Viva Ox Vegas!

After a great first year in Ohio, the Congers are moving (as of Aug 1, 2015) from the Cincinnati neighborhood of Wyoming, OH to Oxford, OH, where Miami U. is located. Our jobs, email, phone numbers, etc will stay the same… only our commute times and home address will change.

We are thrilled to be settling into our new home after bumping around as renters for the last 5yrs. Our new pad has some comfy guest quarters so friends/family, if you’re in the SW Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky tri-state area, come rest your weary bones at le Chateau du Conger in fabulous Oxford, OH.


Advanced Database Tricks for Social Scientists – Querying a SQL Database in Stata

This is a quick guide to setting up a connection to directly query an ODBC-compliant database from a do file in Stata.

NOTE: As the title suggests, this guide assumes relatively advanced knowledge of both relational databases (e.g. Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, etc) and Stata.  Viewer discretion advised.

OBJECTIVE: Use a Stata do file to directly query a live ODBC-compliant, relational, T-SQL database and load the results as the current dataset in Stata.  Do this using a connection string so no OS-specific named ODBC datasources are required.

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Step 1 – Make sure you have a working connection to your database server of choice (and have the appropriate permissions and access)

Step 2 – Assemble the following information to use in creating a connection string.

Step 3 – Use the following code in your Stata do file

*** LOAD DATA ***
// clear any data already loaded in memory

//database connection
local db = "DRIVER={YOURDRIVERNAMEHERE};SERVER=yourservernameoripaddress;DATABASE=databasename;UID=uid;PWD=pwd;"

// SQL SELECT statement to retrieve data
local sql = "SELECT * FROM YourTable"

// Load data via ODBC (using connection string)
odbc load, exec("`sql'") connectionstring(“`db'") clear

//destring any vars that came in as strings but should be numeric
destring, replace


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The driver attribute in the connection string is the full name of the driver as your OS sees it when installed. For example, when I connect to MySQL, I use the following

DRIVER={MySQL ODBC 5.3 Unicode Driver}

You can find the driver name by checking your ODBC drivers using a command line (WIN/OSX/Linux) or with a GUI through the ODBC settings in your control panel (WIN) or by installing the iODBC GUI (OSX/Linux) available at:

Coming Soon: In a former life, I was a software engineer, IT project manager, and database developer. I built software and worked with enterprise-level database tools on a daily basis for about a dozen years before getting my PhD and becoming a full-time researcher and teacher in the field of Management and Entrepreneurship.  When my fellow academics learn this part of my history, they often ask me for advice in learning how to better manage the data they use for social science research.  So, I’ve decided to post a series of tutorials (not sure whether they’ll be articles, videos, or both) giving an introduction to how an ordinary social scientist can use the kinds of high-horsepower tools that software and database engineers use every day.  Stay Tuned.

Stats Tip: Understanding Normal Distributions (and “Husky-Sized” Tomatoes)

Today’s stats tip comes to you courtesy of… My amazing friend, Ingrid Gruett, who has joined the ranks of us Gen-Xers going back to grad school for a career change.  Ingrid got her bachelor of music degree as a classmate of mine at the Wheaton Conservatory of Music and is an extremely talented clarinetist.  She is now back in school to begin a new career in music therapy.

Ingrid is taking a stats course and passed along an interesting exam question she saw this week which I thought was a particularly good one for digesting the concept of normally distributed data and how we think about what data are unusual.  I always find that explaining a concept helps me understand it better and perhaps this will be helpful to some new stats students out there (or others who teach them.) For you seasoned liars, damned liars, and statisticians out there, this will be old hat, but for me it was helpful to have an opportunity to explain this concept in a way that might make sense to someone who is new to statistics.

Here’s the question Ingrid passed along…

Jody, a statistics major, grows tomatoes in her spare time.  She keeps a record of the weight of each tomato she grows.  One tomato is 2 standard deviations heavier than the mean weight.  Assume a Normal model is appropriate.  What percentile is it in?

  1. 99.7
  2. 95
  3. 97.5
  4. 68
  5. None of the above

To answer this question, I offer this crudely drawn figure and some steps to guide your thinking.TomatoDistributionSketch

STEP 1. CONSIDER THE TOMATOES OF THE FIELD  – Think of all the tomatoes coming out of the garden.  When we assume their weights are normally distributed, that means that all of them must fall inside the bell curve of our distribution somewhere. A handful of the tomatoes will be especially big (like the one in your problem) and will be way out under the right tail of the curve.  About the same number will be especially small, so these will be way out under the left tail of the curve.  Most will be about average (really close the the mean), which is why there’s so much more area under the middle bump of the curve than there is way out in the tails.

STEP 2. WHICH TOMATOES ARE INSIDE 2 STANDARD DEVIATIONS AND WHICH ARE OUTSIDE? – If you look at the poorly drawn picture  you can work out that 95% of all the tomatoes are your typical tomatoes (as we said above) and aren’t so unusually big or small that they are more than 2 standard deviations away from the mean, so they would be under the big middle bump of the curve.  That means that all the freakishly big AND freakishly small tomatoes are outside of that big middle bump, under the TWO tails. So, if 95% are inside that 2SD window, 5% are outside in the TWO tails…

STEP 3. WHICH FREAKISH TOMATOES ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? – This is the key step… in this case you are ONLY looking at a freakishly BIG tomato way out on the right tail of the distribution.  As we’ve already said, though, if we assume our garden grows a crop of tomatoes that is normally distributed in terms of tomato size, there must also be freakishly SMALL tomatoes way out on the left tail (these are pitiful, green, sour tomatoes that deserve our pity).  Even though we don’t care about those little guys, they are still part of the 5% that are outside the 2SD window… in fact, they make up exactly HALF of that 5%, meaning there is 2.5% in that tail and 2.5% in other tail.  So… that means that ONLY 2.5% of ALL the tomatoes are 2SD+ BIGGER than average… meaning, 97.5% are smaller than the monster tomato you are looking at in this problem.  Hence, it is in the 97.5th percentile.

Thanks, Ingrid!  I have no doubt a great many hurting people will benefit from your work as a music therapist. Keep at it!

Image Credit – “Healthy Red Tomatoes are Wet and Organic”  by, used under CC BY 2 / Modified from original

Teaching Tools – Trivia Game

Fellow teachers of undergraduates, how often to you face this question on the first day of the semester?  Am I better off…

  1. …spending the entire first class session reading the syllabus to your students with great gravity and conviction in the misguided hope that they will pay some minimal level of attention to the information therein?
  2. …handing them a copy of the syllabus without further ado knowing nothing you say/do will make any difference anyway, then brace for a semester of conflict?

I have tried option A with the results more experienced teachers might expect (i.e. a wasted class period and bored students) and had been planning to go with Option B next time I teach. However, a more experienced colleague mentioned that she had given her students a syllabus quiz on the first day that seemed to force students to review and ask questions about course content and policies.  My best teaching buddy, Chris Sutter and I talked about this idea and thought “Hey, why not do a syllabus game instead?”  We are both planning to try it in our courses this coming Fall using a Jeopardy-style game (with a shameless Skinnerian infusion of candy to keep things moving along.)

I developed a basic, easily customizable powerpoint template to run this game in the classroom.  I think it’s a little better than the other templates/apps I’ve seen via Google.  More importantly, I designed it to be both visually attractive AND universally compatible with all versions of PowerPoint on all platforms (Chris and I use different operating systems and a shared classroom computer for presentations so we didn’t want to have any issues with missing fonts or the like.)

Turns out, the template I made was only a few tweaks and a page of documentation away from being useful for pretty much anyone wanting to build and run a trivia game on any topic.  So, I’ve decided to push it out on ye olde interwebs for anyone to download and use as they see fit.

You can grab a copy at:

If you end up using/improving this, drop me a line (via twitter, facebook, email, whathaveyou) and tell me about it.

New Job – Miami University (Oxford, OH)

I’m pleased to announce that I have accepted a new job as Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University in Oxford, OH. I will start at Miami U. beginning in the Fall, 2014 term.

