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Course Information

6310-MBC Strategic Management

Fall 2007 Semester
Tuesday 1:00 – 3:45 pm

Professor Contact Information

Dr. David Deeds Phone: 972.883.5904 Office: SOM 4.204

Email: david.deeds@utdallas.edu Office Hours: Wed 12:00 – 2:00 pm or by appt.

Course Pre-requisites, Co-requisites, and/or Other Restrictions

OB6301, MKT 6301, AIM6201, AIM 6202, FIN 6301

Course Description
Strategic Management (SM) uses the case method to examine how general managers create and maintain
competitive advantage for organizations. SM considers how managers determine strategic direction and
manage the strategy process. Recognizing that most general management decisions are inherently multi-
functional in nature, we employ explicit frameworks for strategic action while also integrating lessons from
functional area courses to explore and reconcile the tensions that accompany decisions that involve the entire

Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes

1. Understand the nature of strategic competitiveness and develop the ability to analyze the competitive
environment facing a firm, assess the attractiveness of the industry and isolate potential sources of
competitive advantage and disadvantage.

2. Integrate knowledge and apply analytical techniques from various disciplines, including finance,
accounting, marketing, economics, operations, organization theory and organizational behavior. The
goal is to identify and analyze strategic issues and develop solutions in the form of actionable plans with
the purpose of developing and sustaining competitive advantage.

3. Discriminate among the types of data that general managers need to evaluate alternative scenarios.
Develop logical, coherent and persuasive analyses for a desired course of action. Consider how to
effectively implement plans within the constraints imposed by the complex behavior of individuals
within organizations. Each student should be able to effectively communicate his or her conclusions in
both oral and written form.

4. Develop the ability to view the corporation as a whole and to assess it in relation to business unit goals
and objectives.

Class Format -
The Case Method: Why We Rely on Discussion Learning

Approximately three-fourths of our class time will be spent discussing business cases. Why do we rely on
the case method so extensively? The case-study method brings a “real world” approach to business
education in at least three important ways. First, case discussions generate a dynamic process of vigorous
questioning and responding, examination and debate among students and discussion leader. Because
strategy issues are often characterized by ambiguity, complexity or uncertainty, this course is more about
asking the right questions than it is about knowing the right answers. Rather than simply lecture about the
current state of “best practices,” we recognize that theories change over time while reasoning skills survive.
The case method helps students to refine their skills as insightful questioners, rather than just good answer-
finders. In this model of learning, it is the journey more than the destination that matters. In addition,
discussion learning requires all students to participate actively in the learning experience. The MBA degree
is about more than just acquiring a tool box of analytical skills. It is also about developing the ability to
contribute to the group so that we expand the boundaries of everyone’s learning. Just as in management,
there is no formula that you can follow for every case. Nevertheless, over the course of the semester,
students gradually build on the combination of theory and analysis, judgment and experience to develop for
themselves the ideas that the teacher seeks to communicate. While the case method requires a high level of
student commitment, it also causes students to personally engage the problem and “own” the solution, so that
the case method is inherently a student-oriented process. Walter Wriston has said, “Good judgment comes
from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.” As in the “real world,” the case method replicates
the trial-and-error experience of seasoned managers, thereby deepening judgment. It also does so in the low
risk environment of the classroom where career casualties are not at stake.

Second, the case method trains students to think as administrators (rather than as scholars), so that they: (1)
see a problem looking for solutions rather than a concept looking for applications, (2) focus on defining and
prioritizing a maize of tangled problems and determining which one(s) to attack with the limited time
available, (3) appreciate differing agendas and points of view, and (4) take action, not just report findings.

Third, by linking analysis with individual action taking, the case method encourages moral awareness by
requiring students to take a stand. The give-and-take of case discussion often brings to the surface subtle
ethical dilemmas that might otherwise be missed. The case method helps students learn to assess and
embrace the tradeoffs among different stakeholders’ interests. The case method requires students to use all
of their knowledge, skills and experience to respond in real time to the questions raised in class and to
effectively communicate their ideas to their classmates and help to lead them to a greater shared
understanding of the problem at hand. Thus, the students become the teachers.

