You are on page 1of 6

The University of Texas at Dallas

BPS 6310
Section 501
SOM 1.212
Spring 2011

Professor Sumit Majumdar

Office: (972) 883 4786
Mobile: (469) 878 1686
SOM 3.433
Office Hours: By appointment

Objectives of the Course:

To develop analytic skills to identify key issues and formulate appropriate strategies for
complex business situations.
To understand how to analyze industry dynamics
To understand how to respond to competitive challenges and improve corporate

Philosophy of the Course:

My philosophy is best summed up by what Cardinal Newman had stated in the 19th century:

Cardinal Newman, in his essay 'The Idea of a University' had written: If I were asked to describe
as briefly and popularly as I could, what a University was, I should draw my answer from its ancient designation of a
Studium Generale, or "School of Universal Learning." This description implies the assemblage of strangers from all
parts in one spot; - from all parts; else, how will you find professors and students for every department of knowledge?
and in one spot; else, how can there be any school at all? Accordingly, in its simple and rudimental form, it is a school
of knowledge of every kind, consisting of teachers and learners from every quarter. Many things are requisite to complete
and satisfy the idea embodied in this description; but such as this a University seems to be in its essence, a place for the
communication and circulation of thought, by means of personal intercourse, through a wide extent of country.

My philosophy is to communicate and circulate thoughts among all of us so that we can

mutually learn and add value to our personal and social stock of knowledge in the subject.

Main thrust of course and short outline:

To Understand How to Achieve Sustained Competitive Advantage

 The basic purpose of strategy is to take a series of decisions and make a series of moves
which are designed to achieve sustained competitive advantage.

 One must relate moves back to outcomes, that is the extent to which these moves actually
affect business performance.
 Ultimately business performance is based on the performance achieved in competitive
domains, so a great deal of strategic thinking is all about understanding how to compete.

 This course focuses on the many competitive moves that businesses make and the types of
analyses required to effective moves.

 You will learn how to undertake an analysis of the industry environment, its stakeholders
and an analysis of a company’s internal resources.

 The main moves that flow from such an analysis are

o positioning versus competitors in terms of the cost and quality of products,
o positioning in terms of the scope of businesses,
o positioning with respect to innovation.

 The basic premise of the course is that making winning moves depends on finding profitable
patterns of activities that meet customer demands for solutions, and doing so repeatedly.

 There are human resources issues to implement strategy and the question of global markets.
There are IB and OB classes covering these topics and this class will not go into these issues.

 Nevertheless, we will continuously address issues of strategy implementation as we analyze

the various concepts and the cases that have been assigned for the class.

There are seven broad areas that are covered:

What is Strategy?
Performance: the Key to a Successful Strategy
Competitive Dynamics: Strategy Not Done in Isolation
Matching External Opportunities & Threats with Internal Strengths and Weaknesses

How to Do Industry and Environmental Analysis

Porter’s Five Forces
Industry Boundaries
The Analysis of Social and Political Factors
Stakeholder Analysis

How to Analyze a Company's Resources

Resources, Capabilities, and Competencies
The Need to Replicate Successes
Continuously Building Capabilities

How to Position a Company within an Industry

Generic Strategies: Low Cost and High Quality
Strategic Groups
The Broad Basis for Segmentation
Heterogeneity as Source of Competitive Advantage

Company Positioning, Mergers and Acquisitions

Corporate Strategy
Scope of the Firm
Portfolio management

Innovation and Company Positioning

Finding and Exploiting New Opportunities
Technology Push and Market Pull
Obstacles to Realization

Conclusion: Making the Moves that Win

Profitable Patterns or Models of Business
Customer Demand for Solutions
Searching the Value Chain
Reinventing Channels

Learning Methods:

This is both a concepts based and a case based class.

Concepts: From readings, lectures and discussion.

Group Case Analysis: Applying concepts to cases where key issues are identified and recommendations made.
Strategic Analysis: Comparing companies to understand their strategies for sustained competitive advantage.

 This is an integrative course that takes into account all the management functions including
accounting, finance, marketing, and operations.

Please come prepared to participate in each class. Course materials can be found on the WebCT site.
Regularly consult the site for information about the course.

Reading Material:

 The required materials for this course are a set of cases. They will be placed on-line.
 Other materials will also be handed out and placed on the WebCT. They will include
conceptual as well as business pres materials about strategy.
 On the WebCT site you will find chapters from a textbook that will be used for this
class. The book has been written by a colleague, Alfred Marcus, for McGraw Hill
called Management Strategy: Sustaining Competitive Advantage. That will be
the main source for the conceptual strategy related text material.
 The chapters and the other cases are available for downloading at the WebCT site.


