Laboratoire LEFMI

Discover the laboratory

Economics, finance, management and
innovation laboratory

About Us

The LEFMI brings together researchers in economics, finance and management whose problematic questions the functioning and evolution of commercial and financial exchanges, as well as the behavior of agents in the economic sphere.

SCIENTIFIC PROJECT

LEFMI is built around a unifying topic, namely innovation.

Indeed, innovation is generally understood as the result, the purpose, of a creative initiative that ultimately leads to the proposal of a product (good or service) or of a new process (production). It also sometimes leads to new business models, based on configurations of value chains that provide the promise of an attractive proposal, recognized as such by the market. Its progress can be long and complex. To study an innovation as a process is to be interested in the temporal framework in which it is inscribed, in the stages of its emergence, of its “manufacture” and distribution, time to go, time to stop and go back, in creative loops rather than linear sequences. It also means understanding that an innovation is part of a trajectory, that is to say, an organizational, but also sectoral and institutional history that shapes the course of its evolution. Understanding a process of innovation is also to enlighten the actors who carry the stages of its realization through their multiple roles, sometimes initiators, translators, recruiters, intermediaries, when new ideas or practices emerge, then spread. Finally, innovation can also be thought of in a broader sense, as the questioning of an established order. It is, then, possible to understand the changes in the political and social structure that the economic dynamic can produce.

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Mission

In order to develop our analyzes, we endeavor to mobilize a plurality of methodological approaches: theoretical, empirical (quantitative and qualitative analyzes) and historical (including the history of economic thought).

Vision

If economic analysis remains at the heart of our scientific approach, we are nevertheless sensitive to the idea that only a multidisciplinary approach (combining economics and management, economics and history, economics and politics, economics and sociology, economics and natural sciences, economics and computer science) can fuel our reflection in a context of profound changes, linked both to technological upheavals (artificial intelligence, development of blockchains, algorithmic data processing), and to the need to reinvent new models that are more respectful of the environment (ecological transition, green finance, etc.) and people.

Money and Finance: Theories, changes, innovations

1. Theory, policy, and monetary innovations

2. Finance, banks, markets, and innovation

Organization, industrial innovation, multinational firms

1. Organizational innovation, entrepreneurship, networks

2. Multinational firms, industrial transformations, information capitalism

Money and FINANCE : THEORIES, CHANGES, INNOVATIONS

1.1 THEORY, POLICY AND MONETARY INNOVATIONS

The innovations that are at work in the monetary field, the emergence of new forms of digital currencies (Bitcoin, crypto currencies, central bank digital currencies, GAFAM currency projects) leads to a rethinking of money by re-examining monetary theory, and by leading a reflection on the connection between economic mechanisms and the institutions which frame them, and the evolution of monetary forms. <BR>Many questions emerge which are all avenues of research to be explored:

  • By taking the hypothesis of money as an institution and a social mediation and by starting from the definition of G. Simmel (1907) of money as a « claim on society »: What is behind this term society?  Is it the State, symbol of the social whole? Is it a community? Who is legitimate to represent the collective? What makes society?
  • What are the consequences of increasing currency privatization? How to rethink the modes of regulation? What are the challenges for the current banking system? What is the threat, what form of competition?
  • Are we witnessing a new currency war (public currencies, private currencies)? This raises the question of public/private conflict regarding the issuing of currency. This also raises the question of the link between currency and power.
  • How will regulators and governments react? What about central bank digital projects?

The transformations which are at work today in the field of currency are not simple post-crisis cyclical effects: they herald deeper changes, which also lead us to think of the current mutations of capitalism. Thus, the evolution of the Internet network now dominated by Big Tech (GAFAM), the powerful oligopolies capable of competing with States, and information and the collection of personal data as main sources of profit lead to reflections on the new regime of growth and the new modalities of action of a so-called “informational” capitalism ». However, with this in mind, we think it is essential to relocate the ambition of GAFAM to issue their own currency, as evidenced by the Libra project (now renamed Diem) launched by Facebook in 2019. We believe it is crucial to understand the economic, political, and institutional issues of this new generation of private digital currency, as the emblematic manifestation of this platform capitalism.

Beyond money alone, it would be interesting to carry out a wider reflection, which could mobilize issues that are crossed with other disciplines (management, law, IT, sociology of digital uses), so as to highlight the logics that are emerging today in the new dynamics of capitalism: the organization of the economy into networks, information capitalism and the technological revolutions that accompany it: artificial intelligence, the development of blockchains. 

