Academic Appointments and Affiliations

Education

  • Ph.D. 2010

    Ph.D. in Business and Management

    Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park (2005-2010)

  • M.A.2004

    Master of Arts in Economics

    University of Maryland, College Park (2002-2004)

  • M.A.2002

    Master of Arts in Economics

    School of Economics, Peking University (2000-2002)

  • B.A.2000

    Bachelor of Arts in Economics

    School of Economics, Peking University (1996-2000)

Honors, Awards and Grants

  • 2016
    Eller College Small Research Grant
    With Wei Chen (project on equity crowdfunding). Eller College of Management, University of Arizona.
  • 2016
    Kalt Prize for doctoral student placement
    For Chenhui Guo's placement at Michigan State University. Eller College of Management, University of Arizona.
  • 2015
    Management Science Best Paper Award in Information Systems
  • 2015
    Management Science Distinguished Service Award
  • 2015
    University of California Santa Cruz, Center for Analytical Finance, Small Research Grant
    To study the role of diversity in online crowdfunding.
  • 2015
    Kauffman Foundation Research Grant
    Funding from Kauffman Foundation to study women entrepreneurs in equity crowdfunding, using data from US and UK.
  • 2015
    Eller College Small Research Grant
    Funding to study equity crowdfunding.
  • 2015
    Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative Research Proposal Competitions
    BazaarVoice and Equilar
  • 2015
    Nomination for INFORMS CIST Best Conference Paper Award
    For paper coauthored with Zaiyan Wei (institutional investors in online debt crowdfunding).
  • 2014
    Management Science Distinguished Service Award
  • 2014
    Nomination for INFORMS CIST Best Conference Paper Award
    For paper coauthored with Qiang Gao (informational value of texts in online crowdfunding).
  • 2013
    McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, Interdisciplinary Research Grant
    Funding to study signaling in online labor markets; joint with Yong Liu (Eller Marketing)
  • 2012
    NET Institute Summer Research Grant
    Funding to study online labor markets.
  • 2012
    Nomination for INFORMS CIST Best Conference Paper Award
    For paper coauthored with Siva Viswanathan and Yong Liu (effect of reputation under contracts in online labor markets).
  • 2011
    McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, Small Research Grant
    Funding to study online labor markets.
  • 2010
    NET Institute, Summer Research Grant
    Funding to study online labor markets.
  • 2010
    Paine Award for Academic Excellence
    Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park
  • 2009
    Nomination for ICIS Best Conference Paper Award
    For paper coauthored with Siva Viswanathan and N.R. Prabhala (social networks in online peer-to-peer lending).
  • 2009
    Best Doctoral Student Paper Award, INFORMS CIST
    For paper coauthored with Siva Viswanathan and N.R. Prabhala (social networks in online peer-to-peer lending).
  • 2009
    Kauffman Foundation Dissertation Fellowship Grant
    Funding from Kauffman Foundation for dissertation support (online crowdfunding, and online labor markets).
  • 2009
    Economic Club of Washington Doctoral Fellowship Grant
    Funding for dissertation support (online crowdfunding, and online labor markets).
  • 2009
    Research Grant for Social Value Creation, R.H.Smith School of Business
    Funding for research on microfinance and online crowdfunding for third world countries.

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Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications

Effectiveness of Reputation in Contracting for Customized Production: Evidence from Online Labor Markets

Mingfeng Lin, Yong Liu, and Siva Viswanathan
Online Labor MarketsManagement Science, forthcoming

