Strategy Forum / Panelist

John Roberts

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Stanford University

United States

John Roberts’ teaching and research involve the application of economic and strategic (game-theoretic) analysis to management problems. His specific areas of current interest involve international business, the organization of the firm, and the connection between strategy and organization. He has been a member of the Stanford faculty since 1980, when he joined the GSB from Northwestern University.

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. Agree “If Silicon Valley versus Massachusetts’s Route 128 is any indication, it will have a definite positive effect.”
Charging for user verification will lead to increased user engagement and trust on Twitter. Disagree “The charges are Musk’s doing. And that ownership will drive away posters and advertisers. The man is a megalomaniac. To expect those who stick around to believe the results of his charging for his imprimatur is amusing. He’s trying to pay for the billions he sank into a money-losing enterprise, $8 at a time!”
Starbucks’s plans to increase wages for nonunionized workers is a shortsighted strategy. Strongly disagree “Starbucks is facing unionization; two outlets in Santa Cruz voted union today. Most firms prefer not to deal with a union. (Whether this is a good idea is debatable!) But if this is their preference, then raising wages would seem to be a good idea.”
Sanctions against Russia will cause multinational companies to consider human rights protections in supply chains more broadly. Disagree “I see no connection.”
Relaxing the rules around physical presence in the office will improve employee productivity and firm performance. Agree “My own research (with Bloom, Liang, and Ying) showed that call center workers at one large firm produced 25% more and were substantially less likely to quit if allowed to work from home. The output increase came from both employees working more effectively and actually working a greater share of their time at work. That is only one firm and a particular job, with easy monitoring and performance pay, but it is suggestive that the statement in question holds more generally.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed how companies should think about business strategy. Agree “Some industries face the absolute necessity of changing business strategy: witness home shopping for groceries. But in many cases, the seeds of change were planted long ago: In the same vein, witness Ocado in the U.K., which has been flourishing for more than a decade. What certainly must change is organizational strategy. Most obvious is workers’ desire for at-home work and flexible timing. But there does seem to be a shift in tastes, with income (and, equivalently, work) becoming less attractive versus free time. This will likely raise real wages, and that may lead to shifts to less labor-intensive operating models.”
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. Agree
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
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.
In the next decade, we will see the first sustainably profitable private commercial activities in space. John roberts “Although private enterprise is asking [for] real strides in space, the technological problems are immense. We are talking about unmanned satellites.”
Introducing 5G networks 3-5 years ahead of other countries will give Chinese firms an advantage. Agree
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
China is no longer the most attractive growth opportunity for Western multinationals. Neither agree nor disagree
In the next five years, the blockchain will have a transformative effect on finance in emerging markets. Neither agree nor disagree “I know nothing about blockchain.”
In the absence of a carbon tax, industry self-regulation can help mitigate the worst fallout from climate change. Disagree “The issue is not ‘can,’ which is barely plausible, but ‘will,’ which seems beyond belief.”
Amazon’s new $15 per hour minimum wage will force other companies to follow suit. Disagree “Amazon is active in too few local labor markets to have a big impact.”
Restrictions on skilled immigration will cause US firms to to shift more operations overseas. Agree “The complication is Trump’s tariffs. Otherwise, it is virtual certainty…”
Uber has to develop self-driving cars in the next 10 years in order to remain viable. Neither agree nor disagree “Other companies can do it instead.”
A trade war will be more disruptive to business than to consumers. Neither agree nor disagree