Managing the Digital Economy - Spring 2021 (HEC Lausanne)

Credits, time schedule and target audience

3 ECTS - Class meets Fridays 14:15-16:00 (GMT+1, Swiss time)
February 26, 2021 - May 28, 2021
Third-year Bachelor in Economics, Bachelor in Management

The course is open to remote exchange students, but there are no grades for students not enrolled at HEC Lausanne.

Course overview and objectives

This course examines the economic forces of digitization that shape and transform markets and business strategy in various industries, including entertainment goods, software, retail, banking, transportation, health and consulting services. The course will apply standard tools of microeconomic analysis to describe important features of these markets, capturing common and diverging elements of those various industries. We will use these microeconomic tools to make predictions about the impact of technology on future outcomes, to discuss strategic reactions and management, evaluate policy, and to understand the value derived by customers.

You will learn to characterize the consumption and production of information and network goods. You will examine strategies that firms use to compete in the digital economy.

In particular, you should be able to: (1) describe key concepts, features and predictions of economic models that characterize the digital economy; (2) apply economic reasoning to describe the impact of technological change and digitization on product, marketing and innovation strategy; (3) use economic reasoning to evaluate the consequences of competition, pricing, and consumer preferences for organization and strategy.

The course will have theoretical and practical parts. In the latter, we will have guest speakers from industry and you will present an analysis of a particular industry (firm in an industry) on which we base a class discussion of key challenges, key learnings and implications for organization and strategy.

Required background

I expect students to have a solid understanding of basic microeconomics and strategy, be willing to read and prepare before class, and participate in critical discussion.


No textbook is required for the course. Students will receive articles and case studies for the class project. There will also be recommended and required articles to read before class or to prepare your case study.

Grading (for HEC Lausanne students only)

Active contribution are important for lively and interesting class discussions, so reading and thinking before class, and debating during class is important. The goal is for you to contribute to everybody’s learning by providing new insights to the discussion, or by asking good questions, or by reacting to comments from other students or guest speakers. To be prepared for class, students need to have read the assigned material and completed any other assignments for that day. In addition, I will ask for someone to summarize the key “takeaways” of each class. Good answers are another great opportunity to contribute to everybody’s learning.

Class project (50%)

Small teams will present an analysis of an industry / firm in an industry using the concepts discussed in class and beyond. Each team will work on one project. While students have broad latitude to choose a specific subtopic, all case analyses must follow a tight structure that includes an evaluation of the demand, costs and revenue for the firm and a summary of strategic challenges.

Each group presentation should run for no more than 40 minutes, including questions and answers from the class. Teams are expected to lead the discussion, which means that they need to prepare at least three questions to start the discussion. Teams must hand in a two-page summary report, a list of source materials, and a video recording of their presentation. The written summary should be concise, complete, and written in professional prose.

I will randomly allocate students to teams after session five, i.e. before the Easter break. You will then have 6 weeks (including two weeks Easter break) to work on your project.

I am available for questions in between ( Presentations will be done on May 14 and May 21. If we have more teams than time to present, I will randomly pick teams that present in the live session.

Exam (50%)

There will be a written final exam. The exam will be an individual effort and 60 minutes long.

Re-examination procedure

Students are required to redo failed assessments. The resits will be during the official resit examination period. Failed group assignments can be redone in the same format as the initial assessments, albeit in a new group or individually. The final exam can be redone in the same format as the initial assessment. The grade will be calculated on the assessments that are not redone along with the assessments that are redone as per the weighting scheme of the original syllabus.