Course Descriptions

Course catalog descriptions for courses offered in all currently published terms.

Business Economics

Department Chairperson: Buchmueller, Thomas
Department Website:
BE 502 Applied Microeconomics
  2.25 hours Core Terms Offered: F13(A), F14(A)
  Course Prerequisites: No credit in BE 501 
  Applied Microeconomics --- This course provides students with the foundations of microeconomic analysis. The primary objective is to develop the abilities of students to apply fundamental microeconomic concepts to a wide range of managerial decisions, as well as public policy issues. Foundation topics include: costs and supply behavior of the firm; consumer behavior and market demand; market forces, price formation and resource allocation; international trade and trade restrictions; and, market power and price-setting behavior. Students will also be introduced to more advanced aspects of microeconomic analysis. Advanced topics include; decision-making with risk and imperfect information; and, complex pricing strategies.
BE 518 Business of Biology
  2.25 hours Terms Offered: F14(A)
  Cross-listed with: PHRMACOL 620, ENGR 523, HMP 630, BIOMEDE 523 
  Business of Biology --- Advances in life science research have enhanced our understanding of the human genome, human genetic variation, and the role that genes play in our everyday health, response to treatment and susceptibility to disease. This new frontier in genomic medicine ushers in both opportunity and peril for individuals, companies and societies. The objective in this interdisciplinary graduate course is to explore the intersections between science, technology, commerce and social policy as they come together to advance (and in some cases retard) progress toward more-personalized health care. The course is intended for graduate students in medicine, biomedical and health-related science, public health, law, engineering, and business interested in the future of health care. Due to variation in student backgrounds coming into the course, efforts are made to establish a shared vocabulary and knowledge base across the disciplines. Interdisciplinary student teams are assigned to a group research project which is presented at the end of the course.
BE 520 Organization of Business Relationshps
  2.25 hours Elective Terms Offered: W13(A), W14(A)
  Advisory Prerequisites: BE 501or 502 or 591 
  Organization of Business Relationships --- This class will explore the relationships within and between firms. Beginning with the theory of the firm literature, the class will focus on the ownership of assets and the separation of ownership and control. The focus will then shift to the economic literature on relationships and organization of human capital with a focus on teams and the information flows within and between teams. What constitutes a team? What are the benefits/costs of operating within a team? How do different locations, different cultures and different objectives affect the relationships that develop? How and why are franchising arrangements used? Some of the legal implications of different organizational forms will be explored in the context of two important antitrust cases. Finally, some hybrid organizational forms will be considered. For example, what are the motivations for and roles of business groups that are often observed in different countries around the world?
BE 523 Comp Hlth Cr Strat
  2.25 hours Terms Offered: W14(A)
  Comprehensive Health Care Strategies --- This course provides a data-driven, rapid-fire, comprehensive survey of health care issues and strategy as seen from the varying perspectives of the industry's primary stakeholders: patients, physicians, other caregivers, health system executives, employers and managed care companies, policymakers, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and other vendors. The course begins with the core physician-patient transaction and from this underlying relationship builds a model of health care delivery and financing around which these varying perspectives are framed. For example, we will examine the strategies followed by these different players vis-a-vis a costly new medical technology, such as a cochlear implant or sepsis medication. The course includes brief historical accounts from stakeholders' perspectives, but focuses on today's pressing challenges and future opportunities, including technology and globalization. Much of the course is based on cases and readings, and it includes several industry speakers.
BE 527 Energy Markets and Energy Politics
  3 hours Elective Terms Offered: F13, F14
  Cross-listed with: NRE 527 
  Energy Markets and Energy Politics --- The goal of this course is to give students a solid grasp of the environmental and social impacts of, and the institutions that govern, energy use, so that you can play a more effective role in shaping future policy or business decisions. We will begin with basic scientific and technological facts regarding the major uses for and sources of energy. We will then study energy markets (including spot and future markets), and what they are capable of accomplishing; we will also study the ways energy markets may fail. This will lead into an overview of the role of government in influencing energy decisions, starting with a high-level perspective, and then working with a series of case studies that examine in depth what government has accomplished in the area of energy policy. The course will wrap up with several current policy/business issues such as renewable portfolio standards, markets for renewable energy credits, and integrating the transportation sector into a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emisisions.
