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Jason Abrevaya, Chair 2225 Speedway, Stop C3100, Austin, TX 78712 • Admin: 512-471-3211 & Advising: 512-471-2973

Sanford C Marble

Lecturer Ph.D., University of Texas

Contact

ECO S351M • Managerial Economics

83050 • Summer 2014
Meets MTWTHF 800am-930am BRB 1.120
show description

PREREQUISITE: ECO 420K, AND ECO 329 OR M 362K, WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C- IN EACH.

The course is about the strategies that firms can use to gain an advantage in markets that are very competitive (such as product/service differentiation, pricing strategies, corporate re-organization, mergers/acquisitions, etc.) Preston McAfee's book mixes theory about the kinds of competitive strategies that are available with examples of how they have been (or are being) used. The case studies provide real world discussions of corporate efforts to apply particular strategies. The case study write-ups give students a chance to focus on how the strategies work in actual practice. The course organization is based on the 'case study method' used in the Harvard Business School. It gives students practical experience in 1) reading and interpreting real world competitive analysis, 2) meeting recurring writing deadlines, 3)presenting material to an informed audience, 4) participating in group projects where their grade depends partly on the work of others, 5) thinking about what an economist can contribute to corporate strategizing. Students seem to enjoy the class, the participation in the presentations is enthusiastic. Also, I've received email from some students of last spring's class saying their use of ideas from the class had made a difference in their job interviews.

ECO 351M • Managerial Economics

34600 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 300pm-400pm CLA 1.104
show description

PREREQUISITE: ECO 420K, AND ECO 329 OR M 362K, WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C- IN EACH.

The course is about the strategies that firms can use to gain an advantage in markets that are very competitive (such as product/service differentiation, pricing strategies, corporate re-organization, mergers/acquisitions, etc.) Preston McAfee's book mixes theory about the kinds of competitive strategies that are available with examples of how they have been (or are being) used. The case studies provide real world discussions of corporate efforts to apply particular strategies. The case study write-ups give students a chance to focus on how the strategies work in actual practice. The course organization is based on the 'case study method' used in the Harvard Business School. It gives students practical experience in 1) reading and interpreting real world competitive analysis, 2) meeting recurring writing deadlines, 3)presenting material to an informed audience, 4) participating in group projects where their grade depends partly on the work of others, 5) thinking about what an economist can contribute to corporate strategizing. Students seem to enjoy the class, the participation in the presentations is enthusiastic. Also, I've received email from some students of last spring's class saying their use of ideas from the class had made a difference in their job interviews.

ECO 351K • Curr Iss In Business Economics

34390 • Spring 2013
Meets MWF 300pm-400pm WEL 2.256
show description

NEWLY EMERGING PROBLEMS IN BUSINESS AND THE APPROACHES USED FOR STRUCTURING, ANALYZING, AND TREATING THEM.

PREREQUISITE: ECONOMICS 420K WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C-.

In this course we will consider how we can use economic principles to analyze actual business problems. We will use a number of business cases to illustrate how classic economic models can be used to understand current business issues, as well as how we can augment simple models to deal with complex business situations. The course is not meant to be a comprehensive cookbook of applications of economics to business problems. The purpose is rather to give students the opportunity to practice making logical economic arguments in the context of examples from the real business world.

ECO 351M • Managerial Economics

34295 • Fall 2012
Meets MWF 300pm-400pm BRB 1.120
show description

PREREQUISITE: ECO 420K, AND ECO 329 OR M 362K, WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C- IN EACH.

The course is about the strategies that firms can use to gain an advantage in markets that are very competitive (such as product/service differentiation, pricing strategies, corporate re-organization, mergers/acquisitions, etc.) Preston McAfee's book mixes theory about the kinds of competitive strategies that are available with examples of how they have been (or are being) used. The case studies provide real world discussions of corporate efforts to apply particular strategies. The case study write-ups give students a chance to focus on how the strategies work in actual practice. The course organization is based on the 'case study method' used in the Harvard Business School. It gives students practical experience in 1) reading and interpreting real world competitive analysis, 2) meeting recurring writing deadlines, 3)presenting material to an informed audience, 4) participating in group projects where their grade depends partly on the work of others, 5) thinking about what an economist can contribute to corporate strategizing. Students seem to enjoy the class, the participation in the presentations is enthusiastic. Also, I've received email from some students of last spring's class saying their use of ideas from the class had made a difference in their job interviews.

ECO S351M • Managerial Economics

83515 • Summer 2012
Meets MTWTHF 830am-1000am BRB 1.120
show description

PREREQUISITE: ECO 420K, AND ECO 329 OR M 362K, WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C- IN EACH.

The course is about the strategies that firms can use to gain an advantage in markets that are very competitive (such as product/service differentiation, pricing strategies, corporate re-organization, mergers/acquisitions, etc.) Preston McAfee's book mixes theory about the kinds of competitive strategies that are available with examples of how they have been (or are being) used. The case studies provide real world discussions of corporate efforts to apply particular strategies. The case study write-ups give students a chance to focus on how the strategies work in actual practice. The course organization is based on the 'case study method' used in the Harvard Business School. It gives students practical experience in 1) reading and interpreting real world competitive analysis, 2) meeting recurring writing deadlines, 3)presenting material to an informed audience, 4) participating in group projects where their grade depends partly on the work of others, 5) thinking about what an economist can contribute to corporate strategizing. Students seem to enjoy the class, the participation in the presentations is enthusiastic. Also, I've received email from some students of last spring's class saying their use of ideas from the class had made a difference in their job interviews.

ECO 351K • Curr Iss In Business Economics

34305 • Spring 2012
Meets MWF 900am-1000am BRB 2.136
show description

NEWLY EMERGING PROBLEMS IN BUSINESS AND THE APPROACHES USED FOR STRUCTURING, ANALYZING, AND TREATING THEM.

PREREQUISITE: ECONOMICS 420K WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C-.

In this course we will consider how we can use economic principles to analyze actual business problems. We will use a number of business cases to illustrate how classic economic models can be used to understand current business issues, as well as how we can augment simple models to deal with complex business situations. The course is not meant to be a comprehensive cookbook of applications of economics to business problems. The purpose is rather to give students the opportunity to practice making logical economic arguments in the context of examples from the real business world.

ECO 359M • Envir And Natural Resource Eco

34217 • Fall 2011
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm BUR 134
show description

OPTIMAL USE OF EXHAUSTIBLE AND RENEWABLE RESOURCES; VALUATION OF NONMARK ETED ENVIR AMENITIES; ECON OF POLLUTION CONTROL INSTRUMENTS; ENVIR QUALI TY AND INTNATL TRADE; ECON OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE; POLLUTION CONTROL.

PREREQUISITE: ECO 420K AND 329 WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C- IN EACH.

This course will study the economics of public policy toward natural resources and the environment. It is designed primarily for advanced undergraduates in economics. Prerequisites include microeconomics and calculus. We will start with the concepts of externalities, public goods, property rights, market failure, and social cost-benefit analysis. Within this framework, we will consider a few additional problems such as information, uncertainty, and risk analysis. The first set of applications of these tools will involve natural resources. Other applications include air pollution, water pollution, solid waste management, and hazardous substances. In addressing each of these problems, we will compare public policy responses such as administrative regulation, marketable permits, tax incentives, and direct subsidies.

ECO S351M • Managerial Economics

83460 • Summer 2011
Meets MTWTHF 1130am-100pm GAR 1.126
show description

PREREQUISITE: ECO 420K, AND ECO 329 OR M 362K, WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C- IN EACH.

The course is about the strategies that firms can use to gain an advantage in markets that are very competitive (such as product/service differentiation, pricing strategies, corporate re-organization, mergers/acquisitions, etc.) Preston McAfee's book mixes theory about the kinds of competitive strategies that are available with examples of how they have been (or are being) used. The case studies provide real world discussions of corporate efforts to apply particular strategies. The case study write-ups give students a chance to focus on how the strategies work in actual practice. The course organization is based on the 'case study method' used in the Harvard Business School. It gives students practical experience in 1) reading and interpreting real world competitive analysis, 2) meeting recurring writing deadlines, 3)presenting material to an informed audience, 4) participating in group projects where their grade depends partly on the work of others, 5) thinking about what an economist can contribute to corporate strategizing. Students seem to enjoy the class, the participation in the presentations is enthusiastic. Also, I've received email from some students of last spring's class saying their use of ideas from the class had made a difference in their job interviews.

ECO 351K • Curr Iss In Business Economics

34489 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm BRB 1.118
show description

NEWLY EMERGING PROBLEMS IN BUSINESS AND THE APPROACHES USED FOR STRUCTURING, ANALYZING, AND TREATING THEM.

PREREQUISITE: ECONOMICS 420K WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C-.

In this course we will consider how we can use economic principles to analyze actual business problems. We will use a number of business cases to illustrate how classic economic models can be used to understand current business issues, as well as how we can augment simple models to deal with complex business situations. The course is not meant to be a comprehensive cookbook of applications of economics to business problems. The purpose is rather to give students the opportunity to practice making logical economic arguments in the context of examples from the real business world.

May be counted toward the writing flag requirement.

