Technology and Declining Economic Dynamism

Friday and Saturday,
September 11-12, 2020
Hosted virtually by TPRI @ BU Law

Technology no longer seems to generate widely shared economic growth as well as it once did. Highly productive startup firms do not grow as quickly and productivity advances no longer diffuse as rapidly. These tendencies contribute to growing economic disparities between firms, greater economic inequality between workers and between regions, and slower overall economic growth. At the same time, new technologies may contribute to rising market power and the persistent market dominance of large firms. Policy changes, such as changed antitrust enforcement or intellectual property policy, and other factors may have also contributed to these changes. These trends portend possible further declines in industry dynamism. This conference explores what has changed, why, and what to do about it.

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September 11

10:00AM Welcoming Remarks.
10:10AM Declining Dynamism.
This panel presents and discusses evidence on declining industrial dynamism including evidence about industry concentration, growth of productive firms, declining diffusion, and displacement of industry leaders.
12:40PM Labor and Industry Dynamism.
This panel presents research on how labor mobility affects innovation and productivity, how noncompete and other policies affect labor mobility, and how tradable services are affecting the labor market for highly skilled workers.
1:20PM Platforms.
To what extent do platforms pose a challenge to innovation? Do they create barriers to entry or do platforms provide a way for small firms to benefit from the Cloud and other large scale technologies?
2:30PM Rate and Nature of Innovation.
This panel explores causes of slowing innovation including a shift away from private basic research, a dearth of STEM-led startups, business cycle shifts in the nature of innovation, and a shift from digital general purpose technologies to specialized ones.


September 12

9:50AM Theory.
This panel provides a range of theoretical models to explain observed changes. Some focus on the special role of information technology; others on alternative mechanisms including the aging workforce, low interest rates, and a decline in allocative efficiency.
12:25PM Acquisitions by Dominant Firms
When a large firm acquires a startup is that good for innovation or bad? What is the evidence on “killer acquisitions” and “kill zones”?
2:05PM Antitrust Panel.
Can antitrust policy meet the challenge and, if so, how?
  • Jason Furman, Harvard
  • Herbert Hovenkamp, Penn
  • William Kovacic, GW Law
  • Nancy Rose, MIT
  • Fiona Scott Morton, Yale
3:10PM Data Panel.
Many people contend that access to data presents a serious obstacle to startups or provides large firms a major advantage. This panel explores industry experience with data, technological solutions to sharing data, and policies such as privacy law and granting property rights in data.
4:05PM Conclusion