Strategic Management Summer Program 2011

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Unit Outline*


Strategic Management

Summer Program 2011


Mr Sathya Ganganahalli

Business School

* This Unit Outline should be read in conjunction with the Business School Unit Outline Supplement available on the Current Students web site


All material reproduced herein has been copied in accordance with and pursuant to a statutory licence administered by Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), granted to the University of Western Australia pursuant to Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).

Copying of this material by students, except for fair dealing purposes under the Copyright Act, is prohibited. For the purposes of this fair dealing exception, students should be aware that the rule allowing copying, for fair dealing purposes, of 10% of the work, or one chapter/article, applies to the original work from which the excerpt in this course material was taken, and not to the course material itself.

© The University of Western Australia 2011



Welcome to the capstone unit of your MBA course. This is a very important unit and it is important that you gain as much benefit from this unit as possible.

Unit content

This capstone unit takes a general, integrating perspective and is concerned with setting the strategic direction of organizations. The most important outcome from undertaking this unit is to better consider how managers and organizations can think and act in a strategic way.

This unit predominately uses case studies to improve the strategic thinking capability of students. A number of topics are considered: What is strategy?; How does strategy happen within organizations?; vision, strategy and values; analysing environmental forces and searching for a sustainable competitive advantage; competitor positioning and game theory; the impact of disruptive technologies upon business model innovation including forming inter-organizational networks of relationships; entrepreneurial strategies; core competencies; parenting advantage; strategic turnaround; measuring strategy; strategic leadership; managing strategic change.

The Goal of the unit

The most important outcome is that you are able to think and act in a strategic way. Overall, the course aims to improve the practice of management i.e your ability to manage a variety of strategic and operational situations. These situations may be complex and you should be able to cope with a considerable amount of ambiguity. The overriding theme of the course is strategic transformation. The aim of the course is to introduce students to:

  • Total view of the organisations’ stakeholders, its mission, goals, long term prospects and how it relates and interacts with various actors and forces in its environment.

  • Concepts and practices of strategic analyses and strategy formulation, both informal and planned explicitly.

  • Analysis of business environment and identification of long-term trends and change.

  • Competitive positioning with respect to rivals and developing a sustainable competitive advantage.

  • Aspects of implementing strategies.

  • Aspects of strategic leadership at top levels of the organisation.

Our perspective is that of the total organisation, usually as seen from the position of a general manager and/or managing director/CEO. However, the topic is of interest to all levels of management as well as staff and advisers. These people are affected by and in turn influence the way the firm chooses to strategically position itself in its industry.

Policy and strategic management are not confined to profit-making business organisations, nor to the organisation as a whole. The concepts are useful also to not-for-profit organisations as well as for organisational sub-units and career strategies of individuals.

With more active approach, you will learn far more than a few theories and interesting case studies, and this will serve you well in understanding strategic management. Therefore you are required to pre-read and prepare well for seminar sessions, attend and participate actively in those sessions and hand in assignments on time and doing your fare share of work in team/group projects.

Learning outcomes

The course lends itself to discussion and analysis of practical cases as well as theoretical concepts and business magazine articles. An important feature of the course is an emphasis on perspective and developing one’s own point of view.

Students are expected to spend an average of 6-8 hours individually and in their groups preparing for each class session. Successful learning on the course depends very much on you reading the material, to fully prepare the cases and to have constructive discussion of issues in your groups and in the class. To paraphrase Frances Bacon: “reading makes a person full, writing makes a person precise and debate makes a person prepared.”

You will have to deal with quite a number of different ideas – sometimes they agree with each other, sometimes they don’t. You will be given concepts/frameworks and support to help you to integrate the different perspectives you will come across – but it is also important that you exercise your mind to make sense of, or accept, these differences in your own way, so that you develop your own thinking and views.

This course uses a variety of learning including case analyses, group work and classroom discussions of both theory and practical application. Therefore, the attendance and participation in class sessions are essential part of learning process and the functioning of the course.

The course consists of 10 sessions; each session is about 3.5 hours. The unit structure consists of:

  1. A number of case studies,

  2. A selection of important journal articles/readings supplement to the textbook (in a package), and

  3. A selection of important concepts/theory from the textbook chapters.

On completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • Have deeper understanding of strategy theory.

  • Have experience in application of strategy theory/concepts and your work experience to a number of case studies and readings.

Educational Principles and Graduate Attributes

A key task is to identify which questions to ask rather than to seek answers to questions put by someone else. Throughout the course, in class analysis of cases, in deciding on topics for assignments, and in evaluating theoretical concepts, students must frame their own questions wherever possible.

In this unit, you will be provided with the opportunity to:

    • Critically evaluate and identify the strategic issues and developing an appropriate strategies according to the context;

    • Develop effective communication skills through class presentation on the findings of issues and by responding to any questions that arise during discussions;

    • Develop competencies to work more effectively in teams through the completion of a group/team strategic project relating to your selected business context;

    • Demonstrate self-management and independent learning skills through the completion of the prescribed weekly exercises, a number of assignments and the final examination;

    • Develop and understanding of the business environment and competitive threats facing the organisations through completion of various case studies.
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