The Strategy program develops students who study the factors that drive firms’ fundamental strategic choices and the way such choices influence firm performance, including risk-taking, management of strategic innovation processes, strategy formation and implementation, behavioral understandings of competition, global strategy and entrepreneurial strategy. The program embraces a wide variety of methodological approaches but shares an emphasis on rigorous scholarship directed at understanding the processes that cause important strategic outcomes.
MBA Core Class
New Venture Management
Global Competitive Strategy
Business Dynamics [ITM Course]
Business Growth Strategies
Practice of General Management
Sustainability and Competitive Advantage
Health Care Strategy in a Dynamic Environment
PhD, Carnegie-Mellon University
Key Areas - Behavioral research in strategic management; strategic decision-making; strategy processes; corporate risk-taking; risk assessment in commercial lending; accounting misrepresentation; R&D policy; trust in organizations; corporate capital investment
PhD, University of Southern California
Key Areas - Inter-firm relationships; contracts; M&A; capability development; bounded rationality; complementing economic-based theory with psychological theory to ask new questions
PhD, University of Michigan
Key Areas - CEO succession and dismissal; CEO replacement; corporate strategy – product and international diversification; corporate governance
PhD, Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires
Key Areas - Interaction between strategy and capital markets, competitive strategy, corporate governance
For the latest public research in Strategy, click here.
Visiting & Affiliated Faculty and Researchers
210 Business Strategy
Firm performance depends heavily on a set of inter-connected strategic choices involving where and how the firm will compete. Strategic management goes to the heart of how managers add value to the firm by focusing on how managers should make such major choices regarding overall firm direction. This course provides conceptual frameworks and techniques to analyze, develop, and implement firm strategies. The course begins with providing frameworks for understanding the dynamics of industry structure, the evolution of this structure, and the pattern of interaction among the competitors in the industry. The course then focuses on assessment of the organizational resources and routines that form the basis for firm-specific capabilities. The course emphasizes the development of competitive strategy based on leveraging firm-specific capabilities in the marketplace. The course is practical and problem-oriented. A major part of the course involves applying concepts, frameworks, analytical techniques, and managerial insights to the strategic issues which real world companies face. In applying strategic analyses to real-world situations, students take the role of key decision makers and address questions regarding their evaluation of the marketplace and organization. Through case analysis and discussion, the course helps students improve their strategic thinking by developing frameworks by which to assess, evaluate, and respond different business situations. Prerequisite: 200, 202, 205, 209A.
213 New Venture Management
This course is designed to teach you how to launch and manage a new business and inspire you to consider doing so. It is appropriate for aspiring entrepreneurs, prospective venture capitalists, small business consultants or those who want to think more creatively about launching a new venture for an established company. The course will provide an overview of the start-up process, including how to: identify new business opportunities, develop a sound operating model, value new ventures, understand venture capital financing, assemble and motivate a management team, explore legal issues for start-ups, hone management disciplines appropriate for small companies, and evaluate potential harvesting options.
Each class session will feature a lecture on a different aspect of new venture management, followed by a case discussion. Guest lecturers will include a venture capitalist and one or more successful entrepreneurs. The cases include companies involved in software, internet sales, cloud based businesses, retailing, financial services and assistive technology. There will be several individual written assignments to help you think from the perspective of a start-up entrepreneur, including one that requires you to value and negotiate an acquisition.
In lieu of a final exam, students will form teams and choose between two project options: (1) Conduct a consulting assignment with a start-up venture in the Orange County area; or, (2) Prepare a business plan and investor presentation for a new venture idea. If the latter option is selected, students will have to work more independently than in 214 Entrepreneurship, with less interim feedback. Whichever route is taken, the project must emphasize surveying or interviewing prospective customers and distributors to gain market intelligence and validate your ideas and conclusions.
This is a project course in which student teams develop a business plan to launch a new venture. Drafts of sections of the plan are due throughout the course. The final business plan is presented to a panel of private investors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, experienced executives, and faculty. The course assumes that entrepreneurship is a social process, rather than a transaction, whose goal is to create a new organization Entrepreneurship is not about running a small business. It is about founding a new organization to create financial or social value. We will consider an array of related issues ranging from idea development and creation to going public or
harvesting the venture.
