Strategy Forum / Panelist

Rebecca Henderson

Harvard Business School

Harvard University

Professor Henderson’s work explores how organizations respond to large-scale technological shifts, most recently in regard to energy and the environment. She is also a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her most recent publication is Leading Sustainable Change: An Organizational Perspective, edited jointly with Ranjay Gulati and Michael Tushman, and published by the Oxford University Press.

Voting History

Statement Response
The COVID-19 pandemic will lead companies to relocate infrastructure and employees away from dense urban locations. Disagree
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. Strongly agree “BlackRock‘s statement today underlines just how central climate change is becoming to the assessment of investor risk. Whether this changes behavior is, of course, another question.”
Antitrust policy should intervene more decisively to limit the scope of large technology platforms. Agree “I’m sure that we need to update antitrust policy to take account of the dynamics inherent in modern platforms. Whether that automatically leads to vigorous intervention is a much tougher question. I suspect that there are cases where it should, but the devil is in the details....”
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 statement is an important first step, but unless it is followed by concrete commitments on the part of the firms, it will, alas, have very little effect on anything.”
In the next decade, we will see the first sustainably profitable private commercial activities in space. Disagree “My thoughts on this question are undoubtedly warped by the fact that given the climate emergency we face, it seems to be close to insane to be even thinking about space, unless it’s by way of a solution. Imagine telling everyone they need to use less carbon, while fossil-fuel-based rockets take off on a regular basis.”
Introducing 5G networks 3-5 years ahead of other countries will give Chinese firms an advantage. Strongly agree “The degree of advantage is heavily dependent, of course, on how good the Chinese technology proves to be.”
The increase in stock market volatility that began in 2018 will last for another three to five years. Agree “I’m struck by how much uncertainty there is in the business world right now. Many of the managers I talk to are expecting a correction, if not a crash — and making their investment plans accordingly. I’d be very surprised if we don’t see a lot more volatility.”
A hard Brexit will have a significant negative impact on many businesses, even if they do not have a U.K. or European presence. Disagree “I'm not at all sure that we can answer this question. A hard Brexit will almost certainly create turmoil in Britain — and probably, to a lesser degree, in Europe. But would these effects propagate across the world? I don't think we can tell.”
China is no longer the most attractive growth opportunity for Western multinationals. Rebecca henderson “I fear the problem is that there is nowhere in the world that can be described as ‘a particularly attractive growth opportunity.’”
In the next five years, the blockchain will have a transformative effect on finance in emerging markets. Strongly agree “Blockchain is likely to be a classically disruptive innovation — it will be fascinating to see what new kinds of ‘banks’ emerge.”
In the absence of a carbon tax, industry self-regulation can help mitigate the worst fallout from climate change. Strongly agree “The private sector as a whole has strong incentives to avoid the worst impact of climate change, and individual firms are increasingly recognizing this and searching out mechanisms that can address the free-rider problem often inherent in acting against climate change. Industry self-regulation is definitely one way in which this is playing out.”
Amazon’s new $15 per hour minimum wage will force other companies to follow suit. Disagree “Amazon’s move will help to persuade other firms to follow suit, but it won’t force them — only a tightening labor market will do that.”
Restrictions on skilled immigration will cause US firms to to shift more operations overseas. Strongly agree “In my view, enabling skilled immigration is absolutely critical to long-term U.S. economic growth. The obvious contrast is with Japan, which is facing a major demographic crisis.”
Uber has to develop self-driving cars in the next 10 years in order to remain viable. Agree
A trade war will be more disruptive to business than to consumers. Strongly agree “The impact of the ongoing trade war will be quite highly concentrated, so it will be felt first and foremost by individual businesses. The impact on consumers will be delayed and diffuse.”
Concern over consumer privacy will fundamentally limit businesses’ ability to use big data. Agree “Who can be sure how the political winds will blow on this one?”