ECO 320L • Macroeconomic Theory

82815 • Summer 2010
Meets MTWTHF 830am-1000am GAR 1.126
show description

THEORY OF THE DETERMINATION OF NATIONAL INCOME, EMPLOYMENT, AND THE PRICE LEVEL, WITH POLICY IMPLICATIONS. REQUIRED OF STUDENTS MAJORING IN ECONOMICS.

PREREQUISITE: ECONOMICS 420K WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C-.

This course builds on the material presented in Introduction to Macroeconomics (ECO 304L) and 420K. Major theoretical concepts, analysis tools, and empirical regularities are explored in the context of seven case studies. The first case study presents stylized facts of long-run economic growth in the United States. The second case demonstrates how changes in the links between technology and economic behavior might account for alternating episodes of rapid then slow economic growth. Case three examines the role of financial markets, emphasizing that the long run is created as people respond to short-run circumstances. Case four introduces the basics of the business cycle by addressing the phenomenon of so-called "jobless growth." The fifth case continues the examination of how the business cycle might be substantially altered in the New Economy. In the final two cases, expectations and resulting dynamic interactions are highlighted in the treatment of international flows of goods and financial assets, the labor market, and economic growth. If more information is needed contact instructor.

ECO 351M • Managerial Economics-W

82960 • Summer 2010
Meets MTWTHF 1130am-100pm GAR 1.126
show description

CONTAINS A SUBSTANTIAL WRITING COMPONENT AND FULFILLS PART OF THE BASIC EDUCATION REQUIREMENT IN WRITING. THE USE OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OPTIMIZING TECHNIQUES AS TOOLS FOR IMPROVIN G MANAGERIAL DECISION MAKING IN BUSINESS.

PREREQUISITE: ECO 420K, AND ECO 329 OR M 362K, WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C- IN EACH.

CONTAINS A SUBSTANTIAL WRITING COMPONENT AND FULFILLS PART OF THE BASIC EDUCATION REQUIREMENT IN WRITING.

The course is about the strategies that firms can use to gain an advantage in markets that are very competitive (such as product/service differentiation, pricing strategies, corporate re-organization, mergers/acquisitions, etc.) Preston McAfee's book mixes theory about the kinds of competitive strategies that are available with examples of how they have been (or are being) used. The case studies provide real world discussions of corporate efforts to apply particular strategies. The case study write-ups give students a chance to focus on how the strategies work in actual practice. The course organization is based on the 'case study method' used in the Harvard Business School. It gives students practical experience in 1) reading and interpreting real world competitive analysis, 2) meeting recurring writing deadlines, 3)presenting material to an informed audience, 4) participating in group projects where their grade depends partly on the work of others, 5) thinking about what an economist can contribute to corporate strategizing. Students seem to enjoy the class, the participation in the presentations is enthusiastic. Also, I've received email from some students of last spring's class saying their use of ideas from the class had made a difference in their job interviews.

ECO 351K • Curr Issues In Business Eco-W

33685 • Spring 2010
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm UTC 3.122
show description

NEWLY EMERGING PROBLEMS IN BUSINESS AND THE APPROACHES USED FOR STRUCTURING, ANALYZING, AND TREATING THEM.

PREREQUISITE: ECONOMICS 420K WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C-.

In this course we will consider how we can use economic principles to analyze actual business problems. We will use a number of business cases to illustrate how classic economic models can be used to understand current business issues, as well as how we can augment simple models to deal with complex business situations. The course is not meant to be a comprehensive cookbook of applications of economics to business problems. The purpose is rather to give students the opportunity to practice making logical economic arguments in the context of examples from the real business world.

ECO 351M • Managerial Economics-W

33690 • Spring 2010
Meets MWF 900-1000 UTC 3.122
show description

ECO351M-W Current Issues in Business Economics  

Professor Sanford Marble

University of Texas at Austin

Spring 2010

Professor contact:                                                                                               TA:   Chacko George

Office hours:  12-2pm Tues. & 10:30-1pm Thurs.                       Office hours & contacts TBA

Office: BRB 3.158                                                                          

Phone: (512) 475-9351                                                               

marble@eco.utexas.edu                                                    

                                                                                               

This is an upper division course in applied economics with a major writing component. The two objectives in the course are to bring economic theory and actual business practices together and to develop strong writing skills. The economic focus is on the strategies that economic theory can offer business managers for creating sustainable advantages in competitive markets. Sustainable competitive advantages are a natural topic, since profitable advantages often have brief life spans in competitive markets. The text presents a range of applications of economic theory to business problems. The assigned readings in the text are roughly complementary to the set of cases in the course pack, which present actual practical business decision-making situations in a range of industries. Some examples of the topics covered are strategies for product & service differentiation, dealing with rapidly changing markets, pricing plans, competitive innovation, and risk measurement and management. The readings will cover eleven topic areas over the semester.

 

The writing requirements part of the course is addressed in several ways. In nine of the topic areas a “focus question” about the associated business case or other reading provides the basis for a short (two-page) ‘case write-up’. These short papers are organized responses to the focus questions, using concepts we have developed in the course. Students should plan on writing and turning in at least six of these case write-ups over the semester. There is also a course paper, essentially a business case study. Each course paper – and a class presentation of its findings – is to be the joint product of a group of three or four students.  Class meetings will consist of a mixture of lecture and discussion of the economic material in the text and discussions of the case readings. There will be some readings in addition to the text and case histories, in the form of newspaper articles or short readings from books (these will be handed out in class.) The course schedule in the syllabus indicates when the readings will be covered in the course and gives due dates for the case write-ups, a midterm, and the course paper.

 

Text: Competitive Solutions: The Strategist's Toolkit, by R. Preston McAfee, Princeton University Press, 2005. In addition to this text you must purchase a course packet, which includes most of the readings beyond the text. Both the book and the packet are available at the University Coop.

Your grade will be based on five components: 1) the average of the best six grades on your two-page case write-ups (35%), 2) your course paper (30%), 3) a midterm (15%), 4) the presentation your group makes to the class on your paper (10%, to be graded by your peers in the class), and 5) class participation (10%). There is more detail on student assessment later in this syllabus.

 

Course Topics

 

Topic 1: Competition
Major Goal: Introduces Porter’s ‘Five Forces’ analysis of competitive strategies and adds the element of complements.
Readings: “How to Keep Profit from Eroding”, Froeb and McCann (a handout);

McAfee, Chapter 2;
Porter, Michael, "What is Strategy?," Harvard Business Review, November 1996;

Case: Intel Corp.—1968-2003.

Case focus question: Why was Intel successful in the microprocessor business and unsuccessful in the DRAM business, which it invented?


Topic 2: Strategies-Differentiation
Major Goal: Introduce differentiation theory; integrate complements force with differentiation.

Readings: McAfee, Chapter 3 & 4;

Case: Matching Dell
Case focus question: Do you think Dell’s declining share of the PC market in 2006 and 2007 was due to the successful imitation of Dell’s business model by competitors or to other factors?  

Topic 3: Strategies-Positioning
Major Goal: Understanding product positioning as a source of advantage and understanding the product life cycle theory.
Readings: McAfee, Chapter 5; Varian on Network-based industries from Information Rules, a handout

Case: Airbus A3XX

Case focus question: What critical assumptions about the future of the airline industry did Airbus make in deciding to develop the A3XX? How were these assumptions different from those made by Boeing? How have these assumptions held up since Airbus’ development commitment was made?


Topic 4: Cooperation
Major Goal: Understanding the circumstances in which cooperation succeeds and when it will fail; along with means of establishing cooperation.
Readings: McAfee, Chapter 6;
Brandenberger and Nalebuff, "The Right Game: Use Game Theory to Shape Strategy," Harvard Business Review, 7-8/95, 57-71;

Case focus question: To be announced.


Topic 5: Pricing
Major Goal: Understanding of price discrimination, yield management, and how pricing strategy relates to cooperation.
Readings: McAfee, Chapter 11; Airline Industry reading – handout.

Case focus question: Has yield-management proved to be a sustainable pricing strategy in the airline industry? If not, why not; if so, then why?


Topic 6: Auctions
Major Goal: Understanding competitive auctions as a means of setting prices, learning from competitors, and interpreting behavior.
Readings: McAfee, Chapters 12; Varian on Auctions.
Case: Olympian Competition: Bidding for Olympic Television Rights

Case focus question: The broadcast rights for the Olympics have been auctioned off under many different auction rules. How much have the differences in the rules mattered in the short run and in the long run, in terms of the results of these auctions?

 

Topic 7: Business Model Evolution

Major Goal: Understanding the role that competition can play in the adaptation of businesses to technological change.

Readings: Outsourcing and Open-sourcing – handout, Information Rules, Varian –handout

Case: MySQL Open Source Database


Topic 8: Competitive Innovation
Major Goal: Understanding the challenges facing innovation in large companies and the characteristics of technological innovation.
Readings: Christiansen’s Innovators’ Dilemma/Innovators’ Solution - handout

Pharma Innovation, CBO – handout, Financial Industry innovation – handout

Case: Reverse Engineering Google’s Innovation Machine  

Case focus question: Please explain how Google uses technology to “engender strategic opportunity” and then give your supported opinion as to whether this story is about a truly sustainable model of business innovation or not.

