STRATEGY 843 - Intellectual Capital and Competitive Strategy

Course Overview

In the majority of industries—and especially in R&D intensive industries like computers, semiconductors, software and biotech—competitive advantage relies critically upon a firm’s management of the knowledge and know-how underpinning its product and process innovation. This course will consider how firms should manage and protect this intellectual capital. We will examine the management of intellectual capital from the vantage point of different types of firms—from start-ups to large incumbents—operating in different market environments. We will consider how firms should protect their intellectual capital, using not only patents, but lead-time advantages, complementary marketing and manufacturing capabilities and secrecy. We will also consider firms’ strategies for extracting value from their intellectual capital through commercialization and licensing. Finally, we will suggest when firms should share their intellectual capital with other firms—even rivals, and how firms should go about acquiring the intellectual capital of others. Building upon the research literatures of economics, organizational behavior, management, and the law, the course will focus on innovation-intensive industries such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, computers, semiconductors, software and telecommunications.

Teaching Methods

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


The course will require three 2-3 page case analyses written up over the course of the term. In addition, students will be required to write a 12-15 page research paper on a subject of their choice.

Course Syllabus