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  1. 1. Stevens Institute of Technology Howe School of Technology Management BT181 Business Honors Seminar Spring 2009 Faculty: Jan Klein, George and Lou Laucirica Jan Office: 4th Floor Babbio Center (Room 416) Jan Phone: 201.216-5612 Office Hours: As required E-Mail: Class Time: Tuesday, 1-1:50pm (BC110) I. OVERVIEW: This course will broadly address the issue of how management decisions are made in a corporate business environment. The focus will be on understanding the tools, people and processes that are used in large public companies to make major decisions. We will explore this in the context of the major decisions made by senior management, as opposed to day-to-day decision-making. As a survey course we will only highlight the theory and detailed mechanics of complex decision-making. Instead our focus will be to discuss the issues faced by executives in solving complex problems that require their attention and to review the methods used by business executives to handle uncertainty, mitigate risk and create outcomes that address the needs of the business. Throughout the course we will examine the decision-making process from the perspective of different departments – marketing, sales, corporate planning, production, financing, etc. While many of the planning, financial and analytical tools are common; their application within different departments can and will vary. The course will consist of two components: 1. Lectures and reading on decision-making tools; methods and procedures; 2. Business case discussion on the application of decision-making tools to timely issues faced by leading corporations II. LEARNING GOALS The student should: 1. Understand how the fast paced business environment shapes the decision- making process and defines the tools that are used by executives. 2. Identify the tools, procedures and resources available to business executives to handle complex problems and arrive at suitable decisions. 3. Appreciate the complexity of management decision-making and the impact of these decisions on the market, employees and investors.
  2. 2. 4. Identify tools, methods and procedures that are used by business to manage uncertainty and risk. 5. Recognize how management decision-making principles are applied in real instances 6. Understand how executives attempt to balance multiple interests, handle organizational conflict and make decisions in the absence of all the desired information III. PEDAGOGY: A. Course Materials • A subscription to the Wall Street Journal for daily review of current business events • ABI/Inform data base for search on business topics (available through the SIT on- line library) • Lecture notes and business case materials will be available on webct (each weekly lecture and case will be posted on-line 1 week in advance) B. Classroom Procedures Lecture notes outlining decision-making theory and applications for the coming week will be posted on WebCT that must read prior to class. In addition a case study will be assigned for which a number of articles will be posted to provide the student background material on the case that will be discussed and debated in class. During class a short review of the decision-making tools and processes will be provided; followed by an in-depth discussion of the particular case and how these management tools and processes were or should be applied. A major part of the course will be the term paper. In this regard the student will be encouraged to take one of the business cases that were reviewed in class and undertake a more comprehensive evaluation of the problem and the actual or suggested solution for management. As a final term project students may choose to either: 1. Defend the actions taken or considered by management to address the problem or offer an alternative solution; or 2. Explore in-depth one of the decision-making tools or processes by focusing on either the theory or application of these methods C. Grading Grading will be based upon your performance in class discussions on the case study(1/3) and your final term paper (2/3).
  3. 3. D. Exams At the present time no exams are contemplated. However, quizzes on the assigned cases may be given. E. Make-up Policy You are expected to take any exams or quizzes, if scheduled. If for some extraordinary reason you are not able to do so, contact me as soon as possible. Make-up exams are a privilege not a right, and will be given at my discretion. G. Prerequisites – Honor Students, only H. Course Outline/Assignments During the semester we will endeavor to cover the following topics. However, given the time constraints not all of these topics maybe covered. I. Intro – Tools and the Environment II. Developing Corporate Strategies Cases: New business – “Twitter”; Re-tooling business – “GM/Ford” III. Sizing up a market Cases: “Motorola” (Smart Phones); “Pixar or Disney” (New Movie releases) IV. Getting a jump on the competition Cases: “Microsoft/Yahoo/Google” Browser wars V. Product offering decisions Cases: “Intel” (Atom microprocessor) VI. Launching new products Cases: Apple (iPhone) vs Google (Android Phone) VII. Promotions and advertising Cases: “Southwest” (share war) or “Sprint” (repositioning) VIII. How to manage production Cases: “Dell Computer” (Outsourcing) IX. Establishing pricing policies (structure and level) d. Current cases: “OPEC” (oil pricing) X. Delivering customer service Cases: “HP” (use of indirect channels)
  4. 4. XI. Managing the development of new technology Cases: “Google” (formula for innovation) XII. Rewarding (compensating) management Cases: “CitiCorp, et. al” (Cutting bonuses) XIII. Managing business/ethical risk d. Current cases: “Societe’ Generale or Bear Sterns” (Rouge investors) XIV. Financing the operation Cases: “General Dynamics” (Recent $1B – 5yr note) XV. Deciding on where and how to expand Cases: “Linens and Things” (What can we learn from Bankruptcies) or Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch Ethical Conduct Stevens Honor System: Enrollment into the undergraduate class of Stevens signifies a student’s commitment to the Honor System. It is the responsibility of each student to become acquainted with and to uphold the ideals set forth in the Honor System Constitution. All students are reminded that, as a condition of being admitted to Stevens, they will uphold and adhere to the standards of the Stevens Honor System. Specific student responsibilities include: • Maintaining honesty and fair play in all aspects of academic life at Stevens • Writing and signing the pledge, in full, on all submitted academic work • Reporting any suspected violations to an Honor Board member or to the Dean of Undergraduate Academics • Cooperating with the Honor Board during investigations and hearings