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Course Details

Course Number: 90-910

Economics of Technological Change

Units: 12

The course is intended as a PhD course. Intermediate microeconomics and econometrics are pre-requisites. PhD level micro (e.g., 90-905) and econometrics highly desired. Advanced undergraduates with appropriate preparation and interest are welcome.

This course focuses on technical change, its determinants and consequences, and its links to firm strategy and market structure. Our objective is to understand the economic determinants and consequences of innovation. However, technological change needs to be understood in a historical context, and consequently, the readings cover both historical description, and economic analysis.

The class will be run as a seminar class. You are expected to have done the readings and come prepared to discuss them in class. To this end, we will assign short papers on the readings for each week, which you are expected to write and turn in at the beginning of class. The primary grading criterion is whether your paper demonstrates that you have read and digested the readings assigned.

The instructor will guide the discussions (and occasionally lecture on the more technical material). Many of the readings below are available from www.jstor.org. The working papers are available from www.ssrn.com. Chapters from books and older readings will be made available the week before (listed as X in the reading below). Some readings may be made available through the course website (on blackboard). You are expected to do all the starred (*) readings. Other readings are recommended for those with an interest in the topic.

Grading: There are 11 short papers in all, and your grade will be determined by the best 9. (In other words, you may miss a maximum of 2 assignments without hurting your grade.) There will be an in-class final. In addition, you may choose to write a research paper. If you choose this option, you must contact the instructor no later than 1st March with a one page proposal, describing the proposed research. The paper should be related to the broad themes of the nature and determinants of technological change.