In sum, we teach with case studies because the method embodies important values of professional education.
The case method is not simply a technique; it is a rich philosophy about judgment, analysis, action and
learning. (Adapted from an article by Robert F. Bruner.)

While our applications will emphasize exercise of judgment, by no means is this course “theory free.” We
will learn to break down complex problems into manageable analytical issues to which we can apply a
rigorous set of theoretical tools. The analytical approaches in our “strategy tool kit” will be covered in the
required readings prior to each case. These readings have been carefully selected to convey often complex
topics in a concise, understandable manner. In general, I have emphasized managerially relevant readings
and spared you the pain of reading pointy-headed, scholarly-type articles. Since these readings articulate
much of the theoretical content of the course, they will be crucial to your comprehension of our course
concepts. It is extremely important that you read, study (and preferably discuss with each other) this
material when assigned so that you will be able to apply it to our case discussions.

The key requirement of this course is that you THINK. This course requires that you synthesize material
that you have learned in prior classes in your business education in conjunction with new concepts we will
introduce. I will ask that you add a dose of common sense and filter these ideas through your own
experiences and “world view.” We will reach consensus on some issues, yet many among you will have
differing interpretations as we proceed through the course. This is the nature of strategy and policy issues.
You may find yourself occasionally frustrated by the ambiguity and the difficulty of assimilating conflicting
points of view. Welcome to real life.

Our readings and case discussions are designed to help you understand how firms formulate and implement
strategies under the impetus of competition, technology, government action, and other important contextual
forces. This, in turn, requires a deep understanding of the functional strategies associated with marketing,
operations, finance and human resources. Our challenge in this course will be to integrate your learning
from other courses in a synthesis with new material introduced here to see how general managers develop
functional strategies into overall business and corporate strategies and to see how their chosen strategies are
implemented. While this may not happen overnight, over the course of the semester, you can expect to begin
to see how the “pieces fit together.” You will be better prepared to enhance your careers with a more
comprehensive vision of the firm as a whole and your role in it.

Requirements and Evaluation Criteria

Class Contribution 30%

Case Write-ups 30%
Group Project & Presentation 30%
Final Exam 10%

Total 100%

Class Contribution

Most of your learning will occur in preparation for and participating in the case discussions. To enhance
your preparation and learning, I strongly encourage you to form study groups to discuss the cases prior
to class. To guide you in your preparation, this syllabus includes discussion questions for each case.

As noted earlier, the complexity of the course material relies heavily on discussion learning. This process
allows the cumulative insights of your colleagues to contribute to the evolution of the class’s learning. Thus,
the entire class learning experience relies on each of you taking responsibility for contributing to the
discussion. In order to do so, it is imperative that each of you be present and be fully prepared each

In order to emphasize the necessity to be prepared for and to contribute to each class, class participation will
comprise a significant portion of your grade. As is the case with real world work environments, you are
judged not by what you know but by what you contribute. Even if you feel that you know the material,
unless you share your insights with the class, I cannot adequately evaluate your preparedness and
contribution. Students are never penalized for making comments which don’t appear to be the “right
answer”. It is only through consideration of many diverse opinions and viewpoints that we will move
toward a greater shared understanding of the multi-dimensional material which this course entails.

Each day, I will ask one or more individuals to “open” the case with a summary of the key issues along with
his or her analysis of those issues. It is important that each of you be prepared to respond to the invitation to
open the discussion. In the unlikely event that you are not prepared for class, then please let me know
beforehand so that I might spare both of us the embarrassment of my calling on you. You should be able to
identify the key issues, problems and opportunities facing the central case protagonists, to articulate and

evaluate alternative approaches to problems, and to describe the course of action that you recommend and
the reasons for yours recommendations. I may begin the discussion with one of the questions in the syllabus
or with another question.

It is important to appreciate that every student is an important cog in the class discussion, and that it is
equally important that each of us listen carefully to one another and attempt to build on or constructively
critique prior comments. Please resist the temptation to jump to topics that are not specifically open for
discussion. Some of the specific things that will have an impact on effective class participation and on
which you will be evaluated include:

Is the participant a good listener?

