Research Awards

Recognizing Research Achievement

Anton Ovchinnikov, Distinguished Faculty Professor of Management Science and Operations Management, received the 2017 Research Achievement Award. Yu Hou, Assistant Professor of Accounting, was the recipient of the 2017 New Researcher Achievement Award. The two were selected by an ad hoc committee of Smith scholars that annually assesses the achievements of the school’s researchers. On the committee this year were Yuri Levin, Pam Murphy, and Veikko Thiele. In addition to the recognition, the honorees receive grants to support their research.

Anton Ovchinnikov

Big Data has meant Big Change in all areas of society, including academia. It certainly has added an extra dimension to Anton Ovchinnikov’s research. Anton focus is management science and operations management, particularly where they intersect with marketing and economics. In the three short years since Anton arrived at Smith, data has become a more powerful tool. “My primary research is to postulate models of economic behaviour,” he says. “The way these models are informed and calibrated is much more data driven today.”

One of his current projects, supported by a SSHRC grant, looks at how well loyalty programs maximize a firm’s profit and create customer value. He is developing a framework to explore the integrative challenge of managing customer relationships in conjunction with other business decisions.

Anton appreciates the camaraderie of the Smith MSOM group — “it’s a strong and supportive group but not pressuring.” It’s an environment in which he can do the things he most enjoys about scholarly research: technical research and communicating findings.

“It’s often assumed that junior researchers are more technical and senior researchers somewhat more strategic,” says Anton. “I’m somewhere in the middle but I still enjoy the very technical work a lot. Typically, I would be the one to come up with the initial model and play with it to see if it captures the situation.”

He also likes to go deep into computer coding and even learned a new programming language during his sabbatical at INSEAD in 2016-17.

The second thing Anton likes to do is writing the research story. “The real beauty and impact of research comes from communicating the research findings. I have a chance to step back and think about what the work is really saying about a particular problem, and that’s exciting!"

Yu Hou

Most academics would consider it quite the accomplishment to achieve one PhD. Yu Hou has two to his name. Over five years, Yu completed his PhD in business administration from Tsinghua University in China, publishing for papers in Chinese journals in the process. He then came to Canada and completed a PhD in accounting from Rotman School of Management.

When he arrived at Smith in 2013, Yu dove into the rich area of accounting research. Whether it’s earnings management, fraud, or behavioral studies, he says, accounting provides an important and unique window on capital markets.

While Yu says he’s “just starting out as a researcher,” he may be overly modest: Yu has already been successful in applying for two SSHRC Insight Development grants, one as co-investigator and another as principal investigator.

For one of those SSHRC-supported projects, Yu is working with Feng Chen of University of Toronto to study audit office switches and opinion shopping. Opinion shopping refers to companies seeking other auditors with a friendlier attitude when incumbent auditors are likely to issue unfavourable opinions. This project investigates audit office switches within the same audit firms. Yu hopes to present the first empirical evidence showing whether audit clients successfully engage in opinion shopping by switching audit offices.

In accepting the New Researcher Achievement Award, Yu gives a shout out to his colleagues at Smith and supportive research environment. “It’s something I really appreciate.,” he says. “Compared other schools, the support we receive here is tremendous.”