Organizational Economics

Course Term: 
2nd year
ECTS credits: 
Course Description: 

The course aims at deepening our understanding of how firms and other organizations work. We will study the internal organization of firms as well as the nature of that web of relationships that firms set up with their employees, suppliers, customers, and sometimes their competitors.

We will discuss both classical contributions and more recent developments. We will cover seemingly disparate topics, ranging from personnel economics to the theories of the boundaries of the firms. A mixture of different approaches will be analyzed, most prominently theoretical studies, but also some relevant empirical and experimental research.

A basic grasp of microeconomics (especially, agency theory) and game theory is a pre-requisite.

Learning Outcomes: 

The ultimate purpose of the course is to develop your toolkit as an applied researcher. To this end, we will mostly focus on models’ intuitions and assumptions, asking ourselves whether they are critical for the results and whether they are plausible. We will raise many more questions than we will provide answers to. At the end of the course, you should be able to identify interesting applied research questions, which are worth investigating further.


Grades are determined by the weighted average of different deliverables.

a)    2 problem sets (15% each).

b)    An essay (25%): you should choose a topic in organizational economics and do the following things. (i) Describe why the question you aim to address is interesting. (ii) Argue why existing answers in the literature, if any, are unsatisfactory. (iii) Provide your answer to this question. You can choose to develop a theoretical model or an empirical strategy. In the former case, you should outline the set-up and describe the main forces that you believe could be helpful in understanding a phenomenon. In the latter case, describe the ideal empirical setting that would allow you to address your research question. You may devise a lab or field experiment, in which case you should work out its design, or a more conventional empirical analysis, in which case you are expected to provide some context or ideas of which (existing) dataset could help you carry out the analysis. These essays are meant to be a starting point for your future research endeavors and are not supposed to be polished or long.

c)     A referee report (20%) of a recent research paper – I will provide you with a list of papers.

d)    An in-class presentation (25%) which will take place in the final week of the term. I will provide a list of suggested papers.


A basic grasp of microeconomics (especially, agency theory) and game theory is a pre-requisite.

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