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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.

Faculty

Philip Bromiley

Philip Bromiley
Dean’s Professor in Strategic Management
Research Interests: 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

John Joseph

John Joseph
Associate Professor
Research Interests: Strategic Decision Making, Organizational Design, Attention and Feedback in Organizations, Strategic Planning, Corporate Strategy, Innovation

Leonard Lane

Leonard Lane
Full-time Lecturer

William Morris

William Morris
Lecturer
Research Interests: Strategy

David Ochi

David Ochi
Lecturer
Research Interests: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Education, Economic Development

Luke Rhee

Luke Rhee
Assistant Professor

Libby Weber

Libby Weber
Associate Professor
Research Interests: Inter-firm Relationships, Contracts, M&A, Capability Development, Bounded Rationality, Complementing Economic-based Theory with Psychological Theory to Ask New Questions

Margarethe Wiersema

Margarethe Wiersema
Dean's Professor, Strategic Management
Research Interests: CEO Succession & Dismissal, CEO Replacement, Corporate Strategy - Product and International Diversification, Corporate Governance

Coursework

Undergraduate business classes may be found through the UCI course catalogue.

MBA Core Course Description

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

 

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
This course will expose students to the entire entrepreneurial process: identifying new venture opportunities, developing a business model, preparing a business plan, assembling a management team, raising the necessary financing, structuring and negotiating a deal, and launching a new enterprise. Students will have an excellent opportunity to synthesize the critical skills developed in the core courses and work experience to create business value where none existed before. Even if you never launch a new business yourself, this background can help you become more entrepreneurial in your thinking as you pursue your career goals within a more established framework. In the challenging world of business today, such innovative thinking and bold action is increasingly necessary not just in startups but in established companies as well.

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
This course emphasizes how firms adapt to changing environments.  The topics covered include forecasting, diversification, alliances and acquisitions, turnarounds, sustainable development, innovation management, blue ocean strategies, disruptive innovation, and managing change.  The course includes readings and cases.  The examples used cover topics the include Facebook’s purchase of WhatApp, transforming industries like telecom, the impact of 3D printing, and others.  In addition to the content, the course also offers students a chance to improve their memo-writing, an essential business skill.

219. Practice of General Management
This advanced business policy course is designed to prepare students for real world challenges that general managers and CEOs face in today’s fast changing and disrupted business environment. This rigorous course will prepare students for the higher levels of leadership, where major decisions must often be made with inadequate time and information. When faced with such uncertainties, a reliance on fundamentally sound principles, supported by key facts empirically generated, can become the best roadmap for successful decision making. Woven throughout the course students will learn a variety of proven learning methodologies and concepts that can help managers at all levels solve real world problems and deliver improved departmental results, while accelerating their career advancement.

262. Managing Nonprofits
This course examines America's nonprofit sector noting similarities and differences when compared to the for-profit world.  As Peter Drucker said, the bottom line for nonprofits is creating changed human beings.  That goal is only possible if nonprofit managers focus on three key elements: mission, leadership and sustainability.  

Well-run nonprofits employ digital technologies including state-of-the-art database management to track friends and donors, engage with various constituencies, and analyze data that informs the creation of a powerful mission as well as proper internal and external policies and practices.  Digital database and CSR management also inform strategies for sustainability, campaign development, and outreach.  Successful nonprofits usually have leaders/CEOs who clearly articulate the nonprofit's mission and can rally the staff and the community to embrace that mission, thereby ensuring its ultimate success. 

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. Networks, Platforms, and Ecosystems in Business Strategy
Digital technologies, from the beginning of their penetration into business practice in the 1960s, have created opportunities for users and suppliers to cluster around common technical standards and protocols for intercommunication. As computing and communication have grown in power and pervasiveness, leading up to today’s Internet-connected world, digital intermediation of multi-sided transactions has become the key context for strategic decisions about how to compete and cooperate in order to flourish. The famous stars of today—Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon—and their many would-be imitators and successors, as well as the companies adapting in their shadow, all must cope with the realities of a world in which controlling interfaces and interactions may be more valuable than any specific product or service that gets transacted. Or perhaps a new age of decentralized, common interaction protocols will replace today’s proprietary interaction hubs.

This course will provide a rigorous, economics-based and real-world-grounded development of the theory of network effects and standards competition, platform economics and tactics, ecosystems management, and regulatory impacts. Students will learn models and tools for analyzing and synthesizing strategies in these network, platform, and ecosystem contexts, including relevant parts of economics, game theory, network theory, and political science. They will apply these tools to contemporary and historical situations via class discussions, problems, and write-ups.

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.