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

Employment and Earnings of African Americans Fifty Years After: Progress?

Paper Working Paper Series | | Jul 2020

To fulfill MLK’s vision of jobs and freedom for Black Americans, Washington must rein in corporate greed

Losing Out in Critical Technologies: Cisco Systems and Financialization

Article | Feb 28, 2023

Cisco’s turn from innovation to financialization and what it means for the competitive position of the US information-and-communication-technology industry

The Pursuit of Shareholder Value: Cisco’s Transformation from Innovation to Financialization

Paper Working Paper | | Feb 2023

On the dereliction of key US-based business corporations to take the lead in making the investments in organizational learning required to generate cutting-edge communication-infrastructure products.

Sick with “Shareholder Value”: US Pharma’s Financialized Business Model During the Pandemic

Article | Dec 6, 2022

Evidence sharply contradicts PhRMA’s contention that its member companies need unregulated drug prices to generate profits that they then reinvest in drug innovation.

Featuring this expert

The Myth of Maximizing Shareholder Value

Video | Jan 22, 2014

Lazonick discusses how we evolved from a society in which corporate interests were largely aligned with those of broader public purpose into a state where crony capitalism, accounting fraud, and corporate predation are predominant characteristics.

William Lazonick's INET-Funded Research Is Cited in Quartz

News Feb 17, 2022

“What is the motivation for tax avoidance? To maximize profits and juice the stock price, of course. A research team led by William Lazonick at the University of Massachusetts reports in Harvard Business Review that from 2009 to 2019, S&P 500 companies spent over 90% of net income on buybacks and dividends, with the highest levels achieved after the 2017 tax cuts, in 2018 and 2019. Taking on corporate debt to finance share repurchases has become commonplace. Never mind that share buybacks deplete corporate treasuries of cash to weather setbacks and to fund productive investment in labor and R&D.”

William Lazonick’s INET funded research is cited in Counter Punch

News Mar 22, 2021

“As William Lazonick and other analysts have pointed out, stock buybacks artificially inflate executive pay and drain capital that could be put to productive purpose. .[xxv] — Sarah Anderson, Counter Punch [xxv] William Lazonick, “Profits Without Prosperity,” Harvard Business Review, September 2014.”

William Lazonick’s INET funded research was cited in Crenshaw’s speech at the SEC

News Mar 10, 2021

“And what if there is a stock buyback during the period the share price is inflated? Does that harm shareholders because the company is spending money to repurchase its stock, or does it actually further benefit them by potentially raising earnings per share (EPS)?” … Citation: William Lazonick, The Financialization of the U.S. Corporation: What Has Been Lost and How It Can Be Regained, 36 Seattle U. L. Rev. 857, 859 (2013) (noting that trillions of dollars are spent on share buybacks and that “corporate executives who make these decisions are themselves prime beneficiaries of this focus on rising stock prices as a the measure of corporate performance”)