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Spring Conference 2014: Incubating Innovation in Established Firms

June 10, 2014

Tuesday, June 10 | 12:00 AM - 11:59 PM EDT

Wharton | San Francisco

Mack Institute Conference

Read our conference recap here.

There’s no question that incumbent firms can boast significant competitive advantages: accumulated resources, brand recognition, experience, and the like. These strengths alone, however, do not guarantee continued success. It’s essential to cultivate the qualities traditionally attributed to newcomers, such as the flexibility to seize fresh opportunities and the agility to react to disruption quickly. If large firms are unwary, their size can translate into unwieldiness and their proven strategies can harden into rigidity.

So how do established companies avoid inertia, stay nimble, and maintain their leading edge? Some firms empower employees to adopt a start-up mentality and focus on entrepreneurial ideas from within. This can be a way to retain creative thinkers, satisfying their inventive urges while providing more security than a start-up would allow. Others maintain a tightly integrated senior management structure, but create discrete units to independently pursue breakthrough innovations. Whatever approach companies choose, they must take care to balance disruption with stability, and temper employees’ focus on inventive ideas with a big-picture perspective.

This conference explored ways that successful firms proactively disrupt their own business models, incubating innovation while preserving current revenue streams. Speakers discussed how established companies can foster creativity and agility through HR practices, organizational structure, and culture. They included Wharton faculty and executives from leading Bay Area firms, focusing on companies that are simultaneously acting as disruptors while experiencing disruption themselves.

The Mack Institute Spring Conference 2014 took place at the Wharton | San Francisco campus.


8:30 a.m.–9:00 a.m. — BREAKFAST

9:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m. — WELCOME

Saikat Chaudhuri
Executive Director, Mack Institute;
Adjunct Associate Professor of Management, The Wharton School

9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m. — KEYNOTE

Chunka Mui
Managing Director, Devil’s Advocate Group

10:30 a.m.–10:45 a.m. — BREAK

10:45 a.m.–11:45 a.m. — PANEL: Fostering Agility through HR Practices

Prasad Setty
Vice President, People Analytics and Compensation, Google
Peggy Tayloe
AVP, Human Resources and Talent Acquisition – Americas, Infosys

11:45 a.m.–1:00 p.m. — LUNCH AND BREAKOUT SESSION

1:00 p.m.-1:45 p.m. — REPORT BACK

1:45 p.m.–2:45 p.m. — PANEL: Designing Effective Organizational Structures & Culture

Neil Blecherman
Global Director, Business Development, Internet of Things Group, Intel
Chris Phillips
Director, Product Management & User Experience for Digital Music, Amazon

2:45 p.m.–3:00 p.m. — BREAK

3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. — PANEL: Navigating the Policy Environment (Telepresence)

Cary Coglianese
Edward B. Shils Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science; Director, Penn Program on Regulation, Penn Law School
Michael Mandel
Senior Fellow, Mack Institute, The Wharton School;
Chief Economic Strategist, Progressive Policy Institute

4:00 p.m.–4:15 p.m. — CLOSING REMARKS

George Day
Co-director Director, Mack Institute; Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor; Professor of Marketing,The Wharton School

4:15 p.m. — ADJOURN


  • Date: Tuesday, June 10
  • EDT

Event Organizer

  • Saikat Chaudhuri