Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Management and Marketing


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide a critical understanding of the dynamic patterns of technological change. These patterns emerge at the interface between internal forces (strategy, marketing, R&D management, operations and knowledge management) and external forces (consumers' adoption of new technologies, regulatory and ethical frameworks, availability of funding for science and technology, national or local approach to societal change). The course will explore the interplay between these forces and discuss frameworks/tools that managers can use to shape or influence the process of technological change.
  • This course will address the macro and micro aspects of the relationship between technological change, knowledge, management and strategy.
  • This is designed as a level 4 elective module, building upon topics introduced in the core modules of the MBA.
  • This is not a technical course addressed to engineers, scientists and R&D people only. This course is for everybody curious to understand how innovation and technology change the context in which company live, prosper and die and what managerial and strategic tools/techniques managers have to control and shape to their own advantage the direction of change. Innovation is about the emergence, diffusion and application of the most powerful competitive force: new technologies. However, change comes in disguise and we often fall pray of Charles Duell's mistake (Charles H. Duell: Commissioner of the US Office of Patents, urging president William McKinley to abolish the Patent Office in 1899): "Everything that can be invented has been invented", with the consequence that organisations engage in management of incremental change rather than embracing radical approaches.


  • What is breakthrough innovation? - static models of innovation: "technology-push" and "market-pull" models, invention and innovation, radical and incremental models.
  • The evolution of breakthrough innovations: evolutionary models and Christensen’s disruptive/sustaining model of innovation.
  • The diffusion process and the danger of the “chasm”: traditional and social network-based approaches to diffusion of innovation.
  • New product development: how to manage technological innovation within organisations; a review of the historical approaches to new product development.
  • Current trends in the management of innovation including: “brokering” and modularity in breakthrough innovation; emergent innovation and self-organisation; open innovation; the role of communities and lead-users; innovation markets.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will have a critical understanding of:
  • the dynamics of technological change and its evolutional properties;
  • the basic principles of knowledge management.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students will be able to:
  • critically evaluate techniques for the management of technological innovation within organisations.
Key Skills:
  • In addition, students will have the opportunity to further develop the following key skills:
  • Written communication; planning, organising and time management; problem solving and analysis; using initiative; computer literacy;
  • presentation of complex topics;
  • group interaction and group dynamic;
  • case studies analysis.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Learning outcomes will be met through a combination of lectures, groupwork, case studies and discussion, supported by guided reading. The written assignment will test students' understanding of relevant concepts and their ability to apply and interpret what they have learned to the analysis of a particular issue in depth. The group presentation will test students' ability to work effectively in collaboration with others and to critically assess the relevance and validity of others' views.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops (a combination of lectures, groupwork, case studies and discussion) 28
Preparation and Reading 122
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Assignment Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Assignment 2,000 words maximum 100%
Component: Group Presentation Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group Presentation (based either on a case study or on the assessment of the innovation capabilities of a real company) 100%

Formative Assessment:

Students receive feedback on their contributions to the workshops.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University