Study programme

Strategy Economics

Our programme is motivated by the insight that economies are constantly changing: strategic firm behaviour such as investments in innovation and foreign market entry are at the heart of competitive advantage and economic growth in the modern world. The programme equips you with the analytical tools that are necessary for making the right decisions in this highly dynamic environment. That includes a good knowledge of relevant economic theories as well as skills for carrying out independent empirical research. You will be provided with quantitative skills, needed to analyse the strategic behaviour of firms and entrepreneurs and the economic impact of such strategic behaviour.

This master’s specialisation consists of core courses, electives, seminars, and a master's thesis distributed over five blocks of eight weeks.

Block 1 and 2: Core courses and electives

The core courses which you take in block 1 represent the fundamental paradigms of the master’s specialisation. You will focus on a broad range of theories and strategy topics (in Economics of Strategy). You will learn relevant econometric techniques for analysing strategic firm decisions (in Applied Micro-econometrics). An important element of our programme is to enable students to make informed strategic decisions based on micro-econometric analysis. Therefore you will also learn to understand and interpret empirical findings to develop strategic advice for different types of firms such as on how to improve their innovation and growth performance (in Economics of Innovation). These core courses in block 1 provide a solid background for the seminars of the third and fourth block.

In block 2 students will further develop their econometric skills for analysing strategic decisions (in Advanced Empirical Methods). Together with the econometric skills learned in block 1 these quantitative courses are essential to prepare students for the Seminars in block 3 and 4 and for the Master thesis. The electives in block 2 represent a choice of supplementary but fascinating academic views from the world of strategy economics. Among the choices we recommend are a course on strategic firm decisions that are required for operating in the global economy (in Firms in the Global Economy), a course on innovation in corporate firms (in Corporate Innovation and Venture Capital), and a course on designing effective mechanisms for reaching mutual agreements through negotiations (in Economics of Negotiations).

Block 3, 4 and 5: Seminars and master’s thesis

The seminars are essential components of the master’s programme. For these intensive courses, active participation and commitment are mandatory. In the seminars the students apply the theories and methods they learned in the core courses to real-life problems and data.

The first seminar in block 3 focuses on how strategic decisions are impacted by internal firm characteristics, such as a firm’s technological know-how, its physical and financial resources, and characteristics of its key decision makers. This seminar also pays attention to internal choices involved in achieving certain strategic goals, such as choices regarding how to position itself to compete, make or buy decisions, and to become more sustainable. Students will discuss and critically evaluate theories as well as empirical research on the internal organisational environment of firms. Students will also conduct an empirical study on the role of the internal environment for strategic decision making.

In the second seminar in block 4 students concentrate on the role of the external environment for a firm’s global strategy. Attention is paid to how firms may respond strategically to changes in the general business environment (economic, technological, political-legal and international) and in the task environment (competitors, suppliers, customers, regulation). Students study relevant literature as well as apply econometric techniques to analysing these topics. .

The last block is fully devoted to the master’s thesis, which is written individually under close supervision by one of our academic staff members.

Although the knowledge and skills offered by the programme are to a large extent tested by means of written exams and individual assignments, there is also substantial room for team work and group assignments.

Curriculum

The curriculum consists of:

  • 30% Innovation strategy
  • 30% Other types of strategy of firms and entrepreneurs
  • 40% Quantitative methods and data analysis

The exact composition depends on what courses you follow.

In class

Explain the innovation path of a start-up or established firm using several theoretical perspectives (such as transaction cost economics, industrial organisation theory, evolutionary economic theory).

Understand and analyse the development of sustainable products and services; as well as the role of public policy for promoting sustainability.

Study schedule

The Take-Off is the introduction programme for all new students at Erasmus School of Economics. During the Take-Off you will meet your fellow students, get acquainted with our study associations and learn all the ins and outs of your new study programme, supporting information systems and life on campus and in the city.

Today both developed and developing countries are searching for ways to foster economic growth. Innovation is considered to be a major force for economic growth. Firms are key actors when it comes to innovation. This course focuses on strategic firm decisions to innovate and to improve (innovation) performance. This course provides students with a comprehensive and advanced understanding of what innovation is. It gives insight into how factors that are external and internal to the firm contribute to innovation and how different types of firms (e.g. start-ups, small firms, large firms) innovate. Students also learn how innovation relates to growth, and what problems and actors are involved in the financing of innovation.

Overall, this course aims to provide understanding of what strategic decisions different types of firms can pursue to improve their innovation and growth performance. These strategic decisions include decisions to compete or collaborate, to export, to hire R&D workers and to contract external consultants.