Are the points made relevant to the discussion? Are they linked to the comments of
others and to the themes that the class is exploring together?

Do the comments add to our understanding of the situation? Are they incisive? Do they
cut to the core of the problem?

Is there a willingness to challenge the ideas that are being expressed?

Is there a willingness to test new ideas, or are all comments “safe”? (For example,
repetition of case facts without analysis or conclusions, or repeating comments already
been made by someone else.)

Does the participant integrate material from past classes or the readings where
appropriate? Do the comments reflect cumulative learning over the course and the MBA
curriculum, or does the participant merely consider each case in isolation?

Case Write-ups

Each student will complete three case write-ups during the semester. On from each of the groups
of cases on the schedule labeled CW1, CW2, CW3. Case write-ups should take the form of a
business memo to the protagonist of the case with specific recommendations and implementation
plans that address the key issue(s) in the case. Write-ups may be no longer than 3 pages (750
words) plus exhibits, graphs, tables, etc. Cases require both qualitative and quantitative analysis
and the use of graphics will be important in communicating your key points in the limited space
of the write-up.

Group Project & Presentation: Writing a case, a teaching note, a theory note and leading a
discussion of the case

This project involves writing a case (or short cases) which can be used in future Strategic Management
courses and leading a 35 minute discussion of the case in class.

All team members must equally contribute to the project. I will be available throughout the semester to work
with you in an advisory capacity.

The first draft of your project outline and the choice of a target firm(s) or industry will be due at the
beginning of Session 3 – September 4th.. The final draft of your paper is due by Session 13 – November
13th. Please note that late papers will not be accepted and failure to provide the class the case on time will
result in a 1 full grade penalty for the team.

Students will work in five/six person groups and select the corporation or business they wish to study. There
will be a maximum of 8 groups per section.

Why a Case?

1. Writing a case and the analysis will force you into the role of the learning facilitator (I like to avoid
the word "teacher") which will hopefully do two things.
a. It will enhance your insight about your analysis
b. It will also give something back to the class in the form of a case that we can use in future.

Overall Objectives

The objective of the project is to develop a case that can be used in the classroom to provide insight
into the concepts/framework that we use for strategic analysis. To write a good case the following is helpful.

1. A good case has a fairly concrete strategic problem/issue/challenge as it focus. This challenge is one
that needs to be addressed by the company and its management. Examples may include responding
to a new competitor, responding to changing environmental conditions, acquiring a company or
companies, entering new product or geographic markets, continuing or discontinuing a project,
strategy or product line or perhaps reorganizing the operation and/or closing plants and facilities.

2. You have to do a thorough analysis. This means you have to be comprehensive in discussing all the
strategic issues that are important and only those that are important. The broad framework developed
in class should be used as an overall guide and not as "fill-in-the-blanks." A good analysis should be
able to justify the conclusion by providing suitable examples. Avoid generic statements like ‘high
quality,’ or ‘good customer services’ are the core competencies, be specific. You need to tell me
what exactly is high quality in the context of the firm that you are studying or what type of customer
service is valued.

3. To a large extent the quality of the case will depend on the data that you gather through research
(some companies may not make interesting cases but these would be rare).

a. Support your report with as much "hard data" as possible.

b. Try to distinguish between public relations statements (internal company documents),
objective evidence, and inferences and conclusions which you draw.
c. Sources of data should be identified through footnotes.
d. If a case is otherwise interesting it is permissible for the casewriter to make assumptions
about some data in very rare cases.

4. Once you have done the research you should write the case as a description of the company's
strategy and the environment in which it is functioning. The case should contain all the data that you
deem to be relevant as well as data that you feel are not pertinent to the analysis but are generally
available to the management. Your case must include at least each of the following:

a. A detailed description of the key competitors and their strategies

b. A description (not analysis) of the strategy of the firm
c. A description of the major drivers of price, cost & volume of the industry in which
your firm operates.

