Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review and Critique of the Course

Econ of Organizations was a class I had been interested since the class catalog had come out. After reading through the descriptions of the various Econ 490 classes, I chose this section out of pure interest in the topic rather then academic curricula requirements. My main take away from this class would probably have to be insurance. Prior to this course, I had felt that I did not know much background or information in the applicable business area, knowing more of the economic theories and mechanics. However, after learning about how fair insurance is priced and the categories of insurees, I feel more confidant in my knowledge on the subject. This actually helps me out in my search to figure out what I'd like to do with my degree. With this additional information I believe I'll be able to consider the insurance and financial field more seriously.

As for the structure of the class, I liked how there were various modes of learning, online blogging, excel homeworks, and in class lectures. However, I particularly, am not an audio learner, so when it came to the class time lectures and discussions, I found myself unable to connect with the material and format. This wasn't too big of a problem though, because the blogging and excel homework and textbook combined still gave me amble material to learn from. I really do appreciate how attendance and participation were not mandatory, giving people, who similar to me, learn in different ways, the freedom to learn the material to the best of their abilities in their chosen ways.

When it came to the online blogging and excel homeworks, I felt that the material coincided well and helped me add more value to the topics. Blogging was done after I had read through the prompt a couple times and mulled it over for a day or two. Excel homeworks, however, were done on the spot and all in one sitting. At the beginning of the class I did not take notes while doing the excel homework, which turned out to be detrimental to me when it came to studying for the final. So after midterm 1, I began to take notes on the reading in my notebook while going through the homework. This helped tremendously and guided me through my thought process as I completed each excel file.

Economics of Organizations turned out to much more discussion based than I had thought the class would be. While this didn't turn out to my benefit due to my learning style, I think that classes formatted in this way can be quite beneficial and fun for students with this type of learning interest. The exams were quite a curveball, especially the first exam, as the material covered in the course tends to focus on various supplemental topics, however, if grading is scaled and based on improvement, I think overall this course is a fun interesting class that adds great benefit to economic students' college career.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Walmart Monopoly

Pretty much anyone and everyone has heard of Walmart. Walmart is an American based retail corporation with countless chain stores around the nation. Servicing and selling everything from groceries, toys, cosmetics, and automotive services, Walmart gives a mass amount of goods and services to consumers. Combined with Walmart's slogan of "always low prices", Walmart has begun to build a reputation of being a one-stop shop with low prices. Walmart prides itself on having the lowest prices and even offering price matching, matching the price of a competitor if proof is shown. This type of simple system attracted consumers at large and keep them hooked due to the prices.

What I have found is that with mass quantities companies, quality is usually sacrificed. As a Walmart shopper myself I have found this to be true in some departments and not as prominent in others. When it comes to food, specifically produce, I am often dismayed by the amount of unripe and rotten fruits mixed together in the stands. However, Walmart's generic brand has often proven to be the more cost-effective choice when it comes to cosmetics and skin care products and often proves to be a staple item for me. This amount of variability within the store has caused me to become a fluctuating Walmart shopper. Coming to college, I made the change to Meijer, a store I had previously been unfamiliar with. However, overall Meijer has proven to be a more dependable company to me in terms of overall quality and service. Walmart's brand and reputation combined for me hasn't been one that has withstood my personal experience and instead has fallen second or worse to other competitors with common business strategies and goals. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Reputations and Personas

After taking up an undergraduate research position with a fellow UofI professor this past semester, I have noticed that I have not only gained invaluable research experience and skills but also professional and social skills regarding how to behave and act in this situation. Working closely with a professor and three other undergraduate students, acceptable behaviors and norms were set the moment we walked in the door. All four of us students knew that we should be on time if not early to our weekly meeting and emails should be sent promptly and checked frequently. It was never explicitly told to us or written out, however, once one student started slacking, it became increasingly clear. For this one student, she had originally been given the opportunity to be paid for this research position, however, the grant had fallen through and her offer had been rescinded. Her lack of incentive and motivation became clearer as her emails became less responsive and she often had to cancel on meeting times. The professor and us remaining students never talked about her change in behavior, however, it was implied that this would affect her reputation with not only the professor but also us students. So while I watched this unfold, I couldn't help but make sure I was keeping in check. Often times I would end up having to pick up the slack for her. While I really didn't mind since the work went hand in hand with what I was originally doing and actually probably would be done more efficiently by one person, I made sure I held my own weight with my original duties and kept in contact with the professor. In a way, I believe this helped me build my reputation in comparison to her's, so while her reputation continued to decrease, mine did the opposite. 

