Is the Most Unproductive Firm the Foundation of the Most Efficient Economy?

The neoclassical fallacy gained popularity in the 1950s, during which decade Samuelson revised Economics three times. Meanwhile, Penrose derived the logic of organizational learning that she lays out in TGF from the facts of firm growth, absorbing what was known in the 1950s about the large corporations that had come to dominate the U.S. economy. Also, during that decade, the knowledge base on the growth of firms on which economists could subsequently draw was undergoing an intellectual revolution, led by the business historian, Alfred D. Chandler, Jr. He was engaged in the first stage of a career that would span more than a half century, during which Chandler documented and analyzed the centrality to U.S economic development of what he would come to call “the managerial revolution in American business.”

Financialized Corporations in a National Innovation System: The U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry

By Öner Tulum & William Lazonick ◊ There are widespread claims that a productivity crisis afflicts the U.S. pharmaceutical industry despite the fact that the U.S. institutional environment provides unique advantages for drug R&D. We argue that the explanation for this productivity paradox is the “financialization” of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. Driven by shareholder-value ideology, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry has adopted a highly financialized business model…

Innovative Enterprise Solves the Agency Problem: The Theory of the Firm, Financial Flows, and Economic Performance

By William Lazonick ♦ Since the late 1980s, the dominant ideology of corporate governance in the United States has been that, for the sake of superior economic performance, companies should “maximize shareholder value” (MSV). As promulgated by agency theorists, however, MSV is an ideology of value extraction that lacks a theory of value creation. As a theory of value creation, I have constructed “The Theory of Innovative Enterprise”—an analytical framework for understanding how a business enterprise can generate a good or service that is of higher quality and lower cost than products previously available. In this essay, I use innovation theory to provide both a general theoretical critique and a selective empirical critique of agency theory.

US Pharma’s Financialized Business Model

By William Lazonick, Matt Hopkins, Ken Jacobson, Mustafa Erdem Sakinç and Öner Tulum ◊ Price gouging in the US pharmaceutical drug industry goes back more than three decades. In 1985 US Representative Henry Waxman, chair of the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, accused the pharmaceutical industry of “gouging the American public” with “outrageous” price increases, driven by “greed on a massive scale.” Even in the wake of the many Congressional inquiries that have taken place since the 1980s, including one inspired by the extortionate prices that Gilead Sciences has placed on its Hepatitis-C drugs Sovaldi since 2013 and Harvoni since 2014, the US government has not seen fit to regulate drug prices. UK Prescription Price Regulation Scheme data for 1996 through 2010 show that, while drug prices in other advanced nations were close to the UK’s regulated prices, those in the United States were between 74 percent and 181 percent higher.

Global Broadband Benchmarking 2013: Best Practice Lessons for Governments

By Martyn Roetter ♦ Is there a “one size fits all” set of international best practices for broadband policy? No, argues Martyn Roetter, because local circumstances are far too diverse. However, he says that there are many useful lessons to be drawn from experiences in different parts of the world. He reviews successful broadband projects in fifteen countries from five regions: Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Based on these examples, and acknowledging their differences, Mr. Roetter distills common characteristics of successful (and unsuccessful) broadband policies in the areas of public-private partnerships, public funding of broadband, effectively competitive markets, spectrum management, and the role of government intervention. Ultimately, he concludes that the roles of government and the private sector must be complementary.

The Rise and Demise of Lucent Technologies

By William Lazonick and Edward March ♦ In 1999, as the Internet boom was approaching its apex, Lucent Technologies was the world’s largest telecommunications equipment company. With revenues of $38.3 billion, net income of $4.8 billion, and 153,000 employees for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1999, Lucent was larger and more profitable than Nortel, Alcatel, and Ericsson, its three major global competitors. In fiscal 2006, however, Lucent’s revenues were only $8.8 billion and its employment level stood at 29,800. Both figures were lower than those of its three major rivals. On December 1, 2006, the merger that created Alcatel-Lucent took place, making Lucent a wholly owned subsidiary of Alcatel. In this paper, we analyze the rise and demise of Lucent Technologies from the time that it was spun off from AT&T in April 1996 to its 2006 merger with Alcatel.