Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Blog Post Due 12/2 Final Reflection

As a whole, I loved this course. It was one of the few courses I enjoyed attending. Although attendance was optional, I still enjoyed going every day because I knew the professor was knowledgeable about the topic and came prepared every day with interesting course material.
The biggest lesson I learned about organizations now that the class is in regards to my project. My project was about the effort to reduce shirking in the workplace through shared capitalism. Specifically what I found most interesting was how giving equity in a company creates a more efficient and productive working environment. Although it makes sense that if you were rewarded with company equity or other forms of shared capitalism, you would want to work harder yourself, however I did not see the positive externality of co monitoring coming into play. Almost every form of shared capitalism created an environment where employees were more likely to correct shirking behavior of others, or at least report it to the proper higher-ups to deal with it. That is not something I expected.
I also enjoyed the way the class was taught. My main problem in Econ classes was that I lose focus when the teacher explains a long complicated topic. Its not that I don’t want to focus, I obviously would love to learn whatever is going to be on our tests, however, when a teacher is monotonously droning on about a topic that isn’t very relatable to me, it is hard to stay 100% there. In your class, you constantly connected the topics to everyday examples that were related to us. Most memorably, when you compared different types of beer to reputation of goods. It put the lesson in an example that all of us could understand, even if we don’t drink beer. I also liked how we did the discussion posts before class. Although I did not get the feeling until after the first midterm, I thoroughly enjoyed conversing about a topic we were going to learn in class as opposed to reading about it. Personally, I learn best through interaction and not through reading something out of a book, so although I did not understand till late, it was a huge help for the second half of the class.
As I started doing the blogs, I got into a pretty good pattern or my thought process. Typically, the prompts was very easily relatable to my experience with the Evans Scholarship, which was a huge help because the scholarship is an economic organization and my experience with it almost always translated to the prompt. After I figured out what I was going to write about, I googled or looked up in the book any words or concepts that I did not fully understand and wrote the post. The homework was a little bit easier and more straightforward. I had a friend in the class so we would both start the homework with the intent on finishing it on our own. If we ran into any problems, we would text or call each other and work the problem out together.

Something I would have liked to see in the course would have been collusion between economic organizations and governments. Something I was interested in learning about more since the New York Times article we had to read was the part about how big business and big government worked together to get what they wanted. I feel that would have been interesting to see the darker side of government and big business.

Blog Post Due 11/20 Reputations

Personal reputations are huge here on campus, especially when it comes to bar life. Although frowned upon by the owners of the bars, everyone knows the bartenders heavily reduce the final total of tabs for their friends. It’s a common practice across campus that helps the owners because it gets people out to the bars, but helps the friends because it leaves their wallet a little more full. I have a friend on campus; I will call him “Brad,” who does this for my group of friends and me. We always go to him when he is working because we know he will slash our tab at the end of the night. That is his reputation amongst us.
He also understands that he has that reputation. This is because in order to be a bartender, you need to win bar battles. A bar battle is a competition for the highest totals between certain doormen at a bar who have been working hard. These totals are typically heavily influenced by the doormen’s friends, which come out and spend their own money in order to gain the blessing of having a friend bartender at that bar. Brad understands that we supported him in his quest to get a promotion both in name and in pay, so he must pay it forward to those who got him there. All Brad must do to maintain this reputation is to continue to keep us happy, which he likes to do anyways because he is our friend.
There are some situations where Brad strays from his reputation as the good bartender, and that is when the bar is completely empty and he has no one else buying drinks from him. When this happens, the drinks that Brad “gave away” are much more noticeable at the end of the night when there is significantly more alcohol missing than sales at his register. When this occurs, he could lose his job, which is bad for both Brad and our friend group. When this happens, he happily tells us there is nothing he can do for us and we oblige because if he loses his job, every party is worse off.

There is a way for Brad to “cash in,” and ironically enough this happened to Brad the last time he went out. He ordered from a friend that was bartending all-night. He ordered drinks for himself, his friends, and even some other people all thinking that and the end of the night he will receive a small tab. Upon closing his tab, he looked at his total and to his surprise, $212. No warning, no nothing, just an astronomical amount of money he was now on the hook for. Here, this bartender “cashed in” on Brad. By not telling him that she was charging him for full drinks, he was under the impression he had a lot more money to spend than he did. Had he knows previously that he was being charged full price, he would have stopped ordering for others and possibly even himself. The bartender benefitted from this situation because she added money to her totals and she looked good in front of her manager for having high sales totals. Even though these sales totals were not necessary to not tip off her manager, she did this anyway and had some immediate gain, and because of this, she also lost the reputation of a good bartender in his eyes. This hurts her because if she was to have a bar battle, and she needs his and his friends support, not only do we no longer want to support her, most likely we can’t even afford to.

Blog Post Due 11/6 Principal Agent Problem

In the NBA, the head coach is commonly involved in recruiting free agents to their team. This is a perfect example of the triangle principal agent problem. Here, the coach is both a principal to the player and to the owner of the team. He is an principal to the player because he needs to tell him exactly what to expect in regards to play time and strategy when he joins the team. He is also is a principal to the owner of the team because he wants to attract the best talent to create the best team.
Problems can arise when the player wants more minutes or more of a role in the game plan, but the owner wants the player to enhance his team or to attract the talent to sell tickets. Here, the coach is stuck with the choice of possibly lying to the player to attract him to the team on false pretenses, however this could result in the inability to attract future players who knows he is not honest, or disobeying his owner and being honest with the player about his role on the team, which could lose him his job.

