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“Working to the Beat: A Self-Regulatory Framework Linking Music Characteristics to Job Performance” has won the Academy of Management Review’s 2020 Best Article Award.

Co-authored by Kathleen R. Keeler, Ph.D., a VCU graduate and now an assistant professor at Ohio State University, and Jose Cortina, Ph.D., a professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business, “Working to the Beat” sheds light on how music selection can affect mood and productivity in the workplace.

In their paper, Cortina and Keeler, then a doctoral student at VCU, looked at immediate physiological and emotional responses elicited by music and how they affect performance. They found that other facets such as volume, lyrics, familiarity and musical preference also could potentially influence work outcomes. 

“While technology has made listening to music in the workplace easier, music surprisingly has deep roots within industry and labor,” Keeler said in an interview with VCU News in 2019.

Early empirical and anecdotal evidence suggests that music not only improved worker productivity, but also increased workers’ perceived happiness. Keeler and Cortina’s research supports that premise.

“Music can be helpful, harmful or inconsequential depending on the type of music and the type of task on which you are working,” Cortina said in a 2019 interview. “The overarching reason is that music with different characteristics has different effects on emotion and physiological arousal, which in turn affects attention.” 

Each year, the Academy of Management recognizes authors and reviewers of journal articles that were published in the previous year in each of the academy’s six journals. Awards are given to articles that bring forth core ideas that are original, important and provocative; have a clear and important contribution to the field of management; and provide timely, development reviews.

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