Very very highly recommended reading
(the literature review process for courses at NSM does not permit me changing the required literature on short notice.  Therefore, this is a book that would have been required reading if I had the chance to make it that - as it is, it is very highly recommended.)
Christensen, C. M. and M. Raynor (2003). The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth. Boston, MA, Harvard Business School Press.
"Innovation fails because companies unwittingly strip the disruptive potential from ideas before they ever see the light of day". This is the followup book to The Innovator's Dilemma, a great book summarizing Christensen's research since the first book, with great examples of when and how technologies can be made to be disruptive - as well as a torrent of highly relevant for any manager wanting to do strategy in technology-rich industries.

Recommended reading

The following are recommendations - these books, as well as WiredFast Company or Business 2.0 is excellent background material (and interesting reading, whether you are doing this for grades or not).
Electronic material
Some of the material referenced under the invididual classes will be made available in Blackboard, some through the Norwegian School of Management library.  Additional material may be found at BRINT, Slashdot or other places on the Net with relevance for the theme of the day. For the Internet challenged, books and texts are almost too numerous to mention.  No real recommendations here, how about Internet for Dummies? At least it sells well... For any other book, well, there is always my favorite books page.

Class preparation

Each class will have reading (cases, articles and/or book chapters) associated with it. You are expected to prepare for each class by reading the assigned material (the study questions may help you find a perspective on the reading). Individual time required to analyze material, especially cases, varies significantly.  Some students may be unfamiliar with the use of cases and discussion-based teaching.  Experience suggests that students should plan to spend at the very least two hours (more, if lacking in English language skills, business or technical experience) on reading and analyzing each case (exclusive of articles and other course reading), and prepare extensive notes of their analysis to guide them in their discussion.  The cases will be accompanied by study questions, which provide guidance in analyzing the case. The articles or book chapters may also help in analyzing a case, as well as discussions with your peers.

Classroom discussion
This is a course at the Master level, meaning that there is a joint responsibility between the instructor and the student for the learning reached.  Classroom discussion is the main interaction between teacher and students in this course. It is crucial both for the students' understanding and the quality of the discussion that the students are intimately familiar with the contents of the material before the lecture begins.  When the assigned material contains a case, every student will be expected to be able to give a short (3-5 minute) presentation of the case company, as well as discuss strategic and technological issues of importance, at each class.

Grades are determined as follows:
The individual written assignments are to be done in the following fashion: The maximum length for one assignment is 600 words, or two (A4) pages including illustrations (if any). The assignments are to be handed before class on the day of the assignment, in both the following ways:
The individual assignments should be written in English, and marked with the student number in the top right corner. The reason for these precise requirements is that I use a mailfilter to receive the assignments and quickly see whether all have delivered them - and I use the file name to sort the assignments into files for reading.

The term paper should be written in self-selected groups of up to three students.  The main content of the paper should be an analysis of a (real) company that is developing, using, or being challenged strategically by an evolving technology.  The structure should be as follows: A description of the company, a description of the industry, a description of the technological changes they are experiencing, and how this poses a strategic challenge or opportunity for them, and what you think they should do about it.  Theory from the course should be used when relevant.  Pay attention to correct referencing and citation techniques, and under no circumstances write more than 4500 words of text, not including tables, figures and appendices. Make the analysis practical enough to be read by executives, and theoretical enough to show that you have read and understood relevant literature, interesting enough to show to your significant non-business-student other (if applicable), and deep enough to interest the professor. Due May 5th.  Detailed instructions for hand-in later.

Detailed seminar plan
The right to make changes at any time is most explicitly reserved....
Date/lecturer Topic & study questions Preparation
Introduction: What is technology, how to study it, why is it important?
Sandvika, Auditorium 4
0830 - 1115
Monday, January 12

Espen Andersen

Introduction, course overview, work processes, administrivia, course objectives. What difference does technology make?

