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Strategy

In the Strategy area, students 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. We embrace a wide variety of methodological approaches but share an emphasis on rigorous scholarship directed at understanding the processes that cause important strategic outcomes.

Coursework

Undergraduate business classes may be found through UCI’s course catalogue.

MBA Core Course Descriptions

MGMT 210. Strategic Management
Managers must continually make inter-connected strategic choices that directly impact firm performance. These decisions range from how to position the company in the industry to which capabilities a firm should invest in. However, as the introduction of cutting-edge technologies exponentially reduces industry lifecycles, these choices become even more complex and uncertain. This course, Strategic Management, focuses on how managers can use analysis to make insightful strategic decisions about overall firm direction in this fast moving environment. It provides rigorous conceptual frameworks and techniques to identify firm strategies as new technologies, organizational forms, business models and ecosystems transform industries.

This course is guided by a strategic framework which focuses on analyses across three key areas of strategic management: industry structure, firm capabilities and growth/innovation. The industry structure analysis examines the attractiveness of the industry segment and whether the competitive structure of the industry likely to change with the advent of new technologies, non-traditional competitors and business models. The capabilities analysis is an internal analysis which focuses on the firm’s unique resources and capabilities and whether they can provide value and sustainable competitive advantage in dynamic environments. The growth and innovation analysis examines how firms may identify new growth opportunities allowing firms to lead industry transformations, rather than watch their industry change around them. Here we focus on innovation in products, technologies and business models in dynamic times. Finally, this course investigates innovation through such topics as updating and prototyping business models and understanding how to manage exploration and exploitation when facing the possibility of a disruptive technology.

MBA Elective Descriptions

212. Business Growth Strategies for Managers
Focuses on management of growth opportunities in industries where applied innovation, usually in the form of technology, people, or processes, creates distinct competitive advantages.

213. New Venture Management
If you want to be an entrepreneur, manager at an early stage company or an early stage investor this course will cover topics such as how to: identify new business opportunities; value new ventures; develop a sound operating model; understand venture capital financing; understanding an investor presentation and business plan; hone management disciplines appropriate for small companies; and evaluate potential harvesting options and how to create a digital strategy.  A digital strategy is not only about the role of technology in business, but also about how evolving technology disrupts traditional business models and operations. Leaders must learn how to anticipate the next disruption and/or develop and lead those disruptive initiatives. Through contemporary case studies students will explore how to use analytical decision making and innovative thought to make increasingly complex strategic decisions in the real world.

214. Entrepreneurship: Planning the New Venture
Project course in which student teams develop a business plan to launch a new venture. The final business plan is presented to an expert panel.

215. Strategy for a Digital Age
The accelerating development of digital technologies has been a dominant force shaping business opportunities (and constraints) since the late 20th century. The exact implications of this trend vary across businesses, markets, and industries and also over time, calling for precise and specific strategic analysis for each situation. Today, firms are still adjusting to the consequences of past digital development, but even as these existing waves of change work their way through the economy, continuing digitalization is creating another, newer wave of developments: blockchain transaction control, true digital manufacturing with tiny modular components, cheap robotics and automation, and the application of artificial neural networks to large data sets, among other emerging capabilities.

Strategy for a Digital Age focuses on applying the unchanging basic principles of strategy, economics, and organization—the “eternals”—to these new developments. Through the study of both historical and contemporary competitive situations, using strategic and economic principles and models, we will work out key underlying digital mechanisms—the “themes”—that shape competition over time, not just for firms producing hardware, software, and information services but also for firms whose businesses are being transformed by the use of digitalization. And we will learn to apply these eternals and themes to contemporary business situations spanning a range of current digital topics. 

217. Competitive Intelligence
In a world increasingly defined by the exponential growth in computing power, students will learn how to design, build and operate a competitive intelligence program. A competitive intelligence program assesses a competitor’s strengths and weaknesses across products, advertising and brand platforms upon which digitally driven strategies and execution tactics are developed, assessed, and modified.

The class teaches students the tools and practical examples to define, gather, analyze, and distribute actionable intelligence about products, customers, competitors, and any aspect of the environment needed to support executives and managers in strategic decision making for an organization. Students will learn how to assess a company’s external environment, including the industry and relevant competitors, using traditional as well as the technically advanced tools like massive parallel processing offered by big data architecture to discern elements key to establishing trends and appropriate responses.

218. Business Dynamics
Examines how firms change strategies to adapt to modern technological and information environments while also modifying such environments.

219. Practice of General Management
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.

290. Corporate Strategy
Most medium-to-large firms operate in multiple businesses/markets simultaneously. Corporate strategy is the study of how these portfolios, and the way they are jointly managed, affects firm performance. This course will teach students how to answer the questions of which businesses ought to be jointly owned and how they should be governed within the firm.

Digital technologies are having a profound impact on these questions, as they enhance both the ability to coordinate activities across firm boundaries and to control them within a single diversified firm. In addition, new kinds of digital synergies (and dysergies) of shared software architectures, platforms, data streams, etc. are disrupting old patterns of coordination across activities and creating new ones. This wave of change requires fresh thinking in corporate strategy, adapting older models and developing new ones that fit the digital age.

290. Special Topics in Strategy
Studies in selected areas of strategy. Topics addressed vary each quarter. Past courses include: Corporate Strategy, Topics in Strategic Innovation, Corporate Governance.

PhD Course Descriptions

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.