My Fall Industrial Organization reading list

This is only part one for the class, do not panic over whatever you think might be completely left out. That said, suggested additions are welcome, here goes:


Bresnahan, Timothy F. “Competition and Collusion in the American Automobile Industry: the 1955 Price War,” Journal of Industrial Economics, 1987, 35(4), 457-82.

Bresnahan, Timothy and Reiss, Peter C. “Entry and Competition in Concentrated Markets,” Journal of Political Economy, (1991), 99(5), 977-1009.

Asker, John, “A Study of the Internal Organization of a Bidding Cartel,” American Economic Review, (June 2010), 724-762.

Whinston, Michael D., “Antitrust Policy Toward Horizontal Mergers,” Handbook of Industrial Organization, vol.III, chapter 36, see also chapter 35 by John Sutton.

“Benefits of Competition and Indicators of Market Power,” Council of Economic Advisors, April 2016.

Jan De Loecker and Jan Eeckhout, “The Rise of Market Power and its Macroeconomic Implications,”  My comment on it is here:

Me on intangible capital,

Traina, James. “Is Aggregate Market Power Increasing?: Production Trends Using Financial Statements,”

Shapiro, Carl. “Antitrust in a Time of Populism.” UC Berkeley, working draft from 24 October 2017, forthcoming in International Journal of Industrial Organization.

Klein, Benjamin and Leffler, Keith. “The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance.”  Journal of Political Economy 89 (1981): 615-641.

Breit, William. “Resale Price Maintenance: What do Economists Know and When Did They Know It?” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (1991).

Bogdan Genchev, and Julie Holland Mortimer. “Empirical Evidence on Conditional Pricing Practices.” NBER working paper 22313, June 2016.

Sproul, Michael.  “Antitrust and Prices.”  Journal of Political Economy (August 1993): 741-754.

McCutcheon, Barbara. “Do Meetings in Smoke-Filled Rooms Facilitate Collusion?”  Journal of Political Economy (April 1997): 336-350.

Crandall, Robert and Winston, Clifford, “Does Antitrust Improve Consumer Welfare?: Assessing the Evidence,”  Journal of Economic Perspectives (Fall 2003), 3-26, available at

FTC, Bureau of Competition, website,, an optional browse, perhaps read about some current cases and also read the merger guidelines.

Parente, Stephen L. and Prescott, Edward. “Monopoly Rights: A Barrier to Riches.”  American Economic Review 89, 5 (December 1999): 1216-1233.

Demsetz, Harold.  “Why Regulate Utilities?”  Journal of Law and Economics (April 1968): 347-359.

Armstrong, Mark and Sappington, David, “Recent Developments in the Theory of Regulation,” Handbook of Industrial Organization, chapter 27, also on-line.

Shleifer, Andrei. “State vs. Private Ownership.” Journal of Economic Perspectives (Fall 1998): 133-151.

Xavier Gabaix and David Laibson, “Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets, 

Strictly optional most of you shouldn’t read this: Ariel Pakes and dynamic computational approaches to modeling oligopoly:


Economics of Tech 

Farrell, Joseph and Klemperer, Paul, “Coordination and Lock-In: Competition with Switching Costs and Network Effects,” Handbook of Industrial Organization, vol.III, chapter 31, also on-line.

Weyl, E. Glenn. “A Price Theory of Multi-Sided Platforms.” American Economic Review, September 2010, 100, 4, 1642-1672.

Tech companies as platforms, Tyler Cowen chapter, to be distributed.

Gompers, Paul and Lerner, Josh. “The Venture Capital Revolution.” Journal of Economic Perspectives (Spring 2001): 145-168.

Paul Graham, essays,, and on Google itself,

Acemoglu, Daron and Autor, David, “Skills, Tasks, and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings,”

Robert J. Gordon and Ian Dew-Becker, “Unresolved Issues in the Rise of American Inequality,”

Song, Jae, David J. Price, Fatih Guvenen, and Nicholas Bloom. “Firming Up Inequality,” CEP discussion Paper no. 1354, May 2015.

Andrews, Dan, Chiara Criscuolo and Peter N. Gal. “Frontier firms, Technology Diffusion and Public Policy: Micro Evidence from OECD Countries.”  OECD working paper, 2015.

Mueller, Holger M., Paige Ouimet, and Elena Simintzi. “Wage Inequality and Firm Growth.” Centre for Economic Policy Research, working paper 2015.

Readings on blockchain governance, to be distributed.

Haltiwanger, John, Ian Hathaway, and Javier Miranda. “Declining Business Dynamism in the U.S. High-Technology Sector.” Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, February 2014.


