Business Structures

Faculty: Amy Whitaker




This course examines the critical aspects of successful organizations, including the development of strategy and business models, business plans and pitches, intel- lectual property and entrepreneurship. Through an exploration of fundamental business issues at the beginning of the 21st century, students develop either a business plan for a new organization or a new business model and strategic plan for an existing organization. The result is a formal “pitch” presentation given to guest professionals and classmates.



This course is organized around tools, understandings, and strategies for effective interaction with-and within-organizations. Students will learn through a variety of experiences how effective communication and collaboration streamline results; how various organizations operate and how people excel within them; how different forms of intellectual property can be protected and when it’s appropriate to do so; how various types of corporations differ and when to formalize collaboration within different legal structures; how collaboration is built on generative communication; how leadership is based on clearly communicating a vision, regardless of authority; and how to build a viable business plan and pitch an idea.



To model current business practice, the course takes place in a variety of media, including: in-person meetings, workshops, pitches, and critiques, as well as online meetings, webinars, and time-shifted conversations. Students work in teams on their projects and seek mentors in their specific industries to consult on their projects. In addition, students have companion readings and activities that enhance their understanding of the business context and support their project work. We engage partners that are from both for-profit and non-profit organizations and, potentially, government agencies as well. 



Students in this course will come away with a set of tools to:

  • Create templates for business model development
  • Generate a finished business plan and outline
  • Put together a finished business pitch and associated templates
  • Amass presentation experience in a variety of media
  • Have confidence in interactions with “business people” in a business context