MBA290G 2007 Class Syllabus
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Class Syllabus


Revision Date: October 10, 2007:

Course Contents and Objectives

Please note:  Due to the changes in the market environment and the nature of the class – the course syllabus is subject to major changes and should only be considered a draft and work in progress. 

The rise and fall of the high-technology industries of the 1990s reflect broader changes in markets, production organization, and business models, as well as the operation of government policies. These broader changes, which include but go well beyond the Internet revolution itself, suggest that the industrial economy is being fundamentally transformed by the diffusion of innovations in technology and business models across the industrial and industrializing economies. At the same time, these changes cannot be understood without a deeper examination of the factors that created competitive advantage at the national level in many of these industries during the previous three decades. This course explores the broad changes in "who is winning, who is losing, and why" in global markets for high-technology goods ranging from semiconductors to internet services to clean tech.

This course seeks to make sense of the decline and recovery of U.S. high-technology industries, the evolution of innovation and technology strategies and policies in Asia and Europe, the historic and current roles of governments in shaping markets for high-technology goods, and the impact on business strategies of recent developments in early-stage capital markets. Our general approach views technological innovation and competition as dynamic processes that reflect choices and policies made by firms and governments. Modern technologies develop in markets that are international in scope, often imperfectly competitive, and subject to influence by a variety of economic and political stakeholders. We will use an eclectic mix of practical, historical, and theoretical perspectives throughout the course in examining these issues. From time to time, we will be joined by venture capitalists, corporate executives, and technologists engaged in global high-technology markets for discussion of these issues.

Class Format and Preparation

The course will use a mix of case discussions, lectures and guest speakers from leading high tech companies, global corporations, and venture capital firms.

The expectation is that the cases and reading materials will be fully prepared for each session. Students are encouraged to Google outside sources to learn more about the company, case, outcomes and issues.

The format of the case discussions will be as follows:

Team Presentation

One pre-assigned team will have the opportunity to open the discussions of the case. Each case opening should consist of:.

    1. Slides summarizing a brief analysis of the situation, including what the numbers (if any) tell us.
    2. The team's recommendations for the key decisions and answers to questions posted.

The total length of the case opening should be no more than 20 minutes. If your team makes use of overhead slides or other presentation material, you should limit yourself to just a few items. Case openings should emphasize the frameworks and models covered in class or elsewhere. You should submit one copy of slides and other presentation materials at the start of your session. Please note that everyone on the team does not have to present - it is usually recommended to pick one spokesman.

Within 24 hours of the end of the class, the assigned team should post on the class wiki:

  1. PowerPoint with Appendix of developed but unused slides.
  2. Hotlinks to any websites used for preparation
  3. References to any written materials used for preparation
  4. A Wall Street Industry Report for the company described in the case.

Class participation is strongly encouraged. You are invited to highlight insightful linkages between class material and your past experience as a professional and a global observer, to raise challenging questions and issues related to topics in global competition and strategies being reviewed, and to participate actively in discussion of cases and global trends.

The instructor will also use a call list and any student may be called on at anytime. If for some special reason a student is not so ready for one class, please inform the instructor prior to class. Also, please use your name card throughout the semester.

Many classes will also have an international business executive guest speaker that will comment on the class analysis of the case as well as provide a forum for practical questions and answers. Due to speaker availability, session topics may be changed as the semester progresses.

Attendance and Feedback

Attendance is expected and unexcused absences will affect course grade. Excused absences are those officially sanctioned by the school’s academic regulations. In all cases of absence, professional conduct and courtesy dictate that the instructor be informed prior to class. Failure to do so will cause consternation and disappointment.

As "International Trade and Competition in High Technology" is a broad topic, the instructor will do his best to adapt the course based on current events and student feedback. As a result, mandatory email questionnaires will be occasionally be sent out following a class with the expectation of responses by Tuesday at 9am. This questionnaire is not expected to take more than 5-10 minutes to complete, but timely submissions will count towards your final course grade.


