Mallipeddi, Rakesh Reddy (2019-05). Essays on Operational Problems in Digital Economy. Doctoral Dissertation.
In this dissertation, I investigate operational issues in the context of online social networks and digital economy. The first essay analyzes the phenomenon of open technology in the context of resource allocation. In this study, based on evidence from prior literature and current business practices, I develop optimal control models to determine the optimal extent of technology openness and firm's effort levels for maintaining an existing technology and developing a newer version of the technology. I derive and discuss important insights and shed light on the business practices of major technology firms. In the second essay, I develop a data-driven prescriptive framework for conducting an influencer marketing campaign on online social networks. Influencer marketing involves hiring influencers to promote products on behalf of a firm. The effectiveness of an influencer marketing campaign depends on choosing the right set of influencers for seeding and scheduling of ads on social media platforms. I first develop an optimization model to select influencers and then propose a model to schedule their posts on social media. Next, I develop a polynomial time heuristic that provides a near-optimal solution for selecting influencers. Next, using actual data from a popular social network, I demonstrate the superior performance of our selection model against current industry practices. Finally, the third essay empirically analyzes the effects of social media content created by influencers on audience engagement. In particular, I focus on the tone of an influencer's content, an important emotional facet that plays a vital role in determining whether an audience engages with the content. Our results demonstrate that the tone of social media content affects the engagement levels of an influencer with the audience. In addition, the findings from this study establish the moderating role of an influencer's popularity and the tone of related brands on the relationship between an influencer's tone and engagement. The results of these essays provide prescriptive solutions that are easy to implement and several important managerial insights.