Strategically Managing Organizations Essay Sample

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Strategic management deals with the decisions that managers make that decide the direction and success of organizations. These decisions involve the utilization of resources, design of organizational structure, and positioning the organization to create, capture, and sustain competitive advantage. Strategic management requires the ability to steer the whole organization strategically through uncertainty and change. It also requires the coordination of the interrelated functional areas of a business to effectively implement strategies. Specific skills this course will help you develop include:

* Understanding how firms gain and sustain competitive advantage within their field * Analyzing business situations and formulating strategies to address them * Organizing the firm to effectively meet strategic goals * Integrating business functions into a coherent strategy * Implementing strategy successfully

This course will introduce conceptual frameworks and analytical tools that identify the drivers of superior performance under various conditions and explore how to formulate strategy in the face of change and uncertainty. These tools allow comparison of specific examples with generalized knowledge in order to more effectively reach decisions within organizations. Emphasis in this senior-level course is given to developing action-oriented general management skills, while drawing on extant theory in strategy, accounting, economics, finance, marketing, and organizational theory. These dual emphases are managed through the use of both lecture/discussion sessions and cases. This capstone course has two distinct components.

In the first half, we study the theory and practice of strategic management. In the second half, case presentations offer simulated real-world experience and practice integrating material studied in the first half of the term. Strategy is based in the real world, where uncertainty is a fact of life; therefore it is reasonable that people with different experiences will view management differently. Management involves making sense out of the available information, which is a creative and subjective process. Creativity will be rewarded in your participation grade, individual papers, and group projects, as will diligent work and critical thinking. This senior-level course requires that you process a great deal of material. The exams will test your ability to understand the material in the textbook, readings, and class notes. The cases will test your ability to apply this information to real-world situations. Text and Readings

Strategic thinking is best learned through practice. To that end, cases are designed to provide you with data on real-life managerial problems. These integrative cases provide an opportunity to both apply the concepts that we discuss in class as well as to further develop our ability to think about business strategy. How much you learn from these strategic management cases depend on your preparation and active participation. Each of us will be responsible to be fully prepared for each class, and there will be assignments throughout the term to help focus our preparation. Everyone is expected to participate effectively in each class to comment, question, and analyze. Objectives of Case Analysis:

* Increase your understanding of what managers should and should not do in guiding business to success; * Build your skills for conducting strategic analysis and gaining in-depth experience in a variety of industries, competitive situations, and company circumstances; * Obtain valuable practice in diagnosing strategic issues, evaluating strategic alternatives and formulating workable plans of action; and * Enhance your sense of business judgment.

Techniques for Learning Strategic Management
Group Work
Discussing cases and preparing analyses outside of class helps to deepen your knowledge of strategic management. Therefore, group work will be essential for weekly case preparation as well as for the major group project. Developing effective group skills is a critical part of the learning process. It is a good idea to have students with different areas of expertise in the group to facilitate the exchange of a variety of managerial viewpoints and to help guard against “groupthink.” To enable an internal balance within each group, I will divide the class into eight cross-functional groups. Exams

There will be two in-class (closed-book) exams during the semester. These in-class exams will test both your mastery of the concepts and your ability to apply them. Individual Participation
Active participation in the class is an essential part of the learning experience. You are expected to contribute both to the case discussion and to discussion during the lecture sessions. Assignments, Evaluation, and Grading:

Please pay attention to the due dates and times. All assignments are to be submitted at the beginning of class, except as noted in this syllabus. Assignments will lose one full letter grade for each 24 hours (or portion thereof) that the assignment is late. This means that if a paper is due at 9 am on Tuesday, for example, and you turn in an A paper between 9:01 am Tuesday and 9:00 am Wednesday, it will receive a B. You should bring a copy of your assignment to class for your reference during discussion. If you are ill, I will accept the assignment by email Word attachment if it is received by the beginning of class on the day it is due. I expect you to raise any questions about grades on exams or assignments during regularly scheduled office hours (or by making an appointment) within one week of receiving the grade. Please note that I rarely change grades and that my policy is to re-grade the entire assignment, not to revisit questions independently. As a result, your grade may go up or down if your assignment is re-graded. There will be no extra credit assignments offered or accepted. I will award points for each assignment as follows:

