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
Mergers & Acquisitions Growth Strategies
Topics in Strategic Innovation
Practice of General Management
Sustainability and Competitive Advantage
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 focuses on survival and growth of new ventures—the challenges facing a manager who wants to transform a young small firm into a much larger successful firm. However new firms fail at a high rate, a phenomenon called the “liabilities of newness.” Building from contemporary research, the course identifies key issues that contribute to new venture failure and articulates managerial actions to increase the likelihood of new venture survival and financial success. Methods include analysis of live cases, guest speakers, discussion, and field projects with contemporary entrepreneurs to learn about successful new venture management and surviving the liabilities of newness. Prerequisites: 200, 202, 205.
Instead of a single transaction, entrepreneurship is a social process where a group seeks to found a new organization to create financial or social value. Over the course of this project course, student teams develop a business plan to launch a new venture. The content of the course addresses the frameworks and issues essential to producing various portions of the plan. The content covers an array of related issues ranging from idea development and creation to going public or harvesting the venture. In parallel with this content, students submit drafts of sections of the plan throughout the course. Students present their final business plans to a panel of private investors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, experienced executives, and faculty.
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 gives students an understanding of the complexities of international operations as well as how to take advantage of these opportunities. Global Competitive Strategy examines the opportunities, challenges, and strategies of operating firms with an international presence. Among other topics, we examine: • the potential for companies to be competitive in the global arena, • the industry structure on a global basis, • achieving global strength, • international risk, • various functional areas such as operations, marketing, and human resources, • design and implementation of a global organization, and • development of global strategy. To address these topics and others, the course uses seven or eight Harvard cases featuring such firms as Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive, Philips, and several non-US firms. The cases deal with international operations in the U.S., the U.K., Spain, China, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia in general. The cases are tied into the short text, George Yip’s Total Global Strategy II, which will provide a helpful conceptual underpinning for our discussions on the strategic as well as managerial aspects of international business. In addition, we will be using a course pack of readings from various sources. Prerequisites: 202, 205, 210.
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 Crisis Management
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 Entertainment/Content Convergent Business Strategies
An Entertainment/Content Business Strategy is the top executive proactive optimal strategic management of one-to-many creative business projects within the economic realities of the Enterprise. Whether a feature film, an internet streaming video, a high-tech television commercial, a computer game, a theme park ride, a focused corporate advertising or promotional program, a live rock musical concert, or any number of other types of internal and external media productions, the nature of Content production and management requires a strong knowledge of the economic models and operational framework of the Entertainment Industry, even for executives in companies in completely different industries. With its inherently unique financing models and ubiquitous contract variety, the Entertainment Industry is today converging with the High Technology Industry, and evolving into the Content Industry, affecting virtually every form and type of corporate strategic endeavor. Advertising, promotion, web sites, business-to-business e-Commerce, distribution, and even financing are all increasingly driven by the nature and management of the informational Content decisions and strategy chosen and managed by top executives. As Peter Drucker says, “Business has only 2 purposes: Innovation and Marketing.” Strategic Content management expertise at the highest corporate levels is key to both. This course exposes the student to the background and operative business models of many forms of Content acquisition/generation, financing, production, distribution, exhibition/display and creative project management, concentrating on the management decision factors, techniques, and insights which lead to success. The course involves learning and applying the concepts and unique facets of Intellectual Property, content analytical techniques, and managerial insights to the strategic issues which real-world Entertainment and other industrial companies face. Breakeven and ROI analyses are an integral part of strategic project decisions, and are illustrated and applied in their many variations. Film and television celebrities and visionaries are planned to be guest lecturers, as their schedule permits. The major objectives of this course are: 1. To acquire proficiency with the principal concepts, frameworks, and techniques of strategic content project acquisition/analysis and production management, as used by top executives in the Entertainment and other Content-heavy Industries, 2. To gain expertise in applying these concepts, frameworks, and analytical techniques in order to predict the performance by a company’s Internet, content project, project stream, or production enterprise, generate strategic alternatives, and select the most appropriate strategy. 3. To integrate the knowledge gained in previous courses with the frameworks of strategic management of Content production and Content-based projects. 4. To develop capabilities as a general manager in understanding the operations of and managing effectively a business enterprise which has significant Content production, or has a heavy Internet strategic direction planned or operative.
