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Northwestern Partnership to Yield New Workplace Insights

Northwestern/analytics firm to uncover how business and employees can better work together

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May 1, 2014 | by Hilary Hurd Anyaso

CHICAGO -- The Workforce Science Project of Northwestern University School of Law’s Searle Center on Law, Regulation, and Economic Growth is partnering with a top analytics firm to gain new insights about how businesses and employees can better work together.

Evolv, a leading provider of big data workforce analytics solutions, is collaborating with Northwestern faculty on three projects related to the employee screening process, labor productivity and employee recruitment. Its extensive collection of workforce data holds the promise of creating a better workplace for employees and a more profitable human capital performance for their employers.

“Our team here at Northwestern is excited to partner with Evolv,” said Nicola Persico, professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at the Kellogg School of Management and academic director of the Workforce Science Project. “Their unique data, paired with Northwestern faculty’s expertise, is already producing new academic findings and delivering actionable insight for business.”

Academic-business partnerships are relatively rare in human capital research. A key mission of the Workforce Science Project is to increase collaboration on workforce topics.

The Northwestern/Evolv collaborative projects include:

  • Studying how the hiring process might be able to screen out “toxic employees” whose presence in the workplace detracts from co-workers’ performance and potentially poses a legal risk to their employer (with Dylan Minor, assistant professor of managerial economics & decision sciences, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern) 
  • Examining how labor productivity changes over the course of the business cycle (with David Berger, assistant professor of economics, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Northwestern)
  • Studying whether job testing software or recruiter discretion produces better hires (with Danielle Li, assistant professor of management and strategy, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern; Mitchell Hoffman, University of Toronto; and Lisa Kahn, Yale University)

“Evolv is one of the very few firms committed to validating its work in a rigorous, transparent academic setting,” said Deborah M. Weiss, director of the Workforce Science Project. 

Michael Housman, chief analytics officer at Evolv, said the firm is trying to change the perception that big data is something to be feared.

“As we move to a more service -- or information-driven economy, a thriving and satisfied workforce is paramount,” Housman said. “Our projects with Northwestern seek to uncover new insights about how businesses and employees can work together to benefit both the bottom line and employees’ careers.”

Topics: University