STRATEGY 838 - Entrepreneurial Strategy for Innovation-based Ventures

Course Overview

This course is intended to provide prospective entrepreneurs with information and tools for evaluating opportunities for starting a new firm—how to choose markets for entry, when to enter, and what resources and capabilities it will take to enter and provide a platform for future growth. Although the course will focus especially on entry into innovation-intensive industries such as computers, software, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, communications equipment, it will provide background essential to entrepreneurial ventures of all types. The course is designed to address the needs of students who either hope to pursue start-up opportunities upon graduation or in preparation for entrepreneurial activities at later career stages.

The past twenty years has witnessed a burgeoning literature in economics, organizational behavior, business strategy and even psychology that speaks to the determinants of the success of start-ups. This course combines the findings from this literature with case-based insights into the determinants of entrepreneurial success to provide a rigorous foundation for the evaluation of entrepreneurial opportunities.

The course covers the topics of industry entry, new firm formation, the advantages and disadvantages of small firm size for technological competition, achieving and sustaining competitive advantage within industries, and patterns of technology and industry evolution and associated “windows of opportunity” for entry. We will consider how and under what circumstances new firms should form alliances with other firms as the basis for either entry or post-entry growth. In light of the importance of technological innovation as a source of competitive advantage for start-ups, we will also examine those features of industries and firms that make innovations profitable, and the different ways that new firms can protect the profits due to innovation, including patents and first mover advantages. We will also consider the psychology of entrepreneurs and how that might affect the quality of their decisions.

While the course can be taken alone, it complements the course, "Entrepreneurial Execution/Planning." While "Entrepreneurial Strategy" addresses such strategic questions as what markets or segments one might choose to enter, and timing and mode of entry, the course, "Entrepreneurial Execution/Planning" will teach you how to actually start a business.

Teaching Methods

The course uses a combination of readings, lectures, and class discussions, including case analyses.


The course will require four 2-3 page case analyses written up over the course of the term. For each case, you will be provided questions to guide your analysis. In addition, you will be required to write a 10-12-page research paper on a subject of your choice. For both the case analyses and the research papers, you can either do them alone, or organize into groups, with no group exceeding three members.

Cases and Readings

In addition to a required coursepack, additional reading materials will be handed out throughout the course. Selected readings will also be assigned from The Economics of Strategy by David Besanko, David Dranove and Mark Shanley, published by John Wiley and Sons.

Course Grading

Grades will reflect the case analyses (35%), the research paper (45%) and class participation (20%). Grading will follow the Fuqua grade distribution for elective courses.