MM276-Business Strategy

Module Provider: International Business and Strategy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Pre-requisites: MM1F12 Markets, Marketing and Strategy or AC103 Introduction to Business and Finance and AC105A Introductory International Financial Accounting A or AC101 Introduction to Accounting
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Christopher Voisey


Summary module description:
A firm’s strategy answers three fundamental questions: Where should the firm compete? How should it compete to win? How will it continue to win in the long run? Corresponding to these three elements, effective strategists excel at three tasks. First, strategists can identify the factors within the industry environment that influence a firm’s ability to create competitive advantage and outperform rivals. Second, strategists analyse how to configure a firm’s internal activities to increase the value the firm creates and captures so as to give it competitive advantage over rivals. The third distinctive job of the strategist is to sustain the advantage of a company over time in the face of competitive dynamics.
The module is the first of a sequence of three strategy modules that builds on the introduction to strategy in Module MM1F12-Markets, Marketing and Strategy. MM276 focuses on business strategy (also referred to as competitive strategy). Business strategy is concerned with how the firm develops competitive advantage to beats the averages in its industry and how it sustains competitive advantage over the long run. The module introduces research-based theories, frameworks, concepts, tools and techniques of strategic management to prepare you for each of the strategist’s three jobs.
Corporate strategy, concerned with the scope of the firm, requiring policy choices over the selection of industries and markets in which to compete, is the focus of MM393. Global strategy, concerned with strategies to create value from geographic diversification across borders, is studied in MM394. These two subsequent modules build on core strategy concepts introduced in MM276.

Since MM276 makes heavy use of Team-based Learning methods, students may only add or drop Module MM276 at the latest by the end of the first teaching week of the term.

This module is delivered at University of Reading and University of Reading Malaysia.

Effective strategists develop a sense of what they must do in the short run for their firms to be healthy in the long run. This module aims to develop students’ abilities to craft and evaluate the overarching strategy of a single business firm to improve the firm’s long-run performance.

Assessable learning outcomes:
• Become familiar with the skills required by the strategic leader of a firm from a general management perspective, as strategist, organization builder, and leader, and of how to make decisions that cut across functional and product boundaries of a business unit
• Understand the fundamental concepts in strategic management, including strategy identification and evaluation, the relationship between strategy and organization, industry analysis, competitor analysis, firm and industry evolution, and strategic and organizational responses to external change
• Apply the tools of the module to significant, relevant, and authentic problems facing the strategist through analyses of cases
• Compare and contrast, synthesize and evaluate different theoretical perspectives on strategy
• Evaluate impact of external environmental forces and internal stresses on the need for strategic actions by the strategic leader
• Hone a capability to bridge financial analysis and strategic analysis, both to interpret performance data and to diagnose sources of high or low business unit performance
• Refine habits of orderly and analytical thinking and skill in reporting conclusions effectively in oral and written form
• Develop skills in working as a team player and evaluate the added value from teamwork

Additional outcomes:
• Enhance capabilities to formulate and analyse complex problems, to evaluate alternative solutions and make policy recommendations
• Strengthen abilities to learn from a combination of modes, including by individual study and within teams, and from textbooks and the analysis of cases
• Enhance employability by developing capabilities to analyse businesses, to formulate good questions, and to make good strategy policy decisions
• Strengthen career progression by providing a broad understanding of the key strategic dilemmas facing a broad range of functions as they relate to strategy

Outline content:
At the level of the firm:
1. The concept of strategy (business strategy, corporate strategy, global strategy)
2. Goals and performance: mission and vision
3. Industry analysis
4. Competitive advantage and the logic of value creation and capture
5. Types of competitive advantage and strategic positioning
6. Value chain analysis, activity analysis, and business models
7. Sustaining competitive advantage over the long run
8. Sources of competitive advantage: resources and capabilities
9. Industry evolution, strategic decline and strategic renewal
10. Strategy in technology-intensive industries

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
MM276 makes use of several methods and activities to stimulate learning, combining individual work with in-class teamwork. Students are set pre-class tasks, based on guided pre-readings and case analysis, and are tested in class for their knowledge and understanding of these materials, with immediate feedback. Students take these multiple choice question (MCQ) quizzes individually, and retake them in teams. Students spend a significant proportion of class time applying module concepts and solving problems in business strategy case-based, application-oriented activities. Case analysis allow students to experience the challenges of real-life managers, to learn the craft of strategic management and business policy by simulated problem-solving and decision-making, and to synthesize the theoretical aspects of the module. Mini-lectures will comprise brief, focused reviews of the most challenging aspects of pre-class reading assignments to achieve student comprehension.
Extensive use of a closed MM276 module Facebook Group enhances student engagement and interaction. Students will need to “join” this Facebook group, either with their existing Facebook Profile or with a new Profile established for use within this module.
By the end of the module, students should be able to compare and evaluate the sometimes competing logics and theories presented in the module. The module page on the online platform Facebook is used to cultivate a sense of community among students and to strengthen interaction and learning outcomes.
Teaching materials for MM276 are principally drawn from the adopted module textbook, supplemented by scholarly journal articles, other book sections, and business cases drawn from high quality academic journals and publishers, such as Harvard Business Publishing, The Financial Times, The Economist, supplemented, by short video clips.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20 2
Tutorials 5
Guided independent study 129 44
Total hours by term 154.00 46.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Set exercise 40

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will complete an end of Module final examination.

Formative assessment methods:
Students decide on the allocation of the 40% component of the grade to each of five performance areas. Four components are individual performance and team performance in in-class MCQ quizzes, team-based application exercises, and student analyses of news articles from a strategic perspective. The fifth element is from each individual’s evaluation of the contributions of other team members to team assignments during the Module. There will be immediate feedback on MCQ quizzes, oral feedback in lectures and tutorials, including a focused review of the most challenging aspects of the pre-class reading assignment, and written feedback on team-based assignments.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    One three-hour unseen written paper. Examinations take place in the Summer term.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A weighted average mark of coursework and examination of 40%.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    By written examination only. Re-examination for Finals takes place in August/September of the same year.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books: (actual for 2015-2016 and indicative for 2016-2017):
    Grant, R. M. (2016) Contemporary Strategy Analysis: Text and Cases. 9th Edition. Chichester (UK): Wiley. ISBN: 978-1-119-12084-1.
    For 2015-2016 the Module Convener negotiated with Wiley to make this book available at a price of £46.99 from the University Students Union Bookshop, a reduction of £8 from the retail price of £54.99. Some copies should be available in the Library collection.
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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