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About theAIRnet

The Academic-Industry Research Network – theAIRnet – is a private, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization devoted to the proposition that a sound understanding of the dynamics of industrial development requires collaboration between academic scholars and industry experts. We engage in up-to-date, in-depth, and incisive research and commentary on issues related to industrial innovation and economic development. Our goal is to understand the ways in which, through innovation, businesses and governments can contribute to equitable and stable economic growth – or what we call “sustainable prosperity”.  (read more)

As a research organization, theAIRnet prides itself on its systematic scholarly research, while recognizing that it is impossible for academics to possess the deep knowledge of the operation of companies and industries that can only come from years, and usually decades, of practical experience. In theAIRnet, industrial practitioners appreciate the research tools with which academics work and their willingness to integrate theory and reality, while academic scholars appreciate the profound, and irreplaceable, knowledge of practitioners and their willingness to ask questions about the economy and society that transcend the immediate operational concerns of their own companies and industries. The funding for our research comes from public and private agencies that seek contributions to knowledge about how and under what conditions the operation of the economy can result in stable and equitable growth – and what can be done to reform its operation when it does not. We are particularly interested in understanding the relation between “the productive economy” and “the financial economy”, and how the former can make use of, rather than be abused by, the latter. In principle, we make the findings of our research freely available in the forms of working papers and reports, although most of our research ultimately ends up in scholarly journals and commercially published books. We also seek to disseminate our research findings to a wider informed public through the news media and a variety of public events.

Featured Research

William Lazonick, “Profits Without Prosperity: Stock Buybacks Manipulate the Market and Leave Most Americans Worse Off,“ has received the HBR McKinsey Award for outstanding article in Harvard Business Review in 2014.


THE PROBLEM Corporate profitability is not translating into economic prosperity in the United States. Instead of investing profits in innovation and productive capabilities, U.S. executives are spending them on gigantic stock repurchases.
THE RESEARCH These buybacks may increase stock prices in the short term, but in the long term they undermine income equality, job stability, and growth. The buybacks mostly serve the interests of executives, much of whose compensation is in the form of stock.
THE SOLUTION Corporations should be banned from repurchasing their shares on the open market. Executives’ excessive stock-based pay should be reined in. Workers and taxpayers should be represented on corporate boards. And Congress should reform the tax system so that it rewards value creation, not value extraction.

RESEARCH UPDATE: Stock buybacks, 2005-2014 & Stock-based components of executive pay, 2006-2014

 SPECIAL REPORT — Buybacks :From Basics to Politics  


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AIR News

Stock buybacks stay popular despite criticism

Stock buybacks stay popular despite criticism

April 11, 2016   

In his latest article on April 9, 2016, Agence France Presse (AFP) business correspondent Luc Olinga cites and quotes Bill Lazonick’s […]

Election 2016: Hillary Clinton Says Her Vote For Wall Street Bailout Shows Her Support For Auto Workers

Election 2016: Hillary Clinton Says Her Vote For Wall Street Bailout Shows Her Support For Auto Workers

March 9, 2016   

By David Sirota and Andrew Perez, International Business Times, March 8, 2016 “After taxpayer cash and pension cuts helped stabilize the […]

theAIRnet shows UN panel buybacks’ damage to innovation in pharma

theAIRnet shows UN panel buybacks’ damage to innovation in pharma

March 9, 2016   

Drug companies’ perennial claim that high prices are key to funding innovation is exposed as a smokescreen for disproportionate payouts […]

Larry Fink, other Wall Street heavies, complain about short-termism. Can they turn the tide?

Larry Fink, other Wall Street heavies, complain about short-termism. Can they turn the tide?

February 3, 2016   

By Owen Davis, International Business Times, February 3, 2016 – But does focusing on “short-termism” allow executives to avoid discussing […]

AIR Working Papers

William Lazonick “Innovative Enterprise and the Sustainable Prosperity” AIR Working Paper #17-10/01 (Rev. 2019)

* Öner Tulum and William Lazonick, “Financialized Corporations in a National Innovation System: The US Pharmaceutical Industry” AIR Working Paper: #19-02/01

* William Lazonick, “How Stock Buybacks Make Americans Vulnerable to Globalization” AIR Working Paper: #16-03/01

William Lazonick, “Innovative Enterprise or Sweatshop Economics? In Search of Foundations of Economic Analysis” AIR Working Paper: #15-11/01

