We asked our panel of strategy experts to tell us how strongly they agree with this statement:

A trade war will be more disruptive to business than to consumers.


Raw Responses

Responses weighted by panelists’ level of confidence

Panelist Vote Confidence Comments Profile & Vote History
Chatterji, Aaron

Aaron Chatterji

Duke University
Disagree 5 Profile / Vote History
McGahan, Anita

Anita McGahan

University of Toronto
Neither Agree nor Disagree 4 “Both businesses and consumers in targeted sectors will be affected more intensively than in other sectors. Tariffs that induce inefficiency to redistribute wealth will ultimately fail. ” Profile / Vote History
Arora, Ashish

Ashish Arora

Duke University
Agree 8 Profile / Vote History
Nalebuff, Barry

Barry Nalebuff

Yale University
Agree 8 “Trade wars both raise prices and create uncertainty. The uncertainty is often worse than higher prices. (This is why putting a sunset clause into the trade deal with Canada was a clear poison pill.) ” Profile / Vote History
Levinthal, Daniel

Daniel Levinthal

University of Pennsylvania
Strongly Agree 7 “Consumers face possible high costs but have the availability of substitutes. Firms risk losing market access and/or viability — a loose analogy to a displacement of a Cournot equilibrium to a Bertrand equilibrium.” Profile / Vote History
Brynjolfsson, Erik

Erik Brynjolfsson

Strongly Agree 8 “The first-order effects of trade barriers are to rearrange supply chains as consumers make substitutions. Trade barriers on intermediate goods (like steel) are even more disruptive for businesses.” Profile / Vote History
Brown, Jennifer

Jennifer Brown

University of Utah
Neither Agree nor Disagree 5 “What harms businesses will likely hurt its consumers; what harms consumers will likely hurt the firms from which those consumers demand goods and services.” Profile / Vote History
Roberts, John

John Roberts

Stanford University
Neither Agree nor Disagree 5 Profile / Vote History
Van Reenen, John

John Van Reenen

Agree 6 “A trade war is disastrous for both business and consumers. Trade barriers stunt productivity, good management, innovation, and wages. See Trade Induced Technical Change? The Impact of Chinese Imports on innovation, IT and Productivity (2016).” Profile / Vote History
Gans, Joshua

Joshua Gans

University of Toronto
Agree 8 “With global supply chains, tariffs impact again and again on those chains. The cumulative effect can be quite large and force businesses to move bits of production.” Profile / Vote History
Eisenhardt, Kathleen

Kathleen Eisenhardt

Stanford University
Agree 6 “A trade war will be particularly disruptive to businesses as they scramble to reconsider and perhaps reconstruct supply chains. By contrast, consumers will be stuck — they will either pay or not.” Profile / Vote History
Rosenkopf, Lori

Lori Rosenkopf

University of Pennsylvania
Neither Agree nor Disagree 6 “The pain will be shared — consumers will see higher prices and business relief will be limited.” Profile / Vote History
Busse, Meghan

Meghan Busse

Northwestern University
Agree 6 “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.” Profile / Vote History
Schilling, Melissa

Melissa Schilling

New York University
Strongly Agree 10 “Firms often face switching costs to change suppliers (e.g., specialized components, contracting costs, etc.) Consumers usually have multiple alternatives and lower switching costs.” Profile / Vote History
Sorenson, Olav

Olav Sorenson

Yale University
Strongly Agree 9 “Consumers can more easily adjust what they choose to buy than businesses can shift the locations of their supply chains.” Profile / Vote History
McAfee, R. Preston

R. Preston McAfee

Agree 5 “Factories are hard to start and easy to close, so trade wars cause terrible disruption of supply chains, with very slow recovery for businesses and workers.” Profile / Vote History
Agarwal, Rajshree

Rajshree Agarwal

University of Maryland
Strongly Agree 5 “A trade war is going to impact both businesses and consumers — the immediate effect will likely be felt more in business-to-business transactions, but cumulatively, there will be a lasting impact on consumers.” Profile / Vote History
Henderson, Rebecca

Rebecca Henderson

Harvard University
Strongly Agree 9 “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.” Profile / Vote History
Holden, Richard

Richard Holden

University of New South Wales
Agree 7 “In the short run, it will be very disruptive to business (as we have already seen), but eventually that will flow through to consumers.” Profile / Vote History
Greenstein, Shane

Shane Greenstein

Harvard University
Strongly Agree 9 “Trade wars hurt everyone, but intermediate goods markets are a much larger fraction of the economy than final goods. Uncertainty over price and availability hurts business planning and operations.” Profile / Vote History
Simcoe, Timothy

Timothy Simcoe

Boston University
Strongly Agree 8 “Price increases will be shared between firms and consumers. Most firms will not pass through 100% of a cost increase. But the disruption to global supply chains will be felt more keenly by business.” Profile / Vote History
Lyon, Tom

Tom Lyon

University of Michigan
Agree 8 “Consumers will face price increases that will be annoying but not call for fundamental changes to their daily lives. Some businesses will actually be forced out of business — true disruption.” Profile / Vote History
Hochberg, Yael

Yael Hochberg

Rice University
Neither Agree nor Disagree 8 “Depends on whether the tariffs are on final or intermediate goods and on the consumers’ price elasticity of demand for final goods.” Profile / Vote History
Cassiman, Bruno

Bruno Cassiman

University of Navarra
Did Not Answer Profile / Vote History
Feldman, Maryann

Maryann Feldman

University of North Carolina
Did Not Answer Profile / Vote History
Shaw, Kathryn

Kathryn Shaw

Stanford University
Did Not Answer Profile / Vote History
Tadelis, Steve

Steve Tadelis

University of California, Berkeley
Agree “Consumers will be hurt but will re-optimize their purchases to minimize the impact. Businesses face more extreme shocks; some will hurt and others not. Unpredictability is very harmful for business.” Profile / Vote History