Strategy Forum / Panelist

John Van Reenen

Department of Economics

London School of Economics and Political Science

United Kingdom

John Van Reenen, OBE, is Ronald Coase School Professor at the London School of Economics and a Digital Fellow of Initiative for the Digital Economy at MIT. Until 2020 he was Gordon Billard Professor MIT Economics Department and Sloan Management School. He won the 2009 Jahnsson Award (European equivalent of Clark Medal).

Voting History

Statement Response
The use of generative AI will restore competition in search. Agree “It’s unclear, but Bing does seem to be making some rapid progress with OpenAI collaboration.”
New salary transparency laws will cause companies to increase bonus pay and other nonreportable perks as a share of total compensation. Agree “There’s lots of evidence that pay transparency can cause embarrassment and anger — although altogether, it’s probably a good thing.”
Artificial intelligence is reducing wasteful holiday giving (i.e., deadweight loss) by helping online retailers to better match people to presents. Disagree “I haven't seen much evidence of this matching!”
Charging for user verification will lead to increased user engagement and trust on Twitter. Strongly disagree “People will simply get irritated and not do it. They’ll either leave or suffer identity impersonation, or both.”
Corporate investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion should be expected to generate a monetary return on investment. Agree “Probably some underinvestment in seeking out the most talented. For more, see the section “Inventors’ Careers: The Potential for Lost Einsteins” in our research published in the May 2019 issue of The Quarterly Journal of Economics, titled “Who Becomes an Inventor in America? The Importance of Exposure to Innovation.””
The era of dominance for Tesla in the EV market is coming to an end. Agree “Other entrants are encouraged into the market as it expands.”
Online education and specialized degrees will supplant the traditional two-year full-time MBA.  Disagree “Face to face will remain important (although there are increasingly more hybrid options).”
Starbucks’s plans to increase wages for nonunionized workers is a shortsighted strategy. Disagree “Lots of evidence that raising wages can be beneficial for morale, retention, attracting better workers, etc. (efficiency wage theory).”
Sanctions against Russia will cause multinational companies to consider human rights protections in supply chains more broadly. Agree “Effect will likely be rather minor.”
Blockchain is more likely to be a sustaining innovation than a disruptive innovation in the financial sector. Disagree “It is likely to be disruptive in a broadly negative way from a welfare perspective.”
The field of strategic management has overlooked the role of corporate purpose in driving business performance. Disagree “Unclear if purpose is really so important.”
Socially responsible mutual funds are more of a marketing tool than a solution to environmental and social problems. Agree “To tackle climate change, we need a carbon tax, tougher regulation, and higher green R&D subsidies. For more, see my recent research, “Carbon Taxes, Path Dependency, and Directed Technical Change: Evidence From the Auto Industry.””
When hackers take data hostage, companies should pay the ransom. Strongly agree “Creates a terrible moral hazard.”
Relaxing the rules around physical presence in the office will improve employee productivity and firm performance. Agree “It will add to flexibility for workers and reduce turnover, thus saving firms money. Frees up expensive office space.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed how companies should think about business strategy. Agree “It has changed technology strategy — see my piece here”
The COVID-19 pandemic will lead companies to relocate infrastructure and employees away from dense urban locations. Agree
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 “It would be a good thing to reduce personalized targeted ads.”
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. Agree
Antitrust policy should intervene more decisively to limit the scope of large technology platforms. Agree
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. Disagree “Many firms will save money by (rationally) not keeping to the previously tougher regulations.”