Course Syllabus: Strategic Entrepreneurship through Open Innovation

By • on November 23, 2012

Welcome back! As you may know, I have taken on a new position, which has somewhat kept me from contributing here as much as I wanted to. I am now in a few weeks into my teaching for this term, and as always, a considerable share of it is case-based. On top of that, this time around, I have finally been able to create a brand-new open innovation-related course.

Specially, I have designed a course called “Strategic Entrepreneurship through Open Innovation” specifically targeted at final year bachelor students with a major in innovation and entrepreneurship. While I share many people’s reservations against teaching cases to bachelor students, I have done my best to adjust to this environment – as the syllabus shows, first, there is an introduction session about what case based teaching is. Second, there is a practice session: the first case does not really match the topic perfectly well, but it’s rather thought to familiarize students with how cases are discussed. Third, I have purposefully introduced repetition into the schedule, in the sense that I take cases from the same industry or even the same company, so that students can improve their knowledge of the context as the course progresses.

My core teaching objective is relatively easy to describe: I want to give students a general sense of how collaboration, open innovation, and forms thereof can help organizations (of different size) to achieve growth and innovative success. Notably, my point here is not to argue for a general superiority or universal applicability of open innovation—rather, my intent is to point out, what can be achieved through open innovation, under which conditions and as part of what larger strategy open innovation is most likely to contribute positively, and how specific open innovation practices or a larger open innovation strategy should be implemented to achieve those specific and contingent benefits.

Looking at the syllabus, you will find that there is some sort of story going on. I begin with the “practice case”; next, I take a case describing a firm that purposefully opts for limited engagement with its environment. Specifically, the case of Merck (which I have discussed previously) also allows me to introduce the notion of strategy and planning. Next, I introduce the concept of open using the case InnoCentive, and then look at how open innovation may be applied in many contexts ranging from small firms, to large firms, to entire ecosystems. In teaching the individual cases, I often follow the teaching notes that exist (but direct the discussion more toward to issue of collaboration and open innovation when needed), and of course establish linkages between the cases.

Over the coming weeks and months, my intent is to discuss those cases in the syllabus not previously presented here (InnoCentive, 3M Optical, Innovation at 3M, IBM & Eclipse, GSK, and possibly even my introductory MedImmune: FluMist case). Discussion of the other cases can be found at this website (specifically: Merck, Threadless, Cisco, IBM & Linux, and Intel Research).

Finally, here is the link to the actual syllabus. You will find that in addition to participating actively in case discussion, students are required to design a strategic entrepreneurship project—credits for the design of this exercise largely belong to Ammon Salter at Imperial College Business School.

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