MM393-Corporate Strategy

Module Provider: International Business and Strategy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Pre-requisites: MM272 International Business Management and Strategy or MM276 Business Strategy
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2021/2

Module Convenor: Dr Angela Garcia Calvo

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module turns attention from companies with a single primary line of business to the strategies of multi-business 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 multi-business firms can add value to their underlying businesses in many ways. 


MM393 follows on from the Part 2 Module MM276 which focused on business (competitive) strategy. 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 multi-business firm to improve its long-run performance.

Assessable learning outcomes:

• Identify the central strategic challenges facing CEOs in charge of multi-business 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 incent ives)

• Analyse 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, share d 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 corpora te 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 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:

Lecture 1. Introduction to corporate advantage 

Lecture 2. Synergies – benefits to collaboration 

Lecture 3. Governance costs – impediments to collaboration 

Lecture 4. Diversification 

Lecture 5. Organic and inorganic growth – ally or acquire? 

Lecture 6. Divestiture – stay or exit? 

Lecture 7. Outsourcing – make o r buy? 

Lecture 8. Designing the multi-business corporation 

Lecture 9. Managing acquisitions and alliances 

Lecture 10. Revision 

Revision session - Spring 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

MM393 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 analysi s allows 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, supplemen ted by scholarly articles drawn from high quality academic journals and publishers, and additional publications such as The Financial Times, The Economist, and Harvard Business Review, and by video clips.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20 2
Seminars 6
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 30
    Wider reading (directed) 20
    Exam revision/preparation 42
    Preparation for seminars 20
    Essay preparation 50
    Reflection 10
Total hours by term 0 156 44
Total hours for module 200

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

Summative assessment- Examinations:

One two-hour unseen written paper. Examinations take place in the summer term (60%)

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One written essay, approximately 2,500 words to be submitted in week 30 (the final week of Spring Term) (40%)


Formative assessment methods:

Feedback to improve student learning is primarily in-class oral feedback in lectures and tutorials.

Penalties for late submission:

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.

Assessment 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.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Required text books: £30 

Puranam, Phanish and Bart Vanneste (2016). Corporate Strategy: Tools for Analysis and Decision-Making. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 97811075444048

Last updated: 20 May 2021


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