This short course will survey the key findings of behavioural economics and explain how they relate to day-to-day management. Participants will receive a thorough understanding of how economic insights for decision making can be augmented with experimental economics.
The course will be interactive with numerous examples and opportunities to apply the concepts discussed.
After this lecture you should be able to: Apply a range of examples of behavioural anomalies to real business situations. Understand behavioural anomalies in light of an ecologically rational framework.
Poundstone, William (2010) Priceless: The Hidden Psychology Of Value Oneworld
Kahneman, Daniel (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow Farrar Straus and Giroux
Lambert, Craig “The Marketplace of Perceptions”, Harvard Magazine, March-April 2006 – A summary of chief insights from behavioural economics and neuroeconomics
Poundstone, W., (2011) “Prospect Theory” (Chapter 16) and “Ultimatum Game” (chapter 18) from Priceless: The Hidden Psychology of Value, One World – Good introductions to key concepts
Tabarrok, A., “A Phool and His Money” Review of PHISHING FOR PHOOLS: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception, by George A. Akerlof and Robert Shiller, Princeton University Press – A defence of standard economic theory against behavioural claims
Participants should select one of the countries under study and identify a potentially internationally competitive cluster. Using the format provided in the lecture, and the East Belarus mechanical engineering article as a guide, participants will submit a written report. The report should contain diamond analysis and cluster mapping.
If an economics instructor requires students to submit work using PowerPoint, they can reasonably expect that those students will either possess the skillset required to do so, or recognise the need to develop it. And student’s wouldn’t feel that the choice of format is a source of disadvantage.
In a few years time the same will apply to the creation of a video. This page is a collection of resources to help novices create simple content.
Your smart phone – the most obvious route is to use the video feature on a standard smartphone. Here’s an example. This can be done in a single shot without any additional resources. Here are some tips.
A 1-3 day course the leads participants through the 7 key stages of finding a solution using practical examples and plenty of team work.
Problem Solving and Decision Making is an intensive managerial programme that has proven successful in improving efficiency, performance and productivity. The course aims to provide practical skills and a management mindset rather than simply transfer knowledge. Participants are taken through the full problem-solving and decision-making cycle: from breaking down the issue, to prioritising and writing the action plan. They also practice communicating their proposal, an important and often overlooked aspect of the decision-making process. The course focuses mostly on experiential, proactive and practical learning: participants engage in individual and team problem-solving and decision-making, and receive constructive feedback to build on personal strengths and address limitations
I am an Affiliate Faculty Member of the Microeconomics of Competitiveness program at Harvard Business School, and a big fan of Michael Porter – his work consistently reminds me of the importance of bringing clarity to management practice.
I also like his inclination for frameworks rather than models. If your goal is to interpret and assess, as opposed to measure and predict, a framework is a critical analytical tool. One that I especially like is his explanation for what determines competitiveness. For example, consider the following slide (which I believe originates from here).
I’ve given this framework a lot of thought, but I don’t think it fits as neatly into the Diamond model as is often claimed. For example in this NBER paper Porter (and co-authors) present an enlarged version:
This clearly shows that the Diamond model is intended to be a more detailed view of the “Quality of the National Business Environment” segment. But consider something like nutrient rich soil, or a large natural harbour. One might think that constitutes an endowment. But it is also a relevant “Factor input condition”. Indeed what’s the difference between the “Supporting and Related industries” and “State of Cluster Development”? I suspect this is why Figure 3 above has dropped endowments and clusters, and renamed it a “Foundational Competitiveness Index”. I think this is a shame, because the “What Determines Competitiveness” slide is clearer, and more coherent, than the FCI.
I think Porter’s attempt to force fit the Diamond model into the Competitiveness index creates an opportunity to take the “What Determines Competitiveness” slide in a new direction. Indeed I think it complements nicely the “Growth is Like an iPhone” analogy:
In my attempts to merge the three level analogy with a template that my students can use in class, and with all appropriate nods to Prof. Porter, this is the “Country Competitiveness Dashboard“:
Rather than viewing the Diamond model as a subset of the “Business environment”, I see it more as a strategic tool that cuts across the whole Country Competitiveness Dashboard. In other words step 1 is to populate the dashboard, and ensure that you are covering all bases. Step 2 is to conduct a Diamond analysis – which is better suited at the cluster level than the national level anyway.
This short course provides provides a survey of global poverty and a discussion of the causes of prosperity. Particular emphasis is placed on the institutions required for market exchange, and the importance of economic calculation. As a satellite photo of the Korean peninsula makes clear, socialist planning is literally groping in the dark. We will look at the theoretical reasons behind this claim, and the empirical validation that economic freedom matters.
The course does not rely on any previous study of economics.
