Bart De Langhe

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Leading Behavioral Scientist and Marketing Expert Specializing in the Psychology of Data-Driven Decision-Making; Professor, ESADE

Biography

What is the key ingredient to success in business? According to ESADE Business School Professor Bart De Langhe, it is “thinking about thinking.” The best investment for any company to make, he says, is to develop a better understanding of how the human mind processes information.

Why do our data analytics initiatives produce disappointing results? How can artificial intelligence help our organization? How do we develop and launch more innovative ideas? How can we make better hiring decisions? Professor De Langhe tackles these pressing business questions in a unique way, starting from first principles of human cognition. The human mind is like a Swiss army knife, equipped with multiple highly specialized cognitive tools that can be used to solve business problems. Unfortunately, organizations don’t understand and utilize all their tools, and they often misapply the tools they rely on most frequently.

Besides helping organizations utilize minds more effectively, Professor De Langhe helps organizations to influence minds more effectively. Many businesses struggle to understand why consumers don’t buy their products or services. The answer is often related not so much to the product or service, but to the consumer mind and the environment in which it operates. For instance, Professor De Langhe’s research examined how the rise of user ratings and reviews has changed the way consumers make purchase decisions. The insights from his research have important implications for how companies should allocate resources to marketing versus product engineering.

Professor De Langhe obtained two degrees in psychology from the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) and a doctorate from Erasmus University Rotterdam (Netherlands). Before joining ESADE in 2017, he was on the faculty for six years at the University of Colorado-Boulder (USA). He is a member of the Institute for Data-Driven Decisions at ESADE, and a member of the Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He has had visiting positions at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, China Europe International Business School and Bocconi University, amongst other schools.

Recognized by the Marketing Science Institute as one of the most promising young scholars in marketing, Professor De Langhe’s research findings have been published in top academic journals, such as Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research and Management Science, and in more popular business media such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes. His courses on Executive Decision-Making, Winning Customers with Behavioral Economics and Thinking with Data are among the highest-rated courses at various business schools.

In his 2017 article in Harvard Business Review, “Linear Thinking in a Nonlinear World,” Professor De Langhe shows how the assumption of linear relationships can lead to rampant productivity losses. He urges business leaders to use a simple framework which allows them to understand the nonlinear ways in which their firms’ actions influence key performance indicators, and the nonlinear relationships between these metrics and ultimate business outcomes. His 2019 article in Harvard Business Review, “The Dangers of Categorical Thinking,” offers business leaders a unique framework to detect how the mind’s tendency to categorize can impair decision-making across the various functional areas of their organizations.

Bart De Langhe is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks, interactive workshops, and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group.

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De Langhe, Bart

Biography

What is the key ingredient to success in business? According to ESADE Business School Professor Bart De Langhe, it is “thinking about thinking.” The best investment for any company to make, he says, is to develop a better understanding of how the human mind processes information.

Why do our data analytics initiatives produce disappointing results? How can artificial intelligence help our organization? How do we develop and launch more innovative ideas? How can we make better hiring decisions? Professor De Langhe tackles these pressing business questions in a unique way, starting from first principles of human cognition. The human mind is like a Swiss army knife, equipped with multiple highly specialized cognitive tools that can be used to solve business problems. Unfortunately, organizations don’t understand and utilize all their tools, and they often misapply the tools they rely on most frequently.

Besides helping organizations utilize minds more effectively, Professor De Langhe helps organizations to influence minds more effectively. Many businesses struggle to understand why consumers don’t buy their products or services. The answer is often related not so much to the product or service, but to the consumer mind and the environment in which it operates. For instance, Professor De Langhe’s research examined how the rise of user ratings and reviews has changed the way consumers make purchase decisions. The insights from his research have important implications for how companies should allocate resources to marketing versus product engineering.

