Discussion Questions

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  1. Why is innovation so important for firms to compete in many industries? (Chapter 1)
  2. What are some advantages of technological innovation? Disadvantages? (Chapter 1)
  3. Why do you think so many innovation projects fail to generate an economic return? (Chapter 1)
  4. What factors do you think enabled Iddan, an engineer with no medical background, to pioneer the development of wireless endoscopy? (Chapter 2-case)
  5. To what degree would you characterize Given’s development of the camera pill as “science-push” versus “demand-pull”? (Chapter 2-case)
  6. What were the advantages and disadvantages of Iddan and Meron collaborating with Dr.Swain’s team? (Chapter 2-case)
  7. What were the advantages and disadvantages of Given being owned by Medtronic ?(Chapter 2-case)
  8. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of (a) individuals as innovators, (b) firms as innovators, (c) universities as innovators, (d) government institutions as innovators, (e) nonprofit organizations as innovators? (Chapter 2)
  9. What traits appear to make individuals most creative? Are these the same traits that lead to successful inventions? (Chapter 2)
  10. Could firms identify people with greater capacity for creativity or inventiveness in their hiring procedures? (Chapter 2)
  11. To what degree do you think the creativity of the firm is a function of the creativity of individuals, versus the structure, routines, incentives, and culture of the firm? Provide an example of a firm that does a particularly good job at nurturing and leveraging the creativity of its individuals. (Chapter 2)
  12. Several studies indicate that the use of collaborative research agreements is increasing around the world. What are some reasons collaborative research is becoming more prevalent? (Chapter 2)
  13. Is the Tesla Model S a radical innovation or an incremental innovation? Competence enhancing or destroying, and from whose perspective? Is it a component or an architectural innovation? (Chapter 3-case)
  14. What factors do you think influence the rate of at which consumers have adopted (or will adopt) the Tesla Model S? (Chapter 3-case)
  15. Do you think Tesla Motors will be profitable? Why or why not? (Chapter 3-case)
  16. What are some reasons that established firms might resist adopting a new technology? (Chapter 3)
  17. Are well-established firms or new entrants more likely to (a) develop and/or (b) adopt new technologies? Why? (Chapter 3)
  18. Think of an example of an innovation you have studied at work or school. How would you characterize it on the dimensions described at the beginning of the chapter? (Chapter 3)
  19. What are some reasons that both technology improvement and technology diffusion exhibit s-shape curves? (Chapter 3)
  20. Why do technologies often improve faster than customer requirements? What are the advantages and disadvantages to a firm of developing a technology beyond the current state of market needs? (Chapter 3)
  21. In what industries would you expect to see particularly short technology cycles? In what industries would you expect to see particularly long technology cycles? What factors may influence the length of technology cycles in an industry? (Chapter 3)
  22. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of mobile payment systems in (a) developed countries and (b) developing countries? (Chapter 4-case)
  23. What are the key factors that differentiate the different mobile payment systems? Which factors do consumers care most about? Which factors do merchants care most about? (Chapter 4-case)
  24. Are there forces that are likely to encourage one of the mobile payment systems to emerge as dominant? If so, what do you think will determinate which becomes dominant? (Chapter 4-case)
  25. Is there anything the mobile payment systems could do to increase the likelihood of them becoming dominant? (Chapter 4-case)
  26. How do these different mobile systems increase or decrease the power of a) banks, b) credit cards? (Chapter 4-case)
  27. What are some of the sources of increasing returns to adoption? (Chapter 4)
  28. What are some examples of industries not mentioned in the chapter that demonstrate increasing returns to adoption? (Chapter 4)
  29. What are some of the ways a firm can try to increase the overall value of its technology and its likelihood of becoming the dominant design? (Chapter 4)
  30. What determines whether an industry is likely to have one or a few dominant designs? (Chapter 4)
  31. Are dominant designs good for consumers? Competitors? Complementors? Suppliers? (Chapter 4)
  32. Why did the first social networking sites fail? Is there anything they could have done to survive? (Chapter 5-case)
  33. What factors made MySpace more successful than Friendster and SixDegrees.com? What factors enabled Facebook to overtake MySpace? (Chapter 5-case)
  34. Are there significant switching costs that lock users into a particular social networking site? (Chapter 5-case)
  35. What will determine if Google+ can overtake Facebook? (Chapter 5-case)
  36. What are some advantages of entering a market early? Are there any advantages to entering a market late? (Chapter 5)
  37. Name a successful (a) first mover, (b) early follower, and (c) late entrant. Identify unsuccessful examples of each. (Chapter 5)
  38. What factors might make some industries harder to pioneer than others? Are there industries in which there is no penalty for late entry? (Chapter 5)
