Professors: Corey PHELPS et Frédéric LEROY
As the business environment is becoming ever more complex, more turbulent, more global and more competitive, thinking strategically about how a firm should position itself in order to compete successfully is becoming increasingly critical. Those firms that will survive, grow and create value are firms with a clear vision of what their competitive advantage is and of how to maintain and enhance it.
The perspective of this course is that of a general manager whose responsibility is to maximize the overall performance of the firm or the performance of a business unit within the firm. To achieve this objective, general managers must analyze the drivers of the firm’s current performance and identify external changes that may affect this performance. On this basis, their job is then to find ways to better leverage the firm’s internal resources in order to sustainably improve performance.
At the corporate level, general managers’ responsibility is also to define the scope of the firm’s activities, to implement strategic moves that will affect this scope, and convince shareholders and stakeholders of the relevance of their strategy.
As newly hired MBAs, you will not only need to understand, share and implement the strategy of your company, you will also be required to participate in shaping it.
The objective of this course is to review the main concepts, methods and tools which are used in the strategy formulation and implementation processes, identify the business situations in which they can be applied most effectively, as well as understand the limitations of the various approaches.
The course comprises 14 case discussion sessions, 2 review sessions and 4 conferences given by top managers.
The course covers the two main areas of strategy: Business Strategy and Corporate Strategy. Business Strategy deals with how firms compete in one particular industry, while Corporate Strategy examines how companies create value by expanding into new areas of business.
The main topics addressed in Business Strategy are:
- Industry analysis
- Competitive dynamics
- Sources of competitive advantage
- Firm-specific resources
- Competitor analysis
- Competitive interaction
The main topics covered in Corporate Strategy are:
- Value Creation
- Business portfolio analysis
- Vertical integration
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Strategic Alliances
PREPARATION AND PARTICIPATION
The course is organized on the basis of case discussions. For this method to be effective, you must have prepared the assigned case thoroughly prior to each class. We expect you to be ready to participate actively in the case discussions and be prepared to start a case discussion if you are called upon to do so.
Each participant’s behavior and contribution is instrumental in making the learning process effective. In particular, it is essential to participate in each and every session, to be on time so as not to miss the beginning of the discussion and to bring value to this discussion by:
- Providing analyses rather than repeating case facts;
- Supporting your conclusions with facts and logic, rather than stating unsupported opinions;
- Building on or responding to other participants’ comments and viewpoints rather than monopolizing air time;
To ensure all of us are fully engaged in the class discussion, the use of laptops is not permitted.
Participants will be evaluated and graded on the basis of:
- their participation and contributions to class discussions (30 % of the final grade) ; particular attention will be given to the degree of preparation of the cases to be discussed in class ;
- two powerpoint presentations analyzing and making recommendations on any two cases (not mini-cases) discussed in the course (30 % of the final grade). The presentations should be prepared in groups and their length must not exceed ten slides.
- They must be posted on the course website (www.hec.fr/mba-strategic) at 6:00pm the day before the session where the corresponding case is to be discussed.
- an individual final exam (40 % of the final grade). This exam will be a written case analysis to be turned in as a draft for a 10 slide powerpoint presentation.