Academic year
2022/2023 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
EM7030 (AF:386009 AR:214450)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
3rd Term
Course year
Go to Moodle page
In accordance with the learning objectives of the Master degree in Management, curriculum in Innovation and Marketing, the course provides an overview of key approaches to the history of innovation and technology. During weeks 1 and 2, students will become acquainted with some of the most relevant approaches to the study of innovation which used historical analysis as an empirical testing field (innovation systems; social construction of technology; resource based approach to the study of the firm). During weeks 3-4, students will present and comment through selected historical case studies how in the past firms dealt with organizational, technical and brand innovation and how processes of innovation were historically influenced by social and cultural dynamics. In week 5 students will reflect on how firms and institutions deal with the sustainability transition.
1. Students recognize how the innovation process takes place in different epochs, they compare the dynamic of innovation at the time of the First, Second and Third Industrial Revolution, by discussing historical cases.
2. Students distinguish, compare and appraise different kinds of innovation; they deconstruct the innovation process in its phases, they recognize its technical, social, institutional components and their interaction.
3. Students explain and summarize how technical innovation works making reference to the social construction of technology theories and discuss relevant examples.
4. Students identify the role of institutions in promoting or hindering innovation, adopt a systemic approach to the study of innovation, reflect on and discuss historical case studies.
5. Students recognize different strategies that brands and firms have used to innovate and how they varied through time.
6. Students formulate hypothesis about continuities and discontinuities between current and past innovation strategies.
Class and online discussion
7. Students comment and debate historical case studies: they make hypothesis, present their argument, justify their choice and defend their view.
Group presentation
8. Experior project: selected students (email must be sent by design an innovative marketing strategy for a cosmetic brand coping with challenges of both sustainability and omnichannel marketing.
Proficient knowledge of English language
Week 1. Course Introduction: What is Innovation? What can we learn from history?
Key questions: How to study innovation? Why to study the history of innovation? What does an historical approach tell us (that we can not observe in the present)?
1/15 Introduction: A few things I (need to) know about innovation
2/15 Experior Project - Presentation of the Project and Rules of the Game. Students interested need to send a mail with one sentence motivation by lesson 3 - more info in Moodle (first come, first served)
3/15 Why an Historical Approach? Innovation through Time
Week 2. Inside the Black Box (and beyond neoclassic economics). Main Theoretical Approach in Innovation Studies
Key questions: What is a Systematic Approach to Innovation? Which systems we refer to? How does a system of innovation work? What we mean by “Social Construction of Technology”? What is the resource based approach to the study of the innovative firm? When a firm is innovative? What is the “skill base”?
4/15 Systems of Innovation: How does Innovation Work?
5/15 The Social Construction of Technology: Towards a Theory of Sociotechnical Change.
6/15 When a Firm is Innovative? The Resources based approach
Week 3. Historical Cases on Firms and Innovation (Branding and Organization)
Key questions: How and why did firms innovate in history? And which resources did they use? How did they deal with consumers, institutions, technical change?
7/15 Innovation through Cultural Branding.
8/15 Innovation through organizational change and advertising
Week 4. Firms face Innovation. Historical Cases on Innovation (technical innovation)
9/15 Marketing Innovation in Cosmetic industry
10/15 Pharmaceutical firms and the transition to biotechnology:
11/15 Innovation as adaptation
Week 5. Towards a theory for sustainable innovation: the new is the old!
12/15 Sustainable Innovation in traditional industries
13/15 Innovation and sustainable transition: historical cases and problems of today
14/15 Presentation of Experior project
15/15 Wrap up and exam preparation


1. J. Fagerberg, Innovation – a New Guide. TIK WORKING PAPERS on Innovation Studies. No. 20131119
2. C. Bruland, D. Mowery, Innovation through time, in Oxford Handbook of Innovation, eds. J. Fagerberg, David C. Mowery, and Richard R. Nelson, OUP, 2004, pp 349- 379
3. W. Bijker, The King of the Road, the Social Construction of the Safety Bike, in Bijker, Wiebe Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs. Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change, 1985, MIT Press, pp. 19-100
4. B. Lazonick, The Innovative Firm, in Oxford Handbook of Innovation, eds. J. Fagerberg, David C. Mowery, and Richard R. Nelson, OUP, 2004, pp 29-56.
5. J. Fagerberg, Mobilizing innovation for sustainability transitions: A comment on transformative innovation policy, Research Policy, Volume 47, Issue 9, 2018, pp 1568-1576
One among:
1. D. Tsang, (2021) Innovation in the British video game industry since 1978. Business History Review, 95 (3). pp. 543-567.
2. U. Spiekermann. “Twentieth-Century Product Innovations in the German Food Industry.” The Business History Review 83, no. 2 (2009): 291–315.
One among:
1. P. Aversa, Schreiter, Katrin, Guerrini, Filippo, The Birth of a Business Icon through Cultural Branding: Ferrari and the Prancing Horse, 1923–1947 Enterprise & Society
2. R. Marchand, “The Corporation Nobody Knew: Bruce Barton, Alfred Sloan, and the Founding of the General Motors ‘Family.’” The Business History Review 65, no. 4 (1991): 825–75.
One among:
1. P. Miskell (2004). Cavity Protection or Cosmetic Perfection? Innovation and Marketing of Toothpaste Brands in the United States and Western Europe, 1955–1985. Business History Review, 78(1), 29-60.
2. L. Galambos; J. Sturchio, Pharmaceutical firms and the transition to biotechnology: A study in strategic innovation, Business History Review; Summer 1998; 72, 2.
3. K. Sogner, Innovation as Adaptation: The Digital Challenge in the Norwegian Fishing Industry, 1970-1985, Business History Review, 2009, vol. 83(2), pages 349-367.
One among:
1. A. Mamidipudi & Bijker, W. E. (2018). Innovation in Indian Handloom Weaving. Technology and Culture, 59(3), 509-545
2. M. Eisler, Public Policy, Industrial Innovation, and the Zero-Emission Vehicle. Business History Review, 2020, 94(4), 779-802.

1. Online forum: one memo per week to be posted by Monday evening. Write a post commenting on the most relevant concepts that you have learned during the week. The memos will be visible to your peers and you are supposed to interact each other. Feedback and further discussion on Wednesday classes. Compulsory to be admitted to the oral exam as attending student (5 memos on time for 1 extra point)
2. In class and at home: group activity (4 students max), students need to discuss the reading of the day in both oral and written form. They have to prepare a presentation (max 10 slides), where they identify a) main disciplinary frame b) research hypothesis c) methodology d) results; they have to list at least 3 questions for each student of the group showing connections between the case under analysis and the ones we have previously analyzed\ or the theoretical approaches; write everything down in the form of a short essay including a learning reflection and self-assessment. Feedback on Monday of the following week (grid with evaluation criteria\ expected competences). Grade: 1, 2 or 3 extra points. Compulsory for attending students.
3. Final exam: oral exam\ final grade
Frontal teaching; micro-teaching; students' presentations; online forums and interaction
More info on Moodle

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Circular economy, innovation, work" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 25/01/2023