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  1. 1. INDIANA STATE UNIVERSITY MBA DEGREE PROGRAM MBA 690 Culminating Experience: Managing Dynamic Corporate Strategy, 2 credit hours COURSE SYLLABUS – FALL 2002 Instructor: Aruna Chandra, Ph.D. Office Location: School of Business, 603 Telephone Number: 812 237 2105 Fax number: 812 237 8133 E-mail: Office hours: TBA Course Description This is the capstone course in the MBA program. Using a corporate strategic management model, students will act as top managers and use the concepts and tools they have developed in their core MBA courses to analyze situations (opportunities and problems) from a cross-functional or integrative perspective, make decisions that enhance the competitiveness of the entire firm, and manage the implementation process to achieve the desired strategy. All three stages will be done in the context of existing organizations. Course Sequencing This course is to be taken only after the completion of the fundamental tool courses (MBA 610, MBA 611, MBA 612 and MBA 613) and the integrative seminars (MBA 621, MBA 622, MBA 623, and MBA 624). Required Textbook: David, Fred, R. Strategic Management Cases (2001). Prentice Hall: New Jersey. 8th Edition. Supplementary Materials: Additional readings will be distributed in class. Strategy related readings from the Financial Times, The London Economist and The Wall Street Journal will be included. Course Educational Objectives At he completion of the course, students should be able to: 1. Recognize appropriate and inappropriate fit among and across corporate resources in the multi-business corporation. 1
  2. 2. 2. Develop and apply appropriate models and tools to exploit opportunities and solve problems in ways that lead a firm toward competitive, comparative, or value chain advantages. 3. Develop an understanding and sensitivity to the unique ethical issues that arise in the conduct of forming and implementing strategy. 4. Analyze a firm’s strategic choices in the context of its industry and the larger environment. 5. Practice at integrating cross-functional concepts to the solution of complex strategic management problems. 6. Recognize likely competitive responses to strategic decisions. 7. Identify problems and opportunities associated with mergers and acquisitions. 8. Analyze globalization strategies. 9. Examine concepts and skills necessary for successful strategy implementation. Evaluation: Current Business Strategy Paper 20% Group project 20% Group Case Analysis 20 x 2 40% Current Event analysis 10% Class participation 10% _____ 100% Grades will be assigned on the following scale Letter grade Scale -------------- ------- A 92% - 100% B+ 89% - 91.9% B 82% - 88.9% C+ 79% - 81.9% C 72% - 78.9% D+ 69% - 71.9% D 60% - 68.9% F 60% Current Business Strategy paper: The objective of this assignment is to assess your ability to apply theoretical concepts from the strategic management area to the analysis of a firm’s strategy and strategic choices over a period of time. To start with, you need to scan the business press such as The Economist, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week to find a full-length article about a company as a basis for your paper. You need not limit yourself to one article or one source in your information search. For instance, once you have located an appropriate article you may want to go to web sources such as, or the Annual Report on the 2
  3. 3. company’s web site to gather additional information on the selected firm. Use an appropriate strategic management model / concept(s) to analyze the company situation you have chosen, setting out the key strategic issues and recommend the strategic actions which you think are needed. Make sure you develop a strong rationale to justify the selected course of action. The paper should roughly be divided into three parts: 1. Key Strategic Issues / Choices made by the firm 2. Analysis using key strategic management concepts 3. Recommendations Current Event Analysis: Select a brief current event related to an area of strategy from the business press. Bring a one paragraph written summary / analysis to class. Present to class on assigned dates. Turn in typed summary / commentary. Group Case Analysis: Follow the guidelines provided in the text and class for the case analysis. Additional guidelines for this project are provided at the end of the syllabus. Group project: Please see attached guidelines under the sub-title Group Project. Tentative Class Schedule Week 1 8/27 Introduction to course, instructor, requirements. Form groups. Strategy video from the Stanford Executive series Week 2 9/3 Case: Read How to Analyze a Business Policy Case Current Event presentation Discussion of Porter’s 5 forces model Week 3 9/10 Case: E-Trade and E-bay HBR articles: Joan Magretta, “Why Business Models Matter”, HBR, May 2002. Week 4 9/17 Case: Wal Mart and Target Kirsten Sandberg, “Is It Time to Trade in Your Business Model?”, HBR, January 2002. Week 5 9/24 Case: Carnival and Southwest Airlines Stanford Video: Gary Hamel’s Creating the Future Writing exercise based on video shown in class Week 6 10/1 Start work on Group Projects 3