I am thrilled to be joining a great team of entrepreneurship researchers and teachers in the Farmer School’s Entrepreneurship Institute and to be affiliated with a world class university in Miami U.

We will be making the move from Colorado to Ohio (Miami U. is in the Cincinnati area) sometime in late July. Until then, my contact information remains the same.

Colorado Flood Relief

Many people have asked me about the flooding here in Colorado. My family and I live about a half mile from the major flooding that affected a significant portion of Longmont, CO. Fortunately, our house was unaffected but the destruction here (especially in Longmont, Boulder, Lyons, Estes Park, Jamestown, and several other small mountain towns) is difficult to fathom without seeing it first hand. We have several friends and colleagues who suffered major damage and some even lost their homes completely.

So much relief work remains to be done here. In many places mud and debris are still being cleared weeks after the water has subsided. Rebuilding, in many cases, will take a year or more. Our church is hosting a team from World Renew, an NGO focused on long-term disaster relief and rebuilding. They plan to stay for at least 18months.

Some people from outside of Colorado have asked if/how they can help. I’m happy to say there is now a coordinated flood relief donation initiative. They are accepting donations and selling t-shirts and stickers to raise money for relief efforts. If you are interested in helping, check out their website or, contact me personally and I will be happy to connect you with one or more of the many different organizations that are working here along the front range.

Image Credit – “Rescue at South Pratt and Boston Ave.”  by Bryce Bradford, used under CC BY 2 / Cropped from original

Book Chapter – The Role of Personal Values in Social Entrepreneurship

My first book chapter just hit the press.

I wrote Chapter 4: The Role of Personal Values in Social Entrepreneurship in Patterns in Social Entrepreneurship Research Edited by Jill Kickul and Sophie Bacq

In this chapter, I examine the question of how an entrepreneur’s values influence the kind of venture s/he will create. I draw on values theories from social psychology to explain the role of values as drivers of entrepreneurial action with the purpose of creating social or environmental benefits over and above economic benefits. I argue that entrepreneurs will place varying levels of priority on values focused on either self-enhancement or self-transcendence and that these prioritizations will strongly influence the importance they place on creating economic or social benefits through their ventures. I provide a framework for understanding how values motivate social entrepreneurs to create non-economic value.

[su_heading align=”left”]Citation: Conger, M. 2012. The Role of Personal Values In Social Entrepreneurship. In J. Kickul & S. Bacq (Eds.), Patterns in Social Entrepreneurship Research: 87–109. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.[/su_heading]

Article – I Am Joplin: Community Identity And Entrepreneurship After Natural Disasters

The paper I wrote with Jenni Dinger and Carla Bustamante for the 2012 SEE Conference and 2012 Babson Conference, I Am Joplin: Community Identity And Entrepreneurship After Natural Disasters, was accepted for publication in the 2012 Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research. It should be available in print sometime in late 2013.

This paper explores non-financial contributors to an entrepreneur’s decision-making process regarding reinvestment following a natural disaster. Existing literature regarding natural disasters has focused on the financial determinants at the near exclusion of social-psychological variables, leaving a gap in the literature that our empirical study aims to address. We hypothesize that the rebuilding process of a business after a natural disaster is driven not only by economic considerations, but also by the extent to which an entrepreneur feels connected and entwined to her community. We measure social identity of an entrepreneur by focusing on the dimensions of group attractiveness and interdependency beliefs. Our overarching proposition is that entrepreneurs with a stronger collective social identity are more likely to rebuild following a widespread natural disaster.

We find support for our theory in a survey of 112 owners of businesses destroyed in a tornado- impacted Midwest community eight months after the natural disaster. Our results indicate that the constructs of interdependency belief and group attractiveness have a significant relationship with the entrepreneur’s decision to rebuild over and above financial considerations.

[su_heading align=”left”]Citation: Dinger, Jennifer, Michael Conger, Carla Bustamante, 2012. “I Am Joplin: Social Identity, Entrepreneurs, and Environmental Disasters.” Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, Babson College, Wellesley, MA.[/su_heading]

Image Credit – “Restore Joplin” by Doug Wertman, used under CC BY 2 / Cropped from original