Study questions:
1. What are Malone & Rockart's key arguments? To what extent were they right? Wrong?
2. Which parts of Microsoft's strategy worked -- and which didn't?
3. Why is technology important? Why is it not?  How much do you need to know about technology to manage a technology-based organization?
4: What is the role of technology in a Value Chains, Networks and Shops?
5. A common problem in organizations is the lack of communication between technologists and management.  Why is that?  How can it be countered?
6. What is an information economy?

Read and be prepared to discuss:  Further reading: In your spare time:

Technology in Value Chains
Sandvika, Auditorium 4
Friday, January 16

Espen Andersen

Understanding the role of IT in value chain companies -- value chain integration, parameterization, customer interface.

In this class, we will study Dell Computers, and discuss what role information technology plays in a value chain.

Study questions:
1.  What is the role of information technology at Dell Computer?  What competitive advantages does the Dell Direct model give compared to traditional retail distribution models?
2. According to Porter & Millar, what can IT do for the competitive power of a value chain?
3. Porter and Millar's article is 18 years old--what parts are it still applicable, what doesn't work anymore?
4. What does the Christensen article say about Dell Computers? What has happened in that industry since the time of the Pearlson case?

Read and be prepared to discuss:
  • Porter, M. E., & Millar, V. E. (1985). How information gives you competitive advantage. Harvard Business Review (July-August), 149-160.
  • Keri Pearlson and Raymond Yeh (1999): Dell Computer Corporation: A Zero-Time Organization. UTexas Austin.
  • Christensen, C. M., M. Raynor, et al. (2001). "Skate to Where the Money Will Be." Harvard Business Review (November): 73-81.
  • Check out Dell Corporation's home page and anything else  you can find on Dell and its competitors.

Competing with technology: The case of Opera
Guest lecturers:
Rolf Assev, EVP Marketing and Strategic Alliances.

Sandvika, Auditorium 3
0830 - 1115
Monday, January 26

Espen Andersen

Opera Software ASA is a small (120 employees) software development company from Oslo.  The company is famous for its Opera browser, available for most computer platforms, and is now on the treshold of doing great in other markets, such as mobile phones.  The case illustrates the challenges facing a company in the commercialization phase.

Study questions:
1. Which markets are Opera aiming for, and what are the critical competitive dimensions in each market?
2. What are the main threats and opportunities for Opera?  Do they have a technology-based competitive advantage?  If so, what is it?
3.  What does it take to make the next generation of mobile phones take off?
4. Who was Claude Shannon?  What was he famous for?
Read and be prepared to discuss:
  • Various material about Opera (in Blackboard)
  • Chapter 8 (Cooperation and Compatibility) and 9 (Waging a Standards War) in Shapiro & Varian.
  • This article about the battle for the mobile phone browser from Salon Magazine. (May require viewing a commercial before getting access).  Also, this short article from Open Mag.
Further reading (for the especially interested):
  • Greiner, L. E. (1972). "Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow." Harvard Business Review (July-August): 37-46.  Classic on managerial challenges as companies grow.
  • David, P. A. (1985). "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY." American Economic Review 75 (May-June): 332-337.  This is a classic article and much cited - but check out the Economist article about Liebowitz' "Fable of the Keys".
In your spare time:
Technology and the Value Network: The case of Telenor
Sandvika, Auditorium 3
0830 - 1115
Monday, February 2

Espen Andersen
Berit Svendsen, CTO Telenor

In this session we will look at technology in a Value Network, exemplified by the case of the Nordic Mobile Telecommunications industry.

Study questions:
1. How does Telenor and other telephone companies make money?  Which parts of their business are likely to grow in the future? To shrink?
2. What is ARPU and how can Telenor increase it?
3. Why does it make sense for a telecommunications company to price calls within their network lower than between their network and other telecommunications companies networks?  Are there circumstances when this does not make sense?
Read and be prepared to discuss:
  • The Concours Group (2001): Doing business in a mobile world, Re.Sults report
  • Chapter 7 (Networks and Positive Feedback) in Shapiro and Varian
Further reading:
  • Andersen, E. and Ø. Fjeldstad (2003). "Understanding inter-firm relations in mediation industries with special reference to the Nordic Mobile Communication Industry." Industrial Marketing Management 32: 397-408.
The Economics of Technology: What do you spend and what do you get?

