MM393: Corporate Strategy

MM393: Corporate Strategy

Module code: MM393

Module provider: International Business and Strategy; Henley Business School

Credits: 20

Level: Level 3 (Honours)

When you'll be taught: Semester 2

Module convenor: Dr Angela Garcia Calvo, email:

Pre-requisite module(s): BEFORE TAKING THIS MODULE YOU MUST TAKE MM296 OR TAKE MM276 (Compulsory)

Co-requisite module(s):

Pre-requisite or Co-requisite module(s):

Module(s) excluded:

Placement information: na

Academic year: 2024/5

Available to visiting students: Yes

Talis reading list: Yes

Last updated: 28 May 2024


Module aims and purpose

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. 

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.

MM393 follows on from the Part 2 Module MM276 and MM296, which focused on business (competitive) strategy. MM393 introduces frameworks, concepts, tools and techniques for corporate strategic management that build from this preceding module.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, it is expected that students will be able to:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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, or the ways in which corporate headquarters can create added value “horizontally” by encouraging coordination across divisions, shared customers or clients across businesses or geographies, by cross-selling, or by sharing activities or resources across businesses. And 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).
  4. Enhance capabilities to formulate and analyse complex problems, to evaluate alternative solutions and make policy recommendations, and 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 and by developing capabilities to analyse companies and to formulate good questions.

Module 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 or buy?
Lecture 8. Designing the multi-business corporation
Lecture 9. Managing acquisitions and alliances
Lecture 10. Revision
Lecture 11. Q&A
Lecture 12. In-class test


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 analysis 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, supplemented 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.

Study hours

At least 26 hours of scheduled teaching and learning activities will be delivered in person, with the remaining hours for scheduled and self-scheduled teaching and learning activities delivered either in person or online. You will receive further details about how these hours will be delivered before the start of the module.

 Scheduled teaching and learning activities  Semester 1  Semester 2  Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 5
Project Supervision
Practical classes and workshops
Supervised time in studio / workshop
Scheduled revision sessions
Feedback meetings with staff
External visits
Work-based learning

 Self-scheduled teaching and learning activities  Semester 1  Semester 2  Summer
Directed viewing of video materials/screencasts
Participation in discussion boards/other discussions
Feedback meetings with staff
Other (details)

 Placement and study abroad  Semester 1  Semester 2  Summer
Study abroad

Please note that the hours listed above are for guidance purposes only.

 Independent study hours  Semester 1  Semester 2  Summer
Independent study hours 175

Please note the independent study hours above are notional numbers of hours; each student will approach studying in different ways. We would advise you to reflect on your learning and the number of hours you are allocating to these tasks.

Semester 1 The hours in this column may include hours during the Christmas holiday period.

Semester 2 The hours in this column may include hours during the Easter holiday period.

Summer The hours in this column will take place during the summer holidays and may be at the start and/or end of the module.


Requirements for a pass

Students need to achieve an overall module mark of 40% to pass this module.

Summative assessment

Type of assessment Detail of assessment % contribution towards module mark Size of assessment Submission date Additional information
In-class test administered by School/Dept Class Test 60 80 minutes Semester 2, Teaching Week 12 In-class test administered by School/Dept. The individual In-class (Blackboard) test will have multiple-choice questions (60%) and one (500-word) open question (40%).
Oral assessment Individual Presentation 40 10 minutes Semester 2, Teaching Week 10 Individual (online or in-person) oral presentation based on a case study.

Penalties for late submission of summative assessment

The Support Centres will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

Assessments with numerical marks

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of three working days;
  • the mark awarded due to the imposition of the penalty shall not fall below the threshold pass mark, namely 40% in the case of modules at Levels 4-6 (i.e. undergraduate modules for Parts 1-3) and 50% in the case of Level 7 modules offered as part of an Integrated Masters or taught postgraduate degree programme;
  • where the piece of work is awarded a mark below the threshold pass mark prior to any penalty being imposed, and is submitted up to three working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline), no penalty shall be imposed;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than three working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

Assessments marked Pass/Fail

  • where the piece of work is submitted within three working days of the deadline (or any formally agreed extension of the deadline): no penalty will be applied;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than three working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension of the deadline): a grade of Fail will be awarded.

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.

Formative assessment

Formative assessment is any task or activity which creates feedback (or feedforward) for you about your learning, but which does not contribute towards your overall module mark.

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


Type of reassessment Detail of reassessment % contribution towards module mark Size of reassessment Submission date Additional information
In-class test administered by School/Dept Class Test 100 Approx. 2,400 words During the University resit period August/September Online Test

Additional costs

Item Additional information Cost
Computers and devices with a particular specification
Printing and binding
Required textbooks Puranam, Phanish and Bart Vanneste (2016). Corporate Strategy: Tools for Analysis and Decision-Making. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 97811075444048 £30
Specialist clothing, footwear, or headgear
Specialist equipment or materials Business chases, provided by the School
Travel, accommodation, and subsistence


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