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Course Description

Strategic management is concerned with achieving superior firm performance and sustaining it over the long run. Strategy at Ivey has a strong general management, or cross-enterprise, orientation. The key decision maker is the general manager. The primary objective of the Ivey Essentials Strategy course is to develop your skills in formulating (analysis) and implementing (action) strategy that you will need as a practicing general manager or cross-enterprise leader.

Two threads weave their way through the fabric of the course: value and competitive advantage. First, organizations–be they for-profit, not-for-profit, or public sector organizations–generate value that individuals cannot generate on their own. All organizations, therefore, must create value vis-à-vis the environment in which they are embedded. Second, organizations must have a competitive advantage, i.e., do something better than others, in order to attract customers, clients, investment, and resources to be able to capture and distribute that value in the marketplace.

Value and competitive advantage are embedded in a context that always includes ethics and the realities of globalization. Leaders are charged with the moral, social, and corporate responsibilities to do the right thing, to compete within the rules, and to consider the legitimate claims that multiple, global stakeholders have on the value generated by organizations that are part of the societies in which they operate.

Strategy is different from other courses that emphasize the development of expertise related to a specific aspect of the enterprise (e.g., finance, operations, marketing, accounting). Instead of focusing on a particular functional area, this course provides you with a process for problem solving and decision-making that encompasses the entire organization and requires you to integrate and apply the knowledge gained from those disciplines in order to develop an overall general management perspective. Strategy issues are characterized by volatility, ambiguity, complexity, and uncertainty. The frameworks and tools we use in the course will allow us to manage, but never eliminate these realities. The course is as much about asking the right questions as it is about having the right answers. There is seldom a single “correct” response to a situation. We will reach consensus on some issues, yet many will have differing interpretations on the most appropriate course of action. The goal of the strategy course is to develop a solid, rigorous, and logical thought process that leads to a plausible solution to the issue at hand.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, you will have achieved the following learning outcomes if you have worked thoughtfully through the material presented in the cases, the textbook, and the class discussions:

  1. You will have had comprehensive exposure to business unit strategy problems in a variety of contexts that trained you to identify and critique the key components of strategy (business goals, product/market focus, value proposition, core activities, competitive advantage) and you will have explored differences between firm-level strategy from functional strategies (e.g. marketing, operations, finance, HR strategies).
  2. You will have consistently applied fundamental tools for strategic analysis (e.g. five forces, industry value chain, resource analysis, stakeholder analysis) and you will have become able to analyze complex strategic problems and situations.
  3. You will have developed the ability to assess how a firm should compete in the industry in which it operates, i.e., against its closest competitors.
  4. You will have learned how to identify, build, and acquire the capabilities a firm needs to sustain competitive advantage and drive future growth.
  5. You will have developed the ability to ensure alignment between a firm’s strategy and its structure, its control system, and its reward system.
  6. You will have gained the ability to make strategic recommendations that consider the tradeoffs required to balance what a company needs to do (industry structure and trends), what it wants to do (management preferences), and what it is capable of doing (using resources & capabilities).
  7. You will have gained competence and confidence in proposing, justifying, and defending arguments and recommendations about strategic business problems through in-class discussion.

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