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Strategies for Innovation and Development (STRIDE)

An initiative to build a global Master’s program, centred in Europe, with potential support from the ERASMUS+ Transnational Strategic Partnership Program

Innovation: A foundation for sustainable prosperity

Almost everyone agrees that a decent society seeks economic development based on stable and equitable growth – what one might call “sustainable prosperity”. And few would dispute that “innovation” is necessary for reaching that goal. For if a society can achieve the higher levels of productivity that innovation makes possible, it should be better able to support the economic growth process in ways that provide stable employment opportunities and an equitable distribution of income.

That is, however, more easily said than done. The Strategies for Innovation and Development (STRIDE) initiative seeks to fill a major gap in the education of business, government, and civil society professionals. Current Master’s programs fall short in providing a systematic understanding of the social conditions that promote, or undermine, innovation. Despite widespread agreement that ongoing innovation is a necessary condition for a society to raise its standard of living, economics as an academic discipline fails to explain the role of business firms in value creation: That is, it lacks a theory of innovative enterprise. Yet, to do their work, professionals in business enterprises, government agencies, and civil society organizations need a coherent perspective on how innovative enterprise can provide a foundation for sustainable prosperity. On-the-job experience can provide them with some of the answers. But this professional experience should complement rather than contradict what they have learned in their professional education.

Strategies for Innovation and Development (STRIDE) proposes to address this gap by developing an transnational Master’s program that will equip professionals with the social insights, research capabilities, and analytical skills to make business decisions and devise policies that support innovation in ways that result in stable and equitable economic growth.

The ideological barrier: The foundations of conventional economic thinking

Understanding the innovative economy is too important to the wealth and health of nations to be left to conventional economic analysis. From the time when university students take an introductory course in economics through to the Master’s and PhD levels, they are trained in an economics ideology that holds up “perfect” competition as its ideal. Deviation from this ideal results in competition that is “imperfect”. Yet at the heart of the theory of perfect competition is the assumption that the firm is very small relative to the size of its industry because it is unproductive. This theory of the unproductive, or un-innovative, firm permeates the thinking of economists on how a modern market economy should function and perform.

This failure to understand the business enterprise as a source of productivity growth has far-reaching consequences. It makes corporate governance vulnerable to the ideology that economic efficiency is best served when companies “maximize shareholder value” (MSV). Yet the proponents of MSV root their analysis in a theory of the un-innovative enterprise. A theory of innovative enterprise reveals that MSV is a theory of value extraction that lacks a theory of value creation. A major problem of current policy-making is that it lacks the tools needed to confront the dominance of the financial economy over the productive economy, which is what MSV represents. STRIDE contends that a critical place to start is a Master’s program that, building on a theory of innovative enterprise, can provide coherent training in how the productive economy can take precedence over the financial economy.

STRIDE seeks to build a Master’s program for business, government, and civil society professionals in which they can acquire a systematic understanding of the innovative economy. Graduates will be prepared to engage in sophisticated policy discussions on the role of corporate governance in innovative performance, as well as on the impacts of corporate behavior on the effectiveness of macroeconomic policies such as economic stimulus, quantitative easing, and austerity regimes.

Understanding innovative enterprise

Through more than four decades of research and teaching in the United States, Europe, and Asia, Professor William Lazonick and his colleagues have developed an ambitious approach to understanding the innovative enterprise. Its fundamental concepts are derived from a methodological approach that he calls “the integration of theory and history”: theory serves as both a distillation of what we know about the innovative enterprise and a guide to the empirical study of what we need to learn. Industries differ dramatically in terms of technologies, markets, and competitors, so that in applying the theory of innovative enterprise, we need a deep understanding of the particular industries concerned.

Innovation is a social process, influenced by economic institutions and behavioral norms that differ markedly across national economies – just think of the differences between, for example, France and Germany. Understanding, and influencing, the potential for innovative enterprise, therefore, requires the study of the institutions and norms of the societies in which the innovation process occurs. And because innovation is inherently a process of change, the student of innovative enterprise must acquire an historical perspective on the transformation of economies and societies, both in the distant past and in our own time.

Understanding innovative enterprise is fundamental to the analysis of how a modern economy functions and the qualities of the society of which it is a part. STRIDE seeks to build a Master’s program grounded in a theory of innovative enterprise that will provide a community of professionals in business, government, and civil society organizations with intellectual tools to integrate theoretical knowledge with empirical practice in contributing to sustainable prosperity.

The STRIDE initiative

There are academics researching and teaching various aspects of innovative enterprise throughout Europe and around the world whose expertise STRIDE can tap. Yet no graduate program exists that systematically trains professionals working in the fields of innovation and development to integrate specialized knowledge into a broad social science framework that captures how the economy functions and performs. The STRIDE initiative will provide professionals in business, government, and civil society organizations with the tools to analyze: the innovative performance of the firm; the role of industrial districts in promoting innovative enterprise; how government policy can support, or undermine, the innovative efforts of business; and, of great importance in the 21st century, the relation between the productive economy and the financial economy, including the misguided arguments about how, for superior economic performance, business enterprises should be run to maximize shareholder value.

STRIDE: Educational objectives

  • To provide professionals with the tools to analyze the innovative performance of the firm and the role of government policy in promoting innovative enterprise;
  • To investigate the relation between the productive economy and the financial economy;
  • To exchange experience and know-how among different types of organizations in the fields of business management, government policy, and higher education

STRIDE: Benefits of “strategic partner” involvement

  • ground-floor participation in building a much-needed Master’s program;
  • access to emerging knowledge on innovative enterprise and sustainable prosperity;
  • having a role in shaping the curriculum, including its empirical focus;
  • addressing issues that partners have confronted in their specific realms of activity;
  • membership in a unique professional network dedicated to understanding economy and society.

Write a letter for STRIDE

STRIDE is currently applying to the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Program for a three-year Transnational Strategic Partnership grant to develop the Strategies for Innovation and Development concept of graduate education in collaboration with business, government, and civil society organizations that see the value in the types of professionals whom STRIDE would like to educate and train. The core institutions of higher education in STRIDE are Telecom School of Management, Paris; Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana; and School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. STRIDE will also draw its intellectual resources from affiliated academics around the world.

If the STRIDE initiative seems worthy to you and your organization, you can help immensely by providing a short letter of support that can be submitted with our Erasmus+ application. Please contact us at

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