Michael Skapinker, associate editor of the Financial Times (FT) is a specialist in management issues. His weekly column on the subject, which comes out every Thursday in the printed and digital versions of the business paper, tackles a wide amount of subjects related to this area.

Some, like those on executive pay or the secrets of corporate longevity, deal with matters that have been around for quite some time, Skapinker offering a new angle or approach to them but others like the one on the usefulness of having company cars or another on the perils of using Google Translator for business applications are, to say the least, surprising. And that is what could be said about a recent one on the use of digital and paper based printing reading by business leaders.

The article is largely based on the findings of a study by Anne Mangen of the University of Stavanger and Don Kuiken of the University of Alberta on how people read differently on a screen (the Kindle app on an iPad) and a printed page, the study showing that much has to do with the text itself, whether it is fiction or not. According to the authors whereas in fiction reading it does not matter much whether the text is read in a digital device or in paper, in non fiction reading it makes quite a difference, paper based reading assuring better levels of understanding and remenberance.

According to Skapinker, this could explain why most business leaders do not rely exclusively on digital reading, complementing it with paper based reading. In his words, “Reading from a mobile phone, the fastest-growing form of digital reading, is useful, but it is, literally, narrower than print. A newspaper offers peripheral vision. There is the likelihood not only that you will come across unexpected information, but that you will connect it to other things you have read. This is important for those whose job is to think about the threats, opportunities and changes that might affect the business”.

Source: The Financial Times, Management