B-School Professors Research Love, Happiness, Terror

by Vault Education Editors | March 25, 2011

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About that new iPad you covet: chances are your product lust is driven by a lonely, searching need to fill your loveless existence.

I can’t say that I’ll totally agree with that, but so suggests research by professors at Arizona’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Love and other Big Questions have recently been the subjects of research by many b-school professors. Businessweek has a roundup of some recent papers of interest.

When green is good, bad and neutral Analyzing almost 900 news announcements with stock market reactions, two Georgia Institute of Technology professors found that shareholders react significantly to only two types of environmental initiatives—positively to philanthropic acts and negatively to pledges of carbon emission reduction. Other green acts are met with neutral reactions. “[P]hilanthropy comes with a fixed price, whereas a reduction in emissions could cost anything—and therefore causes uncertainty,” said one of the researchers.

Small Businesses thriving off terrorism Where the threat of terrorism is constant but declining, small businesses tend to flourish, according to research by professors at the Ivey School of Business, who studied the urban slums of Bangladesh. “People facing such dire circumstances are motivated by a need for employment, resources, and new goals on which to focus, says Branzei [one of the paper’s authors], who adds that in places where terrorism keeps worsening, it's hard to create enduring businesses.”

Let the young surf the internet  Does taking away non-work-related internet privileges makes people more or less productive? A research fellow at HBS tested two groups of students, aged 20 to 25, on their performance on a counting task. One group was given a temptation to resist (clicking on a red light to view a funny movie). That group was three times more likely to make a mistake. “People are more productive and less distracted when they do not have to resist a temptation such as the Internet offers, according to the research.”

Happiness studies Happiness is a term that’s hard to define, but that hasn’t stopped the surge of research interest in it since the 70s. One meta-analysis, conducted by Wharton professors, gathered data on the “relationship between well-being and economic development” from studies covering thousands of people across 155 countries over 40 years. They concluded, rather unsurprisingly, that there’s a "robust relationship between well-being and economic development."

[Businessweek]

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