William Lazonick, professor emeritus of economics at University of Massachusetts, is co-founder and president of the Academic-Industry Research Network, a 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is an Open Society Fellow and a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Fellow.Over the past decade, the Institute for New Economic Thinking has funded a number of his research projects.

He has professorial affiliations with SOAS University of London and Institut Mines-Télécom in Paris. Previously, Lazonick was assistant and associate professor of economics at Harvard University, professor of economics at Barnard College of Columbia University, and distinguished research professor at INSEAD in France. Lazonick earned his B.Com. at the University of Toronto, M.Sc. in Economics at London School of Economics, and Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard University. He holds honorary doctorates from Uppsala University and the University of Ljubljana.

His research focuses on the social conditions of innovation and economic development in advanced and emerging economies. His book Sustainable Prosperity in the New Economy? Business Organization and High-Tech Employment in the United States (Upjohn Institute 2009) won the 2010 Schumpeter Prize. He has twice—in 1983 and 2010—had the award from Harvard Business School for best article of the year in Business History Review. In 2014, he received the HBR McKinsey Award for outstanding article in Harvard Business Review for “Profits Without Prosperity: Stock Buybacks Manipulate the Market and Leave Most Americans Worse Off.” In January 2020, Oxford University Press published his book, co-authored with Jang-Sup Shin, Predatory Value Extraction: How the Looting of the Business Corporation Became the U.S. Norm and How Sustainable Prosperity Can Be Restored.

By this expert

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Employment Mobility and the Belated Emergence of the Black Middle Class

Paper Working Paper Series | | Jan 2021

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The $5.3 Trillion Question Behind America’s COVID-19 Failure

Article | Jul 24, 2020

That’s the amount of buybacks U.S. corporations funneled to shareholders during the past decade—rather than invest in technologies for the common good. This article is being published jointly by INET and The American Prospect

How “Maximizing Shareholder Value” Minimized the Strategic National Stockpile: The $5.3 Trillion Question for Pandemic Preparedness Raised by the Ventilator Fiasco

Paper Working Paper | | Jul 2020

The success of projects for pandemic preparedness and response depends on the strength of government-business collaborations.

Featuring this expert

INET funded research by William Lazonick is cited in the Wall Street Journal

News Dec 7, 2020

“Critics led by William Lazonick, economics professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, say buybacks starve companies of cash for innovation and worker pay, and favor executives aiming to jack up the stock prices because their compensation is increasingly stock-based. The buyback trend has become controversial since a 2014 article by Prof. Lazonick in the Harvard Business Review, “Profits Without Prosperity.” The S&P 500 companies that had been publicly listed from 2003 through 2012, he found, had spent amounts equal to 54% of their earnings for buybacks and 37% for dividends, leaving “very little for investments in productive capabilities or higher incomes for employees.” — Randall Smith

INET working paper on how maximizing shareholder value led to minimizing national interests is cited in The American Prospect

News Dec 7, 2020

“If companies continue to prioritize maximizing shareholder wealth at the expense of other key stakeholders, and at the expense of investing in innovation, then the Green New Deal could reinforce long-standing income and wealth inequities and the decline in innovation in the U.S. economy (for an important example, Bill Lazonick and Matt Hopkins document how maximizing shareholder value minimized the strategic national stockpile for ventilators and personal protective equipment).” —Lenore M Palladino

YSI 2020 Plenary: New Economic Questions

Young Scholars Initiative Virtual Plenary

YSI Event Plenary YSI | Nov 6–15, 2020

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William Lazonick's research on stock buybacks is featured in Retail Dive

News Nov 3, 2020

William Lazonick, president of the Academic-Industry Research Network and a professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts, who has devoted much of his research to the topic of buybacks, has written that the rule change “in effect gave corporations license to use open-market repurchases to manipulate the market.” … In an interview, Lazonick told Retail Dive, “These distributions to shareholders, particularly buybacks on top of dividends, are at the expense of keeping people employed, rewarding them for the work they’ve done, and investing in new products and processes.”