Carnegie Mellon University

heinz tepper

November 12, 2019

Heinz-Tepper IO Conference Explores Industrial Organization

The conference invited researchers from across the U.S. to speak on their work on a variety of topics related to industrial organization.

Industrial organization is a research field in economics focused on the firm behavior and how well markets function. Knowledge in industrial organization undergirds antitrust enforcement and regulatory policy, and research advances can have profound real world impacts. Interest in the topic is growing at the Heinz College and the Tepper School of Business and Carnegie Mellon University, according to Martin Gaynor, E.J. Barone Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Heinz College, and by courtesy, Tepper School of Business. 

Maryam Saeedi, Assistant Professor of Economics at the Tepper School, hoped to support that research and foster relationships with outside colleagues by hosting a dedicated conference at Carnegie Mellon. That conference took the form of the inaugural Heinz-Tepper IO Conference, held Sept. 26-27, 2019 at the Tepper Quad.

“The primary purpose of the Heinz-Tepper IO Conference is to advance science — to move ahead our understanding of how firms and markets operate, and the means by which we can learn about them,” Gaynor said. “We also want to show off our terrific Carnegie Mellon faculty and students and all of the great things that happen here to the rest of the world.”

The conference invited researchers from across the U.S. to speak on their work in industrial organization. Anh Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Economics at the Tepper School, led a discussion Friday morning on “Selection With Variation in Diagnostic Skill: Evidence From Radiologists,” a paper presented by Stanford University professor Matthew Gentzkow. The paper researched variation in how similar patients are treated, depending on who the doctor is, and concluded that the difference is primarily due to differences in the doctors’ skills. “This is something that was not previously known, and I don’t think I would have guessed,” Gaynor said. 

Other research featured included a paper from Duke University faculty member Allan Collard-Wexler investigating measurement of capital stock, led by discussant Karam Kang, Associate Professor of Economics, and research on the effects of population growth on the distribution of wealth across firms in the U.S., presented by UCLA professor Hugo Hopenhayn and discussed by Ali Shourideh, Assistant Professor of Economics Frank A. and Helen E. Risch Faculty Development Professor of Business 2018-2020. 

“We had a very diverse set of research papers in terms of research methods and industries,” Gaynor said, “so the potential for research is quite varied with regard to both approach and application.”

Kang and Nguyen joined Saeedi and Gaynor in planning the conference programming, along with Akshaya Jha, Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Heinz College. “By bringing scholars together we can make each other aware of our ideas and give each other feedback, and that leads to better science,” Gaynor said. “It was very easy to get top people to come and participate. People were pleased to be invited and to come to Carnegie Mellon.”

“Research in industrial organization matters,” Gaynor said. “There are a lot of major issues, and for many of them we simply have very little or no evidence. Researchers can make major contributions by making headway and advancing scientific knowledge in these areas.”