5. The teaching note should provide a detailed analysis of the current situation, potential solutions and
your recommendations including implementation. It should include both numerical and qualitative
analyses of the company’s current situation in support of your recommendations. It should also

include suggested study questions (4-5) and answers to those questions. Every major point that you
make in the analysis should be based on data in the case and you should indicate where in the case
such data can be found. This means that you may have to revise the case to make sure that the
reader has enough information to do the same analysis that you have done.

a. Provide insight into the success or failure (or anything in between) of the strategy of the firm
or why changes are taking place in an industry.

b. Use the concepts developed in class or develop your own framework that may provide a
better insight. Remember, however, that if you do use your own framework you need to
justify why your framework provides a better insight than the ones developed in class.

c. The purpose of the analysis is to provide a road map for the instructor.

i. Start with a set of assignment questions which would help the student in identifying
the issues that you think are important.
i. Develop “answers” (really discussion issues) to these questions

6. The theory note explains the theoretical underpinnings of your analysis. This should explain how
Porter’s 5-Forces, VIRO, Finance Theory, Micro-Economic Theory, etc. led to your conclusions.
Business strategies are hypotheses/models of business operations that are based on theories about
how the world works, be it organization theory, consumer behavior, industry dynamics or
macroeconomic market forces. Strategies which are devoid of theoretical grounding are simply data-
mining or poor extrapolations without an understanding of the causation, as such they are unlikely to
succeed. For example, if you were to recommend that your company solve its problem by
expanding a product line and discontinuing another you might base it on Barney’s VIRO model and
the ability to create competitive advantage in one and not in the other because the capabilities
embedded in the one product line are inimitable. Notes from your discussions as a group when you
are developing your solutions are likely to provide the basis for your theory note.

Formation of Groups

You may organize into five/six person groups. Please fill out the form at the end of this handout and
return it to me on the first day of class. Only one form will be necessary for each group. For those who have
expressed no preference, I shall assign you to a group. Each group will have a number assigned to it for
administrative purposes.

Selection of a Firm(s) or Industry

After forming your group, you should select the target company for your study. Be sure there is
adequate information available to support an in-depth analysis. In order to reduce the demand for data on
particular companies, no more than one team should study a particular firm. In order to ensure the
availability of data students need to select publicly traded companies listed on one of the major American

Expectations for the Final Reports & Presentations: Presentations November 20th. Final Report Due
November 13th. (No late submissions please)


1. In the week prior to the presentation the case portion (description of the company and its current

situation) will be prepared & handed out to all members of the class.

2. Teams will lead a 35 minute discussion of their case with the class. Discussions should lead to
analysis of the current situation, positions, challenges, etc and the development of a strategy to
address these issues. Teams should lead the class in the application of some of the concepts from the
course to your company.

3. Presentations should be professional. This means no typos or errors in overheads. Clear easy to read
overheads and a well-organized presentation.

Expectations from the proposal: Due September 4th

1. Spell out a set of broad questions specific to the company under study and more focused questions
that follow from the broad questions.

2. As a preface, briefly describe the firm's existing strategy. For example, if you want to study the
future of Ebay.com you need to set the stage by briefly describing what Ebay.com is all about, the
competitive pressures they are facing, the opportunities they can exploit using their innovative
strategy in the domestic and international markets.

3. Given the preface you can set up a broad question like “What is the E Commerce likely to look like
in the future?” The focused question that may follow is the nature of competition in the various part
of the E Commerce space and how Ebay may thrive.

4. Once you have set up the questions, you need to tell me the data sources that you are going to
consult to do the research. Typically, you need to have already done some research
(Library/Interview) to write a good proposal.

Overall comments

1. Exhibits should be inserted between pages of the text.

2. Exhibits should not have page numbers.

3. Both the case and the analysis should be carefully organized, with topic headings and footnotes
conforming to standard report writing conventions.

4. Footnotes are to be numbered consecutively and placed at the bottom of the page on which they
appear. Do not use endnotes.

5. I would prefer if you gave me a stapled copy instead of an elaborate binding.

6. For the final draft, apart from a hard copy, I would like to have you e-mail the case preferably in
Word format.


Review the business research source list prepared by Katherine Wells, Business Librarian at Kelvin
Smith Library. Also consider company web-sites, EDGAR and phone calls and interviews. Plagiarism will

not be tolerated and is grounds for failing the course, so be sure to cite all sources and do not lift directly
from the annual report.

