Masters in Leadership

Blog of the Master Programme Leadership

A historic case


Tamara and Julien are students in International Business at Karlshochschule International University who currently spend their semester aboard in Brest/France. They asked me to send them a brief video statement for a presentation on the history of business.

I always thought it is important to know about history, but the more I deal with and learn about Innovation Management and Business Development the more I believe it is really important to gain a certain understanding of our economic and cultural history. It first of all helps us to answer three questions that are, for example, important for the strategic positioning of businesses:

“Why are we here?”
“How did we get here?

and even more important

“Why did we get here?

Also it may sound like an oxymoron at a first glance, but there is even far more to learn from history. The way we are doing business is deeply embedded into our cultural minds, it is a product of cultural heritage. We consciously or unconsciously adapt and modify ideas and behavioral patterns from our ancestors, abolish or improve them. And when thinking about innovation and new business strategies, we should always keep in mind that there always will be a tension between the heritage and the new. Innovation can only succeed in markets (and the society) if it overcomes the tension in one way or the other. Or as Reinhard Pfriem uses to say: “Strategies are cultural offerings to our societies.” They can be accepted, refused or modified by the recipients.

For Tamara and Julien I decided to describe briefly a historic case about intellectual property which will also be subject to a column I will publish these days.

One of my core theses has always been that “the citation and its variation” are the drivers of technical, scientific, cultural or societal innovation – the key to prosperity. Or the other way round: Insisting on property rights has never led to technical, scientific or societal advancements.

I think that my little video statement might be interesting for our students in the master’s program “Leadership” too. So here it is:

As you can see there are some ethical questions in here. Please think about them and take take the opportunity to discuss the case with with your peers.


Becker, L./Witt, F. H./Hakensohn, H. (2012); Unternehmen nachhaltig führen; Düsseldorf (Symposion)
Headrick, D. R. (2009); Technology – A World History; Oxford (Oxford University Press)
Ridley, M. (2011); The Rational Optimist; London (Fourth Estate): 7
Rosenthal, H. (1969, 1972, 1975): Solingen – Geschichte einer Stadt, 3. Bände: Duisburg (Walter Braun Verlag)

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