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Digital Innovation

  • Teacher(s):   B.Mueller  
  • Course given in: English
  • ECTS Credits: 6 credits
  • Schedule: Spring Semester 2019-2020, 4.0h. course (weekly average)
  •  sessions
  • site web du cours course website
  • Related programme: Master of Science (MSc) in Information Systems



Over the past decades, a number of innovative companies have made headlines because of their ability to leverage digital technologies to change what business they do and how they do that business. While companies such as Amazon, Airbnb, or Alphabet each are a well-known poster child of the digital innovation movement, more and more industries are on the verge of digital disruption (Yokoi et al. 2019). This development seems further accelerated by a set of specific characteristics that digital technologies bring to the table (e.g., Brynjolfsson and McAfee 2014; Fichman et al. 2014; Nambisan et al. 2017), each of which capable of impacting and transforming what we know about what innovation is and how it works.

With innovation often recognized as an enduring driver of organizations’ ability to generate value sustainably, future managers, entrepreneurs, and policy makers need to be aware of the impact that digitalization has on innovation of both products and processes. Against this backdrop, the lecture Digital Innovation is designed to provide you with an opportunity to understand and explore the impact of digitalization on innovation and build a fundamental set of key competencies to generate and manage digital innovations in increasingly digitalized societies.

Once you have successfully completed this course you have the knowledge and skills to …

  • explain how digitalization impacts products and processes
  • identify different objects of digital innovation
  • innovate in a digital context and manage digital innovation projects
  • evaluate the ethical implications of digitalization
  • apply relevant conceptual knowledge to real-life cases

These learning goals capture a rich set of skills and capabilities relevant to a broad range of professionals and industries. In the context of this lecture, innovating in a digital context is expressly not thought of as the responsibility of IT or technical experts. Quite to the contrary, the lecture is open to and addresses all of an organization’s functional facets and thinks of digital innovation as an important core competency of successful future professionals and organizations. In this spirit, the course is designed to enable and empower you to embrace digital innovation as an integrative interface competency, which allows you to bring together digital technologies, your organizations’ capabilities and resources, and as yet undiscovered or unsatisfied customer or market needs to build superior digitally-enabled business models.


To achieve these goals, the course Digital Innovation is structured around two modules that provide complementary content and teaching methods.

Module 1 introduces key concepts, ideas, and skills relevant in the context digital innovation. The module specifically focuses on exploring the meaning of ‘the digital’ and how digitalization changes extant concepts of innovation. The module provides a balanced foundation of background knowledge as well as personal and managerial skills to enable you to handle digital innovations in practice. This module leverages lecture-based format to convey the necessary foundational knowledge and will provide you with opportunities to get involved – both individually as well as in small groups – through a series of smaller exercises and open discussions on the key materials.

Module 2 focuses on two complementary aspects of innovation –product and business model innovation on one side and process innovation on the other. The module follows important digitalization steps from the outside in, thus making sure you learn to appreciate the necessary fit of activities between digital business models and strategies on one side and genuinely digitalized operations on the other. This module features both lecture-oriented formats to introduce more specific concepts as well as case-based and problem-oriented elements to empower you to apply your newfound skills.

Module 2’s content-oriented sections (7, 8, 10, and 11) deliver important inputs for the problem-oriented sections (9 and 12). The content and respective problem-oriented sections are integral parts of one another.

The two modules introduced above also represent the basic approach of the class – that is, from enablement to empowerment. While the first module establishes the necessary foundations for you to be familiar with pertinent terms, models, and approaches, the second module emphasizes your ability to leverage these terms, models, and approaches in the context of digital innovation.

In module 1, the class is designed to gradually flip the classroom across the first few weeks of the course. This means that you and your fellow students will increasingly become co-creators of the learning experience and bear responsibility to prepare for and engage in class. Through this shift, traditional lectures delivered by an educator will gradually become more seminar-style interactions between academics.

In module 2, the case studies provide a basis for the group assignments and allow to gradually shift the teaching method from lectures / seminars to problem-oriented learning. This allows for a combination of teaching methods that emphasize collaborative exploration and discussion of the relevant literature between you, your fellow students, and the facilitator.

This class follows the ideas of research-based education and draws heavily on high-quality academic papers. The readings that make up this course represent a mixture of timeless seminal papers and state-of-the-art research, selectively complemented by thought provoking pieces that extend the research-based perspective. As such, this class will be different from other classes you have attended. While the task of reading, analyzing, and discussing academic literature may feel alien at first, this class is designed to gradually ease you into this mode of reading and reasoning. As a result, and beyond the content-oriented learning goals listed above, the course will also provide you with an opportunity to improve your comfort level when engaging with this kind of literature. At the same time, your engagement with the literature this course uses will offer you a more intense engagement with academic writing and reasoning. On top of ensuring a successful completion of this course, these will also be important skills in your upcoming thesis work.

Across these modules, Digital Innovation is a problem and discussion-oriented course, with a mixture of self-study, lectures, and case-based problem-oriented learning. A balance will be maintained between theory and practice. Input from the lecturer will be alternated with contributions of and presentations by you and your fellow students. Across the class, proactive engagement with the literature is crucial and how much you will get out of this course will depend on how much you are willing to invest.


There is a total of 26 reading that are mandatory for this class. For details on the course literature, please consult the full-text version of the syllabus to be shared on Moodle.


The course is taught in English in its entirety. A sufficient command of English in both spoken and written communication is an essential prerequisite for participation.

Furthermore, having attended the undergraduate course “Introduction to Information Systems” (or equivalent) is highly encouraged.

Other than that, the course does not require you to have completed any prerequisites other than those that apply to the MSc IS program overall. In particular, no specific technical skills or experiences are required and the course is open to students from a wide variety of backgrounds.


First attempt

Written 2h hours
Not allowed
Not allowed

The evaluation in this class is based on an individual (exam) and a group component (case studies):

  • 50% written, closed-book individual exam (mid-term)
  • 50% group assignment based on two case studies


Written 2h hours
Not allowed
Not allowed

In line with faculty policy, the course will offer second attempts for the exam and group assignment. The basic setup of the sercond attempt remains identical to the first attempt:

  • 50% written, closed-book individual exam
  • 50% group assignment based on case study

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