Friday, December 2, 2016

Final Reflection

Looking back on this class, I feel that I have taken several lessons, both regarding the economics of organizations as well as about myself as a student.  From the beginning, I believed that the material covered in this course would be beneficial in my desire to pursue a career in a business setting.  However, I did not expect to take so much out of it with regards to myself as a person.
To begin, I found that learning about different managerial styles and set ups was beneficial.  In the real world, unless I am lucky enough to become the CEO of a company, I will always have to deal with some form of a superior to report to.  Being able to learn now how different styles of leadership operate and what works best for different managers will be useful when in the job force.  Also, this is helpful for me in that I eventually want to take on more leadership roles in my jobs someday.  To be able to do this, it is important to learn now how different managerial styles can be successful.  Throughout the semester, we discussed the importance of ourselves as human capital.  As an upcoming graduate, I have been able to gain a better understanding of how I can make myself a better “product” to those I will be working for.  I have always considered myself a good worker and have thanked my parents for instilling a good work ethic in me.  Before this class, I have never questioned or considered the benefits of or what it means to be a good worker.  Now though, I am better able to understand myself as a tool for human capital and how to achieve profit off of this not only for me, but for my employer as well. 

Overall, I believe this course is very successful in its set up.  I personally feel that as college students, we are old enough to be responsible for our own success and failures in classes.  Having come from a background in both engineering and now the liberal arts, I know that every student learns and understands material differently.  What works for one simply does not work for another.  Some students need a professor talking them through their lessons, while others are able to read material and understand it well enough.  That is why I really like the  policy on non-mandatory attendance.  One way to potentially improve upon this would be to maybe offer random extra credit for those who attend class.  This again does not penalize those who like to learn alone, while also somewhat rewarding those who take the time and effort to make it to class.  With regards to the blogging component of the course, I found it easier and more enjoyable than I originally anticipated.  I was not looking forward to this aspect of the course because I did not see myself as the blogging type.  However, the prompts helped me get a better idea of how these economic concepts tie into our lives every day.  If anything, my only criticism of the blogging would be the date it is due.  With many people going home for the weekend, and even just being done with another week of classes, I am sure most people forgot about these assignments on a Friday night.  If the blogs were due even on a Thursday, I am sure more people would remember to get them done sooner.  Also, setting a firmer deadline on the blog posts would have probably helped me remember to get them done.  Having the weekend to work on my post definitely made it easier to find time to sit down and write a thoughtful reflection.  However, there were many weeks that I knew I had a soft deadline to write a blog so I did not think about the post until Sunday.   If anything, this just goes to show me that I am the type of worker who appreciates hard deadlines to keep myself motivated with my work.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


One’s reputation is extremely important in today’s society.  What others think of and how they view you holds a lot of weight.  Depending on whether ones reputation is good or bad can be an influence on how others perceive them.  In a world dominated by social media and how easily news is able to spread, reputation is more important than ever. 
I believe that reputations are easy to develop, but hard to break.  Be it good or bad, people’s perceptions do not change quickly.  In high school I had the reputation of being a very dedicated and studious student.  I was in honors classes, sports teams and president of several clubs.  Because of my involvement in so many activities, I was friends with lots of different groups of people, but I never really had a specific group of friends.  Between studying and my extracurricular activities, I often did not have time to make for my friends as well.  While my studious and high achieving nature led me to be voted most likely to be successful for our senior superlatives, I wanted to improve upon my reputation going forward.  In college, I wanted to make a change.  I did not want to my reputation to be just about what I was capable of doing.  I made the effort to lessen my involvement with outside activities so that I could better work on relationships.  I am also a naturally shy person, so I really tried to make an effort to step out of my comfort zone and be more spontaneous.  Since high school, I have developed the reputation of being much more outgoing and less focused on my own accomplishments to an extent.  I am still very concerned with doing well; I just do not make it my whole priority.  Seeing acquaintances from high school now sometimes takes me back to my old self.  Despite how much I have changed, the perception of me that they have is one of a much more serious person, and I feel like I need to maintain that around them because it is what they expect.  My behavior sometimes reverts back to how I used to be because I feel like that is the reputation I need to uphold.

