ECON306: Industrial Organization

Course Syllabus for "ECON306: Industrial Organization"

Please note: this legacy course does not offer a certificate and may contain broken links and outdated information. Although archived, it is open for learning without registration or enrollment. Please consider contributing updates to this course on GitHub (you can also adopt, adapt, and distribute this course under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license). To find fully-supported, current courses, visit our Learn site.

This course surveys major topics and theories in the field of Industrial Organization.  As part of the applied microeconomics structure, Industrial Organization uses the basic tools of microeconomic theory and game theory to study the structure and behavior of firms and their strategic interactions with one another in the marketplace.  Industrial Organization also studies the impact that those interactions have on market structure and welfare. Different kinds of market structures (perfect competition, imperfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly, and so forth) present different scenarios in which firms strive to acquire and use market power for their strategic advantage.  While perfect competition and monopoly are two market structures on opposite ends of the spectrum, imperfect competition—where a limited number of firms attempt to manipulate their rivals or consumers—is a more realistic set-up.  This course will emphasize market structure analysis and the strategic behaviors of competing firms, including (but not limited to) product differentiation, collusion, price discrimination, pricing strategy, non-price discrimination (i.e. advertising), horizontal mergers, vertical integration, and vertical restraints. Industrial Organization also examines the public policies that affect the structure of markets and the behavior of firms.  The government’s role as a regulator, working to prevent monopolization and restraint of trade, has been a constant topic of study in and of itself.  Although this course will introduce Antitrust Laws in the above context, it will not delve into the regulatory implications or the welfare analyses of firms' strategic behaviors, as those subjects belong to more advanced Industrial Organization modules.  By the end of this course, you will be able to understand, analyze, and evaluate the basic theoretical models that define the behavior of firms and industrial organization more generally.  You will also learn the game theory approach to some of these models.  While emphasizing theory, the lessons in this course will include empirical studies that will provide you with a deeper understanding of the topic.  This should enable you to apply the theory you have learned to real world examples. This course requires you to have completed the Principles of Microeconomics course and Calculus I.  You should also have a basic understanding of game theory prior to enrolling in this course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify different theories of the firm.
  • Describe the different market structures under which firms operate, with particular emphasis on concentration and monopoly power as well as oligopoly.
  • Analyze how market structures impact the behavior of firms.
  • Identify and compare the anti-competitive pricing strategies that firms adopt under various market structures.
  • Use the theoretical insights presented in this course to explain observed features of particular markets and industries.
  • Apply a deepened knowledge of game theory to understand the strategic behavior of firms in the market.
  • Determine the factors that influence the firm’s decision-making over time.
  • Critically analyze the role of the government in regulating industries and the subsequent implications of public regulation.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, students must:

√     Have access to a computer

√     Have continuous broadband Internet access

√     Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash) and software

√     Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer

√     Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.)

√     Have competency in the English language 

√     Have completed ECON101 and ECON103/MA101

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Course Information

Course Information
Welcome to ECON306. Below, please find general information on the course, including its requirements.
Course Designer: Jubeet Kaur Singh
Primary Resource: The study material for this course includes a range of free online content. However, the initial part of the course assigns chapters mainly from the following text:
Berkeley Electronic Press: Jeffrey R. Church and Roger Ware’s Industrial Organization: A Strategic Approach
You will need to download the PDF file of the book by clicking on the "Download" tab on the right hand side of the webpage.  Please note that the PDF file of this book will be used repeatedly in this course, so you may want to save this file. 
Requirements for completion: In order to successfully complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and its assigned material, in the order they are presented.  Please note that each chapter in this course provides a comprehensive discussion of the topic along with examples and in order to fully understand the material, it is essential to practice the  problems on your own.
Note that you will be officially graded only for the final exam.  In order to "pass" the course, you will have to attain a minimum of 70% on the Final Exam.  Your score on the final exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  You will have the opportunity to retake the exam if you do not pass it.
Time Commitment: This course should take you approximately 76 hours to complete.  A time advisory is presented under each subunit to guide you on the amount of time that you are expected to spend in going through the lectures.  Please do not rush through the material to adhere to the time advisory.   You can look at the time suggested in order to plan out your week for study and make your schedule accordingly.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.