PS472E      Half Unit
Corporate Behaviour and Decision Making

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Grace Lordan OLD M 2.26


This course is available on the Executive MSc in Behavioural Science. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

Lecture 1: Introduction

This lecture will give an overview of rational decision making from an economics perspective. Rationality should already be familiar to the students (from compulsory PS468E and MG406E), so they will simply re visiting this. Attention will also be paid to how students can identify credible empirical evidence from experiments (brief recap what was done in

PS469E) and beyond (cover natural experiments). We will also recap on the interpretation, advantages and disadvantages of observational studies.

Lecture 2: Finding a Job

This lecture will cover the unconscious biases that are encountered corporate firms in:

1) Job Search

2) Job Advertising

3) Interview panels

Seminar 1: Lecture 2 will be complemented with a linked seminar which focuses on how these biases in job search and hiring affect success by gender in the labour market and in top tier jobs. Particular attention will be paid to increasing diversity on interview boards.

Lecture 3: Day to Day Work

We will discuss biases in allocated bonuses, promotions, deciding who is viewed as ‘great’ and the allocations of prestigious projects in corporate firms. We will also cover biases in how different types of people are ‘heard’ and ‘seen’ in business, and biases in what a ‘successful’ person looks like. We will brainstorm, with the help of received literature in behavioural economics, viable interventions to combat blind spots in promotions and bonus allocations in the corporate setting.

Seminar 2: Lecture 3 will be complemented with a linked seminar where particular attention will be paid to empirical evidence that relates to:

1) In-group/out groups at work

2) Herding and the implications for decisions in business.

3) Social norms

Lecture 4: When at Work: Trading and Investment

This behavioral finance lecture will cover psychological biases in trade and high stake investment decisions in finance. It will cover the efficient markets hypothesis and outline the behavioral biases in finance that will likely disrupt its predictions. We will also cover how these biases impact on forward futures and options markets, leverage cycles and corporate stocks.

Seminar 3: So far, we have focused on cognitive biases, this lecture will have a linked seminar that will cover the potential for biology to disrupt rational decision making within financial firms when making investment choices.

Lecture 5: When at Work: Complying with the Rules

We will begin by discussing the decision to comply to a firm’s policies and procedures within a cost benefit framework. In practice, compliance depends on a number of factors, including employee behavior which is subject to biases already covered. This lecture will cover the insights from behavioral science, which can be used to encourage compliance in the face of these biases.

Seminar 4: Lecture 5 will have a linked seminar which considers high profile compliance issues in finance.

Seminar 5: Wrap up – bringing together of all the messages learned in the course. Student presentations based on group work on ‘what was learned’ each day.


12 hours and 30 minutes of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 case study in the LT.

Case study with short questions that matches the style of the summative assessment 

Indicative reading

Bertrand Marrianne and Duflo Ester. Field Experiments on Discrimination. in Handbook of Economic Field Experiments. Volume 1, pages 309 - 393 2017.

MLA: Gneezy, Uri, Kenneth L. Leonard, and John A. List. "Gender differences in competition: Evidence from a matrilineal and a patriarchal society." Econometrica 77.5 (2009): 1637-1664.

Johnston, David W. and Lordan, Grace (2016) Racial prejudice and labour market penalties during economic downturns European Economic Review, 84. 57-75 

Lordan, Grace and Pischke, Jorn-Steffen (2016) Does Rosie like riveting? Male and female occupational choices NBER working paper, 22495. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, USA.

Kandasamy, Narayanan, et al. "Cortisol shifts financial risk preferences." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111.9 (2014): 3608-3613.

Shiller, Robert J. Finance and the Good Society, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.

Fama, Eugene, “Market Efficiency, Long-Term Returns, and Behavioral Finance,” Journal of Financial Economics. 


Coursework (100%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Case study with ten short questions. 

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2016/17: Unavailable

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Controlled access 2016/17: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills