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Chicago News: Northwestern on Bitcoin, Notre Dame Explores Psychopathy and More

Northwestern bitcoin

Let’s explore some of the most interesting stories that have emerged from Chicago business schools this week.


New Cryptocurrencies, Same Old ProblemsKellogg Insight

Following Bitcoin’s record high $19,511 BPI at the end of 2017, which has already begun its slow steady decline (its BPI is around $10,800 as of Feb 19), folks outside the standard-issue Silk Road users and modern-day gold prospectors have begun to openly (and loudly) question whether we’re due for a global cryptocurrency takeover. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management professor Sarit Markovich advises eager beavers to slow their rolls:

“There are certainly huge advantages to blockchain technology, especially when it comes to cross-border transactions. But I doubt we’re going to reach the point where decentralized cryptocurrencies replace cash or distributed ledgers replace central banks. There’s too much room for manipulation. Instead, it looks like the real innovation will occur within large institutions, which is not exactly democratization.”

Markovich goes on to note another problem with the current state of Bitcoin, which is the preponderance of “whales” mining the currency. He explains:

“In addition to ‘mining pools,’ there is also the problem of ‘whales:’ roughly 1,000 people own around 40 percent of all bitcoins. As the market continues to rise, there is a risk that some may be in a position to manipulate the market. For example, they could collude in an effort to drive the price of Bitcoin up, then cash out all at once—and perhaps even bet against the futures market.”

Read more about the future of cryptocurrency here.

Psychopaths Tend to Benefit and Flourish Under Abusive BossesMendoza Ideas & News

Got a boss from H-E-double hockey sticks? You’re not alone. But what might make you unique is your ability to stand heat. It turns out some folks actually do quite well under cruel conditions. It also turns out that these folks might have more in common with Richard Ramirez or John Wayne Gacy than they’d care to admit, according to a new study by Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business assistant professor of management Charlice Hurst:

“We found that primary psychopaths benefit under abusive supervisors. Relative to their peers low in primary psychopathy, they felt less anger and more engagement and positive emotions under abusive supervisors.” “It may reward and retain exactly the kind of people who are likely to perpetuate abusive cultures,” she says. “Psychopaths thriving under abusive supervisors would be better positioned to get ahead of their peers.”

Hust continues, saying:

“If they have a problem of endemic abuse, like Wells Fargo — where former employees have reported that managers used tactics designed to induce fear and shame in order to achieve unrealistic sales goals—and upper-level managers are either unaware of it or are not taking action, they might notice increasing levels of engagement due to turnover among employees low in primary psychopathy and retention of those high in primary psychopathy. At the extreme, they could end up with a highly engaged workforce of psychopaths.”

Read more about Dr. Hurst’s research, entitled  “Are ‘Bad’ Employees Happier Under Bad Bosses? Differing Effects of Abusive Supervision on Low and High Primary Psychopathy Employees,” here.

Financial Compensation Can Distract From Emotional SufferingChicago Booth Review

University of Chicago Booth School of Business professor Christopher Hsee, Northwestern professor Xueer Yu and Ph.D. candidate Shirley Zhang recently explored the complex analysis required to compensate victims who suffer grave psychological, physical, and financial duress.

What the trio found, surprisingly, is that psychological and physical distress was often much more rewarding than financial damage. And even mentioning financial damage, coupled with psychological and physical damage, often hindered compensation.

The reason? Financial damage is generally empirical and can be exacted with ease.

“It would be better to say ‘I was so scared that I lost two nights’ sleep’ than to say ‘I was so scared that I lost two nights’ sleep and one day’s work,’” the researchers write. “If the victim mentions one day’s work, the mediator would likely compensate the victim for only her one day’s pay. If the victim does not mention one’s day work, the mediator would likely award more, unless the victim has a high-paying job and the judge is aware of it.”

Read more about their research, recently published in the January issue of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, here.

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