The Academic-Industry Research Network—theAIRnet—is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization devoted to the proposition that a sound understanding of the role of business in the economy requires collaboration between academic scholars and industry experts.
AIR goals are: first, to understand the ways in which, through investment in productive capabilities, businesses and governments can contribute to equitable and stable economic growth, or what we call “sustainable prosperity”; and, second, to help shape current discourse on the economy by communicating our findings and their implications to policy-makers, the media, and the informed public.
Founded in 2010 by William Lazonick with a number of colleagues from academia and industry, theAIRnet has emerged as a research organization unique in its focus on the how the investment strategies and organizational structures of major business corporations may support or undermine the achievement of rising productivity, stable employment opportunities, and an equitable income distribution in the economy as a whole. From this perspective, we can discern transformations in corporate priorities from “innovation” to “financialization” that result in sagging productivity, unstable employment, and inequitable incomes. For the United States, this research agenda has proved powerful for explaining the extreme concentration of income among the richest households and the erosion of middle-class employment opportunity that have occurred over the past four decades.
AIR scholars engage in up-to-date, in-depth research that serves as the foundation for incisive commentary on issues related to industrial innovation and economic development.. As an academic research organization, theAIRnet prides itself on its systematic scholarly research, while recognizing that it is impossible for academics to possess the deep knowledge of the operation of companies and industries that can only come from years, and usually decades, of practical experience. In theAIRnet, industrial practitioners appreciate the research tools with which academics work and their willingness to integrate theory and reality, while academic scholars appreciate the profound, and irreplaceable, knowledge of practitioners and their willingness to ask questions about the economy and society that transcend the immediate operational concerns of their own companies and industries.
The funding for our research comes from public and private agencies that seek contributions to knowledge about how and under what conditions the operation of the economy can result in stable and equitable growth – and what can be done to reform its operation when it does not. We are particularly interested in understanding the relation between “the productive economy” and “the financial economy”, and how the former can make use of, rather than be abused by, the latter. In principle, we make the findings of our research freely available in the forms of working papers and reports, although most of our research ultimately ends up in scholarly journals and commercially published books. We also seek to disseminate our research findings to a wider informed public through the news media and a variety of public events.