215 Global Competitive Strategy
The overseas activities of multinational enterprises generate annually about $19 trillion in revenue from about 850,000 “foreign” subsidiaries. The value of the world’s international trade is only about half that amount. Consequently, the international activities of corporations – both large and small – are a significant component of the world’s total economic activity. As such, most MBA graduates, sooner rather than later, become involved in operating in a global arena.
This course uses case discussions, readings, and lectures to explore advanced topics in managing the geographic scope of the firm: locating activities in the right places, exploiting exchange rates, which markets to penetrate, horizontal integration across countries, strategy in global firms that are also in multiple industries, multinational partnering, political and regulatory issues, and the organizational structure of complex globa firms. Our discussion of these topics builds on the theories and frameworks from core strategy and our focus will almost always be on what determines the firm’s economic performance over time. At all times we will bear in mind the fundamental questions: When and why does a firm operating in multiple locations have competitive advantage over a collection of single-location rivals? When should international linkages be managed inside the firm, and when should they be left to market transactions or to collaborative alliances? Given a global strategy, how should the firm be organized to execute it?
218 Business Dynamics [ITM Course]
While it is well accepted that the goal of strategic management is the attainment and preservation of sustainable competitive advantage, increasingly agile and dynamic competitors can quickly turn a manager’s strategy for advantage into an inflexible path for demise. Today’s innovative and fast-paced competitive environment demands a new level of managerial thinking that can pursue competitive advantage while simultaneously developing the ability to respond to challenges to organizational survival. It is this ability to ensure organizational survival as one pursues competitive advantage that is the focus of Business Dynamics. Business Dynamics aims to improve both your ability to analyze sudden challenges to organizational survival and to quickly implement a winning response. We will enhance your competitive analytical skill by dissecting some of the more complex challenges to organizational adaptation including changing diversification, acquisitions and alliances, turnarounds of struggling companies, sustainability, strategic innovation management, and managing strategic change. The course emphasizes student participation including both in class participation and the writing of memos arguing for specific strategies. Business Dynamics is specifically designed as a strategy elective that builds upon the core course in Business Strategy (210). Individuals eager to enhance their skills in strategic analysis and formulation and in written communication will find the course particularly valuable.
290 Business Growth Strategies
This course focuses on management of growth opportunities in industries where applied innovation, usually in the form of technology, people, or processes creates distinct competitive advantages. The rapid pace of change from applied innovation can create growth opportunities from disintermediation of status quo market share leaders and making historical economic models obsolete. Disruptive technologies can alter industry models including but not limited to new products, manufacturing processes, service delivery processes, information systems or customer interactions. Although the course will primarily use business to business concepts from technology driven organizations in course materials, the strategic lessons to be learned from these fast moving markets have value for all managers because all industries are now being redefined in one way or another by the application of technology.
290 Competitive Intelligence
Competitive intelligence is a combination of an “art” (CI focused strategy), science (analytical techniques) and craft (learning from experience of managing and doing CI). An effective competitive intelligence program (CIP) is a core foundation upon which competitive strategies and execution tactics are developed, assessed and modified. The heart of the course is developing a CIP. The CIP is a continuous process that integrates both formal and informal intelligence gathering processes by which managers in the organization assess, disseminate and use key trends, emerging discontinuities, the evolution of industry structure and the capabilities and behaviors of current and potential competitors to assist in formulating and implementing strategy and tactics. The course focuses on how to design a CIP and produce actionable intelligence based on a framework that provides answers to three critical questions: (i) To what extent do we understand why and how strategic interactions with competitors and non-market forces impact our competitive position? (ii) To what extent is intelligence integrated (flows) to managers on a timely basis? Four elements are focused on in this process: behavioral, political, organizational systems/processes and mental models. (iii) To what extent and in what manner is competitive intelligence factored into the corporate/business unit decision making and implementation process? A CIP is an essential part of an intelligence focused strategy. The result of a deep understanding and implementation of a CIP is sustainable and profitable growth. The methods of intelligence collection, analysis, dissemination and counter intelligence are framed within a global context. The course relies heavily on cases and selected readings and will conclude with a “War Game” in which teams, utilizing insights and models developed during the course will engage in an industry battle for competitive advantage. The course is particularly relevant for students interested in the areas of strategic planning, marketing, MIS, international business and finance, although everyone is welcome. Prerequisites: 200, 202.
