The Why Podcast

London Business School faculty discuss their latest research insights in a new podcast series for Think


Each piece of academic research starts with a burning question, a problem to solve, a mystery to unravel. Why do we behave like we do, how can we run our organisations better, and what if we could fix bigger problems too?

We present The Why Podcast, a new weekly podcast series touching on a wide range of issues that LBS faculty have dedicated their time to exploring recently. In each half-hour episode, they discuss what made them want to explore a topic, how they went about it and what the implications are for business people.

Take half an hour to listen and you’ll come away with food for thought and some great actionable tips – and for a deeper dive, follow the links to the full papers or books.

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The Why Podcast: Why should firms experiment more when it comes to their marketing activity?

In this episode of the Why podcast, London Business School’s Anja Lambrecht and Xu Zhang discuss their recent research into how TV ads influence online sales for a major travel website, exploring how their findings challenge conventional views about their value. The research suggests that spikes in sales following an advert are not necessarily incremental sales, but instead an acceleration of sales that would have happened at a later time, an effect they term “intertemporal substitution”. They also talk about the vital role played by a field experiment in helping them arrive at their findings, and delve into why firms should undertake more of this type of experiment.

The Why Podcast: Why should public and private business work together to increase innovation in oncology drug development?

How can public and private work together to increase innovation in oncology drug development? In this episode of the Why podcast, Sukhun Kang, an award-winning PhD student at London Business School, discusses his research into oncology drug development. He explains how innovation in this field could be transformed and enhanced by greater collaboration – particularly between public bodies and the private sector.

The Why Podcast: Why do people believe what they do?

Economists are interested in people’s beliefs because they drive their behaviour, which in turn impacts on the economy. In this episode of The Why Podcast, Jean-Pierre Benoît, Professor of Economics at London Business School, discusses research into how what people believe about themselves affects the choices they make. In the experiment he describes here, he investigated subjects’ self-confidence, exploring when they might bet on themselves vs leaving the outcome to fate by flipping a coin.

The Why Podcast: Why would an investor back a failed entrepreneur?

Most ventures fail – so what happens when an entrepreneur goes to investors seeking backing for their next new business? In this episode of The Why Podcast, Gary Dushnitsky describes how he set out to discover, in the context of equity crowdfunding, whether investors would shy away from failed entrepreneurs, or if they would take additional information into account when they considered whether to fund them anyway. Success takes skill and luck, he says; failure only needs error or misfortune.

The Why Podcast: Why we should not view ESG as something niche?

In this episode of The Why Podcast, Alex Edmans, Professor of Finance at London Business School, discusses his recent paper ‘The end of ESG’. Its title was deliberately provocative and caused a stir – but the point he was making was that a fundamental part of understanding a company and its operations is understanding its impact on the environment and the world. ESG has been politicised and linked to identity but a more useful starting point might be to get beyond polarised opinions and instead take a deeper look at what creates long-term value for shareholders and society. 

The Why Podcast: Why is hybrid work here to stay?

Giving people autonomy over when and how they work has its advantages but it also brings challenges – from finding new ways to measure productivity to managing boundaries to avoid burnout. In this episode of The Why Podcast, bestselling author and future-of-work expert Lynda Gratton explores how flexible working might pan out, and suggests what leaders need to consider in order to get the best out of their teams.

The Why Podcast: Why do entrepreneurs break the rules?

Entrepreneurs behave differently from the average businessperson – and, according to John Mullins, these behaviours can be learnt. In this episode of The Why Podcast, he explains the thinking and research behind his new book, Break the Rules! The 6 Counter-Conventional Mindsets of Entrepreneurs – and suggests that forgetting some established behaviours could make all of us more entrepreneurial.

Why don’t people report abuses sooner?

Aharon Cohen Mohliver, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, uncovers our disturbing tendency to keep quiet about wrongdoings we observe in organisations that we love. Read the paper.

Why should I care about who I’m negotiating with?

Kathleen O’Connor, Clinical Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Director of Executive Education, discusses how practising empathy can help you reach a better deal. Read the paper.

Why has my boss become so blinkered?

Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, analyses how managerial behaviour changed over the pandemic and suggests ways to reskill for the hybrid office. Read the paper.

Why does it matter how you phrase your mission statement?

Dana Kanze, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour, sheds light on the gap between how companies say they want their staff to behave and what the reality is on the ground. Read the paper.

Why not fight ageing itself, not just its ailments?

Andrew Scott, Professor of Economics, suggests that targeting the process of ageing might ultimately be more valuable than trying to eradicate age-related diseases. Read the paper.

Why is it so hard to spot misconduct?

Bryan Stroube, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, investigates how misconduct is reported in the Chicago Police Department. Read the paper.

Why is that person being so nice to them?

Ena Inesi, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour, discusses her research findings on how indirect reciprocity works within power hierarchies. Read the paper.

Why doesn’t everyone make an Advanced Care Plan?

Simona Botti, Professor of Marketing, examines the decisions we make around healthcare options we have. Read the paper.

Why is our board so dysfunctional?

Randall Peterson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Academic Director of the Leadership Institute, discusses the six ways a board can fail and how to set yours up to succeed. Buy the book.

Why are you answering that email right now?

Laura Giurge, Research Associate of Organisational Behaviour, suggests how to optimise your email etiquette for less stress and greater wellbeing. Read the paper.


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