Lectures (3 sessions)
The course is designed to tie into Chapters 4 and 12 of the following (amazing) textbook:
Economics matters: The link between economic institutions and global prosperity
In this lecture I will ask some broad and fundamental questions about the application of economic theory to the real world, and the role of the economist as a force for making the world a better place. I will try to convince you that we have a fairly good understanding of what causes economic growth, and how important this is for raising living standards and improving people’s quality of life. In other words, economics matters.
11:00am Session 2
Groping in the dark: Why socialist calculation is impossible
2:00pm Session 3
Economic transition in Central and Eastern Europe: Shock therapy or gradualism?
I see a major advantage for online courses being the opportunity to crowdsource and aggregate grading into quick, responsive, 360 feedback. My ideal grading system would be:
A web form to enter information and then WHAM it converts it into a report.
Students see each others and vote on which are the best ones.
Or, it just prints them all out and I grade them in one batch.
In terms of technology there’s a few different ways to create content:
Powerpoint with voiceover – this is probably the simplest, and I have several examples. There’s also products such as Adobe Spark that perform the same function but slightly slicker. do be careful about whether to put the slides online as well, since this can reduce the likelihood of students watching the video.
Dual video and slides – this is a great way to convey detailed content but in a personalised way (e.g. Andy Field)
Video – this is the simplest way to do it but I find it a little awkward when done as a lecture. If it’s more informal it’s more engaging, but slightly more complicated to plan. Using a light board is probably the best way to do this.
Interactive powerpoint – for my EMIB course we had an interactive green screen. This puts the presenter inside the screen and permits interaction (e.g. drawing directly on the screen). It’s basically reading the weather. It’s harder to plan but the final result can be quite effective.
There are three components to the dynamic AD-AS model.
The first is the Solow curve, which shows the growth rate that would exist (i) if prices were perfectly flexible; (ii) given the existing real factors of production. It can be derived from the Solow growth model and since this treats capacity as being independent of inflation, it is depicted as a vertical line. Improvements in research & development; better infrastructure; increased competitiveness; higher quality education and training; labour market flexibility; or natural events such as more conducive weather would all constitute a positive productivity (or “real” or “supply side”) shock, increase the Solow growth rate, and shift the Solow curve outwards.
The second component is the Aggregate Demand (AD) curve. This can be defined as combinations of inflation and real growth for a specified rate of total spending, and is far more intuitive than the traditional AD curve. This is because instead of being based on other curves (necessitating an explanation of the Pigou effect, for example) it is instead based on a dynamic version of the equation of exchange:
M denotes the growth rate of the money supply, V denotes velocity growth, P denotes inflation and Y denotes real GDP growth. Since the AD curve simply shows how any given amount of (M+V) can be split between P and Y, it will only shift if there is a change in M (i.e. the money supply) or V (confidence).* In terms of what constitutes a velocity shock, we can switch from looking at the left hand side of the equation (our posited increase in total spending) to the right hand side of the equation (how it is being spent). After all an increase in spending must be spent on something. The composition of total spending is household spending, business spending, and government spending (we’re assuming a closed economy).
Potential sources of increased spending are thus fiscal policy (either changes to government spending or changes to taxes) or wealth effects (where “wealth” means the value we place on the assets we own). An important caveat is that generally speaking changes in the growth rate of V tend to be temporary and thus only changes in M can generate sustained inflation.**
If prices were perfectly flexible, the Solow curve and AD curve would suffice. For example, if the Solow growth rate were 3% and the central bank increased M from 5% to 10% this would lead to an equivalent increase in inflation (from 2% to 7%).
However if prices aren’t perfectly flexible, the dynamic AD-AS model shows how the economy can deviate from potential GDP growth. This requires the third component, the Short Run Aggregate Supply curve (SRAS). The SRAS shows the relationship between P and Y for a given expected inflation rate. As with the traditional AD-AS model, the labour market plays a key role in economic adjustments, and so “sticky” wages (i.e. those that don’t adjust quickly to new conditions) are problematic. For example, if revenues are rising at a faster rate than wages (which constitute a large share of the firms costs), firms will appear to be profitable and will expand their output. Similarly, if prices fall quicker than wages, production will appear to be unprofitable, and they will reduce output. It is due to inflation expectations that we might expect wages to lag behind prices – if inflation is higher than expected output will rise. If inflation is lower than expected output will fall. This explains the upward sloping shape of the SRAS curve.
Underpinning the SRAS is the concept of the signal extraction problem, which implies that in the short run (i.e. whilst prices are adjusting) there may be a positive relationship between inflation and real growth. (This is the conventional argument that money is only neutral once prices have adjusted. One of the nice things about moving away from a “short run” vs. “long run” distinction is that it’s less likely that students fall into the trap of treating these concepts as passages of time. To say that prices are “sticky” is not really to say that it takes time for them to adjust, but that there are costs involved in doing so).
