Economics & Public Policy The Course Allocation Problem
Why is allocating courses to students in universities a challenging task? How difficult is it for institutions to strike a balance between the students' preferences over courses and what they can make available given the feasibility and other constraints? What are the plausible short-term and long-term effects of this demand-supply mismatch on students' university experiences and career aspirations? What are the relative pros and cons of allocation mechanisms such as course auctions, rank-order lists and random serial dictatorship used by academic administrators? Can universities design better systems that are simpler, fairer and cannot be gamed yet put students in courses they want? This case attempts to answer these questions by primarily examining the course allocation problem as a two-sided matching issue.
This case illustrates the problem of two-sided matching using the example of course allocations to students at colleges and universities. The central conundrum is how to strike a balance between the students' preferences over courses and what universities can feasibly make available. It delves into the pros and cons of allocation mechanisms commonly used by academic administrators and offers insights on how the universities can design better systems.
Economics & Public Policy Teacher Incentives
Every manager faces the problem of motivating employees to show up to work, focus on the assigned task, and work hard. In the absence of strong motivations to work or close monitoring by managers, employees tend to shirk, a phenomenon that economists call 'moral hazard'. In view of this problem, the worker's employment contract should be designed so that a part of the payoff (both monetary and non-monetary) is conditional on performance. In tasks where the manager can directly observe and monitor the worker's effort, designing such a conditional contract is easy. For example, a salesperson is offered a bonus directly depending upon the number of items he sells. However, when the effort is not so easily observable, overcoming potential moral hazard becomes harder. Using different policy experiments conducted with teachers in India, Kenya and United States, this case study explores how to motivate school teachers to turn up for class, teach well and put in maximum effort towards educating their students.
The case is primarily intended for courses on Managerial Economics, Microeconomics, Organizational Economics and Human Resource Management taught in business and public policy schools. It can also be used in courses on the Economics of Education or similar topics. The strength of the case is grounding in research papers (published in leading journals) that report on rigorous evaluations of the impact of different compensation structures.
Economics & Public Policy Search Costs and Market Efficiency in Emerging Economies
This note summarizes recent research on how information technology (such as mobile phones or internet) can be used to reduce costs associated with searching for prices, as well as the associated increases in social welfare.
The note is useful for courses that discuss the role of information technology in emerging market settings. Additionally, courses that examine the role of search costs in consumer behavior will find the case useful.
Economics & Public Policy Incentives in the Healthcare System
This case study illustrates various incentives in the healthcare system using recent research in economics. Healthcare is important but it is difficult to objectively measure it from the perspective of providers, patients and third parties. Hence, incentives are used to motivate behavior in both providers and patients. The design of incentives is an enduring challenge and the case study tries to motivate managers to think through this problem in more detail.
This case could be taught in courses which introduce incentives in an healthcare context. It could be used to provide examples of how managerial economics could be applied to analyze and drive behavior.
Economics & Public Policy A Class Divided
Does discrimination on the basis of gender, religion or ethnic origin exist in the job market? Why do employers use these factors in hiring decisions? Is discrimination equally prevalent in different sectors and in the presence of countervailing information? Are reasons for job market discrimination justified? What are possible strategies for combating job market discrimination? This case examines these questions in the context of hiring in the entry level white collar job market in an emerging economy.
The case illustrates methodologies to statistically determine whether discrimination exists in the job market. It offers insight into justifications that employers use for preferring one class of employees over others, and the effect of hiring discrimination on applicants. The case can be used to discuss statistical versus taste-based discrimination and topics such stereotyping. All situations are depicted from a major emerging economy, namely India.Learn More