  4. 4. Week 7 10/8 Case: Avon and Revlon Stanford Video: Understanding Financial Statements Writing Exercise Week 8 10/15 Case: Dell and Apple Computer Week 9 10/22 Case: Nike and Reebok Week 10 10/29 Case: Boeing and Lockheed Martin Week 11 11/5 Case: Heinz and Hershey Foods Current Strategy paper due Week 12 11/12 Work on Group Projects Week 13 11/19 Video: Visionary Companies Discussion of FT articles Week 14 11/26 Group case presentations in class Week 15 12/3 Group Case presentations in class Preparation & Attendance: Role will be taken in class. Attendance at class sessions is essential to your success in this course. Most of the material will be presented through student presentations, case studies and small group exercises. It is very important that you come to class prepared to discuss that day’s readings. Semester projects will be required to reflect the material from the entire course process, not just the “book”. Students are responsible for obtaining class notes from their peers for any missed lectures. Academic Misconduct: All University, School of Business and departmental policies on academic dishonesty will be strictly enforced. 4
  5. 5. Detailed guidelines for key assignments Current Business Strategy Paper Purpose: To find a recent article related to a company that has substantially changed its competitive strategy and analyze and understand the factors that precipitated the shift in strategy. Approach: 1. Identify a company for your analysis by scanning and locating an article in the current business press (Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Fortune, Forbes etc.). 2. Once you have selected the company gather recent company press releases from sites such as,, 3. Enter the web site of the selected company. Click on “Corporate Information” and then click on “Corporate Timeline”. Study the events in the timeline along with the information you have obtained from your recent article on the company and outline the way it’s strategy has developed over time. In your analysis and conclusions spell out, What strategy changes did the company make and what is your evaluation of these changes? Do you think the company has created a basis for sustainable competitive advantage in light of the changes taking place in its industry sector and the larger environment? Final Output: A 3 page typed, double-spaced paper organized along the lines of Introduction, Summary of the main idea(s), Analysis and Recommendations. The paper should have a title and the sources used should be properly referenced. The cover page should include the paper title, sources used for the paper, name of author and course title and number. 5
  6. 6. CASE ANALYSIS: A GENERAL GUIDE Anyone attacking a case for the first time approaches the task ahead with a sense of dread. The most common reaction after the initial reading is, “What is the problem?” It definitely takes at least two, if not three readings before one can grasp the true nature of the exercise. It may be that you may not develop a strong sense of ownership to take command of the situation before the third reading. Students who merely “describe or propose” what should be done by the management group have not developed the confidence to “boldly take command” and to shape the situation. The successful team leads the case’s management team through an analysis that results in a successful resolution of the issues by way of a comprehensive action strategy. Sorting through the intricacies of a case and updating it to make it current is hard work! However, it is nearly impossible to miss the strong insights that are arrived at through diligent analysis and reflection. The converse is also true. ISSUES: What external issues are facing the management team? What internal questions must be addressed? What competencies must be developed? What resources, tangible and intangible, does the firm possess that are valuable, rare and inimitable? What market concerns must be dealt with? SUCCESS CRITERIA: What management expectancies must be developed? What firm and personnel strengths and weaknesses must be overcome? What market opportunities must be exploited? What infrastructure must be developed? What must be changed internally? STRATEGY: A succinct yet comprehensive, bold yet elegant, statement of purpose that captures the new direction that, you, and the management team have developed as the focus of the company’s new direction….it captures the essence of the firm’s plan for success. ACTION PLAN: WHAT you plan to do, in the future, to bring strategic victory to the subject company. An action plan is a series of sub-strategies that direct the resources of the company (competencies, personnel, markets, products etc.) in a coordinated fashion to achieve the planned result. IMPLEMENTATION: HOW you plan to accomplish that which you have set out to do? The series of events that detail how each ACTION will evolve from a “wish” to a “reality”. By definition each action will be supported by two to five IMPLEMENTATION TASKS. Therefore: A completed set of IMPLEMENTATION tasks results in a fulfilled ACTION agenda item. A completed set of ACTIONS will undoubtedly result in a successful STRATEGY. A well-executed strategy will lead to a successful company. DEFENSE: At this point the entire plan has been laid out for all to see. The job is done, right? Wrong! Now you have to convince others that your plan will work. Why will it 6