Another example of my experience with reputations goes back to high school as well.  I will note that I went to an all-girl high school so gossip was everywhere.  Coming in freshman year, one girl had the reputation of being a bully in grade school.  I had heard from several people that she was mean and hurtful to them or their friends.  When both I and that girl ended up joining the swim team, I had the preconceived notion that she was going to be a terrible person.  I did not want to be friends with someone who had that negative of a reputation, because I did not want to be considered a bully by association.  However, as the season went on, I developed a different relationship with the girl.  She confided that yes, she had been mean in grade school, but did not want to be like that anymore.  Over the four years, we eventually became good friends.  However, despite her reputation changing with me, I believe that when it comes to those she hurt in the past, there is nothing she could do to fix their perception of her.  Some people’s actions are too serious to be able to change the reputation they have.  But this also goes to show how one person can have several vastly different reputations depending on who you talk to.  For me, I know her as a funny, sometimes overly sarcastic friend, while for others; she will always be the girl who hurt them.  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Triangle Model

The standard principal agent model often takes on a triangle shape when one member must answer to both a superior as well as a client.  This can produce a series of issues and challenges.  From differing in opinions, to conflicting viewpoints, it can be difficult to please everyone involved in a triangle relationship.  Coming from several service related jobs, I know firsthand the struggles of a triangle principal agent model.  Below I will analyze and discuss some personal experiences with this version of the principal agent model.
To begin, I will again discuss my job at Nordstrom because in the retail setting, one is constantly trying to please not only their managers, but especially the customer they are helping.  The department that I was working in was the most expensive and exclusive in the store.  Because of this, we had several sales people who were considered personal shoppers.  A personal shopper was a sales employee who had been working within the Nordstrom store for long enough to have developed a list of clientele who shopped exclusively through this employee.  They differ from regular sales in that they are not so much on the floor trying to push merchandise to those just browsing.  Rather, they are taking phone calls from and meeting with repeat customers they have worked with for sometimes years.  These personal shoppers know when their customers are coming in and have pieces picked out and waiting for them when they arrive.  There are a series of benefits that come with the personal shopper title, including the ability to be more flexible with setting their own hours and a slight raise in commission.  One requirement of being a personal shopper was to meet a yearly financial selling quota.  If one could not meet this quota, they would lose their shopper tittle and go back to normal sales.  Another requirement of personal shoppers is that in addition to helping their typical clients, any customer can call Nordstrom customer service and schedule an appointment with a personal shopper at random.   This is where conflict would often arise from a triangle situation.  
Nordstom as a brand prides itself on its commitment to giving any and all customers a luxury shopping experience.  Because of this, they want shoppers of all budgets to be able to utilize the personal shoppers.  When a personal shopper gets assigned to a first time client through a customer service call, they often do not know much about that customer.  In my department, where sales employees and personal shoppers are used to customers spending several hundreds of dollars on their purchases, this lack of information became a problem when the customer had a smaller budget than my department coworkers were used to.  Everyone understood that most people could not afford to buy our specific product, but when the personal shoppers had a strict quota to meet, they are expected to maximize their sales as much as possible.  Personal shoppers were feeling pressure because what the customer needed and what managers expect from the employee were often different.  Managers would push personal shoppers to upsell, or get the customers to buy from the more expensive department, while the personal shoppers were trying to please the customers who wanted to stick to the less expensive sections.  This conflict left the personal shoppers in a position in the middle of trying to please two groups with differing viewpoints.  I feel that the biggest contributor to this conflict was the lack of communication.  The best way to resolve this would have been for customer service to gather information about the customer prior to assigning personal shoppers.  If they asked the customers what type of budget and experience they want from their appointment, they could better schedule the shoppers with those whose budgets aligned, satisfying the customer and the managers.  Simply spreading information could have reduced ambiguity and this cause of conflict between managers and employees.  This clarification would better give the customers a good experience  becuase they are dealing with a personal shopper who knows the merchandise they are trying to sell, rather than one who is not inspired or enthused about the product.  

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Workplace Conflict

Organizations often employ people of various backgrounds and personality types.  While the goal is to have all employees get along and work in harmony, sometimes these variances can lead to issues, or conflict.  Conflict in the workplace is inevitable, especially in large scale or stressful jobs.  Often, the conflicts can be resolved amongst those involved in the situation, but there are certain instances where management needs to become involved. 

I can thankfully say that I have never personally been involved in conflict in the workplace.  I am also lucky that between all of my former jobs, there is only one issue that comes to mind.  Unfortunately, this conflict started between two employees and resulted in the termination of one of them.  This occurred shortly after I had started working at a restaurant.  The issue was between two male employees, I will call them Employee A and Employee B.  Employee A used to date a female coworker for several months before the relationship ended.  From my understanding, the break up was not a good one.  Due to summer vacation, several months passed where Employee A and his ex were not around one another.  At the restart of school, Employee A found out that his ex-girlfriend and another coworker, Employee B had begun dating.  This led to a lot of tension because all involved in the situation were still currently working.  Management was aware of this issue, but there was not much that could be done.  One day, when Employee A and B were off, they both ended up being in the bar at the same time.  After several drinks and an exchange of words, Employee A punched Employee B.  The next day, management called Employee A in and he was ultimately fired. 

