Name: INFO 225. Managing in Information-Intensive Companies
Professor: Morten T. Hansen (hansen@nullischool.berkeley.edu)
Teaching Assistant: Lazar Stojković (lazar@nullischool.berkeley.edu)
Time: Friday, 9am – 12pm
Location: 210 South Hall, School of Information
Units: 3
Course Catalog Number (CCN): 41591
Office Hours: By appointment

Course Overview

This course is offered by the School of Information. It focuses on managing people and processes in highly information and knowledge-intensive organizations, such as firms in the high-tech, biotech, pharmaceutical, media, consulting, and investment banking industries. In these settings, human and intellectual capitals are critical to success, and the management of these resources (or lack thereof) often makes the difference between success and failure. In this course, we will take a process lens and a general management approach (vs. a functional specialist one): we will focus on people-oriented processes that a manager can put in place to improve performance. That is, this course will not focus on technical IT topics or business strategy issues void of people considerations. Instead, it focuses on how managers can organize a sequence of activities that guide how people carry out work.

While other courses concentrate on one activity (e.g., a course on innovation), this course will cover three important processes that are salient in information-intensive settings:

The idea is that a manager needs to adopt and execute these three processes in order to create a high-performance work unit. The primary emphasis will be on these processes within established companies (vs. a startup or between companies).

This course is useful for students who want to work in high-tech companies, consulting, healthcare, investment banking, and other knowledge-intensive companies and institutions. You will soon be asked to manage teams and then larger groups in those settings, and this course will equip you with skills to do that. The course is also useful for PhD students who wish to understand these three processes and organization theory more broadly.

Pedagogical Approach

The course will rely on a mix of pedagogy, with an emphasis on cases. Class attendance and weekly preparation and participation is critical to make this class fun, interesting and useful.

Each session will typically have a case on a large company and one or two readings. We will spend the first part of each class discussing the case and then take a step back and discuss the main concepts. Because we will discuss a case in every class, you will need to study the case beforehand for each class and be well prepared to discuss it in class. This is an absolute requirement for taking the course. You will be randomly called upon to offer comments on the case under discussion.

Grading and Assignments

Your course grade will have three components:

  • Class participation (40%)
  • Four individual assignments, due as we go along (25%)
  • Project (35%)

There is no final exam for this class.

Class Participation

Your class participation will be graded based on the quality (and not quantity) of your comments. Quality means rigorous insightful comments that are succinctly delivered at an appropriate time. Delivering quality comments requires a careful preparation of the case and a thorough reading of the conceptual material for the day.

Because this is a discussion-based class, we will observe the following etiquette regarding electronics during the portion of the class devoted to discussing the case; no laptops or smart phones to be open and/or in use during this time, not even for taking notes (the point is to listen intensely and participate, not to take notes). More than two offenses on this will lead to an automatic B grade in class participation.

Also, we will start promptly at 9:10am. Late attendance is disruptive to class. A habit of attending late will result in a B grade for participation.

Individual Assignments

These are due on the following dates:

  1. Analysis of the IBM case from session 3 in the course. Due September 12 at 9am.
  2. Analysis of the DNV case from session 5. Due October 3 at 9am.
  3. Analysis of the “A Thousand Days” case from session 10. Due November 7 at 9am.
  4. Analysis of the Mount Everest case from session 12. Due November 21 at 9am.

Project

You will need to deliver a written report (max 5,000 words) based on an analysis of a managerial process pertaining to the topics in the course. You can do this in a team or by yourself (strongly recommended to do a team project). The project should ideally be a field study, which involves interviewing managers in an organization. Examples include:

  • An analysis of a process (innovation, collaboration, decision making) in a company
  • A critical review of an existing IT tool to promote collaboration among employees in a company (e.g., telepresence, LinkedIn)
  • A design of a new IT tool to promote collaboration, analyzing how it will solve problems highlighted by the frameworks in the course

Course Material

There is no reader for this course. Most of the course material will be available on the course webpage.

About the Instructor

I am a professor at the School of Information at UC Berkeley. Previously I was a professor at Harvard Business School where I taught in the MBA program. I have also been a professor of entrepreneurship at INSEAD, a leading business school in Europe, where I led the executive education program for SAP (the software company) and where I taught in the MBA and executive education programs. My research has been on knowledge sharing, networks and collaboration in companies. I have also spent a number of years working as a consultant and senior manager in the London, Stockholm and San Francisco offices of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and I am currently working part-time at Apple University, the leadership development arm of Apple. I received my PhD in business administration from the Stanford Business School.