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Harvard. Syllabus and Final Exam for Industrial Organization and Control. Edward S. Mason, 1939-40


Following the first term course Economics 61a (The Corporation and its Regulation) that he co-taught with Paul Sweezy, Edward S. Mason taught the following term course Economics 62b (Industrial Organization and Control) that was focussed on market structures and antitrust policies.

Besides being the co-director for the Department of Labor’s studies for the Temporary National Economic Committee (The Online Books Page provides links to TNEC publications), during the immediate period before the U.S. entered WWII he was a consultant  for raw material problems for the Office of Production Management. In 1941 he joined the Office of Strategic Services where he served as the deputy director of the Research and Analysis Branch. This and some of his following government service is discussed in his Oral History Interview  at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.


Course Description, 1940-41

Economics 62b 2hf. Industrial Organization and Control. Half-course (second half-year). Tu., Th., Sat., at 11. Professor Mason.
Economics 61a is a prerequisite for this course.

This course deals with the nature of monopolistic and competitive markets, the economic problems of large scale enterprises and combinations, the trust problem, and trust policy. Particular attention will be paid to recent changes in our system of industrial control.

Source: Division of History, Government, and Economics Containing an Announcement for 1940-41, Official Register of Harvard University, Vol. XXXVII, No. 51 (August 15, 1940), p. 57.


Enrollment 1939-40

[Economics] 62b 2hf. Professor Mason.—Industrial Organization and Control.

Total 95: 1 Graduate, 20 Seniors, 53 Juniors, 13 Sophomores, 8 Other.


Source: Report of the President of Harvard College, 1939-40, p. 99.



Economics 62b

Industrial Organization and Control
Outline and Assignments


Week of




1. Feb. 5-10

1. Outline of field.
2. The decline of competition?
3. The problem of monopoly in law and economics.
Burns, Chs. 1, 9.

2. Feb. 12-17

1. The market position of the individual firm.
2. Costs and rate of output.
3. The relation of size to costs.
Hamilton, pp. 320-88, 395-429, 449-500.

3. Feb. 19-24

1. The flexibility of costs.
2. Vacation.
3. Section.
Structure of the American Economy, Chs. 7, 8.


4. Feb. 26-March 2

1. Cotton textiles.
2. [continued]
3. The problem of excess capacity.
Whitney, Chs. 2, 3.

5. March 4-9

1. Price discrimination.
2. Bsing point systems and other types of geographical price discrimination.
3. [continued]
Burns, Chs. 6, 7.

6. March 11-16

1. Markets in which sellers are few, agricultural implements.
2. Automobiles.
3. Examination.
Burns, Chs. 3, 4.

7. March 18-23

1. Aluminum.
2. Construction industries.
3. [continued]
Burns, Ch. 5.
Price Research in Steel and Petroleum, Part II.

8. March 20-25

1. Competition between channels of distribution.
2. Non-price competition.
3. Section.
Burns, Ch. 8.
Cassels, Q.J.E.
Chain Stores—Final Report, pp. 23-49.



9.   April 8-13

1. The anti-trust acts.
2. Mergers and restraints of competition.
3. Robinson-Patman Act.
Seager & Gulick, Chs. 17-20.

10. April 15-20

1. Federal Trade Commission.
2. Problem of unfair practices.
3. Bituminous Coal Commission.
Seager & Gulick, Chs. 21-23.

11. April 22-27

1. N.R.A.
2. N.R.A.
3. Section
National Recovery Administration, Chs. 20-24.

12. April 29-May 4

1. Fair trade legislation.
2. Issues in the Monopoly
3. Present status of the monopoly problem.
National Recovery Administration, Chs. 25-30.


Titles of books assigned.

A. R. Burns, The Decline of Competition.
Seager and Gulick, Trust and Corporation Problems.
W. Hamilton, Price and Price Policies.
Lyon and others, The National Recovery Administration.
S. Whitney, Trade Associations and Industrial Control.
J. M. Cassels, “The Marketing Machinery in the United States,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, August, 1936.
Federal Trade Commission, Final Report on Chain Store Investigation, Senate Document No. 4, 74th Congress, 1st Session.
National Resources Committee, The Structure of the American Economy.
National Bureau of Economic Research, Price Research in the Steel and Petroleum Industries.

Reading period assignment to be announced.


Source: Harvard University Archives. Syllabi, course outlines and reading lists in economics, 1895-2003 (HUC 8522.2.1). Box 2, Folder “1939-40 (2 of 2)”.


Reading Period Assignment

Economics 62b: Read one of the following:

  1. Lloyd Reynolds, The Control of Competition in Canada.
  2. National Bureau of Economic Research, Textile Markets.
  3. B. Gaskill, The Regulation of Competition.
  4. Pribram, Cartell Problems.


Source: Harvard University Archives. Syllabi, course outlines and reading lists in economics, 1895-2003 (HUC 8522.2.1). Box 2, Folder “1939-40 (1 of 2)”.


Course Final Exam



About 45 minutes

  1. Write a critical appraisal of the book you read for the reading period assignment.

Answer both questions

  1. Do you think that the use of a basing-point system of price quoting in the iron and steel industry eliminates price competition? Discuss.
  2. How would you explain the fact that in the middle of the 1920’s competition in the automobile industry noticeably shifted from an emphasis on price to an emphasis on non-price factors?

Answer all questions

  1. The Robinson-Patman Act is “an anti-competition statute slipped into the anti-trust laws.” Discuss.
  2. Do you think that, as the Courts have interpreted the anti-trust acts, a different standard of legality has been applied to “integrated” than to “loose” combinations? Discuss.
  3. Assuming that the preservation of competition is a desirable objective, what do you consider to be the largest gaps in our anti-trust legislation?

Final. 1940.


Source: Harvard University Archives. Harvard University, Final examinations, 1853-2001 (HUC 7000.28) Box 5. Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Papers Printed for Final Examinations: History, History of Religions,…Economics,…,Military Science, Naval Science. June, 1940.

Image Source: Webpage “Oral History Interview with Edward S. MasonHarry S. Truman Library & Museum

Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier

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