Strategy Forum / Panelist

Lori Rosenkopf

Wharton School

University of Pennsylvania

United States

Professor Rosenkopf’s research examines technological communities and social networks across several high-tech industries. She analyzes how and when knowledge may flow between technical professionals and between organizations, mapping these flows to estimate which people, organizations, and technologies are more likely to succeed. She has served as a senior editor for the journal Organization Science and as chair of the Technology and Innovation Management Division of the Academy of Management.

Voting History

Statement Response
Artificial intelligence is reducing wasteful holiday giving (i.e., deadweight loss) by helping online retailers to better match people to presents. Disagree “If recommendation engines pull gift givers away from cash or fungible gift cards, deadweight loss is likely to increase.”
Charging for user verification will lead to increased user engagement and trust on Twitter. Strongly disagree “Charging for user verification is a tactic that seems almost orthogonal to the evolution of user engagement and trust on Twitter. Any increase in user engagement and trust at this point could only occur within a specific niche and will probably not be enough to stem the flight of other users to alternative platforms.”
Online education and specialized degrees will supplant the traditional two-year full-time MBA.  Agree “From a financial perspective, the vast majority of future tuition dollars will be generated via online programs and/or specialized degrees. However, the traditional two-year full-time MBA is likely to survive at elite schools as a loss leader — with generous financial aid to attract top students, burnishing those elite brands and driving scale for their online/specialized offerings. As a result, lower-tier schools can expect increasing financial pressure, suffering in the competition for students as capacity scales.”
Blockchain is more likely to be a sustaining innovation than a disruptive innovation in the financial sector. Agree “According to Clay Christensen’s well-accepted yet overapplied definition, disruptive innovations allow startups to serve low-end customers or new markets, gaining toeholds that may eventually upend incumbents as increasing performance/price ratios become more attractive to existing customers. In contrast, blockchain is a general-purpose technology — infrastructure that can underlie many innovations, both sustaining and disruptive. While there are some fintech applications that address new markets, the majority of financial innovations built on blockchain will be introduced by established institutions to serve their existing customers more efficiently — the very definition of sustaining innovation.”
Socially responsible mutual funds are more of a marketing tool than a solution to environmental and social problems. Disagree “While environmental and social problems will always be complex and somewhat intractable, the rising demand for socially responsible funds and the burgeoning efforts to measure and rank firm performance with respect to ESG issues can enable a virtuous cycle encouraging more corporate activity directed toward these problems.”
When hackers take data hostage, companies should pay the ransom. Disagree “Easy to say companies shouldn't pay as a matter of principle, but much harder to do if your company is the one that's been hit. Such a critical reminder to companies that cybersecurity requires proactivity rather than reactivity.”
Relaxing the rules around physical presence in the office will improve employee productivity and firm performance. Neither agree nor disagree “For knowledge work that can be accomplished by virtual teams, relaxed rules around physical presence in the office have become table stakes for employee retention. But relaxed rules by no means guarantee improved employee productivity or firm performance! Indeed, the benefits of mere employee retention may well be offset by the reduced ability to socialize new employees — an effect likely to compound over time.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed how companies should think about business strategy. Disagree “The way that companies should think about business strategy has not changed; processes of strategy formulation and implementation remain the same. Of course, the content of strategy is likely changed, as the pandemic has shifted demand patterns, affected supply chains, and transformed employee desires; some of these changes will be permanent. But it’s the role of a good strategist to always be monitoring trends and adjusting strategy accordingly, and it’s the role of a great strategist to be anticipating a wide variety of outcomes and building contingency plans.”
The COVID-19 pandemic will lead companies to relocate infrastructure and employees away from dense urban locations. Agree “Current imperatives for remote work have made the potential cost savings more salient for knowledge work, particularly in tech. One caution: Though incumbent employees may be managing well while working from anywhere, the challenges of attracting and/or onboarding new employees will remain.”
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 “It’s too extreme to say that the CCPA will ‘undermine’ the targeted advertising market. CCPA (and similar efforts in other states) will require targeted advertising firms to be more creative in obtaining data from knowledgable consumers who opt out, analogous to GDPR; these costs are likely to be passed along to advertisers and, in turn, consumers.”
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 “Many corporations have been doing scenario planning for quite some time, and disaster scenarios can be a part of this activity. Heightened salience of climate issues will only increase the diffusion of these and other risk management practices.”
Antitrust policy should intervene more decisively to limit the scope of large technology platforms. Agree “Compare to the Bell System pre-divestiture ... same network effects but very different welfare issues, which will increase resistance to intervention. Note the statement said ‘should,’ not ‘will’!”
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 “Self-regulation is more effective when it is proposed as a replacement for in-force regulations or when the regulators do not possess sufficient technological expertise. In contrast, after a rollback, even good-faith efforts to preserve standards will be watered-down and very susceptible to defection.”
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.
Neither agree nor disagree
“Lao Tzu said that 'the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.' This is an important first step, but the road to material impact on the well-being of U.S. workers is long and winding. I urge all the signers of the Business Roundtable Statement to model concrete steps that continue this journey.”
In the next decade, we will see the first sustainably profitable private commercial activities in space. Disagree “Will we see progress and more activity over the next decade? Yes. But ‘sustainable profitable’ requires an ecosystem and massive risk reduction.”
Introducing 5G networks 3-5 years ahead of other countries will give Chinese firms an advantage. Agree “Working infrastructure, coupled with the large protected domestic market, will stimulate massive commercialization of related and complementary products and services by Chinese firms, which in turn will accelerate technological development.”
The increase in stock market volatility that began in 2018 will last for another three to five years. Agree “The outcome of the 2020 election will bear heavily on this issue. Reelection would mean ongoing erratic information about policy, which promotes uncertainty and volatility. A transition of power, in contrast, could reduce uncertainty, but this wouldn’t be immediate.”
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. Disagree “While opportunities may be more constrained than before, partnerships will still provide critical access to this large market.”
In the next five years, the blockchain will have a transformative effect on finance in emerging markets. Agree “For a 10-year horizon instead of five, [I] strongly agree at full confidence.”