New Faculty Q&A: Yuanfang Lin
Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies
Yuanfang Lin joined the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics as an assistant professor in the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies in July 2019. Lin comes to the Lang School with a wealth of knowledge and experience in digital marketing and product innovation and management.
Lin’s research focuses on using theoretical modelling tools, which will be an asset for the new Marketing Analytics Centre. As one of the newest faculty members at the Lang School, we sat down with Lin to learn more about his research interests.
As one of the newest faculty members at Lang, tell us a bit about yourself.
I received my Ph.D. in Marketing from Olin School of Business at Washington University. I also hold a Master of Science degree in Applied Statistics from the University of Nevada-Reno, and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Renmin University of China.
My research interests include competitive strategy, informational service, retail pricing and new product development. Outside of research, you’ll find me following along my favorite sports – soccer and basketball – and reading or listening to music.
You mentioned your research interests. Among them, what research areas are you most interested in?
My main research approach has been identifying important, substantive marketing problems and constructing parsimonious analytical models that yield fundamental insights about firm and consumer behavior. By doing this, I seek empirical validation of these predictions using appropriate data.
Currently, I am particularly interested in examining how firms can utilize informational services in competitive business environments when facing consumers who are making purchase decisions under various types of uncertainty.
Could you elaborate on your current research?
Through this research project, I am identifying the drivers (from both the demand and the supply side) that would motivate a single innovating firm to lead the technological advancement and new product development for the entire industry. It also looks at the resulting impacts on the profitability of a few innovators, majority of non-innovating firms, and the entire industry sector.
What drew you to this research topic?
This is a joint research project with Dr. Amit Pazgal from Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University, and Dr. David Soberman from Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto. The primary motivation for this study is the commonly observed business phenomenon that within an innovative industry, there is typically just one (or very few) firms who have the true R&D capacity to lead the product innovation and development, while other firms within the industry are mainly “copycats” or “laggards” who provide products after the breakthrough technology has been introduced by the innovating firm.
Despite the limited number of true innovators within an industry, it is also interesting to observe that most firms (not just the innovator) within industry are profitable, and sometimes may even enjoy higher profits compared to the technology leader. Our research paper aims to explain the profitability of non-innovating firms, as well as the entire industry, through a positive externality conferred by the innovating firm due to the fact that consumers in the marketplace would have fairly different valuation towards an innovative product that is just introduced to the market.
What classes will you be teaching in the coming year? Which are you most excited to teach?
For the coming year, I will be teaching two fourth year undergraduate marketing courses. One is Management in Product Development (MCS4040) and the other is Food Product Development (MGMT4020), which is co-listed with a fourth-year undergraduate required course in the Department of Food Sciences (FOOD4260). Through this, I am excited to have the opportunity to engage in teaching collaboration with colleagues from the Department of Food Sciences.
I am also excited to be the coordinator of a research seminar series for graduate students in the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies. Several established marketing scholars from Canada and abroad will be visiting us and presenting cutting-edge research. Our own department faculty members will also present research projects during some of the weekly seminar meetings and provide advice to our graduate students on research and career development.
Favourite piece of advice from a mentor or inspiring figure in your life?
My teaching philosophy and practice over the years have been largely inspired by a famous saying from Yu Han (768AD ~824AD), an Educator and Philosopher from ancient China (Tang Dynasty):
A Teacher is one who could propagate the doctrine, impart professional knowledge and resolve doubts.