Due Dates

Case Proposal (due by September 4th) 10% of total project grade

Case Handout to Class (due by November 10th) 20% of total project grade
Case Analysis (due Session November 13th) 30% of total project grade
Presentation/Leading Class Discussion 40% of total project grade

Date Topics Readings & Cases
8/21 Introduction Dess Chapter #1 & #14
8/28 External Analysis Dess Chapter #2
Porter, “How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy”,
Harvard Business Review, Mar/Apr, 1979*

Case: Coors (CW 1)


Using the figures from Exhibit 9 in the case, construct a simple

income statement down to the level of operating income on a
per barrel basis for both Coors and Anheuser-Busch for 1977
and 1985. Consider price, COGS, advertising and SG&A
expenses (all on a per barrel basis for your comparison).
Compare the two brewers in each period and look carefully at
the net changes from 1977 to 1985 for each brewer.


1. What factors accounted for Coors’ competitive advantage

in the mid-1970s?

2. Why did the brewing industry consolidate?

3. Why has Coors’ performance deteriorated?

9/4 External Analysis Case: Apple 2006


Using the information in the case determine the share of

revenues and profits being generated by Desktops, Portables,
Music (total) and Other


1. Historically, what have been Apple’s major competitive

2. How have the dynamics of the PC Industry changed over
the last 15 years?
3. Has i-pod finally solved Apple’s long standing problems?
Is it truly different? Does it have a sustainable competitive

Case: Ready to eat Breakfast Cereal (CW 1)


How do the cost structures of private label and branded cereal

manufacturers differ? Complete the value chains on Web-CT
to estimate the margins for the branded versus the private label


1. Why has RTE cereal been such a profitable business?
2. What changes have led to the current industry crisis?
3. Why have private labels been able to enter this
industry successfully?
4. How do the cost structures of private label and
branded cereal manufacturers differ?
5. What does General Mills hope to accomplish with its
April 1994 reduction in trade promotions and prices?
6. What are the risks associated with these actions?
7. How do you expect General Mills’ competitors to
8. What should General Mills do?

9/11 Internal Analysis Dess Chapter #3

Barney, “Looking Inside for Competitive Advantage”,
Academy of Management Executive*

Case: Crown, Cork & Seal 1989 (CW1)


Complete the industry matrix on Web-CT for CC&S


1. What are the key strategic issues that Avery needs to

consider? What strategic options are open to him?

2. If we are going to analyze the industry that Crown Cork

competes in, what is the appropriate industry to

3. How attractive has the metal container industry been

over the years?

4. How well did Crown Cork do under John Connelly?

5. What significant changes are taking place in the

industry? How should the new CEO Bill Avery

9/18 Knowledge & Skills Dess Chapter #4

Prahalad & Hamel, “The Core Competence of the
Corporation”, Harvard Business Review, May/June 1990*

Case: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (CW 1)

1. What are the sources of Wal-Mart’s competitive advantage
in discount retailing?

2. How sustainable will their position in discount retailing be
in the future?
3. How successful will their diversification into the food
industry be?

9/25 Business Level Strategy Dess Chapter #5

Porter, “What Is Strategy?”
Harvard Business Review, Nov/Dec, 1996*

Case: Matching Dell (CW 2)


1. How and why did the personal computer industry

evolve into this situation?

2. Why has Dell been so successful?

3. Prior to the recent efforts by competitors to match Dell

(1997-1998), how big was Dell’s competitive

4. How effective have competitors been in responding to

the challenge posed by Dell’s advantage? Who has
done the worst job of responding to Dell?

5. What roles do HP and Gateway play in these


6. How effective have various attempts to catch Dell been

so far?

10/2 Corporate Level Strategy Dess Chapter #6

Case: Newell Co. (CW 2)


1.Does Newell have a corporate strategy? Does Newell

add value to the compnaies in its portfolio? How?
2. What are Newell’s distinctive competencies?
3. What challenges faced the company in the late
4. Does the acquisition of Calphalon make sense?
10/9 International Strategy Dess Chapter #7

Case: Jollibee Foods corp. (A) (CW 2)


1. How was Jollibee able to build its competitive

advantage in it home market? What competitive
advantages was it able to develop against McDonald’s
in it home market?