This conflict is definitely not the norm in a workplace and it escalated more than a normal conflict would.  I believe that there were several conflict resolution and management issues at play here that led to the extreme outcome.  First and foremost, I believe that the alcohol involved led Employee A to lose sight of his emotional intelligence.  In any normal interaction, Employee A was civil to both Employee B and his girlfriend.  With the addition of alcohol, he was unable to deal with emotions and relationships the same way he would have normally.  I also believe that management could have further prevented this issue.  The management knew that Employee B and the girl had started a new relationship shortly after it happened.  They should have seen this as a potential conflict from the beginning.  Intuition and judgement should have given them a heads up that there might be a problem in the future, especially knowing that workers have access to alcohol and often hung out after work.  To be fair, they were in a tough position.  All of the employees involved were senior members and important to training new members which often put them working together.  I believe that they took a low advocacy and low inquiry approach which led to them being passive in their conflict resolution pre altercation.  One thing I believe that they absolutely did right was to terminate Employee A immediately after the incident.  He was completely in the wrong with hitting another person under any circumstance.  Their swift action in not only firing him, but having him banned from the premise set the tone to others that physical violence will not be tolerated.  This was a high advocacy and low inquiry approach in that they took strong action and while they listened to both sides of the story, there was not many other options with how to handle the situation.   

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Cost of College

Planning for life after graduation is a topic on the minds of every upper level undergraduate student.  Many opt for furthering their education with grad school, but for most, like me, we are planning to enter the work force.  With this decision come many new challenges and changes we will be facing.  Being a senior, the reality of the real world is coming sooner than I would like.
Over the past four years, I have been very conscious about finances and my future debt.  I chose to major in economics because I enjoyed the subject matter, but also, because I believe there is a need in the job market for young adults with an understanding of how to analyze data, and understand basic business principles, which is just some of what I have been able to learn through economics.  When choosing a major, I tried to pick one that would make me marketable after graduation.  From an economic standpoint, I chose a major with a utility function that gave me the most enjoyment versus a comfortable salary after graduation.  However, I originally entered the university as engineering major.  During the two years I spent in this field, my enjoyment of the subject matter was very low.  I was not happy in the classes and found the material uninteresting.  When starting college, one of the reasons I chose engineering was because people told me that if you graduate with an engineering degree, you will be sure to find a well-paying job right out of college.  In this utility scenario, my enjoyment of my major was extremely low, while my perspective earnings after college were probably slightly higher than they are now.  After consideration, I compared the cost of being happy and doing what I am interested in versus potential future earnings right out of college.  To me, being happy outweighed the potential salary cut. 
Because I know that I have to work harder to find a high paying job right out of college compared to what an engineering student might have to, I have been conscious in other ways to manage my funds.  I have taken up a part time job during the school year to take out some of the financial burden.  In this case, I decided to change my work/leisure utility function to add more work.  This caused a shift in the curve to the left and increased my income, but lowered my time for leisure.  I have also spent every summer working a part time job so that again, I can make paying off my student debts a little easier in the future.  Another way I was able to save some money was by not taking out many student loans.  Due to some generous family members, I had a good amount of my college saved up prior to entering the university.  Because of this, I have really only needed to take out loans for the past year and a half.  Despite this, I am still conscious of my debt.   Every month, I pay a portion of my income to the loan company so that my interest will not be so high once I graduate and the full weights of the loans are on me. 

After talking with several friends who attended university out of state, I am glad I made the decision to attend the University of Illinois as well from a financial standpoint.  I had several friends choose out of state public schools whose tuition is much greater than mine.  They are now feeling the burden of that decision as they are beginning to have to pay back their loans.  When choosing to come to school here, this was a factor, however, at the time, I did not see it as much as I do now.  Many eighteen year olds choosing where to go to college only look at the fun side of it.  They sometimes have a hard time seeing the struggle and debt they will be in four years from now.  I was one of these kids, brushing off the price as something I would deal with when I am older.  Luckily for me though, I ended up going with a school that was somewhat reasonable financially. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Blogging Overview

