How Philosophy Helps Businesses Think More Creatively

Last Updated Nov 25, 2008 12:31 PM EST

Dr. Jochen Runde, newly appointed director of the MBA program at Cambridge's Judge Business School, brought up an unusual talking point for a business school function: the philosophical discipline of ontology -- the study of what exists and modes of existence.

At the QS World MBA Tour Singapore Fair on November 23, Runde explained during the MasterClass in Management Seminar that the identity of all of the technological objects that surround us flow from both their physical form and social function. This seemingly esoteric topic cuts right to the heart of business in terms of user-innovation, and shows that disruptive technologies don't always destroy markets.

Taking the case study of the rise of "turntablism" -- the musical form of scratching records created by hip-hop bands and DJs in 1970s New York -- Runde explained how a consumer group can radically change the way a product is used. In so doing, the users create a completely new identity for what is essentially the same object, offering opportunities for astute manufacturers.

Commenting on the MasterClass, Dr Runde says, "This talk is an example of the kind of multi-disciplinary thinking students can expect to benefit from at Judge Business School. In this particular case, starting from what appears to be quite an abstract philosophical question, one arrives at some interesting and unusual insights from a management perspective about the emergence and adoption of new categories of products."

The MasterClass in Management Seminars is a series of lectures organized by QS as part of the World MBA Tour, which looks at themes such as strategy, entrepreneurship, marketing and leadership. Presented by leading professors from some of the world's top business schools, the series offers potential MBA candidates a taste of the business school classroom and an insight into best practices drawn from case studies around the world.

  • Stacy Blackman

    Stacy Sukov Blackman is president of Stacy Blackman Consulting, where she consults on MBA admissions. She earned her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and her Bachelor of Science from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Stacy serves on the Board of Directors of AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, and has published a guide to MBA Admissions, The MBA Application Roadmap.