 

Topic 9: Real Options
Major Goal: Understanding the role that option theory can play in strategic management.
Readings: Dixit and Pindyck, "Options Approach to Capital Investment," Harvard Business Review, May-June 1995;

Real Options Calculations – a handout
Case: Electronic Arts: The Blockbuster Strategy.

Case focus question: How well has Electronic Arts dealt with the main elements of a successful implementation of the ‘real-options’ approach to competitive management?

 

Topic 10: Risk
Major Goal: Understanding risk management: measures of risk, risk as opportunity, strategic elements of risk.
Readings: McAfee, Chapter 10;

“Defining Risk”, Glyn Holton; “Risk Intelligence, Learning to Manage What we Don’t Know”, D. Apgar - handouts

Case focus question: Traditionally we think of risk as having mostly negative implications for business. Please discuss the competitive advantages risk can offer to businesses.

 

Topic 11: Signaling & Bargaining

Readings: McAfee, Chapters 13 & 14

 

A schedule of these topics, the associated readings, and the hand-in dates for the papers and projects is on the following page.

 

Course Schedule 1.0: ECO351M-W Issues in Business Economics (33690) Spring 2010

Wk

Day

Date

Topic

Readings 

Short Writeups Due

Important Dates

1

W

1/20

1.Competition 

Ch 9, Froeb & McCann - handout

 

 

F

1/22

Ch 2, McAfee

 

 

2

M

1/25

2.Strategies-Differentiation

Ch 2, McAfee (cont)

Michael Porter, "What is Strategy?", HBR

 

 

W

1/27

Ch 3, McAfee

 

 

F

1/29

Harvard Case: "Intel Corp.--1968-2003"

Intel

 

3

M

2/1

Ch 4, McAfee (Location model)

 

 

W

2/3

 

 

F

2/5

Harvard Case:"Matching Dell(B):1998-03

Dell

 

4

M

2/8

3. Strategies - Positioning

Ch 5, McAfee (Product Life Cycle)

 

Project proposal due 2/8

W

2/10

Varian on Network economics - handout

 

F

2/12

Harvard Case: "Airbus A3XX…"

Airbus

 

5

M

W

F

2/15

2/17

2/19

4.Cooperation

Brandenburger & Nalebuff, "The Right Game.."

Ch. 6, McAfee

GameTheory – handout

 

 

 

 

Game Theory

 

6

M

2/22

5.Pricing

Ch 11, McAfee

Airline Industry reading – handout.

 

 

W

2/24

 

 

F

2/26

Yield question discussion

Yield

 

7

M

W

F

3/1

3/3

3/5

6. Auctions

Ch 12, McAfee

 

 

Auction

 

Varian on Auctions - handout

 

Stanford Case"Olympian Competition:Bidding.."

 

8

M

3/8

7. Business    Model Evolution

"Outsourcing, Open Sourcing…" – handout

 

First Draft of final project due on 3/12

W

3/10

Varian on pricing information – handout

 

F

3/12

Stanford Case: "MySQL Open Source…"

 

 

9

 

 

 

Spring Break

10

M

W

F

3/22

3/24

3/26

8. Competitive Innovation

The Innovator's Dilemma  - handout

 

 

Google

 

 

Innovator's Solution - handout

Harvard Case: "Reverse Engineering Google's…"

11

M

3/29

Innovation (…)

Pharma Innovation, CBO – handout,

 

 

W

3/31

Midterm

F

4/2

Innovation (…)

Financial Industry innovation – handout

 

 

12

M

W

F

4/5

4/7

4/9

9. Real Options

Dixit & Pindyck, "The Options Approach.."

“Real Options Calculations” - handout

Harvard Case: "Electronic Arts…" 

 

EA 

 

 

 

 

13

M

4/12

10. Risk

Defining Risk, Glyn Holton - handout

 

 

W

4/14

Intelligence…Apgar, p.7-64, 106-114

 

 

F

4/16

Apgar continued

Risk

 

14

M

W

F

4/19

4/21

4/23

 11. Signaling & Bargaining

Chapters 13 & 14 in McAfee

 

Final Projects due 4/21

 

 

15

M

4/26

                                           Student group presentations of final projects

W

4/28

                                           Student group presentations of final projects

F

4/30

      Student group presentations of final projects.

16

M

5/3

     Student group presentations of final projects

W

5/5

     Student group presentations of final projects

F

5/7

      Student group presentations of final projects.

 

 

Student Assessment

 

The final grade has five components:

 

Case Write-Ups

   35%

Final Paper

   30%

Midterms

   15%

Final Paper Presentation

   10%

Class Participation

   10%

 

The substantial writing component part of this course is satisfied by the Case Write-Ups and the Final Paper. The requirements for these and for the other components of the course grade are described below, along with additional guidelines for writing the course paper

Case Write-Ups

Each student will individually prepare at least 6 of the 9 possible case write-ups. These are a maximum of two type-written, double-spaced pages and answer a specific question about the case. They must be handed during the relevant class to count. You will be provided with writing feedback on these write-ups. Altogether these count for 35% of your grade. The case question for each case can be found on this syllabus. Note that your write-up should concern only the case question from the syllabus. The responsiveness of your write-up to the question is an element in the grading of these short papers.

Final Paper Presentations

  • The course paper can be written cooperatively, in groups of up to four students. Each group will manage a discussion of their paper.
  • Group members will usually receive the same grade for their presentation so that they can efficiently allocate their group resources (Note, however, that obvious free riding may result in a lower grade for an individual, depending on comments by the students who are evaluating a presentation.)
  • Non-group members (the rest of the class) receive participation assessment on the basis of their evaluations of the presentations. You will be asked to grade all the final paper presentations other than your own, confidentially.
  • We will allocate at least 40 minutes per paper.
  • The goal of the group should be to convince the class that their analysis and major conclusions are accurate and correct.
  • Class participants should approach presentations like cases.
  • Groups should start with a brief (e.g. 5 minutes) summary of the paper's major finding(s) and methods.
  • Groups face one major concern: sparking a discussion if one doesn't start automatically. This is often a concern for the best papers because they are sufficiently convincing that no one will have any issues to discuss. In this case, presenters are free to turn the tables and ask questions of the class -- run the discussion like a case and ask questions. For example, "we faced the following issue ... how would you go about resolving it?"
  • Everyone should be professional at all times: all criticism should be constructive.

Midterms (15%)

The midterm will focus on the main ideas from the readings that we’ve developed in class.


Final Paper Project

You will find a group (maximum four persons) and choose a topic early in the course with the objective of jointly preparing a paper on this topic. A first draft must be finished by the date listed on the schedule. The T.A. and professor will provide comments, criticisms and suggestions for further work, and you will prepare a substantially-revised final version of your paper. Submission dates are listed on the schedule and are not negotiable. The final project is an 8-10 page (either single-spaced or 1.5 spaced, 12 point font) analysis of a competitive situation or industry practice. The due date is on the syllabus. This is a hard deadline.

The final project accounts for 30% of your grade.
 
Instructions for Final Project

  • Maximum of four people per project
  • No extra credit for smaller groups.
  • A one-page proposal is due in the second week of class (see the schedule page.) This can be provided by email (Word or PDF format) or handed in during class.
  • An important aspect of business communication is the elimination of the extraneous. Supporting exhibits are not counted in the page total. Using a few well-chosen exhibits is a better strategy than many irrelevant exhibits. It is important to provide references for facts you rely on in the analysis.
  • The paper's focus should be on analysis, with industry description provided to support that analysis. A common mistake is too much description, too little analysis.
  • Do not choose a situation from a case reading from this or another class. Do not revise a paper you wrote for another course as a project without discussing it with me -- it would have to be a new paper to be approved.
  • This project is intended for you to perform hands-on strategic analysis. If you were handed a project to analyze a strategic situation by the CEO of your company, what would you hand back?
  • Paper must be handed in or emailed to me by 5PM on the deadline day, in either MS Word or PDF format.

Class Participation (10%)

Class participation counts for 10% of your grade. Participation means more than attendance, although obviously you aren't participating if you aren't in attendance. There are two basic areas of class participation. Attendance counts.  Also, each of you is responsible for the material in the readings. Students are encouraged to volunteer to join the discussion, but I may occasionally cold call, especially if no one volunteers. Quality of class participation is much more important than quantity. In asking questions or contribution to a discussion, do not be afraid to make mistakes when you have prepared for class. Everyone is well aware that, to come up with a good idea, it generally takes ten bad ideas. 

Secondly, the grades for the in-class presentations of final papers by each group are based on evaluations by the other students in the class. Thoughtful, organized evaluations will earn more points than simple pro forma comments.

   

The Honor Code

Students enrolled in this class are expected to adhere to the terms of the university's honor code.  One thing this means is that where individual and original work is required, as in the case write-ups, a student’s work must be his or her own.

Students may not discuss a case or receive notes on a case that has not yet been discussed in class with students who have taken the class previously (either in another section or in a prior year).

