First, to review the course in a more opinionated fashion, this class turned out to be what I expected. I mean this as a compliment. To be honest, I only picked Economics of Organizations over Financial Economics because the latter filled up too quickly, but by the time the semester started, the former had grown on me as a potentially interesting class. It was certainly of benefit that the subject matter of the class was already fascinating to me before the semester started. I was more motivated to do well than some of my other courses. Academically speaking, this was the most intriguing class of my semester schedule. Not to say I didn’t have any problems with it, but I’ll get to that later.
From a learning standpoint, most of the models we dealt with were new to me. I’ve already learned about risk aversion to some degree, but for the most part, I had never encountered most of the information covered. This includes the Principal-Agent model, the Shapiro and Stiglitz model, and essentially all the other models referenced in the Excel homework. On a side note, Bolman and Deal’s “Reframing Organizations” was worth reading. The material in the book did for me what it set out to do: looking at the same situation from different frames of reference.
The class structure had some interesting elements to it. The combination of the in-class discussions, blog posts, and Excel homework was mostly advantageous to the learning process. I’ll start with the blog posts. If there was one thing I struggled with in this class, it’d be the blog posts. I often found myself with very little to say, and I rarely felt confident that my examples were particularly relevant. In other words, I routinely felt as though I was missing the point of the prompt. Maybe it was just me, but perhaps a few extra minutes of prior explanation would have helped. Pre-writing helped alleviate this a little, though. Overall, the blog posts were still an understandable addition to the class and, in combination with the review of the posts on Mondays, were essential to the learning process.
The Excel homework was done well for the purposes of this class. They weren’t always easy, but I wouldn’t say they were ever particularly difficult either. First and foremost, the format was excellent. Being able to immediately know when you’ve made a mistake made even the most difficult of the Excel homework assignments, which for me was Insurance under Asymmetric Information, manageable with the right amount of effort and patience. The difficulty was also incentive to read everything closely rather than just skimming. However, completing the Excel homework was usually a frustrating time of the week for the aforementioned reasons, and the accompanying videos were time-consuming in a few instances. Nevertheless, there was always a sense of accomplishment for every assignment completed.
Lastly, there were the in-class discussions. They were generally easy to follow, and they were great for clarification. I never really felt I fully understood something until it was discussed in class. Not until class on Mondays did I get a good grasp on the implications of the blog posts, and not until Wednesdays did I get a good grasp on the implications of the Excel homework. The questions given didn’t always get a response, but they did lead to some deeper thinking. At least for me, there were plenty of “Aha” moments once the answer was eventually given. If I could change anything about the in-class meetings, a little more focus and structure wouldn’t hurt. At the same time, the relaxed structure of the in-class discussions was still beneficial in general.
Overall, I enjoyed the class.