From hailing taxis that won’t stop for them to being forced to ride at the back of buses, African-Americans have long endured discrimination within the transportation industry.
Many have hoped the emergence of a technology-driven “new economy,” providing greater information and transparency and buoyed by an avowed idealism, would help us break from our history of systemic discrimination against minorities.
Unfortunately, our research shows that the new economy has brought along some old baggage, suggesting that it takes more than just new technologies to transform attitudes and behavior.
Our new paper, “Racial and Gender Discrimination in Transportation Network Companies,” found patterns of discrimination in how some drivers using ride-hailing platforms, such as Uber and Lyft, treat African-American passengers and women. Our results are based on extensive field studies in Seattle and Boston, both considered liberal-minded cities, and provide stark evidence of discrimination.
Certain companies continually deliver more value to the market. They do so with greater speed and ease than their rivals, even when they lack the classic elements of strategic advantage: locked-in customers, dependent suppliers and barriers that keep competitors at bay. Absent such structural advantages, you would expect parity. There are, however, still those companies that regularly outscore the competition. Toyota, Intel, and Apple are among them, as are many lesser known but no less disproportionally successful ventures.
The source of uneven outcomes on otherwise level playing fields? Learning, at which the very best organizations excel. They are far faster and better at discovering what to do and how to do it, as well as at refreshing the set of problems to be solved and solutions to be delivered faster than the ecosystem can render their relevance obsolete.
For sure, learning is not simply training. Training involves accepted skills with an accepted application, and then using an accepted approach to deliver those skills to the organization. Learning, on the other hand, involves converting ignorance and a lack of capacity into knowledge, new skills and understanding. It requires recognizing what you do not know and finding new approaches to solve new problems. This, in turn, requires critical thinking and a willingness to challenge accepted practices, even when those practices are perceived as successful.
Challenge—even respectful challenge—is not a natural act. When something has worked well, complacency and inertia accumulate and interests get vested in sustaining what is familiar, even if it is not optimal. Challenging historical approaches goes along with challenging the emotions, status and prestige associated with those approaches. That is not typically welcome.
President Donald Trump has demanded that pharmaceutical companies cut drug prices in return for fewer regulations. As a matter of economics, this plan makes no sense.
Politically, however, it might just work. But traditional critics of the industry should think long and hard about whether going along with the president out of fear of his wrath is a cause for celebration. Pharmaceutical firms should also consider the long-term dangers of aligning themselves too closely with the new president and his volatile brand of policy making.
As the New England Patriots’ 10th appearance in a Super Bowl approaches, sports fans are eager to see the legendary pairing of quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick take on the Atlanta Falcons. Whatever the Patriots accomplish, though, won’t be thanks to all that fancy new technology assisting the Falcons and other NFL teams.
Since early October, Belichick has been limiting his use of his NFL-issued Microsoft Surface tablet and its related technological systems. On Oct. 2, Belichick was caught on national television tossing his tablet in frustration. The move came after his defense failed to prevent a Buffalo Bills touchdown pass. But what really sparked his ire was something much more common.
Who among us hasn’t, at some point, been so frustrated with a computer or other piece of technology that we contemplated throwing it out a window? The real driver in these situations, though, is far more complex than we might expect: A cascade of system failures comes to a head in a crucial moment.
Doug Criscitello, Executive Director of MIT’s Center for Finance and Policy
From MIT Golub Center for Finance and Policy
As the keynote speaker at a recent conference of the International Consortium on Government Financial Management held in Washington DC, I had the opportunity to discuss with representatives from over 40 countries one of the primary challenges facing governments around the world – citizen engagement.
My remarks emphasized that recent populist movements should be a wake up call to everyone involved in government – including those in the budgeting and finance communities – on the need to turn citizen cynicism into engagement and buy-in.
The growing availability of technology and data should be enabling a highly informed citizenry (i.e., voters) armed with actionable information. Moving beyond tired factory-like mindsets where government financial staff spend their days grinding out reports, preparing audit remediation plans and manually executing budgets, a modern approach enables technology to drive iterative, customer-focused engagement and creates and marshals electronic resources.