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Harvard Business ReviewHarvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review

September/October 2019

For over 80 years, Harvard Business Review magazine has been an indispensable and unrivaled source of ideas, insight, and inspiration for business leaders worldwide. Each issue contains breakthrough ideas on strategy, leadership, innovation and management. Now, newly redesigned, HBR presents these ideas in a smart new design with improved navigation and rich infographics. Become a more effective leader by subscribing to Harvard Business Review.

Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
Harvard Business School Publishing
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6 Issues

IN THIS ISSUE

access_time2 min.
contributors

Like many marketing professors, Bart de Langhe studies the use of data analytics in decision making. But he focuses not so much on the data as on how people interpret it. “I am continually surprised by how often people draw the wrong conclusions,” he says. “To understand these errors and correct them, you need a psychologist’s perspective.” In this issue de Langhe—who has two degrees in psychology—and his coauthor examine how we instinctively categorize information and how that tendency can lead decision makers astray. 80 The Dangers of Categorical Thinking In 1983 the economist Oliver Hart began researching a problem: Contracts are inevitably incomplete, and parties to them don’t always act in a rational manner. His resulting theories earned him the 2016 Nobel Prize in economics (with Bengt Holmström). While in Stockholm…

access_time1 min.
if you think you’re multitasking, you’ll do better

We may pride ourselves on our ability to multitask, but cognitive scientists know that strictly speaking, there’s no such thing: Most activities requiring active attention can’t be done simultaneously, and we’re really just rapidly switching between them, generally with poor results. New research shows there’s reason not to shatter our illusions: Across 32 studies, people who perceived themselves as doing two things at once (for example, listening to a lecture and taking notes) outperformed people primed to see the same activity as consisting of a single task (taking lecture notes). Those who identified as multitaskers took more and higher-quality notes in the scenario above; they also proved better at word-search puzzles, video transcriptions, and math problems. This happened, the researchers say, because of heightened engagement: Multitasking is viewed as challenging,…

access_time1 min.
“fresh starts” can backfire

Performance resets are common: For example, metrics such as sales tallies and billable hours are often set back to zero at the start of a calendar cycle. This is thought to inspire people to set new goals and strive for improvement. But what about people who were already doing well? A new study finds that for them, resets are demotivating and cause performance to decline. The researcher analyzed archival data from Major League Baseball. When a player is traded to a team in a different league, his season-to-date statistics are reset. Examining traded players’ at bats from 1975 to 2014, the researcher found that trades across leagues had a bigger effect on batting averages than trades within a league—and whether the effect was positive depended on pre-trade performance. When that was…

access_time6 min.
experience doesn’t predict a new hire’s success

Professor Van Iddekinge, DEFEND YOUR RESEARCH VAN IDDEKINGE: We were surprised. It seems so intuitive that applicants who have general work experience or have already done the job that they’re applying for would be at an advantage. But when we looked at all these studies—and we sifted through thousands to find the 81 with pertinent data—we discovered a very weak relationship between prehire experience and performance, both in training and on the job. We also found zero correlation between work experience with earlier employers and retention, or the likelihood that a person would stick with his or her new organization. HBR: But isn’t experience the first thing companies look for when screening candidates? Absolutely. We sampled 115 Monster.com job ads and found that 82% either required or stated a strong preference for…

access_time10 min.
how i did it

I CLEARLY REMEMBER the exact day in 2001 when I decided that Canada Goose, the small family business I’d recently taken over from my parents, would commit to always making our signature parkas in Canada. I was sitting at by Dani Reiss my desk, upstairs from our Toronto factory (the only one we had at the time), reading that morning’s newspaper headlines, and I saw that two North American apparel companies were moving their manufacturing abroad. Their leaders gave two reasons: First, the high cost of domestic labor had been squeezing their margins, so it was just good business to pursue higher profits elsewhere. Second, they didn’t believe that customers cared where products were made so long as the brand and the quality remained the same. I thought to myself, They’re…

access_time21 min.
how dual-career couples make it work

camille and Pierre met in their early forties after each one’s marriage had ended. Both were deeply committed to their careers and to their new relationship. Camille, an accountant, had felt pressured by her ex-husband to slow her progress toward partnership at her firm. Pierre, a production manager at an automotive company, was embroiled in a bitter divorce from his wife, who had given up her career to accommodate the geographic moves that his required. (As with the other couples I’ve profiled in this article, these aren’t their real names.) Bruised by their past experiences, they agreed to place their careers on an equal footing. Initially things went smoothly, but two years in, Camille began to feel trapped on a professional path that she realized she had chosen because “that…

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