 


Suggestions & Notes on the Final Paper Project

You should choose a topic immediately. We are on a very tight time schedule.

All papers must be strategy papers. This means they have to be about firms. But there is a great deal of flexibility in the choice of topic.

  • First, choose an industry, based on interest in the industry. Examples of industries range from advertising to zoos, and include digital watches, private jets, diapers, over-the-counter cold and flu formulas, photographic film, automobiles, airlines, football, romance novels, dating services, banana production, or pre-stressed concrete, computer printers, pagers, business schools (UCSD is starting a business school), used cars sold over the web, movie theaters.
  • Having chosen the industry, you will need a question or issue on which to focus. Such questions could be broad (What strategies are most likely to sustain profitability?) or narrow (Should firm X build a new plant? Where?). Good questions encourage you to think strategically, and thus should include the likely responses of rival firms to any hypothetical actions. Plan to include your question in the topic proposal.
  • A different approach is to choose a story about the behavior of a firm from a newspaper or other source, and research this story. For example, the defense contractor Lockheed-Martin announced a friendly takeover of Northrop-Grumman, and then later dropped the plan after the Department of Justice filed an antitrust complaint. This story contains a dozen potential paper topics. How is the defense industry organized? Why did they want to merge? Why did the DOJ want to block the merger?

I strongly encourage you to choose a topic in which you are interested rather than one that looks easy. Topics that look easy can be treacherous and unpleasant if they are boring.

Tools and analysis

When you have collected a great deal of information and begun to rough out your topic, run through this list of tools and insure that either they are used well, or aren't relevant.

  • Industry analysis/five forces
    • This is relevant 99% of the time
    • entry barriers, rivalry usually, but not always, the most significant
  • Complements
  • Differentiation
    • Is one dimension enough?
  • Cooperation
  • Pricing and market segmentation
  • War of attrition, intense rivalry, market supporting at most one firm
  • First mover advantages and disadvantages
  • Organizational design and incentives
  • Product life cycle
  • Option value of investment, delay
  •  

Paper Writing Strategy

1. Collect Information

Once you have chosen a topic, you should go out and collect a lot of information. An obvious starting place is the web. Much of the information on the web, unfortunately, is unreliable; I would like you to attempt to verify anything you find there. There is a service available at the library called EconLit which will identify economics papers by topic. Many of the articles you find this way will be difficult to read due to their mathematical content.

The Journal of Economic Perspectives and Journal of Economic Literature generally do not have a great deal of mathematics. In addition, papers in the American Economic Review and the Journal of Political Economy tend to have extensive, readable introductions. Industrial organization journals include Rand Journal of Economics, Journal of Industrial Economics, International Journal of Industrial Organization, and Journal of Economics and Management Strategy. Unfortunately, IO journals tend to be very technical. Occasionally good, readable IO papers may be found in Economic Inquiry.

For any given industry, there are usually several books that describe the industry. In addition, it is useful to interview people who work in a relevant industry. Prior to interviewing, however, you should carefully think about what you wish to learn and write questions down, to be sure you learn what you need to learn.

Newspaper and magazine articles provide an important source of timely information -- become familiar with Lexis or other periodical search engines at the library.

2. Draw a Conclusion
This is probably the single hardest part of the job you face. After completing part 1, you are confronted with a huge mass of information. What will you write about?

The best strategy is to draw a conclusion--find a point to make in your paper. The main point of your paper is called a thesis. Such points might be:

  • The banana industry attempts to create brand names as a method of decreasing demand elasticity, with mixed success.
  • Free agency would destroy professional football.
  • The Department of Justice should lose its antitrust case against Microsoft.
  • Dry-cleaners can price discriminate against women because of imperfect information.
  • The hub-and-spoke airline routing system evolved to minimize transportation costs, but has produced significant market power for airlines.

Finding a thesis in a giant pile of information is often quite difficult. You can adopt some other author's thesis and attempt to support it with additional information. If you disagree with an author's thesis, you can choose the opposite thesis and attempt to prove that. If that doesn't produce a topic on which you wish to write, try putting your notes and materials away, and just write a stream-of-consciousness about what you have learned from your reading. Some of what is written this way will make no sense, but you may find "diamonds in the rough," nuggets of thought-provoking inspiration which will form the core of an argument.

3. Organize your facts
Once you have a thesis, cull through your information to select relevant information. Even in this electronic age, index cards remain a useful way of organizing facts. Some information may be useful as background toward understanding the question, as direct support of the thesis, as indirect support, or as contrary information. Do not throw away contrary information. The object is to be accurate, which means assessing all of the relevant information.

It will occasionally occur that the point you set out to make appears to be false, and that the evidence convinces you of the contrary view. This is fine; it requires revising your thesis, but it also means that you learned something significant.

4. Write
While electronics isn't much of a help to organization of materials, it is a massive help to writing. For most people, the best strategy is to write then repeatedly revise until the material flows smoothly, there are no extraneous asides, and the paper reads clearly. Cooperation also helps--if someone will read your paper and tell you what they found confusing, you know where to focus your efforts at revising. (A trade is a good way to arrange such external reading.)

Don't expect perfect prose, complete with salient quotations and proper grammar, to flow out in paragraph form. Ideas come in pieces and the evidence is scattered throughout your research materials. Get something written and then set about making it better.

5. Criteria for Evaluating the Paper
The following questions are designed to help you improve your draft.

A. Clarity

  • Are the thesis and argument stated clearly in the introduction? The introduction should tell the reader what you will accomplish with the paper.
  • Does the reader know what question you have set out to answer, and how you intend to answer it?
  • Throughout the paper, are the connections between ideas and evidence made clear?

B. Organization

  • How does each paragraph relate to and develop the argument?
  • Do ideas and evidence follow each other in a linear sequence?

C. Argument and Evidence

  • Is the argument supported by different types of evidence? Have you provided sources? facts
    • references to authorities
    • statistics
    • examples
    • quotes
    • summaries
  • How does your argument take into account specific arguments by experts on the topic?
  • How well are counter-arguments addressed? It is important that you include not just the evidence for your argument, but the evidence against it as well.

D. Documentation

  • Are a variety of sources used?
    • journal articles
    • contemporary scholarly books
    • newspaper articles
    • primary texts
    • interviews with people in relevant businesses
  • Are the size and form of quotes appropriate? Remember that quotes are generally used only in two circumstances.
    • Quotes are used when they express an idea extremely well. Otherwise you should paraphrase the source with a reference.
    • Quotes are used to be fair to someone whose opinion you oppose.
  • Are your sources authoritative and scholarly? A high school text, tourist guide or fictional novel will not generally produce the level of scholarship desired.

E. Quality of Writing

  • Are the style and tone of the paper appropriate?
  • Are transitions from idea to idea smooth and easy to follow?
  • Check spelling and grammar.
  • Does the paper have a logical structure?
    • The desired structure has the form "introduction, argument, conclusion."
    • The introduction sets out the issues, provides motivation and background, and provides an overview of the paper.
    • The middle section, which is the longest and may need to be divided into several sections, makes your point.
    • The conclusion sums up, and perhaps handles some of the potential criticisms.
    • When possible, make the paper flow linearly, so that each paragraph starts where the previous paragraph stops.

F. Insight and Interest

  • Do you show that the subject is worth thinking about? Is the paper properly motivated?
  • Does your paper keep the reader's interest? (If possible, get a friend to read your paper, and ask the friend to identify parts that are confusing, boring, tedious, or poorly written.)
  • Does the paper fit into a strategy course?
  • Does it use strategic theory to help the reader understand the facts?
  • Does it use facts from an industry to help us understand how firms compete?
  •  

 

Finally, here are some books that belong on the strategist's bookshelf:

  • Besanko, Dranove, and Shanley, Economics of Strategy, Wiley, 2000.
  • Brandenberger and Nalebuff, Co-Optition, Doubleday, 1997.
  • Dixit and Nalebuff, Thinking Strategically, Norton, 1991.
  • McMillan, Games, Strategy and Managers,
  • Milgrom and Roberts, Economics, Organization and Management,
  • Porter, Competitive Strategy, Free Press, 1980.
  • Porter, Competitive Advantage, Free Press, 1985.
  • Saloner, Shepard and Podolny, Strategic Management,
  • Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict, 1960.
  • Varian and Shapiro, Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy, Harvard, 1998

ECO 359M • Envir & Natural Resource Eco-W

33710 • Spring 2010
Meets MWF 300pm-400pm UTC 3.132
show description

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics - ECO359MW

Professor Sanford Marble

University of Texas at Austin

Spring 2010

 

 

Instructor:             Office: 3.158 BRB (Economics Bldg)

                                Office hours: 12–2pm Tues., 10:30-1pm Wed., and by appointment

                                512-475-9351

                                marble@eco.utexas.edu

                               

 

TA:                          Noah Kaufman

                                To be announced.

                                 

 

 

Course Description

 

 

This is an upper-division course in applied economics with a major writing component. The ‘writing component’ means there is a learning focus on writing competence in addition to the economic ideas covered in the course.