Sandvika, Auditorium 3
February 9th, 0830-1115

Espen Andersen

The economics of investing in and using information technology
One of the hardest problems of managing technology - especially information technology - is deciding on how much to spend and understanding what the economic effect of the investment is.  We will look at this topic both from the viewpoint of a single company and by examining data from many companies.

Individual assignment 1, to be handed in before class starts, see instruction:
Imagine you are a CEO worrying about whether you are spending too much or not enough on information technology. How would the InformationWEEK 500 study help you? For help with the analysis, here's an Excel worksheet with the numbers (also in Blackboard). Download the file to your own computer, then analyze it there using Excel or other software.

Study questions:
1. What are Hitt & Brynjolfsson's three measures of information technology profitability -- and their conclusions about them?
2. How do you justify spending money on upgrading desktop computers and Internet bandwidth?

Who was Doug Engelbart? And what is "bootstrapping".
Read and be prepared to discuss:
  • Hitt, L., & Brynjolfsson, E. (1996). Productivity, Business Profitability, and Consumer Surplus: Three Different Measures of Information Technology Value. MIS Quarterly, 20(2), 121-142.
  • Here is a spanking new article on the subject from NY Times.
  • The InformationWEEK 500, InformationWEEK, September 1995 (distributed, page 43 in Blackboard).
  • Case: The missing Gigabyte
Further reading for the specially interested:
Technology and consulting - a view from the inside
Feb 16th 0830-1115
Auditorium 3, Sandvika

Tor Jakob Ramsøy, principal and head of McKinsey & Company's European Outsourcing Practice

Jonas Wedin, consultant, McKinsey Business Technology Office, Stockholm

Espen Andersen

In this session, we will hear about recent developments in technolgy use from a well-known consulting company: Tor Jakob Ramsøy has worked both with Accenture and McKinsey on issues of technology evolution and strategic decisions in technology-rich industries.  Jonas Wedin has done work on outsourcing.  They will talk about how technology is used within a consulting company itself, as well as give some thoughts on how the recent evolution in technology use, specifically the increasing advances in outsourcing, are changing how companies think about technology.

Study questions:
1. What drives value creation in consulting companies?
2. Imagine you are a consultant with McKinsey, who has been asked to help a company evaluate whether to outsource its IT helpdesk to India. What information, and through what kind of information system, would you want a) for your own part, to understand the problem; and b) to present to the company?
3. Why do companies outsource information technology provision and information systems development?
4. "You cannot outsource something that is strategic" is commonly heard when discussing outsourcing.  Do you agree?  What does "strategic" mean in this setting?

Read and be prepared to discuss:
  • Hansen, M., N. Nohria, et al. (1999). “What is your strategy for managing knowledge?” Harvard Business Review (March-April): 106-116
  • Utterback chapter on process innovation.
  • Amoribieta, I., K. Bhaumik, et al. (2001). "Programmers abroad: A primer on offshore software development." McKinsey Quarterly (2): 128-140.
  • Auguste, B. G., Y. Hao, et al. (2003). "The other side of outsourcing." McKinsey Quarterly (1): 52-64.
  • McKinsey Global Institute: Offshoring: Is It a Win-Win Game? Report available here, but requires registration before downloading.
  • Weinstein, Lauren (2004). Outsourced and Out of ControlCommunications of the ACM, 47(2)
  • Bob Cringely on outsourcing, with later clarifications.
Further reading (for the especially interested):
  • Nonaka, I. (1991). "The Knowledge-Creating Company." Harvard Business Review (November-December): 96-104.
  • Kankanhalli, A., F. Tanudidjaja, et al. (2003). "The Role of IT in Successful Knowledge Management Initiatives." Communications of the ACM 46(9): 69-73.
  • DiRomualdo, A. and V. Gurbaxani (1998). "Strategic Intent for IT Outsourcing." Sloan Management Review 39(4): 67-80.
Growing and maturing the technical company
Sandvika, Auditorium 3
February 23, 0830 - 1115

Roman Skofteby, Scali AS

Espen Andersen

Term paper proposals to be handed in during class: On a piece of paper, answer the following questions very briefly:
1) Who will be in the group (student numbers and names).
2) Which company you will write about and what their strategic technology issues are.
3) Which part of the course you think the term paper is relevant for.

