IXP Course: Competing with Social Networks-California - Harvard Business School MBA Program

IXP Course: Competing with Social Networks-California

Course Number 6017

Professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski
On-Campus course meetings during the Fall Term: Thursday, November 21, 2013 (3:30 - 6:30 pm);
team meetings to be scheduled with faculty; pre-departure session Wednesday, December 4 from (5:30-6:30 pm) Program fee & travel costs (see details on financial aid eligibility)
January Term travel (Saturday, January 4 - Friday, January 17, 2014)
3.0 credits applied toward Winter term requirements
Enrollment: Limited to 45 students

Career Focus

Competing with Social Networks-California (CSN-C) is a Strategy class targeted at students considering careers in high-tech and the Internet, or those who will finance it, or consult to it. Students who are starting up their own Internet ventures will also benefit from this class.

Educational Objectives

CSN-C is the field version of Competing with Social Networks (CSN-B) class offered in Boston in Winter '14. CSN-C takes approximately 15 classes from CSN-B and teaches them in the mornings over a period of two weeks in San Francisco, CA. In the afternoon, you are engaged in a two-week field project at one of the companies we study in class, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

The taught component of CSN-C introduces the social failure framework which identifies how and why social interactions fail in the offline world. We use this framework to understand how social platforms can step in and address these failures, and generate revenue. Finally, we examine how established firms, such as American Express or Nike, can leverage such social platforms to improve their competitive advantage.

The field component of CSN-C asks you to apply the class frameworks to your company project. By applying the framework in the company, you will extend and amend it, which will strengthen our classroom interactions. By the end of this course, you should come out confident that you can actually design and start implementing social platforms, both as stand-alone ventures or as a part of a corporate social strategy.

Course Content and Organization

  1. On October 1, 2013, you will get a list of companies and description of field projects. You should expect to see a couple of projects at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, as well as projects at smaller startups. You will rank the projects, and we will do our best to allocate you to the project of your choice, and let you know by October 15, 2013.
  2. On October 15, 2013 you will gain access to Competing with Social Networks courseware, which you should complete by November 1, 2013. We will debrief it on November 4, 2013 from 3pm to 6pm. That day I will also introduce the taught and the field components of the course to you. After that, I will meet with each group individually to discuss your project at a time convenient for your team.
  3. We will arrive in San Francisco, CA on Saturday, January 4, 2014 and start the program the next day. You should expect classes in a regular HBS-style classroom in the morning on most of the weekdays, and you should expect to be at the company after 1pm working on your field project. The weekend in the middle of the course is yours to enjoy! At the end of the two weeks, you will turn in your project to your field company, and share a copy with me. Your final grade will reflect your class participation and your field group performance in equal parts.


There are no educational prerequisites for this course. However, if you enroll in CSN-C you will not be able to enroll in CSN offered in Boston during the Winter term.

Course Credit and Fees

Students who successfully complete CSN-C will earn 3.0 course credits, which will be posted in the Winter term. HBS will provide logistics for CSN-C (including accommodations, select meals, and local travel) but students will need to contribute a fee of $700 towards defraying a part of these costs. In addition, students are responsible for their round-trip air travel to San Francisco. Students who have an existing financial aid application on file may submit for additional financial support to participate in CSN-C. Please see the Financial Aid website for more information on financial support for IXP courses.

For detailed information about what the program fee includes and excludes, as well as information about student accommodations, please visit the GEO website.