14.282 | Spring 2009 | Graduate
Organizational Economics


There are three deliverables for credit in the course: a set of model-development essays, a review essay, and a final paper.

Model-development Essays

The first deliverable is a set of three short model-development essays, corresponding to the class sessions devoted to discussing case studies (Ses #7, #9, and #20). Each model-development essay should select one aspect from one case and do three things: first, briefly describe the chosen aspect of the case; second, assess the extent to which existing theory is or is not consistent with this chosen aspect; and, third, briefly sketch the beginnings of a model that would be consistent with this chosen aspect. These model-development essays should be just short sketches, three to five pages. They are due on Ses #7, #9, and #20. There are also cases (marked by “C”) in some other class sessions; one such case can be the basis for one model-development essay, but the essays are still due on the above dates.

Evaluation Criteria

1. Focus of the essay

  • Is the essay inspired by one of the cases? (a weak relation to a case is enough)
  • Is the focus of the essay specified?
    • Focus can be outcome/behavior that needs to be explained
    • Focus can be assumption/environment which calls for exploration

2. Model

  • Parsimony (with respect to specified focus/aim of the essay 1
    • Is there a simpler alternative which yields the same outcomes?
    • Can the model at hand be simplified and still give the same results?
  • Legitimacy of assumptions
    • Level playing field
    • Generality
  • Integrity of analysis
    • Restrictions (justified or not?)
    • Simplifications (justified or not?)

3. Model and evidence

  • Do assumptions match the environment?
  • Do outcomes match the observed behavior?

1: Holmström, Bengt: “The art of modeling is not what to put in but what to leave out.”

Review Essay

The review essay reviews one of the draft handbook chapters (marked by “H”). The review essay should be brief (again, three to five pages)—not at all summarizing the draft chapter but instead critiquing either the chapter or its underlying literature (or both)—and is due on Ses #18.

Final Paper

The final paper should be on any topic of interest to you relating to the material in the course and could be a theoretical or empirical piece. We do not expect you to produce a full (publishable) paper for this assignment; we would be happy with an insightful, analytical literature review in a particular area or a well thought-out research design on a topic that you might want to work on in the future. You should discuss your paper ideas with us before Ses #18 to get our approval. This paper is due a week after Ses #25.

Course Info
As Taught In
Spring 2009