 

Our development of the important ideas in the area of environmental and natural resource economics will be based on a set of course readings in the UT electronic reserves system. A few additional readings may be handed out in class. These readings should help you develop a practical economic understanding of the social issues that are associated with our use of environmental resources, including the role of natural resources in economic growth. The writing component part of the course has two elements. First, it involves writing six short papers (2 pages maximum) based on specific questions about the reading material. These short papers are meant to provide writing practice against a set of criteria such as writing clarity and focus, credibility/value-added by research, etc. The nine weekly due dates provide more short paper writing opportunities than the six required papers. You can decide which six questions/topics you would prefer to work on.  Secondly, there is a longer course paper requirement. The course paper should be about 10 pages long, plus supporting material. This longer paper, which must be written as a group effort (in groups of  3 or 4), will go through a draft and comment process in which project topics are chosen early, presented to the instructor and TA for comments, and then developed through a draft version to the final paper. The draft and comment process for the course paper has several due dates (a two-page proposal and a first draft) but it is open in the sense that you can discuss your paper with the TA or the Instructor at any point in the course. The short midterm exam is an in-class exam, worth 15% of the course grade. It will consist of approx. four questions requiring written answers, based on our in-class coverage of the readings.

 

Note that, since there is no text, the readings are important. They are the basis of class discussion, the short paper topic questions, and the midterm questions. While most of them are available on the E-reserves site for the class and some will be handed out in class, you can probably also find most of them on your own through the UT library system if you need to.  

 

Please refer to the course “writing schedule” and the course reading list for the due dates on the short papers, for the short paper focus questions, and for the course paper due dates.

                .


Student Assessment

 

The final grade has five components:

 

Short Question Write-Ups

   35%

Final Paper

   30%

Midterm

15%

Final Paper Presentation

   10%

Class Participation

   10%

 

The writing component part of the course is fulfilled by the short Question Write-Ups and the Final Paper. The requirements for these and for the other components of the course grade are described below, along with guidelines for writing the course paper

Question Write-Ups (35%)

Each student will individually prepare 6 of nine possible question write-ups. These are short papers, with a maximum of two type-written, double-spaced pages, which address a specific question related to the readings. They must be handed in at the beginning of the relevant class to count (usually on Thursdays.) You will be provided with writing feedback on these write-ups. These count for 35% of your grade. The focus question for each short write-up can be found in the writing schedule for the course. Note that the each short write-up should concern only the question from the writing schedule.  

Final Paper Project (30%)

You will find a group (maximum four persons) and choose a topic early in the course with the objective of preparing an 8-10 page paper on this topic. A topic proposal, a first draft of the paper, and the final paper must be submitted by the dates listed on the schedule, which are not negotiable. At each stage of this writing process, your T.A. and professor will provide comments, criticisms and suggestions on your work. The final project is an 8-10 page (either single-spaced or 1.5 spaced, 12 point font) economic analysis of an environmental or natural resource issue. (Supporting materials such as graphs, tables, maps do not count in this 8-10 page requirement, they should be provided in an appendix.) The due date is on the syllabus. This is a hard deadline. Some instructions for the Final Project:

  • Maximum of four people per project
  • No extra credit for a smaller group.
  • A two-page proposal is due in the third week of class (see the schedule page.) This can be provided by email (Word or PDF format) or handed in during class.
  • An important aspect of any communication is the elimination of the extraneous. Supporting exhibits are not counted in the page total for the final paper. Keep in mind that using a few well-chosen exhibits is a better strategy than many irrelevant exhibits. It is important to provide references for facts you rely on in the analysis.
  • Do not revise a paper you wrote for another course as a project without discussing it with me -- it would have to be a new paper to be approved.
  • This project is intended for you to perform hands-on economic analysis. If you were handed the project of analyzing an environmental or natural resource problem by the CEO of your company, what would you hand back?
  • Paper must be handed in or emailed to me by 5PM on the deadline day, in either MS Word or PDF format.

Midterm (15%)

The midterm will focus on the main ideas we’ve developed in class up to the time of the midterm.

Final Paper Presentations (10%)

  • The course paper is to be written cooperatively, in groups of up three or four students. Each group will then manage a joint presentation and class discussion of their paper at the end of the semester.
  • Group members receive the same grade for their presentation. This can be thought of as an exercise in efficiently allocating your group resources.
  • Non-group members (the rest of the class) continue to receive participation assessment. Everyone is expected to prepare for every discussion.
  • At least 37 minutes per paper.
  • The goal of the group should be to convince the class that their analysis and major conclusions are accurate and correct.
  • Groups should start with a brief (e.g. 5 minutes) summary of the paper's major finding(s) and methods.
  • Groups face one major concern: sparking a discussion if one doesn't start automatically. This is often a concern for the best papers because they are sufficiently convincing that no one will have any issues to discuss. In this case, presenters are free to turn the tables and ask questions of the class -- run the discussion like a case and ask questions. For example, "we faced the following issue ... how would you go about resolving it?"
  • Everyone should be professional at all times: all criticism should be constructive.
  • You will be asked to confidentially grade all the final paper presentations other than your own.

Class Participation (10%)

Class participation counts for 10% of your grade. Participation means more than attendance, although obviously you aren't participating if you aren't in attendance. There are two basic areas of class participation. Attendance counts.  Also, each of you is responsible for the material in the readings. Students are encouraged to volunteer to join the discussion, but I may occasionally cold call, especially if no one volunteers. Quality of class participation is much more important than quantity. In asking questions or contribution to a discussion, do not be afraid to make mistakes when you have prepared for class. Everyone is well aware that, to come up with a good idea, it generally takes ten bad ideas. 

Secondly, the grades for the in-class presentations of final papers by each group are based on evaluations by the other students in the class. Thoughtful, organized evaluations will earn more points than simple proforma comments.

 

The Honor Code

Students enrolled in this class are expected to adhere to the terms of the university's honor code.  One thing this means is that where individual and original work is required, as in the question write-ups, a student’s work must be his or her own.

Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities should feel free to request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 471-6259.
Suggestions & Notes on the Final Paper Project

You should choose a topic immediately. We are on a very tight time schedule with no room for slippage.

All papers must concern environmental or natural resource issues, but there is a great deal of flexibility in the choice of topic. I strongly encourage you to choose a topic in which you are interested rather than one that looks easy. Topics that look easy can be treacherous and unpleasant if they are boring.

Paper Writing Strategy

1. Collect Information
Once you have chosen a topic, you should go out and collect a lot of information. An obvious starting place is the web. Much of the information on the web, unfortunately, is unreliable; I would like you to attempt to verify anything you find there. There is a service available at the library called EconLit which will identify economics papers by topic. Many of the articles you find this way will be difficult to read due to their mathematical content.

The Journal of Economic Perspectives and Journal of Economic Literature generally do not have a great deal of mathematics. In addition, papers in the American Economic Review and the Journal of Political Economy tend to have extensive, readable introductions.


You may be able to find discussions of particular issues in texts on environmental and natural resource economics and there are often many books on a given topic in this area. In addition, it is useful to interview people who work in a relevant industry. Prior to interviewing, however, you should carefully think about what you wish to learn and write questions down, to be sure you learn what you need to learn.

Newspaper and magazine articles provide an important source of timely information -- become familiar with Lexis or other periodical search engines at the library.

2. Draw a Conclusion
This is probably the single hardest part of the job you face. After completing part 1, you are confronted with a huge mass of information. What will you write about?

The best strategy is to draw a conclusion--find a point to make in your paper. The main point of your paper is called a thesis. Such points might be:

  • The petroleum strategic reserve should be increased since the price of oil is only going to rise in the near future.
  • Current policies of agricultural support in the United States and Europe are simply modern incarnations of the Corn Laws and should be abandoned. 
  • Economic efficiency would be increased if all barriers to inter-basin transfers of water in the United States were dropped.

Finding a thesis in a giant pile of information is often quite difficult. You can adopt some other author's thesis and attempt to support it with additional information. If you disagree with an author's thesis, you can choose the opposite thesis and attempt to prove that. If that doesn't produce a topic on which you wish to write, try putting your notes and materials away, and just write a stream-of-consciousness about what you have learned from your reading. Some of what is written this way will make no sense, but you may find "diamonds in the rough," nuggets of thought-provoking inspiration which will form the core of an argument.

3. Organize your facts
Once you have a thesis, cull through your information to select relevant information. Even in this electronic age, index cards remain a useful way of organizing facts. Some information may be useful as background toward understanding the question, as direct support of the thesis, as indirect support, or as contrary information. Do not throw away contrary information. The object is to be accurate, which means assessing all of the relevant information.

It will occasionally occur that the point you set out to make appears to be false, and that the evidence convinces you of the contrary view. This is fine; it requires revising your thesis, but it also means that you learned something significant.

4. Write
While electronics isn't much of a help to organization of materials, it is a massive help to writing. For most people, the best strategy is to write then repeatedly revise until the material flows smoothly, there are no extraneous asides, and the paper reads clearly. Cooperation also helps--if someone will read your paper and tell you what they found confusing, you know where to focus your efforts at revising. (A trade is a good way to arrange such external reading.)

Don't expect perfect prose, complete with salient quotations and proper grammar, to flow out in paragraph form. Ideas come in pieces and the evidence is scattered throughout your research materials. Get something written and then set about making it better.

