The Hub Q&A with Dr. Joe Cox

Q&A with Dr. Joe Cox

Athabasca University Canada Research Chair in Digital Disruption and Organizational Transformation (Tier 2)

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What is your post-secondary schooling history?

I studied economics as part of my post-secondary education and fell in love with the subject.  I went on to study economics at degree level and earned my PhD with a thesis entitled “Studies in Licit and Illicit Digital Entertainment Markets.” I taught and researched in an academic post for many years at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. However, I decided it was time for a change and saw the Canada Research Chair opportunity being advertised with AU, which was a perfect fit for my research experience and expertise.

Dr. Joe Cox

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When did you become a Canada Research Chair with AU?

I have just moved to Alberta from the U.K. and started in the role in September 2018. I am still acclimatizing to my new environment and am preparing myself for the harsh winters I keep hearing about! Everyone I have met so far has been very friendly and welcoming, which has really helped me to settle in. Over the past few weeks, I have researched the timing of patterns of contributions to online fundraising campaigns.

Dr. Joe Cox

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What was the process like to become a chair? Assuming it is not an easy or quick process to become a chair, why did you want to go through with it all?

The application process was quite lengthy and began more than a year ago. The first step was to secure a position at AU via a selection process with the Faculty of Business. Once they offered me the role, I then applied for external CRC program approval. It took approximately a month to prepare the paperwork and more than six months for a decision to be reached by the CRC panel.

There were a few trials and tribulations on the way but I made it through the process in the end; mostly thanks to the help I received from key staff at AU. All the effort was worthwhile, and it really is a great honour to have been awarded the position of Canada Research Chair.

Dr. Joe Cox

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What are the duties and expectations in your role as an AU chair?

A Tier 2 CRC post is awarded to exceptional emerging scholars. The primary goal for such chairholders is to achieve international recognition in their field within the next 5-10 years and to attract future researchers to the institution. The key to achieving these outcomes is undertaking original, innovative, and high-quality research, so my main duty in the role will be to focus on delivering these outcomes.

Dr. Joe Cox

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In layman’s terms, what is your current research about?

My research area is the digital economy. I am primarily interested in understanding how decision-making relates to the use of digital and online technologies. Digitization opens the possibility of collecting large and very detailed datasets reflecting a wide variety of individual-level behaviours, which is perfect for my area of research. I use specialist analytical techniques to draw insights from such data in varied contexts such as crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, online altruism, video gaming, piracy, and illegal file sharing.

Ultimately, I want to better understand the impact that technology is having on the ways in which people and organizations interact and make decisions.

Dr. Joe Cox

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When did you start studying this and why?

Technically, I am a Millennial (just!), and so have grown up during a period of tremendous technological change. I have seen first-hand how interactions and behaviours that are so important to established economic models have been transformed by new technologies. When I started thinking about areas I would like to research, I followed the old adage of writing about what I know. The digital economy was something of a niche area when I began my research journey, but the field of study has grown significantly within the last decade.

Dr. Joe Cox

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If you were to speak to someone who knows nothing about your research and expertise, can you summarize in a few sentences why they should be interested in your work? (The “so what” factor: How does it impact them or things they care about?)

It’s impossible to ignore the ubiquity of technology in our everyday lives. Digitization has transformed the way in which we acquire information, communicate with others, purchase products and services, and many other everyday tasks. My research is based around better understanding the behaviours and needs of consumers in this rapidly changing landscape, as well as the ways in which organizations can best respond to meet those needs.

Dr. Joe Cox

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Does your research affect or involve AU students? How?

I have started to form relationships with graduate research students who are working in areas related to my research, such as the implementation of blockchain technologies. I think my research would be of interest and relevance to AU students given the disruptive role that technology is having in their education, so they are very much living through the kind of issues that I am researching.

Dr. Joe Cox

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What does an average week look like for you?

I am still settling into my new role and developing new routines, so my day-to-day agenda is quite varied and flexible at the moment. My core activities, each week, typically include some combination of reviewing scholarly materials, manipulating and analyzing data, writing up findings and communicating with my research collaborators.

I normally have around three or four different research projects that I’m working on at any one time and must focus on making regular and sustained progress on each of them. In addition, I need to set aside enough time to honour my broader commitments to the AU Faculty of Business and undertaking the essential teaching and administration duties that form part of any academic post.

Dr. Joe Cox

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What are your short-term goals or intended research findings over the few years as research chair?

I have many current projects that I intend to continue developing over the short term, with a view to publishing my findings in high-quality international journals. I am using novel techniques to investigate such issues as discrimination in crowdfunding; the determinants of sales success in the video game software markets; and the effect of digital video-on-demand streaming services on other forms of media consumption, including digital piracy.

Over the next year, I intend to significantly develop projects looking at team composition and performance in eSports. I am also targeting the submission of a funding proposal, which would involve a longitudinal study with a panel of start-ups and small businesses to investigate the long-term impacts of crowdfunding on commercial performance and survival.

Dr. Joe Cox

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How will your intended research impact any, or all, of the following: AU students? AU as a university? Your community/Canada?

While I think my research interests align very closely with AU’s reputation for digital disruption, I think my work would have the greatest relevance for Canada as a whole. As the fourth industrial revolution is well and truly underway, there are more opportunities than ever before for innovative business models to turn established industries on their heads.

The Canadian economy is well-placed to take advantage of such opportunities, especially in areas of strength such as digital entertainment and interactive media. My research will allow more insights into how these markets work and how organizations can take advantage of these exciting new opportunities.

Dr. Joe Cox

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Is your research locally focused to your city or province? Or are you taking a national or international approach? Expand a bit?

Because I mostly undertake research using data from online platforms, my focus is very much international and in many respects transcends national boundaries. For example, I have undertaken research using big datasets reflecting engagement with crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and multiplayer video games that have included data gathered from participants all over the world.

Dr. Joe Cox

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How does being an AU CRC help your research?

Occupying the role of Canada Research Chair is highly prestigious and a great honour. I strongly believe that the widespread recognition and respect for the position will open doors to new connections that I might not otherwise have made. I find building collaborations to be one of the most exciting aspects of life as a researcher as I can be exposed to ideas and perspectives that have the potential to take my research in new directions.

Dr. Joe Cox

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  • November 13, 2018