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Three MBA students named as research scholars

STANFORD - Three Stanford Business School students will study the growing pains of young Silicon Valley companies, methods of reducing the cost of hip replacement surgery and corporate hiring practices this summer as the school's first set of Dean's MBA Research Scholars.

The students, all first-year MBAs, were selected on the basis of their academic performance, professional background and interest in a specific topic being investigated by a faculty member. The program was created during the past academic year to honor academic excellence, promote MBA student involvement in faculty research and serve as a bridge between faculty and the MBA student body.

The first three scholars -- Scott Shimamoto, Vicky Keston and Nicholas Moore -- will bypass the traditional MBA summer jobs in major corporations or public agencies to do research full time this summer, supported by Business School funds.

Shimamoto will work with Michael Hannan, professor of organizational behavior and human resources, on the Stanford Project on Emerging Companies, detailing growth and changes in young Silicon Valley firms. Last year the Emerging Companies Project, directed by Hannan and Business School Associate Dean James Baron, gathered data from senior managers from about 100 firms with 10 or more employees founded since 1984.

The project's goal is "to understand the managerial challenges posed by rapid growth and change, especially the development of organizational structures, cultures, employment practices and business strategies during a company's early development," said Hannan. "We are interested in learning how entrepreneurial firms seek to align these features and how alignment affects success."

Shimamoto will add to the project's data base, collecting information on up to 50 firms through in-depth interviews with founders and senior managers, documenting the firm's history and preparing summary reports.

"My long-term career goal is to start my own high-tech company," said Shimamoto, who holds an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering. Before coming to the business school, he worked for a small high-tech firm in Texas in a variety of roles from customer support to engineering manager.

Keston, whose undergraduate degree is in mechanical engineering, plans to go into health care management after receiving her MBA. She will work with Alain Enthoven, the Marriner S. Eccles Professor of Public and Private Management, on a project to identify successful ways that medical practitioners have cut costs and improved the quality of medical care.

"Many people in health care seem to be looking for a 'silver bullet,' a single shot that will solve the cost/quality problem," said Enthoven. "They don't seem to understand that progress usually comes in the form of a cumulative process of many innovations, each of which is incremental, but which taken together can have a very large effect."

The research work will concentrate on total hip replacement surgery, a procedure in which hospital stays have been reduced from 18 days 10 years ago to four days in some cases today. Autologous blood transfusions, in which the patient donates his/her own blood before surgery, have reduced complications in some cases. Physical therapy has been started immediately after surgery to reduce the need for painkillers and speed rehabilitation, and some patients now begin muscle-strengthening exercise, are taught to walk on crutches and outfit their homes to accommodate rehabilitation before surgery.

The research project will document changes that allow decreased hospital stays; the impact of inpatient and outpatient services on total cost; and the impact of changes on quality of care.

In the third project, Moore, who worked for Mercer Management Consulting in London before enrolling in the business school, will work with Roberto Fernandez, professor of organizational behavior, investigating whether people hired into a firm through network recruiting -- referrals from other employees of the same firm -- are any more successful than those hired through outside channels.

Common wisdom is that people hired through referral networks are pre-screened and so should be better matched to the position and the firm. During winter and spring quarters, Moore and graduating MBA student Patrick Behar worked with Fernandez on a project to analyze a group of people employed by a major bank from their initial contact with the firm through their first-year performance appraisal. Moore will continue the work this summer, analyzing the data collected and writing summaries of the findings.

In recent years, Stanford MBA students have found increasing opportunities to play a role in faculty research and course development. Eighteen MBA students worked with Garth Saloner, the Robert A. Magowan Professor of Strategic Management, interviewing corporate computer users as part of an ongoing research project charting trends in computer users' needs. Last summer, three MBAs took part in the first round of information gathering for the Emerging Companies Project.

"These types of projects help students gain a better understanding of the faculty research process and also give the faculty the benefit of working with some of our very talented students on projects outside of the classroom," said Dean A. Michael Spence.


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