Sunday, December 4, 2016

Final Reflection

Over the course of the semester, I learned a lot more about organizations than I expected. Coming into the class, I thought I had a strong conceptual understanding of how organizations worked from previous psychology and leadership classes. With that being said, I wasn’t quite sure what this course would entail and how it would tie in concepts from my economic and psychology classes. However, the economic models we explored in this class allowed me to use a microeconomic analysis to have a deeper understanding about organizations and how they make decisions under certain circumstances. I now have a greater appreciation for management and a deeper understanding of the many different approaches organizations take to maximize efficiency. Next semester, I am taking PSYCH 245: Industrial Organizational Psychology, so I am curious to see how this class would amplify my knowledge about organizations.

The format of this class was quite new to me. I would say that this class was a hybrid between an online and in-class lecture course. We were required to share and discuss our ideas through our blog posts while the in-class discussion supplemented to our posts and understanding of the subject. In addition, we were required to complete numerous excel assignments, two quizzes, and a group paper to apply our knowledge. This format took a while to get used to as the flow of the class was different from my previous online or economics courses. All my previous online classes were administered through Compass 2g or Moodle, so I wasn’t used to checking the class blog daily. My previous in-class lecture courses were also administered through these two websites but didn’t require much use unless there was a quiz or paper that needed submission. Not checking the class blog daily led to much confusion regarding when assignments were due or how it should be done. I appreciated that Professor Arvan took this into consideration and was fairly understanding of this necessary learning curve. However, if this class was administered entirely through Moodle where all the assignments, discussions, quizzes, and papers can be submitted to one website, it would've made the process a lot more convenient.   

The excel homework was fairly straightforward and the videos helped me get through many homework assignments. The excel homework did a great job of connecting the topics we covered during the discussion with different theories, models, and equations. There was more depth in my understanding of the topics both mathematically and conceptually. I also enjoyed the group paper as it gave me an opportunity to meet more people in the class. It was nice to see at least a couple of familiar faces during the lecture. Also, I enjoyed the lectures for the most part and thought it was interesting, but sometimes I wished we had a more structured lecture. Personally, I am a visual learner so utilizing PowerPoint slides and knowing the clear outline of the topics being covered would’ve enhanced my learning experience in this class.

Blogging was something I was originally not looking forward to because writing is one of my biggest weaknesses. At first, I wasn't sure what each post required and thought the instructed were open ended. However, I soon came to appreciate writing these blog posts a lot more as it pushed me to synthesize information from the class and connect them to my personal experiences. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, taking the steps to “prewrite” before writing the actual post transformed my writing significantly. Having a general idea and flow of how I wanted my writing to look like cut down on the time for writing my actual blog posts. It allowed me to organize my ideas and I used my time more efficiently when on the computer. This prewriting step is a useful method that can be utilized in other classes and is something I plan on using more in the future.

Overall, I enjoyed taking this class and would recommend it to other students.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Triangle Model

Despite its bilateral nature, the principal-agent model works as a triangle model in real life because the agent is dealing with two different principals rather than just one. As the agent is trying to please two principals, it entails different conflicts when the two principals are in a disagreement. This principal-agent model is very similar to the time when my dad used to work as a property manager for my aunt’s apartment.

My aunt owned an apartment complex with six units that was not under any management company. So when she had to move to South Korea, she appointed my dad as the property manager since our family already lived in the building. My dad filled out various paper work that gave him authority to handle all the business regarding the building. Since my dad was tending to only one building, this wasn’t his primary job, and rather than getting paid a salary, we got a certain amount of our rent waived.

As a property manager, my dad worked as a middleman between my aunt (the landlord) and the tenant. He took over all the roles that my aunt would’ve done as a landlord as he collected rent, signed the lease, paid expenses and taxes for the building, find tenants, deal with tenant disputes, and handled maintenance requests. While working with different tenants and building maintenance issues, my dad would call my aunt about once a month to update her. Since our family already lived in the building, my dad had a pretty good relationship with most of the tenants. This meant that he was very willing to accommodate to the needs of the tenants and tried to have their best interest in mind. He was very quick to respond to any maintenance requests or disputes among tenants.

