Course description

The Innovative Firm


This course covers the social conditions tradition that emphasises that corporate innovations are affected by institutional factors related to strategies, finance and organizations. The underlying argument is that social conditions dependent on time and place cater for a certain kind of innovative firm, such as the new industrial factory of The Industrial Revolution, the Managerial Enterprise, typical of USA in the twentieth century, or the newer, more flexible type of firms that have been developed to some extent in Japan. Theories of how firms are resource based, linked in networks, or how success is dependent on (dynamic) capabilities are related to this body of theory. An important part of this approach is work organisation, and research has identified four main forms of work organisation: 'learning', 'lean', 'Taylorist', and 'simple'. Not only does the learning form of work organization result in less job stress and greater worker satisfaction, it also implies more labour market flexibility and superior conditions for learning and innovation. Emphasis is also placed on the role of multinational companies (MNCs) and the way they address innovation challenges: How they are combining in house research with outside sourcing, and how firms 'traditional proprietary attitude - in an open innovation environment where easier access to shared knowledge is becoming important-is challenged by new attitudes and newcomers.

Course content

  • The social conditions' approach to innovation
  • The capabilities approach
  • The work organisation approach
  • Multinationals' approach to innovations
  • The role of global knowledge networks and value chains

Learning outcome knowledge

The course will give the participants theoretical perspectives of major approaches to firm innovation, emphasising the constraints and difficulties surrounding firm's entrepreneurial actions. The course aims at clarifying and reflecting upon the firm's role in processes of innovation. Through a combination of lectures, seminars and paper writing exercises the students will be trained to position their work and to frame their research in relation to various schools of thought.

Exam organisation

  • Written assignment: 100%