Our Top Ten Thinkers For Researchers
By Tom Ewing, Social Media Knowledge Leader, Kantar Operations, 2010
Explaining people's behaviour is the basis of our industry. But that's not to say we don't appreciate a push in the right direction. Since the publication - and more importantly the runaway success - of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point
, we've seen a boom in "idea books" looking to uncover organising principles behind behaviour and decision-making. We've also seen a revival of interest in the idea of the individual - a public intellectual - who can explain these things. Go to any research conference and half the speeches will cite at least one book or writer with the scoop on why people act how they do. Thinkers are in.
But which thinkers? Not only is there a glut of thought for researchers to choose from - drawing on disciplines from economics to physics to anthropology - there's also a huge role for fashion. Sometimes an idea is so successful that it enters general business vocabulary - the "long tail" and the "wisdom of crowds", for instance. Other times writers fall from grace: despite giving his new book the research-friendly title Outliers, Gladwell himself has hardly been mentioned at conferences this year.
This article is a - wholly unscientific - survey of who researchers' current top ten thinkers are, based on names dropped at the MRS, WARC and ARF conferences this past March. Anyone actually speaking at the conferences was disqualified - so the worthy likes of Mark Earls (Herd) and Charles Leadbeter (We-Think) miss out. We hope you find the list enlightening - whether as a pointer to summer reading, or a bluffer's guide for the next industry bunfight.
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