2024 Predictions: What’s Next in the New Year? Darden Experts Weigh In

By Andrew Ramspacher

This story originally appeared in UVA Today.

With one month down and the rest of the year to go, UVA Today is looking into the future for potential changes in the business world.

On Wednesday, we revealed 2024 predictions from industry experts within the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce. The final installment of our series continues with analysis from four Darden School of Business professors.

Taking a cue from prominent UVA alumna Katie Couric, we asked these professors a simple question: What do you expect will be the biggest trend or innovation in your field during the next year?

Black and white headshot of Darden professor Melanie Prengler.

Darden School Professor Melanie Prengler is an expert in leadership and organizational behavior.

Melanie Prengler – Remedying Loneliness in the (Remote) Workplace

Prengler has expertise in the areas of leadership and organizational behavior. Her research focuses on remote work arrangements, as well as how employees can reduce systemic discrimination in their organizations via allyship and anti-racism.

“The playbook on fostering connections at work will need to be rewritten – or at least revised – in 2024, as traditional methods like office lunches, water cooler chats or team-building events have been rooted in the assumption that everyone is working in the same physical space.

“Meanwhile, eight out of 10 employees feel lonely, and in addition to being a painful emotion, it can have negative impact on performance. For many employees, the freedoms of remote work came at a social cost, and agile organizations will need to find creative solutions to remedying loneliness that simultaneously preserve employees’ capacity to be flexible and work from home.”

Black and white headshot of Darden Professor Dennie Kim.

Professsor Dennie Kim focuses on strategy, ethics and entrepreneurship at Darden.

Dennie Kim – Empowering Patients Through AI

Kim’s research examines the design and performance of whole organizational networks, and the emergence and evolution of new industries. His current work examines multiple contexts, including disparities in health care delivery, health care reform and blockchain applications such as non-fungible tokens.

“Although health care organizations have been using machine learning and AI for more than a decade, in the next year I am excited to see even more investment in innovations that you and I, our parents, our kids or even our dogs can use!

“Whether through wearables, apps to track and monitor metrics, generative AI assistants to find better insurance or help understand symptoms, or greater use of messaging and digital communication to strengthen the relationship between patients and providers, I expect to see emerging technologies spark greater interest in creating more informed and empowered patients.

“The future of health care hinges not just on advancements on the provider side, but also on the decentralized and organic activation of communities that demand better services, better access and better health outcomes. The unmet needs are massive, and we are in desperate need for business model innovation in this industry.”

Black and white headshot of Darden professor Lauren Kaufmann

Professor Lauren Kaufmann teaches business ethics in Darden’s full-time and part-time MBA programs.

Lauren Kaufmann – ESG Investing Hits Reset Button

Kaufmann uses normative and empirical methods in her research on business ethics, including in the areas of social impact, impact investing and gender.

“After decades of swelling support for investing in environmental, social and corporate governance, which could soon account for one-third of all global assets under management, the industry is navigating entirely new terrain.

“In the United States, ESG assets under management fell for the first time in 2022, reflecting a newfound commitment to rigor in a field historically marked by equal parts enthusiasm and measurement ambiguity. With the SEC proposing new disclosure rules to curb greenwashing and enhance the reliability of investors’ ESG claims, industry actors will need to meet the moment with new urgency – and honesty – to maintain the social and economic license to operate.”

Black and white headshot of Darden Professor Luca Cian

Professor Luca Cian’s research area is consumer behavior, with a focus on visual persuasion, psychological response to artificial intelligence and social identity.

Luca Cian – Shedding Guardrails Around AI

Cian has expertise in visual persuasion, psychological response to artificial intelligence, social identity, consumer psychology, marketing research and multimethod research.

“I think this increased use of AI across industries will bring several consequences.

“Right now, OpenAI and all major AI companies have many safeguards or ‘guardrails’ in place. For example, they limit their response on some sensitive topics, or they will refuse to help when asked to create dangerous content. I predict that in 2024, we will see some smaller AI companies offering products and chatbots with no safeguards and guardrails in place. This will result in a deeper discussion regarding the scope of AI products and the rule of the government in establishing – or not establishing – any safeguards. I think many companies using AI will differentiate themselves in terms of what kind of safeguards and privacy policies they will implement.”

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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