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

The Value-Extracting CEO: How Executive Stock-Based Pay Undermines Investment in Productive Capabilities

Paper Working Paper Series | | Dec 2016

The business corporation is the central economic institution in a modern economy. A company’s senior executives, with the advice and support of the board of directors, are responsible for the allocation of corporate resources to investments in productive capabilities. Senior executives also advise the board on the extent to which, given the need to invest in productive capabilities, the company can afford to make cash distributions to shareholders. Motivating corporate resource-allocation decisions are the modes of remuneration that incentivize and reward the top executives of these companies. A sound analysis of the operation and performance of a modern economy requires an understanding of not only how much these executives are paid but also the ways in which the prevailing system of executive pay influences their decisions to allocate corporate resources.

European Ruling Highlights Apple's Corrupted Business Model

Article | Aug 31, 2016

There is much for U.S. authorities to learn from the European example of forcing corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, but more far-reaching oversight of executives’ allocation of resources is also required

The Mismeasure of Mammon: Uses and Abuses of Executive Pay Data

Paper Working Paper Series | | Aug 2016

Report to the Institute for New Economic Thinking on the statistical measurement and policy implications of the compensation of the highest- paid U.S. corporate executives

What we learn about inequality from Carl Icahn’s $2 billion Apple “no brainer”

Article | Jun 6, 2016

The company’s focus on stock buybacks to increase shareholder value is a reminder of why so much of the value created daily by millions of workers ends up in the hands of the billionaires

Featuring this expert

The Rise and Fall of the American Middle Class

Video | Apr 19, 2017

How rationalization, marketization, and globalization characterize the U.S. economy during the past 50 years, and how the behavior of companies and fate of American workers have changed during this process.

Tomorrow’s Detroits & Detroit’s Tomorrows

Event Conference Race & Economics | Nov 11–12, 2016

Economics has a race problem.

Lazonick links stock buybacks to America’s jobs challenge

Video | Nov 4, 2016

In an Al Jazeera documentary “In Search of the Great American Job”, Institute scholar William Lazonick offers some arch insights into the relationship between financialization — particularly the “shareholder value” ideology in corporations, which drives the transfer of profits to shareholders through stock buybacks — and job creation and inequality.

Yellen Challenges Economists Amid Elusive Great Recovery

Article | Oct 24, 2016

Like the Great Depression and the stagflation of the ’70s, the anemic growth of the U.S. economy can’t be understood or remedied without changes in economists’ thinking