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Crawford School of Public Policy

Strategic Thinking and Economics for Executives

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About the course

Organisations in the 21st century operate in an environment of complexity and uncertainty, hyper-competition and contested narratives, and resource-interdependencies and polycentric governance. In this environment, mistakes can be costly and lasting, and can threaten organisational survival. Effective implementation of policies and strategies requires effective leadership, and this in turn calls for an ability to anticipate and pre-empt problems before they become mistakes.

Why use economics? A strategic perspective seeks to foster this capability in emerging leaders by equipping them with fundamental analytical frameworks, distilled from across economics disciplines such as information and institutional economics, production, public economics, game theory and political economy; and are packaged in a practical, relevant toolkit for a non-technical audience. This toolkit would allow users to think about complex and unfamiliar problems in a systematic manner, and to help them get in the right ‘headspace’ for leadership.

Course overview

This intensive, day-long course will be broken into two parts. The first part will focus on basic economic concepts drawn from Neoclassical Economics. The second part will focus on more advanced concepts from across the Economics disciplines, distilled in form of a toolkit that participants can readily apply to a wide range of problems. Both parts will start off in a lecture format where the relevant concepts will be imparted, but will then move to a more interactive format based on case studies, in which the class will be broken into groups of 4-5 to discuss cases and to present their results to the whole class. The course will encourage active student engagement.

The following topics will be covered in in the first part:

  • Scarcity and Rationing Criteria
  • Thinking about demand and supply: substitutes, comparative advantage, price setting
  • Elasticity: total revenue, tax incidence, and bargaining power
  • Making decisions – satisficing, thinking at the margin, trade-offs and path dependence
  • The role of government – deadweight loss vs. market failure
  • Organisational boundaries – transaction costs vs. economies of scale
  • Implications of New Public management – Innovation, efficiency, and productivity
  • Thinking about dynamics
  • Using statistics – statistical hypotheses, statistical errors, and measurement problems.
  • Uncertainty – expected values and the contests over rules

The second part will comprise some of the following topics:

  • Property rights
  • Institutions, governance, and incentives
  • Information problems
  • Political economy – rent-seeking
  • Strategic interaction
  • Working with contracts
  • Scenario analysis

Trust the experts

Nitin Gupta

Dr Nitin Gupta is a Defence Economist at the Australian Army Research Centre and the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Coral Bell School, ANU. Prior to this, he has worked as a Senior Economist at the Australian Parliamentary Library, and as Executive Manager for the Australia’s Compara...


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