Organization and capital structure

Ronald Coase and Oliver Williamson on the firm, if you haven’t already read them, but limited doses should suffice.

Gibbons, Robert, “Four Formal(izable) Theories of the Firm,” on-line at

Van den Steen, Eric, “Interpersonal Authority in a Theory of the Firm,” American Economic Review, 2010, 100:1, 466-490. 

Lazear, Edward P. “Leadership: A Personnel Economics Approach,” NBER Working Paper 15918, 2010.

Oyer, Paul and Schaefer, Scott, “Personnel Economics: Hiring and Incentives,” NBER Working Paper 15977, 2010.

Tyler Cowen chapter on CEO pay, to be distributed.

Cowen, Tyler, Google lecture on prizes, on YouTube.

Ben-David, Itzhak, and John R. Graham and Campbell R. Harvey, “Managerial Miscalibration,” NBER working paper 16215, July 2010.

Glenn Ellison, “Bounded rationality in Industrial Organization,” 

Miller, Merton, and commentators.  “The Modigliani-Miller Propositions After Thirty Years,” and comments, Journal of Economic Perspectives (Fall 1988): 99-158.

Myers, Stewart. “Capital Structure.” Journal of Economic Perspectives (Spring 2001): 81-102.

Hansemann, Henry.  “The Role of Non-Profit Enterprise.” Yale Law Journal (1980): 835-901.

Kotchen, Matthew J. and Moon, Jon Jungbien, “Corporate Social Responsibility for Irresponsibility,” NBER working paper 17254, July 2011.

Strictly optional but recommended for the serious: Ponder reading some books on competitive strategy, for MBA students.  Here is one list of recommendations:



American Economic Review Symposium, May 2010, starts with “Why do Firms in Developing Countries Have Low Productivity?” runs pp.620-633. 

Dani Rodrik, “A Surprising Convergence Result,”, and his paper here

 Serguey Braguinsky, Lee G. Branstetter, and Andre Regateiro, “The Incredible Shrinking Portuguese Firm,” 

Nicholas Bloom, Raffaella Sadun, and John Van Reenen, “Recent Advances in the Empirics of Organizational Economics,”

Nicholas Bloom, Raffaella Sadun, and John Van Reenen, the slides for “Americans do I.T. Better: US Multinationals and the Productivity Miracle,”, the paper is here but I recommend focusing on the slides.

Bloom, Nicholas, Raffaella Sadun, and John Van Reenen. “Management as a Technology?” National Bureau of Economic Research working paper 22327, June 2016.

Syerson, Chad “What Determines Productivity?” Journal of Economic Literature, June 2011, XLIX, 2, 326-365.

David Lagakos, “Explaining Cross-Country Productivity Differences in Retail Trade,” Journal of Political Economy, April 2016, 124, 2, 1-49.

Casselman, Ben. “Corporate America Hasn’t Been Disrupted.” FiveThirtyEight, August 8, 2014.

Decker, Ryan and John Haltiwanger, Ron S. Jarmin, and Javier Miranda. “Where Has all the Skewness Gone?  The Decline in High-Growth (Young) Firms in the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research working paper 21776, December 2015.

Furman, Jason and Peter Orszag. “A Firm-Level Perspective on the Role of Rents in the Rise in Inequality.” October 16, 2015.

Furman, Jason. ”Business Investment in the United States: Facts, Explanations, Puzzles, and Policy.” Remarks delivered at the Progressive Policy Institute, September 30, 2015, on-line at

Scharfstein, David S. and Stein, Jeremy C.  “Herd Behavior and Investment.”  American Economic Review 80 (June 1990): 465-479.

Stein, Jeremy C. “Efficient Capital Markets, Inefficient Firms: A Model of Myopic Corporate Behavior.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 104 (November 1989): 655-670.


Sectors: finance, health care, education, others

Gorton, Gary B. “Slapped in the Face by the Invisible Hand: Banking and the Panic of 2007,”, published on-line in 2009. 

Erel, Isil, Nadault, Taylor D., and Stulz, Rene M., “Why Did U.S. Banks Invest in Highly-Rated Securitization Tranches?” NBER Working Paper 17269, August 2011. 

Healy, Kieran. “The Persistence of the Old Regime.” Crooked Timber blog, August 6, 2014.

More to be added, depending on your interests.


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Thanks and good luck.

Gary Gorton is great, I use his material, but 53 pages?

Be the modern lecturer you want to be and put the lectures up on YouTube.

