Transforming Tax Policy, Sustainability Practices, and Job Creation through Research

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As a global institution of business education, it is very important to me that the research we do has an opportunity to directly impact the challenges of business and society.

The need for research to shape decision-making is no more clear than during this season's presidential election. The challenges and opportunities our country faces are extraordinary. At Ross we fundamentally believe that analytic and evidence-based decision-making must be the foundation for business and policy decisions in the 21st century, and I’m proud that our faculty are at the forefront of shaping decisions in key areas, including tax policy, sustainability practices, and job creation.

This fall, the Office of Tax Policy Research (OTPR) held a series of Ross Thought in Action forums that brought together leading researchers and policy makers from around the country to discuss tax policy and healthcare reform. At the tax policy forum, Kevin Hassett, of the American Enterprise Institute and former economic adviser to George W. Bush and John McCain, asserted history shows that the most growth-friendly austerity programs have featured 85% expenditure cuts and 15% tax increases, a controversial claim that has crucial implications for any future comprehensive compromise regarding fiscal policy. At the forum on healthcare reform, Jonathan Gruber, a lead writer of the Affordable Care and Protection Act, and David Leonhardt, New York Times Washington Bureau Chief, partnered with researchers from across institutions and disciplines to explore what the coming election might bring for the future of the Affordable Healthcare Act.

OTPR exists for precisely this purpose – to translate the best of research in the fields of economics, taxation, law, and accounting for business leaders and policy makers to put to use. Michigan faculty across these disciplines are some of the most highly sought-after advisers by policy makers. Faculty Director of OTPR Joel Slemrod is a former senior staff economist for the President's Council of Economic Advisers and has been a consultant to the World Bank, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Canadian Department of Finance, and other major world governmental institutions.   

As corporations and their stakeholders increasingly recognize the business value of environmental and social sustainability efforts, the need for research and data in these areas, too, is increasingly important. The Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise is a global leader in developing and disseminating knowledge on the value of sustainability activities, and its mission is to unite the perspectives of practitioners and researchers to find solutions for key issues in this area. For example, the Institute’s conference earlier this year on climate change, held in collaboration with the Union of Concerned Scientists, brought together more than 90 researchers, corporate leaders, policy makers, and students to discuss promising practices. Erb, which integrates thinking across business, public policy, engineering, and natural and social sciences, embodies the boundaryless approach to research and problem-solving that characterize the Ross approach to business education and research.

Finally, we all know that jobs and the economic infrastructure of our country are among the most critical issues in this election season. To help business leaders and policy makers apply the most up-to-date knowledge on what it takes to maintain a robust manufacturing sector in our economy, faculty members Wally Hopp and Roman Kapuscinski, with Ross' Tauber Institute for Global Operations and the consulting firm Booz & Co., recently released a report outlining a prescription for how the government and U.S. manufacturers can keep jobs in America. The report identified key changes in education policy, worker training, the tax code, regulations, and U.S. relations with Mexico. Hopp and Kapuscinski conducted a sector-by-sector analysis of U.S. industrial competitiveness and surveyed 200 manufacturing executives and experts. Their research indicates that in the coming decades, nearly 40 percent of the nation’s manufacturing jobs could be transferred overseas if policy changes aren’t made. Today manufacturing and related activities account for 15 percent of U.S. GDP.

As we at Ross continue to forge new solutions for some of business and society’s most pivotal issues, I invite you to explore how the research and thinking of Ross faculty members can be used to impact your work. Ross Thought in Action, a bi-monthly digest of faculty research and its practical application, can be found on our website, and is available through email subscription.

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Alison Davis-Blake