In both Master programs, LBS students are taught the course „Microeconomics of Competitiveness“, which, in almost the same way, is regularly taught at Harvard Business School and Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The course offers an in-depth view of the determinants of competitiveness and economic development from a bottom up, microeconomic perspective. While sound macroeconomic policies, stable legal and political systems and the accumulation of production factors affect the potential for competitiveness, wealth is actually created at the microeconomic level. The strategies of firms, the vitality of clusters, and the quality of the business environment in which competition takes place ultimately determine a nation’s or region’s productivity. The course covers both developing and advanced economies, and addresses competitiveness at the level of nations, states and cities within nations, clusters, and groups of neighboring countries. A major theme of the course is that competitiveness and economic development are influenced by policies at all these levels.

Within the framework of the course, the students conduct independent projects on country and cluster competitiveness. These student projects are part of their course grade, and furthermore take part in a global competition of all MOC affiliated universities. Each project focuses on the competitiveness of a specific cluster in a country or region and includes specific action recommendations.

In order to build up a relevant stream of research for the LBS Institute of Competitiveness, the course projects focus on Austrian clusters and competitiveness challenges. Two projects stood out – one on the Aviation cluster in Wiener Neustadt, the other on Smart City Vienna – and were submitted to the global student project competition at HBS, where they were praised for their high quality.

Since the first round of MOC Harvard classes in 2013, students have greatly profited from this project assessment. Harvard Business School collects samples of successful student projects on its website. Some students‘ assessment of the overall course are summarized below.

“Even though I studied Porter’s Diamond Model quite early on in my degree, I have only now discovered as to how countries can act strategically to change the performance of a society and its citizens”, Colombian IML 2013 Andrés Felipe Uprimny recounts his transformative learning experience. Moreover, he emphasized on the importance of “being more open to factors such as collaboration with public institutions, local clusters and the technology sector”.

Polina Kirchev (IML 2013) describes the MOC course as “a combination of theory, practical evidence, guest lectures and cases which offer a multi-level analysis of the company-, industry-, economic and social spheres. The Harvard MOC cases visualized what a cluster is all about. Now my project group will apply this to the Hollywood movie cluster.”

Fernando Boklis from Brazil (IML 2013) stressed that “The MOC case studies on Remaking Singapore and Finland after the Nokia crisis showed how strategic decisions in organizations and governments can really change the history and direction of a region. It is important for leaders to understand that any organization has to keep up with rapidly advancing technology. Otherwise they are prone to fall behind others, such as Nokia and Kodak.”

Marina Sirkis (IML 2013), an IT specialist from Israel, stressed that the MOC course provided a unique venue to investigate the economic atmosphere of regions which are less on the map in standard textbook literature – from Austria to Asia. She added that “The cutting-edge cluster cases underlined how IT will influence our lives in every respect beyond what we are used to nowadays.”

Dina Salzberger (IML 2013) from Serbia pointed out that “Knowing how to use MOC-related concepts is important to improve yourself, your company or your industry. Understanding industry clusters and applying the MOC concept is definitely helpful for my prospective career”