Personal profile

Research interests

Zherui Yang is interested in research topics of digital transformation and business strategy, the value and impact of information technology, business intelligence and big data analytics, e-commerce, and business ecosystem. His works mainly apply field experiments, but he often uses multimethod research approaches to enrich the empirical settings, such as lab and online experiment, machine learning, econometrics, survey, and interview. 

His dissertation focuses on human centric digital transformation. In this research area, he discusses the role of individual heterogeneity in organizational digital transformations and its impact on the effectiveness of digitalization processes. By exploring this topic, he would like to shed light on the significance of human element in the digital world.

In his first paper, he investigates the impact of consent re-elicitation (i.e., GDPR impact) on companies’ digital migration and customers’ opt-in in digitally lagging contexts. Moreover, he proposes new notions of customer heterogeneity, namely digital activeness, and information proactiveness, and examines their roles in effective digital migration and consent authorization. By conducting field experiments, he finds that opt-in for digital migration increases when GDPR-compliant consent is proactively elicited. Also, customers with higher digital activeness are more likely to opt-in, while customers with varying information proactiveness respond divergently, depending on campaign design’s informativeness. The conference version of this paper was accepted for presentation in several significant conferences in the field of Information Systems (IS), such as ICIS 2019, CODE@MIT 2019, CIST 2019, and INFORMS 2019.

In his second dissertation paper, he focuses on digital transformation in a more advanced context where companies adopt machine learning techniques (i.e., life event prediction) and studies the effect of life-event targeting on customers’ conversion in an insurance context. He conducts a field experiment to examine the effectiveness of life-event targeting and an online experiment to explore the underlying mechanism. The findings suggest that customers’ information seeking need mediates the positive effect of life-event targeting on customers’ conversion, while customers with higher choice uncertainty and those with lower knowledge uncertainty are more likely to respond to life-event targeting. The conference version of this paper was nominated as the best paper award runner-up at the Workshop on e-Business (WeB) 2020 and has been accepted for presentations in multiple leading IS conferences, such as SCECR 2020, CSWIM 2021, INFORMS 2021 and CODE@MIT 2022.

In his third dissertation paper, he studies human centric digital transformation in an industrial context. . In a field study, he demonstrates that there is an immediate gain in performance improvement after a short-term AR usage. Specifically, by improving how workers absorb and process all the information, AR enhances workers’ information processing speed and consequently improves task performance. Moreover, workers’ perception of extraneous cognitive load towards how information is presented and their uncertainty avoidance towards working information significantly moderates the positive effect of AR effect. The conference version of this paper has been accepted for presentations in SCECR 2022, CSWIM 2022, INFORMS 2022 and DSI 2022.

Moreover, in one of his other projects, he examines the value of AR on the hearing-impaired. People with disabilities suffer many kinds of injustice. While legal remedies are naturally seen as a key to improving their lives, the role of digital technology in mitigating social injustice should not be overlooked. He explores the impact of AR on reducing social inequality faced by the hearing-impaired and demonstrates that AR can empower them internally by improving their psychological well-being and externally by increasing their communicative effectiveness. By exploring this topic, he would like to emphasize on the role of digital technology in contributing to social issues. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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