Most Popular Articles of 2006

Open source, innovation, and networks were three business issues that busted out in research and reader popularity on HBS Working Knowledge in 2006. Here's a recap of our twenty-five most popular stories from last year.
by Sean Silverthorne

In the six-year history of Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge, some types of articles have always been popular with our readers. Want to generate a lot of reader buzz? Then write about negotiation strategy, managing IT, explorations of the actions of Wal-Mart, Apple, or Microsoft, and anything having to do with globalization.

But in 2006, some new areas of HBS faculty research began to emerge that also struck a chord with readers. These included the business of open source, how network effects impact everything from venture capital to science, and effective management of innovation.

Here then are our most-read stories in 2006.

  1. Microsoft vs. Open Source: Who Will Win?
    Using formal economic modelling, professors Pankaj Ghemawat and Ramon Casadesus-Masanell consider the competitive dynamics of the software wars between Microsoft and open source. Read our interview.
  2. When Not to Trust Your Gut
    Most of us trust our intuition more than we should, especially when the pressure is on in negotiations. Professors Max Bazerman and Deepak Malhotra on negotiating more rationally. From Negotiation.
  3. On Managing with Bobby Knight and "Coach K"
    Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski are arguably the two most successful college basketball coaches in the country. But their leadership styles could not be more different. Professor Scott Snook wonders: Is it better to be loved or feared?
  4. How Important Is "Executive Intelligence" for Leaders?
    Leadership talent is enjoying a perceived "seller's market," says Jim Heskett. As we select and train future leaders for all levels of our organizations, how much effort do we really spend assessing executive intelligence as opposed to personality and style?
  5. What's to Be Done About Performance Reviews?
    Jim Heskett asks: What can we do to make performance reviews more productive and less distasteful? Should their objectives be scaled back to just one or two? Should they be disengaged from the determination of compensation and, if so, how?
  6. Are We Ready for Self-Management?
    Jim Heskett asks: On its face, self-management looks like a "win-win" answer to the scarcity of good managers and the predominance of low-involvement entry-level jobs. But are sufficient numbers of entry-level employees ready for self-management? And is management ready?
  7. The Power of Ordinary Practices
    Seemingly mundane things that managers do can have great impact on their workers, says Professor Teresa Amabile. In this conversation with Professor Mike Roberts, she updates her ongoing research on creativity in the workplace by investigating how people's intense inner work lives affect their productivity—and how managers can encourage production.
  8. Negotiating in Three Dimensions
    "Negotiation is increasingly a way of life for effective managers," say HBS professor James Sebenius and colleague David Lax. Their new book, 3-D Negotiation, describes how you can shape important deals through tactics, deal design, and set-up, and why three dimensions are more powerful than one. Here's a Q&A and book excerpt.
  9. Negotiating When the Rules Suddenly Change
    Following the adoption of a collective bargaining agreement in 2005, National Hockey League GMs had one month to absorb the new rules and put a team together. How to best negotiate in an uncertain environment? Michael Wheeler advises looking to military science for winning strategies.
  10. Career Advancement without Experience
    Lacking experience, contract workers find it difficult to advance to a job with expanded responsibilities. But it can be done. Siobhan O'Mahony discusses research into the concept of "stretchwork" and the increasing complexity of career management.
  11. The Accidental Innovator
    Many important innovations are the byproduct of accidents—the key is to be prepared for the unexpected. Professor Robert D. Austin discusses his research and practical implications on the concept of accidental innovation.
  12. How Kayak Users Built a New Industry
    Customers have produced some of the most important innovations in industries ranging from oil refining to scientific instruments. But how do user innovations take place? How do they get to market? Professor Carliss Baldwin discusses research into the rodeo kayak industry to understand the world of user innovation.
  13. What Happens When the Economics of Scarcity Meets the Economics of Abundance?
    The "Long Tail," a term coined by Chris Anderson—and the title of his new book—describes the item popularity curve. Jim Heskett asks: Does the Long Tail represent a paradigm shift for business and consumer behavior? What are its implications for management going forward?
  14. Is Your Space?
    Social networking sites such as have demographics to die for, but PR problems with parents, police, and policymakers. Are they safe for advertisers? A Q&A with Professor John Deighton.
  15. Report from China: The New Entrepreneurs
    When a delegation of Harvard Business School faculty visited Chinese entrepreneurs, they came away with something unexpected: the start of what could be a fundamental rethinking of how entrepreneurship works.
  16. The Strategic Way to Go to Market
    Too often channel strategies develop at the last minute—when a product is ready to go to market. But this haphazard approach leaves a lot of efficiencies and synergies by the wayside, says V. Kasturi Rangan. Enter the concept of the "channel steward."
  17. The Real Wal-Mart Effect
    Critics are lining up to take shots at Wal-Mart's treatment of workers and a host of other alleged knocks against society. But the critics miss one big point, says Pankaj Ghemawat: Wal-Mart's overall impact benefits the economy and lower-income consumers.
  18. Developing a Strategy for Digital Convergence
    Technology was getting dull earlier this decade, says David Yoffie. But the sudden arrival of digital convergence has turned the tech world upside down. What are the right bets to place?
  19. Competition the Cure for Healthcare
    Michael Porter is considered by many to be the world's foremost authority on competition and strategy. He discusses the need for fundamental reform in the way the United States delivers healthcare. Q&A.
  20. Porsche's Risky Roll on an SUV
    Why would any company in the world want to locate in a high-cost, high-wage economy like Germany? Porsche's unusual answer in a globalizing auto industry has framed two case studies by HBS professor Jeffrey Fear and colleague Carin-Isabel Knoop.
  21. Do I Dare Say Something?
    Are you afraid to speak up at work? The amount of fear in the modern workplace is just one surprising finding from recent research done by HBS professor Amy Edmondson and her colleague, Professor James Detert from Penn State.
  22. Corporate Values and Employee Cynicism
    A values-driven organization poses unique risks for its leaders-in particular, charges of hypocrisy if the leaders make a mistake. Sandra Cha of McGill University and Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School discuss what to do when values backfire.
  23. Open Source Science: A New Model for Innovation
    Borrowing a practice that is common in the open source software community, HBS professor Karim R. Lakhani and colleagues decided to see how "broadcasting" might work among scientists trying to solve scientific problems. The results? Promising for many types of innovation, as he explains in this Q&A.
  24. Online Match-Making with Virtual Dates
    Users of online dating sites often struggle to find love because the sites themselves make it more difficult than it needs to be. To the rescue: Virtual Dates, an online ice-breaker from Jeana Frost of Boston University, Michael Norton of HBS, and Dan Ariely of MIT.
  25. Lessons Not Learned About Innovation
    Why have decades of executives fumbled innovation? One reason: Existing corporate structures, controls, and incentives do work against out-of-the-box thinking. Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who has just published a Harvard Business Review article on the topic, discusses her research into the classic traps of innovation and how to avoid them.