IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The New Economy Business Model and the Crisis of U.S. Capitalism

Listed author(s):
  • Lazonick William

    (University of Massachusetts Lowell and Université Montesquieu-Bordeaux IV)

Registered author(s):

    Driven by industrial innovation, in the last half of the 20th century the population of the United States attained, on average, a very high standard of living. Yet, in the first decade of the 21st century, large numbers of Americans are economically insecure. In this paper, I summarize the findings of my research into the ways in which over the past three decades the transformation of the dominant business model" that prevails in the information and communication technology industries has contributed to the rise of economic insecurity in the United States. I describe how the Old Economy business model" (OEBM) that was in place in the immediate post-World War II decades gave way to the New Economy business model" (NEBM) that is now ubiquitous in U.S. high-tech industry. Under OEBM, an employee could hold the realistic expectation of a career with one company. Under NEBM, career employment depends much more on interfirm labor mobility, which in and of itself makes continuous employment less certain. Nevertheless, in the ICT industries, NEBM has been an engine of economic growth so that a strong demand for high-tech labor can potentially offset a lack of employment security with one company. Since the early 1990's, however, this demand for high-tech labor has tended to be a demand for qualified lower-wage labor, which has meant that ICT companies have favored the employment of younger workers over older workers and of workers in developing nations over workers in the United States. At the same time, acting as both a motive for employing lower-wage labor and as a rationale for laying off experienced workers has been the adherence of U.S. corporate executives to the ideology that their companies should be run to maximize shareholder value." The most important manifestation of the influence of this ideology on corporate resource allocation is the extent to which U.S. companies repurchase their own stock to support their stock prices. I conclude this essay by arguing that neither the ideology of maximizing shareholder value nor the practice of stock repurchases has any economic merit. Indeed both must bear the blame for contributing to the rise of economic insecurity in the United States.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Capitalism and Society.

    Volume (Year): 4 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 (October)
    Pages: 1-70

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:bpj:capsoc:v:4:y:2009:i:2:n:4
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:capsoc:v:4:y:2009:i:2:n:4. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Golla)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.