Abstract

This study examines the effects of reputation in the nascent but rapidly growing online labor markets. In these markets contract winners (vendors) provide clients with customized products such as computer software, business plans and artistic designs. The products are used primarily for business purposes and require time for production after project-specific contracts are awarded. These characteristics render it unclear whether online reputation will have similar effects as in online retailing, where finished and standardized products are sold for consumption. We analyze field transaction data from a major online labor market. The analyses using matched contract samples and vendor panels consistently show that, despite the governing power provided by contracts as well as the litigation and arbitration options, vendors’ online reputation can still be influential on clients. Vendors who have no reputation ratings are less likely to be chosen, and those with higher ratings are more likely to win subsequent bids. Importantly, however, such influences depend on the contract form that is used for a particular transaction—they are significant in output-based contracts but non-significant in input-based contacts. Besides extending the research on online reputation to the markets of customized production, this study shows contract form as an important boundary condition for the effectiveness of reputational information. It also provides direct managerial implications for electronic commerce in general and online labor markets in particular.

Market Mechanisms in Online Peer-to-Peer Lending

Zaiyan Wei and Mingfeng Lin
CrowdfundingManagement Science, forthcoming

Abstract

Online Peer-to-Peer lending (P2P lending) has emerged as an appealing new channel of financing in recent years. A fundamental but largely unanswered question in this nascent industry is the choice of market mechanisms, i.e., how the supply and demand of funds are matched, and the terms (price) at which transactions will occur. Two of the most popular mechanisms are auctions (where the "crowd" determines the price of the transaction through an auction process) and posted prices (where the platform determines the price). While P2P lending platforms typically use one or the other, there is little systematic research on the implications of such choices for market participants, transaction outcomes, and social welfare. We address this question both theoretically and empirically. We first develop a game-theoretic model that yields empirically testable hypotheses, taking into account the incentive of the platform. We then test these hypotheses by exploiting a regime change from auctions to posted prices on one of the largest P2P lending platforms. Consistent with our hypotheses, we find that under platform-mandated posted prices, loans are funded with higher probability, but the pre-set interest rates are higher than borrowers' starting interest rates and contract interest rates in auctions. More important, all else equal, loans funded under posted prices are more likely to default, thereby undermining lenders' returns on investment and their surplus. Although platform-mandated posted prices may be faster in originating loans, auctions that rely on the "crowd" to discover prices are not necessarily inferior in terms of overall social welfare.

Do Incentive Hierarchies Induce User Effort? Evidence from an Online Knowledge Exchange

Paulo Goes, Chenhui Guo, and Mingfeng Lin
Online CommunitiesInformation Systems Research, forthcoming

Abstract

UGC (User-generated content) websites routinely deploy incentive hierarchies, where users achieve increasingly higher status in the community after achieving increasingly more difficult goals, to motivate users to contribute. Yet the existing empirical literature remains largely unclear whether such hierarchies are indeed effective in inducing user contributions. We gathered data from a large online crowd-based knowledge exchange to answer this question, and drew on the goal setting theory to study users’ contributions before and after they reach consecutive levels of a vertical incentive hierarchy. We found evidence that even though these “glory”-based incentives may motivate users to contribute more before the goals are reached, user contribution levels dropped significantly after that. In other words, the cumulative effect appears only temporary. Our results hence highlight some unintended and heretofore undocumented effects of incentive hierarchies, and have important implications for business models that rely on user contributions, such as knowledge exchange and crowdsourcing, as well as the broader phenomenon of “gamification” in other contexts.

Home Bias in Online Investments: An Empirical Study of An Online Crowdfunding Market

Mingfeng Lin, Siva Viswanathan
CrowdfundingManagement Science (2016), Volume 62, Issue 5, Pages 1393-1414

Abstract

An extensive literature in economics and finance has documented “home bias,” the tendency that transactions are more likely to occur between parties in the same geographical area, rather than outside. Using data from a large online crowdfunding marketplace and employing a quasi-experimental design, we find evidence that home bias still exists in this virtual marketplace for financial products. Furthermore, through a series of empirical tests, we show that rationality-based explanations cannot fully explain such behavior, and that behavioral reasons at least partially drive this remarkable phenomenon. As crowdfunding becomes an alternative and increasingly appealing channel for financing, a better understanding of home bias in this new context provides important managerial, practical, and policy implications.