Over the course of this class, we have written several blog posts.  Taking the time to reflect now, I am able to see what has been successful and what has not been as successful.  Certain blog posts have been more interesting to me, while others have left me struggling to think of what to write.  I will now reflect on my posts over the past few weeks. 
So far, my favorite blogs, and the ones I feel have been the easiest to write about, have been the ones where we find a personal connection to the topics discussed in class.  For example, when we wrote about our own experiences with organizations or about our experience with opportunism, I had a lot to say on the topic.  It also was a good way to understand the lesson from a personal stand point and really see how these economic issues are present in the every day.  It is also easy for me to write about my life experiences over a fictitious hypothetical.  I find that a common theme in my writings have been tying together my work experiences with what we are learning in class at the time.  This would make sense, as most of my connections to organizations have been in a work setting.  Looking back now, some students chose to write about teams as a form of organizations.  This never occurred to me when writing because the only sports I did in school were solo sports, such as swimming and track.  While I was part of a team, there is a different mentality to these types of activities versus sports such as basketball or football.  In those activities, the success and failure is of the group, and if the group as a whole is unsuccessful, it does not really matter if there is an outstanding player because his accomplishments are overshadowed.  This can be seen vice versa as well where a poor player is hidden by a good team.   Whereas with a sport such as swimming, the team as a whole can be bad and not win in meets or competition, but if an individual is outstanding, they are able to prove that themselves and have the opportunity to individually place and go on to regionals and state.

Over the course of the semester so far, I find that I am trying to look at the prompts a little more in depth than before.  I am really trying to get past simply answering the prompt and getting to the fundamental root of what will tie in to what we learned.  I am also trying to think more creatively when answering the prompts.  I am trying to think outside of the box when it comes to my experiences and what connections I make.  Some prompts that I have found successful for myself personally, was the one about opportunism.  I had an experience that I think tied in really well for the prompt.  I recall in class that others may have struggled with this concept.  For me however, I enjoyed this post.  The post that I found difficult and least enjoyable was the one about transfer pricing.  The concept of Illinibucks took me a little while to understand.  I also felt that it was difficult to find uses for an Illinibuck that I personally found relevant.  As I got further into the post, it was harder to think of more things to say on the topic as well, which made the post more of a challenge.  All in all though, I have enjoyed the blog posts and find it a unique way to express our understanding of the concepts.

Saturday, October 1, 2016


A system involving Illinibucks would be unique for our campus.  A form of payment that lets one jump the line would be sought after by many students.  In a fast paced setting such as college, students would take advantage of being able to get out of waiting as much as possible.  There are a variety of ways the University could utilize an Illinibuck system and I will evaluate some of them below.  I will look at the concept of Illinibucks from solely a university good and also from a campus town good.
One way the University of Illinois could utilize an Illinibuck system is for sporting games and events.  If every year students are given a set amount of Illinibucks that come with their tuition, that can be used to cut the line at sporting events, attendance at games might increase.  For the university, this would be a cheap addition to the tuition package, even if only one or two Illinibucks are in the package.  If students want additional Illinibucks, they can buy them as well.  This would be a perk reserved only for Illinois students, not the general public.  Because the games are already provided by the university, additional Illinibucks would not cost much, maybe three to five dollars each.  The price would need to be low because it is specifically for students, and students do not have a large amount of expendable income.  The downside of having a price that is too high is that it might deter students from attending games.  If the price is high, students might even try to sell their Illinibucks to one another, creating a sort of black market for Illinibucks.  As mentioned before, this might encourage students to attend more sporting events.  If students have a quick access pass, they might be more interested in checking out events outside of the popular football and basketball.  Even with these two big sports, having been on campus for four years, I know attendance is low, and an Illinibuck might get more people involved.

Another idea for Illinibucks would be in the campus town community.  These Illinibucks would be used to cut the line on the restaurants in the campus town area, ranging from Lincoln through Green streets.  These would allow holders to cut the lines at any participating food restaurant and get their food first.  For this form of Illinibuck, Anyone can purchase them, student or even the general public.  Because they are open and available to all in the Champaign-Urbana area, the Illinibuck would have to be more expensive than the one previously discussed.  This Illinibuck would need to be around five to seven dollars.  Any more expensive and not many people would buy them.  Five to seven dollars can get you a meal at some places on Green Street, so if the price goes up much more than that, people might rather save their money and just wait in line.  If the price was too low, too many people, both students and Champaign residents, would want to purchase the Illinibucks.  This would become a problem in that at any given restaurant, there could be multiple people trying to use Illinibucks, which could create confusion as to who gets to go first.  The Illinibucks would probably be utilized mostly at rush hour times, like lunch and dinner.  Also, there would be an increase of usage at late night hours, around 1-2AM when those returning from late study sessions or a night out go for food.  However, there could be a problem with this system at these later hours.  I could see confrontations occurring when someone is trying to cut the line and alcohol is involved.  Due to this, the Illinibuck system might set a time period for when the buck is valid, say, between the hours of 7AM and 10PM.