290 HC Strategy in 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 Managing in Global World
The class on Global Business will examine the issue of globalization, perhaps the single most important force at work in contemporary society, business management and economics. Globalization is a complex phenomenon and the class will explore its causes, nature, effects and implications for managers in modern business organizations. Specifically the class will focus on the duality of global business, i.e., understanding the global context, scope, and opportunities as well as specific cultural, historical, political, social, and economic issues impacting the global business environment. Topics to be covered will include context issues involving trade, monetary policy, the dynamics of national interests , international interests and business strategy and the promise and problems of globalization; the drivers and evolution of international and global business including strategy and structure; the importance of foreign direct investment; the importance of culture and the development of a global mindset. The unifying thread will be to understand the impact of these drivers on a firm’s ability to gain a competitive edge in a global context. The outcome for students will be a practical understanding of the context and operational issues they must address as mangers in a globalizing world. The course will be highly participatory and rely heavily on case studies, guest speakers and research that is currently being conducted on these topics.
290 Mergers & Acquisitions Growth Strategies
Growth through mergers and acquisitions can provide an attractive means to jump start a stagnant company, leverage its core competencies or diversify into attractive adjacent markets, but it is a strategic path fraught with risks. When is it the best course versus alternative growth strategies? What is the “perfect “fit” test for evaluating target companies? What antitrust considerations must the acquirer bear in mind? Addressing those questions will provide the strategic backdrop for a more detailed review of the techniques and mechanics of growing through acquisition: merger economics, deal structure, valuation, negotiation tactics, legal considerations, due diligence, closing the deal and post-closing integration. The course will conclude with units on deal financing and leveraged buyouts, corporate restructuring and takeover defenses. Each week a different acquisition oriented case will be discussed. Two papers during the course will require developing pricing proposals and building financial models of actual target companies described in unpublished cases. For the final project, the student will prepare for a board of directors an acquisition proposal that identifies a target company, justifies the strategic rationale, analyzes different purchase prices, proposes a financing plan and calculates an internal rate of return for the acquiring company or investors. The course will thus interweave three M&A strands: strategic considerations, operational methodologies and financial modeling techniques. Upon completion of the course, the diligent student will be ready to acquire his or her first company.
290 Practice of General Management
General managers, who are responsible for the overall profitability and performance of an organization, face a formidable set of challenges. Whether charged with managing 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. Whether a division general manager or a company CEO, they must choose an overall strategic direction for the business and then take responsibility for its product/service superiority, market share gains/losses, technological excellence/shortcomings, operational effectiveness, customer service levels, employee morale and of course profitability and ultimate survival. The prior experience of a newly promoted general manager or CEO will probably have left many of these bases uncovered. All senior managers begin their tenures with great promise, having excelled in lower level positions, yet many will fail. There is no science and little academic literature to provide the keys to success at this level. Instead, the most valuable lessons must be gleaned from the best practices being employed by executives across a variety of business settings.
This course is designed to teach the graduating MBA how the best managers actually manage. Students will develop throughout the course a toolkit of proven concepts and practices that will help them succeed as department managers, division general managers and ultimately CEOs. The toolkit will include philosophical principles, practical techniques, analytical skills and a series of memorable “management axioms.” The course is organized around modules, each reflecting a facet of the senior manager’s job. Some representative topics: Taking Command, Strategic Vision, Turnaround Management, Managing by the Numbers, Organic Growth, Operational Excellence, People Management, Growth through Acquisitions, Global Expansion, and Crisis Management. Each class session will begin with a challenging discussion question, such as, “What steps should a new manager take in assuming command of any new organization?” There will then be a lecture on the day’s topic referencing many real world business examples, followed by a case discussion of management successes and failures in different industries. During the course, several guest speakers with CEO experience will add their perspectives.
