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William Lazonick

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Appointment

  • Fellow
  • Innovation, Equity, & The Future of Prosperity

Institution

  • The Academic-Industry Research Network

Country

  • United States

Education

BCom., University of Toronto (1968)
MS. (Econ), London School of Economics (1969)
PhD, Harvard University (1975).
Honorary doctorates: Uppsala University (1991); University of Ljubljana (2017)

About

William Lazonick is University of Massachusetts Emeritus Professor of Economics and president of the Academic-Industry Research Network.

Previously, Lazonick was assistant and associate professor of economics at Harvard University, professor of economics at Barnard College of Columbia University, and distinguished research professor at INSEAD in France. He has professorial affiliations with SOAS University of London and Institut Mines-Télécom in Paris. 

His research focuses on the social conditions of innovation and economic development in advanced and emerging economies. He employs a methodology that integrates history and theory; in doing empirical research, theory both distills the essence of what we have learned and provides a guide to what we need to learn. His “theory of innovative enterprise” permits systemic analysis of how business enterprise transforms technologies and access markets to generate higher-quality, lower-cost products than previously available. He also shows how the neoclassical theory of the firm, taught by PhD economists to millions of students every year, absurdly posits that the most unproductive firm is the foundation of the most efficient economy. Since the late 1980s, Lazonick has been a leading critic of the “agency theory” extension of neoclassical theory, and in particular of its value-destroying ideology that, for the sake of superior economic performance, companies should be run to “maximize shareholder value”.

Besides his academic publications, Lazonick regularly publishes opinion pieces in major media outlets. The Institute for New Economic Thinking, Gatsby Foundation, European Commission, and Ford Foundation have funded his recent research on innovation, financialization, and development.

Awards

Open Society Fellow, Open Society Foundations (2019-2020)

HBR-McKinsey Award for outstanding article in Harvard Business Review in 2014 (2015)

Henrietta Larson Award for the best article in Business History Review in 2010 (2011)

Schumpeter Prize for Lazonick, Sustainable Prosperity in the New Economy?, International Schumpeter Society (2010)

Newcomen-Harvard Award for the best article in Business History Review in 1983 (1984)

Relevant Publications

Predatory Value Extraction: How the Looting of the Business Enterprise Became the US Norm and How Sustainable Prosperity Can Be Restored, with Jang-Sup Shin, Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2019.

Sustainable Prosperity in the New Economy? Business Organization and High-Tech Employment in the United States, W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2009.

“Profits Without Prosperity: Stock Buybacks Manipulate the Market and Leave Most Americans Worse Off,” Harvard Business Review, September 2014, 46-55.

Maximizing Shareholder Value: A New Ideology for Corporate Governance,” with Mary O’Sullivan, Economy and Society, 29, 1, 2000: 13-35.

Business Organization and the Myth of Market Economy, Cambridge University Press, 1991.

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