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HBA students lured to the dark side

  • Communications
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  • Feb 25, 2014
HBA students lured to the dark side

Ivey faculty are known for pushing boundaries, for taking students on journeys through unfamiliar territories, even if it means crossing over to the dark side.

While you won’t see Assistant Professor JP Vergne donning the mask of Darth Vader in campus hallways, you will find him taking a group of HBA2s on an adventure of sorts in a new course called “The Dark Side of Capitalism: Pirates, Mavericks and Industry Renewal.”    

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His ground-breaking course, the first of its kind in North America, explores the affect of piracy on the evolution of business. Sometimes portrayed as the 'dark side of capitalism', piracy and pirates are described as major threats for a broad range of business areas, such as technology, business, law and politics.

“Today, so many industries are dramatically affected by some form of piracy, including pharmaceuticals, music, software, fashion, cinema, the news media and luxury goods,” says Vergne. “Tomorrow, with the diffusion of 3D printing, widespread information leaks and the rise of stateless currencies such as Bitcoin, pirates will have more power than ever to disrupt existing businesses.”

Fundamentally, piracy questions the foundations of what we call 'capitalism'. More specifically, piracy questions the notions of innovation, value, property, and government across a wide range of human activities. to the course puts piracy in an historical perspective and seek answers to the following questions: Who were the first 'pirates' and who called them so? Who or what are they against? What role did they play, if any, in the development of early capitalism? By looking back at history, there is much to learn about today's piracy, from Kim Dotcom to design counterfeiters, from 3D-printing aficionados to scientists accused of 'biopiracy'.

“What it means to operate a capitalist firm will shift substantially in the next few years,” says Vergne. “Put simply, understanding who the pirates are, what they do, and why they do it has become an essential skill for anyone willing to take a leadership position in an organization that values innovation.”

The course allows students to view piracy as an immensely complex phenomenon through a series of real world cases and through interactive group work on 3D printing, arguably one of the biggest current threats to intellectual property.

Check out the course syllabus to see the disruptive journey Vergne is taking his students on through the pirate-infested waters of capitalism.