BMA5251 Management of Technology

Semester 2, Year 2005-2006
Mondays 6-9pm (starting January 2006)
NUS Business School, Conference Room C [map]

Kwanghui Lim

kwanghui's picture 

Assistant Professor
NUS Business School
National University of Singapore
Singapore 117592
Republic of Singapore.

Office Hours: by appointment (please email)



The aim of this course is to help students develop a strong conceptual foundation for managing technological innovation. It introduces concepts and frameworks for analyzing how firms can create, commercialize and capture value from technology-based products and services. 

The course for executives and engineers who want to understand decision making for high-technology companies. You should also take this course if you want to learn more about commercializing technology, how to manage innovation within a corporation, or how to protect an invention you might want to commercialize. The concepts and analytical frameworks are useful and relevant when you need to deal with rapid changes in the technological environment, intellectual property, organizational knowledge, and knowledge professionals. Although the readings may present a certain level of technical knowledge, the focus is on management issues rather than specific details of any particular technology. Nonetheless, students in the past have enjoyed learning the selection of technologies in terms of diversity and stages of evolution. This is not a course on Information Technology, although some of our examples come from the IT industry.

Topics covered include (1) technological change and how it affects competition between new and existing firms, (2) strategies for firms competing in high-technology industries, (3) how to create and manage an innovative organization and (4) entrepreneurship and venture capital.

This course is lots of fun! It includes interesing readings, cases, and a lot of in-class interaction.


MBA students should apply through the Graduate School of Business. Cross-faculty students should apply via the NUS Entrepreneurship Center. A diverse mix of students is desired as it improves the quality of your learning experience.

I will be teaching this course Jan-Apr 2006. Dr Soh Pek Hooi will teach it Aug-Nov 2006..


  • This course is for graduate students. If you are an undergrad, you are probably looking for TR2202.
  • A follow up course that you can take after this is Technology Strategy (BMA5252). Other relevant courses are listed at the NUS Entrepreneurship Center website [NUS-NEC].


Textbook: You are not required to purchase any textbooks.

IVLE: Please subscribe to Course BMA5251 [IVLE]. It contains class materials, presentations, student assignments, videos, etc.

eReserve: This contains the readings. The NUS Library has obtained copyright permission for you to download and view/print these articles. Click the Library Resources button from the IVLE page for this course.

Cases: Students from outside the business school will have to pay SGD6.5 for each Harvard Case Study used in this course. For MBA students, this is already included in your tution fees. This will give each student access to copyright-cleared content in printed form.

Further References are available at: There are also a number of interesting books on reserve at the RBR section of the library. MIT has some interesting course materials and videos available online for free.


Class Participation (30%). This is NOT class attendance. You are expected to analyze the readings and cases and contribute to class discussions.

  • Individual Participation (15%): The teaching assistant will track class participation every week. You are graded on quality rather than quantity. As a rule of thumb, you will earn 0/20 if you're absent, 10/20 for being present but saying nothing and 20/20 for exceptional performance.
  • In-class Debates and Presentations (15%): Students will be assigned to small groups that take turns to participate in class debates and case presentations.Grading is based on effort, presentation and creativity.
  • Bonus (5%): Insightful postings on the class IVLE discussion group can improve your overall class participation score by up to 5 "bonus" points.

    Preparing for class should take around 3-5 hours per week. Do not come to class unprepared. Every week the class slides contain a guide to help you estimate the amount of effort to put into each reading. Please follow it carefully. If you cannot make it to class you should email the teaching assistant and me before class, download the class slides, and learn the material yourself. If you missed class for a valid reason and inform us beforehand, you can make up by writing an Online Paper on the topic missed within a week, and post it on the IVLE forum. On the first line of your posting, indicate the session you are making up for.

    Important: No marks are subtracted if you say something "wrong". This helps other students clarify their misconceptions. However, if you don't say anything at all, it doesn't help you. If you have something to say, no matter how silly, raise your hand. Class participation is crucial because it helps you build self-confidence. If you want to be an entrepreneur or manager, you must be able to articulate your case convincingly to venture capitalists and others.

Group Project (30%).  Students will be assigned to groups.  Each group will propose a project relevant to the topics covered in class.  The project should analyze a real-world innovation, preferably drawing upon the experiences of team members and frameworks discussed in class. Students may conduct interviews with company executives to collect data.

  • A one-paragraph proposal is due by week 8.
  • Each group should submit a final report. Do not exceed 25 pages (15%). Each final report should include a 1-page executive summary. The grading criteria area: relevant applications of ideas covered in this course (6%), thoughtful analysis (6%) and creativity (3%).
  • In the final week, each group will present its analysis and findings (15%).