  39. What are some of the challenges and opportunities of competing in the hotel industry? How do you think the hotel industry (or travel industry more generally?) has changed over time? (Chapter 6-case)
  40. Can you identify different customer groups in the hotel industry? What are some of the ways that hotels attract these different groups? (Chapter 6-case)
  41. What are the advantages and disadvantages of targeting a narrower niche of customers rather than trying to appeal to a wide range of hotel customers? (Chapter 6-case)
  42. What are some of the ways that citizenM has substituted technology for labor? What are some of the benefits/risks of this approach? (Chapter 6-case)
  43. Can you think of other ways to dramatically re-envision how a hotel might operate and attract guests? What are advantages and disadvantages of your approach? (Chapter 6-case)
  44. What is the difference between a strength, a competitive advantage, and a sustainable competitive advantage? (Chapter 6)
  45. What makes an ability (or set of abilities) a core competency? (Chapter 6)
  46. Why is it necessary to perform an external and internal analysis before the firm can identify its true core competencies? (Chapter 6)
  47. Pick a company you are familiar with. Can you identify some of its core competencies? (Chapter 6)
  48. How is the idea of “strategic intent” different from models of strategy that emphasize achieving a fit between the firm’s strategies and its current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT)? (Chapter 6)
  49. Can a strategic intent be too ambitious? (Chapter 6)
  50. Why does Nayak say it’s important to “start with the pictures not with the numbers”? (Chapter 7-case)
  51. What are the challenges with doing a quantitative analysis of the value of the Shaan project? (Chapter 7-case)
  52. What are the different sources of value that Mahindra’s management appears to think will arise from developing the Shaan? (Chapter 7-case)
  53. What are the advantages and disadvantages of discounted cash flow methods such as NPV and IRR? (Chapter 7)
  54. For what kind of development projects might a real options approach be appropriate? For what kind of projects would it be inappropriate? (Chapter 7)
  55. Why might a firm use both qualitative and quantitative assessments of a project? (Chapter 7)
  56. Identify a development project you are familiar with. What methods do you believe were used to assess the project? What methods do you believe should have been used to assess the project? (Chapter 7)
  57. Will different methods of evaluating a project typically yield the same conclusions about whether to fund its development? Why or why not? (Chapter 7)
  58. What were the pros and cons of Sangamo pursuing its gene editing programs alone versus working with a partner? (Chapter 8-case)
  59. Does the HIV program offer any special opportunities or challenges? (Chapter 8-case)
  60. What do you think Sangamo should do regarding the HIV program? Should it license the technology to a large pharmaceutical? Should it form a joint venture with another biotech or pharma company? If so, who? (Chapter 8-case)
  61. What are some advantages and disadvantages of collaborating on a development project? (Chapter 8)
  62. How does the mode of collaborating (e.g. strategic alliance, joint venture, licensing, outsourcing, collective research organization) influence the success of a collaboration? (Chapter 8)
  63. Identify an example of collaboration between two or more organizations. What were the advantages and disadvantages of collaboration versus solo development? What collaboration mode did the partners choose? What were the advantages and disadvantages of the collaboration mode? (Chapter 8)
  64. If a firm decides it is in its best interest to collaborate on a development project, how would you recommend the firm choose a partner, a collaboration mode, and governance structure for the relationship? (Chapter 8)
  65. What industry conditions lead to the revolution in audio distribution described above? Which stakeholders stand to benefit most (or least) from this revolution? (Chapter 9-case)
  66. Why did the music stores created by the record labels fail to attract many subscribers? What, if anything, should the record labels have done differently? (Chapter 9-case)
  67. What factors led iTunes to be successful? (Chapter 9-case)
  68. What new models of music distribution have emerged, and what do you think will influence whether they endure? (Chapter 9-case)
  69. What are the differences between patents, copyrights, and trademarks? (Chapter 9)
  70. What factors should a firm considering marketing its innovation in multiple countries use in formulating its protection strategy? (Chapter 9)
  71. When are trade secrets more useful than patents, copyrights, or trademarks? (Chapter 9)
  72. Identify a situation in which none of the legal protection mechanisms discusses (patents, copyrights, trademarks, secrets) will prove useful. (Chapter 9)
  73. Describe a technological innovation not discussed in the chapter, and identify where you think it lies on the control continuum between wholly proprietary and wholly open. (Chapter 9)
  74. What factors do you believe influenced the choice of protection strategy used for the innovation identified above? Do you think the strategy was a good choice? (Chapter 9)
  75. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the creative side of Google being run as a flexible and flat “technocracy”? (Chapter 10-case)
