Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

This course provides a series of strategic frameworks for managing high-technology businesses. The emphasis throughout the course is on the development and application of conceptual models which clarify the interactions between competition, patterns of technological and market change, and the structure and development of organizational capabilities.

This is not a course in how to manage product or process development. The main focus is on the acquisition of a set of powerful analytical tools which are critical for the development of a technology strategy as an integral part of business strategy. These tools can provide the framework for deciding which technologies to invest in, how to structure those investments and how to anticipate and respond to the behavior of competitors, suppliers, and customers. The course should be of particular interest to those interested in managing a business for which technology is likely to play a major role, and to those interested in consulting or venture capital.

The course utilizes lectures, case analyses, simulations and independent reading. The readings are drawn from economics, and from research in technological change and organizational theory. The case studies provide an extensive opportunity to integrate and apply these abstract tools in a practical, business policy context.

Grades will be determined by class participation, four two-page papers, and a final paper based on a group project. The group project — which may be written in groups of 3 people — consists of an in-depth exploration of technology strategy in an industry of your choice. Many students chose to focus their two page papers and final paper on the same topic and, thus, "build up" to the final paper due at the end of the semester. There is no final exam.

This is an advanced course. I draw extensively on the material presented in 15.900, Strategic Management, and 15.011, Introduction to Economics. Knowledge or work experience of basic concepts in innovation and entrepreneurship in high technology settings is also useful for background to this course.

As markets become more interdependent and dynamic, partnerships between firms have become a critical aspect of technology strategy. Therefore, another important theme of the course content is how high technology firms create, capture, and deliver value through inter-firm relationships such as alliances, collaborations, and joint ventures.


Class attendance and participation 50%
Four two-page papers 30%
Final paper 20%


Class Attendance and Participation

Most of your participation grade will be based on attending class on time and adding value during the case discussions.

Of course, we understand that sometimes absences are necessary (e.g. sickness, interviews, etc.). Therefore, to give you a chance to make up the missed day's participation, we ask that you do the following: please write a 1 page memo either answering the questions (if it is a case day) or applying the frameworks in the lecture notes online to a company or industry of your choice. While making up absences with memos is optional, please do remember that participation is a big component of your grade. These memos should be handed to your TA before class the week after your absence. Also, we please ask that you let us know before a class absence if possible.

Each student will also answer the main question for 3 different cases on the Course Blog (located on the class site). You may choose which of 3 questions you answer over the course of the term. We're looking for a few paragraphs to help us jumpstart discussion of the case. These answers are due by 11pm before the day of the case and will be publicly available for other students to comment upon in class.

Summary of Course Deliverables

Ses #3, 6, 10, and 16: Two-page papers

Ses #14: Paragraph outlining final paper topic

Ses #22: Presentation slides

Ses #24: Final paper

Over the course of the term: Three blog entries


Group work is not only acceptable but actively encouraged. Indeed I would strongly recommend that you form a study group with a few friends who can meet to discuss the readings before each class. My experience suggests that this will significantly increase both your enjoyment of the course and the amount that you find yourself learning.

Supplementary Readings

Supplementary readings are used to illustrate key concepts in each section of the course. Some of these concepts may be familiar to those who have taken 15.350 / 15.351, Managing Technological Innovation and Entrepreneurship. If you have not taken either 15.350 or 15.351, and if you are otherwise unfamiliar with the following concepts:

  • The S curve and the determinants of industry evolution
  • Tools for exploring new markets: the nature of the innovator's dilemma
  • Capturing value: uniqueness and complementary assets
  • Core concepts in network externalities
  • Why responding to discontinuous technological change is so difficult and what to do about it

....then you may wish to read ahead in the papers listed in the supplemental readings section.