Top of Mind

Winner Take All?

Nine retail brands have declared bankruptcy this year and 3,000 stores have closed. Meanwhile, Amazon is moving into bricks and mortar—opening bookstores, experimenting with convenience stores that don’t need cashiers, and most recently buying Whole Foods.

The New York Times points to an economy-wide fight for scale as markets increasingly favor a few big winners. Research finds these “superstar firms” pay more, explaining much of the increasing pay inequality.

That’s great for those on the winning teams, but Stanford’s Nicholas Bloom writes in the Harvard Business Review, “Workers outside this charmed circle experience something quite different.”

Yale SOM’s Lisa Kahn found another explanation of divergence between companies: as many tasks are computerized, the more successful companies are the ones that learn to complement technology with uniquely human capabilities.