James Bessen

Author, The New Goliaths; Executive Director, Technology & Policy Research Initiative, Boston University

About James Bessen

James Bessen, an economist and technologist, serves as Executive Director of the Technology & Policy Research Initiative at Boston University. He has also been a successful innovator and CEO of a software company. Bessen studies the major economic impacts of technology on society (see New York Times profile), writing academic papers, magazine articles, and books. His latest book, The New Goliaths (Yale 2022), argues that major firms’ investments in proprietary software systems have allowed them to increase their dominance of industries, slowing aggregate innovation and raising income inequality. Earlier work with Michael Meurer on patents identified the social costs of poorly defined property rights (see Patent Failure, Princeton 2008), including the first evidence of damage from patent trolls. Bessen’s work on automation (see Learning by Doing, Yale 2015), both historical and current, provides a distinct analysis of effects on employment, skills, and wage inequality. Bessen’s work has been widely cited in the press as well as by the US White House and Supreme Court, the European Parliament, and the Federal Trade Commission.

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