2. How would you evaluate Kitchner’s effectiveness as
the first head of Jollibee’s international division?
Does his broad strategic thrust make sense?
3. How effectively did Kitchner develop the
organization’s capabilities to implement his plans?
4. As Noli Tingzon, How would you deal with the three
options facing you? How would you implement your

10/16 Organizational Governance Dess Chapter #9 & #10

and Design Kerr, “On the Folly of Rewarding A, while Hoping for B”,
Academy of Management Executive, Feb 1995 & “More on the
Folly- Executive Fax Poll Results”, AME, Feb 1995*

Case: Lincoln Electric (CW 2)

1. How would you describe Lincoln Electric’s approach
to the organization and motivation of their

2. What role do you think this approach has played in

Lincoln’s performance over the last 25 years? Have
any other factors been more important?

3. What factors will be critical to Lincoln’s continued

success? What recommendations would you make to
Mr. Willis?

4. What is the applicability of Lincoln’s approach to

motivation to other companies and situations? Why
don’t more companies operate like Lincoln?

10/23 Strategic Leadership Kotter, “What Leaders Really Do”, Harvard Business Review,
May/June 1990*
Dess Chapter #11

Case: GE’s Talent Machine: The Making of a CEO (CW 3)


1. While other companies have difficulty producing CEO

candidates GE had managed to produce a surplus of CEO
talent. How have they managed it?
2. How generalizable are GE’s practice to other
organizations? Cultures? Industries?
3. Is it time for Immelt to tune up or even overhaul GE’s
management training policies and procedures?
Specifically how would you deal with proposes to change
the vitality curve? MBA recruiting? International
recruiting? The Executive bands?
4. What lessons do you take from the case? Whether you
view it as positive or negative how has this training
process come to be viewed as a competitive advantage for

10/30 Corporate Social Porter & Kramer “Strategy and Society: The Link Between
Responsibility Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility”
Harvard Business Review, December 2006*

Case: Managing Product Safety: The Ford Pinto (CW 3)


1. Is it simply that Ford was in the wrong place at the

wrong time as management seems to believe?
2. Should Ford ‘fight hard’ for the Pinto? Why? Why
3. What role did the ‘limits of 2000’ and the time
pressure have in creating the current situation?
4. The Pinto fires had serious adverse consequences for
Ford, was their analysis flawed? How? Why?
5. What are the lessons to be learned from Ford’s

Case: Starbucks and Conservation International (CW 3)


1. Does it make business sense for Starbucks to partner

with Conservation International? What’s the benefit
of dealing with small farmers in Southern Mexico?
2. Why not just contribute to CI and be done with it?
3. Is CI being exploited by Starbucks? What benefits do
they see from the collaboration?
4. How productive has the Starbucks CI partnership been
in Chiapas? What explains the outcomes?
11/6 Case: GE’s Two Decade Transformation: Jack Welch’s
Leadership (CW 3)

1. How difficult a challenge did Welch face in 1981?
How effectively did he take charge?
2. What is Welch’s objective in the series of initiatives
he launched in the late 1980s and 1990?
3. How does such a large, complex diversified
conglomerate defy the critics and continue grow so
4. What is your evaluation of Welch’s management
approach? How important is he to GE’s success?
5. What implications are there for his replacement?
6. What is it that you learned, if anything, from the
experience of Jack Welch?

Case: Ecolab (A) (CW 3)


1. What are the principal reasons for Ecolab’s leadership

position in the institutional cleaning business?
2. In what ways could Diversey challenge Ecolab’s

industry leadership?
3. What should Schuman do to ensure that Ecolab faces
such challenges forcefully?
4. How should Schuman manage the emerging tumult
within the Institutional Division?

11/13 Case Presentations

11/20 Case Presentations

* These readings are available in full text .pdf files through the UT Dallas Library.
CW1 – Each student must write one of these cases
CW2 – Each student must write one of these cases
CW3 – Each student must write one of these cases