5. Criteria for Evaluating the Paper
The following questions are designed to help you improve your draft. They may also help you in your evaluations of the presentations of other groups.

A. Clarity

  • Are the thesis and argument stated clearly in the introduction? The introduction should tell the reader what you will accomplish with the paper.
  • Does the reader know what question you have set out to answer, and how you intend to answer it?
  • Throughout the paper, are the connections between ideas and evidence made clear?

B. Organization

  • How does each paragraph relate to and develop the argument?
  • Do ideas and evidence follow each other in a linear sequence?

 

C. Argument and Evidence

  • Is the argument supported by different types of evidence? Have you provided sources? facts
    • references to authorities
    • statistics
    • examples
    • quotes
    • summaries
  • How does your argument take into account specific arguments by experts on the topic?
  • How well are counter-arguments addressed? It is important that you include not just the evidence for your argument, but the evidence against it as well.

D. Documentation

  • Are a variety of sources used?
    • journal articles
    • contemporary scholarly books
    • newspaper articles
    • primary texts
    • interviews with people in relevant businesses
  • Are the size and form of quotes appropriate? Remember that quotes are generally used only in two circumstances.
    • Quotes are used when they express an idea extremely well. Otherwise you should paraphrase the source with a reference.
    • Quotes are used to be fair to someone whose opinion you oppose.
  • Are your sources authoritative and scholarly? A high school text, tourist guide or fictional novel will not generally produce the level of scholarship desired.

E. Quality of Writing

  • Are the style and tone of the paper appropriate?
  • Are transitions from idea to idea smooth and easy to follow?
  • Check spelling and grammar.
  • Does the paper have a logical structure?
    • The desired structure has the form "introduction, argument, conclusion."
    • The introduction sets out the issues, provides motivation and background, and provides an overview of the paper.
    • The middle section, which is the longest and may need to be divided into several sections, makes your point.
    • The conclusion sums up, and perhaps handles some of the potential criticisms.
    • When possible, make the paper flow linearly, so that each paragraph starts where the previous paragraph stops.

F. Insight and Interest

  • Do you show that the subject is worth thinking about? Is the paper properly motivated?
  • Does your paper keep the reader's interest? (If possible, get a friend to read your paper, and ask the friend to identify parts that are confusing, boring, tedious, or poorly written.)
  • Does it use economic theory to help the reader understand the facts?

ECO 351K • Curr Issues In Business Eco-W

33855 • Fall 2009
Meets MWF 1000-1100 UTC 3.124
show description

 

ECO351KW, Unique # 33855

Current Issues in Business Economics: Changing Competitive Environments

Instructor: Sanford Marble, PhD.

University of Texas at Austin

Fall 2009

 

 

Instructor: Office: 3.158 BRB (Economics Bldg)

                     Office hours: Tuesdays 9am-11am  & Wednesdays 12-2pm, and by appointment

                     512-475-9351

                     marble@eco.utexas.edu

 

 

TA:               tba

                     Office: BRB  

                     Office hours:                                                  

                     @mail.utexas.edu

 

Course Description

 

 

This is an upper-division course in applied economics with a major writing component. The 'writing component' means there is a learning focus on writing competence in addition to the economic ideas covered in the course.

 

The economic focus in the course is on changing competitive environments within major industries in the United States (and elsewhere). We want to develop understandings of the important forces of change in competitive business environments and what such changes mean for our economy. Our basic reference text is The Structure of American Industry, a set of studies of some major industries in the U.S. economy.  This text will be supplemented by material (available on an Electronic reserves site for the course) covering related topics such as alternative approaches to competitive analysis and theoretical points and industries not discussed in the text.

 

The writing component of the course has two elements. First, it involves writing six short papers (2 pages max.) based on specific questions about the reading material. These short papers are meant to provide writing practice against a set of criteria such as writing clarity and focus, credibility/value-added by research, etc. The ten  weekly due dates provide more short paper writing opportunities than the six required papers. You can decide which six questions/topics you would prefer to work on.  Secondly, there is a longer course paper requirement. The course paper should be about 10 pages long, plus supporting material. This longer paper, which must be written as a group effort (in groups of  3 or 4), will go through a draft and comment process in which project topics are chosen early, presented to the instructor and TA for comments, and then developed through a draft version to the final paper. The draft and comment process for the course paper has several due dates (an initial topic proposal and a first draft) but it is open in the sense that you can discuss your paper with the TA or the Instructor at any point in the course. The short midterm exam is an in-class exam, worth 15% of the course grade. It will consist of approx. four questions requiring written answers, based on our in-class coverage of the readings. See the course schedule on the following pages for the due dates for the short write-ups and the course project, for the reading schedule, and for the dates for the midterm exam and the in-class presentations.

 

Required Text: The Structure of American Industry, 12th Edition (2009), by James Brock

 

This text and the readings will be the basis of class discussion and of the short paper topic questions. Readings beyond the Brock book will be available on the E-reserves site for the class. Some may be handed out in class. Please refer to the course "writing schedule" and the course reading list for the due dates on the short papers, for the short paper focus questions, and for the course paper due dates.

.

The prerequisites for the course are upper-division standing and completion of ECO420K with a grade of at least C.

 

Course Schedule 1.0 for ECO351KW (33855) Fall 2009

"Changing competitive environments"

 

Wk

Day

Date

Topic

Readings

Short Write-ups Due

Other

Dates

1

W

8/26

 

  • Syllabus, Introductory material

 

 

F

8/28

  • The Automobile Industry, Ch. 6 in Brock, J., The Structure of American Industry

 

 

2

M

8/31

1. The Automobile Industry, The S-C-P model, & Porter's competitive  forces

  • Structure-Conduct-Performance Model - Auto industry
  • "Industrial Organization and the evolution of concepts...", Porter, M., p. 176-178, Managerial & Decision Economics,

 

 

W

9/2

  • "The Structural Analysis of Industries", Porter, M., from Competitive Strategies, 1980

 

 

F

9/4

  • Discuss write-up #1: Please describe what you consider to be the two most important 'elements of industry structure' that you found in your review of the Brock text and other sources. Be sure to provide your overall list of these elements as an attachment to your short paper.

1. Elements of industry analysis 9/4

 

3

M

9/7

Labor Day Holiday 9/7

W

 

 

 

 

F

9/9

 

 

 

 

9/11

2. Imperfect Competition & the auto industry again.

  • "Natural Monopolies", Varian, H., p. 435-439, Intermediate Microeconomics, 2006
  • "Models of Imperfect Competition", Nicholson, W., p.415-423 and p.434 (contestability), in Microeconomic Theory
  • Conybeare, J., Merging Traffic, The Consolidation of the International Automobile Industry, 2004,p.1-22 & 133-143
  • Discuss write-up #2: Of the forces we have discussed that affect competitive outcomes in an industry, which ones have played the greatest roles, in your opinion, in the history of the U.S. automotive industry? Please support your opinion.

 

 

2. Auto industry

9/11

 

4

M

 

W

 

F

9/14

 

9/16

 

9/18

3. Steel industry

  • Scherer, "Steel", in Industry, Structure, Strategy and Public Policy, 1996, selected pages (see E-reserves)
  • Discuss write-up #3: Do you think new production technologies are the most important challenges facing leading national steel industries in the global steel industry today?

3.

Global steel industry 9/18

Project proposals

due 9/18

5

M

 

W

 

F

9/21

 

9/23

 

9/25

4. Electricity industry

  • "The Electricity Industry", Ch 3 in Brock, J., The Structure of American Industry
  • Reading on "Peak-capacity pricing"
  • Discuss write-up #4: Please carefully explain why you would agree or disagree that the deregulation or privatization of the electricity industry has provided major economic benefits to society.

 

 

 

 

4. Electricity industry 9/25

 

6

M

 

W

 

F

9/28

 

9/30

 

10/2

5. Information Industries

  • "Network industry economics", from Information Rules, by

 H. Varian, pages 173-184 & 225

  • "Pricing", from Information Rules, Varian, pages 18-27
  • Write-up question #5: Do you think the differences between the pricing issues Varian describes for information goods and those we looked at for 'peak capacity pricing' in the electricity industry will lead to important differences in the competitive environments in these two industries?

 

5. Information Industry 10/2

 

 

               

 

 

 

 

 

7

M

 

W

 

F

 10/5

 

10/7

 

10/9

 

 

6. Music Recording industry

  • "The Music Recording Industry", Chapter 7 in James Brock, The Structure of American Industry, 12th Ed.
  • Discuss write-up #6: Why has the level of concentration in the global music recording industry increased since the late 1980's despite the development of new, low-cost recording, production and distribution technologies? Will this concentration continue?

6. Music recording industry 10/9

 

 

8

M

W

F

10/12

10/14

10/16

7. Internet Services Industry

  • Internet service industry readings (on E-reserves)
  • Discuss write-up # 7: Which elements of the structure of the internet services industry do you think are currently having the greatest impact on the competitive development of this industry?

7.