In this situation, the most likely scenario would be that he lies to the player about his role. This way he secures his position as the head coach with the owner, he betters his team, but he angers the other agent in the scenario. In this specific situation, I can’t think of another solution to the problem, unless the owner changes his mind in regards to the player, that leaves both agents happy and secures the head coach his job. The principal could fail if he does not satisfy both agents. In this situation, he could get fired as job from the head coach if he disobeys the owner. However, if he upsets the player, he could get less than 100% effort, which would hurt his team. 

Blog Post Due 10/30 Conflict Resolution

As president of the Evans House, there are plenty of conflicts between housemates that need resolving. One that comes to mind would be a conflict over rooming. One specific rooming issue was between two groups of girls fighting over the bigger room. The way rooming is done in our house is first by year in school, seniors getting first choice, followed by GPA. This process can get dicey when you have students with different years living together, as well as when you have students who are only living in the house for a semester due to study abroad or coops. The two sides of the conflict and their arguments are as follows:
·      Team one: this group consisted of three senior girls. From their perspective, because they were all seniors and had endured poor rooming in the past because of their age in the house. In addition to that, all three of them would be staying in the room for both semesters.
·      Team two: this group consisted of two seniors, one junior, and one sophomore. This group’s argument was because they had 4 people for a semester that they should receive the room, and that had they known that this room was smaller, they would have chosen the bigger one. However, one of the seniors and the sophomore will not be living in the house next semester. 
Team two brought a compromise to the table, stating that if they got the larger room first semester, they would happily switch to the smaller room second semester. However, this was declined by team one as they said the hassle was not worth the larger room for only one semester as moving rooms is stressful and something completely avoidable.

The solution I came up with was a mathematical one. Each girl was assigned a point value established by their GPA multiplied by their year in school (4 for senior, 3 for junior, and 2 for sophomore) multiplied by how many semesters they will be in the in the house (1 or 2). Then I added all the numbers of the team members together and whoever had the higher number would receive the larger room. Before I calculated the number, I offered team one to see if they did receive the smaller room, would they want to switch mid semester and once again they declined. In the end, team one had the higher total and they got the larger room. Although it was resolved, to this day the people in the smaller room do not talk to me. This problem may have been avoided if everyone had perfect information. Had both teams know the size of each room beforehand, maybe they could have figured it out civilly amongst themselves, although judging form team two’s reaction to me after all of this, I doubt it.

Post Due 10/23 Marbles

After reading Jonathan Haidt’s How to Get the Rich to Share the Marbles, it is clear that gift exchange and team production are very closely linked. However, this does not come as a surprise to me. When two people put in the same inputs to achieve a common goal, I completely expect both parties to receive the same compensation. However, if you were not to do the same work to achieve the goal, or the payment was a gift, I do not expect for the payments to be even.
An interesting point I believe the article makes without knowing it is the how ok people are if they start out “rich” or “poor.” When they talk about the babies who do no work but start out with more marbles, the babies rarely ever shared them. This can be compared to where people with rich or poor parents start their kids off. Although the children themselves have done nothing to deserve the extra income, they still receive a huge boost and a starting point that is not equal to that of the other child. More importantly, the child believes he is right by not sharing the marble, something egalitarians may find a problem with.
Although I have not had any group projects in college, in high school they were much more common. One in particular comes to mind, from my Latin American history class. During the project, most of the group contributed their fair share to the completion of the project, however one student in particular did not. In fact, rather than participating, she was studying for the final in that same class. At the end of the project, we received forms as to judge how the remainder of our group contributed to our success from 1-20 (20% of our grade on the project) and in the end; the student who did not participate received a significantly worse grade than those who did. In addition, he offered all the kids who received 20/20 on the group judgments, he would give us an extra credit point to motivate us to do our fair share. This type of exchange I do not feel bad about, as the girl who did not participate did not deserve the same grade as the rest of us. In this situation, everyone had an equal chance to participate, so an egalitarian should not be bothered by this outcome.
When looking back on the project, I am still happy that the shirker received a lower grade because the remaining four group remembers not only did our fair share but also had to ban together and make up for the work she was not doing. If we apply this situation to gift exchange, the grade would be pay and while the effort put in stays the same, while the grader would be the employer and the students would be the employees. Here, the slacking student would not receive the extra 20% pay because she provided less than the minimum amount of work to do so. In our case, and especially those who got the perfect 20/20 scores and earned the extra point, received a gift from the grader and the grader received the gift of an excellently made project, in the case of a business, an excellently made product.

Something the paper touched on that I couldn’t relate to is the collusion between big business, big finance, and big government. I wish they had done an experiment where they somehow communicated to one child that they were going to receive more and then measure how often they gave up their marbles. I would say the conclusions in this piece do jive with the conclusions that came form this piece. Everyone is always looking to the fair share, however, if someone is not doing his or her fair share, that person should not be entitled to the same payment as someone who put in more work.