Strategy Forum / Panelist

Ashish Arora

Fuqua School of Business

Duke University

United States

Professor Arora’s research focuses on the economics of technology and technical change. Arora’s research has included the study of technology intensive industries such as software, biotechnology and chemicals, the economics of information security, and the role of patents and licensing in promoting technology startups.

Voting History

Statement Response
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s proposed ban on noncompete agreements will impact innovation and entrepreneurship outside of existing technology hubs. Neither agree nor disagree “Recent research shows that noncompetes are included in a large share of employment contracts. I think the evidence shows important gaps in our understanding of how labor markets work. To paraphrase Fritz Machlup’s statement about patents, it would be irresponsible to either extend or ban noncompetes based on our present state of knowledge.”
BP’s decision to dial back plans for cutting oil and gas production shows that short-term financial performance pressure will make it difficult for many firms to transition their strategies toward more sustainable business models. Neither agree nor disagree “As long as oil and gas are needed, it is better that BP extract them in an environmentally responsible manner. It may be better for society and for BP shareholders for BP to focus on oil and gas (and closely related activities, such as biofuels, carbon capture, and sequestration) and let other firms that are better at wind, solar, and geothermal do the renewables. There are few apparent synergies between producing and distributing electricity and producing and distributing hydrocarbons.”
Artificial intelligence is reducing wasteful holiday giving (i.e., deadweight loss) by helping online retailers to better match people to presents. Agree “The technology for matching people to presents predates AI — cash!”
Sanctions against Russia will cause multinational companies to consider human rights protections in supply chains more broadly. Neither agree nor disagree “Russia is a complex situation. There is a lot more information about it and a lot more interest in it. I am less sure how companies would respond if the conflict was taking place in Asia or Africa.”
Blockchain is more likely to be a sustaining innovation than a disruptive innovation in the financial sector. Agree “Disruptions are rare and difficult to predict. Blockchain may well transform the financial sector, but whether the incumbents will be displaced by startups riding the blockchain technology remains to be seen.”
The field of strategic management has overlooked the role of corporate purpose in driving business performance. Strongly agree “Corporate purpose is, alas, all too often mixed up with CSR or ESG. They overlap but are distinct. Furthermore, proponents of purpose are often too sanguine about the challenges. Purpose, when it is clear, authentic, and integrated into the business can enhance financial performance but equally may also require the firm to forgo profitable opportunities. We urgently need to understand better how corporate purpose relates to corporate performance.”
Socially responsible mutual funds are more of a marketing tool than a solution to environmental and social problems. Agree “ESG is too broad. Measurement of environmental, social, and governance impact is not standardized. The result is ESG portfolios are often “tech" heavy.”
When hackers take data hostage, companies should pay the ransom. Disagree “Privately, companies should consider whether they will simply open themselves up to further demands for ransom. Social welfare is undoubtedly lowered when criminal activity is rewarded.”
Relaxing the rules around physical presence in the office will improve employee productivity and firm performance. Neither agree nor disagree “Some flexibility is undoubtedly good. A lot of remote work may improve efficiency on standard tasks but will likely reduce innovation. It will also be difficult to sustain collaboration and may hurt culture.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed how companies should think about business strategy. Neither agree nor disagree “Too soon to tell.”
The COVID-19 pandemic will lead companies to relocate infrastructure and employees away from dense urban locations. Disagree
The California Consumer Privacy Act will undermine the targeted advertising market by giving consumers the right to opt out of allowing companies to sell personal data to third parties. Disagree “Many consumers will likely consent (not opt out) in return for access. Instead, the Act will provide a sounder foundation for targeted advertising.”
In the wake of recent climate-related disasters and related events, such as the bankruptcy of PG&E, corporations are now planning for the increased operational risks and potential liabilities caused by climate change. Neither agree nor disagree
Antitrust policy should intervene more decisively to limit the scope of large technology platforms. Neither agree nor disagree “Historically, established firms innovated when that was the only way to growth. Limit scope if that happens through M&A. Allow growth when this is through creation of new products.”
U.S. regulations have been rolled back in a number of areas, including emissions standards and clean water. Companies will decide to voluntarily adhere to rules that closely resemble the original standards. Agree “Having invested in product and process designs to meet the original standards, many firms are unlikely to change.”
The Business Roundtable’s new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation indicates a shift away from shareholder value maximization as the sole purpose of the corporation and toward a broader view of value creation.
This shift will have material impact on the well-being of U.S. workers.
“The best companies never actually focus only on 'shareholder value maximization' in any event. As John Kay points out in his wonderful book, ‘Obliquity,’ having a broader purpose may allow a company to do well by doing good.”
In the next decade, we will see the first sustainably profitable private commercial activities in space. Neither agree nor disagree
Introducing 5G networks 3-5 years ahead of other countries will give Chinese firms an advantage. Strongly agree “Pioneers do not always benefit. But in this case, it seems likely that they will.”
The increase in stock market volatility that began in 2018 will last for another three to five years. Neither agree nor disagree
A hard Brexit will have a significant negative impact on many businesses, even if they do not have a U.K. or European presence. Agree “The interesting question is who will make money out of a hard Brexit. Brexit is bad for business. A hard Brexit will be worse. Even firms not in the U.K. or Europe will feel the pain because value chains are globally integrated. On the demand side, EU growth will be slower, which will hurt as well.”