Economics undergraduate takes part in unique research opportunity

Economics undergraduate takes part in unique research opportunity

M aking up just 4% of College of Business undergraduates, economics majors are the minority. But that doesn’t stop them from having transformative experiences at Georgia College. 

Senior economics major Maxwell Harley began his research over the summer, thanks to Mentored Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (MURACE) grants. 

 “I was able to learn two different programming languages,” said Harley “I’d spend my day working on my research, so I was able to collect data myself and work on the paper.”

Harley works with Scarcioffolo to refine his research.
Harley works with Scarcioffolo to refine his research.

Through MURACE funding, Harley was awarded a $2,500 grant to pursue his research about the importance of secondary markets in balancing supply and demand. Specifically, the study has analyzed the secondary market formed after the release of PlayStation 5 consoles and the price gouging that dominated markets like eBay.

Sony, creator of PlayStation, expected consumers would be willing to pay more for a disk drive console. Through his research, Harley found that this was true, but to a lesser extent.
 
“It looks like I’m the first one to try and empirically measure the downfall of disk drives,” Harley said. “And to get some type of empirical measurement on how much consumers are willing to pay for a digital versus a disk edition of a console.”

While his research alone cannot confirm this, Harley hypothesizes that his research and subsequent paper could fill a void in video game literature and the impact of physical media, where research like this is scarce.

“The skills that I’ve learned from this research experience are going to put me at a significant advantage over someone who hasn’t done something like this—and the vast majority have not.”
– Harley

“This is something I’m going to be able to present at conferences, and something, hopefully, that can be published,” he said. “The skills that I’ve learned from this research experience are going to put me at a significant advantage over someone who hasn’t done something like this—and the vast majority have not.”

Harley credits this opportunity and his success, in part, to both a close-knit economics community and Georgia College’s smaller size. He plays saxophone and clarinet in the wind symphony, jazz band and saxophone quartet; providing another occasion for connecting to faculty.

“Faculty have made themselves very open. They know all of their students, and some of them have even come to some of my concerts,” he said. “If I were at a much larger university with a huge economics department, it would be a lot harder to get noticed or even know that opportunities like this exist.”

With this experience in his toolbelt, Harley’s graduate school prospects are looking up. He said he’s inspired by his mentor—Dr. Alex Scarcioffolo, assistant professor of economics and finance—and the way he guided him through his research.

From Brazil, Scarcioffolo works to bring the close-knit relationship he has with former professors to his students. He brought that attitude of openness to Harley, and helped him reach his undergraduate goals.
Scarcioffolo has assisted Harley through the research process.
Scarcioffolo has assisted Harley through the research process.

“You don’t have to be a genius to do research, you just have to be driven to do research,” Scarcioffolo said. “That’s one thing I really like about Harley’s research. He brought a lot of things that he’s passionate about into it.”

As the research tries to understand what factors drive people to pay more for goods than their retail price, Scarcioffolo believes Harley’s research has implication out of the classroom.
“The question he’s asking is very up to date,” he said. “There are some researchers trying to do similar things with other products like the iPhone, so this isn’t very unique to the universe of research, but for the console market and video games, I think it’s very unique.”

After college, Harley is looking to teach economics and research, like Scarcioffolo. 

“Maybe I should send this paper, along with my resume, to the relevant department at Microsoft and Sony,” Harley said, jokingly. “I’ve considered doing something like that and just seeing what happens.”