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WVU’s value of curiosity shines through in management professor’s research initiatives

Dr. Jodi Goodman, WVU College of Business and Economics professor of management

As summer passes by, you probably won’t find Dr. Jodi Goodman in the classroom. But you can certainly find the WVU College of Business and Economics professor of management transforming the field as she works on her research.

As an R-1 research activity institution, WVU values pioneering faculty who strive to find solutions. Goodman demonstrates just that. In fact, she was one of 12 B&E faculty members to be awarded a summer research grant to progress her research efforts.

“For this project, I am working with two doctoral students on a decision-making study. We’re looking at how people make decisions in the context of restricted stock. One of the students became interested in this because a lot of companies are providing shares of restricted stock to employees who may not have the expertise needed to manage their portfolios” she said. “The substantive part of this study can help businesses figure out whether they are likely to be meeting their strategic goals when it comes to providing these assets. Companies provide restricted stock to employees as part of compensation packages, as a long-term incentive to improve retention and performance.  But, can companies reach these goals if people don't understand how they should manage these assets?  The purpose of our study is to understand how people value restricted stock and make decisions to sell or hold the stock after it is vested.  The results of the study will help organizations make decisions about whether to offer restricted stock as compensation and how to manage the process in a way that helps both companies and employees.”

Goodman’s research interests and efforts go beyond this. Her interests include learning processes that contribute to the development of adaptive expertise; tensions arising from companies pursuing economic goals and social goals; organizational responses to public policy, competitive, and market environments; and research methodology. Her interest in research began during her undergraduate studies in psychology at Binghamton University.

“Binghamton had a lot of research opportunities for undergraduates. And so, I got involved in research in clinical psych. I worked with a professor and his doctoral students on research in thought disorders in people with schizophrenia, which is very different from what I'm doing now. I learned a lot and enjoyed the research process,” she said.

Although she had that affinity for research, she did not go directly into her doctoral studies. After graduation, Goodman entered the workforce. Originally from Albany, New York, she returned home to work as a mental health case manager at Albany County Mental Health Clinic, working with homeless, mentally ill people. From there, she went to work at The Arc, the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
 
“I always wanted to be a professor, and while I was working, I was trying to figure out what field to go into.  When I started researching graduate schools, that's when I came across industrial organizational psychology and organizational behavior and started relating what I was experiencing at work to those fields. I chose business school over psychology because of the broader nature of the programs.”

And even today, Goodman, who earned her doctorate at Georgia Institute of Technology, can see a hint of her previous life in clinical psychology as she works through her research.

“I think about how the behaviors some of the Arc clients engaged in -- whether it was aggression or self-abuse, which was so sad to see – were often caused by or at least exacerbated by the staff and how they handled things,” Goodman said. “I taught the crisis intervention and prevention program to staff.  For example, I would teach the staff members to speak calmly to a client in distress, and they would say, ‘But she can't hear me, she's screaming.’ I would explain they were supposed to be modeling calm behaviors to calm people down.  So, the initial goal was to prevent some of these problems from happening in the first place and that obviously carries over to business – how you manage people.”

For years, Goodman found herself wanting to delve into research with social value and public policy implications, and she is now stepping out her comfort zone and making it a reality with a study of the health insurance industry. Prior to joining B&E in 2012, Goodman was at the University of Connecticut (UConn), where the idea formed right before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.

“One of my Ph.D. students [at UConn] returned to graduate school after working in the insurance industry. We started talking about what companies might do in reaction to or in anticipation of changes in health insurance laws,” she said. “I was really interested in the effects of regulation and other parts of the institutional environment on the portfolio of products insurance companies would focus on – individual insurance, group insurance, the different federal government insurance products. We thought companies may start to turn more to the individual market because of the ACA legislation. But it was too early to study the ACA.”  

So, she started looking at differences among states, which took a few years, and now, Goodman is working on the health insurance study with a B&E Ph.D. student. 

“We collected data from various sources on states’ regulatory, economic and competitive environments, and characteristics of their populations,” she said. “Information about individual health insurance companies was purchased from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).”

“We’re taking a holistic look at the regulatory, competitive, economic, and market environment in which health insurers operate and how it all works together to impact organizations, particularly insurers’ choices regarding the products they choose to focus on and what states they choose to operate in. We anticipate our results will provide valuable information to public policy makers for developing and structuring policy in a way that considers important aspects of the environments in which insurers operate. The ultimate goal is to help the communities and customers insurers serve,” she said.

In addition to research, Goodman is the Management Ph.D. program coordinator and does a great service to B&E and the profession by serving as associate editor for Group and Organization Management and sitting on several editorial boards of well-respected journals. And as an educator, she enjoys helping and motivating students to learn problem solving and critical reasoning skills and to develop adaptive expertise in their fields of interest.