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Companies today have to make a complex set of choices based on a wide variety of options regarding their markets, their operations, and their governance and organization structures to take account of increasing competition and globalization.

Assignment Task

Aims Of The Module – Strategic Management

Companies today have to make a complex set of choices based on a wide variety of options regarding their markets, their operations, and their governance and organization structures to take account of increasing competition and globalization.

The aim of the module is to examine concepts of strategic management in national and multinational corporations but in a way that has relevance for smaller businesses. Emphasis will be placed on the strategic management processes, including strategic analysis, choice of goals, leadership, and the implementation of major change. The module will focus on case studies drawn from commercial organizations internationally.

The module aims to equip students with a theoretical understanding of the concepts of strategic management and practical tools to use in analyzing significant strategic change.

Learning Strategy

The approach will be based on active and student-centred sessions focused on individual and small-group learning. All sessions will begin with specified expected outcomes and will end with a summary. The module will utilize a number of case studies as well as the direct experiences of students as the basis for analysis and debate.

In all sessions, students will be encouraged to relate theoretical input to their own experience and discuss this with the group. They will be expected to work on assignments between taught sessions and present their analysis for wider discussion.

Many of the sessions will be structured around a PowerPoint presentation. This together with other sources of supplementary material will be placed on Moodle. Guest speakers with direct experience of working in businesses will be invited to present to the students.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

1. Understand what a business strategy is and its criticality in achieving sustainable competitive advantage

2. Critically evaluate strategic issues and principles of change associated with business operations

3. Evaluate the factors that need to be considered in analyzing a firm’s external environment as well as the internal core competencies of a firm

4. Take account of corporate social responsibility and sustainable operations

5. Critically consider issues associated with managing change and ensuring that the strategy is capable of being implemented 6. Articulate the management processes and governance required to develop and maintain an effective strategy

Appendix 1: Case for Class Participation – Individual Discussion 1

Google Inc came to life with the two brilliant people as the founder of the company. Those two were Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Both of them are a PhDs holder in computer science in Stanford University California. In their research project, they came out with a plan to make a search engine that ranked websites according to the number of other websites that linked to that site. Before Google was established, search engines had ranked site simply by the number of times the search term searched for appeared on the webpage. By the brilliant mind of Larry and Sergey, they develop the technology called PageRank algorithm. Google is well known for their organizational cultures distinctiveness and uniqueness compared to their immediate competitors. On the Google corporate website, they have listed down 10 core principles that guide the actions of the entire organization. These are the values and assumptions shared within the organization. These values are also termed as ‘espoused values’, where it is not necessarily what the organization actually values even though the top executives of the company embrace them.

In Google, the daily organizational life is distinctive and is one that thrives on informal culture. The rituals that portray the organization’s culture as unique and possessing a small company feel are portrayed daily at lunchtime, where almost all employees eat together at the many various office cafes while at the same time having open, relaxed conversations with fellow Googlers that come from different teams. Also, because one of the Google culture’s main pillars are the pillar of innovation, every Googler are very comfortable at sharing ideas, thoughts, and opinions with one another in a very informal working environment. Every employee is a hands-on contributor, and everyone wears several hats. Sergey and Brin also plays a big part of laying the foundation on what the Google culture is, and the founders have continued to maintain the Google Way by organizing a weekly all-hands “TGIF” meetings for employees to pose questions directly at them.

Satisfied employees not only increase productivity and reduce turnover, but also enhance creativity and commitment. Google is already having a playful variation culture in the organization for the employees. This can enable the employees to have an enjoyment environment, and this will be able enhance the relationship between the employees and strengthen their bond to work as a team. An enjoyment environment definitely can let the employees to feel satisfied and subsequently will increase productivity. Apart from that, this will shape a convenient work process for the employees that will smoothen the decision making process for the management team. Google already identified the employees are the organization’s internal customers and this is the reason why it has been constantly giving employees a sense of purpose, enhancing their self-esteem and sense of belonging for being a part of the organization.

Appendix 2: Case For Class Participation – Individual Discussion 

The world has improved a lot since the 19th century, primarily due to the industrial revolution. However, this growth came at the cost of the rapidly depleting environment. The second change that happened was that companies realized over a period of time that it was not just the shareholders who were important. Companies are increasingly becoming more responsible towards external stakeholders. Industries realized that their sole purpose was not to make money.

Here comes the CSR part. The corporate social responsibility of a firm is all about integrating external stakeholders like the environment and society into the business decision-making process. Therefore, the goal of corporate social responsibility is to reduce the negative impact of any company’s actions along with these directions. The ultimate goal of CSR is to create positive action for society as well as the environment. It should be noted that these benefits are not coming at the cost of the profit of the organization.

Microsoft is one of the top companies in the world. Microsoft has taken a proactive approach to corporate social responsibility. One of the ways of knowing whether the firms are serious about CSR is through their annual reports. Annual reports are documents that are primarily targeted towards investors. A company may talk about its responsibilities towards society and its environment. This shows their attitude towards these issues. Microsoft releases its corporate sustainability report based on the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines. Microsoft has defined some of the broader CSR goals as:

1. Empowering people

2. Strengthening the communities

3. Protecting our planet

In order to fulfill these broader goals, they have formulated a CSR team. This team is called the Microsoft Technology and Corporate Responsibility or the TCR team. Apart from the TSR team within Microsoft, they are also active through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has donated a major part of his wealth for philanthropic purposes. This foundation looks at operationalizing some of these philanthropic goals.

