The Best Thing I Read All Year — 2016

Business school professors share the books and articles that changed their outlook 

Markus Giesler, Associate Professor of Marketing,
Schulich School of Business at York University, Toronto

For the biggest impact this year, I would choose a book by my colleague Jonah Berger, Invisible Influence, which looks at what the world of marketing is doing to affect our everyday behaviour. I like his take on how marketers shape our behaviour as consumers beyond what we are conscious of — we are all studying and thinking about this all the time, but he takes it to a new level.

Another source of transformative insights has been from my own MBA students: this is regular MBAs, not PhDs or industry experts, writing The Big Design Lab’s blog, which is mini case studies of consumer-experience design. These students, my guest contributors, are shedding some new and unorthodox light on things, and it has become a place to go for fresh insights.

My other book recommendation this year would be a classic called What’s the Matter with Kansas?, by Thomas Frank. His case study of his home state sheds light on why working-class Americans have come to vote against their best interests in buying into Republican rhetoric. A wonderful explanatory read to turn to when trying to make sense of these turbulent times of Brexit and Trump.

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Markus Giesler

Markus Giesler draws on concepts from economics, technology studies, and sociology to inform his research in marketing. He determines how ideas and things (products, services, experiences, technological innovations, intellectual property, brands, etc.) are made valuable over time, with research focused on improving marketing strategy through an understanding of markets as evolving social systems. Giesler's research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the European Research Council (ERC) and published in top-tier academic journals such as the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Marketing. Giesler has an extensive entertainment industry background. He founded his own record label at age 17 and has worked in various production and marketing responsibilities for over a decade. He lives in Toronto, Canada.