Research on happiness and profit
April 26, 2012 11:35 AM   Subscribe

For my 250th post: There is a lot of interesting research going on in business schools, and some of it is even fun to watch. Wharton has been hosting 10 minute entertaining talks on cutting-edge research by faculty including: where inspiration comes from at work, how time relates to happiness, how to run an innovation tournament, socially responsible investing, learning from people who leave your company and what breakfast cereal and Steve Jobs have to tell us about the secret sources of innovation. If you want less academics in your business school mini-lectures, Stanford also has a collection of advice to entrepreneurs on many subjects that includes everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Guy Kawasaki.
posted by blahblahblah (10 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Given the reputation of B-school in some circles, I was at first surprised to see top notch statistical methods people as faculty of the premier B-schools. However, modern B-schools with money are interested in very substantive problems in econometrics, systems design, data mining, and finance.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:41 AM on April 26, 2012


You have proven your username, sir or madam!
posted by karlos at 12:34 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


what breakfast cereal and Steve Jobs have to tell us about the secret sources of innovation

Apple breakfast cereal would only let you add Apple milk.
posted by Trurl at 2:30 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple breakfast cereal would only let you add Apple milk.

As a kid, my mac-fanatic brother used to add apple juice to Applejacks.
posted by deludingmyself at 3:09 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this really "research"?
posted by parmanparman at 4:47 PM on April 26, 2012


Given the reputation of B-school in some circles, I was at first surprised to see top notch statistical methods people as faculty of the premier B-schools. However, modern B-schools with money are interested in very substantive problems in econometrics, systems design, data mining, and finance.

For a while I was thinking about applying to PhD programs in poli sci or sociology, and I was surprised to see that, actually, a lot of the best (most dynamic, best methods) research in human behavior was happening in business schools. Who woulda thunk it?
posted by lunasol at 5:00 PM on April 26, 2012


I'd argue that it is definitely research, in that everything presented is being published in peer-reviewed journals, involves fairly rigorous qualitative or quantitative techniques, and is built on underlying theory.

To give you a sense of what the actual academic papers look like:
The paper on inspiration at work
The paper on the iPhone App market
One of the papers on academic tournaments

Business schools are interesting places because they are one of the few areas where political scientists, economics, sociologists, and psychologists regularly interact. A large amount of the top social science research now comes from business schools, though not all of it is immediately useful to business students, but hopefully is informative in the long run.
posted by blahblahblah at 5:19 PM on April 26, 2012


Also, being an academic at a business school, I am biased.
posted by blahblahblah at 5:34 PM on April 26, 2012


Business schools are interesting places because they are one of the few areas where political scientists, economics, sociologists, and psychologists regularly interact.

Right. A lot of the interesting social scientific and qualitative research on how people adopt and use information systems, particularly as groups and organizations, actually comes from B-Schools. Much more so than (say) comp sci, organizational communication, information science, anthropology, or other schools you would think would be interested in this stuff. Brown and Duguid's The Social Life of Information (published by Harvard Business Press) is a good intro example of this genre, it's cheap second hand, and well worth a read.

Having said that, I'm not sure how many MBAs are actually interested in these issues. However, I'm not an MBA, but have spent a lot of time doing research in B-School libraries.
posted by carter at 7:37 PM on April 26, 2012


Having said that, I'm not sure how many MBAs are actually interested in these issues. However, I'm not an MBA, but have spent a lot of time doing research in B-School libraries.

Based on talking to some MBA students, it's part of the multiple-prestige package they're buying with professional school. For example, I was looking at this person's papers in some detail. Even UChicago MBAs on average are not interested in, e.g. the properties of hypergeometric inverted-beta priors for regression models. Although some may be interested in his applications to stochastic volatility models, except for those who come in with advanced training, there is little hope that they will understand what he's accomplishing. Nevertheless, they feel they benefit from the institution's strong reputation in cutting edge quantitative methods.

Similarly, I was chatting with some non-medical faculty who teach medical classes, and their take was that the students (who are very bright) rightly regard it as learning a trade. That there are med school faculty doing amazing things they won't understand is just a source of prestige. It's part of how top-tier institutions can distinguish themselves given that most places offer adequate instruction in medicine, evaluation of which is very difficult.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:31 AM on April 27, 2012


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