Rolf Wigand honored with best paper award

Rolf Wigand

Rolf Wigand, a University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor emeritus, recently won an award for his collaborative research on the effects of the internet on the real estate industry.

 Wigand, UA Little Rock distinguished professor emeritus in both the departments of Information Science and Business Information Systems, was among three current and former Syracuse University professors recognized for a project that started nearly 20 years ago.

The Association for Information Science and Technology honored Wigand, a former Syracuse professor, and current Syracuse professors Kevin Crowston and Steven Sawyer with a best paper award during the organization’s 2016 annual meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In the paper — “Social Networks and the Success of Market Intermediaries: Evidence from the U.S. Residential Real Estate Industry” — the three researchers suggested that, contrary to popular thought, internet transactions would not easily replace the elaborate role of real estate agents.

Real estate transactions are more than bringing together buyers and sellers, the authors contended: Agents actually act as “ … quasi firms helping buyers and sellers navigate complex market transactions.”

Those roles include working with contracts, assisting with mortgage lenders, collaborating with home inspectors, and partnering with professionals in other industries.

“ … We find that ties to other professionals are more important than ties to buyers and sellers as predictors of the market intermediary’s income, counter to the general wisdom about real estate in particular and market intermediaries more generally,” the paper’s authors wrote.

Researchers used a national survey of 525 real estate agents and data from the U.S. residential real estate industry. The project was conducted in cooperation with the National Association of Realtors, and the research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Wigand, who held the role of Jerry L. Maulden-Entergy Endowed Chair at UA Little Rock, is a past director of the Center for Digital Commerce and the Graduate Program in Information Management at Syracuse University.

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