Institut für Strategie, Technologie und Organisation (ISTO)

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Organizing for Innovation

Archive StampProseminar Strategy and Organization in Technology Markets

One-Week Intensive Course

Dr. Sam MacAulayProf. Dr. Thorsten Grohsjean


Course Overview

An organization’s fate is intimately tied to the innovations they bring to life. This process of creating innovation is often chaotic, npredictable, risky and uncertain and there are many different ways organizations go about bringing order and coherence to it. For instance, Valve Corporation, maker of games like Half-Life and Left 4 Dead, has no organizational chart and lets employees choose which projects they work on. There are no bosses! Valve’s founders, who had previously worked at Microsoft, concluded that the Microsoft way of organizing innovation had to be turned on its head. Hierarchy, the defining feature of most 20th century organizations, was out and was to be replaced with a largely autonomous community form of organization. This choice has made the organization of innovation at Valve different, not just to Microsoft, but also to that in its major competitors like Activision and Electronic Arts. 

If you were in the same position as Valve’s founders, how would you organize for innovation? And why? If you’re interested in the answers to these questions, then you will be interested in attending this class. By the end of the class you will have in-depth knowledge of the challenges of organizing innovation and be able to intelligently compare and contrast them using illustrative examples. We will be investigating two specific questions about the organization of innovation:

1) How are organizational boundaries drawn around the innovation process? So, in practice, why might you choose to outsource research and development to an external company like Sagentia? Or why might you decide to launch an open innovation program like Proctor and Gamble’s “Connect + Develop”?

2) How are organizational resources and capabilities orchestrated to generate innovation? So, in practice, why might you choose to create a formal research and development department like Bayer AG in the late 1900s? Or why might you choose to broadcast innovation challenges to employees like IBM did with it’s ‘innovation jam’?

Our class will focus on approaches different organizations have used to tackle these challenges. The organizations we examine will be diverse, ranging from Google, Du Pont and Wedgewood, through to the UK Government, the Syrian insurgency and London’s Crossrail infrastructure project. The course will be taught using a combination of lectures, case studies and class discussion.

Course Structure

Each session starts out with the presentation and discussion of a business case which highlights one or two major challenges in the management of innovations. The lecture material extends and broadens the lessons learned from the case discussion. In the afternoon, students (in groups) prepare the case study for the next session. Sessions are designed to be highly interactive, so it is important that all students are prepared for each session. The course is rounded off with a written, case-based examination.

About the Lecturer

Sam MacAulay joined the University of Queensland in November 2014 as a Thiess Research Fellow. His research combines organizational theory and economic sociology to generate new insights into innovation, management, and strategy. It is the Carnegie School of organizational theory that he finds most interesting. He draws on these foundations to empirically study how innovation is shaped by organizational design, how new products and services are created, and the role of competition in knowledge production. In doing so, he focuses on construction, infrastructure and mining, all areas that have traditionally received little attention in mainstream research on innovation, management, and strategy. He draws on this research to teach subjects ranging from the organization of innovation through to the management of projects. He has previously taught at QUT, UQ, Imperial College London and the University of Munich. His research has been published in a range of journals including Transportation Research Part A, the Project Management Journal and Innovation: Management Policy & Practice.


To apply, please send your CV and a recent transcript to Thorsten Grohsjean ( by 28.04.2016 (confirmation of participation until 5.5.2016).

Dates Monday, 27.06 – Friday, 1.07, 09.00 – 12.00
Location Room 202, Kaulbachstr. 45
Num. of Participants max. 20
Credits 3 ECTS in M&F-BWL
Examination 15 minutes presentation per person


Students are expected to have taken at least one introductory course in microeconomics, strategic management, organizational design or technology & information management that would have familiarized them with core problems and issues related to strategy and organization design

By participating in the kick-off session you bindingly sign up for the proseminar Organizing for Innovation. Please pay attention to the following announcement from the examination board.


A broad introduction to some of the topics discussed in the course is provided by Schilling, Melissa A. (2010): Strategic Management of Technological Innovation, McGraw-Hill, Irwin.