Individual assignments (25 points each)| 50 | 5%|
In-class exams (225 points each)| 450 | 45%|
Participation | 150| 15%|
Mini Group Presentation| 50| 5%|
Practicum| | 30%|
Top management team| 25| |
Primary case presentation| 125| |
Group paper| 125| |
Peer evaluation| 25| |
TOTAL| 1000| |
Class Preparation and Participation
Informed and active participation is expected of everyone. Much of the learning in this course comes from listening to your fellow students and making comments that move the class discussion forward. This requires that you have read everything assigned. It is important that you read each case carefully, even when you are not presenting, in order to effectively participate in the discussion. It is especially valuable when you come to class with questions about the readings. Poor preparation is a disservice to your classmates and will negatively affect your participation grade. Most of the learning in our class will occur through discussion, therefore it is important that everyone participate. In addition to thinking about the material, you need to join the discussion, whether that is asking questions, politely disagreeing with comments, or following up on another’s comments with further insights or evidence.

The specific attributes upon which I will evaluate your classroom participation include the following: * Are your comments fact-based? Are you applying the lessons of the readings or lectures? * Are your comments relevant to the question under discussion at the moment? * How thoughtful, insightful, and original are your comments? * Do your comments advance our understanding of the issue at hand? * Are you willing to challenge, respectfully, the ideas presented by others? Failure to participate and disagree where needed penalizes you and the class in these ways: * You lose incentive to prepare the case properly;

* You lose the chance to develop communication skills;
* You deprive all of us of your insights into the case; and * Your ideas go unevaluated by others.
Since verbal communication skills are imperative to success in the business world, this class is designed to be a non-threatening place to share ideas. Classroom participation should largely be voluntary. Because I want to ensure that everyone participates, however, I may make cold calls. In short, be prepared. For additional information, see the Participation Rubric on Moodle. Individual case assigments

Walmart Case: “Strategic Coherence” Map
The “What is Strategy?” article provides a graphical description of Southwest Airlines’ activity system showing coherence in its strategy. Draw a similar strategic coherence map for Walmart. Think carefully about how all of Walmart’s details in their activity system are complementary and reinforcing for their overall business-level strategy. Identify which activities are major and which are minor, and link together activities that reinforce each other to a substantial degree. This assignment, and all of your other assignments, are due before the class begins. Cola Wars Case: 5-Forces Industry Analysis

The Soft Drink Industry assignment asks you to provide an industry analysis using Porter’s 5-Forces Model. There are three parts to the assignment: (1) for each Force, answer whether the Industry Force is low, medium, or high in intensity. Cite key evidence from the case for your answer — do not list everything, just the most important point or two that supports your answer; (2) given the strengths of the other Industry Forces, is the level of rivalry what you would expect? Why or why not? (3) Think dynamically; What Force is changing the most? Is it increasing or decreasing? Provide evidence from the case for your answer. You should not do any graphics for this assignment: Just type your answers. To encourage conciseness, there is a limit of one page for this assignment. In-Class Exams

Both the first and second exams will be closed book and closed-notes. Mini group Presentation
Certain cases will be mini-group presentations. Two groups are assigned to each of these four cases and each group is responsible for covering specific aspects of the case within 15 minutes, leaving 5 minutes for questions from the class. The instructor will take remaining minutes for class discussion about the case.

Team #1:Please present the important barriers to entry in the RTE industry. Be sure to provide evidence for your assertions. Overall, would you describe the threat of entry as low, medium or high?

Team #2:Please present a Five Forces Analysis of the RTE cereal industry. You do not need to discuss threat of entry, since group 1 is doing so. Be sure to provide evidence for your assertions, and draw conclusions about the continued profitability of the industry.

Team #3:Please present an analysis of the retail coffee industry, and the various segments in which Starbucks participates. Rather than simply summarizing the Five Forces, focus on key competitors, whether large or small firms, and explain who has a successful approach to overcoming barriers to entry or threats from suppliers, buyers, or substitutes.

Team #4:Please present an analysis of Starbucks’ resources and capabilities. Be sure to apply appropriate frameworks and concepts from the lecture in your analysis.

Team #5:Please do an industry analysis for Lexar Media. Explain how the industry life cycle in digital photography affects the decisions of Lexar and its competitors.

Team #6:Please do an internal analysis for Lexar Media. Discuss how Lexar might be at an advantage or disadvantage in addressing specific types of uncertainty.

