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Innovation and Interface Management


Admission requirements



What do Internet of Things (IoT), 5th generation networks, service platforms, the circular economy, energy transition and fair trade products have in common? These are all drastically changing the way firms are innovating and combine business interests with societal dimensions. In their innovation process, companies have to cooperate with other firms because products and services offered by different companies get integrated in complex systems. Therefore, not only these products and services but also the interfaces between them and the entire system are to be innovated. This provides managerial challenges. Even more, these innovative systems have societal implications. Negative externalities have to be mitigated. But even better: companies and other stakeholders can become a force of positive change by seeking positive societal impacts.

Within complex systems, systems elements are interconnected by means of interfaces. In general, such interface specifications should remain stable during a certain period in order to enable innovation at the level of the products, services or system elements they interconnect, so standardisation is essential. Though change is inherent to innovation, such stability via standards is needed as well, until this interface itself needs to be replaced by a substantially better one. Therefore, standardisation is a core element of this module. It includes negotiation and decision-making processes within different cooperative and competitive settings.

Normally, this elective’s multidisciplinary scientific basis is complemented by business input in the form of business cases, company visits, guest lectures and assignments related to business cases. This year, this is not feasible due to the Covid-19 virus situation. Therefore, the approach will be different and the Covid-19 situation itself will be used as a case. The virus spreads via interfaces between people – directly or via the air or touched objects – and the measures have the form of ‘rules’ that subsequently lead to innovations. These innovations can form the input for changes of rules and in this way a dynamics unfolds. In individual and group assignments, this dynamics will be studied – bot at the level of individual organisations and at the level of sectors.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide you with basic knowledge about interface management and, next, its integration in innovation management. This should enable you to develop and employ a strategy for an individual company, a supply chain or a branch of business on how to manage product or service innovation in combination with interfaces. After this course, you will be able to:

  • explain how interfaces support complex systems of processes, products and services.

  • illustrate interfaces’ roles in innovation of such systems.

  • distinguish between different ways in which standards can be developed.

  • formulate a strategy for a company to influence interface specifications in a multi-stakeholder setting.

  • make concrete recommendations on using innovation and interface management to enable responsible innovation.


The timetable can be found in the right menu, under files

Mode of instruction

The teaching method is learning by doing, in the form of individual and group assignments. The course as such is online entirely but the individual assignments include a company visit, preferably on site.

Assessment method


For each of the assignments, individuals and groups will receive a grade (1-10). The final grade will be a weighted average of the grades for the different assignments.

  • Individual assignment 1

  • Group assignment

  • Individual assignment 2


  • Individual assignment 1 40%

  • Group assignment 30%

  • Individual assignment 2 30%


Any re-sit assignment has to be done within a month after the final grade has been communicated. You will have to take a new case company. Please contact your teacher.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Scientific and professional papers, to be provided or indicated via Brightspace.

Article list

  • De Vries, Henk J. (2020) Coping with COVID-19 – business continuity while taking the necessary precautions (Unpublished draft – not for distribution)

  • Dul, J., Bruder, R., Buckle, P., Carayon, P., Falzon, P., Marras, W.S., Wilson, J.R. & Doelen, B. van der (2012). A strategy for Human Factors/Ergonomics: Developing the discipline and profession. Ergonomics, 55, 4, 377-395.

  • De Vries, Henk J. (2008). Standardisation: A Business Science Perspective. In: Judith Schueler, Andreas Fickers & Anique Hommels (Eds) Bargaining Norms, Arguing Standards – Negotiating Technical Standards. (STT74). The Hague: STT Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends, pp. 18-32.

  • De Vries, Henk J., Paul Wiegmann (2017). Impact of service standardization on service innovation. In: Richard Hawkins, Knut Blind & Robert Page (Eds) Handbook of Standards and Innovation. Cheltenham, UK / Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, pp. 187-211.

  • De Vries, Henk, Albert Feilzer, Harry Gundlach & Jan Simons (2010). Conformity Assessment. In: W. Hesser, A.J. Feilzer & H.J. de Vries (Eds) Standardisation in Companies and Markets. 3rd edition. Hamburg: Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg, pp. 871-904.

  • De Vries, Henk J. & Andries Haverkamp (2015). Overcoming resistance against quality control – A philosophical-empirical approach. International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management 32, 1, 18-41.

  • Wiegmann, Paul M., Henk J. de Vries & Knut Blind (2017). Multi-Mode Standardisation: A Critical Review and a Research Agenda. Research Policy, 46, 8, 1370-1386.

  • De Vries, Henk J. & W. Pieter Verhagen. (2016). Impact of changes in regulatory performance standards on innovation: A case of energy performance standards for new-built houses. Technovation, 48-49, 56-68.


Students need to register for the minor at their home university and in uSis Leiden, and for each individual course in uSis Leiden.

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website uSis.


Dr. ir. H. J. (Henk) de Vries


Not applicable.