Business Briefs: Creativity in Virtual Meetings, Controlling Workplace Aggression & New Tools to Measure Advertising Impact

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Welcome to Business Briefs! The world of academic publications features fascinating findings from real-world experiments in business and the marketplace. Here are some key takeaways and applicable nuggets of knowledge that may be helpful for your business.

Uninspiring Virtual Meetings

Workplaces have moved to remote environments, in part on the wings of remote meeting technology. Well, we have some grim news about remote meetings: They’re not great for generating ideas.

Scientists ran a couple of experiments to compare virtual meetings to old-school face-to-face meetings. In the first one, they recruited 602 subjects and broke them into pairs. Half the pairs worked together virtually, half worked together in-person. The pairs were asked to spend five minutes brainstorming creative uses for a product, and one minute picking their best idea. Not only did virtual pairs created fewer total ideas, but their creativity scores were lower too. 

Another experiment in the series suggests an explanation for the disparities. 151 pairs were presented with props (including paper folders and a skeleton poster) and asked to come up with creative uses. One of the things measured in this experiment was eye gaze. That is, researchers looked at where the participants focused their eyes. Virtual pairs spent a lot more time looking directly at their partners, in-person pairs spent a lot more time looking around the room. Again, virtual pairs had fewer good ideas than the in-person pairs. 

Take-aways? Well, at the very least, creative ideas and solutions seem to come more readily in venues where we are not staring deeply into each other’s eyes.  

Read more here

Virtual Communication Curbs Creative Idea Generation – Melanie Brucks and Jonathan Levav, Nature

Workplace Aggression

Workplace aggression is generally a bad thing, and a 2022 meta-analysis of 165 studies involving a total of 115,190 subjects suggests that it is also something that good workplace leadership can control. 

First, for the sake of clarity, it’d probably be helpful to figure out how to define “workplace aggression.” Is it shooting? Bullying? Gossiping?  Yes. In the analysis, it’s defined as  behavior “that is intended to physically or psychologically harm a worker or workers and occurs in a work-related context.”

According to the authors of the analysis, the body of research suggests that a couple of key leadership characteristics can help curb workplace aggression. 

  • Change-based leadership is good: Change-based leaders embrace change, participate actively in it, and invest themselves by taking personal risks to adapt to changes.
  • Values-based leadership is helpful too: It’s characterized as being empathy-based or resembling something like servant-leadership. 

Other forms of leadership are less helpful it seems – destructive leadership and passive leadership are both discouraged. Then again, it seems like those forms of leadership would be bad on every level. 

Read more here

Leadership and Workplace Aggression: A Meta-analysis – Wenrui Cao, Peikai Li, Reine C. Vanderwal & Toon W. Taris, Journal of Business Ethics 

Next Wave Market Research

Technology has give us new ways to measure the impact of advertising on audiences. Eye tracking has been a thing for a while, but a recent paper highlights new tools for measuring consumer responses to advertising campaigns. A few promising applications mentioned include:

  • Skin conductance: Putting electrode on people’s fingers can measure the amount of sweat in their skin, and higher moisture levels can indicate emotional response to a marketing message. 
  • Facial electromyography: Sensors placed on the face can measure movement in the superciliary corrugator (frowns and furrows) and orbicularis (positive emotions associated with eyelid movement) – again, marketers can infer consumer reactions from those responses.  
  • Brain imaging tools: Consumer responses are tracked through monitoring electrical activity in the brain. 

While the the testing equipment for these sorts of projects may be pricy, the tools literally allow access into the minds of the audience. 

Read more here

Advances in Neuroscience and Marketing: Analyzing Tool Possibilities and Research Opportunities – Luis-Alberto Casado-Aranda and Juan Sanchez-Fernandez, Spanish Journal of Marketing