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Why does Amazon recruit so many economists with doctorate?

It is said that the idea behind this is that economists are better prepared than other disciplines to solve many business issues. Will be?

With 150 doctorate economists, Amazon is, perhaps, the largest employer of economists with a doctorate in the United States. Only the Federal Reserve has in its team a greater number of specialists in this matter. This was stated in an article that appeared today in the English edition of CNN. But, unlike what economists do in the government institution, what they do in Amazon is kept in the most absolute secrecy. In fact, once hired, they must sign confidentiality contracts so that nothing is revealed.

Why does Amazon want so many economists with PhD?

But something is known, for example, Amazon economists make calculations to optimize the real estate of the electronic retail giant. They also set the lowest prices that can offer some profit. Or analyze the consumption data to see what people are looking for in their platform. Or analyze if the ads are working. All this using artificial intelligence programs that automate decision making on a massive scale. The idea is to replace intuition with scientifically proven statistical data.

Amazon, of course, is not the only high-tech company that uses economists. There are teams of economists at Uber, IBM, Intel and Microsoft. Google has in its staff, even, twice as many specialists in this area: 300. However, it is Amazon which, specifically, has a greater number of doctorates in Economics.

How difficult is it to hire the best?

Contrary to what readers unfamiliar with the academic environment might think, obtaining a Ph.D. in economics is more a sign of contempt for business. They are usually more interested in working within the international circuit of universities and government institutions.

For this reason, hiring 150 economists with a PhD is not as simple as paying them better. The best promise made is not salary but the possibility of using firsthand the mountains of data collected and processed by artificial intelligence algorithms.

In fact, something that sometimes distances candidates is that they can not publish their findings in specialized journals. Due to the secrecy with which Amazon is handled. In a way, working for this giant can thwart his desire to continue making a prominent career within the academic circuit.

Are economists better than other disciplines?

The person behind this strategy of hiring academics is Amazon’s chief economist, Pat Bajari. He earned his PhD from the University of Minnesotta and is a professor of economics at the University of Washington, Seattle.

The idea is that economists are better prepared than other disciplines to solve a series of business problems. The tasks of this ultra specialized team is to process terabytes of data to deduct those without the best places to put retail wineries. What items to put in them and what benefits are most relevant to premium consumers.

And, there is no way to prove it, maybe they are behind the masterful strategy of not paying a penny of taxes after having 12 billion dollars of profits in 2018.


Also published on Medium.

Published inE-commerce

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