University of California, Riverside


Faculty Profile: Amnon Rapoport

 Traffic Network Decisions Right Up Amnon Rapoport’s Alley

When New York City decided to close Broadway in an effort to reduce traffic congestion in spring 2009, a management professor on the other side of the country watched closely. The experiment to improve Manhattan’s traffic circulation is similar to the kind of innovative research UCR Professor Amnon Rapoport conducts on choice of routes.

Rapoport, whose research interests include behavioral decision making and game theory, joined the UCR School of Business Administration faculty in 2008. The opportunity to develop Ph.D. and behavioral decision making programs appealed to him. “Rather than just sitting and writing more papers, I thought I could really do something that would make an impact,” he said.

Another draw for Rapoport was the resources the UCR business school placed into the construction of a laboratory dedicated to behavioral decision making studies. “We have a beautiful lab, fully equipped, 32 terminals, and it’s just a breeze to run experiments,” he said.

One of these experiments includes a recent study of traffic networks funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Rapoport sought to test a phenomenon that had heretofore never been studied experimentally:  Braess’s Paradox, which states that expanding a network may have an unexpectedly negative effect on users in the entire network. He recruited undergraduate student test subjects and gave them varying options for routes within a network. He presented the surprising results to an audience of business alumni during the 2010 UCR Homecoming festivities.

Decision making is an area that Rapoport believes is an integral part of business. "Management is basically about making decisions,” he said. “There are hundreds if not thousands of companies in the United States today of consultants who are being hired by companies as decision analysts.”

Rapoport seeks to share his passion for the study of behavioral decision making with UCR students. “I recommend that students take classes in behavioral decision [because] they have to learn the best way to analyze a decision making situation and to generate the best decision or the best course of action.”

Also, he believes coursework in behavior decision making would help students learn their own limitations in decision making. “If they are aware of how good they are or how bad they are at decision making, they can take it into account when they have to make decisions in different areas of management."

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