"Popularity Effect" in User-Generated Content: Evidence from Online Product Reviews

Paulo Goes, Mingfeng Lin, Albert Au Yeung
Online Communities Information Systems Research (2014), Volume 25, Issue 2, Pages 222-238.

Abstract

Online product reviews are increasingly important for consumer decisions, yet we still know little about how reviews are generated in the first place. In an effort to gather more reviews, many websites encourage user interactions such as allowing one user to subscribe to another. Do these interactions actually facilitate the generation of product reviews? More importantly, what kind of reviews do such interactions induce? We study these questions using data from one of the largest product review websites where users can subscribe to one another. By applying both panel data and a flexible matching method, we find that as users become more popular, they produce more reviews and more objective reviews; however, their numeric ratings also systematically change and become more negative and more varied. Such trade-off has not been previously documented and has important implications for both product review and other user-generated content websites.

Judging Borrowers by the Company They Keep: Friendship Networks and Information Asymmetry in Online Peer-to-Peer Lending

Mingfeng Lin, N. R. Prabhala, Siva Viswanathan
CrowdfundingManagement Science (2013), Volume 59, Issue 1, Pages 17-35

Abstract

We study the online market for peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, in which individuals bid on unsecured microloans sought by other individual borrowers. Using a large sample of consummated and failed listings from the largest online P2P lending marketplace, Prosper.com, we find that the online friendships of borrowers act as signals of credit quality. Friendships increase the probability of successful funding, lower interest rates on funded loans, and are associated with lower ex post default rates. The economic effects of friendships show a striking gradation based on the roles and identities of the friends. We discuss the implications of our findings for the disintermediation of financial markets and the design of decentralized electronic markets.


Too Big to Fail: Large Samples and the p-Value Problem

Mingfeng Lin, Hank Lucas, Galit Shmueli
Other Information Systems Research (2013), Volume 24, Issue 4, Pages 906-917.

Abstract

The Internet has provided IS researchers with the opportunity to conduct studies with extremely large samples, frequently well over 10,000 observations. There are many advantages to large samples, but researchers using statistical inference must be aware of the p-value problem associated with them. In very large samples, p-values go quickly to zero, and solely relying on p-values can lead the researcher to claim support for results of no practical significance. In a survey of large sample IS research, we found that a significant number of papers rely on a low p-value and the sign of a regression coefficient alone to support their hypotheses. This research commentary recommends a series of actions the researcher can take to mitigate the p-value problem in large samples and illustrates them with an example of over 300,000 camera sales on eBay. We believe that addressing the p-value problem will increase the credibility of large sample IS research as well as provide more insights for readers.

Working Papers

Lemon or Cherry? The Value of Texts in Debt Crowdfunding

Paper under review. Coauthored with Qiang Gao.
Crowdfunding

Abstract

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, as a form of debt-based crowdfunding, has received much attention in the past several years. Text, in particular, is a prevalent feature but much less understood. While there have been some studies on the role of texts in this context, they consider text as a control variable, and use manual coded small samples. Our study is one of the first to use a scalable approach to examine the informational value of texts borrowers write when requesting funds in debt crowdfunding. We first examine data from exogenous events on Prosper.com, and show that investors indeed consider textual descriptions when investing. Then, we show that text features can indeed explain and predict loan default, using both explanatory and predictive models. Finally, we show that investors correctly interpret the informational value of some, but not all, features of texts. Our study points to opportunities for efficiency improvement not yet documented in the crowdfunding literature, and has implications for researchers, platform owners, and regulators.

Does Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records Improve Quality of Care?

