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Competition and the Firm

  • Module code: BE5001
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 5
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: Successful completion of level 4 BE or equivalent
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module examines the nature of competition and the role of the firm in contemporary capitalism. It  examines the different forces shaping market structure so as to elucidate in what sense a market structure is competitive or not – for example the role of barriers to entry, government policy or technology. The module explores different market structures, from monopolistic to highly competitive, thus throwing light on the conduct and performance of firms within these structures. The role, nature and aims of the firm are examined. It also analyses how some firms are capable of imposing themselves on market structure and are not simply passive recipients. Different categories of firms, multinational, large, medium, small and micro, are outlined so as to build a more complete picture of modern firm structure. 

Aims

  • To provide expertise in understanding the market structures of the contemporary economy.
  • To understand how firms are influenced and function within these structures.
  • To provide the knowledge necessary to evaluate issues such as competition policy, regulation, privatisation and public ownership.
  • To give students a theoretical and practical understanding of the functioning of the modern firm.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Evaluate market structure within a competitive environment.  
  • Analyse and evaluate competitive behaviour within these market structures.  
  • Grasp the nature of the modern firm in an age of global change and competition; use tools to analyse the performance of a firm; demonstrate specialised knowledge of small and medium size firms.  
  • Show critical knowledge of the growth of firms, including multinationals.  
  • Understand the key elements of competition policy, regulation, privatisation and public ownership.

Curriculum content

  • Neo-classical descriptions of market structures; Structure – Conduct – Performance model; Porter's 5- forces approach.
  • Factors affecting structure of markets: barriers to entry and exit; market concentration; privatisation and competition policy; the role of regulation.
  • The role of the state in the modern economy.
  • What can the Global Financial Crisis teach us about competition and regulation?
  • The nature of the modern firm; why firms exist;  the market context for the functioning of firms.
  • The aims of the firm; analysis of firms by ratio and non-ratio techniques.
  • The role of large firms and multinationals; the importance of small and medium size firms - the UK, European and international context. 
  • What can the Global Financial Crisis teach us about firms?
  • Examination of key web-sites so as to enhance the employability of students.

Teaching and learning strategy

Students will attend lectures and tutorials. A pack of lecture slides are provided via StudySpace but active note taking is required. Lectures are one hour, once weekly for 22 weeks. Tutorials, also one hour, once weekly for 22 weeks, run parallel to the lecture series and will offer case studies on the modern firm and markets. An active participatory style is encouraged. Substantial independent study is required to deepen knowledge of the lecture and seminar  topics as well as engage in wider reading and prepare for assessment.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching one hour lectures, one hour seminars 22, 22
Guided independent study Independent study 256
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

The final grade for this module is a weighted average of the marks for a short essay of 1500 words (30%) done during the module and a two hour exam (70%) at the end of the module. The short essay will assess the early foundational topics. It will be both a summative assessment and a formative one since there will be feedforward so as to improve later exam performance. This will be via   a seminar in which all students are given back their essay individually and given whatever information is necessary to improve their performance. If any students require more input then office hours are available for more individual feedforward.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Evaluate market structure within a competitive environment. Analyse and evaluate competitive behaviour within these market structures The short essay (30% of mark) will assess these foundational topics. This is both summative and formative (providing feedforward).
Grasp the nature of the modern firm in an age of global change and competition; use tools to analyse the performance of a firm; demonstrate specialised knowledge of small and medium size firms. The written exam and short essay will test these subject matters.
Show critical knowledge of the growth of firms, including multinationals. Understand the key elements of competition policy, regulation, privatisation and public ownership. The written exam will test these subjects. This will be a summative assessment (70% of the mark).

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK Essay 30
EXWR Two hour unseen examination 70
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Lipczynski, J.,Wilson, J. and Goddard, J.  2005. Industrial Organisation. UK:Pearson Education Ltd.

Davies, H. and Pun-Lee, Lam. 2001. Managerial Economics, UK:Pearson Education Ltd.

Bibliography recommended reading

Texts with useful chapters:

Griffiths, A. and Wall, S. 2012. Applied Economics. UK:Pearson Education Ltd.

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