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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Business School : Business Studies

Undergraduate Course: The Strategy of Digital Transformation (BUST10159)

Course Outline
SchoolBusiness School CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAccording to the consulting firm McKinsey, most digital transformation projects in companies and public services fail. This course will equip you with the conceptual and practical knowledge for understanding and managing digital transformation. It will engage you through an evidence-based approach, drawing on the latest research and case studies. It will help you analyse the strategic and managerial complexities of digital transformation by linking digital technology, business expansion and strategy. You will reflect on current technological, strategic and organizational changes that affect enterprises and public services, mature or start-ups alike. During the course, you will debate on how best navigate the digital world, and work on multiple case studies to design real-world solutions to problems.
Course description Strategy is turning digital! Digital technologies greatly impact on competition and the way business is done. The route towards digitization is fraught with great risks and presents the scope for major mistakes, which firms make time after time. On this course, you will learn and understand those risks and discover how they are best overcome. The first part of the course will be devoted to acquire the conceptual and methodological background for understanding digital transformation. The second part of the course will focus on business opportunities arising from digital technologies, and how managers can grasp these along the way. By mobilizing the latest research in managerial economics, organization studies and strategic change, the course will provide you with solid frameworks of analysis. It will engage you through an evidence-based approach, building on research published in Harvard Business Review, Organization Science, and other leading management journals. Furthermore, you will work on numerous up-to-date examples, case studies and exercises that cover different topics. The course will encourage you to build bridges between conceptual frameworks and the contemporary digital world. During the course, you will design solutions to some of the greatest challenges associated with the strategy of digital transformation, based on case studies and hands-on exercises.

By the end of the course, you will be aware of important concepts and theoretical frameworks that are relevant for managers and organizations seeking to embrace digital transformation successfully and responsibly.

Note: This content is indicative and subject to updates to reflect current developments.

Section 1 - Imagining digital transformation
- The underlying ideology of the 'digital': Internet philosophy and the libertarian roots of digital technologies
- The underlying economics of digital transformation: the network effect, the chicken and egg problem, traffic monetization.
- The underlying lure of technology: web3, AI, cryptocurrencies, 3D printing.

Section 2 - Designing the strategy of digital transformation
- Platform business: designing, funding and scaling up a platform
- Digital transformation in public services: saving costs or creating value for the users?
- Digital business for mature companies: the challenge of 'we have always done it this way'

Section 3 - Leading strategically Digital Transformation
- Leading responsibly: the ethical and moral aspects of digital transformation
- From the webpage corporation to blockchains: organizational challenges of web3
- Internationalizing digital transformation: pitfalls and how to overcome them
- Leadership in the age of the digital: how to divide labour between managers, consultants, staff, and machines.

The course adopts a flipped classroom method, which means that students are expected to prepare the material before each lecture. Lectures will be devoted to the discussions of the main concepts, frameworks, exercises and application to real-world cases. The number of slides will be kept to a minimum, as the lecture will develop along with the discussions taking place in the classroom. Notes are taken 'live' during the discussions, and inputs emerge from the discussions themselves. Therefore, students will take an active role in the way the course unfolds, not only through their preparation of each session, but also through their active participation. The capacity to use the acquired conceptual frameworks in a managerially relevant way will be evidenced through the writing of a short blog post and the realization of a video on a chosen topic in relation to the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Work with knowledge that covers most areas of the course, including their boundaries, terminologies and conventions.
  2. Demonstrate a critical awareness of current issues related to digital business transformation.
  3. Offer professional insights, analyses, and synthesis of problems and issues in relation to digital innovation.
  4. Develop original and creative responses to problems and issues.
  5. Communicate with peers and specialists in a clear, rigorous, and convincing manner on a business challenge, both orally and by using ICT applications (blog, video).
Reading List
Alcácer, J., J. Cantwell, L. Piscitello. 2016. Internationalization In The Information Age: A New Era For Places, Firms, And International Business Networks? Journal Of International Business Studies 47(5) 499-512.

