Paper #2

Due Monday Oct 29, 2018


The purpose of this assignment is to have you read and reflect on two empirical papers in the economics of strategy. Towards that end I have compiled a large but far from exhaustrive bibliography of papers on the beer industry. Pick two, which is obviously more productive if the two are interrelated at some level. First find an initial paper that appeals to you. Then look through the bibliography for an additional paper, or turn to EconPapers or EconLit, or (if you have a paper that’s been out for a while) use Google Scholar to find who has cited that paper.

You may choose another industry (or potentially papers on the same narrow topic from more than one industry), but if so, you should consult with me in advance.


Your comparison should result in a concisely written paper of 5-7 pages in length. You need part of a page for an introduction. You need perhaps 2 pages to present each paper. You then need an additional page or so to compare and contrast. Make a Williams Communication Center appointment now!

Points to Ponder (and then write about):

  • What do the papers claim is their purpose? Do they complement each other, or do both document the same basic phenomenon? What are their data sources, from what time period do they draw their data from, and what novel types of data do they have? What data would they like to have had, but didn’t?
  • How do they set up their empirical exercise? Are they estimating a probability? Are they estimating the membership in a group? Or are they estimating a (potentially) continous variable such as price?
  • How do they “identify” the effect of their independent variable X on Y? Can they distinguish the impact of X from those of W and Z? Can they distinguish the direction of causation (X ⇒ Y versus Y ⇒ X) or joint causation (J ⇒ X and Y) or muddied causation (J ⇒ X and W and Z ⇒ Y)?
  • Are the findings compelling, or does a small dataset and/or low statistical power (under 3 asterisks) render the results suspect? What explanations or causes do they note for which they can’t test?
  • What do they authors find that is in accord with their priors (Hypothesis 1 etc)? What do they find that is unexpected? What do they not find?