Internet

services

10/16

First

Draft of

Project

Due

10/16

 

9

M

 

 

W

 

 

F

10/19

 

 

10/21

 

 

10/23

8. Petroleum Industry

  • The Petroleum Industry, Ch. 2 in Brock, J. The Structure of American Industry
  • "Exhaustible Resources: the Theory of Optimal Depletion", Resource & Environmental Economics, A. Fisher, p. 10-19
  • On the Hotelling rule, p89-93, from Tietenberg, T., Env. & Nat. Res. Economics, 2003
  • Discuss write-up # 8: How well does the actual history of oil prices match the theoretical prediction for the prices over time of a fixed natural resource in the Hotelling rule? If oil prices do not seem to have followed this rule, why do you think they have not?

8. Oil Industry 10/23

 

 

10

M

10/26

Midterm Exam 10/26

 

W

 

 

F

10/28

 

 

10/30

9.  Semi-

conductor Industry

  • "Semiconductors", Industry, Structure, Strategy, and Public Policy, by F.M. Scherer
  • "Strategy and Circumstance: The Response of American Firms to Japanese competition in Semiconductors, 1980-1995", R. Langlois & E. Steinmueller, in Strategic Management Journal, see esp from page 1168
  • Write-up question #9: What were the major reasons for the resurgence of the U.S. semiconductor Industry after 1988?

9. Semi

Conduct..

due 10/30

 

 

 

 

11

M

W

F

11/2

11/4

11/6

10. Solar Energy Industry

  • Chapter 5, Solar Revolution.., by Travis Bradford
  • "An Experience Curve-Based Model for the Projection of PV Module Costs...", Handleman, Heliotronics Corp.
  • Chapter 7 in Solar Revolution..., Bradford

 

 

 

 

 

12

M

 

W

 

F

11/9

 

11/11

 

11/13

11. College Sports Industry

  • "The College Sports Industry", Chapter 13, The Structure of American Industry 12th Edition, 2009, Brock, p. 360-388
  • Write-up question #10: Please explain why you agree or disagree that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision against the NCAA's Television Plan in 1984 was the beginning of the end for the NCAA's cartel structure.

10. College Sports Industry 11/13

 

 

13

M

W

F

11/16

11/18

11/20

12. Pharma  Industry

  • "Changing Structure of the Pharmaceutical Industry", Ian Cockburn (on E-reserves)
  • R&D in the Pharmaceutical Industry, Congressional Budget Office (on E-reserves)

 

 

Final

Project

Due

11/23

14

M

11/23

First group presentations on Monday, 11/23/2009

W

11/25

Student group presentations of final projects.

F

11/27

Thanksgiving Holiday 11/27

 

15

M

11/30

 Student group presentation of final projects.

W

12/2

 Student group presentation of final projects.

F

12/4

 Student group presentation of final projects.

 


Student Assessment

 

The final grade has five components:

 

Short Question Write-Ups

   35%

Final Paper

   30%

Midterm

15%

Final Paper Presentation

   10%

Class Participation

   10%

 

The writing component part of the course is fulfilled by the short Question Write-Ups and the Final Paper. The requirements for these and for the other components of the course grade are described below, along with guidelines for writing the course paper.  Final grades in the course will be assigned on a plus/minus basis.

Question Write-Ups (35%)

Each student will individually prepare 6 of nine possible question write-ups. These are short papers, with a maximum of two type-written, double-spaced pages, which address a specific question related to the readings. They must be handed in at the beginning of the relevant class to count (usually on Thursdays.) You will be provided with writing feedback on these write-ups. These count for 35% of your grade. The focus question for each short write-up can be found in the writing schedule for the course. Note that the each short write-up should concern only the question from the writing schedule.

Final Paper Project (30%)

You will find a group (maximum four persons) and choose a topic early in the course with the objective of preparing an 8-10 page paper on this topic. A topic proposal, a first draft of the paper, and the final paper must be submitted by the dates listed on the schedule, which are not negotiable. At each stage of this writing process, your T.A. and professor will provide comments, criticisms and suggestions on your work. The final project is an 8-10 page (either single-spaced or 1.5 spaced, 12 point font) economic analysis of an environmental or natural resource issue. (Supporting materials such as graphs, tables, maps do not count in this 8-10 page requirement, they should be provided in an appendix.) The due date is on the syllabus. This is a hard deadline. Some instructions for the Final Project:

  • Maximum of four people per project
  • No extra credit for a smaller group.
  • A two-page proposal is due in the third week of class (see the schedule page.) This can be provided by email (Word or PDF format) or handed in during class.
  • An important aspect of any communication is the elimination of the extraneous. Supporting exhibits are not counted in the page total for the final paper. Keep in mind that using a few well-chosen exhibits is a better strategy than many irrelevant exhibits. It is important to provide references for facts you rely on in the analysis.
  • Do not revise a paper you wrote for another course as a project without discussing it with me -- it would have to be a new paper to be approved.
  • This project is intended for you to perform hands-on economic analysis. If you were handed the project of analyzing an environmental or natural resource problem by the CEO of your company, what would you hand back?
  • Paper must be handed in or emailed to me by 5PM on the deadline day, in either MS Word or PDF format.

Midterm (15%)

The midterm will focus on the main ideas from the readings that we have developed in class.

Final Paper Presentations (10%)

  • The course paper is to be written cooperatively, in groups of up three or four students. Each group will then manage a joint presentation and class discussion of their paper at the end of the semester.
  • Group members receive the same grade for their presentation. This can be thought of as an exercise in efficiently allocating your group resources.
  • Non-group members (the rest of the class) continue to receive participation assessment. Everyone is expected to prepare for every discussion.
  • At least 37 minutes per paper.
  • The goal of the group should be to convince the class that their analysis and major conclusions are accurate and correct.
  • Groups should start with a brief (e.g. 5 minutes) summary of the paper's major finding(s) and methods.
  • Groups face one major concern: sparking a discussion if one doesn't start automatically. Presenters are free to turn the tables and ask questions of the class -- run the discussion like a case and ask questions. For example, "we faced the following issue ... how would you go about resolving it?"
  • Everyone should be professional at all times: all criticism should be constructive.
  • You will be asked to confidentially grade all the final paper presentations other than your own.

Class Participation (10%)

Class participation counts for 10% of your grade. Participation means more than attendance, although obviously you aren't participating if you aren't in attendance. There are two basic areas of class participation. Besides attendance, each of you  is responsible for the material in the readings. Students are encouraged to volunteer to join the discussion, but I may occasionally cold call, especially if no one volunteers. Quality of class participation is much more important than quantity. In asking questions or contribution to a discussion, do not be afraid to make mistakes when you have prepared for class. Everyone is well aware that, to come up with a good idea, it generally takes ten bad ideas. 

Secondly, the grades for the in-class presentations of final papers by each group are based on evaluations by the other students in the class. Thoughtful, organized evaluations will earn more points than simple pro forma comments.   

The Honor Code

Students enrolled in this class are expected to adhere to the terms of the university's honor code.  One thing this means is that where individual and original work is required, as in the question write-ups, a student's work must be his or her own.

Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities should feel free to request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 471-6259.

Suggestions & Notes on the Final Paper Project

You should choose a topic immediately. We are on a very tight time schedule with no room for slippage.

All papers must concern issues related to the course, but there is a great deal of flexibility in the choice of topic. I strongly encourage you to choose a topic in which you are interested rather than one that looks easy. Topics that look easy can be treacherous and unpleasant if they are boring.

Paper Writing Strategy

1. Collect Information
Once you have chosen a topic, you should go out and collect a lot of information. An obvious starting place is the web. Much of the information on the web, unfortunately, is unreliable; I would like you to attempt to verify anything you find there. There is a service available at the library called EconLit which will identify economics papers by topic. Many of the articles you find this way will be difficult to read due to their mathematical content.

The Journal of Economic Perspectives and Journal of Economic Literature generally do not have a great deal of mathematics. In addition, papers in the American Economic Review and the Journal of Political Economy tend to have extensive, readable introductions.


You may be able to find discussions of particular issues in texts on environmental and natural resource economics and there are often many books on a given topic in this area. In addition, it is useful to interview people who work in a relevant industry. Prior to interviewing, however, you should carefully think about what you wish to learn and write questions down, to be sure you learn what you need to learn.

Newspaper and magazine articles provide an important source of timely information -- become familiar with Lexis or other periodical search engines at the library.

2. Draw a Conclusion
This is probably the single hardest part of the job you face. After completing part 1, you are confronted with a huge mass of information. What will you write about?

The best strategy is to draw a conclusion--find a point to make in your paper. The main point of your paper is called a thesis. Such points might be:

  • The petroleum strategic reserve should be increased since the price of oil is only going to rise in the near future.
  • Current policies of agricultural support in the United States and Europe are simply modern incarnations of the Corn Laws and should be abandoned. 
  • Economic efficiency would be increased if all barriers to inter-basin transfers of water in the United States were dropped.

Finding a thesis in a giant pile of information is often quite difficult. You can adopt some other author's thesis and attempt to support it with additional information. If you disagree with an author's thesis, you can choose the opposite thesis and attempt to prove that. If that doesn't produce a topic on which you wish to write, try putting your notes and materials away, and just write a stream-of-consciousness about what you have learned from your reading. Some of what is written this way will make no sense, but you may find "diamonds in the rough," nuggets of thought-provoking inspiration which will form the core of an argument.

