The Most Popular Stories and Research Papers of 2017

The most visited stories on Harvard Business School Working Knowledge in 2017 included new research on gender and racial bias, personal productivity, and happiness. What do you think were the most powerful business trends of the year?
by Sean Silverthorne
Credit: iStockPhoto

No surprise: Race and gender were prime topics of interest for Harvard Business School Working Knowledge readers in 2017. Also popular were articles about research that gave us greater understanding about how leaders succeed, tips that help all of us be more productive, and insights into how we can lead more balanced lives.

Tell us in the comment section below what you thought were the most interesting business trends of the year.

  1. Minorities Who 'Whiten' Job Resumes Get More Interviews
    African American and Asian job applicants who mask their race on resumes seem to have better success getting job interviews, according to research by Katherine DeCelles and colleagues.

  2. Having No Life is the New Aspirational Lifestyle
    It used to be that we equated power and prestige with a leisurely, luxurious lifestyle. Today, lack of leisure time is the real status symbol. Anat Keinan discusses what that means for consumer marketing. .

  3. Courage: The Defining Characteristic of Great Leaders
    Courageous leaders inspire employees, energize customers, and position their companies on the front lines of societal change. Bill George explains why there aren't more of them.

  4. Why Employers Favor Men
    Why are women discriminated against in hiring decisions? Research by Katherine Coffman, Christine Exley, and Muriel Niederle finds the answer is more subtle than expected.

  5. The Right Way to Cry in Front of Your Boss
    Crying at work can be more than embarrassing—it can hurt your career. Elizabeth Baily Wolf discusses a technique to reframe distress as passion. .

  6. The Three Types of Leaders Who Create Radical Change
    Every successful social movement requires three distinct leadership roles: the agitator, the innovator, and the orchestrator, according to institutional change expert Julie Battilana.

  7. Want to Be Happier? Spend Some Money on Avoiding Household Chores
    In an age of time scarcity, buying our way out of the negative moments in the day is an important key to happiness, according to research by Ashley V. Whillans, Michael I. Norton, Elizabeth W. Dunn, Paul Smeets, and Rene Bekkers.

  8. Asking Questions Can Get You a Better Job or a Second Date
    Knowing how to keep a conversation going can improve your career as well as your social life, according to research by Alison Wood Brooks and colleagues.

  9. Why Productivity Suffers When Employees Are Allowed to Schedule Their Own Tasks
    Deviating from an organization’s prescribed task schedule tends to erode productivity, even among the most experienced workers, according to new research from María R. Ibáñez, Jonathan R. Clark, Robert S. Huckman, and Bradley R. Staats.

  10. People Have an Irrational Need to Complete 'Sets' of Things
    People are irrationally motivated to complete arbitrary sets of tasks, donations, or purchases—and organizations can take advantage of that, according to new research by Kate Barasz, Leslie John, Elizabeth Keenan, and Michael Norton.

Plus: The year’s 5 most downloaded research papers

Working Knowledge publishes summaries of working papers written by Harvard Business School faculty—along with links to the full text of those papers. Here are the five most downloaded working papers of 2017:

  1. Why and How Investors Use ESG Information: Evidence from a Global Survey
    Survey data by Amir Amel-Zadeh and George Serafeim from more than 400 senior investment professionals provides insights into why and how investors use environmental, social, and governance (ESG) information as well as the challenges in using this information.

  2. Reinventing the American Wine Industry: Marketing Strategies and the Construction of Wine Culture
    Since the 1960s, the United States has seen spectacular growth in wine consumption. Al Hisano explores how businesses reinveted the image of wine. This creation of the new market, like other consumer products, had social and cultural consequences. In the US, wine became a status symbol and a renforcer of social and class divisions.

  3. Task Selection and Workload: A Focus on Completing Easy Tasks Hurts Long-Term Performance
    Employees facing increased workloads usually tackle easier tasks first. This study by Francesca Gino and colleagues tests the performance implications of such prioritization. Findings show that it happens because people feel positive emotions after task completion, yet it could hurt long-term performance. Workloads could be structured to help employee development as well as organizational performance.

  4. Rainy Day Stocks
    Niels Gormsen and Robin Greenwood identify characteristics of stocks that an investor who is worried about bad times should buy— a “rainy day” portfolio.

  5. Diversity in Innovation
    Paul A. Gompers and Sophie Q. Wang discuss a systematic and persistent lack of female, Hispanic, and African American labor market participation in the innovation sector, through both entrepreneurs and the venture capitalists that fund them.

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