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Innovation and Interface Management


Admission requirements



Most products and services are interrelated with other products and services, or are part of more complex systems. Innovation of products and services therefore requires understanding, managing and making decisions for all of those interfaces – usually through establishing cooperation among different stakeholders, increasingly including societal stakeholders.
For example, hydrogen can be used in cars as an alternative to petrol-based or electric cars, using fuel cell technology. From a sustainability perspective this might be the better alternative but it would require an entirely new infrastructure with standard interfaces between the cars and the ‘fuel’ stations in this infrastructure. The possible new technology competes against existing ones, the question is how to measure environmental performance, serious safety issues apply, and companies compete with each other but also need a common solution in order to make things happen. So at the supply side we observe a dynamic process of cooperation and competition between a large variety of stakeholders which should result in products (or services) that will be accepted in the market while addressing societal needs, and for which shared interface specifications are essential. Interfaces link the different parts of the system and link the system to human beings. These interface specifications should remain stable during a longer time period, which allows innovations in other parts of the system, such as the cars. Increasingly, innovation is about integrated systems of products and services rather than single products or services and this course provides you with knowledge and skills on you how to manage such innovation projects.

This course provides 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. The multidisciplinary scientific basis of this course will be complemented with business input in the form of business cases and assignments.
The course covers the entire area of interface management, not only at company level but also at the level of industry associations and governments, nationally as well regionally and globally and relates this to (responsible) innovation management. After a general introduction, the course addresses subsequently interface management in the form of formal standardisation at the national, regional and global level, interface management by industry associations and by industrial consortia, interface management at company level, and interface management in chains and networks of organizations. A next topic is conformity assessment: how to make sure that interfaces indeed meet the specifications set for them. Then we pay attention to methods and techniques of standardisation, and the several legal implications (including the use of standards as ‘soft laws’ and the relation with Intellectual Property Rights). Next, we connect all this to innovation by linking interface management, standards and standardisation to the phases of the innovation process and seeking evidence for the impact on innovation. Finally, the question is how to manage an integrated approach of innovation and interface management, including the way of organizing it, within companies and in cooperation between companies and other stakeholders.
The course includes scientific contributions from disciplines like economics, law and political science – and the challenge is to combine these disciplines to solve real business problems and generate new business opportunities.

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.

  • describe how standards can be used to specify interfaces.

  • 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 ENG/ bestanden DUTCH.

Tuesdays 10.00-13.00 in September, October and first half November.
First session 10.00-16.00
Whole-day company visit at one of these Tuesdays
Written test Mid October

Mode of instruction

The teaching method is a mixture of

  • lectures;

  • teaching cases;

  • role playing game;

  • class discussions;

  • company visit;

  • individual and group assignments.

Course Load

Total course load 3 EC x 28 hours = 84 hours

  • Lectures: 24 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature & assignments: 60 hours

Assessment method


  • Individual assignment

  • Written test

  • Group assignment


  • Individual assignment 20%

  • Written test 40%

  • Group assignment 40%


The students are allowed one re-sit per examination. It is not allowed to re-sit an examination or assignment for which they have received a pass (6,0 or higher). It is allowed to re-sit an examination or assignment which they haven't done during the first occasion. The re-sit format needs to be discussed with the teacher of the course in line with examination regulations.
In case the student is granted an extra re-sit by the Board of Examiners, this re-sit has to take place within study year 2018-2019. This means the students have to complete the minor within one study year.

Exam Review

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.


In this course, Blackboard is used to present course information, notify of changes to the course and to make course materials available. Students can access Blackboard with their Leiden University (guest) accounts.

Reading list

  • Dul, Jan, Ralph Bruder, Peter Buckle , Pascale Carayon , Pierre Falzon , William S. Marras , John R. Wilson & Bas 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) (2017) Handbook of Standards and Innovation. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, pp. 187-211.

  • Van de Kaa, Geerten, Jan van den Ende, Henk J. de Vries & Eric van Heck (2011) Factors for winning interface format battles: A review and synthesis of the literature. Technological Forecasting & Social Change 78, 8, 1397-1411.

  • 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. & Verhagen, W. Pieter. (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.