The transformations observed in the field of money are taking place at the same time as fundamental changes in monetary policy (negative interest rates, massive purchases of debt, etc.). Monetary policy is at the heart of the fight against the crisis and the pandemic, and its role in financing public debt is crucial. 

The potential dangers of an increase in central bank balance sheets are very great. Management of the public debt of eurozone countries, the stability of the banking sector, as well as the very survival of the euro, are becoming crucial concerns. Monetary policy challenges also stem from the digital and decentralized monetary projects discussed earlier, which has prompted the State and the monetary authorities to launch large-scale digital central bank currency initiatives. Analyzing these initiatives should be at the center of our attention. 

The next challenges for monetary policy and the central bank should also address questions linked to climate change and the optimal support for this change by the financial sphere. 

  • Are we going to have to favor market solutions (such as the establishment of carbon markets in Europe) or entrust this subject to organizations and public regulation, even if we consider nature and the climate, above all, to be common, public goods? 
  • Will central banks have a fundamental role to play (greening of monetary policy, orientation of credits toward long-term investments linked to the energy transition etc.)?

Finally, we are interested in the international dimension of monetary policy. How will the international monetary system evolve, what will be the place of the euro in this system? What future for the eurozone and European monetary policy? What reforms can be proposed at European and international level? How do modern monetary policy processes and central banks work in different countries and regions, such as Europe, the Balkans, Africa, the Arab countries, Russia etc.?

Money and FINANCE : THEORIES, CHANGES, INNOVATIONS

1.2 FINANCE, BANKS, MARKETS, AND INNOVATION

In each crisis, the functioning of financial markets and the products traded therein are called into question. New regulations are supposed to mitigate the loopholes highlighted by the crisis. The valuation of assets and the measurement of risk, as well as their management, are undergoing profound changes, new products are being offered to investors. Institutions, existing or newly created, are called upon to play a key role in restoring a new balance based on the return of investor confidence and the credibility of the institutional framework. 

A first part of the work developed by researchers on this theme aims to broaden knowledge of the way in which ethical, socially responsible, or even non-conventional finance can help to restore financial markets to their initial functions of financing, diversifying, and valorizing risks. The financial manifestation of sustainable development, the concept of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI), refers to forms of investment that include, as well as the performance dimension in terms of profitability – risk, extra financial criteria, in particular social, ethical, or environmental considerations. SRI has gone from being a niche investment to that of a genuine style of investing in a very short time. Interest in this style of investing is supported in part by reported performances: investing in a socially responsible way appears to provide financial performances that are equal or superior to traditional investments. Such findings run counter to the foundations of modern portfolio theory and, even more generally, the principle of financial orthodoxy. We must therefore study the real impact of the emergence and proliferation of ethical assets, their long-term viability, as well as the exact scope of the criteria that govern the term “ethical” attributed to certain financial assets. 

At the same time, the dynamic of ethical fund flows, as well as investor perceptions of ethical screening, can be affected by cultural factors. The importance of culture in determining the organization of society is now recognized. Thus, national culture can also play a role in corporate governance, especially in the structure and functioning of boards of directors. It is natural to think that the cultural context can influence, for example, the promotion of women to positions of responsibility. This diversity of the board of directors can be a lever for increasing the potential for value creation by prioritizing skills, learning, and the capacity for innovation.

Finally, while climate change caused by human activities is increasingly being felt, greenhouse gas emissions are continuing their upward trend. On this note, companies have a significant share of responsibility with negative externalities, in particular environmental ones, that they cause in their economic activities. However, this damage represents a huge amount for society. At the same time, institutional investors hold a significant proportion of listed equities in the world. Therefore, by virtue of their significant weight on the financial markets, these long-term investors have a role to play to influence the environmental policies of companies in which they have shareholdings. It therefore becomes essential to analyze the levers that can explain the commitment of these funds against the environmental and social externalities produced by companies.

In addition, the significant technological innovations which accompany the development of contemporary financial practices (ex: big data, blockchain, crowdfunding, cloud computing, regtech, assurtech, neobank, etc…) can be significant levers for the greater integration of ethical and social issues. Faced, for example, with the asymmetry of information which constitutes a significant source of financial risk, the use of big data can offer a means of better appreciating some of these risks through a more precise and extensive analysis of individual behaviors and characteristics. Indeed, with an increasingly refined granularity of available information, it becomes possible today to apply statistics at the individual level. Companies are also sitting on a wealth of information about their operations which, once collected, organized, and cross-referenced with other external data, can provide a quantified and expanded vision of their footprint. It is therefore easy to predict the extent of possible uses of these “new data” through their algorithmic processing, artificial intelligence, and advances in quantum computing. In asset management, big data could also complement the measurement of financial risks by using portfolio modeling and optimizations that integrate all kinds of data linked to the social and external externalities of companies.

