Final Paper

Econ 243   Winter 2017
Final Paper
Technology and the Automotive Industry
Due Saturday 8 April at 2 pm

Using the automotive industry as the source of examples and issues, pick a component of corporate strategy or national policy driven by (or that seeks to drive) technology.

You have ample resources for that task, beginning with the Smitka & Warrian book, class notes, and as appropriate items from EconPapers, EconLit and current business journalism. My focus however is NOT whether you can prove yourself an expert in the industry, but in your ability to wield theory and structure an argument. In other words, I try to evaluate whether your conclusions flow from your premises and examples and your theoretical structure, not whether you are “right” or “wrong” about what has or will happen.

Potential topics include:

  • the impact of a new technology such as improved Li-ion batteries;
  • how a change in CAFE standards in the US might affect the domestic industry, given that the players therein are global companies whose business is not limited to NAFTA;
  • the costs and benefits of a new technology such as adaptive cruise control;
  • how will better computer engineering tools affect the industry (perhaps software, perhaps rapid prototyping)
  • what might be the impact of additive manufacturing and other technologies that might allow personalization of a vehicle – custom paint jobs, seats modified to your derrière, embossed surfaces?
  • what might be the impact of computerized ordering technologies that give a new car purchaser the total freedom to mix and max (standard) options without incurring a 60 day wait for their vehicle?
  • what might be the impact of better information technology that lets customers do 3-year-leases of used vehicles?
  • what is the impact of better intrinsic product quality (less warranty work, longer intervals between routine maintenance such as oil changes) on the distribution system?
  • what are the costs and benefits of a car company running “factory” stores rather than using franchised dealerships? would “big data” (fixed costs to put together, near-zero marginal costs to spit out lists) shift this margin towards greater or less “vertical integration”?

As with previous papers, this should be succinct in structure and prose, clear in theme with a conclusion that is not a summary, and have a final bibliography (using inline citations in the text of the paper).

I will not give extensions on the basis of the Williams Communication Center being fully booked. Schedule your appointment NOW!

Length: as long as your topic demands, with my expectation that most papers will be 5-8 pages.