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Corporate America Hasn’t Been Disrupted | FiveThirtyEight

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Entrepreneurship is declining.

In another paper published last week, Decker and Haltiwanger, both at the University of Maryland, offered two categories of explanation, one more worrisome and one more benign. The more benign explanation is that something, perhaps improved technology, has made it easier for companies to become more efficient on their own. Imagine, for example, that a manager at a Home Depot in Dallas comes up with a better way of managing inventory. Thanks to better analytics software, someone at corporate headquarters is more likely to notice the improvement and be able to roll out the innovation to the rest of the chain. In that scenario, the hardware industry, and the economy more broadly, reaps the benefits of the new idea without the manager needing to take the risk of leaving Home Depot to launch a rival business.

The more pessimistic explanation is that government regulation or some other structural shift has made it harder for upstarts to take on established companies. Maybe the Dallas Home Depot manager wants to strike out on his own but can’t get a building permit, raise the startup capital, or afford to comply with federal environmental regulations. So either he tries and fails, or he never tries at all.6

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