Beer Paper

Economics 243 Winter 2017

Beer Paper

This 5-8 page paper asks you to discuss two (or more) items in the academic and management strategy literature on the beer industry, while also using the Ogle book, Ambitious Brew. To facilitate your assignment, you will find a wide array of such papers in the (non-exhaustive) beer bibliography on the course web site.

As with any paper or memo, you need to clearly state your theme early in the first paragraph (and ideally in the first sentence). You can then expand on this theme by setting forth why it matters. The following paragraph should then discuss how to approach the topic analytically, and what data are available. You will likely list several papers here (using our in-line citation format – no footnotes or endnotes, no titles in the body of your paper, that’s for you bibliography), though you may not use them all.

If the papers fit together well, you may be able to discuss them jointly. However, it is often less confusing to have a 1-2 page subsection for each paper (and potentially a subsection for Ogle). You then look compare and contrast in your concluding section. Where do they complement each other? Draw different conclusions? Where are their data weak or their arguments (to you) not compelling (and why)? The final paragraph of the paper should return to “big” questions. What do they leave out? What additional questions do these papers raise? Or do they provide general lessons for thinking about strategy, that is, can you generalize?

As always, you should edit your first draft for concision, looking for repetitive content and eliminating your use of the passive voice. Delete indefinite modifiers (such as “some” and “very”); watch for duplication of verbs (look for every place you use “and”). Fix typos (“led” not “lead,” and the word “data” is plural).

We have covered a wide array of theoretical issues in class; I will also review basic econometrics, with a focus on how to read tables in empirical papers. Use what you have learned! Do firms have market power? Do they benefit from economies of scale? Do mergers make sense? What about product differentiation? Can firms price discriminate? Market segmentation (which may incorporate both product differentiation and price discrimination)? What is the role of advertising? Vertical issues?

Note the following two book-length resources. Both in the library, I also own personal copies. If you check one or the other out, email the class. If you use it in the library, return it promptly to the right spot on the shelf so that others can find it. (I will let you know if I put them on reserve.)

  • Swinnen, Johan F. M., ed. 2011. The Economics of Beer. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Tremblay, Victor, & Tremblay, Carol (2005). The US Brewing Industry: Data and Economic Analysis. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Hard Copy Due Monday 13 March in Class

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