Monday, December 2, 2013

The Last Post!

I can't believe this is my last post, it seems like I was just writing the bio post about William Baumol. In thinking back over my time in the class, I really enjoyed most of the topics and our class discussions. The class approach was different than many of my other classes which was refreshing to partake in.

One of my favorite lessons I learned in the class was about the principal-agent model and the role of capture. In thinking about organizations I never really considered the negative sides involving bribes or other ways in which one agent can capture or take advantage of the principal.  It was also informing to consider the difference between having one agent or two. There seems to be a lot more conflict in the second case due to the influence of capture. This lesson also makes me think back to the lesson on opportunism. I found it interesting that most people in the class explained how they avoided opportunism in their blog posts and in class discussion. It was difficult for people to think of a time in which they were opportunistic as often times it is done subconsciously. I think this can be a major problem in organizations if people sacrifice the good of the organization for their own personal gain.

I liked the way the class was structured in that the blogging related well to the class discussion. It helped me get a better understanding of the topics by reflecting on my own experience and making solid connections to the material. The one thing I would have liked to get more out of discussion would have been to have more context prior to the excel homeworks. The excel was often difficult to understand at first and I needed the explanation in the next class session to truly comprehend the material. I think it would have been helpful to have a little preview of the homework before it was assigned.

The blogging process was actually quite enjoyable. I was nervous at first because I am not one to put my opinions and thoughts out there for anyone to read. After a while, I used it more as a learning tool and almost forgot that others would be reading it. I also really liked getting comments on my ideas and responding to those comments. I learned where things were poorly explained through the questions asked in the comments. This helped me improve my writing over the course of the class. The blogging didn't take too much time and as I got into it, the time seemed to go by rather quickly. The excel homework was where most of my out-of-class time was spent. It was often difficult for me to understand the concepts as I had little context or knowledge about most of the topics before attempting the homework. I was able to complete all of the assignments, but I definitely needed our class sessions to explain the meaning behind the math. These assignments varied from taking 45mins-1 hr 30mins depending on the assignment.

One comment I have on the way class is run is that we often went off on tangents and then didn't ever get back to the main point and instead continued on with the lesson. While the tangents were enjoyable and informative, I often lost some of the meaning in the lesson because I couldn't decipher between the class material and the tangents.

I would again just like to say that I really did enjoy the class and feel like I learned not only about organizations but also useful blogging skills that I can bring into the professional world.


  1. I'm glad you liked the blogging and getting comments. But, as I will try to show below, it is surprising to me that you found it a benefit that the blogging didn't take much time. In this, your post is the mirror image of Milton Friedman's post. Friedman liked the math more than the blogging, but put little time into doing the Excel homework.

    Earlier in the semester I had a sense that you liked the blogging because you were far and away the most enthusiastic student in terms of writing comments on other blog posts. That enthusiasm had to come from somewhere.

    Given that, I kind of expected you to take the next step or two with your writing, which to me would have been to tie your posts to earlier posts by some of your classmates or to earlier posts you have written. The prompt said nothing about doing this, but given your enthusiasm, it seemed to be something you would task yourself to do. So there is a puzzle as to why it didn't happen.

    There seem to me to be at least three possible explanations. The first is that it didn't occur to you to do that. The second was that you thought about it but didn't feel competent to do it and didn't want to try something that might backfire. The third is that you thought about it but knew it would take more time to do so.

    More generally, writing is something that no matter at what stage you've reached, you can always improve. I think the lesson you did learn is about providing the reader with sufficient context. I often knew little to nothing about sorority life, so was an ignorant though interested reader. Ignorance in this case is not a crime and it is the writer's job to allow the reader to get past that and make good sense of what is being written. This is an important lesson for the writer.

    But it is only one writing issue - there are many others. You would benefit by trying to make your pieces more complex in their scope without making it harder for the reader to see what you are talking about. Bringing in other posts would have been a start in that direction. (By the way, this probably takes years of practice to get good at it.)

    Let's switch gears. On the math, I have a feeling that you would have benefited by attending some live office hour sessions. You did post questions online. It clearly wasn't sufficient for you. In that sense the math is different from the blogging, because it is harder for you to show your own thinking about the math online. A few students did use live office hours to good effect, but many others didn't try that route. On Tuesday in class, we should spend some time talking about how to get more students involved in office hours.

  2. Professor Arvan, thank you for your response. Each response really does help me grow as a writer. In terms of including past posts into the current one, that was something I had not considered. I guess I chose to view each assignment as an individual one, so it didn't cross my mind to combine the posts. Looking back, I can see how that would be beneficial and would have improved my explanations and arguments.

    In terms of the excel homework and office hours, I would usually be able to complete the math and then would wait for further explanation of the topics in class. The class sessions were usually sufficient in explaining the topics to me so at that point I felt that I didn't need to attend office hours; however, I realize that office hours could have helped enhance my understanding even more.

    Thanks again for your advice as it will be helpful in my future endeavors.

  3. One last bit of advice. If you get any enjoyment at all just from the writing itself, keep at it. It will pay big dividends down the road.

  4. It was nice to be reminded of everyone claiming that they were not opportunistic. I know that I certainly am at times, and I probably could have been a bit more frank about that. I also didn't make the connection that this translates to organizations. I see that this could potentially create a significant problem - I believe that the admission, "my bad" goes a long way in organizations.