Course grades will be based on both team activities (66%) and individual activities (33%). Team activities will be decided primarily by assigned case openings and team member feedback on other team members. Individual activities will consist of class participation, email questionnaire responses, and any other extra credit projects (which can also be done with other students).

Extra credit projects will consist of either research questions assigned during class and/or projects approved by the professor.

Required and Recommended Reading

Required cases and articles will be published and purchased through Study.Net or referenced on the web.  In addition, there are a number of recommended books to be referenced for use in cases.

The Competitive Advantage of Nations by Michael E. Porter

Crossing the Chasm, Inside the Tornado, and The Gorilla Game by Geoffrey A. Moore

The Innovator's Solution by Clayton Christensen

Three Billion New Capitalists by Clyde Prestowitz

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman  

Web Resources

The following websites contain information that will be used throughout the class. - General course information - Class wiki - Contains required cases and articles - EDGAR database containing current and archived public company SEC filings  


Class 1:  



Class 2:   

Nokia and Finland   

Teams:  Team 8  



  1. Please outline the principal global competitive advantages of Finland in cellular phones based on the 4 major components of Porters diamond: Factor Conditions, Demand Conditions, Related and Supporting Industries and Firm Strategy, Structure & Rivalry.  
  2. What developments in Finland led to the economic transformation in Finland? What was different about Finlands telecommunication sector that led to Finlands emergence as a global telecommunication powerhouse?  
  3. What was the cluster program? How did it stimulate R&D and technology innovations?  
  4. How did Nokia leapfrog Motorola in the early 1990s to become the No. 1 mobile phone company?  
  5. What challenges did Finland face by 2001? What strategy would you recommend the nation to take on?  
  6. Is Nokia's description of their history the same or different from the HBS case study?  
  7. Describe Nokia's current business.  Where do most of their handset revenues come from?  What are their fastest growing markets?  Have they grown faster or slower than Motorola?  

Class 3:  


Team:  Team 7  



  1. Compare and contrast the economy of Singapore (3M people+/-) to the economy of the Bay area (6M people +/-).  
  2. How do you explain Singapore's economic performance since 1965?  How, in particular, have business-government relations contributed? 
  3. Do you approve of Singapore's new strategy for getting the economy growing? 

Class 4:  

Khosla and Ethanol  

Team:  Please see Team Roster Wiki Page    



  1. What are the stages in the fuel ethanol value chain?  Where in that value chain should Khosla Ventures invest?  What makes investment at those points appealing?  Which activities in the value chain would you recommend avoiding?  
  2. How should Khosla Ventures use the kieretsu-style investment strategy?  
    • At what points in the value chain should the firm make parallel investments (funding several potential competitors)?  
    • How should it work to coordinate companies throughout the value chain?  
  3. Where in the value chain are there opportunities for innovation?  Are those innovations viable investment opportunities for Khosla Ventures?     

Class 5:  

Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo Value Chain  

Team:  Please see Team Roster Wiki Page  




  1. Create a value chain for Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo.  
  2. How do the value chains differ?  
  3. What are the dependencies in each value chain (suppliers, customers, etc.)?   

Class 6:  

Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo Value Chain (cont.) 

Team:  All Teams  


All teams will prepare the following for the top 3-4 companies in their assigned sector:

  1. One slide answering the following questions
    • PC Market Industry Size, Growth, Competitor Concentration
    • New market industry size and growth (Cell phones, MP3 players, pdas, servers etc.)
    • Major customers for each company
    • Geographic breakdown (US, EMEA, Asia) for each company
    • Major suppliers to the industry
  2. One slide summarizing the comparable companies analysis (found on the Dell wiki)

Sector assignments to be found below:

Team Number - Industry: Example Companies (does not have to be used - try to find the market leaders)

Team 1 - Semiconductor Foundries: UMC, Chartered Semiconductor, TSMC
Team 2 - Disk Drive Companies: Western Digital, Maxtor, Seagate

Team 3 - Wireless Chip Companies: Atheros, Broadcom, Cisco/Linksys (if Linksys segment info is available - I'm assuming Linksys doesn't outsource their chips)