BE 555 Non-Market Strategy: Shaping the Rules of the Game
  1.5 hours Elective Terms Offered: F14(B), F13(B)
  Course Prerequisites: (BE 501,502 or 591) and (no credit in BE 550/NRE 551, PUBPOL 515) 
  Cross-listed with: PUBPOL 515 
  Non-Market Strategy: Shaping the Rules of the Game --- Most business courses teach you how to play the game of business within the rules. This course is about the rules themselves, their creation and their enforcement. While a firm's competitive advantage is created in large part through developing exploiting difficult-to-imitate capabilities and resources in the market environment, the non-market environment in which the firm operates also presents important risks and opportunities for business leaders. Many barriers to imitation derive from legal rules or public policies that favor certain capabilities over others. These policies are not exogenously given. They are instead the outcome of competition between businesses and other groups within public institutions. In many industries, corporate activity in the policymaking and judicial process is a key element in creating or maintaining a company's competitive advantage. This course has four main goals: 1) Create awareness of the broad range of ways in which the non-market environment - especially government policy - affects business. 2) Give an understanding of the process through which business and other groups create and change the rules of the game. 3) Gain a mastery of a set of conceptual tools and frameworks for developing and implementing non-market strategies. 4) Provide opportunities to practice formulating integrated strategies that function skillfully in the non-market arena.
BE 562 Growth and Stabilization in the Macro Economy
  2.25 hours Elective Terms Offered: F13(A), W13(A), W14(A)
  Course Prerequisites: No credit in BE 560 
  Advisory Prerequisites: BE 501 or 502 or 591 or equivalent 
  Growth and Stabilization in the Macro Economy --- This course is an analysis of private market forces and national and international policy decisions that drive fluctuations in the global economy. The course uses formal macroeconomic models to give students the tools to understand and evaluate contemporary and historical economic growth. The course focuses on the structure of national and international banking and financial systems, sources of financial instability, and their impact on economic growth. Key topics include long-run economic growth, international trade, interest rates, exchange rates and monetary policy. The course emphasizes development of students' ability to analyze national and international economic data and to understand discussions of macroeconomic issues in the business press and their implications for business decision-making.
BE 580 Competitive Tactics and Policy
  2.25 hours Elective Terms Offered: W14(B)
  Course Prerequisites: No credit in BE 581 
  Advisory Prerequisites: BE 501 or BE 502 or permission of instructor 
  Competitive Tactics and Policy --- This course focuses on two main questions: How do firms develop and maintain profits in the face of competition, and how do governments use antitrust and competition laws to set limits on the degree to which firms exercise market power? This course applies analytical tools of economics and basic game theory to understand the effects of firm tactics and strategies on the firm's customers and rivals, and their likely reactions, and to see how policies designed to promote competition affect the feasibility of various actions firms might want to take. Antitrust laws have spread globally: this course compares the U.S. approach to antitrust policy with that of other countries, and draws implications for business. The dimensions of competitive strategy covered include horizontal mergers, cooperative pricing, product differentiation, strategies to deter entry, predatory practices, strategic commitment, vertical relationships with suppliers and distributors, and vertical restraints. The concepts in the course will be developed using a mix of lectures, business cases, and antitrust case material.
BE 586 Business Economics for the Entrepreneur
  1.5 hours Core Terms Offered: F14(A), W13(B), W14(B)
  Business Economics for the Entrepreneur --- This course provides students with the foundations of microeconomic analysis, with topics specifically chosen to give the potential entrepreneur a set of tools to analyze business opportunities. We begin with the conceptual underpinnings of different components of costs and their relevance for new business ventures. We also examine the determinants and measurement of consumer demand, as well as how different market structures (e.g. a highly competitive market contrasted with a monopoly protected by patent) affect the evolution of profits over time. The course then progresses to focus on several pricing options that give the entrepreneur added flexibility to enhance profitability. Finally, we spend some time describing ways in which firms organize their transactions, and discuss when they might serve the entrepreneur well. For each topic, this applied course integrates the business context with the legal or policy environment so that students can be exposed to a broad set of applications and settings.
