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Academic Research With Mass Appeal

Academic Research With Mass Appeal
Photograph by George Frey/Bloomberg

Business professors are great at writing jargon-filled, hard-to-digest research papers. But every once and a while, they knock it out of the park with the general public. A small pool of research achieved such blockbuster status in 2012 by becoming the most read, most downloaded, or most written-about pieces authored by professors at top business schools. Tax evasion, finding a job, and the benefits of teaching employees Spanish are some of the topics that got non-students reading.

At Harvard Business School, an excerpt from Clayton Christensen’s book How Will You Measure Your Life? was the year’s most read preview of forthcoming research. The passage uses the downfall of Blockbuster and the rise of Netflix as an analogy for how we may end up paying a high cost for small decisions.