Beane, M., W.J. Orlikowski. 2015. What Difference Does A Robot Make? The Material Enactment Of Distributed Coordination. Organization Science 26(6) 1553-1573.

Boyd, D., K. Crawford. 2012. Critical Questions For Big Data. Information, Communication & Society 15(5) 662-679.

Brynjolfsson, E., A. Collis. 2019. How Should We Measure The Digital Economy? Harvard Business Review 97(6) 140-148.

Curchod, C., G. Patriotta, L. Cohen, N. Neysen. Working For An Algorithm: Power Asymmetries And Agency In Online Work Settings. Administrative Science Quarterly 0(0) 0001839219867024.

Curchod, C., G. Patriotta, M. Wright. 2020. Self-Categorization As A Nonmarket Strategy For MNE Subsidiaries: Tracking The International Expansion Of An Online Platform. Journal Of World Business 55(3) 101070.

Edelman, B. 2015. How To Launch Your Digital Platform. Harvard Business Review 93(4) 90-97.

Faraj, S., S. Pachidi, K. Sayegh. 2018. Working And Organizing In The Age Of The Learning Algorithm. Information & Organization 28(1) 62-70.

Furr, N., A. Shipilov. 2019. Digital Doesn¿t Have To Be Disruptive. Harvard Business Review 97(4) 94-103.

Orlikowski, W.J., S.V. Scott. 2014. What Happens When Evaluation Goes Online? Exploring Apparatuses Of Valuation In The Travel Sector. Organization Science 25(3) 868-891.

Satell, G. 2018. The Industrial Era Ended, And So Will The Digital Era: Interaction. Harvard Business Review 96(5) 21-21.

Sewell, G., L. Taskin. 2015. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind In A New World Of Work? Autonomy, Control, And Spatiotemporal Scaling In Telework. Organization Studies 36(11) 1507-1529.

Steiber, A., S. Alänge. 2016. The Silicon Valley Model The Silicon Valley Model: Management For Entrepreneurship. Springer International Publishing, Cham, 143-155.

Sutcliff, M., R. Narsalay, A. Sen. 2019. The Two Big Reasons That Digital Transformations Fail. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles 2-5.

Lember, V., T. Brandsen & P. Tõnurist 2019. The potential impacts of digital technologies on co-production and co-creation, Public Management Review, 21:11, 1665-1686.

Zhu, F., M. Lansiti. 2019. Why Some Platforms Thrive And Others Don¿t. Harvard Business Review 97(1) 118-125.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Appropriate Communication
After completing this course, students should be able to:
- Convey meaning and message through a wide range of communication tools, including digital technology
and social media; to understand how to use these tools to communicate in ways that sustain positive and
responsible relationships

Understand and Make Effective Use of Data
After completing this course, students should be able to:
- Critically evaluate and present digital and other sources, research methods, data and information; discern
their limitations, accuracy, validity, reliability and suitability; and apply responsibly in a wide variety of
organisational contexts.

Personal and Professional Competence
After completing this course, students should be able to:
- Be self-motivated; curious; show initiative; set, achieve and surpass goals; as well as demonstrating
adaptability, capable of handling complexity and ambiguity, with a willingness to learn; as well as being able to
demonstrate the use digital and other tools to carry out tasks effectively, productively, and with attention to

Academic Excellence
After completing this course, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of contemporary organisational disciplines;
comprehend the role of business within the contemporary world; and critically evaluate and synthesise primary
and secondary research and sources of evidence in order to make, and present, well informed and transparent
organisation-related decisions, which have a positive global impact.

Intellectual Curiosity
After completing this course, students should be able to:
- Identify, define and analyse theoretical and applied business and management problems, and develop
approaches, informed by an understanding of appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative techniques, to explore
and solve them responsibly.
KeywordsStrategy,Digital Transformation,Technology,Corporate Social Responsibility
Course organiserDr Corentin Curchod
Course secretary
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