BE 591 Applied Microeconomics
  2.25 hours Core Terms Offered: W13(B), W14(B)
  Advisory Prerequisites: Global MBA students only 
  Applied Microeconomics --- This course provides students with the foundations of microeconomic analysis. It is designed to develop in students an ability to apply the analysis to business decision-making and public policy evaluation. Topics include: (1) the nature of the business firm, its costs and its supply behavior; (2) consumer behavior and market demand; (3) market forces, price formation and resource allocation; (4) international trade and trade restrictions; and (5) market power, cartels and price-setting behavior. IN this course, students also apply microeconomic analysis to more advanced aspects of business decision-making and public policy evaluation. Topics include: (1) imperfect information and uncertainty; (2) decision-making with risk; (3) principal-agent issues and incentive contracts; (4) complex and multipart pricing strategies; (5) vertical relationships between firms and suppliers; and (6) antitrust and regulatory policies.
BE 608 Health Care Markets and Public Policies
  1.5 hours Elective Terms Offered: F14(B), F13(B)
  Advisory Prerequisites: BE 501, BE 502, BE 591 
  Health Care Markets and Public Policies --- This course provides an overview of the economics and business of health care. The main focus will be on the financing and delivery of health services in the United States. The analysis of each part of the health care system will include a consideration of basic economic issues, key public policies and current market developments. Particular attention will be paid to health care reform and its implications for consumers, employers, insurers and providers.
BE 619 Incentives & Productivity
  2.25 hours Elective Terms Offered: W13(A)
  Cross-listed with: MO 619 
  Incentives and Productivity --- This course applies economics to the analysis of personnel management issues. Topics covered include hiring and firing decisions, human capital and the provision of on-the-job training, task assignment, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, the provision of incentives in firms, the advantages and disadvantages of alternative compensation schemes, promotions and up-or-out contracts as incentive mechanisms, objective and subjective performance evaluation, relative performance evaluation, career-based incentives, team production, stock options and executive compensation, and the impact of labor laws on personnel management choices from an international comparative perspective.
BE 688 Washington DC Residential on Health Care Policy and Politics
  3 hours Terms Offered: S13, S14, W13(B), W14(B)
  Washington DC Residential on Health Care Policy and Politics --- Washington DC Residential on Health Care Policy and Politics ? Although the U.S. has the most market-oriented health care system in the world, government involvement in health care is pervasive. The Federal Medicare program is the single largest purchaser of health care in the U.S., accounting for roughly one-fifth of total health spending. Reimbursement policies adopted by Medicare and other public programs have fundamental effects on the incentives faced by health care providers and suppliers. The Federal governments and the states have long played critical roles in regulating private health insurance markets and supporting private coverage with large tax subsidies. The passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 significantly increases the involvement of the government in health insurance markets. Federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration also shape the development and diffusion of health technology.
In light of the extensive and important role that government plays in health care, it is important for students who are interested in a career in health care to understand key health care policy issues, as well as the institutional and political context in which these policies are crafted. The goal of this course is to provide a deep and nuanced introduction to these issues.
BE 750 Independent Study Project
  1 - 3 hours Elective Terms Offered: S13, P14, M13, S14, F13, P13, W13, F14, W14, M14
  Advisory Prerequisites: Graduate standing 
  Independent Study Project --- Independent study projects, supervised by faculty, are available to graduate business students in good academic standing. To select a project, students should consult the appropriate professor about the nature of the project and the number of credit hours the work would earn. Students earn one to three credit hours per project and may elect only one study project in a term. Graduate business students should consult their program bulletins for information
regarding total number of projects and credits that can be applied to their degree. To register for a project students must submit an approved Independent Study Project application, available online.