The course is intended to expose students to a broader and more adequate conversation about economics by incorporating institutions into economic analysis. It examines contending approaches to microeconomic theories and their concrete applications focusing on the issues including consumer behavior and demand, labor market dynamics, income inequality, racial and gender discrimination, educational opportunities and technological development, natural resources and environmental governance, enterprises’ strategic decision-making process, and market regulation. The aim is to assess the limited capacity of conventional-neoclassical microeconomics – which focuses on ‘individual maximizing behavior’ in isolation from the rest of society – to effectively deal with those issues. In order to fill this gap, this course introduces and examines an Institutional view of economics pioneered by Thorstein B. Veblen and further developed by Gunnar Myrdal and John K. Galbraith, who all explain economic phenomena by carefully placing human behavior in its social, political and cultural context. Context also includes the distribution of wealth and power in society. In this fashion, individuals cannot be taken as the basic unit of analysis, because their tastes, interests, knowledge, judgment, and ultimately, their actions are largely affected by the institutional structure in which economic activity occur. Theoretical and empirical work will be given equal consideration in this course. Multiple analytical techniques (narrative, descriptive, graphical) will be employed in order to explain how the real economy works. Students are expected to understand and critically examine theoretical frameworks and arguments so that they can develop analytical skills to deal with real world problems with which the citizens of today are confronted.
At the end of this course, students will demonstrate the ability to: