Value Lab: A Tool for Entrepreneurial Strategy

Management & Business Review, Forthcoming

Bocconi University Management Research Paper

19 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2020

See all articles by Teppo Felin

Teppo Felin

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Alfonso Gambardella

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology

Todd Zenger

University of Utah

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 1, 2020


To truly create new value, you need a theory. A theory helps you see what others can’t see. Contrarian or unique beliefs provide the underlying raw material of a firm’s theory of value. But beliefs are just rhetoric and cheap talk, unless you identify the specific obstacles and problems that stand in the way of realizing your contrarian beliefs. This puts problem-formulation and problem-solving at the very heart of your theory of value. Identifying the right problems allows you to spot valuable solutions, to find asset bargains and to make the right investments. Importantly, a theory allows you to be more scientific about value creation and to perform the right type of experiments. A theory allows startups and businesses to learn the right lessons from their experimentation and, if needed, to pivot accordingly. Overall, in the context of strategy, you can’t rely on generic approaches or best practices. You need to develop your own theory. It will allow you to see the world differently, to out-think competitors and to create value in unique ways.

Keywords: entrepreneurship, strategy, innovation, organizational economics, lean startup, business model, technology

JEL Classification: D2, D83, D84, L26, L1, L2, M1, M13

Suggested Citation

Felin, Teppo and Gambardella, Alfonso and Zenger, Todd R., Value Lab: A Tool for Entrepreneurial Strategy (September 1, 2020). Management & Business Review, Forthcoming, Bocconi University Management Research Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Teppo Felin (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain


Alfonso Gambardella

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136

Todd R. Zenger

University of Utah ( email )

David Eccles School of Business
1655 East Campus Center Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States
801 585-3981 (Phone)
801 581-7939 (Fax)

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