Most Popular Articles of 2010

Voting with their fingertips, HBS Working Knowledge readers identify the most popular articles and working papers from Harvard Business School faculty. Tell us what you think will be the top business management trends of 2011.
by Staff

Judging by the most-read articles and faculty working papers over the last year, our readers continue to be fascinated by the emergence of social networks and their potential impacts on business and management. Another developing area of interest is in the realm of managing teams, especially those dispersed around the globe.

But the one theme that has attracted the most HBS Working Knowledge readers over our 11-year history is how to improve personal leadership skills. A third of the articles on this page relate to improving work performance by learning to make better decisions, becoming a more effective negotiator, and motivating great work from others.

Here are the Top 10 articles and Top 10 working papers that appeared in HBS Working Knowledge in 2010. Now turn your attention to 2011 and tell us in the Comment section what you believe will be the top business management trends of 2011. Enjoy, and have a great new year!


  1. Power Posing: Fake It Until You Make It
    Nervous about an upcoming presentation or job interview? Holding one's body in "high-power" poses for short time periods can summon an extra surge of power and sense of well-being when it's needed, according to Harvard Business School professor Amy J.C. Cuddy.
  2. Introverts: The Best Leaders for Proactive Employees
    Think effective leadership requires gregariousness and charisma? Think again. Introverts actually can be better leaders than extraverts, especially when their employees are naturally proactive, according to Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino.
  3. What Is the Future of MBA Education?
    Why get an MBA degree? Transformations in business and society make this question increasingly urgent for executives, business school deans, students, faculty, and the public. In a new book, Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads, Harvard Business School's Srikant M. Datar, David A. Garvin, and Patrick G. Cullen suggest opportunities for innovation.
  4. Understanding Users of Social Networks
    Many business leaders are mystified about how to reach potential customers on social networks such as Facebook. Professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski provides a fresh look into the interpersonal dynamics of these sites and offers guidance for approaching these tantalizing markets
  5. The 'Luxury Prime': How Luxury Changes People
    What effect does luxury have on human cognition and decision making? According to new research, there seems to be a link between luxury and self interest, an insight that may help curb corporate excesses. Roy Y.J. Chua of Harvard Business School discusses findings from his work conducted with /Xi Zou of London Business School.
  6. Sharpening Your Skills: Successful Negotiation
    Can you out-negotiate Wal-Mart? Can women overcome gender stereotypes to win equitable pay? Recent research from Harvard Business School looks at important factors to consider before sitting down at the bargaining table.
  7. HBS Cases: iPads, Kindles, and the Close of a Chapter in Book Publishing
    Book publishing is changing before our very eyes, even if the industry itself is fighting the transition with every comma it can muster. Harvard Business School professor Peter Olson, former CEO of Random House, wonders if books themselves may be in jeopardy.
  8. What's the Best Way to Make Careful Decisions?
    Summing up reader responses, Professor Jim Heskett finds compelling arguments for a process involving intuition based on analysis and experience. Should people also make their own decision-making process more transparent to others and to themselves?
  9. The Outside-In Approach to Customer Service
    Is your enterprise resilient or rigid? In this Q&A, HBS professor Ranjay Gulati, an expert on leadership, strategy, and organizational issues in firms, describes how companies can evolve through four levels to become more customer-centric.
  10. What Top Scholars Say about Leadership
    As a subject of scholarly inquiry, leadership-and who leaders are, what makes them tick, how they affect others-has been neglected for decades. The Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, edited by Harvard Business School's Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana, brings together some of the best minds on this important subject.


  1. The Devil Wears Prada? Effects of Exposure to Luxury Goods on Cognition and Decision Making
    What psychological consequences do luxury goods have on people? In this paper, authors Roy Y.J. Chua and Xi Zou argue that luxury goods can activate the concept of self-interest and affect subsequent cognition.
  2. Speaking Up Constructively: Managerial Practices that Elicit Solutions from Front-line Employees
    How can front-line workers be encouraged to speak up when they know how to improve an organization's operation processes? In this paper, HBS doctoral student Julia Adler-Milstein, Harvard School of Public Health professor Sara Singer, and HBS professor Michael W. Toffel examine this question in a hospital setting.
  3. Conceptual Foundations of the Balanced Scorecard
    This article documents the precursors of the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) strategic performance management tool and describes the evolution of the BSC since its introduction in 1992 in the Harvard Business Review. HBS professor Robert S. Kaplan, who created the concept and tool with David Norton, explains the roots and motivation for their original article as well as subsequent innovations that connect it to a larger management literature.
  4. The Limits of Nonprofit Impact: A Contingency Framework for Measuring Social Performance
    Over the past 20 years, there has been an explosion in methodologies and tools for assessing social performance and impact, but with little systematic analysis and comparison across these approaches. In this paper, HBS professors Alnoor Ebrahim and V. Kasturi Rangan provide a synthesis of the current debates and, in so doing, offer a typology and contingency framework for measuring social performance.
  5. The Many Faces of Nonprofit Accountability
    The challenge for nonprofit leadership and management is to prioritize among many competing accountability demands. This involves deciding both to whom and for what they owe accountability. HBS professor Alnoor Ebrahim provides an overview of the current debates on nonprofit accountability, while also examining the tradeoffs inherent in a range of accountability mechanisms.
  6. Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting
    Advocates of goal setting argue that for goals to be successful, they should be specific and challenging, and countless studies find that specific, challenging goals motivate performance far better than "do your best" exhortations. Authors Lisa D. Ordóñez, Maurice E. Schweitzer, Adam D. Galinsky, and Max H. Bazerman argue that it is often these same characteristics of goals that cause them to "go wild."
  7. From Strategy to Business Models and to Tactics
    Drivers such as globalization, deregulation, and technological change are profoundly changing the competitive game. Scholars and practitioners agree that the fastest-growing firms in this new environment appear to have taken advantage of these structural changes to compete "differently" and innovate in their business models. HBS professor Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Joan Enric Ricart present an integrative framework to distinguish and relate the concepts of business model, strategy, and tactics.
  8. The Consequences of Entrepreneurial Finance: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis
    What difference do angel investors make for the success and growth of new ventures? William R. Kerr and Josh Lerner of HBS and Antoinette Schoar of MIT provide fresh evidence to address this crucial question in entrepreneurial finance, quantifying the positive impact that angel investors make to the companies they fund.
  9. Do Friends Influence Purchases in a Social Network?
    If friends influence the purchases of a user in a social network, it could potentially be a significant source of revenue for sites such as Facebook and their corporate sponsors. Using a unique data set from Cyworld, this study by Raghuram Iyengar, Sangman Han, and Sunil Gupta empirically assesses if friends indeed influence purchases. The answer: It depends.
  10. The End of Chimerica
    For the better part of the past decade, the world economy has been dominated by a unique geoeconomic constellation that the authors call "Chimerica": a world economic order that combined Chinese export-led development with U.S. overconsumption. In this paper, economic historians Niall Ferguson of HBS and Moritz Schularick of Freie Universität Berlin consider the problem of global imbalances and try to set events in a longer-term perspective.

