WHU | Logo

Corporate Entrepreneurship

Course code
Course type
MSc Course
Weekly Hours
FS 2019
Dr. Monika Hauck, Prof. Dr. Christoph Hienerth
Please note that exchange students obtain a higher number of credits in the BSc-program at WHU than listed here. For further information please contact directly the International Relations Office.

Continuous creation and exploitation of new business opportunities within the company is an imperative for success. However, corporations often struggle with the identification of promising growth opportunities and the development of new business ideas. This is in part due to the fast changing environment and in part because organizational structures, routines and incentive systems are not always appropriate for the current dynamics and technological settings.

This course is designed for those interested in learning how managers can create, develop, sustain and lead innovative new businesses or initiatives within their organizations. We are especially concerned with the interface between the corporation and the innovation and the entrepreneurial ecosystems within which it is embedded. By adopting an open systems perspective, we will focus on how corporate managers can effectively tap into external environment to initiate change, drive innovation and build new growth platforms.

During this course, participants will collaborate extensively in groups with some of Germany’s leading companies in real-life projects. They will not only hone their skills in solving these real-life corporate entrepreneurship problems, they will get to present their entrepreneurial ideas and solutions to executives from those companies.

Date Time
Friday, 11.01.2019 08:00 - 19:00
Thursday, 21.02.2019 11:30 - 13:00
Friday, 08.03.2019 08:00 - 19:00
Relating to MiE objective 1.1. Students will master the collection and analysis of diverse sets of information relevant for their entrepreneurial endeavors:

Students will build expertise in gathering and processing critical knowledge from various internal (e.g., peers, corporate venture arms, alliance units) and external sources (e.g., start-ups, accelerators, lead users and online and offline communities of innovation), which will enable identification of new growth opportunities and development of business models.

Relating to MiE objective 1.2. Students will be capable of developing promising novel business ideas and business models:

Students will amass expert knowledge of current tools and methods in identifying and developing business ideas and models through engaging key internal and external actors in their organizational environments.

Relating to MiE objective 1.3. Students will master the process of evidence-based entrepreneurship (i.e.: defining business hypotheses and empirically validating/rejecting them):

Students can master the process of developing business hypotheses, choosing test settings and validating/rejecting them through various forms of collaboration with important internal and external actors.

Relating to MiE objective 1.4. Students will be experts in scaling new business (i.e. mastering the operative setup of new business):

Students will have an expert knowledge of important business model metrics related to specific types of business models as well as growth/scaling stages.

Relating to MiE objective 1.5. Students will be experienced in building and maintaining strong teams and partnerships:

Students will have expertise in building a strong entrepreneurial team and embedding their innovation activities in the external ecosystems of innovation and start-ups.

Literature will be identified by students over the first two weeks of the course. Here is sample literature that should be used for the projects:Hienerth, C., Lettl, C., and Keinz, P. 2014. Synergies Among Producer Firms, Lead Users, And User Communities: The Case of The LEGO Producer-User Ecosystem. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 31(4): 864-866.Brueller, N. N, Carmeli, A., and Drori, I. 2014. How Do Different Types of Mergers and Acquisitions Facilitate Strategic Agility, California Management Review, 56(3): 39-57.Scott, A. 2012. The New Corporate Garage, Harvard Business Review, September, 2012: 44-53.
Lectures (one day introduction workshop, one day presentation finals)

Class discussions (discussion of current tools and applications of tools)

Visit at Düsseldorf Campus for direct interaction with partner companies

Group case work (challenges of partner companies)

The final grade is determined by an individual and group project, reflecting the run of the overall course:

The course involves solving a real-life entrepreneurial problem for a leading German company. In the beginning of the program, we arrange a one-day workshop event, during which companies pitch their projects/problems.

Student groups then get to work on the projects over a period of six weeks to deliver their solutions and recommendations. During the project period, each group will receive individual coaching by the course instructors and by the participating companies (managers).

For the first two weeks, each group is searching for the right frameworks and approaches for their project. In order to do so, each group searches for 16 to 20 articles from leading research and practitioner-oriented research journals (such as Journal of Product Innovation Management, MIT Sloan Management Review, Harvard Business Reviews, California Management Review, etc.). The groups divide the articles identified across team members, as a basis for the individual grade component:

Individual assignment: Literature/framework analysis (50%).

This is a five-page document (excluding references, appendix), in which the student summarizes the content of the chosen articles for the group project. Thus, the student provides and explains the important concepts and frameworks, how they relate to the group project and how they can help solve the challenge. The student further searches for current information and data supporting or also contradicting the identified frameworks or approaches.

Grading criteria:

  • Relevance of the chosen literature
  • Analytic/logic of the document
  • Concrete applicability
  • Innovativeness of the approaches referred to
  • Critical evaluation/reflection
  • Current data and information identified relevant for the project
  • Formal criteria

Further group work:

Based on the individual concepts and frameworks identified, groups are working on their real-life projects. Every week, they present their progress in individual coaching sessions.

Group assignment: Final project presentation and hand-in (50%):

Presentations will take place at the end of the course and involve groups presenting their solutions to company representatives, their classmates and instructors. Each presentation will last 15 minutes followed by a 5-min Q&A session. An extended version of the presentation, explaining the content (assumptions, tables, charts, etc.), in a max. 10-page report (just content, exclusive all pages needed for formalities such as cover page and references) will serve as a hand-in.

Grading criteria:

  • 20% presentation, 30% hand-in
  • Match of the solution/idea of the group with the company challenge (relevance of the idea/approach)
  • Clarity
  • Logic/analytic power
  • Use of data/information/numbers
  • Use of concrete recommendations
  • Thoughts on the integration of the idea/approach within the company (how can it be integrated?)

Weight for the final grade 5,9% (5/85 ECTS-credits)

Basic understanding of the processes of innovation and entrepreneurship is required.
150 study hours
WHU | Logo