William Lazonick, “The Theory of Innovative Enterprise: A Foundation of Economic Analysis” AIR Working Paper: #13-02/01 (Revised August 2015)

* William Lazonick, Matt Hopkins and Ken Jacobson “The Burger Buyback King: McDonald’s Stock-Price Manipulation Makes Most Americans Worse Off ” AIR Working Paper #15-05/01

* William Lazonick “Labor in the Twenty-First Century: The Top 0.1% and the Disappearing Middle-Class” AIR Working Paper #14-08/01 (Revised  February 2015)

* William Lazonick “Comments on the Draft of the 2014-2015 Revision of the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance” AIR Working Paper #15-01/01

* William Lazonick, Phil Moss, Hal Salzman and Oner Tulum “Skill Development and Sustainable Prosperity: Cumulative and Collective Careers versus Skill-Biased Technical Change” AIR Working Paper #14-12/01

* Matt Hopkins and William Lazonick “Who Invests in the High-Tech Knowledge Base?” AIR Working Paper #14-09/01

* William Lazonick “Taking Stock: Why Executive Pay Results in an Unstable and Inequitable Economy,” Roosevelt Institute White Paper, June 5, 2014

* William Lazonick “Innovative Enterprise and Shareholder Value” AIR Working Paper #14-03/01

* Matt Hopkins “The Makings of a Champion or, Wind Innovation for Sale: The Wind Industry in the United States 1980-2011″ AIR Working Paper #13-08/02

* Matt Hopkins and William Lazonick “Soaking Up the Sun and Blowing in the Wind: Clean Tech Needs Patient Capital” AIR Working Paper #13-08/01

* William Lazonick, Mariana Mazzucato and Oner Tulum, “Apple’s Changing Business Model: What Should the World’s Richest Company Do with All Those Profits?”, AIR Working Paper: #13-07/01


On July 30-31, Professor Masahiro Kotosaka of Ritsumeikan University and Professor William Lazonick of University of Massachusetts held the Japan Conference on Financial Institutions for Innovation and Development at the Osaka Ibaraki campus of Ritsumeikan University.

The conference was funded by the Ford Foundation and the Graduate School of Business Administration, Ritsumeikan University. Details on the conference, as well as previously conferences on Financial Institutions for Innovation and Development, can be found at 

On February 16-17, 2015, theAIRnet was involved in a workshop on Strategies for Innovation and Development (STRIDE) that seeks, ultimately, to create a transnational Master’s curriculum that trains professionals in government, business, and civil society in theoretical frameworks, research methods, and policy approaches for achieving stable and equitable economic growth.  

For information on STRIDE, please contact Oner Tulum via e-mail at 

On January 4, 2015, William Lazonick provided critical comments on the OECD’s 2014-2015 revision of its Principles of Corporate Governance.

Berlin Conference on Financial Institutions for Innovation and Development November 10-11, 2014 Sponsors: Ford Foundation & Hans Böckler Stiftung Organizers: Leonardo Burlamaqui, Michael Faust, Jürgen Kädtler, William Lazonick


On August 11-13, 2014, Bill Lazonick, president of theAIRnet, and two AIR associates, Kaidong Feng of Peking University and Yin Li of Georgia Institute of Technology, visited Huawei Technologies in Shenzhen, China, to learn about how, in just over 25 years, the company grew to become a world leader in communication equipment and China’s foremost example of a global high-tech competitor. 

Their study of Huawei is part of a project on innovation and competition in the global communication technology that is a major focus of theAIRnet’s research efforts.  

Twitter   @ theAIRnet

Featured Publications


L’industrie pharmaceutique – Règles, acteurs et pouvoir

Marie-Claude Bergouignan, Matthieu Montalban, Andy Smith, Erdem Sakinç

Corporate Governance, Employee Voice, and Work Organization

Corporate Governance, Employee Voice, and Work Organization

Inge Lippert, Tony Huzzard, Ulrich Jürgens & William Lazonick

Beyond Shareholder Value: The reasons and choices for corporate governance reform

Beyond Shareholder Value: The reasons and choices for corporate governance reform

Edited by Janet Williamson, Ciaran Driver & Peter Kenway

Sustainable prosperity in the new economy?

WINNER OF THE  2010 SCHUMPETER PRIZE : Sustainable prosperity in the new economy?

Business Organization and High-Tech Employment in the United States (Upjohn Institute Press, 2009).

by William Lazonick


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