Class participation: 28 points

Group written analysis, discussion and presentation of cases: 72 points ~ The cases will be put on
the WebCT or are required to be purchased on-line from the Harvard Business School.

Detailed Course Schedule
Serial Date Class Agenda Topic Details of Readings
Class 1 12th January Introduction What is the class all
Class 2 19th January Concepts The core concepts Marcus ~ Chapter 1
of strategy Grant ~ Chapters 1 to 4
Class 3 26th January Concepts Comprehensive Teece ~ Models
analysis Porter ~ Strategy
frameworks Kaplan and Norton ~ Maps
Class 4 2nd February Case Amazon WebCT
Class 5 9th February Concepts Dynamic thinking Bose ~ Introduction and
about strategy Chapter 1
O’ Connell ~ Chapter 6
Paret ~ Readings
Class 6 16th February Case Canon To be purchased from HBS
Class 7 23th February Case Dell WebCT
Class 8 2nd March Case Airbus Boeing To be purchased from HBS
Class 9 9th March Concepts Strategic Planning Planning document 1
Planning document 2
Class 10 23rd March Concepts Market positioning Bose ~ Chapter 5 and 9
and mergers Marcus ~ Chapters 4 and 5
Class 11 30th March Case AOL Time WebCT
Class 12 6th April Concepts Innovation, Bose ~ Chapters 6 and 8
entrepreneurship Marcus ~ Chapter 7
and re-invention
Class 13 13th April Case Nucor To be purchased from HBS
Class 14 20th April Case Monsanto WebCT
Class 15 27th April Case Intel versus AMD WebCT
Class 16 4th May Concepts Summing Up Final case due


1. Group analysis of cases:

 For each case topic there are several issues. Groups meet according to their convenience.
 Each group is expected to develop a series of 4 to 6 Power Point overheads to answer the
questions related to the case. The overheads should summarize your answers to the following
detailed issues:
 How has the company evolved to its present situation?
 What is the main challenge or opportunity the company faces?
 How should it respond to this challenge or opportunity?
 What is the outcome likely to be?
 The overheads can be in the form of figures, tables, and diagrams. For each session, two groups
will be called on to present their overheads to the class. After the first class I will list the groups
that will start the discussion for each case class.
 For the following class meeting, all groups should write a memo that answers the case question
and hand in their overheads along with their memo.
 Only if your group is not willing to include your name in its submissions, should you hand in your
own memo and overhead the Class after the scheduled class.
 Should there be dysfunction in a group, the group may choose to hand in a peer evaluation of
 If your group is called upon to present its answer to a case question to the class as a whole, use the
overheads to get the discussion started. Be honest with the class about aspects of your answer
about which you are unsure. Solicit the class’ help. The presenting groups should be prepared to
talk for about 10 to 20 minutes. The rest of the class time will be devoted to class discussion.
 As a member of the class, be sure to participate in these discussions. Think about what the
presenting group has said. What do you think? Has the presenting group missed something? Are
its ideas on target, or off? What can be done to strengthen the presenting group’s answer?

2. Memo:

Recall that memos are due the next class after the one the case is discussed in.
Appendices are permitted if you want to amplify or develop your points.
Memos should have no more than 2 to 3 single-spaced pages of text excluding appendices.
Below I have presented the elements of what would be in a good memo. Some points or all points
may be used.
Keep in mind some or all of the frameworks and conceptual issues covered in the class.

Current Challenge and Assessment of the Situation

What is the pivotal question that the companies must address? Why?
What is the problem/threat/opportunity? How have these been analyzed? What is the issue, the
negative assumption, and the complications that necessitate actions?

Recommended Strategy
What is the main action that should be taken to alleviate the problem you have identified? Why
this action rather than some other? Did you consider alternatives? Why did you reject them?

What moves should be made? These moves must be implementable? If there are internal or
external barriers, if there are serious limitations, or constraints that might stand in the way of the
moves you are advocating, how can they be overcome?
Substantiate each element in the moves you are proposing? Try to be specific as specific as
possible. Who should do what, how, and in what time period?
How will other parties, competitors in particular, respond to these moves? Will their responses
effectively neutralize the moves you are proposing and make them null and void?
In the end, what difference will the moves you are recommending make? How likely are they to
solve the problem you have identified? What problems will they create in their wake?
Why do you think the strategy you are proposing should be carried out and what difference it
would make?
Who will be better off? In short run? In the long run? What are the uncertainties? What risk is