Individual Assignments (15%): In week 7, you will need to complete a written assignment. This diagnostic assessment is to determine the level of your understanding of concepts covered during sessions 1 to 6. Please do not collaborate on this assignment.

Final Paper (25%).  Each student must write a final paper (there is no exam!). The topic will be assigned by the instructor. It is usually a case analysis and includes questions encompassing many issues discussed in class.

  • The paper should not exceed 20 pages in length.
  • You will be graded on the relevant applications of ideas covered in this course (10%), thoughtful analysis (10%) and creativity (5%)
  • This is an individual assignment- do not discuss it with anyone else or get other people to help you. NUS uses an anti-plagarism service, so please DO NOT COPY or DISCUSS this with anyone else.
  • Post your paper on IVLE. Do not email it to me. Unlike for the minipapers, only you can view your own final paper.

Specifications for all written assignments: A4 size, margins of 1" on all sides, fonts no smaller than 11-points. Line spacing should be 1.5 or 2 lines to faciliate grading. Please include proper references to any papers/books/websites/reports that you cite in your work. No late assignment will be graded. Plagiarism will be severely punished.


This reading list builds upon courses taught by Scott Stern (Northwestern), Marcie Tyre and Rebecca Henderson (MIT). I also taught an MBA section of this course as visiting professor at MIT in 2001.

MBA5251: Management of Technology

Important -- this page will continually change during the semester. Please check regularly for updates!


Topic and Readings



I. Introduction

Week 1

9 Jan 2006

Invention, Innovation, and Competitive Advantage

  • Read: Rosenbloom and Cusumano (1987), "Technological Pioneering and Competitive Advantage: The Birth of the VCR Industry," California Management Review. [IVLE eReserve]
  • Skim: Schumpeter, J. (1943), Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, Second Edition, George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., London (GB), pp. 61-62, 81-86. [Read it Online] [IVLE]

Case Discussion: Google. (based on publicly-available readings)

  • How Google Works, Economist, 16 Sep 2004 [IVLE].
  • Google Plans Video Offerings [Businessweek]

Class participation for the first session does not count. It's just an introduction.

What is the value of technological innovation?

What are the issues involved in managing technological innovation?

What is “creative destruction”, and why does it happen?

Week 2

16 Jan 2006

How does technology evolve?
  • Read: Utterback, James (1994), “Dominant Designs and the Survival of Firms,” Chapter 2 in Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation, Harvard Business School Press, pp. 23-55 and 79-102. [IVLE eReserve]
  • Read: Foster R. (1986), “The S-Curve:  A New Forecasting Tool,” Chapter 4 in Innovation:  The Attacker’s Advantage, Summit Books, Simon and Schuster:  NY, pp. 88-111. [IVLE eReserve]

Video: Christensen on Disruptive Technologies

What determines the timing of technological revolutions? Can they be predicted?

What is a dominant design? How does it relate to the “S-curve”?

When is an S-curve analysis helpful, and how should it be used?


II. Patterns of Technological Change

Week 3

23 Jan 2006

Managing Technological Transitions

  • Skim: Bower, Joseph L.; Christensen, Clayton M..(1995), Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave, Harvard Business Review, Jan/Feb95, Vol. 73 Issue 1, p43-54. [eReserve]
  • Read: Henderson and Clark, “Architectural Innovation: The Reconfiguration of Existing Product Technologies and the Failure of Established Firms,” Administrative Science Quarterly, 1990. [eReserve].
  • Read: Moore, G.  (1999)  Crossing the Chasm, Harper Collins:  NY, pp. 12-21, 29-40.[IVLE eReserve]

Case Study: BLOCKBUSTER Inc. & Technological Substitution (B): Confronting New Digital Formats, HBS #9-704-407.

Skim: slingbox []



What determines the failure or success of incumbent firms in Henderson-Clark (1990)?

What is the difference between an “S-curve” and the “Chasm”?  How are they different to manage?

What solutions are available for overcoming the problems cited by these authors?

Discuss the case in the context of issues raised in weeks 1-3.

Week 4

30 Jan 2006

No Session Today

  • Happy Chinese New Year!