Paper under review. Coauthored with Yukai Lin and Hsinchun Chen.
Other

Abstract

Electronic health record (EHR) system holds great promise in transforming healthcare. Existing empirical literature typically focused on its adoption, and found mixed evidence on whether EHR improves care. The federal initiative for meaningful use (MU) of EHR aims to maximize the potential of quality improvement, yet there is little empirical study on the impact of the initiative and, more broadly, the relation between MU and quality of care. IT usage has been an important construct in MIS research and is a key antecedent in realizing the values of IT, considering that IT adoption itself does not always imply use. Leveraging features of the Medicare EHR Incentive Program for exogenous variations, we examine the impact of MU on healthcare quality in acute care hospitals in the United States. We find that EHR adoption alone does not contribute to quality improvement. However, MU significantly and consistently improves quality of care. More importantly, this quality effect from MU is greater in historically disadvantaged hospitals such as small, non-teaching, or rural hospitals. Our results present significant implications not only for health IT research and practice, but more broadly, also for the use and values of IT as well.

When More is Less: Field Evidence on Unintended Consequences of Multitasking

Paper under review. Coauthored with Paulo Goes, Noyan Ilk, and Leon Zhao.
Other

Working paper available upon request.

Does Information Really "Unravel"? Understanding Factors That Motivate Sellers to Seek Third-Party Certifications in an Online Labor Market

Coauthored with Paulo Goes. Revision in progress.
Online Labor Markets

Abstract

Despite the abundance of studies on consequences of certification, there is little empirical research on what motivates sellers to attempt certifications in the first place. One of the most intriguing theoretical predictions is the “information unraveling” proposition, which predicts a “domino- effect” in sellers’ certification-seeking behavior when a certification opportunity arises. To test this proposition, and to further identify factors that motivate sellers to seek certifications, we exploit two unique natural experiments and detailed transaction data from a large online labor market. The first natural experiment was the introduction of certifications into the market, with a fee; and the second occurred when certification exams were made free. We derive and test hypotheses on factors that motivate sellers to seek certifications, including word-of-mouth, repeat customers, cost of certification, and informational cascading. We also find that, contrary to theoretical predictions, certification status negatively impacts some sellers’ ability to obtain contracts. These findings have important managerial as well as academic implications.

"Smart Money": Institutional Investors in Online Crowdfunding

Coauthored with Richard Sias and Zaiyan Wei. Manuscript in preparation.
Crowdfunding

Preliminary draft of the paper is available upon request.

Spatial Distribution of Online Alternative Finance: Field Evidence from the UK Crowdfunding Industry

Coauthored with Bryan Zhang. Manuscript in preparation.
Crowdfunding

Working paper available soon.

"Banking" on the Internet: Does Internet Banking Really Improve Bank Performance?

Coauthored with Hank Lucas and Joseph Bailey.
Other

Abstract

Internet banking represents an important innovation in the banking industry, yet empirical analyses of how it affects bank performance remain rare. Using a comprehensive dataset of U.S. banks between 2003 and 2008, we combine propensity-score matching and difference-in-differences methods to study how the adoption of Internet banking affects bank performance. Contrary to common wisdom and several previous studies, we find only modest evidence that Internet banking adoption improves bank performance. In fact, the adoption of Internet banking actually results in worse performance for many banks. Additional analyses suggest that younger banks and banks that are earlier adopters are more likely to enjoy the benefits of Internet banking.

Peer-Reviewed Conference Proceedings

Can Social Networks Mitigate Information Asymmetry in Online Markets

Mingfeng Lin, Siva Viswanathan and N. Prabhala
Crowdfunding Proceedings of the 30th International Conference on Information Systems (2009)

Peer-to-peer Lending: An Empirical Investigation

Mingfeng Lin
Crowdfunding Proceedings of the 2009 America's Conference on Information Systems (2009)

Bidder Migration

Mingfeng Lin, Wolfgang Jank
Other Proceedings of the 2008 America's Conference on Information Systems (2008)

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Current Courses

  • Present 2016

    Economics of Information Systems (PhD Seminar)

    Introduces PhD students to economics of information systems (applying theories and research methods in economics to subjects of interest in information systems). To start in the fall of 2016.

