Sloan Study Notes, Week 1

Now with first week of classes behind us and the pile of week 2 reading still looking daunting on Sunday night despite the efforts of the day, I am stuck with the question if and how I want to keep any notes on what we learn here.

As a tip from a 2012 Sloan, I will at least try to log some “aha” moments encountered on a way. Expect most of these things be quite random, not rocket science or revolutionarily new. Just something about them (wording, angle, connections with my experience, who knows) clicked with me. Hope this collection will later be helpful as a memorization tool for myself, but also help shed some light for those curious what kind of topics Stanford GSB and the Sloan program in particular entail. Especially if this little routine survives all other calendar pressures, don’t expect a high level of editorial polishing.

Also, probably most interesting new thoughts already in week 1 came from real-life stories shared by classmates inside the theoretical context framed by professors. As an unfair teaser I can say we’ve already heard about topics as varied as debt collection related deaths in Asia, media relations management around an international security operation in an Arabic state or competition-orchestrated manipulation with local community opinion in Australia. But as we’ve agreed the details of the discussions in class need to be confidential and trusted to be truly open, I won’t be able to share much more in this post nor in the future. Unless any of the sources would be willing to share them themselves, dear Sloans? 🙂

Study Notes, Week 1, Summer quarter

  • Social responsibility/environmentalist/whatever policies created at target companies can be a huge win for activists even though could be often seen as “just a paper” left to gather dust, because a) corporations allocate actual people/teams whose job success will depend on the implementation of these people, b) the ongoing monitoring will often be assigned to very high executive / board level, and c) these policies can quickly become checkboxes on checklists that gate keep some really core processes. (Strategy Beyond Markets, class discussion)
  • Some paradoxes of political activism:
    • companies who are actually more socially responsible in their beliefs and public image become in a  way an easier and more likely target of related attacks compared to their peers. (Strategy Beyond Markets, Baron textbook)
    • independent media can actually become disproportionately harsher towards their larger advertisers in the middle of the crisis in an attempt to prove and underline their independence of thought (Strategy Beyond Markets, class discussion)
  • You can sum, yet not multiply the expected values of two random variables. E(X+Y) = E(X)+E(Y), yet E(XY) <> E(X)*E(Y). Think of historic stock price & date data. (Statistics/Probability, class discussion)
  • Elegantly put definition: institutions are “the rules of the game in a society that shape human interactions” (Douglass North 1990), and these institutions provide arenas in which interests seek to influence the outcome of issues. (Strategy Beyond Markets, Baron textbook)
  • The Open Data movement & sites such as data.gov and their international peers have another practical impact – imagine the range of (free) possibilities for picking data for a regression analysis project at school! (Statistics)
  • Tips’n’tricks: turn a sample data table into full probability table and perform lookups/probability calculations for particular questions off latter. Much cleaner and more readable excel sheets & cell expressions. (Statistics/Probability, Oyer class)
  • Bayesian theorem has actually a very clean & elegant build-up, which starts with the standard formula for conditional probability P(B | A), in which the nominator gets substituted with P(A | B) P(B) and denominator P(B) with the long-form law of total probability. I’ve always found Bayesian much more confusing when looking at the end result, understanding its composition of basic probability formulas helps. (Statistics/Probability, Aczel textbook)

Overall volume of reading assigned: 168 pages


  • Sten, please do keep those notes coming!

  • keep us posted on those topics on week by week basis (however, I can guarantee you that you won’t have time for more than month by month :)) – for me personally it will be interesting to compare with my year at INSEAD. for example – Corporate Social Responsibility topics came in rather late (however ethics was almost the first topic that we discussed).

    let me know when you get to hetero- and homoskedasticity, anchoring, overconfidence and other funky and very practical topics.

    • thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

      Re: schedule, we will have the following core courses in the summer semester, out of which first 3 have kicked off this far:

      – economics / data & decisions (e.g statistics)
      – strategy beyond markets (e.g not just CSR, but rather a broader spectrum of how to work with (and against, if needed) non-market actors: governments, NGOs, activists, media…)
      – org behavior / org design
      – negotiations
      – ethics

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