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.”

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.