The Year in Research: Top 10 of 2019

Each year, faculty of the University of Washington Foster School of Business produce influential research—on a wide array of topics—that advances academic theory and advises management practice. As we wind down the year, here are the 10 most-read research briefs of 2019—current publications plus a few perennial favorites.


#1 Sex and the Workplace

Sex is good for business. According to this study by Chris Barnes, sexual fulfillment at home leads to greater satisfaction and engagement at work the next day. On the downside, the study also confirms that a stressful day at the office tends to kill the mood that evening.


man yelling into a megaphone#2 Bullying Boss?

An abusive supervisor can make you feel helpless and hopeless. But Elijah Wee finds a way out of the persistent cycle of abuse. Flipping the power dynamic, even a bit—by making yourself essential in some way—can bring an end to supervisory bullying, and even lead to reconciliation.


#3 Why We Upgrade

Why do we opt for “new and improved” versions of our cars and athletic shoes and TVs and cell phones when what we have still works fine? Mark Forehand finds that our willingness to pay for product upgrades is tied to the extent to which we see improvement in ourselves.


#4 Outsized Influence

Common personality traits can magnify a CEO’s ideological influence on an organization. Abhinav Gupta finds that firms led by liberal-leaning narcissists or extroverts tend to exhibit more corporate social responsibility while firms led by conservative extroverts are more likely to model conservative behaviors such as downsizing.


#5 Sharing Fortunes

Crowdfunding offers small businesses a speedy alternative to bank loans, and small investors an accessible alternative to the stock market. Now Michael Wagner demonstrates that a new kind of crowdfunding—built around revenue-sharing contracts—best serves the interests of both businesses and investors.


#6 Winning Online

Crafting content carefully on Amazon product pages—in image, type, tone and text length—boosts shopper engagement and can increase sales by 15 to 20 percent. This according to an analysis by Rob Palmatier, who offers solutions for matching product type with complementing shopping experience.


#7 Sharing and Caring

Countless organizations are offering mindfulness meditation programs to help their employees alleviate anxiety, reduce stress, regulate emotions and improve focus. This study by Andrew Hafenbrack finds that even small doses of mindfulness also make employees more generous, helpful and compassionate.


#8 Minority Opinion

When a “token” woman’s ideas are heard and enacted by her all-male teammates, complex tasks get performed more effectively, according to this study by Crystal Farh. And this greater ability to solve complicated problems is more likely to occur when team leaders believe that women are as capable of contributing as their male colleagues.


#9 Uninformed Investing

Why do casual investors trade on historic stock returns rather than on new accounting information? Elizabeth Blankespoor and Ed deHaan find that it’s not an issue of access to information, but rather a lack of skills to evaluate and apply accounting information toward informed trading decisions.


#10 Building Better Boards

Léa Stern demonstrates that machine learning algorithms, trained on the performance and attributes of potential candidates, can select more effective corporate board members by mitigating cognitive biases. The one commonality of the model’s better-performing alternative directors? They don’t resemble the CEO.


…and a few perennial favorites

Downward arrowsMarketing: FAILS

If the best-laid plans of mice and marketers often go awry, just imagine what happens to the worst-laid plans. In this 2011 classic, Shelley Jain, Elizabeth Stearns and Dan Turner share their favorite cautionary tales of infamous botches and blunders in the marketing of a new product.


Financial Profiling

How do investors, auditors, analysts and regulators detect material accounting manipulations? Not easily. But in this 2010 Study, Weili Ge first integrates the disparate warning signals of fraudulent accounting into a comprehensive measure called the F-Score, a scaled probability that a firm is cooking the books.


Computer code, with phrases "Data Breach" and "Cyber Attack"The Dark Side of Big Data

Data breach. The thought alone can send us into a panic of existential dread. This 2016 study by Robert Palmatier establishes that customer data vulnerability exacerbates the financial cost to firms—and sometimes their competitors—when they get hacked. But this cost can be mitigated by offering greater transparency and customer control in corporate data management policies.


picture of the Abraham Lincoln MemorialAdvantage: Humility

Humility may be a virtue. It’s also a competitive advantage. In this 2012 paper, Michael Johnson finds that humble people—who view themselves accurately, are teachable and appreciate others’ strengths—tend to be the best performers in individual and team settings. They also tend to make the most effective leaders.