UNCW - CAMERON SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
MGT 455 - COMPETITIVE STRATEGY
Summer II 2009
Professor: Dr. Rebecca I. Porterfield
Office: CH 124 Phone: (910) 962-3514
Office Hours: M-TR – 2:00-3:00
and by appointment
Class materials will be made available on-line at: CSB page / Faculty & Staff /
Directory / Name/MGT455
Thompson, Gamble & Strickland Crafting and Executing Strategy, McGraw-Hill, Irwin.
15th edition, 2007
Senior level capstone course in management strategy for all majors, designed to
integrate the various business functions. Case analysis, computer simulations, and
presentations are utilized to prepare students for strategic decision making, planning for
competitive advantage, communicating decisions, and implementing strategies
Course Prerequisites MGT 350, POM 370, BLA 361, MKT 340, FIN 355, INB300
and nine hours in the concentration. This course builds upon the material covered in
earlier business courses; therefore, a lack of this knowledge may jeopardize your ability
to perform in this class.
Objectives of the Course
This capstone course has several objectives:
Integrating prior coursework. The course builds on previous courses, taking a
systems approach to the functional areas and providing a "total business
perspective". You are expected to utilize the principles learned in previous courses in
preparation for assignments.
Understanding decision-making from the perspective of the general manager:
Emphasis is given to both the process and results of decision-making surrounding the
difficult problem of relating the firm to its environment.
Practicing decision-making with limited or incomplete information. This is what
happens in most real world strategic decision-making situations, and students should
be prepared to deal with this problem.
Providing a bridge between the classroom and real-world organizational
concerns. The analysis of current business events under the light of the conceptual
frameworks discussed in class should prepare students for this transition.
Improving communication skills. The course provides a vehicle for improvement of
oral and written communication skills.
Providing global and ethical perspectives on managerial issues. Understanding
how the globalization of markets and the ethical aspects of business decisions impact
strategic decision-making is an absolute necessity for today’s managers.
Outcomes and Feedback
At the end of the semester, students should be able to:
- Articulate an overall mission and a vision for an organization;
- Formulate a set of objectives;
- Assess strengths and weaknesses in a business plan;
- Identify problem situations in organizations by assessing financial statements;
- Make decisions under conditions of uncertainty and with limited data;
- Understand industry analysis and the use of economic indices;
- Calculate and use ratio analysis;
- Understand the viability of product markets and of the firm’s products or services;
- Define the role of organizational culture and company leadership;
- Assess the external and internal environments of the organization as they affect multiple
- Handle issues of diversity in multicultural business environments;
- Research companies and industries using information from the Internet and other
-Understand the influences of global dynamics and culture
- Make presentations and lead question and answer sessions, and;
- Work effectively in heterogeneous work teams.
Integration of Functional Areas
As a decision maker, you must be able to select, integrate, and apply your understanding
of the appropriate business disciplines (marketing, production, finance, accounting,
human resources, information systems, etc.), and the material covered on corporate
strategy, in order to successfully identify and respond to an organizational threat,
problem, or opportunity. Ultimately, students should be able to make strategic decisions based
upon a case scenario (in the time frame of the case) and defend those business decisions both
orally and in writing. In other words, you should be making the transition from thinking like a
student to thinking as a MANAGER.
This course strives to encourage creative and critical thinking, the use of intuitive
problem solving, adherence to corporate fiscal and social responsibilities, and the
application of team management skills. It requires outside research, project and team
management, and oral and written communication skills.
For some of the management problems presented, there will be several correct strategies.
It is expected that students will participate and think creatively, on an individual basis, to
propose and analyze some of the possible solutions as well as to make use of team
synergies. In-class training for teamwork should help students understand the various
skills, perspectives, and abilities that come together in the workplace. However,
performance, not effort will be rewarded in this class.
