Mohammad Reza Habibi

Mohammad Reza Habibi

This may be the most traumatic year in modern U.S. history, with the pandemic, social unrest and a divisive election. But difficult times usually have some silver lining, and that’s what Cal State Fullerton Associate Professor Mohammad Reza Habibi has looked for in previous recessions. Past examples, he says, may provide encouragement for today’s generation facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Based on my research on the past recessions, many major innovations come shortly after recessions,” says Habibi. “For example, after the recession of 2008, ‘sharing economy’ emerged. Businesses such as Airbnb, Uber, and other sharing platforms are now thriving. The number of new businesses launched in 2009, the toughest year of the recent economic recession, rose to 550,000. Entrepreneurship endeavors rose as well from which many currently well-known brands such as Uber, Airbnb, LendingClub, Turo, and so on were born.”

Going further back, Habibi notes that the Panic of 1873, which resulted in an economic depression in North America for several years, was accompanied by a wave of innovation, including the light bulb, telephones, electric power systems and phonographs, as well as improvements in urban transit.

Habibi is hopeful that businesses that have thrived during the coronavirus pandemic – such as online giants Amazon and Netflix – will continue to be resilient in the future. On the other hand, the entertainment and tourism sector, restaurants, and brick-and-mortar retail have been hit hard.

“Remote working has become a norm, and online shopping has penetrated even more,” says Habibi. “Many companies are talking about the ‘workplace of the future,’ which means an environment in which workers have all the tools to be productive without the need to be physically present. We are seeing many trends, but which one will catch on, we have to wait and see.”

Because of his focus on resiliency in the business world, Habibi is featured in Cal State Fullerton’s Spotlight on Success highlighting innovative and impactful faculty.

Read more in this CSUF News article.