The Economics of The Office

Learning economics from the world's best boss

Dunder Mifflin Infinity

In this clip (from deleted scenes) we can demonstrate a good example of structural unemployment. Due to an advance in technology the skills of the Dunder Mifflin accountants will no longer be needed. Obviously from here students may want to discuss cyclical and frictional unemployment (which can be demonstrated when Michael foolishly quits his job with no real plan for his job search in season five).

Season 4 Episode 3 "Dunder Mifflin Infinity"

Technological Change (O30) Unemployment (J60)

Michael Pam Ryan Oscar Angela Kevin

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Write That Down

In this clip, Michael tries to explain the concept of profits and business decisions and the demand for paper. Clearly, Michael does not understand how technological changes have influenced demand for paper!

Season 3 Episode 16 "Business School" Caution!

Teaching of Economics (A20) Technological Change (O30)

Michael Ryan

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Dwight vs. Machine

In the episode "Launch Party" of The Office, Dwight challenges the website to see who can sell more paper. The competition begins with both parties selling paper in their respective ways. Dwight uses his traditional methods of salesmanship, such as making phone calls and visiting customers in person, while the website uses online marketing and social media to reach customers. As the competition progresses, the website gains an advantage by using modern technology to automate their sales process, while Dwight relies more on his personal labor and hard work to make sales. However, as the competition intensifies, Dwight also adopts a technological approach by setting up a website and using online tools to manage his sales. This competition between Dwight's labor and the website's technology highlights the concept of labor and technology as substitutes. As technology advances and becomes more efficient, it can replace human labor in certain tasks, as it did in this competition. However, the competition also shows that the human touch and personal interaction that Dwight provides can still be valuable to some customers. Overall, this clip can be used to illustrate how technological progress can lead to changes in the economy, and how workers need to adapt to these changes to stay competitive. It can also be used to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of substituting labor with technology, and how businesses need to balance these factors to succeed in the marketplace. This description was written by Chat-GPT based on a few prompts:

Season 4 Episode 5 "Launch Party"

Labor Productivity (J24) Technological Change (O30)

Pam Dwight Jim Andy

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