Week 5

6 Feb 2006

Standards and network externalities

  • Read: David,  “Clio and the Economics of QWERTY,” American Economic Review, 1985.[Jstor][eReserve]
  • Read: Shapiro, C. and H. Varian (1999). The Art of Standards Wars, California Management Review, 41(2): 8-32.[eReserve]
  • Optional: McGahan, A., L. Vadasz, and D. Yoffie (1997), “Creating Value and Setting Standards: The Lessons of Consumer Electronics for Personal Digital Assistants”, Competing in the Age of Digital Convergence, Harvard Business School Press. pp. 227-264. [eReserve]
  • Supplementary: Shapiro-Varian book titled "Information Rules". The entire book is available online [Library]

Case: Yahoo! Messenger: Network Integration. HBS 9-805-102.
Skim: Skype/Gizmo [TheRegister] [Zdnet] and Gtalk [Skypejournal]
Sony Playstation 2(A), HBS 9-502-016


How do standards and network externalities affect technological competition?

What are the tradeoffs faced by managers in such markets?

How do network effects work in the video games market? How should other companies compete against Sony (e.g. Xbox), and what should sony do?

III. Competing in Technology-Intensive Industries

Week 6

13 Feb 2006

Profiting from innovation
  • Read: Teece, D., “Profiting from Technological Innovation: Implications for Integration, Collaboration, Licensing and Public Policy,” The Competitive Challenge, 1987.[eReserve]
  • Read: Evan Schwartz, “Who Really Invented Television,” Technology Review, Sep/Oct 2000.[eReserve]
  • Optional: Nelson, R. (1959), “The Simple Economics of Basic Scientific Research”, Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 67, No. 3, pp. 297-306. [Jstor] [eReserve].

Case: Monsanto Co.: The Coming of Age of Biotechnology, HBS case 9·596-034.



How does a firm capture the economic returns from innovation?

What is the role of complementary assets?


20 Feb 2006


Mid-term Diagnostic- Individual Assignment.


Week 7

27 Feb 2006

Intellectual Property

Guest Speaker on Managing Intellectual Property

  • Mark Lim, Director, Tan Peng Chin LLC [web].



  • Browse the following websites to learn about patents, copyrights, trade secrets, etc:
    • IPOS Spore [ipos] - explore the "about ip" section.
    • US Patent Office [uspto] , US copyright office, para 1&2 [click], [click].
    • Optional: NUS Patent Database [click] and NUS Library [click]
  • Optional: Markus Reitzig, "Strategic Management of Intellectual Property", MIT Sloan Management Review; Spring2004, Vol. 45 Issue 3, p35-41 [eReserve].
  • Optional: Mansfield, Edwin, "How Rapidly Does New Industrial Technology Leak Out?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Vol. 34, No. 2. (Dec., 1985), pp. 217-223.[Jstor][eReserve].
  • Optional: Besen and Raskind, "An Introduction to the Law and Economics of Intellectual Property," The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 5, No. 1. (Winter, 1991), pp. 3-27. [Jstor][eReserve].

Case discussion: Fuel Cells and Electric Vehicles



What are the advantages and disadvantages of patents, trademarks and copyrights?

When are they effective, and how should you manage them?





How should Monsanto ensure it continues to capture value from its innovations?

IV. Creating and Managing an Innovative Organization

Week 8

6 March 2006

Scientists and Engineers
  • Read: Shapero, Albert (1997) “Managing Creative Professionals,” Chapter 5 in The Human Side of Managing Technological Innovation, Ralph Katz, Ed., Oxford U. Press, 39-46.[eReserve]
  • Read: Robbins-Roth, Cynthia (2000), From Alchemy to IPO: The Business of biotechnology, Chapter 2 (Genentech), pp. 13-30.[eReserve]
  • Optional: Allen, T. (1997) “Distinguishing Engineers from Scientists,” Chapter 3 of Managing The Flow of Technology, pp. 35-57.[eReserve]
  • Optional: Stern, S. “Do Scientists Pay to Be Scientists?” NBER Working Paper W7410. pp 1-10, 28-31. [NBER][eReserve]
  • Real Fun: Joel on Software (Two Stories) [www]
  • Optional: Michael Gorman and W. Bernard Carlson, “Interpreting Invention as a Cognitive Process: The Case of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and the Telephone,” Science, Technology, and Human Values 15 (1990): 131-164. Skim pages 131-146.

Project proposal due by 5pm today



Why is it different to manage scientists than to manage engineers? How are these two groups different from other employees?

What are the implications for hiring scientists and engineers, and the provision of incentives within the firm?


Week 9

13 March 2006

Managing Industrial R&D


  • Read:Rogers, Debra M. Amidon,"The challenge of fifth generation R&D". Research Technology Management; Jul/Aug96, Vol. 39 Issue 4, p33-42.
  • Read: Germeraad, P (2003), "Measuring R&D in 2003", Research Technology Management, Vol 46(6), pp. 47-56.[eReserve]
  • Skim: Huang, Gregory T (2004), "The World's Hottest Computer Lab - Microsoft in China". Technology Review, June, Vol. 107 Issue 5, p32, 9p, 1 chart, 14c; (AN 13221488). [eReserve]
  • Optional: Kwanghui Lim (2004), "The Many Faces of Absorptive Capacity: Spillovers of Copper Interconnect Technology for Semiconductor Chips"[pdf]


How should R&D be managed within the firm

When does fortune favor the “prepared” firm?