The deployment of new means of coordination through digital technology can facilitate inclusive managerial practices that promote the ever-greater participation of stakeholders in the management and decision-making process of companies. Crowdfunding illustrates the potential of these new uses in the democratization of certain functions of economic intermediation (lender, investor) hitherto reserved for insiders. It also allows an interpenetration of economic and social objectives by promoting the sharing of non-strictly quantitative information with the aim of (re)creating the levers of collective action that bypass traditional institutions. Thus, paradoxically, the use of digital technology is part of an increasingly marked desire of savers to anchor their economic choices in a quest for socialization, meaning, and a return to Humanity.

Our work therefore proposes to question the way in which the new uses of digital technology can contribute to a better integration of environmental and social issues as new risk factors in financial practices.

Finally, international asset management allows investors to diversify their wealth in several financial markets. This management has become internationalized thanks to the dismantling of barriers to international investment, the fall in transaction costs, and the strong interconnection between different financial places.  In this logic of market globalization and in the light of the health crisis, we will be able to question the traditional methods of the allocation and modeling of asset prices. At this level, several questions will be addressed: how has the health crisis affected the stock markets? How can we measure the gains or losses of sector diversification in times of a health crisis?  How can we model the informational effects on the prices of financial assets in times of crisis and post-crisis? Insofar as the stock markets are considered to be efficient, can we verify information integration by traditional methods such as event studies? Can we propose conditional models to estimate abnormal returns in the context of event studies? Does modeling stock prices on the basis of a jump or a Poisson process enable us to capture the positive and/or negative effect of the crisis and to propose an asset valuation model adapted to this context?

A key player in the financial markets is the State. The issue of managing the over-indebtedness of sovereign debtors and the resulting defaults comes up very often in debates. The way in which the default is managed (restructuring, renegotiation, debt reduction), the amount of reductions potentially granted by creditors, the timing of operations, represent crucial points. Part of the work developed by the members of this theme aims to explore these questions in the context of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. Our questioning concerns the way in which belonging to the monetary zone influenced management of the difficulties of ensuring the debt service of member countries of the union, as well as the mechanisms by which this crisis of sovereign debtors was transmitted within the union.

Exploring the dynamics of financial crises, as well as the role that the State and other institutions can play in restoring confidence on the financial markets, understanding innovations in the field of financial practice, but also at the level of regulation, cannot be done without a solid knowledge of history. Indeed, « History has a way of repeating itself in financial matters because of a kind of sophisticated stupidity » said Kenneth Galbraith. This is the reason why a significant part of the work of this theme uses the historical approach in finance (or historical finance), which seeks to understand the experiences of the past in relation to contemporary experiences in order to achieve a better understanding of the functioning and the dynamics of financial markets.

Analysis of the dynamic of financial crises involving sovereign debts is closely linked to the role played by governments, national and supranational institutions, as well as by their political and economic decisions. The credibility of decisions taken is just as important as the content of these decisions. Institution building can help to alleviate this problem of credibility. Our work explores the role that institutions can play in restoring the credibility of a sovereign debtor and, at the same time, in reducing the cost of its debt. However, it is also questionable if, in some cases, institutions might not give too much power to creditors by offering them the opportunity to extract an annuity from their position. Credibility can also be enhanced by the presence of guarantees. Even if the use of collateral has become rarer today, there are still a number of sovereign debt default and restructuring situations (mainly due to legal causes but also the presence of vulture funds) which lead to disputes with and between creditors and in which the question of the guarantees associated with the debts in dispute becomes crucial. These situations are all the more complex as the identification and evaluation of such guarantees remains an extremely complicated task. In addition, seizing such guarantees raises questions beyond the financial and economic sphere, since they may even affect the political sovereignty of the debtor State. A cross-analysis of the proposals and practical modalities, both over the course of history and in the contemporary period, for the management of sovereign debts, referring to collateral, could make it possible to draw important lessons on the impact of these guarantees on the economic/financial but also political sovereignty of a State.  

