Characters in "The Office"

Michael Scott

Michael is the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Michael thinks of himself as an extremely capable boss who can handle any problem efficiently. In reality, Scott is ill-equipped to handle most of the problems that arise at Dunder Mifflin. Michael loves to host conference room meetings where typically very little is accomplished but he gets to be the center of attention.

Michael is a very accomplished salesperson, which explains why he was promoted to regional manager but his knowledge of economics and management is rather unimpressive. This creates many teachable moments as Micheal's understanding of basic economic concepts is typically incorrect and he provides good examples of how not to think about economics in many of our videos.

Dwight Schrute

Dwight is unofficially the assistant (to the) regional manager at Dunder Mifflin. Dwight is extremely passionate about paper and is constantly trying to impress Michael. Dwight is also the leading salesman in the Scranton office. While Dwight displays many characteristics which lack social graces, he has a very good understanding of many economic concepts. In several of the clips on this site, he has a better understanding of arbitrage opportunities and gains from trade than most of the other characters on the program.

When Dwight becomes manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton (for a short time) and introduces his own currency (Schrute Bucks) the results are entertaining and a good example of the potential weakness of fiat money.

Jim Halpert

Jim is also in sales and is considered to be one of the "heroes" of the show because of his laid back attitude and ability to get along with people. During the course of the series, Jim marries Pam Beasley and subsequently becomes quite motivated to succeed as a paper salesman. There are many instances in The Office where Jim spends very little time attempting to increase his paper sales instead spending considerable time trying to win the affections of Pam. Jim also spends an inordinate amount of time playing tricks on Dwight or entertaining his co-workers which he primarily does to entertain Pam. Several videos on the site demonstrate how Jim's work ethic is reflected by the incentive structure the company has in place.

Pam Beasley

Pam is the secretary at Dunder Mifflin and tries to keep Michael somewhat focused on work and being productive. Pam is unaware of Jim's romantic interest in her during the early seasons of the show. Pam eventually becomes the office manager who demonstrates an understanding of budgets and cost constraints.

Stanley Hudson

Stanley is a fairly successful salesman who resents spending time in an office where he typically is not productive. Stanley tolerates Michael's long and typically pointless conference room meetings by spending his time completing crossword puzzles.

Phyllis Lapin

Phyllis is also a Dunder Mifflin salesperson. While Phyllis is typically very laid back and quiet she is very protective of her position in the company and her sales commissions.

Angela Martin

Angela is one of the lead accountants in The Office who has a tremendous affection for cats and tends to be a bit judgmental. Her no nonsense approach to how things should be done in the office appeals to Dwight. In one of the clips, she informs Jim he has met his commission cap which discourages Jim from pursuing additional sales.

Oscar Gutierrez

Oscar is the other lead accountant in the office. Oscar is very practical and has a good ability to explain to Michael the type of basic economics and accounting that Michael should already be aware of. Oscar and Angela frequently disagree about what is acceptable office behavior.

Kevin Malone

Kevin is the third accountant in the office and he is less adept at accounting than one might expect. Kevin was given his job by Michael despite being under qualified and that helps to explain why he occasionally becomes confused about fairly simple concepts. Again, Kevin’s confusion and lack of understanding provides some teaching moments that are captured in some of the videos.

Creed Bratton

Creed is ostensibly in charge of quality control for Dunder Mifflin paper. Creed is highly unusual but does occasionally come up with surprising ways to profit for himself (see Shrute Bucks Counterfeits)

Meredith Palmer

Meredith is in "supplier relations" for Dunder Mifflin although she is seldom shown working on the show. Meredith spends most of her time playing solitaire on her computer.

Andy Bernard

Andy joined the sales staff at Dunder Mifflin after spending time at the Stamford Branch before it was closed due to downsizing. Andy had a short stint as manager of Dunder Mifflin but for most of the series he acts as a salesman who also makes some mistakes in understanding sales and markets. This also can provide teaching moments which are captured in some of the videos. The best example of this is when he sells his used car at a price well below equilibrium to Dwight.

Toby Flenderson

Toby is the head of human resources and he and Michael do not get along well. Toby frequently tries (with little success) to prevent Michael from violating corporate policy. As a result, Michael develops a strong grudge against Toby.

Gabe Lewis

After Dunder Mifflin was taken over by Sabre Corporation, Gabe was assigned by the corporate headquarters to report on the activities at Scranton. The Scranton branch surprisingly turned out to be a highly profitable branch. Gabe is shown in one of the videos using rather unusual logic to defend the commission cap policy put into place by Sabre. This leads to a scene where Jim decides to play a prank on Gabe instead of spending his time trying to sell paper for no additional commissions.

Kelly Kapoor

Kelly Kapoor is in charge of customer relations at Dunder Mifflin Scranton. She is a very competent employee but she is extremely talkative and a bit of a gossip. She enjoys talking about trivial matters such as celebrity gossip and could certainly be accused of being obsessed about getting married (particularly to her on again off again boyfriend Ryan). In "Pretzel Day" Kelly's non stop talking is a good example of an external cost being placed on Michael and Stanley as they wait in line but they seem to be oblivious to the cost being imposed on them.

Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard is a temporary employee in season one but eventually gets promoted to be Michael’s supervisor at Dunder Mifflin. It is later discovered that he was misleading Dunder Mifflin shareholders and is fired from his position. Michael later re-hires Ryan as a temp. While Ryan was still a temp (prior to his promotion) he has Michael Scott speak to his MBA class where Michael displays an alarming lack of understanding of economics. One would think that Ryan would have considerable business acumen which he does display when introducing an innovative approach to accounting in "Dunder Mifflin Infinity" which would save the company money (while causing some of the accountants to become structurally unemployed). Ryan does show that his understanding of accounting and economics is rather limited when he tries to help the Michael Scott Paper Company come up with a feasible business plan. This provides a great teaching opportunity to demonstrate the difference between fixed and variable costs. Ryan’s actual position at the company at any one time is not as important as his apparent lack of morals and his on again off again relationship with Kelly. In the "Garage Sale" scene he is shown selling his mother’s pesto sauce for a profit after tricking his mother into helping him host "a pesto party" which demonstrates the questionable morals he frequently displays.

Erin Hannon

Erin Hannon replaces Pam Beasley (Halpert) as the receptionist at Dunder Mifflin Scranton. Erin is cheerful and loves being a receptionist. She is typically positive and supportive of Michael which she demonstrates in the "Nepotism" scene. Erin could be described as the employee who is the least likely to quit her job in search of a better opportunity because she is very content at Dunder Mifflin.