Corporate Strategy: The art and science of strategy formulation, communication, and management
2013/2014, Semester 1
School of Business (Dean's Office (Biz))
Modular Credits: 4
Strategy is mostly about formulating where and how a company will compete. It usually takes a long-term view of the business and where it is headed. But strategy formulation is inherently a chaotic, iterative and messy process, quite unlike what the tradition corporate strategic planning text describes it to be. Students will learn how to derive the Strategic Position of the firm using industry, competitive, capabilities & purpose and cultural analysis. As strategy formulation is complex and uncertain, strategic choices or options will need to be developed and evaluated. Once a strategy is chosen, it will need to be widely communicated throughout the firm, in different ways to different audiences so that there is clarity, buy-in and agreement as to the direction the firm should take to ensure that it can build and sustain a competitive edge against other players in the market.
But the process doesn’t end there. Strategy management (or Strategy in Action) is then the on-going effort to ensure that the day-to-day tactics that the firm pursues takes it ever closer to the strategic direction the firm has committed to. Metrics will need to be developed and tracked to ensure that the firm is undergoing the changes required to achieve the desired strategic outcome and direction. Resistance to these changes, as a result of established dominant logic or threats to personal power will need to be dealt with.
The difficulties encountered along the way will usually provide valuable lessons in how the strategy should be tweaked, as rarely will the strategy be right the first time. The strategy may have to be cascaded across different departments and units across the firm or interpreted and implemented with acceptable variances in the firms various business units.. So, whilst there is much science in strategy in the form of frameworks and analysis that provide the right context and content, there is also much art in how choices are made in the absence of perfect information and in ensuring that cultural and mindset change along with resistance to the new strategy are appropriately managed.
BMA5002 and BMA5003 and BMA5009
The emphasis of this course is on the practice of strategy. As this is an MBA course, students are expected to be familiar with the basic concepts explained in the text and to familiarize themselves by reading the text
(as such, a quiz forming 20% of the course grading will be administered before the class using the Pearson website MyStrategyLab), as the value of this course is in the insights the student can gain by applying the concepts and frameworks to actual business problems and situations, and to hear practical insights from those who have formulated, communicated and implemented strategies.
To achieve this, the case study method will be used extensively to give students as close practical hands-on as possible in a classroom environment. Cases will be selected to emphasize a particular concept, framework or tool. Students will also work in groups to create a case study of a firm where they have exceptional insight of a successful (or failed) strategy that has been implemented to capture a business opportunity or repel a business threat, and these cases will be used by “opposing teams” as the raw input they will use to put into practice what they have learnt in the course, acting as external consultants or the strategy unit of the firm. In this way, the course hopes to re-enact the real life messiness of strategy formulation, communication and on-going management. An alternative to this is to leverage the strategy lab simulation experience. This will be discussed and agreed with students when the course begins.
It is expected that all students read the relevant chapters of the textbook, all required reading stipulated and the assigned case before the class. In reading the assigned case, they should put themselves in the shoes of the leader of the business detailed in the case, and try and grasp the pertinent issues and the forces at play. This is crucial as the value in such a class at MBA level is not to learn the textbook concepts, which can be achieved by reading any leading text on the subject but by gaining an appreciation of the complexity of the business problem at hand, distilling the issues and forces into the key ones and gleaming insights that are not immediately obvious to the casual reader. During class, the assigned case will be discussed at length. Students should not expect model answers by the instructor, as in real-life there are no such easy answers. Debate amongst students should yield contrasting viewpoints and frames of reference that allow the formulation of a range of viable strategic choices and options. The use of mobile phones, laptops, etc are strictly prohibited during class as they are a distraction and their use indicates a lack of engagement that is vital to the success of this course. At the end of each class, we will do a quick snapshot of the case to be reviewed in the next class. As far as possible cases have been selected in advance, but students are asked to bear in mind that cases can be changed with adequate notice based on the student’s comprehension and needs.
