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Course Packet

Amazon logo Shapiro, C., and Varian, H., Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy. Cambridge: Harvard Business School Press, November 1, 1998. ISBN: 087584863X.

Amazon logo Brynjolfsson, E. and B. Kahin. Understanding the Digital Economy: Data, Tools, and Research. Cambridge: MIT Press, October 16, 2000. ISBN: 0262024748.

Supplemental handouts will be distributed in class.


  • Weekly readings and class discussion

  • Each participant will serve as a facilitator for (at least) one class session

  • Term Paper (suitable for conference submission when complete)

  • Short papers: Five 2-page short papers, as noted in the calendar


Grades will be assigned on the following basis:

Activities percentages
Class participation and leadership 30%
Two-page papers on readings (5) 20%
One survey or research paper 50%

Course Objectives and Description

Business organizations and markets use a bewildering variety of structures to coordinate the productive activities of their stakeholders. Dramatic changes in information technology and the nature of economic competition are forcing firms to come up with new ways of organizing work. This course uses economic theory to investigate the roles of information and technology in the existing diversity of organizations and markets and in enabling the creating of new organizational forms.

The class is designed for Ph.D students in management, information technology, organizational behavior, industrial relations, economics, and related disciplines. For non-economists, this class offers an exposure to fundamental ideas in the economics of information, organizations, and markets. For economists, this class offers the opportunity to apply abstract economic ideas to the question of how the rise of information technology and related changes in the business environment affect organizations and markets. The applied nature of the class may also be appealing to MBA students willing to undertake the extensive reading assignments and class preparation required in a seminar class of this type.

A seminar class works because students come prepared to engage in thoughtful discussions of the material. Students are therefore asked to write informal, two page memos prior to most classes. These memos will generally be responses to some questions or issues we pose prior to each class. Our purpose in assigning these memos is to help students reflect on important aspects raised in the assigned readings. In addition, each student will be asked to lead part of the class discussion. This will typically involve meeting with the instructor ahead of time to discuss objectives and discussion plans.

There are no exams in this class but a final paper is due at the end of the semester. It can be either a survey of the research in a particular area or a research paper on a specific topic. Either way, the paper can be thought of as a step towards developing a research program. In the past, some of these papers have led to publications. Further details of the paper will be provided in class.