Course Overview Note | March 2008

Dynamic Markets

by Joshua D. Coval and Erik Stafford


The Dynamic Markets course at Harvard Business School is organized around the hands-on application of financial decision making in a wide variety of capital market settings. The course relies heavily on in-class simulations of a range of market settings where students compete with their classmates for profits. The main pedagogical approach used in the course is what we call deriving by doing. The essential aspects of this pedagogy are dynamic decision settings, a strong reliance on competitive markets, and derivation of core concepts through active student decision-making. The upTick financial simulation software, developed at the Harvard Business School, is used to realistically recreate classic decision-settings in a competitive classroom setting. We convey the timing and uncertainty inherent in real-world finance problems by presenting the "case facts" sequentially (i.e., as they become available to the real-world decision maker), thereby allowing students to modify or reverse decisions as new information become available, and to respond strategically to the decisions of their competitors. Additionally, we clear student decisions in realistic capital markets, such that equilibrium outcomes are determined by competitive student interaction. Even though students participate in markets corresponding to a particular setting, the prices determined in the simulations are set by the participants and can depart from the historical prices within bounds set by the instructor.

Keywords: Value Creation; Decision Making; Capital Markets; Competitive Strategy; Profit; Software; Information; Strategy; Price; Outcome or Result; Curriculum and Courses; Theory;


Coval, Joshua D., and Erik Stafford. "Dynamic Markets." Harvard Business School Course Overview Note 208-143, March 2008.