Week 10

20 Mar 2006

Managing Creativity and Organizational Learning
  • Read: Nonaka and Takeuchi, “Theory of Organizational Knowledge Creation,” Chapter 3 in The Knowledge Creating Company, OUP 1995, pp 56-94. [eReserve]
  • Skim: "Innovation, Inc." Harvard Business Review, Aug2002, Vol. 80 Issue 8, p18-20 [eReserve].
  • Skim: "Creativity Under the Gun." By: Amabile, Teresa M.; Hadley, Constance N.; Kramer, Steven J.. Harvard Business Review, Aug2002, Vol. 80 Issue 8, p52, 9p [eReserve]
  • Skim: Chapter 1 of Sutton, Weird Ideas that Work.
  • Optional: Lynn, Gary(2002), "How to build a Blockbuster", Harvard Business Review, Oct2002, Vol. 80 Issue 10, p18-20. [eReserve]
  • Optional: von Hippel (1986), "Lead Users: A Source of Novel Product Concepts," Management Science, Vol. 32, No. 7. (Jul.), pp. 791-805 [Jstor] [eReserve]

Mystery Video or In-class Creativity Exercise.



Can creativity be fostered, or is it something you just “get out of the way” of?

What is the relationship between creativity, knowledge, information and routines within the firm?

Week 11

27 Mar 2006

Alliances, networks, relationships
  • Read: Chesbrough and Teece, “When is virtual virtuous? Organizing for innovation”, Harvard Business Review Jan-Feb 1996, pp. 65-74. [eReserve]
  • Skim: Kapoor and Lim, The Impact of Acquisitions on the Innovation
    Performance of Inventors at Semiconductor Companies.
  • Optional: Porter, Michael (1998), "Clusters and the New Economics of Competition," Harvard Business Review; 11/01/1998:14. [eReserve]
  • Optional: Pek-Hooi Soh, Ishtiaq Mahmood and Will Mitchell, "Dynamic Inducements in R&D Investment: Market Signals and Network Locations", AMJ Vol 47(6) [www].

Case: “Molding the Impossible: The NYPRO/Vistakon Disposable Contact Lens Project,” HBS case 694-062.

Optional: W atch the video "" for the next session



What are the issues when managing external suppliers, alliance partners

What are the issues facing MNCs and Singapore companies in organizing international R&D?


V. Applying the Ideas

Week 12

3 Apr 2006

High-Technology Ventures

  • Read: Zider, Bob (1998), "How Venture Capital Works," Harvard Business Review; 11/01/1998:9.[eReserve]
  • Read: Hamm, John (2002), "Why Entrepreneurs Don't Scale," Harvard Business Review, Dec2002, Vol. 80 Issue 12, p110-116. [eReserve]
  • Optional: Roberts, E.B. (1994), “Technological Entrepreneurship: birth, growth and success,” Chapter 12, Entrepreneurs in High Technology: Lessons from MIT and Beyond, Oxford University Press, pp 339-357.[eReserve]
  • Optional: Henry Chesbrough, Stephen Socolof. (2003), "Sustaining venture creation from industrial laboratories," Research Technology Management. Washington: Jul/Aug. Vol. 46(4); p. 16.

Video and Discussion: Pirates of Silicon Valley
Based on the book: Fire in the Valley / by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine. [ HD9696.2 Uni.P 1999]

Case: Red Flag Software Co, HBS#9-706-428



What determines the success or failure of entrepreneurial high-tech firms?

What are the issues in obtaining funding for entrepreneurship, and in dealing with “angels” and Venture Capitalists?

Week 13

10 Apr 2006

Student-Led Topic

Students vote for a topic to be covered. The class discussion will be led by Ruanyi, our Teaching Assistant who doing her Ph.D. in Business Policy.

Note: if we run out of time in earlier weeks, we may part of this session to cover those topics.

Group Project Report due today 5pm!



Week 13

17 Apr 2006

Student Group Presentations (15 minutes total per group)

  • Each group will have 10 minutes to present its findings
  • This will be followed by 5 minutes of Questions/Answers
  • Each group will do a 'peer review' of the other groups.

Final wrap up and reflections.

Final paper due end of November (to be confirmed).


Updated: 20 January 2006