  • Present 2011

    Project Management (Undergraduate)

    Teaches principles of project management using a combination of lectures, tutorials, and simulations. Starting from 2015, this class is delivered fully online.

  • Present 2011

    Business Foundations for IT (MS in MIS)

    Focuses on critical thinking and communication skills for MS in MIS students. Uses a combination of lectures, team-based case competitions (debates), data visualization and analyses, and guest lectures. The lectures cover basic principles in strategy, marketing, and other non-IT aspects of business.

  • Present 2014

    Project Management (Online MBA)

    Teaches principles of project management using a combination of lectures, tutorials, simulations and team assignments. Delivered fully online.

  • Present 2015

    Project Management (MIS Online)

    Teaches principles of project management using a combination of lectures, tutorials, simulations and team assignments. Delivered fully online.

Previously Taught

  • 2008 2007

    Introduction to Management Information Systems

    Taught this as a PhD student in the R.H.Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park. For undergraduate students (Fall 2007).

The best way to reach me is via email, but you can also reach me using other methods listed here. Please leave a voice message if you call. The mailing address for my office is:

  •                         1130 E. Helen St.
  •                         430V, MIS Department
  •                         Eller College of Management, University of Arizona
  •                         Tucson, AZ 85721

Google Map for McClelland Hall:

  •    office: +1(520)621-2684
  •    mingfeng@eller.arizona.edu
  •    lin.mingfeng
  •    /in/mingfeng
  • Jun. 2016

    Tsinghua University, PBC School of Finance (scheduled)

  • Apr. 2016

    Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

  • Feb. 2016

    Kauffman Emerging Scholars Conference (scheduled)

  • Nov. 2015

    Weiland Speaker Series, Department of Marketing, University of Arizona

  • Oct. 2015

    Simon School of Business, University of Rochester

  • Oct. 2015

    MIS Speaker Series, MIS Department, University of Arizona

  • Sep. 2015

    Third Annual Acadmic Symposium on Crowdfunding, University of California, Berkeley

  • May 2015

    Industry Studies Conference, Kansas City, MO

  • Apr. 2015

    Workshop on “Financial Access, New Platforms for Finance,” Center for Analytical Finance at the University of California, Santa Cruz

  • Feb. 2015

    Rady School of Business, University of California, San Diego

  • Jan. 2014

    Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Oct. 2013

    Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University

  • Oct. 2013

    Academic Symposium on Crowdfunding, University of California, Berkeley

  • Oct. 2013

    Conference on Information Systems and Technology (CIST)

  • Feb. 2013

    Department of Economics, University of Arizona

  • Dec. 2012

    Workshop on Information Systems and Economics (WISE)

  • Oct. 2012

    Conference on Information Systems and Technology (CIST); INFORMS Annual Meeting

  •       Associate Editor, Information Systems ResearchSpecial Issue on Digital Infrastructure and Platforms
  •       Advisory board member, StageXchange.com
  •       Co-Chair and Program Committee Member, , International Summit on Smart Finance (May 2016)
  •       Mentor, Kauffman Entrepreneurship Mentoring Workshop (Januaray 2016)
  •       Associate Editor, International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) (2013, 2014, 2016)
  •       Associate Editor, European Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) (2016)
  •       Cluster Co-Chair, INFORMS Annual Meeting, eBusiness Cluster (2015)
  •       Track Co-Chair, International Conference on Electronic Commerce (2014)
  •       Track Co-Chair, Pacific Asia Conference on Information Systems (Economics of IS Track) (2012)
  •       Program Committee member, INFORMS Conference on Information Systems and Technology (CIST) (2010-present)
  •       Program Committee member, China Summer Workshop on Information Management (CSWIM) (2014, 2015, 2016)
  •       Conference Co-Chair, Statistical Challenges in Electronic Commerce Research (SCECR) (2011)