The reason the SRAS curve is flatter below Y* is because wages are especially sticky in a downwards direction. Basic money illusion means that workers tend to be hostile to nominal wage cuts. And the SRAS curve is steeper above Y* because there’s a limit to how fast the economy can grow – it can’t indefinitely exceed the Solow growth rate.*** Given that the SRAS holds for a given rate of inflation expectations, the only thing that can cause it to shift is a change in those inflation expectations. This may appear to underplay the importance of the SRAS curve, but in fact it clarifies the difference between SRAS and the Solow curve. It is tempting to think of the difference in terms of calendar time, for example that a period of bad weather, causing a poor harvest, will primarily affect the SRAS. This is because it is a temporary event that hasn’t altered the underlying production capacity, and if there is nothing to say that bad weather will cause a reduction in supply in the long run, it shouldn’t affect the long run supply curve. However the dynamic AD-AS model makes it a lot clearer to understand why the above reasoning is incorrect. An adverse weather event – even a temporary one – is a real shock, and will therefore impact the Solow curve and not the SRAS. The SRAS shows how the price mechanism facilitates but also can disrupt the adjustments in response to either real (Y*) or nominal (AD) shocks. It can be somewhat complicated (and sometimes arbitrary) to distinguish between SRAS and LRAS shocks in the traditional model. The dynamic model treats all real shocks as Solow shocks and is therefore much easier to use.
* It is tempting to treat M as monetary policy and V as fiscal policy but this wouldn’t be correct. Most central banks use interest rates (specifically a short term risk free rate) as their main policy tool. If the “velocity of circulation” refers to the speed at which money turns over, then this is a function of people’s demand to hold money (relative to their demand to hold goods and services). In other words V is the inverse of the demand for money. If the demand for money is high, people hold onto cash, and velocity is therefore low. Hence central banks can either affect the money supply, or try to influence the demand for money by manipulating the price (i.e. interest rates). This actually helps aid a discussion about quantitative easing. Given that interest rates are very low many central banks have reinstated the quantity of money (through the process of quantitative easing) as a policy tool that can be used in addition to interest rates.
** An increase in C in the dynamic model implies an increase in the growth rate of C, relative to I and G. Indeed this demonstrates a weakness in fiscal stimuli because it is impossible for a permanent increase in the growth rate of G. At some point it is likely that an increase in G that leads to a positive AD shock will at some point reverse itself. Indeed this also implies that when a central bank reduces interest rates this will also be self-reversing. As Cowen and Tabarrok point out (p.257) this reinforces the notion that changes in the growth rate of C, I or G do not change the rate of inflation in the long run. Given that shifts in V will tend to be temporary it is.
*** The above could also be considered a “Lucas” curve, since it follows his islands parable and emphasises the labour market. We might also think of it as a “Hayek” curve if we focus more on the capital market. Entrepreneurs confuse a temporary reduction in real interest rates (due to an increase in the money supply) with a permanent one (or at least one consistent with an increase in real savings) and invest in capital-intensive production plans. The Austrian claim is that this will be self-reversing and bring on a recession. We can incorporate this into the analysis here by stressing that particular increases in AD (i.e. when money supply exceeds the demand to hold it) will – as Cowen and Tabarrok argue happens ordinarily – cause a reverse shift in AD later on, but also end up causing a reduction in Y* through a negative shift in the Solow curve. Monetarists would say an increase in AD ultimately leads to an increase in P. Austrians would say that it increases P and reduces Y*.
I consider the power of economic reasoning to stem from its applicability, and therefore take a broad and eclectic position of what would constitute suitable subject material. For a general management thesis I don’t require students to work on the same research topics that I do. Indeed, there are several topics that I have thoughts and ideas on which I’d be delighted to see students run with. It is important to stress that an interesting topic is a necessary but not sufficient condition. You also need to identify an interesting research question within that topic. I’ve provided some examples of topics that I find interesting below:
If you get to present your work, here’s a good guide for creating a poster (and here). Don’t forget to include a clear plastic wallet with printed copies, and one for business cards.
These are only general guidelines and there’ll always be a gap between my judgement and your understanding of my judgment. But just because the grading is subjective does not make it arbitrary. I will assign an A, B, C or D grade to the following dimensions:
Purpose – are the aims and objectives clearly set and have they been met?
Originality – is this new? Interesting?
Focus – is the work precise?
Literature review – is the thesis aware of and able to critically discuss existing literature?
Methodology – are the methods chosen appropriate?
Analysis – has the entire process been transparent and correctly interpreted?
Implications for management – does it have relevance to the professional community?
Quality of presentation – is it clear and does it add value to the written work?
Quality of written work – are there any errors?
Quality of communication with supervisor – were the expectations of the supervisor managed effectively? Was help asked for when necessary? Was it an enjoyable experience for all?
For more details on grade ranges see page 7 of my guide for students, however you should adjust the passing grades such that what I deem to be a C grade for a thesis would get a mark of 55-60; a B is 70-80 and an A is 85+. Don’t make me send you this.