TopAY 2012/13, Sem 1: BMA5013_P1
Alok Mishra (firstname.lastname@example.org; Mobile 91162238)
Strategy is the way organizations develop long term competitive advantage. This course focuses on developing a working understanding of concepts, models and analytical frameworks for engaging in a systematic process of creating business strategies for an organization. The perspective adopted is that of the BUL (Business Unit Leader) who has overall responsibility for the performance of the firm or of a business unit within the firm. Such a manager needs to have a good understanding of the current situation of the firm and to identify those internal and external drivers of change that are most likely to affect future performance adversely or that provide opportunities for the firm to improve its future trajectory. The BUL’s mandate is to make the best use of the firm's resources to formulate and implement strategies to compete successfully in its new environment. The strategy must define the scope of the firm's activities, the logic through which the activities result in better performance, and what it is about the firm that allows it to better carry out those activities than its competitors.
While the perspective will be that of a Business Unit Leader, the current competitive environment dictates that strategy cannot be just the domain of top managers alone. In particular, functional specialists and mid-level managers—the starting positions of many MBAs—will be challenged increasingly to think strategically when confronting day-to-day issues, and to ground operational contributions in the strategic realities of the business. The aim of this course is to increase your ability to take the initiative and assume a leadership role in your company, no matter what your formal position might be. One way to do this is through cultivating the ability to make well-grounded and uncommonly insightful recommendations as to how the business actually is or should be competing.
In order to capture the pragmatic, action-oriented nature of the general manager’s job the course uses three different types of methodologies: Readings and discussion to understand the frameworks, cases to develop facility and understand the language and project work to appreciate the creation of strategy.
The course takes the approach of a new BUL starting out on the journey of (re)-creating a strategic plan for an organization and gaining the knowledge and perspectives that would enable her to do this effectively. The course focuses on understanding frameworks and models developed by various thought leaders in business and their place and utility in crafting strategy at a practical level. During this stage we will use cases to understand and illustrate the application of these frameworks.
As the course progresses, the class will be organized into teams each representing a real organization – preferably from or based in Singapore. The group will then participate in an “action learning” exercise to “immerse” themselves into the context of the organization; apply the learning and make recommendations on key strategic questions regarding its future direction. The hope is that at the end of the course you should feel not only enabled intellectually but also to embark on the journey of strategic management with some amount of confidence.
This is not an easy journey but one that can provide you with a differentiating strategic advantage over others who have not invested the time to gain this ability.
Please buy a copy of the Primary Textbook from the Cooperative. This is essential as readings will be assigned from this book.
Saloner, Garth, Shepard, Andrea, Podolny, Joel (2001); Strategic Management, John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Supplementary Reading :
Besanko, D. D. Dranove, M. Shanley, and S. Shaefer (2004), Economics Of Strategy, 5th Edition, 2010, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons, International Student Edition
Grant, Robert M., Contemporary Strategic Analysis, 7th Ed., John Wiley & Sons, Text Edition
Because of the course emphasis on concept understanding, challenge and discussion, the major and important part of your learning in this course will take place in the classroom. Therefore, attending all classes is essential. Please arrive in time for each class so that we may start promptly.
If for some unavoidable reason you must miss a class, please let me know in advance in writing so that your absence will not be unexplained. However as there is a significant weightage on class participation this will affect your ratings.
For the learning process to be really effective, it is necessary that you carefully prepare the cases/readings before class and actively participate in the case discussions during class. I expect you to be fully prepared for each class and may call upon you to start the discussion or answer a specific question during the class on any day.
What you get from this course depends on what you put in. Preparation involves not just thorough analysis, but also developing a personal position on the issues raised in the case. Unless you have thought about and adopted a personal position, it is very hard to learn from others' contributions in the class.
Class participation involves being clear about your own position and defending it, and the willingness to seek alternative perspectives on the situation. Participation enables you to learn from your colleagues and to help them learn from you -- which is what the case method is all about. Accordingly, I expect you to participate effectively in the class -- analyze, comment, question, discuss, and build on others' contributions. Good class participation is not repeating case facts, monopolizing class time, second-guessing the instructor, or ignoring the contributions of fellow participants.
A significant part of the learning in this course takes place through the process of class discussion. Each student is responsible for helping to make this process effective. Use of laptops and/or any communication devices are NOT permitted during the class. Please do not come late to class. Both these behaviors hurt not only the student, but also have a negative impact on the learning community in general.
The course also includes a final group project to be completed and presented in at the end of term. The project will be completed in groups of 6 members. For the project, each group will be required to collect information on an industry and the businesses in it, and then analyze the industry and a firm in that industry. This project serves at least three educational objectives: 1) it helps you to learn how to gather information on industries and firms, 2) it provides an opportunity to practice your skills in strategic analysis, and 3) it offers a chance to learn how to work in teams, tapping on your detailed knowledge of different functional areas. See the end of this note for details about the term project.
Group project feedback
We will obtain (and provide) feedback to/from your team members in the course of working on the group paper. We strongly believe that early and sustained feedback can help groups deal with communication, workload, and scheduling issues (among others) that frequently hamper effective working. We have allotted 10% weight to peer evaluation, using an assessment tool which will help achieve effective and equitable participation and contribution by all team members.
Class Participation 20%
Class Presentation 30%
Group final project 30%
Peer evaluation 20%
Communicating With Me
I encourage you to communicate with me about any aspect of your work. I am very accessible. You can drop me an email (email@example.com) or send me a text message (+65-91162238) if you want me to connect with you.
18/08 : What is Strategy? (Kodak)
25/08 : Industry Structure : Why Do Industries Differ? (Dell)
01/09 : No Class
08/09 : Industry Structure : Value Chain (Cola Wars)
15/09 : Competitive Advantage : Cost Leadership (Wal-Mart)
22/09 : Competitive Advantage : Differentiation (Apple)
29/09 : No Class (Recess week)
06/10 : Competitive Dynamics : Price Competition (Salt)
13/10 : Competitive Dynamics : Judo Strategy (Ryan Air)
20/10 : Interim Project Presentations (Long Class : 4.5 hrs)
27/10 : Corporate Strategy : Synergy (Walt Disney)
03/11 : Corporate Strategy : Organization Design (Random House)
10/11 : Corporate Strategy : Entering International Markets (Novo)
17/11 : FINAL PROJECT PRESENTATION & CLOSE (Long Class 4.5 Hours)