Minor Entrepreneurship


Spring 2021


SKEMA, Sophia-Antipolis + synchronous online classes



  • Bruno Cirillo (Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, SKEMA Business School)

Identifying and managing business opportunities

How do firms discover and exploit new product-market opportunities to create value and sustain competitive advantage? Entrepreneurship is the art of recognition and exploitation of opportunities. Entrepreneurship is valuable in the establishment of new ventures as well as within existing organizations. Discovering business opportunities requires that individuals not only possess knowledge, but that they also have the cognitive abilities that allow them to value and exploit that knowledge within teams.

The course is organized in interactive sessions aimed at helping you explore the cognitive processes to identify and leverage business opportunities within organizations and to develop analytical and critical reasoning skills with a strong emphasis toward practice. To this aim, as an essential part of the course, you will work on a product-market proposal, which will consist of exploring a new product-market opportunity for a selected technology-based firm.

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Learning Outcomes

The objectives for the course are as follows:

  • Understand processes that shape entrepreneurial behavior and enable individuals and organizations to identify and effectively exploit opportunities and the factors explaining why some people and not others exploit opportunities.
  • Acquire the basic jargon necesseray to discuss, in a consistent and precise manner, entrepreneurship issues. Characterize business opportunities and design the cognitive process to value and exploit them.
  • Know how to develop the individual skills and organizational competences supporting entrepreneurial activity, as well as the practices with the external environment that may leverage those skills and competences.
  • Implement the methods and practices to identify and leverage business opportunities.
  • 15 students

Required readings:

Session 1 - Jan 8th

Read after class:

  • Busenitz, L. W., J. B. Barney, (1997). Differences between entrepreneurs and managers in large organizations: Biases and heuristics in strategic decision-making. Journal of Business Venturing, 12(1), 9-30.
  • Laureiro-Martinez, D. (2014). Cognitive control capabilities, routinization propensity, and decision-making performance. Organization Science, 25(4), 1111-1133.
  • Sarasvathy, S. D. (2001). Causation and effectuation: Toward a theoretical shift from economic inevitability to entrepreneurial contingency. Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 243-263.
  • Shane, S. (2000). Prior knowledge and the discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities. Organization Science, 11(4), 448-469.
Session 2 - Jan 15th

Required reading in advance:

  • Case study: Chereau, P., & Cirillo, B. (2015). ARECO: A full steam ahead. The Case Center: case #815-040-1. (a printout is available from the instructor)
  • Preparation Questions:

1. What opportunity did the entrepreneur create/discover? Can you quantify it? How did he identify the opportunity?
2. What challenges did he face to start ARECO? What critical decisions did he have to take?
3. Explore additional information on ARECO and IMRA at https://www.airrefreshingcontrol.com/ and http://www.imra-europe.com/#/home

Other readings (read after class):

  • Cirillo, B., Breschi, S., A. Prencipe (2018). Divide to connect: Corporate spinouts as linking contexts of intra-corporate networks. Research Policy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2018.05.002
  • Cirillo, B., Brusoni, S., G. Valentini (2014). The rejuvenation of inventors through corporate spinouts. Organization Science, 25(6), 1764–1784. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.2013.0868
Session 3 - Jan 22nd

Required reading in advance:

  • Case study: Chesbrough, H.W. (2002). Graceful exits and missed opportunities: Xerox’s management of its technology spin-off organizations. Business History Review, 76(4) 803-837.
  • Preparation Questions:

1. What challenges did Xerox face in managing its pioneering technologies?
2. Did Xerox recognize opportunities in such technologies? What were these opportunities?
3. What strategies did Xerox carry out for discovering and exploiting new opportunities? Were these strategies successful?

Other readings (read after class):

  • Chesbrough, H. W., A. R. Garman, (2009). How open innovation can help you cope in lean times. Harvard Business Review, 87(12), 68-76.
  • Cirillo, B. (2019). External learning strategies and technological search output: Spinout strategy and corporate invention quality. Organization Science.
  • Shapira, Z., J. M. Shaver, (2014). Confounding changes in averages with marginal effects: How anchoring can destroy economic value in strategic investment assessments. Strategic Management Journal, 35(10), 1414-1426.
  • Sull, D. N. (2005). Why good companies go bad and how great managers remake them. Harvard Business Press.
Session 4 - Jan 29th

Required reading in advance:

  • Luehrman, T. A. (1995). Capital projects as real options: An introduction. Harvard Business School, 9, 1-12.

Other readings (read after class):

  • Nagji, B., G. Tuff, (2012). Managing Your Innovation Portfolio. Harvard Business Review, May: 67-74.
  • Tong, T. W., Y. Li, (2011). Real options and investment mode: Evidence from corporate venture capital and acquisition. Organization Science, 22(3), 659-674.


Time slot



Course' title
Jan 8


Room A300, SKEMA, Sophia-Antipolis

Bruno Cirillo

Introduction to the course
Entrepreneurship theory and practice
Jan 15 9h45-13h00 Online Bruno Cirillo The individual side of opportunity recognition and exploitation

Jan 22


Room A300, SKEMA, Sophia-Antipolis

Bruno Cirillo The organizational side of opportunity recognition and exploitation
Jan 29 9h45-13h00 Online Bruno Cirillo Managing and extracting value from new business opportunities

Feb 5


Room A300, SKEMA, Sophia-Antipolis

Bruno Cirillo

Tutorial on team projects: Analysis of the selected firm's technological advantage and current product-market positioning
Feb 12 9h45-13h00 Online Bruno Cirillo Tutorial on team projects: Identification of a new product or a solution that leverages the firm’s technologies

Feb 19


Room A300, SKEMA, Sophia-Antipolis

Bruno Cirillo

Tutorial on team projects: Identification of an opportunity window and corporate venturing proposal

Mar 5



Bruno Cirillo

Team projects presentations

The final grade is the weighted sum of (1) continuous assessment and (2) the team project.

1. CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT (60% of the final grade)

A willingness to participate actively is one of the central ingredients for succeeding in this course. During the course, I will continuously assess your individual preparation and involvement based on:

  • in-class quizzes on required readings (25%)
  • your analysis/discussion of case studies (25%)
  • your participation in class discussion (10%)

2. TEAM PROJECT (40% of the final grade)

Each team will work on a report analyzing a new product-market opportunity for a selected company. The name of the company selected for the project will be communicated by the instructor during the first session. A few essential points:

  • Team composition. Each student is assigned to a team by the instructor. Teams composition will be communicated during the first session and cannot be changed.
  • Teamwork and submission. Each team will work on a written proposal (Word doc) that identifies and analyzes a new product-market opportunity for the selected firm. A complete guideline on the team project (e.g., expected format and contents, words limit, etc.) will be provided in class. The final version of the proposal will be submitted by email (bruno.cirillo@skema.edu) no later than March 12. This deadline is strictly enforced.
  • Project evaluation. I will evaluate your written proposals based on the following criteria:
    • originality/creativity (10%)
    • relevance of the analysis (10%)
    • relevance/feasibility of the business opportunity (10%)
    • clarity of the writing and logical flow (10%)
  • Project presentation. Before the final submission of the team project, each team will present it in class during the last session of the course on March 5. During this session, projects will be discussed with the class.


A willingness to prepare classes in advance and participate actively is one of the central ingredients for succeeding in this course. The instructor reserves the right to allocate a bonus-malus (i.e., by either increasing or decreasing your individual grade) based on your participation during the course.