Rotman Speaker Series

One of the best things about Business School is the number of speakers whose sessions you get access to. 3 authors per week who talk about interesting books they’ve written, Professors from Ivy League Business Schools – this is just another week at Rotman. And to top it off, being a student gives you free access to all of them. (Most visitors need to pay anywhere from $50 to $100)

Today’s speaker was Gerald Davis , Pierpont Collegiate Professor of Management – Ross School of Business, Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Committee on Organization Studies, U of Michigan; and Author of The Vanishing American Corporation: Navigating the Hazards of a New Economy.

His presentation began with contrasting companies such Kodak (that gradually went out of Business) with those like Flip that closed down in less than half a decade with the advent of the smartphone camera.


He touched upon how Canada has the world’s most sensible financials systems where the same set of 6 banks controlled the economic climate and hardly ever went bankrupt or did crazy things. The US on the other hand had about 12,000 commercial banks and 4000 savings banks in 1980. Imagine that!

He highlighted the obsolescence of IPOs and how the ‘going public fad of the 1990s are well and tryly over”

What was interesting to note was the ownership rights that people like Mark Zuckerberg had controlling all the votes; A company like Google where Sergey Bin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt controlled over 60% of voting rights; how Groupon’s founders have 150 votes per share.

The most interesting bit was when he brought in philospher Jeremy Bentham’s Penopticon concept to describe how corporations are tracking everything – every single data on the customer and monitoring and optimizing them through algorithms.

He summed it up with The example of Uber’s miniscule employee strength of 4000 but gigantic driver-partner network of 327,000 (more than GM, Chrysler & Ford combined) and  how the future of labou is UBERIZATION: the notion of hiring labor for a task at a fee and how creating a platform that allows people to find and negotiate prices will be the new business model. Which would mean two things – a state of Dystopia where a global assembly line would rule the roost or a system of wiki-ing everything, rounded off with the example of Linus which is the best illustration of working anarchies – and the vitality of open source software in the effective running of the web.

Like to more? Pick up his book.




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