“It’s exciting to teach EMBA students because they immediately try to apply the tools I teach them when they go back to work.”
Listen to Prof. Siggelkow’s most recent episode of Mastering Innovation on Sirius XM Business Radio

Prof. Nicolaj Siggelkow is somewhat of a legend in the world of strategy research, connected to other legends. A protégé of the strategy guru Michael Porter and now co-director of the Mack Institute for Innovation, Siggelkow regularly hosts strategy and innovation leaders on the Mastering Innovation show with Prof. Harbir Singh on Sirius XM Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School.

The David M. Knott Professor of Management, Siggelkow has been a long-time regular on the EMBA faculty and enjoys coming to campus or flying to San Francisco on weekends to teach in Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives.

First-year executive MBA students get to know Siggelkow, the recipient of multiple Wharton Excellence in Teaching Awards, in their core Management course. In their second year, students can also choose to take his Strategy and Competitive Advantage course as an elective.

“It’s exciting to teach EMBA students because they immediately try to apply the tools I teach them when they go back to work. Then, they’ll usually come back and tell me how it went; it’s fun to get feedback on what you teach.”

He finds that the breadth of EMBA students’ experience and perspective makes for a special classroom experience and lively classroom discussion.

“It’s interesting to hear their perspectives. It’s often at a level that you wouldn’t get in a typical MBA classroom. For example, in a class session on outsourcing, we may have several students in the classroom who actually sell or have bought the services being discussed,” said Siggelkow.

Application from the Classroom to the Office

Siggelkow’s research is directly relevant to his classes.

“I study how firms evolve over time and how strategies evolve in organizations,” he explained. “I also study the benefits that firms get from focusing their strategy either on certain products or customer segments. In addition, I’ve done research on organizational design and what impacts that has on the strategies that are pursued in organizations.”

Prof. Siggelkow teaching a class

In order to make his classes as applicable as possible for his students, Siggelkow uses various practical activities and assignments. He teaches Managing the Enterprise and Strategy and Competitive Advantage.

“Both of those courses involve case discussion as well as a project component. In the core course, it is a team project where students pick a company and then try to apply all of the tools and frameworks we talked about across the modules. In the elective, there is a shorter individual paper.”

He adds that his class has provided a useful tool for student entrepreneurs. He’s found that a number of students choose to study their own companies as their project.

Ultimately, he wants to equip students with skills they can use in their work. “The core course should give them a set of tools and frameworks to allow them to analyze strategies and sharpen their strategic thinking skills,” he said.

His second-year elective Strategy and Competitive Advantage draws students from many different fields.

“Many of the students in that course have managerial roles in larger organizations that require them to think about strategic planning. Another set of students are entrepreneurs or students interested in entrepreneurship so they take the class to think about strategy and business plans going forward. I also see students who work in venture capital, as they want to better understand how to analyze firms when making funding decisions. It’s a good mix of people.”

An Interface Between Wharton and the Private Sector

In addition to teaching in the full-time MBA program and the MBA Program for Executives,  Siggelkow serves as a Co-Director of the Mack Institute for Innovation Management. He explains the interdisciplinary nature of the Mack Institute:

“The Mack Institute is the interface between Wharton and the corporate sector. The Institute has three broad objectives. One is to help create research around the topic of innovation management so we sponsor research. The second part is related to the dissemination of that knowledge and education. We run conferences for our partner companies and workshops. We also offer innovation clinics, which are small classes for students and faculty members at Penn who have an innovation idea and want to take it further. Our third objective is to serve as a facilitator in the exchange of ideas. So we help connect our corporate partners with students and faculty at Penn who are interested in working with real firms on business ideas.”

The Mack Institute offers several programming options that EMBA students take part in, like the Collaborative Innovation Program where students can pick and choose ideas to work on from our partner companies.

“We have EMBA students from both coasts as well as full-time MBA students in that program,” Sigglekow said. “We also run conferences for our partners; one is located in Philadelphia and the other in San Francisco so our students are invited to attend those conferences.”

Posted: May 9, 2018

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