Now we shall look at some of the live examples of how they have executed the CSR. They have been working broadly on the aspects of empowering people. Additionally, they have also looked at ways in which Microsoft as a technology enabler, can help communities across the world. Thirdly, Microsoft is also committed to reducing the carbon footprints of its products in order to protect the environment. It should be noted here that some of the actions are driven by philanthropic motives while some may be simply following an overall industrial trend. However, the attitude and effectiveness in these aspects are a testament to a company’s CSR activities.

Microsoft launched a solar project in Nigeria to help the local community. Through this project, they have established a centre with solar panels to charge the batteries. They have also used Microsoft Azure, their cloud technology to optimize the inverters. This has resulted in a self-sustaining and environmentally friendly solution for the people.

Appendix 3: Cases For Class Participation – Group Discussion

In 1973, the ‘Big Three’ car makers in the USA had over 82% of the market share. Today they have less than 50%. Why? Because of the aggressive (and unexpected) entry of Japanese carmakers into the US market in the 1970s – led by Toyota.

Cars are big, heavy, and expensive to ship around in large numbers. That’s one of the reasons the US market was caught off guard when Toyota started selling Japanese-made cars in the US at lower prices than they could match.

The car industry was a huge contributor to the US economy, so one of the first reactions from the government was the implementation of protectionist taxes on all imported cars – thus making Japanese cars as expensive as locally made cars. But the tactic failed. Within a few years, Toyota had managed to establish production on US soil, thus eliminating the need to pay any of the hefty new import taxes. At first, US carmakers weren’t all that worried.

Surely by having to move production to the US, the costs for the Japanese carmakers would be roughly the same as those of the local car companies. Well, that didn’t happen. Toyota continued its cost leadership strategy. It still manufactured cars for significantly less money than US companies could.

Their finely honed production processes were so efficient and lean that they could beat US carmakers at their own game. You’ve probably heard of the notion of continuous improvement. In manufacturing, Toyota is pretty much synonymous with the term. Most business success stories involve bold moves and daring ideas. But not this one. Toyota spent years studying the production lines of American carmakers such as Ford. They knew that the US car industry was more advanced and efficient than the Japanese industry. So, they decided to be patient.

They studied their competitors and tried to copy what the Americans did so well. They blended these processes with their strengths and came up with something even better. Toyota proved that knowing one’s weaknesses can be the key to success – and be one of the best business strategies you can ever deploy. Not just that. Can you name a single famous executive at Toyota? I can’t. And one of the reasons is that Toyota’s number one corporate value is humility. It helped them crack the US market, and it runs deep in the organization – from top management to assembly workers.

Toyota’s success is based on continuously improving its functional-level strategy, which focuses on day-to-day operations, decisions, and goals. They understood that the bigger picture consists of thousands of small tasks and employees. They took a big goal, such as “becoming a cost leader in our category without compromising quality” and ensured that their mission impacted every level of the organization while staying true to their core values.

Appendix 4: Cases For Class Participation – Individual Discussion 3

Being one of the increasingly growing corporations, Starbucks has faced several controllable and uncontrollable elements on its way to the global markets. The first ones contain local features presented in each country that can be considered in advance, the overall perception of the brand, and other cultural challenges. In their turn, a range of uncontrollable elements includes a volatile economy, the impact of time, and reaction to various innovations offered by the company.

The first potential risk is that the company is likely to make less money because each of the foreign stores is run by a local partner. It can significantly reduce the level of profits, leading to the greater risks. Another threat is associated with the changing nature of society in which the generation of people ready to pay for the brand is steadily replaced by those who do not appreciate it. Partially, the mentioned risk can also be connected to the unstable economy and shifting values prevailing in society. The very concept of Starbucks involving its values, brand, and terminology becomes outdated, attracting fewer young people. However, the above assumptions cannot be related to overseas markets because Starbucks still has some sense of originality. Furthermore, it should be noted that Starbucks’ employees, namely, baristas and managers, encounter with burnout that is caused by low pay and excessive workload. Even though the company introduced an innovative strategy of part-time work, the overall level of dissatisfaction remains high. Finally, the corporation faces competition from both fast food and beverage companies.

The overall corporate strategy of Starbucks appears to be rather elaborate and consistent. Run by Howard Schultz, CEO of the corporation, it expands to other countries and remains competitive within the U.S. market. The paramount goal of the company is to adopt a position as the main global supplier of high-quality coffee, keeping the growth, continuous development, and commitment to its corporate principles. In particular, the relationships with the customers are based on the immersion of the latter in the atmosphere of the coffee making process. Throughout its existence, the company focuses on the fact that all coffee is made from beans that meet stringent environmental, economic, and social standards of quality. Starbucks sets a strong and profitable competitive advantage of the product line by the wide differentiation of its coffee and related products in accordance with its capabilities and innovations. The company constantly invests its efforts in the development of new ideas, products, and experiences for customers to attract their attention and create loyalty.

Comparing the marketing mix applicable in the U.S. and Japanese markets, one can pinpoint that some elements in the Japanese market are different. For example, a company partially adapted its product line by adding a variety of sandwiches with local taste preferences and reducing the size of servings because the Japanese do not eat a lot. Thus, employing a partial adaptation of a range of products, Starbucks began to take into account the differences in the needs and preferences of consumers, customs, and culture along with value chains, economic, political, geographic, demographic, and other factors, as well as the competitive situation in the country. However, profitability in Japan still needs to be enhanced.


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