MBA544: Growth, Sustainability and Change in New Ventures

Course Credits:
Course Hours Per Week:

Course Overview

MBA544 is the fourth and concluding course in the entrepreneurship series. While MBA 542 and 543 were focused on the enterprise perspective (feasibility, planning), MBA 544 will take a wider critical perspective on entrepreneurship in current and future environments.  After the launch-phase of a new venture, new challenges arise - which include a possible growth phase and eventually the end of the venture (or the end of the entrepreneur’s involvement with it) - that require additional knowledge and skills. This course therefore will explore paradigms of entrepreneurship, introduce tools for future foresight, provide insights into the middle and ending life cycles and their attendant strategic options, and strengthen student resources for navigating crisis and change.

This course will weave together practical action tools for entrepreneurs with conceptual knowledge on futures thinking, change, transitions and strategy-making, including modules dedicated to growth and exit strategies. Since it is not unusual for entrepreneurs to become absorbed with the day-to-day activities in their venture, this course seeks to set a counterpoint to this tendency, holding the perspective that scanning horizons and continuously building personal and organization change resilience are key responsibilities for entrepreneurial leaders.

The course assignments are intended to provide a balance of strategic thinking tasks and applied personal growth work. The course project will be a paper in which critical scenario thinking will be applied to the possible futures of the entrepreneur as well as an action plan for environmental scanning and on-going learning. Each week, a step towards completion of the course project will be taken. The course project also will include a documentation of all research done throughout the whole entrepreneurship cycle.

Course Learning Objectives

  • Identify key assumptions and characteristics of growth-based vs. “sustainability”-oriented paradigms of entrepreneurial activity.
  • Identify, analyze, and reflect upon the role of assumptions, narratives, and social context in their impacts on futures thinking and strategy-making.
  • Define the characteristics of the “critical scenario method” and apply the method as a research and strategic thinking tool.
  • Analyze growth-related issues in for-profit, non-profit, and social entrepreneurship ventures and formulate strategic problem-solving approaches to address these issues.
  • Identify typical challenges in managing ventures for sustainability and design management approaches to address them.
  • Build greater readiness and personal capacities to respond to crises, shifts, and turbulence.
  • Practice spotting windows for strategic innovation and identify links between innovation capacity and organization culture.
  • Analyze and apply exit strategy options for a venture.
  • Integrate learning from whole entrepreneurship learning cycle and relate course insights to a 10-year future time-frame.

Course Prerequisites