290 Corporate Governance
290 Corporate Strategy
This elective addresses critical issues in corporate strategy, which revolve around the scope of the firm. These often involve immediately consequential “headline” decisions about mergers and acquisitions, but also concern fundamental long-term questions about which firm capabilities to develop and how to nurture them. We will develop principles for choosing and managing vertical scope (e.g., make-or-buy decisions), horizontal scope (e.g. mergers of equals within an industry), multi-business scope (e.g. related and unrelated diversification), and geographic scope (e.g. location of activities), singly and in combination. While we will bear in mind at all times the important role of financial markets in valuing and pricing these scope decisions, our emphasis will be on the management aspects: How do different choices of scope affect the competitive economic position of the firm? What is the relationship between corporate strategy and the business-level strategies of the firm’s constituent parts? What organizational structures, processes, and culture are needed to effectively manage particular types of corporate strategy?
290 Health Care Strategy in a Dynamic Environment
Recent shifts in public policy, combined with increasing attention to rapidly growing expenditures on medical goods and services, call into question traditional strategies and business models in the health care and insurance industries. This course will examine the underlying economic and political forces driving these changes and evaluate the potential for proposed new strategies to cope with them.
290 Practice of General Management
General Managers with responsibility for the overall profitability and performance of an organization face a formidable set of challenges. Whether leading a department, plant, store, division or company, they must make the big decisions that determine the organization’s success or failure. For them, there is always more at stake.
This course is designed to teach the graduating MBA how the best managers actually manage. Students will develop a toolkit of proven concepts and practices that will help them succeed as managers at any level. The toolkit will include management disciplines, practical techniques, analytical skills and a series of memorable “Axioms of Leadership.” The course is organized around modules that each address a facet of the GM’s job: taking command, strategic vision, turnaround management, organic growth, managing execution, operational excellence, people management, growth through acquisitions, global expansion, crisis management and improved decision making. The lessons to be learned will be derived from seminal leadership articles, current news clippings, in-class brainstorming, the course text Good to Great by Jim Collins and case studies of CEO leadership—both good and bad. The course will require three individual written assignments that put students in the shoes of a general manager. A fourth paper, in lieu of a final exam, requires developing a “good to great plan” for an organization familiar to the student. There will be guest lectures by several CEOs with outstanding track records.
The material in this course will help managers at all levels deliver improved results and accelerate their career advancement. All managers should ask themselves, “If they took away your title, would people still follow you?” After students successfully master the material in this course, the answer should be a resounding “Yes”.
290 Sustainability and Competitive Advantage
Sustainability is a “megatrend” that is garnering ever-greater public attention and will have a major impact on how companies conduct business. While most companies comply with regulatory requirements, few managers fully understand the challenge of addressing sustainability from a strategic perspective. Companies often approach sustainability through a variety of “green initiatives”, without fully addressing it as a trans-formative event in the business environment within which they compete. This course will focus on how to integrate environmental efforts as a key part of a firm’s business strategy. Utilizing case studies and current thinking on the subject, this course will help develop the skills necessary to assess how a company can build a competitive advantage incorporating sustainability as a key corporate capability.
290 Strategic Innovation
The process of innovation is an essential prerequisite to firm growth, particularly in high tech industries. This course examines how innovations are created inside and outside the firm, and are diffused to the market. It considers the opportunities for firms to gain competitive advantage through innovation, how innovation renders existing advantage obsolete, and how those opportunities and threats change across the product life cycle. The course focuses on competition in technology-based industries, but also considers how innovation can transform established industries, for better or for worse.
291 Doctoral Seminar in Corporate Strategy
This is an introductory seminar in the history, theories and empirical research in the field of strategy. Our focus will be on research that seeks to explain variation in firm (business or corporate) strategies and performance. The seminar touches upon the major topics and theories in the strategy field, but it is not inclusive of all theories and topics. The focus of the seminar is to explain what firms and their managers do (content) rather than how they do it (process). The objective of the seminar is for students to develop an advanced understanding of the major theories, issues, and contributions on strategic management. Topics that will be covered in the course are competitive (business level) strategy, corporate strategy and scope, industry versus firm effects on firm performance, the CEO and top management, and corporate governance. Theoretical perspectives will include industrial organization economics, transaction costs economics, agency theory, and resource-based view of the firm.
291 Doctoral Seminar in Strategy Process
Examines research on process by which firms formulate and implement strategy. Topics covered include top management teams, cognitive approaches, risk taking, CEO's and boards, and top management decision processes.