Post A Comment

In order to be published, comments must be on-topic and civil in tone, with no name calling or personal attacks. Your comment may be edited for clarity and length.
    • John Arnott
    • CEO, VentureLab Incorporated
    I believe that wealth distribution is going to become a very destabilizing force for the developed countries very soon and wonder whether any of the academics agree with this assertion.
    The top 1% now controls 90% of the wealth. Middle class incomes have been negative to falling since the '70's creating the need for multi-job families, increasing stress levels, etc.
    As William Sahlman indicates, public debt is around $14 trillion and will increase by another $10 trillion at current spending rates. But isn't that money simply sitting around waiting to be invested -aren't the rich (including pension and other funds, corporations, as well as individuals) hoarding because interest rates are so low, or, sending their money offshore to where interest rates are reasonable? And what about the billionaires philanthropy which for the most part just ships money out of the country, money that had been earned domestically?
    It seems to me that this condition of extreme wealth concentration amongst so few is not necessary (the Scandinavian countries) but absolutely replicates the circumstances preceding the collapse of the Spanish, Dutch, and British Empires; is America next?
    • Gordon Johnson
    • President, Johnson Associates
    I hope we will see more meaningful articles on how business can better influence public policy decisions. HBS should be a leader, not a laggard, but in the past seems to feel that their job is to teach how best to adapt to whatever the wizard lawyers in government choose to do to us.

    After two years and a complete absence of business experience in the current administration, it would appear that President Obama is beginning to recognize the need for business input to create meaningful jobs as a better way to increase government revenues than increasing taxes.

    The world and the economy work best when people do the things they want to do, rather than things that other people want to make them do. Obama has relied on lawyers who are trained in how to make people do things they may NOT want to do, which creates jobs for lawyers, accountants, regulators, bureaucrats, and enforcers paid with taxpayer dollars, and jobs for lobbyists, lawyers, accountants and compliance officers in business, paid for by consumers which simply raises the cost of doing business in America and reduces our global competitiveness.

    Business executives, on the other hand, know that their success depends on the actions and responses of people who want to do what they do. Employees have to WANT to think about how to do things better; customers have to WANT to buy the company's product or service; investors have to WANT to buy the company's stock. Business solutions must recognize the basic freedom no one can take away from us, our freedom to choose how we will respond to what other people do to us.

    With Obama's apparent move to try to understand business better, there will be more opportunities for business to help devise solutions with incentives for citizens and business to want to do what needs to be done, rather than being forced to do what politicians, bureaucrats and lawyers think they should do. HBS is better qualified to do this than the Law School or the Kennedy School.

    I hope there will be more good articles on public policy issues that will offer business-based solutions rather than lawyer/regulator-designed solutions. As Milton Friedman once said, the best systems are those where even the bad guys will WANT to do good.
    • Anonymous
    I feel that economy will be on track by Real estate as today prices of Real estate is on lower side & in some area prices are stable it is best time for Reit S company to take advantage of same population of globe in some area is on increase. Article about Realestate should be on yor site so investor may attract with figures facts demands & supply with Return. (Some are affraid with the dark others waits to see the stars)
    • John Gikaru
    • Deputy Finance Manager, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, East Africa-Kenya
    I highly appreciate the work that HBS is doing in highlighting pertinent issues that affect business today.

    For 2011 I would love to see more emphasis given to challenges that faces organisations as far as Corporate Governance is concerned on 21st Century and the feasible solutions to address the identified gaps. Most of the literature available currently is quite old and repetitive.

    Thank you

    John Gikaru
    Deputy Finance Manager
    Lewa Wildlife Conservancy