Team 4 - Graphics/Display Chips: Nvidia, Intel/ATI (use either Intel segment numbers or last financial statement of ATI before acquisition), Trident, Zoran

Team 5 - Flash Memory: Sandisk, Lexar

Team 7 - CPUs: Intel, AMD, MOT (if segment info is available),

Team 8 - OS: MSFT, Palm, Psion

Team 9 - Application Software: Intuit, Symantec, Adobe

Team 10 - Retailers: Best Buy, Walmart, Circuit City

10K Notes

There is a competition, supplier and customer section in any 10K.  You may not get overall market information in the 10K (sometimes it's there and sometimes it's not).  If you don't - try to get it from an analyst report - but don't worry if you can't.  Relative sizes within the segment will suffice.

You can "imply market growth" from the growth of the major companies in the segment.  New markets should be found in the segment information of the 10K - otherwise don't worry about it.

The financial template and directions can be found at Class 5: Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer Value Chain

Let me know if there is anything else you need.

Class 7:  

Motorola China  

Team:  Please see Team Roster Wiki Page  



  1. Explain how Motorola retained its position as a market leader for the first 20 years of its operation in China.  What were the forces that contributed to the erosion of its competitive advantage?  
  2. At the time of the case, what can Motorola do to match its organizational capabilities with the changing industry opportunities?  What efforts will the company have to make to regain its leadership position?  
  3. Discuss the major risks and challenges that Motorola faces in China today.  
  4. Do you think Motorola (at the time of the case) should focus on increasing its market share in China, or should it focus on profitability?  Explain the rationale behind your decision. 
  5. Evaluate Motorola and China's cell phone industry using Porter's five forces today. Please also update and graphically display relevant market and market share exhibits in the case using public available information (research reports and 10Ks for Nokia etc.).  

Class 8:  


Team:  Please see Team Roster Wiki Page  



  1. Please apply Porter's Diamond and Porter's Five Forces to the DRAM Industry at the time of the case.  What parts of the Industry are under transformation and why?
  2. What are the options for dealing with the Chinese threat?
  3. What kind of advantage are the Chinese entrants seeking?  How close are they to achieving that advantage?  How much of Samsung's performance is based on it's low cost advantage?  What were the sources of Samsung's cost advantage in DRAMs in 2003?  What were the sources of Samsung's price premium in DRAMs in 2003?
  4. Can Samsung low cost advantage withstand the Chinese threat?  Should Samsung retreat from the low-end product lines?
    What should Samsung do to gain a differentiation advantage?
  5. If Samsung is both low-cost and differentiated - How does it do both?  If it can do both - why can't more firms in other industries do the same?
  6. What recommendation would you make to Chairman Lee regarding Samsung's response to the threat of large-scale Chinese entry? 

Class 9:  

Infosys and the Global Software Industry  

Team: Please see Team Roster Wiki Page  



  1. In 2006, how well is Infosys Technologies doing?  What is the company's strategic position in the IT industry and what are its distinctive competencies?  Where does it fit in the industry value chain?  How would you describe its culture?  
  2. Why did Infosys Technologies decide to move into the IT consulting market segment?  How big is this market segment and what is its structure?  Why did they form a wholly owned subsidiary to enter this market segment?  
  3. In Raj Joshi's words, one of the goals of the leadership team of Infosys Consulting was to "change the rules of the game."  What are the "rules of the game" currently, and how is Infosys Consulting trying to change them?  What do they mean by the "Global Delivery Model"?  
  4. How important are client relationships and institutional knowledge in the consulting industry?  How would you assess Infosys Consulting's competencies in these two areas?  Does Infosys Consulting have a sustainable competitive advantage?  If so, what is it?  
  5. How are IBM and Accenture likely to view what Infosys Consulting is trying to do?  How can they respond?  
  6. What interface challenges exist between Infosys Technologies and Infosys Consulting?  To what extent do the parent company and subsidiary go to market together?  
  7. What are the challenges associated with managing growth for Infosys Consulting and for Infosys Technologies?  
  8. One of the challenges Steve Pratt faces is: "How can Infosys Consulting stay ahead of the game?"  Please prepare and action plan for Infosys Consulting and assess the company's strengths and weaknesses to "stay ahead of the game" in terms of its strategic position, distinctive competencies and culture.  