From what I remember, there was always two things that I would overhear my dad and aunt argue about: the rent and new tenants. There were many times when my aunt would want to increase the rent after the lease was over, but the tenant that was staying would want the rent to stay the same. My dad was in a dilemma because he had to follow the orders from the landlord (my aunt), but he also wanted the tenant to stay so that he didn’t have to go through the process of looking for a new tenant. Looking for a new tenant was also an issue at times because my aunt would want all the units rented out at all times and was less strict with who she was willing to rent out the apartment to. However, my dad was more cautious and mindful to the other tenants that were living in the building. He wanted to make sure that the people living in this building wouldn’t make too much noise and not get into any possible disputes with the other tenants. In order to get to know the potential tenants, he would ask how big the family is, if they have any pets, and three contacts for reference.   

As much as my dad wanted to tend to some of the needs of the tenants, the ultimate decision came from my aunt. Therefore, the best he could do to alleviate the conflict was to have a conference call meeting with the tenant and my aunt. The three of them (mostly tenant and landlord) would try to negotiate a resolution. Many times, my aunt was adamant about her decisions and ultimate decision was usually in her favor.

Since my aunt is so removed from the situation, perhaps my dad could’ve done a better job of informing my aunt of the situation. Maybe if she had a better idea of where he was coming from, she could’ve been more willing to compromise with the tenants.   

Sunday, November 6, 2016


I have joined a new RSO this year that focuses on giving international students consulting opportunities related to agricultural business that is normally harder to find for international students on campus. Since this organization is relatively new and is still working out a lot of values, goals, and logistics. To give a little background about the organization, it is broken down into two teams: consulting and advertising.
I am part of the consulting team that consists of 6 other members who are mostly Agricultural Consumer Economics majors. Although I had little knowledge about agricultural business, one of the board members (my friend) thought that this organization would be beneficial for me and the organization given my economic background. Our consulting team works closely with a company that deals with a lot of agricultural data. When I first joined the organization, they were in the process of solidifying out a lot of values, goals, and logistics (when to have regular meetings, board meetings, deadline for projects).
In the beginning, I was very excited to be part of this new and upcoming organization, but I soon found that there were many obstacles that our team would need to overcome. One of the difficulties about this team was that there was no clear direction when a task was given and I had a hard time grasping the final product our project manager had in mind. The frustration was on both ends in that I was dissatisfied with how vague the manger’s directions were even when I would ask clarifying questions and the manger was frustrated that I wasn’t able to product the work that met his expectations.
Another problem with had was the lack of transparency we had among the team. I would often go days or weeks not being updated on our project and would even sometimes go into meeting with the company representative with my team members not knowing a single relevant information regarding what needs to be achieved through the meeting. Our ultimate problem came down to what many organizations face: communication.
As I’ve stated in my previous blog post, I have a relatively easy-going and passive personality. I’m not the type to confront or take the initiative into solving the issue. However, I soon found that bottling up our issues resulted in both of us behaving passive-aggressively and making unnecessary comments during meetings that hurt each other’s feelings and negatively affected our team. This conflict regarding the task and the relationship within the continued to progress. Quality work was not being done because we were not able to communicate effectively. In addition, the relationship between the manager and I continued to suffer as we were frustrated with each other but didn’t say anything. This tension started caused awkwardness within the entire team as other members sensed something was wrong between us. There was a definite low group morale overall.
After weeks of being frustrated with each other, I finally decided to initiate a meet up and talk out all the frustrations and misunderstandings that we had towards each other. The outcome that we both wanted was for the organization to do well and to do it required both of us to put aside our pride and think more objectively. I would say that we ended up cooperating to solve this. It required a lot of time and a little awkwardness in the beginning to address the issue at hand, but it worked out in the end. There were clear solutions that came out of that meeting: the manager will try his best to be clear with the work he wants from me and keep me updated on how the project is going overall and I would be sure to ask questions when needed.
In the end, there were benefits to this conflict in that we were able to learn more about how to communicate with one another and learn how to alleviate conflict the next time it arises. Also, I would say that after this conflict we got a lot more comfortable around each other and it was easier to be ourselves during meetings.