GRA2329 Competing in the Digital Economy

Winter 2001

[What's new] [Administrivia] [Seminar plan] [GRA2329 Quickplace] [Literature]
[Espen Andersen's home page][Prior courses (BI pages): 1997/1998/1999/2000]

What's new


The objective of this course is to give the students a thorough understanding of the information technology, economic, and organizational issues of doing business in a digital environment, such as the Internet. Students interested in pursuing careers developing and managing electronic commerce systems or participating in startup companies will receive an excellent foundation in the basic technologies of global electronic networks and their managerial implications.

Computer use
This seminar will make extensive use of "normal" information and communications technology, in the sense that all assignments, messages, discussions and hand-ins will be done electronically. Students are expected to actively participate in discussions (electronic or in the classroom) to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the topics, and will have to a large degree of influence content of classes and the topic for their term paper.

necesse est.....  This is a high-intensity course at an advanced level, so attendance is mandatory and intense participation the norm rather than the exception. Formal evaluation is as follows:

Detailed seminar plan
The dictatorial right to change and amend this at any time and on any whim is most explicitly reserved.....
Date/lecturer Topic Preparation
Tuesday January 2nd
Auditorium 3
Espen Andersen
Introduction to the course, a discussion of Internet trends. course content and preparation. Read and be prepared to discuss: Do: Visit MIT Media Lab's web page and see some of the interesting things they do with wearable computing.

Consider: What does being digital mean? What characterizes a digital world?

Tuesday January 9th
Auditorium 3
Espen Andersen
Internet and strategy: Some views and frameworks Read and be prepared to discuss:
Thursday January 18th Auditorium 1
Espen Andersen
Internet and market power Read and be prepared to discuss: 
  • Afuah and Tucci, chapter 3
  • Afuah & Tucci case no 8 (
  • Shapiro & Varian chapter 1, 2, 5 and 6
  • HBS case on Encyclopædia Britannica (can be picked up outside Eli Steller's office, no. 42-11)
Deliver: Write down an idea for an Internet business or other initiative, what you can do to make this come about, and what kind of help you would need.  (Assuming the technology works: Post this for others to see in the Quickplace collaboration system.
Thursday January 25 Auditorium 1
Espen Andersen
The Internet startup: stages and decisions Read and be prepared to discuss: Study questions:
  • how does Webvan and make money?
  • what is their growth potential and the scaleability of their business model?
  • what is the sustainability of their competitive advantage?
  • what is their appeal to investors?
  • what would you focus on if you were writing their business plan?
Thursday February 1st
Auditorium 1
Espen Andersen
Moved - more info later Read and be prepared to discuss: 
Tuesday February 6th
Auditorium 3
Espen Andersen
Guest speaker: Mikkel Nielsen, Accenture: "The strategic development of an e-commerce project" Read and be prepared to discuss:
  • this discussion will be based on material handed out in class.  It is a good idea to review literature you may have on consulting and strategy process development.
  • Chapter 9 (The General Manager and the Internet) in Afuah & Tucci
Deliver: Show up well prepared and able to ask intelligent questions.
Tuesday February 13th
Auditorium 3
Espen Andersen
B2B and Electronic markets Read and be prepared to discuss: 
  • Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's report on B2B business (read the first 2 parts, look over the rest).
  • Case no. 4 (Verticalnet) in Afuah & Tucci
Study questions:
  • what are the differences between B2C and B2B?
  • what is the value of Verticalnet?
  • how should Mark Walsh grow and develop the business?
Project leaders: Send email to Espen with 1 paragraph describing the company (i.e. the company you are writing a business plan for) value offering (what you would present to customers or investors or write on your web page under "about the company").
Tuesday February 20th
Auditorium 3
Espen Andersen
Management and globalization Read and be prepared to discuss:
  • Cairncross, F. (2000). “Inside the Machine: A Survey of E-Management.” The Economist (November 8). (available outside Eli Steller's office)
  • Chapter 3 and 4 from Friedman, T. L. (1999). The Lexus and the Olive Tree. New York, Farrar, Strauss Giroux. (available outside Eli Steller's office).
  • Chapter 8 from Afuah and Tucci
Study questions:
  • what happens to companies in small countries with increased global competition?
  • what are the main effects of Internet on management of organizations?
  • how does Cairncross and Friedman's observations fit with your own experience?
  • what business opportunities do you see in a globalized setting?
Monday February 26th
Auditorium 2
Espen Andersen
Our technological future Read and be prepared to discuss: Study questions:
  • What is Kurzveil's main argument about the evolution of computers and communication?
  • Do you agree?  Why or why not?
  • Would you like to have a computer that is smarter than you?  How would you manage it?
Tuesday March 6th
Auditorium 3
Espen Andersen
Final class: Presentation of student work  Be prepared to present your work


Required reading
These books are required reading:
Afuah, A. and C. L. Tucci (2000). Internet Business Models and Strategies: Text and Cases. Burr Ridge, IL, McGraw-Hill Irwin.
This new textbook, based largely on the value configurations framework created by Stabell and Fjeldstad, mixes theoretical summary and a good collection of cases of companies facing strategic choices in a digital world.

Amor, Daniel (1999): The E-business (R)evolution, Prentice-Hall
The "technology book" of the course, though there is little reason to feel intimidated.  Very complete book on all aspects of life online, practically oriented and surprisingly up-to-date.  And, for an added bonus, written by a European....

Shapiro, Carl & Hal R. Varian (1999) Information Rules : A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy, McGraw-Hill/Harvard Business School Press
(For more information, check out the dedicated Web site at  In the words of The Economist: "These two Berkeley professors bring a discipline to their analysis that is usually quite absent from the overheated burblings of the cyberprophets... [This book is about] rigorous and practical strategies, based on solid foundations, for surviving and prospering in the network economy.  [...] what is so likeable about this book--its fairmindedness and its wise pragmatism."

Recommended reading
These books, and a subscription to Wired, Upside, Fast Company or the Red Herring (for the more financially inclined) is excellent background material (and interesting reading, whether you are doing this for grades or not). Bits: whatever you may find at BRINT or other places on the Net with relevance for the theme of the day.

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Espen Andersen's home page
Last updated: March 6, 2000.

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