3. Organize your facts
Once you have a thesis, cull through your information to select relevant information. Even in this electronic age, index cards remain a useful way of organizing facts. Some information may be useful as background toward understanding the question, as direct support of the thesis, as indirect support, or as contrary information. Do not throw away contrary information. The object is to be accurate, which means assessing all of the relevant information.

It will occasionally occur that the point you set out to make appears to be false, and that the evidence convinces you of the contrary view. This is fine; it requires revising your thesis, but it also means that you learned something significant.

4. Write
While electronics isn't much of a help to organization of materials, it is a massive help to writing. For most people, the best strategy is to write then repeatedly revise until the material flows smoothly, there are no extraneous asides, and the paper reads clearly. Cooperation also helps--if someone will read your paper and tell you what they found confusing, you know where to focus your efforts at revising. (A trade is a good way to arrange such external reading.)

Don't expect perfect prose, complete with salient quotations and proper grammar, to flow out in paragraph form. Ideas come in pieces and the evidence is scattered throughout your research materials. Get something written and then set about making it better.

5. Criteria for Evaluating the Paper
The following questions are designed to help you improve your draft. They may also help you in your evaluations of the presentations of other groups.

A. Clarity

  • Are the thesis and argument stated clearly in the introduction? The introduction should tell the reader what you will accomplish with the paper.
  • Does the reader know what question you have set out to answer, and how you intend to answer it?
  • Throughout the paper, are the connections between ideas and evidence made clear?

B. Organization

  • How does each paragraph relate to and develop the argument?
  • Do ideas and evidence follow each other in a linear sequence?

 C. Argument and Evidence

  • Is the argument supported by different types of evidence? Have you provided sources? facts
    • references to authorities
    • statistics
    • examples
    • quotes
    • summaries
  • How does your argument take into account specific arguments by experts on the topic?
  • How well are counter-arguments addressed? It is important that you include not just the evidence for your argument, but the evidence against it as well.

D. Documentation

  • Are a variety of sources used?
    • journal articles
    • contemporary scholarly books
    • newspaper articles
    • primary texts
    • interviews with people in relevant businesses
  • Are the size and form of quotes appropriate? Remember that quotes are generally used only in two circumstances.
    • Quotes are used when they express an idea extremely well. Otherwise you should paraphrase the source with a reference.
    • Quotes are used to be fair to someone whose opinion you oppose.
  • Are your sources authoritative and scholarly? A high school text, tourist guide or fictional novel will not generally produce the level of scholarship desired.

E. Quality of Writing

  • Are the style and tone of the paper appropriate?
  • Are transitions from idea to idea smooth and easy to follow?
  • Check spelling and grammar.
  • Does the paper have a logical structure?
    • The desired structure has the form "introduction, argument, conclusion."
    • The introduction sets out the issues, provides motivation and background, and provides an overview of the paper.
    • The middle section, which is the longest and may need to be divided into several sections, makes your point.
    • The conclusion sums up, and perhaps handles some of the potential criticisms.
    • When possible, make the paper flow linearly, so that each paragraph starts where the previous paragraph stops.

F. Insight and Interest

  • Do you show that the subject is worth thinking about? Is the paper properly motivated?
  • Does your paper keep the reader's interest? (If possible, get a friend to read your paper, and ask the friend to identify parts that are confusing, boring, tedious, or poorly written.)
  • Does it use economic theory to help the reader understand the facts?

ECO 351K • Curr Issues In Business Eco-W

33860 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm BRB 1.120
show description

NEWLY EMERGING PROBLEMS IN BUSINESS AND THE APPROACHES USED FOR STRUCTURING, ANALYZING, AND TREATING THEM.

PREREQUISITE: ECONOMICS 420K WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C-.

In this course we will consider how we can use economic principles to analyze actual business problems. We will use a number of business cases to illustrate how classic economic models can be used to understand current business issues, as well as how we can augment simple models to deal with complex business situations. The course is not meant to be a comprehensive cookbook of applications of economics to business problems. The purpose is rather to give students the opportunity to practice making logical economic arguments in the context of examples from the real business world.

ECO 320L • Macroeconomic Theory

82630 • Summer 2009
Meets MTWTHF 830-1000 GAR 1.126
show description

THEORY OF THE DETERMINATION OF NATIONAL INCOME, EMPLOYMENT, AND THE PRICE LEVEL, WITH POLICY IMPLICATIONS. REQUIRED OF STUDENTS MAJORING IN ECONOMICS.

PREREQUISITE: ECONOMICS 420K WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C-.

The purpose of this course is to further students' understanding of the central ideas of macroeconomics.  We will study long-run economic growth and short-run economic fluctuations.  Once we have a basic understanding of these phenomena, we will discuss the main macroeconomic tools of the government, fiscal policy and monetary policy.  By the end of the semester, students should be able to critically read articles on current economic issues that appear in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist.

ECO 351M • Managerial Economics-W

82760 • Summer 2009
Meets MTWTHF 1130-100pm GAR 1.126
show description

PREREQUISITE: ECO 420K, AND ECO 329 OR M 362K, WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C- IN EACH.

The course is about the strategies that firms can use to gain an advantage in markets that are very competitive (such as product/service differentiation, pricing strategies, corporate re-organization, mergers/acquisitions, etc.) Preston McAfee's book mixes theory about the kinds of competitive strategies that are available with examples of how they have been (or are being) used. The case studies provide real world discussions of corporate efforts to apply particular strategies. The case study write-ups give students a chance to focus on how the strategies work in actual practice. The course organization is based on the 'case study method' used in the Harvard Business School. It gives students practical experience in 1) reading and interpreting real world competitive analysis, 2) meeting recurring writing deadlines, 3)presenting material to an informed audience, 4) participating in group projects where their grade depends partly on the work of others, 5) thinking about what an economist can contribute to corporate strategizing. Students seem to enjoy the class, the participation in the presentations is enthusiastic. Also, I've received email from some students of last spring's class saying their use of ideas from the class had made a difference in their job interviews.

ECO 351K • Curr Issues In Business Eco-W

33180 • Spring 2009
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm UTC 3.122
show description

NEWLY EMERGING PROBLEMS IN BUSINESS AND THE APPROACHES USED FOR STRUCTURING, ANALYZING, AND TREATING THEM.

PREREQUISITE: ECONOMICS 420K WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C-.

In this course we will consider how we can use economic principles to analyze actual business problems. We will use a number of business cases to illustrate how classic economic models can be used to understand current business issues, as well as how we can augment simple models to deal with complex business situations. The course is not meant to be a comprehensive cookbook of applications of economics to business problems. The purpose is rather to give students the opportunity to practice making logical economic arguments in the context of examples from the real business world.

ECO 351M • Managerial Economics-W

33185 • Spring 2009
Meets MWF 900-1000 UTC 3.122
show description

PREREQUISITE: ECO 420K, AND ECO 329 OR M 362K, WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C- IN EACH.

The course is about the strategies that firms can use to gain an advantage in markets that are very competitive (such as product/service differentiation, pricing strategies, corporate re-organization, mergers/acquisitions, etc.) Preston McAfee's book mixes theory about the kinds of competitive strategies that are available with examples of how they have been (or are being) used. The case studies provide real world discussions of corporate efforts to apply particular strategies. The case study write-ups give students a chance to focus on how the strategies work in actual practice. The course organization is based on the 'case study method' used in the Harvard Business School. It gives students practical experience in 1) reading and interpreting real world competitive analysis, 2) meeting recurring writing deadlines, 3)presenting material to an informed audience, 4) participating in group projects where their grade depends partly on the work of others, 5) thinking about what an economist can contribute to corporate strategizing. Students seem to enjoy the class, the participation in the presentations is enthusiastic. Also, I've received email from some students of last spring's class saying their use of ideas from the class had made a difference in their job interviews.

ECO 359M • Envir & Natural Resource Eco-W

33210 • Spring 2009
Meets MWF 300pm-400pm UTC 3.132
show description

OPTIMAL USE OF EXHAUSTIBLE AND RENEWABLE RESOURCES; VALUATION OF NONMARK ETED ENVIR AMENITIES; ECON OF POLLUTION CONTROL INSTRUMENTS; ENVIR QUALI TY AND INTNATL TRADE; ECON OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE; POLLUTION CONTROL.

PREREQUISITE: ECO 420K AND 329 WITH A GRADE OF AT LEAST C- IN EACH.

This course will study the economics of public policy toward natural resources and the environment. It is designed primarily for advanced undergraduates in economics. Prerequisites include microeconomics and calculus. We will start with the concepts of externalities, public goods, property rights, market failure, and social cost-benefit analysis. Within this framework, we will consider a few additional problems such as information, uncertainty, and risk analysis. The first set of applications of these tools will involve natural resources. Other applications include air pollution, water pollution, solid waste management, and hazardous substances. In addressing each of these problems, we will compare public policy responses such as administrative regulation, marketable permits, tax incentives, and direct subsidies.

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