I believe that by utilizing this change in group dynamic, I was able to benefit my professional reputation with the professor and with the remaining students. The remaining students looked to me as a resource and someone who was dependable and able to rely on. So with the next upcoming semester, I was able to secure an offer from the professor to continue working with him and the remaining students and possibly even gain course credit. While I had never really thought beyond this semester and what kind of opportunity this could hold for me, I am very glad I upheld my reputation throughout the position. 

This past weekend was actually my first time that my behavior wavered. When the professor asked me if I would be free to meet a second time the following Friday, I quickly calculated in my head and realized that Friday was an open day for me, however it was also my birthday. Of course I didn't want to have to work on my birthday and had been looking forward to having the day to myself, I knew I couldn't tell the professor this truth. So instead, I told a white lie and told him my day had already been filled. While I know my moral reputation had gone down a little bit in that moment, I chose to continue to uphold my professional reputation and instead tell him this reasoning. Having to give up a little bit of my integrity to gain a free day was something I chose to do.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Triangle of Suits

The principal-agent model is bilateral in situations such as a doctor and it's patient, the patient being the principal and the doctor being the agent. Problems arise when there is asymmetric information and one party knows more then the other. In this case, the patient may wonder if his/her doctor is recommending expensive treatment for his/her benefit or the doctor's benefit. In situations like these, morals and ethics may come into play. In a triangle shaped pattern, like with a lawyer working for a firm but defending a client, there is a sort of tug-o-war dynamic that ensues. In the show Suits, Harvey Spector, the protagonist, goes through many instances where he must choose between "caring for the client" and doing what is profit maximizing for his firm. Throughout the show, conflicts arise with his boss, Jessica, and you see Harvey make critical decisions that sometimes please his boss and the firm and other times anger her. Up until the latest season, Harvey has consistently been making decisions and finding tactics to at least leave the client neutrally happy but ultimately pleasing the firm and winning out for them.

However, in the latest season, morals and ethics factors are highlighted as Harvey's own moral code is put on the line with a couple client cases. In the case of Suits and it's plot line, Harvey's firm's goal is to maximize profits while Harvey's clients goal is to win their case. When Harvey is forced into a tough position and pressure from his boss, Harvey has been of late, pushing through and continuing to fight for his client and win cases. Harvey has been a boastful and proud man, claiming to have never lost a case, showing a glimpse at what his own agenda may hold. So in Harvey's case, his triangular pattern may align more with one side then the other, his chosen method to deal with this type of system. However, various other scenarios have occurred where Harvey has followed his boss's orders and sided with his firm. This pattern on Suits shows that in this triangular system, one must choose one or the other and compromise in order to deal.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Good and the Bad

All through high school, I worked in a large grocery story corporation with 500+ employees each day. Seeking out this employment myself and deeming myself as financially independent as a sixteen year old could, I came into this job with a headstrong will to prove my independence and tenacity. However, this experience actually led me to discover quite different things as well. 

The first acquaintance I made on the job was a girl of similar age to me. She had started just three weeks prior to my arrival at the store and had very much of an attitude of an adolescent who had been forced to attain a job by their parents. At first, I played into her conversation, complaining with her about the long shifts, constant standing, and rude managers. However, this talk got annoying fast, and I found myself responding in shorter phrases and with little to no eye contact. Catching on quick, she began to search for a different companion. Soon, I saw her gabbing with an adolescent boy in a different department 24/7 and not really caring to acknowledge me when we passed. While at the time I was slightly bothered, I went back to my work silently and alone and continued to work away. A few weeks passed and I began to meet more people. A middle aged man whose wife and two children worked a couple stations away from me during the slow night shifts. As we worked together more frequently, we began to converse more and talk about our lives and share the quirky stories and instances while on the job. This became much of a pattern as I settled into my work schedule and I found that it made each shift that much more enjoyable. I realized that the initial connection I'd felt to the adolescent girl my first days of work weren't necessarily because of personality or common interests. Instead, I was drawn to her because of our similar physical traits: female and adolescent. However, our perspective and work motives were misaligned, something that was quickly discovered. It wasn't until I opened my eyes and looked around at people from all walks of life and took the time to discover who I was able to converse with easily and engagingly. This friendship formed resulted in a more productive and enjoyable work experience that ultimately got me through each day and month worked at the grocery store. 