Professor De Langhe obtained two degrees in psychology from the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) and a doctorate from Erasmus University Rotterdam (Netherlands). Before joining ESADE in 2017, he was on the faculty for six years at the University of Colorado-Boulder (USA). He is a member of the Institute for Data-Driven Decisions at ESADE, and a member of the Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He has had visiting positions at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, China Europe International Business School and Bocconi University, amongst other schools.

Recognized by the Marketing Science Institute as one of the most promising young scholars in marketing, Professor De Langhe’s research findings have been published in top academic journals, such as Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research and Management Science, and in more popular business media such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes. His courses on Executive Decision-Making, Winning Customers with Behavioral Economics and Thinking with Data are among the highest-rated courses at various business schools.

In his 2017 article in Harvard Business Review, “Linear Thinking in a Nonlinear World,” Professor De Langhe shows how the assumption of linear relationships can lead to rampant productivity losses. He urges business leaders to use a simple framework which allows them to understand the nonlinear ways in which their firms’ actions influence key performance indicators, and the nonlinear relationships between these metrics and ultimate business outcomes. His 2019 article in Harvard Business Review, “The Dangers of Categorical Thinking,” offers business leaders a unique framework to detect how the mind’s tendency to categorize can impair decision-making across the various functional areas of their organizations.

Bart De Langhe is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks, interactive workshops, and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group.

Speech Topics

How to Create Value in the Age of Online Reviews

We are in the midst of an upheaval in the way consumers make decisions. The rise of online reviews has led some to argue that consumers are now making more informed and rational decisions, and that the power of brands and traditional marketing tactics is waning. Do consumers really make better decisions when they rely on online ratings and reviews? What are the implications for marketing? Bart De Langhe, marketing professor at ESADE Business School, will address these questions based on his latest research.

Your Thinking Traps (and How to Avoid Them)

The success of any organization is directly tied to the ability of its executives to make good decisions. In an interactive series of “games,” ESADE Business School Professor Bart De Langhe will put your decision-making skills to a test. You will directly experience how your mind can lead you astray. We will explore implications for data analytics, strategic planning, market segmentation and targeting, customer relationship management, brand valuation and other business functions. The good news is that your thinking traps are predictable, and that you will acquire methods for improving the quality of your decisions and the long-term success of your organizations.

The Dangers of Categorical Thinking

Your mind is a categorization machine, constantly busy sorting and organizing the complex world around you. Your survival depends on your ability to categorize. It is great to be able to tell at a glance whether something is a stick or a snake, because members of these two categories behave very differently. But in business, we often use categories that are invalid, or not useful, and this can lead to major errors in decision-making. ESADE Business School Professor Bart De Langhe will describe the four dangers of categorical thinking and discuss implications for customer segmentation and targeting, product innovation, data analytics and human resources management.

Develop Your Quantitative Intuition (QI)

More and more companies rely on data analysis to improve firm performance. As a consequence, decision-makers with good quantitative intuitions are now in great demand. Quantitative intuition, or QI, involves the ability to ask precise empirical questions, analyze relationships between variables and communicate insights. ESADE Business School Professor Bart de Langhe will discuss the importance of nurturing Quantitative Intuition, and describe a number of cognitive biases that can interfere with good data-driven decisions.

Building Intelligent Organizations with Humans and Machines

With Big Data and artificial intelligence rapidly permeating our economies, consumers and managers now make decisions very differently from just a few years ago. The expectations are high. While these new developments clearly have tremendous potential to improve decision quality, there are many barriers to success. To survive and thrive in this new environment, ESADE Business School Professor Bart De Langhe argues it is critical to develop a deep understanding of how the human mind works. Otherwise, imperfect humans could stand in the way of smart machines. Professor De Langhe will share fundamental insights about how the mind works and describe implications for human-machine collaborations. What are the challenges that companies might face as they start augmenting managerial minds with computer algorithms? And how can companies address these challenges? Which functions can or should be outsourced to algorithms? Which functions require a blend of human and artificial intelligence. Are there specific abilities or skills that humans can nurture to stay relevant?

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