Class 10:  


Team:  Please see Team Roster Wiki Page  


Class 11:   

Philips vs. Matsushita  

Team:  Please see Team Roster Wiki Page  



  1. Please compare and contrast Philips vs. Matsushita based on the 4 major components of Porter’s diamond.
  2. How did Philips become the leading consumer electronics company in the world in the post war era? What distinctive competence did they build? What distinctive incompetencies?  
  3. How did Matsushita success in displacing Philips as No. 1? What were its distinctive competencies and incompetencies?  
  4. What do you think of the change each company has made to date: the objectives, the implementation, the impact? Why is the change so hard for both of them?  
  5. Apple has dominated the MP3 marketplace with 80% market share.  Other major CE manufacturers have failed to date.  With regards to corporate culture and organizational structure, what has allowed Apple to succeed?  What should Philips and Matsushita do to compete?   

Class 12:   

High Definition TV Standards Battle in the US   

Team: Three teams will be assigned to this class with each team taking a different perspective (perspectives TBD)  



Think about HDTV standards from 3 different perspectives:  

  1. Geopolitical - What are the government interests and why?  How does national security play a role in the development of these standards?  
  2. Economic - Who stands to gain from adoption of standards and why?  Who are the major industries involved?  What will it take for consumers to adopt the technology?  
  3. Technology - How does technology play a role?  Are there key technology drivers that would influence the impact of standards?  

Class 13:   

iPod/iTunes/Cell Phones   

Team:  Please see Team Roster Wiki Page  



Class 14:  

China Outsourcing  

Team:  Please see Team Roster Wiki Page  



  1. Profile China’s advantages and disadvantages regarding outsourced manufacturing and also outsource services.  
  2. What measures has the government taken to encourage economic growth and especially the technology industry.  
  3. What are the key technology drivers that have enabled China’s technology awakening.  
  4. Use Porter’s Diamond to analyze China.  

Extra Credit Project  

Class 15:   

India Outsourcing  

Team:  Please see Team Roster Wiki Page  



  1. Profile India’s advantages and disadvantages regarding outsourced services.  
  2. What measures has the government taken to encourage economic growth and especially the technology industry.  
  3. What are the key technology drivers that have enabled India’s technology awakening.  
  4. Use Porter’s Diamond to analyze India.  
  5. India vs. China - which country is better positioned and why?  

Class 16:  

Holland's Technology and Global Warming   

Team:  Please see Team Roster Wiki Page  



  1. Analyze Holland's windmill and dam industries using all the concepts learned throughout the semester.  
    • Create a value chain for each industry.  
    • Use Porter's five forces and Porter's Diamond to analyze both industries.  
    • Identify and compare the major players in each industry.  


Class xx:   

EBay - Global Expansion through Acquisitions  

Team:  Please see Team Roster Wiki Page  



  1. What has made eBay so successful to date? What has eBay been able to do that its other competitors couldn’t match?  
  2. What caused eBay Germany’s decline post the acquisition by eBay? How did Justus try to deal with the low morale?  
  3. What made the migration of eBay Germany to the common eBay platform so difficult? What organizational change did Justus implement in response to this crisis?  
  4. EBay lost to rival Yahoo in the Japanese marketplace.  Why?  
  5. Discuss EBay's approach to Mainland China.  Opinions regarding the best expansion strategy?  

Class xx:  

Silicon Valley Ecosystem   

Team:  Please see Team Roster Wiki Page  



  1. Profile Silicon Valley's advantages and disadvantages regarding the technology industry.  
  2. What measures has the government taken to encourage economic growth and especially the technology industry.  
  3. What are the key technology drivers that have enabled Silicon Valley's technology dominance? 
  4. Use Porter's Diamond to analyze Silicon Valley.