Class Participation 40%
Group Project 40%
Concepts Quiz 20%
Text and Reading Material
– Exploring Strategy (9
Edition) by Johnson, Whittington & Scholes. Exploring Strategy offers an outstanding and engaging real-world view of strategy. It equips readers with a detailed understanding of the issues and techniques of strategy, using illustration and application to make sense of the subject. With unique and powerful learning tools such as engaging case studies, a new strategy simulation and video assignments and having sold over 900,000 copies worldwide, Exploring Strategy provides a proven high quality resource that you can’t do without.
To be read before the first class
What’s wrong with Strategy? HBR, Nov 1997 by Andrew Campbell and Marcus Alexander
The Case Study Handbook: How to Read, Discuss, and Write Persuasively About Cases by William Ellet, Harvard Business Review Press.
Asia Banking Corporation Credit Cards by Dennis Khoo (Handout)
To be read for rest of the classes
The Five Forces that shape strategy, HBR Jan 2008 by Michael E. Porter
Blue Ocean Strategy, HBR Oct 2004 by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
Are you a strategist of just a manager, HBR Jan 1992 by Hans H. Hinterhuber and Wolfgang Popp
The Power of the 2 x 2 Matrix: Using 2 x 2 Thinking to Solve Business Problems and Make Better Decisions by Alex Lowy and Phil Hood
Innovator's Dilemma: Why Good Companies Fail to Thrive in Fast-Moving Industries by Clay Christensen, Harvard Business Press 1997.
Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore
01 - 17 Aug Introduction to Strategy. Pre-reading – What’s wrong with Strategy?
Case Study – Asia Banking Corporation (pseudonym) Credit Cards
02 - 24 Aug Strategic Position – Environment & Capabilities. Pre-reading – The Five Competitive Forces that Shape Strategy. Blue Ocean Strategy.
Case Study – Amazon.com (A) and Amazon.com (B) (Textbook)
03 - 31 Aug Strategic Position – Purpose & Culture
Case Study – Sony: Is Sony turning Around? (University of Hong Kong, Asia Case Research Center, 2011) and Morita’s legacy and international strategy at Sony (University of Western Ontario)
04 - 31 Aug Strategic Choices – Business Strategy
Case Study – RyanAir (Textbook)
05 – 07 Sep Strategic Choices – Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances.
Case Study: Severstal & TNK-BP (Textbook). Class to split into two groups, with each group selecting one case.
06 - 21 Sep Strategic Choices – Corporate Strategy, Diversification & Internationalization.
Case Study – Samsung : The Paradox of Samsung’s Rise (Harvard) and Maintaining the “SINGLE SAMSUNG” spirit:: New Challenges in a Changing Environment (University of Western Ontario)
Guest Panelist: JungKiu Choi, COO Retail Banking Products and Segments, former Global Head of Strategy, Standard Chartered Bank
07 – 05 Oct Strategic Choices – Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
Case Study – TripAdvisor: Scaling is Hard (bostonvcblog.typepad.com)
Guest Panelist: Yong Soo Ping, Executive Director, Walden International Singapore.
08 - 12 Oct Strategy in Action – Evaluating Strategies
Case Study: Domain Synthetic Fibres (pseudonym) plc (Textbook)
09 - 19 Oct Strategy in Action – Strategy Development Processes
Case Study – The LEGO Group, Working with Strategy (Textbook)
10 - 26 Oct Strategy in Action – Organizing for Success
Case Study – Will we still love Ikea? (Textbook)
11 - 02 Nov Strategy in Action – Leadership & Strategic Change.
Guest Panelist: Tsun-Yan Hsieh, CEO LinHart Group & Provost Professor of Management, NUS Business School
Case Study – Motorola and The Razer (Harvard)
12 – 09 Nov Strategy in Action – The practice of strategy
Case Study – Design, Thinking and Innovation at Apple (Harvard)
13 – 16 Nov Group Case Study Presentations & Evaluations
14 – 23 Nov Group Case Study Presentations & Evaluations
Workload Components : A-B-C-D-E
A: no. of lecture hours per week
B: no. of tutorial hours per week
C: no. of lab hours per week
D: no. of hours for projects, assignments, fieldwork etc per week
E: no. of hours for preparatory work by a student per week