Information & Decision Sciences Assistant Professor Yuqing Ren shares answers to five questions that reveal the issues she's studying, following, teaching, and reading about today. Plus a peek into the life she imagines, were she not teaching at the Carlson School. 

Q: What is/are your current area(s) of research? What business challenges are you helping to solve?

A: My current research focuses on business use of social media technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking sites. Many businesses have began leveraging these new platforms and technologies to interact with their customers externally and to connect and engage employees internally. My research tackles two common challenges: (1) the lack of control in user-generated word-of-mouth and its impact on brand evaluation, and (2) the lack of adoption and effective use of enterprise social software and its impact on employee engagement. I have several working papers on the contents and impact of user-generated word-of-mouth on Facebook business pages. 

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My current research focuses on business use of social media technologies.

Q: What current business issues or stories in the news are you following and why?

A: It is an exciting era for IT people with so many exciting things happening. There is always more than enough to track and learn. I pay special attention to news stories related to social media, the sharing economy such as Uber and Airbnb, artificial intelligence such as self-driving cars and robots, and smart appliances like smart diapers—yikes! But yes, they are real.

Q: What is your favorite class to teach?

A: My elective on Business Use of Social Media. I teach an undergraduate version and an MBA version. The course goal is to equip students with knowledge to critically think about and leverage social media technologies in a wide variety of business areas including human resources, marketing, innovation and technology. I strongly encourage students with an interest in these areas to consider taking the course. 

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The course goal is to equip students with knowledge to critically think about and leverage social media technologies.

Q: If you weren’t a business school professor, what would you be doing?

A: Possibly a writer or a teacher, something that can fulfill my intellectual curiosity and my desire to teach or preach.

Q: What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

A: "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand and the book is way better than the movie.