Organization, industrial innovations, multinational firms

2.1 ORGANIZATIONAL INNOVATION, INNOVATION POLICIES, ENTREPRENEURSHIP, NETWORKS

The common thread of this theme concerns the models and organizational characteristics underlying this process of building innovations. In particular, we will examine the renewal of organizational arrangements capable of supporting breakthrough innovations. These are based on Human Resource Management allowing, favoring, a certain challenge, experimentation, risk-taking, a right to make mistakes and to encourage unlearning as much as learning, on an organizational culture, but also on spaces dedicated to creativity (co-working space)…While several HRM practices are recognized as levers for innovation, several questions remain unanswered, such as the one relating to the articulation of HR strategies on the development of dynamic capacities. The question of organizational structures – structural, contextual, temporal or network ambidexterity – to be favored to promote the balance and harmony to be achieved between exploitation and exploration, remains a fruitful field of research. More generally, the initiatives aimed at promoting new practices, new structures or new systems can be considered as managerial innovations whose effects in loops can lead to other forms of innovations (of product, process, commercialization…), sources of economic and/or social efficiency.

But our reflections also lead us to understand how innovations can be supported by the creation of ad-hoc services (incubator, accelerator, etc.), new institutional arrangements (clusters, network, competitiveness hub,…), new professions (facilitators, brokers,) and adapted policies. Innovation can no longer be envisioned within the strict framework of organizational boundaries. The development of open business models poses the problem of valuing internal resources outside the scope of the company (inside-out movement) and the ability to seek resources likely to be valued within it (outside-in). This external origin of innovations is not limited to identified partners but is also opened up to a plurality of individuals (the crowd) used both for their contribution to generate and provide creative ideas and to support the conditions for the achievement of projects (financial, social, policies…).

On a macroeconomic scale, the ambition is also to mobilize the institutional, entrepreneurial, and societal resources that are the basis of innovation. Innovation encompasses the use of knowledge, the diffusion of technological capabilities and development as an end and a means of building national skills.  As such, innovation policies are conceived in a broad sense, by considering all the macroeconomic contexts on which they are based.

These policies must not follow the dictates of globalization but must be built in an essentially dynamic context both by financial support and by stimulating the dynamic of collective interactions. This stimulation involves the construction of conditions favorable to the context of innovation: social policies, educational policies, fiscal policies, learning policies and all other policies that support R&D and Science and Technology. Many countries have already set up support structures for R&D accompanied by tax incentive policies (China, Japan, USA). Other economies are more in a context of structuring their institutions in order to promote national innovation capacities. The degrees of knowledge transfer through technological capacities are built on very heterogenous infrastructural and institutional bases, ultimately providing a technological and innovation framework specific to each country. We wish to deepen the analysis in terms of innovation capacities to better understand the underlying dynamics at a local, regional, national or international level.

Finally, on a mesoeconomic scale, the notion of an Innovation System creates a framework for comparing different institutional contexts that guide the content of an innovation policy. This content can focus the cursor of analysis more upstream of technological change at the level of research policies or downstream of technological change on entrepreneurial dynamics. Our research will also be based at this level on the study of Innovation Systems, the subject of which is already present in the literature on innovation economics, and which are currently assessed from the angle of economic development, ecological transition, and the circular economy.

Organization, industrial innovations, multinational firms

2.2 MULTINATIONAL FIRMS, INDUSTRIAL TRANSFORMATIONS, INFORMATIONAL CAPITALISM

Our research, based on access to databases, focuses on the impact of the activity of multinational firms in view of:

  • The nature and content of subsidiaries of multinationals in national areas, whose support functions (finance, accounting, marketing, human resources, ….) are outsourced in different offshore centers – both in Europe and worldwide – which raises questions on the ‘business’ content of multinational subsidiaries;
  • International logistics value chains inducing transfers of values from nation to nation and toward tax havens, with disconnection 
    • A supply chain for raw materials, packaging, first manufactured sub-assemblies, which are made available to manufacturing units (cost centers) and which are properties of the upstream company located in a tax haven
    • A chain of value creation for goods from manufacturing units to various markets, but realization of which is ensured by the upstream company holding the property rights on goods produced,
    • All combined with a fictitious remuneration chain for brands of the value chain, brands owned by companies located in tax havens;
  • The relocation of industrial activities and support functions toward low-wage countries;
  • The fragmentation of national productive systems with regard to the coverage of their economic activity, following the respective breakdowns in the supply chain of firms, of the chain of value creation of goods, of the chain of remuneration of brands;
  • The evolution in the employment of multinational subsidiaries and skills, with a break-up of work groups and a loss of representation of their activity;
  • The alternatives for resuming economic activities in solidarity with subsidiaries threatened with closure or relocation;
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