About "The Economics of The Office"


This website uses short video clips from the television series "The Office" to provide relevant and humorous examples of commonly misunderstood economic concepts. The short video clips are accompanied by explanations illustrating how to use these clips to reinforce important economic concepts. The Office is a television series which ran from 2005 until 2013. The series is about a paper company "struggling to compete in an increasingly paperless world" (quote from Ryan in "Business School") but more than that it is about the rather incompetent managerial style of Michael Scott and how other characters on the program respond to his incentive structures. This website provides fertile ground for exploring economics much like the work of Ghent, Grant and Lesica (2010) did in collecting short clips from Seinfeld to teach economics. We believe the often inappropriate and clueless managerial style of Michael Scott (as well as the actions of other characters on the show) provides many great teaching moments which illustrate how NOT to think about economics.

Many of these clips were first shown in Dan Kuester's Principles of Macroeconomics class at Kansas State University. They were typically accompanied by a bonus question related to each clip at the beginning or end of the economics lecture. Over time he became aware that many other faculty members were utilizing these techniques with many other television and movie clips. Several of these clips were developed by Dirk Mateer or were suggested to him by other economics educators. Dirk has developed multiple resources similar to this one to help assist those of us who are looking for innovative ways to teach economic concepts. Chris Youderian has utilized several of these clips to illustrate concepts in his Principles of Microeconomics classes. He was responsible for the design and development of the website.

We hope that you will find this site useful and entertaining and more importantly that these clips will provide you a new way to teach some economic principles that your students will be able to relate to. If you have a clip that you feel should be added to this list please send your suggestion to dkuester@ksu.edu and we will attempt to get your clip in a ready to use format and post it on this site giving you full credit for your discovery.