the principal-agent problem: what it is, why it’s important, and how it can be solved

The principal-agent problem is a common problem that arises whenever there is a contractual relationship between two parties - the principal, who in accordance with agreed upon terms, assigns a task to an agent, who then executes the task for the principal. It is expected that the agent will work on the behalf of the principal. Likewise, …

what value chains are and how they can optimize economic efficiency

First introduced in 1985 by Michael Porter, the value chain concept is understood as the process by which value is added to raw materials via various production processes in order to generate a final product that can be sold for a higher price. The main components of value chains are inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistic, marketing …

the food system approach: assessing food security from a holistic perspective

“The world now produces enough food to feed its population. The problem is not simply technical. It is a political and social problem. It is a problem of access to food supplies, of distribution, and of entitlement. Above all, it is a problem of political will.” -Boutros Boutros-Ghali, November 1993 925 million people were food …

institutions: what they are, why we need them and how they shape our everyday lives

It is a common practice in the United States to sing Happy Birthday to a person when they survive another year on this planet. However, in China, birthday celebrations commonly take the form of elaborate banquets and are reserved for the very young or very old. Despite being obviously divergent practices, they are both considered …

business clusters: what they are and why they provide a competitive advantage

Have you ever wondered why Wall Street is known for finance or why the California wine industry has been so successful in integrating itself into the global market? In a word: clusters. Clusters are concentrations of complementary organizations, institutions and companies that are components of a given field in a specific geographic location. These conglomerations …

what cooperatives are and how they can benefit workers

The world we live in is quite complicated.  Being alone in this crazy, mixed-up reality can make this truth quite scary.  However,  even in the big, bad take-no-prisoners universe of globalized economics, there are tools that can be used to help improve one's chances of successful navigation through these choppy waters. One of the most …

question: why are certain countries classified as failing states?

Throughout history, the greatest threats to the stability of global society have been dependent on states with too much power. However, in modern times it is the countries that cannot maintain power that threatens international stability. When a national government loses some or all of its power and cannot ensure the wellbeing of the citizens …