290 Senior Management Issues
General Managers face a different set of challenges than functional executives. There is always more at stake. They must choose an overall strategic direction for the business and then take responsibility for its product/service superiority, market share gains/losses, technological excellence/shortcomings, operational effectiveness, customer service levels, employee morale and of course profitability and ultimate survival. The prior experience of a newly promoted GM will have left many of these bases uncovered. There is no science and little academic literature to tell us why some CEOs and general managers succeed brilliantly and others fail dismally, despite all having proven their mettle in lower level positions. Instead, the lessons of senior leadership must be gleaned from the best practices being employed by executives across a variety of business settings. This course is designed to teach the graduating MBA how the best managers actually manage. Students will develop throughout the course a toolkit of proven concepts and practices that will help them succeed as general managers and ultimately CEOs. The toolkit will include philosophical principles, practical techniques, analytical skills and a series of memorable “management axioms.” The course is organized around modules, each reflecting a facet of the general manager’s job. Some representative topics: Taking Command, Strategic Vision, Turnaround Management, Managing by the Numbers, Organic Growth, Operational Excellence, People Management, Growth through Acquisitions, Global Expansion, and Crisis Management. The lessons to be learned in each case will be derived from seminal readings in the practice of general management, from the course text Good to Great by Jim Collins, and from case studies in CEO leadership. Each class session will begin with a discussion question, such as, “What steps should a new manager take in assuming command of any new organization?” There will then be a lecture on the day’s topic referencing many real world business examples. Finally, a case discussion will examine general management successes and failures in different industries. The course will also have as guest speakers several successful CEOs who will add their perspectives. The class will require four individual written assignments that put the student in the shoes of a general manager. In place of a final exam, students will write a paper of 8-10 pages that develops a “good to great” plan for an organization familiar to them. Students often find that this paper can be very useful in their job settings. While the course covers topics specific to the general manager or CEO, woven throughout will be personal leadership lessons that can help department managers at all levels deliver improved results and accelerate their career advancement. You will learn how to manage strategically—positioning your operation for long term success—based on principles that apply in any organizational setting. This course poses a central question to all managers: If they took away your title, would people still follow you? After students successfully complete this course, the answer should be a resounding “Yes”. Prerequisite: 210.
290 Social Responsibility
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 Topics in Strategic Innovation
As global competition heats up at an ever-increasing pace, the ability to innovate becomes a vital strategy for every business. Yet it is not enough to focus on a single, breakthrough innovation or a series of small incremental changes. The business of tomorrow will only grow through a sustainable approach and practice of innovation. This course will incorporate three elements: Organizing for Innovation, Vision, and Leadership which include: Infrastructure, competition, cooperation • Policies • Strategies • Thinking styles • Processes and Innovation in a Global Context • New primary research on Chinese markets • Innovation in lasers, stem cells, fuel cells at UCI • Microfinance, water, and cell phones in emerging markets • The future being invented today around the globe and Innovation at Work. Every student will take part in a team project for an existing business or organization that will incorporate the principles of innovation, help develop strategies, and deliver added value. The course will include case studies of organizations including Cirque de Soleil, Samsung and Apple; examination of new research; a panel of expert speakers; and hands-on participation in an innovative project. Prerequisite: 210.
291 Doctoral Seminar in Corporate Strategy I & II
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. In addition, the seminar seeks to explain what firms and their managers do rather than how they do it. In this regard the seminar will not address the strategy process literature.
291 Ph.D. Seminar in Topics in Strategic Management: Part I
This course will consist of 5 class sessions (1 every 2 weeks) devoted to the following two topics in the field of management: (I) Upper Echelon Research and issues related to CEO succession; (II) Firm Capabilities and Learning and the impact on firm performance. Each class will consist of a required set of readings and a paper assignment.
291 Ph.D. Seminar in Topics in Strategic Management: Part II
This course will consist of 5 class sessions (1 every 2 weeks) devoted to the following two topics in the field of management: (I) Contracting Capabilities and Trust: the impact on the scope of the firm; (II) Capital Markets and their influence on Corporate Strategy. Each class will consist of a required set of readings and a paper assignment.
291 Ph.D. Seminar in Strategy Content
291 Strategy Content
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 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.
291 Topics In Strategic Management: Part I
Will address major research activities in one or two areas of strategic management. The areas of focus will vary so interested students should contact the instructors.