MM393-Corporate Strategy

Module Provider: International Business and Strategy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites: MM272 International Business Management and Strategy or MM276 Business Strategy
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Irina Surdu


Summary module description:

This module turns attention from companies with a single primary line of business to the strategies of multibusiness firms, termed corporate strategy. Corporate strategy is concerned with the scope of the firm, requiring policy choices over the selection of industries and markets in which to compete. It includes choices over diversification, vertical integration, acquisitions, and the allocation of resources among different businesses. Creating advantage at the corporate level requires differentiating from competitors rather than mimicking them, making corporate decisions in an integrated manner, and recognizing the trade-offs in organizational choices arising from the fact that multibusiness firms can add value to their underlying businesses in many ways. 

MM393 follows on from the Part 2 Module MM276 (formerly MM272) which focused on business (competitive) strategy.The module MM393 introduces frameworks, concepts, tools and techniques for corporate strategic management that build from this preceding module.

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 multibusiness firm to improve the firm’s long-run performance.

Assessable learning outcomes:

• Identify the central strategic challenges facing CEOs in charge of multibusiness firms and the ways that companies generate and preserve corporate (or parenting) advantage

• Examine the logics that guide management decisions over: which businesses, markets, or geographies to invest in and which to avoid, harvest, or sell (the choice of businesses); what to own (the choice of firm boundaries); and how to organize (the choice of structures, processes, and incentives)

• Analyze the ways in which corporate headquarters can create value “vertically” by guiding, directing, imposing, persuading, or incentivizing managers in the business divisions in ways that cause the business divisions to perform better than they would have performed without vertical influence • Investigate the ways in which corporate headquarters can create added value “horizontally” by encouraging coordination across divisions, such as by of shared customers or clients across businesses or geographies, by cross-selling, or by sharing activities or resources across businesses

• Distinguish the ways in which headquarters’ actions can destroy or subtract value from business divisions, such as from delays in decision making, extra costs, distractions from commercial priorities, inefficient services, and demotivation

• Contrast corporate strategies of related diversification from corporate strategies of unrelated diversification • Compare alternative schools of thought on corporate strategy and assess what they may usefully contribute to current practices

• Evaluate significant, relevant, and authentic problems facing the strategist through analyses of cases setting out the contexts of particular decisions to expand into new businesses (i.e., horizontal diversification) or up and down the value chain (i.e., vertical integration)

• Hone a capability to bridge financial analysis and strategic analysis, both to diagnose the sources of high or low firm performance and so to enhance capabilities to interpret performance data

• Refine habits of orderly and analytical thinking and skill in reporting conclusions effectively in oral and written form

Additional outcomes:

• Enhance capabilities to formulate and analyse complex problems, to evaluate alternative solutions and make policy recommendations

• Strengthen abilities to learn by combining learning modes, including by individual study from textbooks and cases, and from classroom analyses of cases

• Enhance employability by developing capabilities to analyse companies and to formulate good questions

• Strengthen career progression by providing a broad understanding of the key strategic dilemmas facing a broad range of functions as they relate to strategy at different levels

Outline content:

At the level of the firm:

1. Corporate advantage and synergies – benefits to collaboration

2. Governance costs – impediments to collaboration

3. Diversification

4. Modes of inorganic growth – ally or acquire?

5. The choice of organic or inorganic growth – build or buy?

6. Divestiture – stay or exit?

7. Outsourcing – make or buy?

8. Managing acquisitions and alliances

9. Designing the multi-business corporation

10. Reorganizing around the customer

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
MM3393 makes use of several methods and activities to stimulate learning. Students are set pre-class tasks, primarily guided pre-readings and case analyses. Lectures will include brief, focused reviews of the most challenging aspects of pre-class reading assignments to achieve student comprehension. Students have the opportunity to apply frameworks, concepts, tools and techniques from the readings to strategic management cases about real managers, real problems and real companies. 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. By the end of the module, students should be able to compare and evaluate the sometimes competing logics and theories presented in the module.

Pre-readings for MM393 will be principally drawn from the adopted module textbook, supplemented by scholarly articles drawn from high quality academic journals and publishers, such as The Financial Times, The Economist, and Harvard Business Review, and by video clips.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20 2
Tutorials 5
Guided independent study 130 43
Total hours by term 155.00 45.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 40

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will complete an end of Module final examination, and formative and summative coursework comprising two individual written assignments based on cases analysed in class plus one analysis of a news article of a corporate strategic decision.

Formative assessment methods:
The two individual written assignments involve answering pre-assigned questions on business cases that are subsequently discussed and analysed in class (15% final module grade allocation for each). For each of these two assignments, a student submits a short paper (maximum six pages or three sheets of paper if using both sides of each sheet, double-spaced lines 12 pt Times New Roman or equivalent font size excluding figures and tables that may be added on additional sheets) that presents their analysis of case questions. Students may submit more than two individual written assignments, in which case only their best two marks will count toward their final module grade. A further 10% of the module grade is accounted for by individual students’ analysis of a recent news article involving a global strategic decision, such as from periodicals such as The Financial Times and Economist, or from other business sources. (no more than six pages in length with the same line spacing and font requirements as case write-ups). The three assignments should be completed by deadlines in the second half of the term.

Feedback on, and evaluation of, the written assignments will generally be given the following week. Feedback to improve student learning is primarily in-class oral feedback in lectures and tutorials, delivered by the Module Convenor. Written formative assessment and feedback to increase students’ understanding of the module will primarily be based on slides and on comments written onto whiteboards during lectures and tutorials. These will include lessons learned from case studies in the form of wrap-up slides.

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 Part 3 modules takes place in August/September of the same year. Coursework is not included in the reassessment.

    Last updated: 19 September 2017

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