In this class, we will discuss Scali, a small (50 employees) Norwegian software company in the cluster computing market, and what challenges they face in the interrelationship between technology and markets.


1. What are Scali's core markets, and how are they addressing them?
2. Which factors have made Scali successful so far?
3. How should they go forward?  What should be their sources of growth and profitability?
Read and be prepared to discuss:
  • Scali's web site at 
  • Chapter 3 "What products will customers want to buy?" from Christensen, C. M. and M. Raynor (2003). The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth. Boston, MA, Harvard Business School Press.
  • Greiner, L. E. (1972). "Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow." Harvard Business Review (July-August): 37-46.
  • Chapter 12, "On the Beach", from Cringely, R. X. (1992). Accidental Empires. Harmonsworth, Middlesex, England, Penguin Books.
Further reading:
In your spare time:
Disruptive technology  Sandvika, Auditorium 3
March 1, 0830 - 1115

Espen Andersen

Individual assignment II, to be handed in before class (that means before 0830!!!!), see the instructions for details: .
Read the case about Catatech, and write a memo to Marisa Rivera, answering the following questions:
1. Is this a disruptive technology threat to Catatech - and if so, why?
2. What should Marisa do?

In this class we will look at the phenomenon of  disruptive technology - when new technology comes along and attacks incumbent market leaders.  We will look at the cases of Catatech, as well as Skandiabanken, a Swedish Internet-based bank that has become a market leader in Norway - and discuss whether it really is a harbinger of a disruptive technology or not.

Study questions:
1. What characterizes a disruptive technology - that is, how can we recognise it before it becomes disruptive?
2. How does a disruptive technology change an industry?
3. What is Skandiabanken's value offering to their customers?
4. How can the traditional banks counter the threat - if it is a threat - from Skandiabanken?
Read and be prepared to discuss:
  • Chapter 7 "Invasion of a stable business by radical innovation" and 8  “The Creative Power of technology in process Innovation” in Utterback.  (the whole book, really, at this point)
  • Espen Andersen (2003):  The Internet as a Disruptive Technology: A Scenario for the Norwegian Retail Banking Market, draft paper.
Further reading (for the especially interested) In your spare time:

The politics of technology
Sandvika, Auditorium 3
March 8, 0830 - 1115

During this class, we will have a visit of about 15 MBA students from North Park University, Chicago.

Espen Andersen

In this class, we will discuss various political implications of information and other technology - both from business and societal perspective.

Study questions:
1. Two of Friedman's terms are "the golden straightjacket" and "the electronic herd" - and these two concepts create problems for finance ministers the world over.  What are they? (they may not be in this chapter, but you can guess.....)
2. The central point in Klein's book is that multinational companies have more power than democratic institutions, and that they exploit that power to their advantage.  How powerful is really a company such as Nike? Starbucks?  World News Corporation?
3. What have questions 1 and 2 really got to do with technology, anyway?
4. Imagine an industry that is largely regional in nature but gradually becoming more globalized - for instance food retail stores.  What happens to the existing companies?  Why?
5. Under what circumstances can regulation influence technology?  Can you find examples where political interference in technology evolution has worked?  Where it hasn't?
6. How does the role of politicians change as globalization increases?

Read and be prepared to discuss:
Further reading for the especially interested
  • Diamond, J. (1998). Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies. New York, Norton. Jared Diamond is an anthropologist who was asked by a native in new Guinea something like this: "Why was it that you won - why didn't we, the people of New Guinea discover Europe and America and invaded them?"  He has spent many years trying to answer that question - and this book is the fascinating result.
In your spare time:
  • Stephenson, N. (1999). In the Beginning....Was the Command Line. New York, Avon Books.  Available for free here.  Excellent treatise on what technology really means. If you understand and like this article, then you really grok tech.
Information economics
March 15, Sandvika, Auditorium 3
0830 - 1115

Espen Andersen

In this session, we will look at strategy in markets where you sell information - and how you can deal with competition when all you do can be instantly copied.

