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Consumer Insights. Market Innovation.


Rajan Sambandam

Insighter: Teresa Amabile

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

Do you procrastinate? Have you ever told yourself that you do your best work if you wait till the last minute? You may not be as creative as you think, according to Teresa Amabile the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. A leading authority in the field of organizational creativity, she has conducted intensive multi-year studies to understand the nature of creativity in organizations. One of the findings that surprised even her was that time pressure was actually an impediment to creativity. Even people who felt they were being more creative under time pressure are actually less creative.


In Mark Twain's classic novel Tom Sawyer is white washing a fence because his aunt told him to do it. In other words, it's work. But Tom soon convinces his friends that whitewashing the fence is a privilege and even gets them to pay him for a chance to try their hand at it. Twain makes the larger point that whether something is work or not is based on whether one gets paid for it. In this case work becomes a privilege when the worker has to pay to take part, as opposed to being paid for it. Based on this principle, two researchers have developed the idea of two markets:  social and monetary. When you help a friend move with no mention of money it is a social market. When you get paid to mow someone's lawn it is a monetary market. Where do you expend more effort and does anything change the level of effort?

Emily Oster is an Professor of Economics in the Brown University. Her research reaches outside the traditional boundaries of economics to larger health and policy questions. Her claim to fame is her disputing the Nobel winner Amartya Sen's contention from two decades ago that there were 100 million "missing" women, quite possibly because of misogynistic attitudes in developing countries.

Researchers at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and the University of Waterloo have conducted some experiments with very interesting results about the impact of brands on people. They started with prior research that has shown that people modify their behavior in response to environmental cues. For example, exposure to rude words leads to people behaving rudely; exposure to elderly people made others walk more slowly. Even exposure (or priming) with a parent made people achieve more if they believed that the parent would be interested in their achievement, or if they were hoping to please the parent. The question asked by the researchers in this study was whether brands could have similar effects on people and the results turn out to be quite interesting.

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