I am trying to develop a coherent line of logic for the most basic courses I teach in the winter semester, namely ‘Microeconomics’ and ‘Management’. This is the hell of an unusual semester. The pandemic makes us pass largely to online teaching, for one. The pandemic itself is fascinating as social phenomenon and I want to include its study into my teaching, for two. Thirdly and finally, over the last 12 months, I developed an acceptably solid hypothesis of collective intelligence in human social structures, together with a method of studying said structures with the use of artificial neural networks.
I teach ‘Microeconomics’ and ‘Management’ to essentially the same group of students, 1st year undergraduate. There might be minor difference between those two subjects as regards the Erasmus students asking to enrol, yet it is really minor. Thus, I decided to combine my teaching in microeconomics and management into one thread, which consists, for my students, in graduating those two courses (i.e. ‘Microeconomics’ and ‘Management’) by preparing business plans as graduation projects. Why do I adopt such a didactic stance? First of all, I have been putting a lot of emphasis on the skill of business planning over the last 5 years or so. I like believing my students have some real takeaways from my classes, i.e. true practical skills, useful in daily life. Being able to put together an acceptably bullet-proof business plan is a skill which is both practical and logically connected to Microeconomics and Management. Yes, management too. In real life, i.e. when a young person starts a corporate career and as soon as he or she stops dreaming about instantly becoming a CEO, they will be climbing the steps of hierarchical ladder in some kind of corporate structure. The first remotely managerial assignment he or she is likely to have will be to manage a project, thus, to build a small team, negotiate a result-based budget, interface with other parts of the organization in a client-supplier manner etc. Once you can prepare a good business plan, you can plan for an intrapreneurial project as well.
Secondly, when you want to understand how something works, try to build it. Want understand microeconomics? Cool. Build the microeconomics of something: a digital start-up, a food store, a construction business, whatever practical and workable comes to your mind. As soon as you start building up your business concept, you will quickly grasp distinctions such as, for example, that between assets and equity, that between monopolistic pricing and competitive pricing, or, last but not least, your short-term cash-flow, in, respectively, the presence or the absence of amortization. Building a business plan can even help understanding those cherries on the cake of microeconomics, such as the new institutional theory. As soon as you ask yourself the practical question ‘Will it be better for my start up to invest in our own server, or maybe it is more workable to outsource server power?’, you will grasp, lightning fast, the fine niceties of transactional costs.
Long story short, I combine the teaching of microeconomics with that of management, in the courses I have with 1st year undergraduate students, and I make them graduate both with a project, which, in turn, consists in preparing a business plan. Thus, in the structure of the online course on MS Teams, I give both groups access to the basic course of business planning, on the website of my blog (https://discoversocialsciences.com/the-course-of-business-planning/ ).
From there on, I lead two parallel and concurrent lines of teaching. As regards Microeconomics, I focus on something like a spritzer. What? What is a spritzer? Oh, the youth of today… A sprizter, my dear children, is a drink made of wine, white or rosé, mixed with water and lemon juice, and a zest of ice cubes. Looks innocent, is enormously tempting during the summertime, and, comparatively to its alcohol content, kicks like a mule. My sprizter is made of classics, mostly Adam Smith (https://discoversocialsciences.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/adam_smith_wealth-nations1.pdf ) and Carl Menger (https://discoversocialsciences.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Menger_principles_of_economics.pdf ), who come as the gentle and innocent mixture of water and orange juice, combined with wine, in the form of a strong grasp on the present-day crazy ride of digital economy based on cloud computing, the pandemic and the resulting sudden shift towards medical technologies, and all that against the background of a major shift in our energy base, from fossil fuels to renewables as well as towards a possible new generation of nuclear.
I plan to present my teaching of Microeconomics as a combination of quotes from those two big classics, and references to what is happening right now. As for Management, I stick to the spritzer philosophy. The wine is the same, i.e. all the things that are happening around, whilst just one classical name comes as lemon juice and water in one: Nicolo Machiavelli (https://discoversocialsciences.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Machiavelli-the-prince.pdf ).
So far, when I am writing those words, I have prepared 5 video lectures along the lines I laid out in the preceding paragraphs. In Microeconomics & Management. Opening lecture [https://youtu.be/N7u8Hs_KATc ], I introduce the course of ‘Microeconomics’, as well as that of ‘Principles of Organization and Management’, which I will be holding with the Andrzej Frycz – Modrzewski Krakow University (Krakow, Poland). You can download the corresponding Power Point presentation from: https://discoversocialsciences.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Microeconomics_Management_Opening-Lecture.pptx
In ‘Fundamentals of Economics #1’ (https://youtu.be/OTGjJGfpdoc) I open up with the first, more or less formalized lecture in the fundamentals of economics. I use five essential readings – Netflix Annual Report 2019, Discovery Annual Report 2019, Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’, David Ricardo’s ‘Principles of Political Economy and Taxation’, and Carl Menger’s ‘Principles of Economics’ – in order to show the basis axes of approach to economic sciences. Firstly, it is the special social tension between the diversity of skills and social roles, on the one hand, and the fact of them all summing up to one big body of labour (Smith). Secondly, I introduce the distinction between capital and labour, and the importance of capital resources (Ricardo, example Netflix). Thirdly, and finally, I present the concept of economic good (Carl Menger) and the importance of translating technology into products. Finally, in Fundamentals of Economics #2 The basic theory of markets [https://youtu.be/1nObCUBWi4E], I present the behavioural essence of markets as structure of tacit coordination between humans.
As regards Management, I have shot two video lectures so far. In Fundamentals of Management #1 [https://youtu.be/j5RmYViqcT4 ], I present the main lines of teaching and study in the path of Management. More specifically addressed to my students in the majors of Management and International Relations. The link to power point: https://discoversocialsciences.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Fundamentals-Management_1.pptx . In Fundamentals of Management #2 Team building [https://youtu.be/1Ho1ZW-9GXY ], I describe the 4 fundamental tools of team building: recruitment, alignment of values and goals, their proper communication, and the assessment of performance. The link to power point: https://discoversocialsciences.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Fundamentals-Management-2-Team-building.pptx
2 thoughts on “Practical takeaways”
Thank you for your article, but I didn’t clearly understand what is New institutionalism, could you write an article about it?
Until I write a piece about the new institutionalism, here you can download a paper about it: https://discoversocialsciences.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Three-new-institutionalisms.pdf