Shopping online probably won’t save you money — Alberto Cavallo

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Alberto Cavallo

MIT Sloan Assistant Professor Alberto Cavallo

From MarketWatch

If you’re a bargain hunter, it’s common to spend time researching prices before making purchases. After all, you wouldn’t want to buy a washing machine at your local Lowes store only to find a lower price offered on However, I found in a recent study that retailers’ offline and online prices are the same more than 70% of the time.

That’s good news for consumers, who don’t need to worry about price comparisons when deciding whether to use a retailer’s website or visit a local store. They can choose instead based on other factors like convenience and product availability.

This finding is important for economists too. Online prices are increasingly being used in measurement and research applications, including studies of pricing behaviors, price stickiness, international relative prices, and exchange-rate dynamics. Many national statistical offices are even considering the use of online data in official consumer price Indexes.

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The Republican Bankruptcy Illusion – Simon Johnson

MIT Sloan Professor Simon Johnson

MIT Sloan Professor Simon Johnson

From Project Syndicate

There is now near-unanimity that the United States’ Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, enacted in 2010, did not end the problems associated with some banks being “too big to fail.” When it comes to proposed solutions, however, no such consensus exists. On the contrary, financial regulation has become a key issue in November’s presidential and congressional elections.

So who has the more plausible and workable plan for reducing the risks associated with very large financial firms? The Democrats have an agreed and implementable strategy that would represent a definite improvement over the status quo. The Republican proposal, unfortunately, is a recipe for greater disaster than the US (and the world) experienced in 2008.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s campaign materials and the party platform point to a detailed plan to defend Dodd-Frank and to go further in terms of pressing the largest firms to become less complex and, if necessary, smaller. Banks must also fund themselves in a more stable fashion. If Clinton wins, she will draw strong support from Congressional Democrats – including her rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, and his fellow senator, Elizabeth Warren – when she pushes in this direction.

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The value of negative citations — Christian Catalini

MIT Sloan Professor Christian Catalini

MIT Sloan Professor Christian Catalini

From Research

Understanding which papers attract critical citations, and what effect they have, gives an insight into how science progresses, says Christian Catalini.

Science advances through researchers sharing their work for others to extend or improve. As Isaac Newton once said, he could see further by “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

But what happens when those shoulders aren’t as sturdy as we thought? Sometimes, citations are negative, pointing out a study’s flaws or even disproving its findings. What role, relevance and impact do these negative citations have on a field as a whole?

There has been little research in this area, because of the difficulty in identifying and classifying such citations. Thanks to advancements in the ability of computers to understand human language, known as natural-language processing, and in the ability to sort and analyse large bodies of text, this is changing. We can now identify such citations and reconstruct the context in which they were made to understand the author’s intentions better. Using such techniques, my colleagues and I have found evidence to suggest that negative citations play an important role in the advancement of science.

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Discussing politics in the workplace — Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

In the latest MIT Sloan Expert Series podcast, Neal Hartman, Senior Lecturer in Managerial Communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management, discusses the current political discourse and the impact of related discussions in the workplace.

How a flex-time program at MIT improved productivity, resilience, and trust – Peter Hirst

MIT Sloan Executive Director of Executive Education Peter Hirst

MIT Sloan Associate Dean of Executive Education Peter Hirst

From Harvard Business Review

In today’s increasingly competitive hiring market, organizations need to think differently about how to attract new employees and retain existing ones. Unfortunately, many of the obvious solutions require a financial investment: increasing salaries, bonuses, medical benefits, or vacation days. And if your “competitive advantage” in hiring simply boils down to throwing money at the problem, your hires are quite possibly going to jump ship when a higher offer or benefits package is put in front of them.

So how can an organization increase its benefits without increasing its budget? Many startups will look to add “fun” into the mix — pool tables, nerf guns, pizza Fridays, and happy hours. But that won’t necessarily appeal to all types of employees, and it may not be a sustainable option. Here at the Executive Education program at MIT Sloan School of Management, we took a different approach: introducing flex time.

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