Social Innovation – Welcome to the Renaissance

Topic: Entrepreneurship and Innovation



Teaching Notes: Welcome to the Renaissance- Something Rotten


Welcome to the Renaissance from the musical Something Rotten brilliantly illustrates the power and importance of entrepreneurial innovation within a society. This song is the opening number of the musical, and introduces the audience to the time period – 1590s England. The song vividly illustrates the benefits society gains from innovation and entrepreneurship, including new innovations such as the printing press and tobacco, along with research that studied how freezing preserves food products (Rastogi 2014, Singh and Heldman, 2001).


This song can be discussed in many contexts using case studies or text material.  We suggest two chapters that are helpful to support this teaching:


Chapter 1 of Entrepreneurship: The Practice and Mindset (Neck et al., 2017).  In this chapter, Neck et al (2017) discuss the evolution of entrepreneurship in the US from the 1920s to present day.  Class discussions can center around the evolution of entrepreneurship and innovation which supports the understanding of entrepreneurial behaviors such as:

  • Small Business Entrepreneurship (to include franchise behavior)
  • Corporate Entrepreneurship (intrapreneurship)
  • Social Entrepreneurship- For example, while entrepreneurs can achieve monetary rewards, the biggest beneficiary of new innovations are often the public-at-large. For example, some estimates indicate that the firm that creates an innovative product only captures 5% of the value of that product (Conard, 2016 p 195) whereby the public-at-large collects the rest of the value.
  • Family entrepreneurship
  • Serial entrepreneurship (habitual entrepreneurs)



Alternatively, Chapter 3 of Entrepreneurship and Small Business: Start up, growth and maturity (Burns, 2016) can be used in conjunction with this song.  This chapter has particular focus on how entrepreneurs are defined by their use of innovation to exploit or create change and opportunity.  Class discussion using this chapter can focus on

  • Innovation and competitive advantage
  • Discontinuous Innovation
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Innovation in context (e.g. size, location)