Team #7:Please identify which of the four means of organizing a firm’s global activities (e.g., transnational) you think Haier is using and give evidence. For each of the four, please discuss what makes it appropriate or inappropriate for Haier. Lastly, do you think Haier picked the right strategy? Why or why not?

Team #8:Please discuss the modes of entry Haier used as it grew. Give examples and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of its entry mode strategies. Practicum: Cases 8-15
Top Management Team:
In the final section of the course (for cases 8-15), each group will be assigned one case to take the role of a top management team and to ask the presenting group questions concerning their presentation and recommended actions. Group Presentation for Primary Case:

You and your group members will have primary responsibility for leading a discussion of that case. It is your responsibility to update the case to the present. Each member of the group should lead a discussion and provide updated material. It is imperative that group members coordinate their work. Your grade on this group presentation is a group grade. If there are any problems with non-contributing group members, please let me know. The objectives of these assignments are to enhance your ability to: * Develop a clear and direct presentation;

* Utilize visual aids to support the presentation;
* Think on your feet;
* Evaluate the adequacy of an argument, position or plan; * Listen critically and pose worthwhile questions that facilitate constructive group problem solving; and * Give and receive criticism in a socially acceptable manner

The oral presentation is scheduled for delivery on the same day that the written case is due. All members of a group are expected to participate equally in the presentation. Presenters should avoid merely reading out presentation material. The group will be evaluated primarily on the cohesiveness of the arguments presented. Presentations are professional (this requirement for men presenting means a dress shirt is required). A copy of your PowerPoint slides must be provided to the instructor by e-mail attachment two days before the presentation. The quality of the slides will be considered in the evaluation of the group’s presentation. Group Paper on Primary Case:

Written case assignments provide you with the opportunity to use your conceptual, analytic and technical skills in applications of real-world business situations. You should adopt the role of a consulting team that has been asked to examine the corporation and to provide (a) strategic judgments regarding the key issues and problems facing the company with supporting evidence and sound logic; (b) alternative courses of actions available to the corporation and assessments of these options; and (c) specific recommendations with a supporting plan of action. A draft of the Group Paper is due on the day of your presentation. The presenting Group should then use comments from the Top Management Team, other class members, and from me to revise the draft. The final paper is due in my mailbox by 4:00PM on Tuesday of Finals week.

The Group Process: A critical aspect of writing a good paper is the group process. First and foremost, take your role seriously. Decide on a specific process for analyzing the case and writing the report. You should aim to integrate the various viewpoints and simultaneously make the best possible use of the different analytical skills of the group members. A creative group process builds upon resolving diverse views in arriving at a synthesized whole. One method for achieving this result is to first have each group member exhaustively analyze the case individually, then meet as a group and verbally decide on the group’s collective judgments. You should decide on a specific group process for drafting, writing, and editing the final document. An important part of this process may involve giving one or two group members the authority to edit and pull the final document together, in the interests of generating a cohesive report.

Focus: Jugements versus Analyses. You are encouraged to use the various frameworks, concepts, and techniques discussed in the course or otherwise known to you. Remember, however, that these are analytical tools, which help in forming judgments concerning central problems and associated recommendations; these tools are not ends in themselves. Emphasize your judgments (usually using headings or subheadings) and present data/information from the case, along with supporting analysis, in support of these judgments. Avoid merely rehashing facts.

Format. The text of the group paper is limited to 12 double-spaced pages in 12-point font. Supplemental exhibits and figures may be included as Appendices (e.g., Five-Forces Analysis, and Value-Chain analysis). The purpose of the page limit is to encourage you to prioritize the material you wish to include in the final document. Please be selective, in order to generate a rigorous and relevant paper. Along with the report, following the title page, you should provide a brief (1-page) abstract that provides an executive summary of the key problems and associated recommendations discussed in further detail in the report. As far as possible, you should try to clarify your views on the relative importance of each of the issues you will discuss. Though grading will focus primarily on the strength of analysis and strategic recommendations, writing form, grammar, punctuation and professional presentation will be evaluated.

A guide to help you structure your paper is available on Moodle. Peer evaluation (25 points):
Members of each group will privately rate other team member’s contribution to the team’s activities at the end of the semester. To be completed in the final class period. List of Case Assignments by Group

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