2022 Highlights: Faculty in the Media
MIT Sloan faculty weighed in on a variety of different topics in the media over the past year — with thousands of mentions — highlighting new research and the impact of their findings, discussing global current events, and sharing new trends in business and management.
The next generation of business leaders is entering a changed world of work. Will their education prepare them?
The Boston Globe | 01/03/2022
MIT Sloan professor Erin Kelly, who specializes in work and organization studies, said this period of change is an opportunity for managers to reconsider how to support employees in more creative ways. Individual wellness initiatives are helpful, she said, but the problem lies in the way many people are asked to work. "It's an exciting moment, because we may be ready to look at how work can be more sane and sustainable across all kinds of occupations," Kelly said.
'In Pursuit of the Perfect Portfolio' review: Models and mavens
The Wall Street Journal | 01/04/2022
Financial markets are unpredictable, prone to fads, bubbles and crashes. This frustrates academics who would prefer that the stock market obey Newtonian laws. Prof. Andrew W. Lo and Stephen Foerster have written an intellectual history of modern finance theory, built around interviews with influential academics and thoughtful practitioners. Their book documents the quest for the perfect portfolio, and shows how far from a science investing remains.
Why target-date funds might be inappropriate for most investors
The Wall Street Journal | 01/06/2022
Target-date funds are an appropriate investment for your retirement portfolio — if you're an average investor. If you're not — like most of us — you can do much better than the one-size-fits-all approach to equity allocations that target-date funds offer for your retirement portfolio. That's the finding of new research by Prof. Jonathan Parker [and co-authors] Though not all target funds follow the same algorithms for reducing equity exposure over time — known as "glide paths" — they do follow largely similar ones.
Economists pin more blame on tech for rising inequality
The New York Times | 01/11/2022
Prof. Daron Acemoglu, an influential economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been making the case against what he describes as "excessive automation." The economywide payoff of investing in machines and software has been stubbornly elusive. But he says the rising inequality resulting from those investments, and from the public policy that encourages them, is crystal clear.
Fact-checking COVID-19 posts isn't working. There's a better way.
The Washington Post | 02/08/2022
“It's not necessarily that [users] don't care about accuracy. But instead, it's that the social media context just distracts them and they forget to think about whether it's accurate or not before they decide to share it,” said Prof. David Rand.
Shields up: How a possible cyberattack could affect Americans and how to prepare
ABC News | 02/25/2022
Prof. Emeritus Stuart Madnick warned that cyberattacks on the Ukrainian computer systems could potentially spill over to other regions depending on how close computer networks work. However, he noted, that U.S. officials are paying close attention to online activity.
Race on campus
The Chronicle of Higher Education | 04/05/2022
Education and government statistics often lump all Asian people together, Associate Prof. Jackson G. Lu said. His research distinguishes East Asians, which include ethnic Chinese, Korean, and Japanese students, from South Asians, including those of Indian and Pakistani ancestry. Treating Asian students as a monolith, he argues, obscures cultural differences and perpetuates harmful myths about the "model minority" who excels in all educational settings.
Impostor syndrome has its advantages
Harvard Business Review | 04/12/2022
Assistant Prof. Basima Tewfik says: "I hope the takeaway from this research is that when you do find yourself having these thoughts–as you may from time to time–you shouldn't compound the stress that comes with them by also thinking that they're necessarily going to cause you to do poorly at work."
After getting inflation so wrong, can the Fed now get it right?
The Economist | 04/23/2022
Prof. Kristin Forbes of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the Fed made it hard for itself with its open-ended asset-buying programme, or quantitative easing (QE). The Fed was nervous about how to halt QE without upsetting markets. By contrast, the Bank of England had a fixed end point for its QE. "Everyone expected it to end on a certain date, unless there was big news in a different direction," Forbes says.
Economics' diversity problem includes socioeconomic diversity
Marketplace (Audio) | 04/28/2022
"It's pretty well known by now that economics has a race and gender problem, and that's something we've finally been trying to address as a field," said Anna Stansbury, an assistant professor of work and organizational studies at MIT Sloan. "At some point, I noticed that a big thing that felt missing from the conversation was this other aspect of diversity, which was socioeconomic diversity."
Business schools dig deeper on diversity
Financial Times | 05/15/2022
Prof. Roberto Fernandez co-created the Leading a Diverse Workforce programme at Sloan, which aims to nurture diverse, inclusive and effective teams and organisations. A big part of that is tackling strongly held beliefs: for example, some participants assume gender imbalances in leadership stem from promotion practices when in fact they are often due to hiring and exit patterns, says Fernandez.
The advertising trap
BBC News | The Documentary Podcast | 05/21/2022
Prof. Catherine Tucker says: "For the last ten to twelve years I have, as an economist, been really trying to investigate what makes advertising work online and what doesn't and it turns out that all too often it's just not working as well as we were led to believe." (15:58)
Why gas prices are so high
The New York Times | 06/14/2022
There have been two oil price crashes in the past eight years, and many executives believe that another one is inevitable. That has made them hesitant to drill new wells and seriously ramp up production, said Prof. Christopher Knittel. "Even though they see high prices today, they're afraid that prices are gonna tank over the life of that well. They also have this expectation that electric vehicles are going to continue to grow, which means that 10 years from now, that oil well may not be earning profits. And so all of that is creating a disincentive to drill."
The future of energy storage, with Dick Schmalensee
Resources Radio (Podcast) | 06/21/2022
Prof. Emeritus Richard Schmalensee says: "As we decarbonize the electric power sector and hopefully the rest of the economy, most plans call for very heavy increases in the use of wind and solar generation. Wind and solar generation are lovely, but they're intermittent — that is to say, their output varies over time. And it's imperfectly predictable. Storage plays a potentially huge role ... because it in effect moves generation from one time to another."
