A smart customer service employee knows there is a fine line between a pleasant, efficient discussion of the customer's needs leading to the discovery that she would be better served with the company's upgraded service ... and an exchange resulting in that same customer canceling her service, slamming down the phone in frustration. In either case, the result depends largely on the qualities of the individual employee. But how many companies realize the value in acquiring and retaining a top-flight front line of service employees? A marketing professor at the W. P. Carey School of Business and her colleagues believe that successful companies do more than come up with a strategy to provide customized customer service — they know it is the employees on the front line who have to implement that strategy.

Basic research is the raw material of new knowledge and the base of an innovative society, says Dennis Hoffman, associate dean for research at the W. P. Carey School of Business. But how much public money should be spent on the research and development infrastructure, and what role should universities play? A paper written by W. P. Carey research Professor Kent Hill suggests that universities are better suited to pursue basic research than private firms or other research organizations. Hill's paper, "Universities in the U.S. National Innovation System," is one of a series written for ASU's Productivity and Prosperity Project (P3), a public policy research initiative.

The huge sums raised by corporate-driven Political Action Committees are legend, but the average voter is unaware of just how effective such contributions can be. Most citizens and even shareholders accept the existence of PACs, but questions arise when the legislation or favor that the company wanted ends up hurting more people than it helps, or when decisions are influenced more by money than by people — people who have only their votes to give. Research co-authored by a W. P. Carey School of Business professor quantifies the impact of business contributions and comes up with some surprising conclusions.

Good projects frequently fail — even when experienced managers are at the helm. In fact, the average project today will change the very nature of its organization in the process of fulfilling its objective, according to Dwight Smith-Daniels, a former professor of supply chain management at the W. P. Carey School of Business. With globalization, many projects now involve entities outside the company, outside the country. And projects are presenting unprecedented levels of uncertainty. Often it's difficult at the outset to define the desired outcomes, or the necessary resources and skills needed. The solution is a new approach to project management that builds in the adaptability business conditions now require.

Annual performance reviews can set stomachs to churning throughout the office, and with good reason. Tensions can run high if employees are put on the defensive by a supervisor who hasn't learned to conduct an evaluation effectively and with finesse. A professor of management at the W. P. Carey School of Business and his fellow researchers have discovered the key to successful performance reviews. Feedback, the researchers found, is more likely to be accepted and acted upon by employees if the criticism is given in specific, detailed terms, by a trusted, knowledgeable manager, in an environment that has been carefully cultivated to be feedback-friendly.