  76. How does Google’s culture influence the kind of employees it can attract and retain? (Chapter 10-case)
  77. What do you believe the challenges are in having very different structure and controls for Google’s creative side versus the other parts of the company? (Chapter 10-case)
  78. Some analysts have argued that Google’s free-form structure and the 20 percent time to work on personal projects is only possible because Google’s prior success has created financial slack in the company. Do you agree with this? Would Google be able to continue this management style if it had closer competitors? (Chapter 10-case)
  79. Are there particular types of innovation activities for which large firms are likely to outperform small firms? Are there types for which small firms are likely to outperform large firms? (Chapter 10)
  80. What are some advantages and disadvantages of having formalized procedures for improving the effectiveness or efficiency of innovation? (Chapter 10)
  81. What factors should a firm consider when deciding how centralized its R&D activities should be? Should firms employ both centralized and decentralized R&D activities? (Chapter 10)
  82. Why is the tension between centralization and decentralization of R&D activities likely to be even greater for multinational firms than for firms that compete in one national market? (Chapter 10)
  83. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the transnational approach advocated by Bartlett and Ghoshal? (Chapter 10)
  84. How does Skulcandy’s new product development activities affect its ability to (a) maximize the fit with customer needs, (b) minimize development cycle time, and (c) control development costs? (Chapter 11-case)
  85. What are some of the ways that Skulcandy’s size and growth rate influence its development process? (Chapter 11-case)
  86. What are the advantages of using Computer Aided Design (CAD) and stereo-lithography to create prototypes of Skulcandy’s headphones? (Chapter 11-case)
  87. If you were advising the top management of Skulcandy about new product development processes, what recommendations would you make? (Chapter 11-case)
  88. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a parallel development processes? What obstacles might a firm face in attempting to adopt a parallel process? (Chapter 11)
  89. Consider a group project you have worked on at work or school. Did your group use mostly sequential or parallel processes? (Chapter 11)
  90. Name some industries in which a parallel process would not be possible or effective (Chapter 11).
  91. What kinds of people make good project champions? How can a firm ensure that it gets the benefits of championing while minimizing the risks? (Chapter 11)
  92. Is the stage-gate process consistent with suggestions that firms adopt parallel processes? What impact do you think using stage-gate processes would have on development cycle time and development costs? (Chapter 11)
  93. What are the benefits and costs of involving customers and suppliers in the development process? (Chapter 11)
  94. Why does Disney keep its development teams small? (Chapter 12-case)
  95. What are the pros and cons of the teams being so autonomous? (Chapter 12-case)
  96. Is Disney’s team approach mostly suited to creative projects, or would it work equally well in other kinds of industries? (Chapter 12-case)
  97. What are the trade-offs in choosing a team’s size and level of diversity? (Chapter 12)
  98. How can managers ensure that a team reaps the advantages of diversity while not being thwarted by some of the challenges team diversity raises? (Chapter 12)
  99. Identify an example of a development project, and what type of team you believe they used. Do you think this was the appropriate type of team given the nature of the project? (Chapter 12)
  100. What are some advantages and disadvantages of collocation? For what types of projects are virtual teams inappropriate? (Chapter 12)
  101. What factors do you think enabled Sega to break Nintendo’s near monopoly of the U.S. video game console market in the late 1980s? (Chapter 13-case)
  102. Why did Nintendo choose not to make its early video game consoles back-ward compatible? What were the advantages and disadvantages of this strategy? (Chapter 13-case)
  103. What strengths and weaknesses did Sony have when it entered the video game market in 1995? What strengths and weaknesses did Microsoft have when it entered the video game market in 2001? (Chapter 13-case)
  104. In what ways did Nintendo’s Wii break with the norms of competition in the video game industry? How defensible was its position? (Chapter 13-case)
  105. Comparing the deployment strategies used by the firms in each of the generations, can you identify any timing, licensing, pricing, marketing, or distribution strategies that appear to have influenced firms’ success and failure in the video game industry? (Chapter 13-case)
  106. Identify one or more circumstances when a company might wish to delay introducing its product (Chapter 13)
  107. What factors will (or should) influence a firm’s pricing strategy? (Chapter 13)
  108. Pick a product you know well. What intermediaries do you think are used in bringing this product to market? What valuable services do you think these intermediaries provide? (Chapter 13)
  109. What marketing strategies are used by the producers of the product you identified for Question 108? What are the advantages and disadvantages of these marketing strategies? (Chapter 13)
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