Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 15.228 MBA Study Tour: Innovation Islands - How New Zealand Became A Global Player in the Race to Innovate as it was taught by Neal Hartman in Spring 2016.

Part of the Sloan Innovation Period (SIP), this Study Tour visited New Zealand during the first half of the spring 2016 semester. The course curriculum was proposed by a student planning team and included MIT-based classroom sessions featuring faculty, industry and cultural experts. After completing the classroom sessions, students went on New Zealand site visits to meet with industry and government leaders, as well as local alumni.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Understand how New Zealand has progressed from trading primarily in commodities to being a global leader in business
  • Explore New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem
  • Interact with real leaders and innovators across the country

Possibilities for Further Study/Careers

This course prepares students to transact business on the global level by providing an enriched understanding of a distinctly different business culture.

Instructor Insights

"Even though New Zealand is a very small country, it is rated number 10 in the world in terms of innovative companies and startups. And so the interest was, What’s going on in New Zealand that creates that environment?"
— Neal Hartman

Below, Neal Hartman describes various aspects of how he taught 15.228: MBA Study Tour: Innovation Islands - How New Zealand Became A Global Player in the Race to Innovate.

Student Insights

Below, Natalie Pitcher, a member of the Study Tour student organizing team and the Curriculum Coordinator, shares her insights about facilitating 15.228: MBA Study Tour: Innovation Islands – How New Zealand Became A Global Player in the Race to Innovate.

Key Learning

The New Zealand Study Tour focused on MIT’s Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP) framework, which is grounded in the need for collaboration amongst five stakeholders within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Given this lens, as I traveled throughout New Zealand I gained respect for the real world difficulty in producing real change within an ecosystem, given the number of people who must be aligned to truly accelerate change.

Advice for Other Students

To get the most out of a Study Tour, ensure that your fellow Study Tour participants are active leaders within the group, working in partnership with the student organizing team. Empowering fellow students to make the most of the trip created a truly collaborative action learning experience that the team never could have created in a top-down manner.

Advice for Study Tour Organizers

To create a rigorous and relevant Study Tour, develop a strong theme to closely tie the class structure to the company visits and experience in country. The theme will allow the students to develop a clear base in the subject, and will even ensure the companies you collaborate with to present relevant material to your student group. If you do not guide the companies, you risk wasting both their time and the time of your group. The New Zealand Study Tour was extremely successful in this regard, which allowed for a superior learning experience for our students and excellent momentum during our two-week trip.

Curriculum Information



Requirements Satisfied

This course fulfills the SIP elective requirement


Every spring semester, although the focus of the Study Tour differs with each offering


Grade Breakdown

Student learning was assessed based on the completion of a number of deliverables, including:

  • Company overview summary
  • Essay on the assessment of REAP stakeholders in New Zealand
  • News brief and presentation
  • Key takeaway summaries
  • Presentation at the MIT Sloan Action Learning Poster Day

Student Information


About 20 students

Breakdown by Year

Mostly first or second year graduate students

Breakdown by Major

Mostly Sloan MBA students

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 9 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

  • Met 1 time per week for 3 hours per session; 5 sessions total, followed by a 2-week study tour of New Zealand.
  • The curriculum and in-country experience were proposed by a student organizing team and planned in collaboration with the lead instructor.
  • Each seminar session included guest speakers.
  • In New Zealand, students visited leading business innovators in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown.

Out of Class

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2016
Learning Resource Types
Instructor Insights