Strategy Forum / Panelist

Meghan Busse

Kellogg School of Management

Northwestern University

United States

Professor Busse’s research focuses on market structure and competition, with particular interest in pricing and price discrimination. She has studied these issues in a variety of industries, including cellular telephones, airlines, coal, and natural gas. Her recent work has focused on the automobile industry, investigating both promotional strategies and environmental issues associated with cars and car purchasing behavior.

Voting History

Statement Response
Online education and specialized degrees will supplant the traditional two-year full-time MBA.  Strongly disagree “The pandemic prompted a lot of experimentation in virtual interaction and content delivery, revealing both possibilities and limits. I think we learned that the best MBA education — both learning and other aspects, including developing leadership and communication skills, forming a network, and learning to interact in a diverse community — is best accomplished in person. While there doubtless will be growth in online and specialized programs, I expect that the great majority of students who qualify for and can access a first-rate two-year MBA education will continue to choose it. ”
Socially responsible mutual funds are more of a marketing tool than a solution to environmental and social problems. Agree “Companies need stronger incentives to reduce their climate impacts than they have had so far. Investor pressure could be one such incentive. Institutional investors have recently promised to increase their scrutiny of climate risk exposure. (How well they can do this will depend both on the resources they actually put to it and on the transparency of reporting systems. Both are currently lacking.) But investor pressure alone won’t be enough to solve environmental problems. If companies only respond (or are only pressured to respond) enough to protect their own profits, they won’t be considering the costs to others of their actions — climate impacts especially. The problem won’t be solved until a carbon price or similar policy forces companies to internalize all the costs of their choices.”
Relaxing the rules around physical presence in the office will improve employee productivity and firm performance. Neither agree nor disagree “Relaxing rules around physical presence will probably increase employee happiness. It is less clear if it will increase productivity and firm performance. This depends a lot on the firm and on how employees work most productively together. Firms where productivity — particularly creativity, innovation, and problem-solving — happen most effectively when it is easy for employees to have impromptu conversations and when they can reach out to each other informally will suffer most from having employees remain remote. ”
The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed how companies should think about business strategy. Disagree “The COVID-19 pandemic permanently changed at least some aspects of how companies should think about business strategy. One example is the robustness, flexibility, and responsiveness of supply chains. Another is remote versus in-office work and business travel versus virtual meetings. But for most businesses, the fundamental question of how the business creates and captures value will not have changed. There may be exceptions in some industries (travel?, healthcare?), but I would expect that the goods and services that customers will want, and the attributes that they will care about, will in most cases return post-pandemic to what they were before. Some companies may need to change aspects of their operations, but I don’t think most companies should overhaul their fundamental strategy.”
The COVID-19 pandemic will lead companies to relocate infrastructure and employees away from dense urban locations. Neither agree nor disagree “There is a lot of heterogeneity among companies in how important physical infrastructure is, in whether workers have to be on-site, and in how valuable it is to be in an urban area. Google, in a very dense urban area, can send its workers home and still be quite productive. Meanwhile, there is a large COVID-19 outbreak in a meatpacking plant in South Dakota, in a town of fewer than 200,000 people.”
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 “Companies are considering not only increased operational risks and potential liabilities, but also more fundamental changes to their strategies. However, this is not universal. There is a lot of variation among companies in how substantially they have responded to climate-related changes to their current and future business environments.”
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 “Firms don’t generally do things voluntarily that are costly for them. In many cases, market competition keeps firms from unilaterally undertaking costly environmental protections, even if they wanted to. Sometimes, as with fuel economy, firms themselves benefit from adopting something that is good for society also. In general, though, firms need to have rules that constrain everyone the same.”
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
“A true broadening of the objectives of firms would improve the well-being of workers. But it remains to be seen how many of the CEOs who signed the statement are truly committed to making such changes, and also how many of them will find they are able to — given pressures from inside the firm, pressures from financial markets, and their own career ambitions.”
In the next decade, we will see the first sustainably profitable private commercial activities in space. Neither agree nor disagree “The bigger question is not whether there can be privately profitable commercial activity in space, but whether sufficiently foresighted policy will exist to keep those activities from creating an orbiting tragedy of the commons. Space junk is already a threat in key orbits, and without effective regulation or cooperation, it is likely to become a bigger problem.”
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 “As we have seen recently in the U.S., an abrupt change in the terms of trade can have rippling effects that can be hard to predict. It is easy to guess which firms will be affected most directly, but the full path of adjustment is much harder to predict.”
In the absence of a carbon tax, industry self-regulation can help mitigate the worst fallout from climate change. Strongly disagree “Past examples of industries who collectively undertook actions that were costly to themselves purely for the benefit of society are pretty scarce. Firms will do things that are profit opportunities or that are required of them. The sheer magnitude of adaptation that is necessary to prevent climate change will only happen if regulations force firms and consumers to do what they wouldn’t otherwise do.”
Amazon’s new $15 per hour minimum wage will force other companies to follow suit. Disagree “It may well be that other companies will also be increasing their minimum wages, but if so, it is more likely because of a tight labor market than it is a direct, causal response to Amazon’s decision to do so.”
Restrictions on skilled immigration will cause US firms to to shift more operations overseas. Did not answer
Uber has to develop self-driving cars in the next 10 years in order to remain viable. Strongly disagree “It may be that Uber will need to be using self-driving cars 10 years from now in order to remain viable, but it seems very unlikely that Uber will need to develop those cars itself.”
A trade war will be more disruptive to business than to consumers. Agree “Some businesses will suffer concentrated losses — especially businesses that see overseas demand shrink or input costs rise. This will be more disruptive than the diffuse losses suffered by consumers.”