Writing materials

Analytics – An economist writes every day

Many undergraduates take at least one course in business analytics at the 200 course level. A book that I and other professors at our business school have chosen to teach business statistics is by Albright and Winston

Business Analytics: data analysis and decision making (Amazon link)

This book provides three essential ingredients for a successful course:

  1. Covering basic concepts such as descriptive statistics and optimization
  2. Provide relevant examples in a business context (e.g. how much stock should a retail store order)
  3. Showing step by step instructions on how to make applications in specific software which in this case is Excel

Microsoft Excel is essential for business school graduates (probably all college graduates). No one is born knowing how to select cells or enter formulas. The book does not assume anything, so the teacher does not need additional material on using Excel. There are plenty of exercises and examples that teach mastery of the tool while demonstrating the concepts. Analysis courses must be practical.

Sometimes statistics lessons don’t feel like they allow for critical thinking or discussion. There is only one correct formula for an average, and that is simply and exactly what the formula determines. Therefore, an interesting addition to a technical class is Muller’s book

The tyranny of metrics (Amazon link)

Muller spends most of the book pointing out instances where outcome measurement has backfired. He’s not so much against “analytics” as he’s skeptical of pay-for-performance management systems. Many of these programs were sold to the public as incredible technocratic improvements, like No Child Left Behind. I don’t always agree with Muller, but he gives students something to debate. Note that only certain chapters need to be assigned so that they do not take up too much time compared to other course materials.