Why are some firms more successful than others?

This is the fundamental question of strategy. Because superior financial performance accrues to firms with a competitive advantage, this course examines how firms develop and maintain competitive advantage. Strategic management consists of the set of commitments, decisions and actions designed and executed to produce and sustain competitive advantage. Strategic management involves all units and functions within an organization and therefore requires the integration of the various functional areas of business knowledge by those who formulate strategy and make strategic decisions.

This course explores both business and corporate strategy from the perspective of the general manager, whose responsibility is to maximize the performance of a business unit within the firm or the firm's overall performance. Whereas business strategy is focused on competition and the creation of competitive advantage to achieve success in a particular product-market, corporate strategy is concerned with increasing the value created and captured by multi-business firms.

At the business level, the pursuit of competitive advantage involves the development of a unique competitive position that effectively leverages a firm’s resources and capabilities in ways that allow it to mitigate threats and exploit value-creating opportunities generated by its competitive environment. Consequently, the course utilizes frameworks and analytic tools to help students analyze a firm’s competitive environment, and its internal environment, strategic positioning and competitive advantage.

At the corporate level, the course will focus on how companies can achieve profitable growth by understanding where to grow (vertical, horizontal and geographic expansion) and how to grow (organically, alliances and acquisitions) in ways that allow the firm’s businesses to outcompete their respective market rivals by leveraging the firm’s resources and capabilities across its multiple businesses

Learning outcomes

The objectives of this course are for you to:

  • Understand and be able to apply key concepts and analytic frameworks of strategic management to analyze strategic problems at the business and corporate level.
  • Understand the dynamic influence of the strategic actions of a firm and its rivals on business and corporate strategy and industry structure.
  • Appreciate and understand the various stakeholders in a company and how they influence and are affected by a company’s strategy.
  • Develop an integrative, general management perspective of organizations and strategy.
  • Integrate knowledge gained from other business courses and understand what aspects of this knowledge are most useful for general managers.
  • Improve your ability to analyze and critically assess complex, unstructured business problems using appropriate tools and frameworks.
  • Improve your skills in synthesizing information and results of analyses to develop solutions to strategic problems.
  • Improve your skills in expressing arguments and conclusions clearly, logically and persuasively in written and oral forms.