The United States Studies Centre hosted a visit from Professor Robert Burgelman, the Edmund W. Littlefield Professor of Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Burgelman is an expert in the fields of strategy, leadership and innovation, and well known for his extensive research into the corporate venturing process.

Burgelman gave the keynote address at the Asia-Pacific Symposium on Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and conducted a series of CEO luncheons and Executive Forums in Sydney and Melbourne. The Executive Forums were offered in partnership with Melbourne Business School (in Melbourne) and the NSW Department of State and Regional Development (in Sydney). Macquarie Bank hosted a stimulating luncheon attended by a CEOs in Sydney.

In his talks on "Strategic Leadership in Dynamic Environments", Professor Burgelman addressed the problems faced by business leaders during the current financial crisis. In a very stimulating and interactive conversation, he described the process by which a company's strategy becomes reality, the dynamic forces in a firm's evolution, and the concept of strategic inflection points at which the firm can develop a positive response to crisis. He concluded by emphasising the role of leadership in difficult times, noting the need for a balance between internal debate and discussion about change and the exercise of insight and courage to make decisions which would decide a company's destiny.

During his week in Sydney, Professor Burgelman also gave a research seminar for graduate students and faculty on his recent work with Dr Andy Grove on cross-boundary disrupters as inter-industry change agents, quoting as an example the transformation of the music retail industry by the introduction of the iPod by Apple. He speculated as to whether Apple would have a similar impact on the cellular telephony industry, or Wal-Mart on the health industry in the US*.

*Robert A. Burgelman and Andrew S. Grove, December 2007. Cross-boundary disruptors: powerful interindustry entrepreneurial change agents. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Volume 1, Issue 3-4 (p 315-327).