Innovation and Knowledge in the Wilds

Module description

This module combines two key aspects in Innovation theory:

  • learning from past experience and how this can stimulate recombinant innovation
  • how knowledge itself can represent a source of innovation, where the challenge for organisations is to seek out, internalise, transfer and apply this knowledge.

The course combines traditional lecturing practices and workshop-style learning with the study of a number of simple case studies taken from outside of the corporate sphere.  These are used, in conjunction with a one day field trip, to create a novel example of corporeality (of both the body and the mind).

Incorporating a 5 hour guided walk in the breath-taking scenery of Dartmoor National Park, the course instructors will orate reflective case examples of industrial heritage and other aspects of social innovation to explore how commercial organisations can learn about and develop recombinant innovation.  You will also explore practices of experiential learning, knowledge scaffolding and the role of rhetoric and metaphor to reframe innovation challenges.

Internationalisation: Innovation is a global challenge, however how much of Innovation is just recombinant offerings delivered into new contexts – this course will bring to your attention the role of taking ideas from one context and modifying them to solve problems in another.

Employability: You will be able to reflect, to refine and to temper your management skills which are sought by employers – immersive pedagogy is a technique shown to stimulate this ability to think and reflect.

Sustainability: Case examples focused on innovation through considering industrial heritage will be presented to provide different insights into some of the possibilities for offering existing goods and service into new environments.  It will also combine different techniques for transferring tacit knowledge within a business, enabling businesses to learn from past experience and not repeat the same mistakes.

Research-led Teaching: the module will use a combination of research articles from current research on innovation and on knowledge transfer and will accommodate a number of elements of the module leaders research.  You will be encouraged to create their own case studies and reflect research theories in their presentation.

NOTE: You do not require prior knowledge to elect this module; however, this module is unsuitable for you, if you have limited mobility and you  will require basic personal equipment suitable for use in rough terrain and inclement weather.  This includes walking boots, waterproofs and a packed lunch etc.  If you are Registered Disabled then this module can be taken, with a substitute day of guided reading and case studies culminating in a slideshow of the locations visited by the walkers, so that you will achieve the learning outcomes accordingly.   

Full module specification

Module title:Innovation and Knowledge in the Wilds
Module code:MBAM931
Module level:M
Academic year:2015/6
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Allen Alexander - Convenor
Module credit:10
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 3:

4 days

Module aims

The primary aim of this module is to provide you with a unique opportunity to explore innovation and the resultant challenges, not solely by considering this in a regular classroom environment, but by immersive reflection using a ‘slow pedagogy of place’ (Payne & Wattchow, 2009 p.15) in the wilds of Dartmoor. 

Reflection and workshop-style discussion sessions will be used, both in the field and in the classroom, to provide you with your own points of reflection and inflexion around the topic of innovation.  In particular the case studies will focus on innovation challenges such as:

  • Technology-based process innovation in the tin mining industry – from the 12th to the early 20th Century.
  • Innovating a supply chain and potential knock-on effects by studying the case of the Peregrines populations in the 1960s (Ratcliffe, 1967)
  • Considering product development by recombining knowledge – the example of Paramo Directional Clothing
  • Utilising resources effectively to offer a range of business model from one asset – The National Park and its role as an industrial, farming and tourist attraction.
  • The rate of change of innovation in clay mining in the 19th Century and how this can be used to inform current challenges in mining Tungsten.
  • Visualising an innovation process by reflecting on detailed topographical maps as a metaphor for developing and utilising corporate ‘roadmaps’ for both context and direction of travel.

The secondary aim of this module is to introduce you to understanding the process of human learning by realising the power of storytelling, rhetoric and case examples as techniques to aid the construction of knowledge scaffolds (Piaget, 1927).  You should as a result, be better able to mentor, coach and transfer knowledge to peers and reports, to achieve points of cognitive realisation and deep learning.

This module is delivered by Dr A T Alexander, Senior Lecturer in Innovation who is also a qualified Walking Guide Leader and Dr A Holborn an International Mountain Instructor and published Historian.  It is supported by Professor John Bessant – Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship.


ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. understand a range of Innovation problems, learning to dissect the problems and challenges and then consider the potential solutions to the problem by thinking and reflecting on “outside of the classroom” opportunities.
  • 2. link innovation examples and case studies to real life situations – situations which are carefully chosen to reflect the key learning points but not the context of the problems.
  • 3. reference and search for potential solutions from outside of the context of application and from outside of the sphere of application, such as from reflecting on industrial heritage or other inspiration in the non-commercial environment.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. synthesise of opportunities for innovation wider than their own field of view. Application of this synthesised knowledge into the corporate environment.
  • 5. understand the role of knowledge creation, recombination, retention and storage and also identify and comprehend basic types and properties of knowledge (from a Strategic Knowledge Management perspective).

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. develop the skill of reflection to aid cognitive realisation.
  • 7. to construct artificial knowledge scaffolds to enable peers to reach cognitive realisation.
  • 8. understand the role that rhetoric and storytelling can have in building tacit knowledge and embody an ability to act in the recipient.
  • 9. develop an ability to complete a corporate knowledge blueprint and create a comprehensive knowledge transfer strategy accordingly.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & teaching activities28Lectures, seminars , workshops and guided walk
Guided independent study72Reading, research, writing

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
4 workshop exercises will be utilised to create peer-to-peer learning and formative assessment feedback on Day 1, 2 and 4 4 x 45 minute group work and feedback presentations2, 3Oral feedback
6 – 8 reflective case studies presented in the immersive environment Day 3Direct feedback and coaching during the guided walk2, 6 & 8Oral feedback and coaching
Coursework presentation feedback for Stage 1 presentations 5 minute presentations1, 4 & 7Oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Stage 1 Presentation205 minutes1, 6, 7 & 8Written feedback
Stage 2 Video Case306 minutes2, 3 & 7Written feedback
Stage 3 Applied Report502000 words5, 7, 8 & 9Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Stage 1 – 3 (Presentation, Video and Report)Report 3500 words1 - 9 within 60 days of original submission

Re-assessment notes

For candidates with referred or deferred work, individual assignments will be set.

Syllabus plan

Day 1

  • Introduction to Innovation Concepts
  • Innovation within a Corporate context
  • Strategic Innovation Management
  • Identifying Strategic Capabilities and Introducing Knowledge as a Strategic Capability

Day 2

  • Understanding absorptive capability – seeking out, transferring, internalising and exploiting knowledge
  • Stimulating recombination and knowledge sharing
  • Innovation and the role of recombinant innovation
  • Innovation and the role of recombinant knowledge

 Day 3

  • 5 Hour Guided Walk

Day 4

  • Individual reflections on the Innovation Cases
  • Team-based presentations on learning from case examples
  • Using rhetoric to create learning examples
  • Using innovation leadership, storytelling and rhetoric to galvanise action.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Tidd, J. & Bessant, J. (2014) Strategic Innovation Management, Wiley, Chichester

Liebowitz, J. (Ed) (1999) Knowledge Management Handbook, CRC Press, Florida

Leibowitz, J. (Ed) (2012) Knowledge Management Handbook – Collaboration and Social Networking, Second Edition, CRC Press, Florida

Module has an active ELE page?


Origin date


Last revision date