Market Failures and the Regulatory Environment

Course Number: MSS6220
Faculty: Vanessa Crossgrove Fry, PhD

About this course:

To see where to intervene, you have to see the system. To find the best solution, you have to see the alternatives. This course is designed to help sustainability managers, whether MBA or MPA, think across sectors, and consider the entire institutional playing field when seeking new sustainability solutions.

Business, government, and civil society are human institutions in a dynamic and interdependent system. One way to model this system is as a series of exchanges called markets. While markets are a good means to provide optimal allocation of desired goods and services, predictably, markets sometimes fail. When this happens, government regulation or civil society organizations step in to repair or prevent market failure. However, regulation and civil society also sometimes fail. Sustainability challenges often reside where markets, civil society, and regulation have all failed to prevent a normatively undesirable result.

This course will examine market failure as a framework for defining and articulating sustainability challenges. Students will receive a survey of the American regulatory system and its complementary balancing role in curing or preventing market failure. Specific areas of regulation to be examined will include fiduciary, corporate formation, securities, environmental, antitrust, torts, intellectual property and contract law. Based on this understanding of the interdependent market and regulatory environments, students will practice and enhance their ability to innovate new solutions to complex and seemingly intractable problems–i.e., be social entrepreneurs. Students will consider the pros and cons of delivering their solutions through business, governmental, civil societal, or hybrid organizations. After successful completion of this course, students will also have a good sense of when it is time to call a good lawyer.