Grading and Evaluation
The course objectives will be achieved through several methods and grading criteria:
Exams (2 at 100 points) 200
Position Papers (5 at 10 pts) 50
Early response (team) 50
Group Case Analysis
Peer reflection 20
Challenge Team 75
Class Participation /Extemporaneous Viewpoint 30
The grading system (percentage) for translating letter grades into numerical grades is:
A : 94+ B : 84-86 C : 74-76 D : 64-66
A- : 90-93 B- : 80-83 C- : 70-73 D- : 60-63
B+: 87-89 C+: 77- 79 D+: 67-69 F : less than 60
There will be two exams covering the textbook chapters and other materials indicated in
the syllabus. The exams will be a combination of multiple choice and essay questions
drawn from the text and in-class discussion.
Students will write five position papers during the term not to exceed two typewritten
pages double spaced each. These will consist of an analysis of each case being presented
by the groups. Papers are due at the beginning of class on the day of student
presentation. You do not need to write a position paper on the case you are presenting.
Suggested format for position papers:
Part 1: Summary of what you believe to be the main issues facing the firm.
Part 2: Use of strategic analysis frameworks provided in the text (current and
previous chapters) to illustrate case facts.
Part 3: Your stated opinion as to what the firm should do.
You may use bullet points if desired.
Early Response Team
Each day in the news there are stories about real companies facing real challenges. For
chapters 2-7, your team is to find an example in the “real world” to present reflecting the
content of the chapter just discussed. The examples can be drawn from the Wall Street
Journal, Business Week, CNN, or wherever. The presentation should be a “briefing” on
the incident, drivers of the problem, and your perspective on the outcome.
Group Case Analysis
You have been assigned to a team based on your major area of study. It is important to
have diverse functional knowledge on each team to ensure comprehensive analysis and
integration of the assigned cases. Team work is essential in today’s working environment.
Your first class period will focus on team dynamics and problem solving. Use these skills
throughout the course on team projects. Each team is to determine the leader for the
group. It is important to learn how to work effectively in a team and to use all team inputs
to formulate a thoughtful and effective recommendation.
A case is used as an alternative to real company problems due to the limited timeframe
within the class to assess and analyze company issues. Although the case is used as a
pseudo real problem, the project itself is designed as a business analysis; not a college
Teams are to identify the critical issues being presented to a company and use theoretical
frameworks from the textbook to help develop solutions. The incorporation of theory
should be cumulative for the semester. While students frequently express concern about
the lack of data, the reality is that managers rarely have complete information and make
decisions under uncertainty all of the time. While outside research is interesting, do not
let your recommendations be guided by the current state of the company. And remember,
everyone has read the case; don't repeat the details unless they are important to your
This is a business analysis. Therefore your primary consideration is the
presentation of the document to your “boss”. This means that no boss wants to
read 30 pages of text. Rather sentence structure should be short; much use of
graphs, charts, comparatives, etc. should be used; no description of academic
tools used (just use them); and writing in third person not first or second.
The highest standards of grammar, spelling, and punctuation are expected on all
written assignments. Written communication is an essential part of the business
world. The content of your message can be obscured by how you say it; so be
direct. Papers that do not meet excellent standards of written communication will
not receive an “A” grade regardless of the quality of the analysis.
Footnotes or other appropriate means of citation of other’s work are, of
course, required when you directly quote materials used in writing
your case analyses. This specifically includes material which you
paraphrase or access via the Internet. Web-based citations should
include a detailed http:/ locator (not just the “home” page of the site)
and the date(s) accessed. A bibliography is expected.
You should provide an executive summary. This is generally single spaced
(as opposed to the paper being double spaced) and briefly summarizes
the entire work. It is generally a page in length.
IMPORTANT TIP: Write your paper first, and then pull your power
points from the paper. Many students lose points because they focus
on the power points and the paper is just put together by separate
individual efforts rather than the team.
Each presentation should be no longer than 20 minutes with additional time
allowed for the challenge team and Q & A. In order to allow students to enhance
their presentation skills, everyone in the group MUST speak.
Suggested outline for the presentation:
a) Summary of key issues
c) Explanation of key issues according to the theoretical frameworks most
applicable to the case. This integration should be cumulative.
d) Findings and recommended course of action
f) Current updates on firm
g) Question and Answer session
Often students complain about team members who do not do their share of
workload. In the working world outside the classroom, the repercussions
can be serious, loss of job, loss of promotion and/or raises. In the
classroom it is often believed that no serious consequences occur. In this
course there are two means by which non-performing team members will
1) If a team member does not come to meetings, does not contribute, the
team member’s name may be left off the analysis and they may be left out
of the presentation. Teams should make an effort to provide information
related to team meetings and to inform a team member in writing with a
copy to me that their behavior is unacceptable. If the name is left off, the
team member receives a zero for the case analysis.
2) Peer participation assessments will be provided. If all team members
provided similar negative feedback on a member, then the instructor has
the right to lower the non-performing team member’s grade by one or two
Each student should turn in a single page describing the team experience and
to reflect on lessons learned that they can carry into their working worlds.
This should be double spaced and represent your true feelings and
Challenge Team Your team will be assigned the task of challenging another team’s case
presentation. Your team should be prepared to challenge the logic, recommendations, use
of class analytical tools, and presentation. Your challenge case will be pre-assigned to
you. Your challenges should be no longer then 5-10 minutes.
Class Participation Your insights, observations and questions are very important and at
this point in your career – risk free. In addition your boss may call on you unexpectedly
in a meeting and you must be prepared. On occasion I will randomly call on you in class
to ask your opinion. Your ability to articulate a position effectively will greatly contribute
to your participation grade. In addition, excellent questions asked during case
presentations, earns bonus points. This is an important part of the learning process.
1) Attendance will not be taken. It is expected that you are adults making decisions
as to how you spend your time and the importance of each activity. However, no
makeup work is allowed – this includes examinations. If you are absent, it is
your responsibility to obtain materials and class notes from a classmate or from
the course’s website.
2) Classroom climate: The Cameron School of Business is a professional school
providing education and training for careers in business. Classroom climate is
designed to assist students in developing the habits of behavior that will
contribute to their success in the business world. Therefore, classroom policies
will be established to promote and maintain a business-like atmosphere and to
promote a healthy learning environment.
Expectations include, for example:
• Good manners, including respect extended to all
• All cell phones and pagers must be in the silent mode
• Wearing of appropriate clothes and shoes while in the classroom which
includes the removal of hats in the classroom.
• Being on time for class as a courtesy to the professor and the students in the
3) A fundamental principle of academic, business and community life is honesty.
Violation of this ethical concept will result in penalties ranging from a grade of
"F" in the course to dismissal from the University. Cheating in this class includes
submitting work written by others as well as work written in other classes. The
use of unauthorized material, communication with another student during an
examination, attempting to benefit from the work of other students, or attempting
to aid another student, and other similar behaviors which defeat the purpose of
examinations and individual assignments is unacceptable. Violation of these
standards is a serious offense and shall result in disciplinary actions allowed by
the College and the University (Please check UNCW's Academic Honor Code)
MGT 455 – Competitive Strategy
TENTATIVE COURSE OUTLINE (Summer 2009)
DATE TOPICS READING EARLY RESPONSE
Introduction to Syllabus
June 23 Strategic Chapter 1 – What Is
Management. Strategy and Why Is It
June 24 Leading the Chapter 2
Process of Crafting
June 25 Evaluating a Chapter 3 Team 1
June 29 Evaluating a Chapter 4 Team 3
June 30 The Five Generic Chapter 5 Team 4
One to Employ?
July 1 Supplementing the Chapter 6 Team 2
July 2 Exam 1 Chapters 1-6
DATE TOPICS READING EARLY RESPONSE
July 6 Strategies for Competing Chapter 7 Team 6
In Foreign Markets
July 7 Diversification Strategies Chapter 8 Team 5
for Managing a Group of
July 8 Ethical Business
Strategies, Social Chapter 9
July 9 Building an Organization Chapter 10
Capable of Good
July 13 Managing Internal Chapter 11
Operations: Actions That
Promote Good Strategy
July 14 Corporate Culture and Chapter 12
Leadership: Keys to
Good Strategy Execution
July 15 Exam 2 Chapters 7-12
July 16 .Team 1 Case Presentation Team 4
July 20 Teams 2 and 3 Case Presentation Team 5 and
July 21 Team 4 Case Presentation Team 1
July 22 Team 5 Case Presentation Team 3
July 23 Team 6 Case Presentation Team 2
July 24 Final Exercise