To help students understand what innovation is, this course makes students familiar with main concepts, models and measures of innovation. Different innovation strategies are considered such as investing in R&D, patenting and introducing new products in the market. Furthermore, different theoretical perspectives are discussed (such as industrial organisation theory, evolutionary theory and the resource-based view) to provide students with insight into how different factors (external and internal) may contribute to innovation. Also, attention is paid to how innovation and entrepreneurship are related and to whether innovations are mainly coming from large or small firms. At industry level, patterns of innovation will be explored across the industry life cycle including first-mover (dis)advantages. Furthermore, different views are discussed on how innovative start-ups emerge and on why innovative firms choose to compete or collaborate. The role of labor mobility across firms for innovation will also be discussed as well as relevance of strategy consulting firms for innovation.

To figure out how innovation relates to growth, different types of growth are considered (sales, productivity, and employment). Attention is also paid to whether innovation and export are complementary firm strategies or rather substitutes for achieving firm growth. Regarding innovation financing, the focus is on understanding why investments in innovation are different from other means of investment; what sources of innovation financing depending on the stage on the innovation development are available; and what typical problems can arise in the process of investing in innovation. Moreover, three sources of finance for start-ups, namely venture capital, crowdfunding, and angel investors, are discussed in more detail.

After this course students will be familiar with concepts, ideas and theories related to the emergence and development of innovation and will be able to apply these to real life examples of innovating firms. Furthermore, students will have learned to understand and interpret empirical articles and to use its findings to develop strategic advice for different types of firms (e.g., small firms or large firms) such as on how to improve their innovation and growth performance.

The course integrates insights from industrial organisation and strategy research while building upon a strong theoretical and empirical foundation.
1. First, the course discusses the concept of real options as a tool to make investment decisions under uncertainty.
2. The second part examines investments in research and development and advertising.
3. The last part analyzes strategies for particular types of goods and industries.
The topics are of interest to anyone with both a theoretical and a professional interest in strategic decision making at the firm level. As the course will use basic micro-theory, some knowledge in this field (monopoly, oligopoly, Stackelberg, perfect competition) and the associated mathematics (e.g., basic rules of differentiation such as the product rule and the chain rule) and statistics (probability theory) is required.

In this course we provide students with knowledge of econometric methods which are relevant for applied economics. In particular, this course first refreshes the essentials of the standard regression model, and subsequently it covers methods that can be useful when the dependent variable of interest is endogenous. The last part of the course introduces models that are useful when the dependent variable is binary.
Students follow a hands-on approach to understanding empirical econometric methods, in this way getting the opportunity to develop experience with the application of these methods in their own field of specialization.
The course consists of lectures, exercise lectures and group practical work. The lectures present and discuss each method and relevant applications. In the exercise lectures, students are taught how to implement the methods themselves. The main student activity consists of practical empirical applications, where the methods are applied to real-world datasets in applied economics.

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  • Firms in the Global Economy
  • Corporate Innovation and Venture Capital
  • Economics of Negotiations
  • Economics and Business master's course

The choice of location can make or break a firm. Location is a fundamental condition for the success of a firm. The location of a firm can have a profound influence on its performance in terms of productivity, profit, or innovation. For example, the availability of a large pool of skilled labour or access to an excellent transport infrastructure may considerably enhance a firm’s productivity. Accordingly, firms are very selective when choosing a location. As a result, not all locations are suitable for all types of firm investments because they lack the appropriate specialised location advantages and for that reason economic activities tend to be very concentrated in space. At the same time, the requirements in terms of location also change as evidenced by the rise of high-tech clusters like Silicon Valley and Cambridge, and the concurrent decline of old industrial cities like Detroit and Manchester. Especially the advances in transport technology and ICT changed the required properties of location. Companies seem more foot-loose, and governments increasingly compete in attracting firms to their territory. Today, local and regional governments not only use subsidies and taxes but also capacity-building policies such as government spending on amenities, education, physical infrastructure, and public transportation networks to foster the attractiveness of their territory.

The aim of this seminar is to understand the location decisions of firms in general, and that of multinationals in particular. Most notably, attention will be paid to the empirics of multinational strategy and foreign direct investment. During the first half of the course, students are expected to present, discuss and evaluate recent articles related to the topic of the course. In the second half of the course, students have to conduct an empirical study in which they combine econometric techniques with theories on the importance of firm location.

Questions to be discussed in the above context are, for example:

  • Why do firms go to certain cities and clusters and not to others?
  • Why does a disproportionate number of firms end up in world cities like London, New York and Tokyo?
  • How can local authorities attract firms?

Required literature (journal articles) will be announced during the seminar as part of the assignments. Students also have to search for literature themselves.

The thesis is an individual assignment about a subject from your Master's specialisation. More information about thesis subjects, thesis supervisors and the writing process can be found on the Master thesis website.

Disclaimer
The overview above provides an impression of the curriculum for this programme. It is not an up-to-date study schedule for current students. They can find their full study schedules on MyEUR.

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