Actually, GMU-TV uses vimeo, and Prof. Cowen has had the opportunity to have a course recorded and broadcast since he became a GMU faculty member. Faculty colleague Prof. Willliams, sometime fill in host for Rush Limbaugh, certainly used to enjoy taking advantage of having his courses recorded and broadcast. On the German economy at the end of the ‘30s, written by a surprisingly careful communist observer in the fall of 1939.

I think it is a good reduction ad absurdum of corporativist policies made newly fashionable by Trump, from “voluntary” price reductions in Pharma, to “voluntary” quotes of exports from other countries. It exhaustively shows not only the impossibility of the task without the price signals, but also the corruption bred by giving bureaucrats power unconstrained by clear rules.

Undoubtedly, the readings on co-determination/Betriebsrat are still in the offing, as is at least the mention of actual workers when talking about industrial organization.

An Organisation of Industry course I took as an undergraduate spent some time on the structure of one of the British industrial trade unions. I found it helpful when I had a spell in industrial management.

The industrial policy vs. the free market debate is what's led to the stalemate in the trade negotiations with China, as the U.S. has demanded a veto power over China industrial policy: the U.S. position is that China's industrial policy gives China firms an unfair advantage. That strikes me as a tacit acknowledgment that China's industrial policy works better than no industrial policy. Of course, for free marketers "industrial policy" is considered an abomination, right up there with socialism. Meanwhile, China continues to pursue its industrial policy while President Trump pursues what might be described as an ad hoc industrial policy, one in which he picks and chooses favored or disfavored industries or firms. Here's a Cade Metz piece on the Pentagon's "industrial policy" (i.e., the Pentagon's efforts to woo tech as a partner in developing AI for the Pentagon):

Harvard econ/edu may be strictly optional but is unreadable because link is broken.

You read too many books.

If economists read so many books why are they so dumb? I'm from hillbilly country and I know I'm smarter than an expert economist.

Distribute your CEO pay chapter to us!

I was listening to Barry Ritzholtz's interview with Bill Janeway last week and it was quite good and on target with some of the themes of this course. One of his three favorite books (favorite Ritholtz question) is Funding Revolution: Government Support for Computing Research. It's a 1999 report from the National Research Council and best of all it's a free download at the website. The area of government sponsored research is often overlooked.

Are your students supposed to read every single Paul Graham article?

The "Skills, Tasks and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings" link is broken. Find it here:

Thanks for this! Link is broken on the competitive strategy list. Tried looking for it but no dice.

As far as I can tell you have included nothing on patents. I'd recommend adding in something by Tirole (such as "Standard-Essential Patents" or chapter 10 of "The Theory of Industrial Organization"), or, for a more critical view, works by Boldrin and Levine (such as "The Case Against Patents.") Although I like Alex's writing, his work is often a bit too formal for what appears to be a grad school class. That just might be my taste though.

No Henry George? May I suggest selected chapters from Poverty and Progress in Book Three, The Law of Distribution ( and Book 10, The Law of Human Progress (

I also would have expected some Ben Thomson. Maybe you did not include him because some content is paywalled, but I recall you being a fan of his newsletter. This series is relevant to the Economics of Tech:

Very good list.

You might want to consider adding some behavioral industrial organization papers to the list: BEIO chapters in Trembly, New Perspectives on Industrial Organization and competitive strategy involving flawed consumers. Just for the hell of it, dissect a Harvard case study of an industry and put it into the IO framework as a way to show the relevance of IO.

The link to the Obama CEA report is dead with the change in administration. Need to go to the archive page:

Got anything on the effects of labor cartels? Why did banks invest in highly rated tranches? Because they could and the ratings were false...

Are these PhD students? Do they have any other classes?

I'm glad I went to the University of Chicago in the 1970s where I could get by with 1000 pages of reading per course.

It seems like George Stigler should be in there somewhere.

Some Herbert Simon would be nice. Also something about the empirical distribution of firm sizes, growth rates etc. And some potential explanation.

Axtell and Teitelbaum “extreme fluctuations in form growth rates”

Axtell “Zipf distribution of US firm sizes”
Robert Axtell “The Emergence of Firms in a Population of Agents: Local Increasing Returns, Unstable Nash Equilibria, and Power Law Size Distributions”

Herbert Simon would be nice. Also something about the empirical distribution of firm sizes, growth rates etc. And some potential explanation.

Axtell and Teitelbaum “extreme fluctuations in form growth rates”

Axtell “Zipf distribution of US firm sizes”
Robert Axtell “The Emergence of Firms in a Population of Agents: Local Increasing Returns, Unstable Nash Equilibria, and Power Law Size Distributions”

Nice list. I found it helpful when I had a spell in industrial management.

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