I think people tend to gravitate towards people who seem like they come from a similar background, however, they may realize that just because they have similar circumstances, they may not necessarily get along better then two people from completely different backgrounds. Working at the grocery store not only helped me grow as a financially stable person but also as a social person, able to understand what values I seek out in friends and wish to implement in myself. These social skills that come from work and life experience and benefits gained come unexpectedly from good and bad experiences. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sharing Marbles

Jonathon Haidt's article on team verse individual production and it's relationship to the share of reward was an article I really enjoyed and enlightened my view on current politics and procedures. One particular part, about how in history leaders have called upon their people in times of crisis to join together and pull equal weight to reap rewards, really stuck with me. This concept of team productivity and reward distribution is one that I have never really considered before, but thinking back now, affected the dynamic of a summer camp program I was a part of this past summer.

Like with most organizations I have been a part of, teamwork and leadership has always been an important aspect when it comes to running an efficient entity. Being a counselor for a cultural summer camp this past year, I learned how to function with people from all ages and levels of experience. Parent committees, directors, counselors in training, and my fellow counselors all had different priorities and different roles. However, when it came to the logistics of this one week of camp, we all came together during preparatory meetings and workshops and brainstormed what needed to do done, by whom, and how. Each and every person had an instrumental role in our planning and everyone knew what everyone else was doing. So when it came to the actual week of camp, no one was left unoccupied or unfocused. Regrouping at the end of the week opened my eyes to the levels of satisfaction hard work had given us. Parents on duty talked about how they stopped a camper from running through heavy traffic on a rainy night, counselors in training spoke of their first experience juggling fifteen screaming nine year olds as they complained about the afternoon activity. Looking around and hearing what everyone had to say, it became apparent that everyone had come with the same goal in mind, to provide a week long experience for the campers of this organization to make long-lasting and cherished memories. Along the way, each and every one of us got our own satisfaction out of it too. Although our roles may have been different, we knew that each one was important to the whole of the goal. So yes, Jonathon Haidt did convince me that team production is for the greater good. Because, that week, our team production produced a week of success and drive that wouldn't have been able to do done with each and everyone's undivided devotion and effort.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


The concept of "Illinibucks" seems quite similar to concepts found during large scale events where preferred or VIP members are able to gain perks such as cutting the line for a concert or getting first pick when it comes to airline seats. With thousands and thousands of students and faculty at the UofI campus, a system like this could both be beneficial and profitable. Now in order for this system to work, Illinibucks must be accessible to all students, nondiscriminatory and readily available. This kind of system would work for goods or services that most to all of the population uses or needs and requires lining up for. The university would also have to have authority or own the corporation or organization that supplies the public's good or service in order for Illinibucks to be accepted. Candidates for this could include class registration, housing registration, seating at school games, or reserving used textbooks at the school's bookstore. If Illinibucks were to be implemented, they would also need to be fairly priced. If they were priced too low, everyone would buy one and the whole preferential treatment or perks would be useless and result in just another first come first serve basis system. If they were priced too high, noone would not buy Illinibucks and it would again be issued worthless. In addition, if the price of the Illinibuck was greater then the price or value of the preferential perk, the Illinibuck would not be worth the value.

I would spend my Illinibucks on reserving classes. Registration time is always a stressful time for students as they plan their courses and hope for well scheduled days. However, once their registration slot is open, it becomes a free for all and game of chance as classes are dropped and ones added within a matter of moments. I think Illinibucks could benefit the University greatly especially with class registration because currently I have even heard of students paying other students who can register early to "reserve" seats for them. This system has become a profitable one for students and could easily be shifted to the University's benefit. While this blog post is for hypothetical purposes, I do believe Illinibucks could very well be a great asset to the University.