Richard Florida

Rotman School of Management and School of Cities

University of Toronto


Richard Florida is University Professor at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and School of Cities.

Voting History

Statement Comments
The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed how companies should think about business strategy. Strongly Agree “The pandemic has caused companies to rethink their strategies for everything from choosing locations, their work style (remote, hybrid, in-office), and choice of locations.”
The COVID-19 pandemic will lead companies to relocate infrastructure and employees away from dense urban locations. Disagree “Key industries and clusters like finance, entertainment, and high tech will continue to cluster in leading urban centers. Even as some employees with families and children retreat to suburbs, the young, ambitious talent that powers these industries will be drawn to cities, as has been the case in the wake of pandemics throughout history. Most suburban office relocations will be short-lived.”
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 “Leading investment firms, like BlackRock, are already planning for climate change, saying they will not take on and [will] exit investments that further damage the climate or pose substantial climate-related risks. This sends a powerful signal. There is also the perception of being a bad corporate citizen, which can irrevocably damage image and brands. Not all corporations will do so, but many will.”
Antitrust policy should intervene more decisively to limit the scope of large technology platforms. Strongly Agree “A part of the problem is economic: Big tech firms are dominating certain key tech fields in ways that limit competition and may suppress innovation. A second part is regional: The geographic concentration of big tech firms is a huge factor in growing spatial inequality. But the biggest part is political: Big tech platforms have damaged the political process in a way that threatens democracy.”
In the next decade, we will see the first sustainably profitable private commercial activities in space. Strongly Agree “There is already considerable commercial activity in outer space, most notably satellites. NASA has even opened up its space station to private business activity. It’s possible we’ll even see some sort of commercial space flights, even if it’s simple tourist joyrides, in the coming decade.”
Introducing 5G networks 3-5 years ahead of other countries will give Chinese firms an advantage. Neither Agree nor Disagree “Yes and no. “Yes” because it will create significant first-mover advantage in a huge market. “No” because it ultimately depends on whether the U.S. can freeze Chinese companies out of Western markets. This will be interesting to watch.”
The increase in stock market volatility that began in 2018 will last for another three to five years. Agree “If anything, I think it may increase. We are living through a period of significant turmoil, crisis, and resetting in the U.S. and global economies. These are generational events to sort out.”
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 “A hard Brexit will have a big negative impact on businesses, especially finance businesses that are based in London for [its] talent magnet. It will have far less [of an] impact on businesses that have no connection to London, especially those outside of Europe. The only impact on them will be indirect — say, in the case of any broader economic fallout from Brexit.”
China is no longer the most attractive growth opportunity for Western multinationals. Agree “From a purely economic point of view, China remains a huge, attractive market with booming cities and a rising middle class. But politically, it is becoming a more difficult place to do business. These political troubles have not yet tipped over. But American companies may increasingly come to perceive they are better off looking and doing business elsewhere.”
In the next five years, the blockchain will have a transformative effect on finance in emerging markets. Disagree “There’s no shortage of hype about blockchain and, if anything, there is even more hype about the transformative potential of blockchain on finance in emerging markets. But finance tends to follow, not lead, the fundamentals of economic development. I am not at all sure blockchain can alter those fundamentals.”
In the absence of a carbon tax, industry self-regulation can help mitigate the worst fallout from climate change. Agree “My hunch is industry self-regulation is one part. But city governments, especially in the U.S., have shown that they can be a key part of addressing climate goals, particularly when the national government fails.”
Amazon’s new $15 per hour minimum wage will force other companies to follow suit. Agree “I think Amazon’s move to a $15 minimum wage signals a change in the environment. It is likely due to mounting competition for talent in a tight labor market, and it may also be about trying to reposition the company as a better employer. Regardless, I think more companies, especially large companies, will follow suit.”