Monday, June 17, 2013

Economic Competitiveness: Firms, Clusters and Economic Development, PA 5590

Fall Semester 2013 · 3 Credits
Thursdays, 6:00 ‑ 8:45 p. m.
Room 184 Humphrey Center
Co-instructors: Lee Munnich and Matt Schmit

Course Syllabus here

Course Description
The course examines both advanced and developing economies and addresses competitiveness at multiple levels - nations, sub-national units such as states or provinces, particular cluster, and neighboring countries. The course is concerned not only with government policy, but also with the roles that firms, industry, associations, universities, and other institutions play in competitiveness. In modern competition, each of these institutions has an important and evolving role in economic development. Moreover, the process of creating and sustaining an economic strategy for a nation, state or region is a daunting challenge. The course explores not only theory and policy but also the organizational structures, institutional structures, and change processes required for sustained improvements in competitiveness.

The course is based on the Microeconomics of Competitiveness (MOC) case-study course developed by Professor Michael E. Porter and his colleagues at the Harvard Business School. The course explores the determinants of national and regional competitiveness building from the perspective of firms, clusters, sub-national units, nations, and groups of neighboring countries. It focuses on the sources of national or regional productivity, which are rooted in the strategies and operating practices of locally based firms, the vitality of clusters, and the quality of the business environment in which competition takes place.

The course is taught using case studies drawn from all major regions of the world. Part of the purpose of the course is to expose students to some of the most successful countries and regions. In addition to cases, there are readings, occasional video lectures by Michael Porter, and videotaped appearances by guests who are national, regional, or business leaders involved in the cases studied. Students will learn how to use online tools for analyzing industry clusters such as the U.S. Cluster Mapping website developed through a partnership with the Economic Development Administration and Dr. Porter's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness.

The class format will consist of case studies, lectures, guest speakers, and a strong emphasis on teamwork and class participation. Students will be asked to prepare for as well as conduct case study presentations and discussion with the class. Team members will be expected to prepare and present a regional economic and cluster analysis and strategy, to give an oral presentation to a guest jury, and to assess their own performance as a team. This year's class will include a focus on the role of transportation in economic development, and student teams will be asked to identify policy implications for transportation in their projects.

The Humphrey School's State and Local Policy Program regularly hires research assistants (RAs) to conduct economic competitiveness and industry cluster analysis. This course provides a strong base for students interested in these RAships.

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