main finding is that the sustainability and outreach tradeoffs depend on how organizations treat societal attributes when defining their outreach strategy.”

Nonprofit MFOs define a universal mission of outreach that does not selectively interact with social attributes, Shoham said. For-profit MFOs build outreach strategies that target female borrowers. This occurs more frequently, he said, in countries where gender roles are unfavorable toward women.

The SSE/WAIB award is extremely selective, so much so that the award was not bestowed upon anyone in 2013. When their names were announced, Shoham and his co-authors were proud to know that their hard work had paid off.

“When your work is recognized,” he said, “it’s a great feeling.”

Dr. Amir Shoham teaches in the Singapore Temple University Executive MBA (EMBA) program.

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