How would Russian oil cap work?
Bloomberg | Balance of Power (Audio) | 06/29/2022
Simon Johnson, Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT's Sloan School of Management and former chief economist at the IMF discusses the proposal that would seek to cap the price of Russian oil.
What problems does crypto solve, anyway?
Freakonomics (Audio) | 07/06/2022
Boosters say blockchain technology will usher in a brave new era of decentralization. Are they right — and would it be a dream or a nightmare? Prof. Antoinette Schoar and Research Scientist Christian Catalini offer some insights.
The U.S. plan to avoid extreme climate change is running out of time
The Washington Post | 07/18/2022
Prof. John Sterman says: "The current official U.S. targets are ambitious. They are also necessary to create a prosperous, healthy climate. And the policies that the administration had proposed — transportation, buildings, et cetera — had the potential to get us there. But with Senator Manchin's position we're not going to be able to do that."
How the unionization trend is changing workplace dynamics
HBR IdeaCast (Podcast) | 07/19/2022
Prof. Post Tenure Thomas Kochan has long studied how unions affect individual, team, and corporate performance. He explains why some fears about them are overblown, how workers form successful ones, and how leaders can partner with these groups to ensure the best outcomes for everyone.
The signal and the noise
The Economist (Subscription Required) | 07/21/2022
The idea behind ESG ratings is to measure how exposed a company is to non-financial risks, and drive its share price and cost of capital accordingly, forcing laggards to shape up — or go out of business. But a lack of reliability, comparability and transparency in what is being measured produce too much noise to provide accurate signals. The title of a recent paper on divergent ESG ratings by Research Scientist Florian Berg, Research Affiliate Julian Kölbel, and Prof. Roberto Rigobon, from MIT Sloan School of Management, sums it up. It is "Aggregate Confusion."
Would you pay $5,000 for a Bruce Springsteen concert ticket? The algorithm thinks you might.
Marketplace Tech (Podcast) | 08/12/2022
Prof. Vivek Farias says: "Let's say I'm selling tickets, like the ones for the Boss. I only have so many tickets to go around, I want to get as much as I can but I don't necessarily know in advance exactly how much I'm going sell or how much people are willing to pay. If I have a limited supply of something, I want to give it to the people that value it most. And so the dynamic pricing algorithm comes in, looking at that initial demand or the demand as we go along, and discerning from it exactly where demand is going to lie."
Forget Bill Gates' strategy: This is the best Wordle starting word according to MIT researchers
CNBC | Make It | 09/14/2022
Alexander Paskov (ORC) and Prof. Dimitris Bertsimas' approach was "much more computationally scary," laying out all possible guesses each turn and using an AI system to analyze it from there.
A massive LinkedIn study reveals who actually helps you get that job
Scientific American | 09/16/2022
Prof. Sinan Aral says: "If you get a recommendation for somebody, and you don't see what the connection could possibly be, they still might be worth exploring. Those are the weak ties that might actually be the source of your next job."
'He is going to have to battle his ghosts': Charles takes over the family business
The Boston Globe | 09/19/2022
"He is going to have to battle his ghosts to do that," Prof. Deborah Ancona said, referring to what she laid out in a recent Harvard Business Review article as "fundamental behaviors and attitudes toward authority, mastery, and identity." These behavioral patterns, developed during childhood, can emerge at work and potentially disrupt an executive's performance.
A.I. is not sentient – but we should treat it as such
Fortune | 09/26/2022
Thomas Malone, a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, argues for a new approach to working with A.I. and technology in his 2019 book, Superminds, which contends that collective intelligence comes from a "supermind" that should include both humans and A.I. systems. Malone terms this as a move from human in the loop to "computer in the group," whereby A.I. is a part of a larger decision-making body and – critically – is not the only decision maker at the table.
US income inequality hasn't risen for a decade
Quartz | 10/04/2022
Associate Prof. Nathan Wilmers and co-author used multiple measures of earnings, from household and business surveys to government administrative data, to trace income inequality. After decades of increase since the 1980s, they found that income inequality peaked in 2012 and has held steady or perhaps even fallen since.
The long-term-care system is broken. How can we fix it?
MarketWatch | 11/03/2022
Prof. Paul Osterman says: "Today America's elderly and disabled citizens are cared for by a low-wage and poorly trained workforce. Continuing in this way is in no one's interest, and the case is compelling to transform the jobs of direct care workers."
Would more immigration boost U.S. innovation?
MarketWatch | Best New Ideas in Money (Podcast) | 11/24/2022
Prof. Pierre Azoulay says: "The thing that this debate has ignored to date is the possibility that immigrants are not just employees of firms. They can also create firms. And so we wanted to find whether or not immigrant entrepreneurs tend to create more firms and also to characterize those firms. Are those mostly small businesses, medium-sized businesses, tech startups, firms that will grow up to be really large?" (8:30)
After deadly blaze, surge of defiance against China's COVID policies
The New York Times | 11/27/2022
Prof. Yasheng Huang says: "Covid Zero produced an unintended consequence, which is putting a huge number of people in the same situation. This is a game changer. The anger has been pent up for a while, but I think the 20th Congress provided an expectation that it would wind down. When that did not happen, the frustration quickly boiled over."
Is Facebook bad for your mental health?
Freakonomics (Podcast) | 12/08/2022
Assistant Prof. Alexey Makarin says: "We observe that after the introduction of Facebook, the student mental health at colleges with Facebook worsens relative to students at colleges that did not get Facebook." (00:50)