  7. 7. work? Why is your plan the one that offers the highest potential for success? Why should your strategy be chosen over all the other alternatives? It is essential that you invest the time to defend your analysis. Group Case Analysis Outline Guidelines: 1. Company Description / Key strategy: what is the company’s primary business, describe structure, leadership, core competency and source of competitive advantage. 2. Key Issues facing company currently (identify at least 2-3 issues of strategic relevance). Events in the external environment and their impact on the firm. A SWOT analysis could be useful in situating the firm in the industry and external environment. 3. Industry perspective / Key competitors –Porter’s five forces is a useful tool to analyze industry structure and competitor rivalry. 4. Internal analysis –Financial analysis –key ratios in comparison to key competitors and industry averages. Stock price –3-5 yr scenario. Implications? 5. Current news of strategic relevance. 6. Recommendations and strategy comparison of the two companies. What should the firms do to maintain / sustain competitive advantage? Final Output: A 7-8 page, typed, double-spaced paper that includes the key components outlined above. 7
  8. 8. Group Project: Purpose: The purpose of this project is the application of strategic management concepts, tools and techniques to the analysis of real world company performance. Project: To understand and analyze the performance of pairs of companies doing business in the same broad segment of industry, where one is the leader and the other the follower in terms of business results. Your task is to demonstrate how the more successful firm by virtue of superior strategy deployment is able to achieve far better results than its competitor in the same space. In this context, analyze the key sources of competitive advantage and its durability for the firms in question. Approach: First choose a pair of companies from the list below. Go to the company web site and Annual Reports to learn about the companies’ fundamental business, its performance and strategy. You will find this information in the Annual Reports and associated SEC filings and recruiting literature online. In addition, you can access recent business articles on the web reporting on company performance and claimed sources of core competency and comparative advantage. The following web sites should be helpful: Business Format: 1. Executive summary—should capture succinctly and precisely the essence of the paper. It is placed first, but best written last since it is possible to capsulize ideas effectively and concisely only after the plan has been thought through and written. 2. Company Profile / Business Description – describe the selected firms, their mission, their product/service. Compare the two firms in terms of their core competencies and sources of competitive advantage. (SWOT analysis may be a useful tool). 3. Strategic Issues Identification – identify one or two key strategic issues the company faces. What are the key factors for competitive success in this industry? Analyze these issues and use them as a basis for your recommendations. 8
  9. 9. 4. Industry Analysis—analyze the industry. What would you conclude about the attractiveness / trends in the industry over the next three to five years? (Porter’s 5 forces model is a useful tool for industry analysis.) What are the industry’s dominant economic characteristics? Identify trends in industry restructuring, tendency to diversify backward / forward, integrate, and reasons for the same. What is the nature of innovation in the industry? What are the current and future trends in the industry in terms of limits on growth in the industry, domestic and international competition, regulation, i.e. catalysts for change in the industry. This section should include a brief analysis of the key competitors in the industry and their strategies (use Strategic Group analysis, if appropriate). 5. Recommendations—focus on the strengths as well as the problem areas when making recommendations. Draw upon your analysis of the firm’s current strategy / strategic choices when making recommendations on future strategies the company should pursue to attain or sustain above average growth and profitability. How best can the firm capitalize on its strengths and shore up its weak areas to increase its competitive advantage? List your recommendations and indicate how best the firm can operationalize your suggestions for improvement. Expected Output: 1. Each group will present their group project in class on the assigned dates. 2. A clearly written report, typed, not exceeding 8 – 10 pages should be turned in on the day of the presentation. Include a complete list of references of all the published information, web sites that were sources of information. 3. In your presentation, do not repeat all the information in the report, but plan your presentation around the key points you wish to convey to the audience. List of company pairs: 1. Maytag and Whirlpool 2. Ford and GM 3. FedEx and UPS 4. Coke and Pepsi 5. Procter & Gamble and Unilever 6. Colgate and Clorox 7. Amgen and Biogen 8. Toyota and Honda 9. Cadbury and Nestle Foods 10. Delta and American Airlines 11. Whole Foods and Wild Oats 12. Eli Lilly and Bristol Myers 13. Barnes and and 14. Kellogg’s and General Mills 9
  10. 10. Notes: 10