Strategy Forum / Panelist

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 Response
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s proposed ban on noncompete agreements will impact innovation and entrepreneurship outside of existing technology hubs. Neither agree nor disagree “The biggest impact is likely to be an increase in innovation or innovative competition in existing tech hubs, as innovators can more easily leave companies where they work and start their own. It may slightly increase innovation in other clusters outside of leading tech hubs.”
Digital platform companies like Uber and Netflix have lost their first-mover advantage. Strongly disagree “Digital platforms continue to enjoy significant first-mover advantage. But that advantage may, in certain cases, be temporary. This is especially true for creator-economy platforms, where there is intense competition for talent. But even as some platforms rise and others fall, the winners seem to enjoy first-mover-like advantage for some time.”
New salary transparency laws will cause companies to increase bonus pay and other nonreportable perks as a share of total compensation. Disagree “Companies will do what they need to do to comply with the new state salary transparency laws but will likely just stick with their existing compensation structures.”
Artificial intelligence is reducing wasteful holiday giving (i.e., deadweight loss) by helping online retailers to better match people to presents. Disagree “AI might help better match people to presents. But in my experience, it still is a not-so-great match.”
Charging for user verification will lead to increased user engagement and trust on Twitter. Strongly disagree “Verification is best based on some sort of qualifications or expertise, or even follower count. If you can just pay for it, it really isn’t verification at all. Twitter will likely survive this, as it remains the best base to broadly share written content and ideas. But it will undermine trust.”
The era of dominance for Tesla in the EV market is coming to an end. Agree “Tesla has had a great ride. But there are now more and more competitors entering the market, including incumbents and new upstarts like Rivian.”
Online education and specialized degrees will supplant the traditional two-year full-time MBA.  Strongly disagree “Both specialized and online degrees will grow. Of that I have no doubt. But they will never replace the general-purpose two-year MBA, which will also likely grow, because it is perhaps the single most useful degree for professionals of all stripes and career orientations.”
Starbucks’s plans to increase wages for nonunionized workers is a shortsighted strategy. Strongly disagree “Not shortsighted at all: Higher wages are essential to talent attraction and retention, and can also spur higher levels of innovation and productivity.”
Sanctions against Russia will cause multinational companies to consider human rights protections in supply chains more broadly. Strongly agree “Not only the sanctions but the atrocities in Ukraine and elsewhere are making human rights a bigger concern for people, governments, and companies around the world.”
Blockchain is more likely to be a sustaining innovation than a disruptive innovation in the financial sector. Agree “Blockchain looks like it is here to stay.”
The field of strategic management has overlooked the role of corporate purpose in driving business performance. Disagree “Corporate purpose may not be a core focus of strategic management. But the field has focused on it.”
Socially responsible mutual funds are more of a marketing tool than a solution to environmental and social problems. Neither agree nor disagree “It varies. Some are deadly serious about this. Others are using it as a marketing tool. But the trend toward more socially and environmentally responsible investing is a good one overall.”
When hackers take data hostage, companies should pay the ransom. Strongly disagree “Companies should do their level best and stand firm and not pay ransom to criminals.”
Relaxing the rules around physical presence in the office will improve employee productivity and firm performance. Agree “Relaxing rules regarding physical presence can work both ways. One, Nick Bloom and his collaborators find remote work lifts U.S. productivity by roughly 5%. But two, even with more relaxed rules, workers can still come into the office or gather together offsite to interact. So perhaps this can get the best of both worlds. That depends, of course, on management.”
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.”