1. How do you, if you are an inkjet printer producer, respond to competition from people who sell generic and reconditioned printer cartridges?  How serious is the problem for HP, Lexmark, Epson and Canon?
2. Is an asset or a threat to Aftenposten?
3. What should the music industry do - are they doomed, or will they win?
4. What other industries will have to change when information access is ubiquitous? (hint)
Read and be prepared to discuss: Further reading for the specially interested:
  • This one should really be included when we talked about outsourcing, but I will encourage you to read it anyway: Wired's recent article on various sides of outsourcing to India.
  • Lessig, L. (2001). The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World. New York, Random House.  Check out Lawrence Lessig's blog and the article about him in Wired Magazine. (Yes, I know this was listed two weeks ago, but did you read it?
Tools for a digital age: Collaborative software and personal publishing
Sandvika, Auditorium 3
March 22, 0830 - 1115

Espen Andersen
Individual assignment III, to be completed before class (that means before 0830!!!!):
This assignment involves using and updating Wikipedia, an on-line collaborative encyclopedia. You can do this in the Norwegian or English version.  Specific instructions for how to do it are here for the English version and here for the Norwegian version..

In this class we will look at collaborative and networked technologies, seeking to understand some of the current technological debates on the Internet and what they mean.

Study questions:
1. What is a blog and why has the blogging phenomenon come up?
2. What is spam? Why is it called spam? How can we stop it?
3. Has blogging happened because of spam?  What is blogspam?
4. What is a wiki?
5. What is a cookie and why is the technology important?
6. What is PGP? How is it useful?
Read and be prepared to discuss:
  • CSC Research Services' Use and misuse of collaborative technology
  • Espen Andersen: Genesis of an Anthill, Ubiquity, 2003
  • Blogging is the latest Internet craze: Personal web sites with running commetary. Here is a fascinating article by Clay Shirky about the properties of weblog success, in terms of power laws and the old 80/20 rule.
  • There is a fresh article (March 3, 2004, not on the web, unfortunately, unless you sign up for a 15-day trial subscription and give them your credit card details) on corporate blogging in the Financial Times.  Check if it is in the library....
  • Paul Graham's Plan for Spam, an interesting approach to dealing with a highly irritating problem.  For fun, you can check out Slashdot's approach to dealing with spammers.  And check out Lawrence Lessig's view of how to deal with Spam.  Other search terms:,, honeypot, Ronald Scelson, Adam Ralsky, Laura Betterly, this link on who profits, and on and on and on ....
  • Visit Ståle Schumacher's International PGP home page. What is this?
  • Check out some Easter Eggs and the Stalker's Home Page.
Further reading for the specially interested:
  • Hafner, K. (1997). "The Epic Saga of the WELL." WiRED (5.05). Life and death of the original Internet community.  The company  and the community still exists, but much of the culture, apparently, is lost.
  • Howard Rheingold (2000) The Virtual Community, MIT Press. History and sociology of virtual communities from author who also has written Tools for Thought, an important and early book on information technology as an extension of the human brain; Virtual Reality;and a very interesting recent book, Smart Mobs, on the mobilizing capability of mobile technology.
In your spare time:
  • Check out the Hacker's Dictionary, also known as the "jargon file".
  • If you think cryptography is fun, check out Singh, S. (1997). The Code Book. New York, Doubleday.  Excellent on the history of encryption, how it works - and with some nifty designs and explanations of the Enigma machine.
Current technology topics
Sandvika, auditorium 4
Wednesday April 14, 12:00-14:45.
Espen Andersen

In this session, we will take a look at current technological trends and discuss them.  We will also discuss how you can create a career in technology companies - and how to keep yourself up to date.  Furthermore, students can propose issues they want to discuss through email before class.
Read and be prepared to discuss:
  • Keep an eye on Espen's blog, category SF2004 (travel reports from Silicon Valley)
  • TBA
Further reading for the specially interested:

NSM's home page

Espen Andersen's home page
Last updated: March 20, 2004.

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