MGT 642 : Strategic Management
Course Syllabus Fall 1997

.Instructor: George M. Puia, Ph.D. Office Room 617
Class Meetings

Tues. 6:45 - 9:30 p.m.

Room 209

E-mail Phone:
Office Hours:

Monday 4:30-5:30;

Tuesday 1:00-2:00;

6:00 - 6:45

Thursday 3:15-4:00

or by appointment







(please do not call after 9:00 p.m.)


Required Texts


Gaining and Sustaining Competitive Advantage. Jay B. Barney, 1997. Addison-Wesley Publishers.




Case Studies in Strategic Management, The Paper Chase, 667 Wabash, Terre Haute 812-324-8433.


Supplementary Materials  

You will receive a significant number of readings, summaries and handouts. You may wish to use a three ring binder or other method to keep your materials organized.



When discussing cases, we will always consider the financial statements. Bring a calculator to class.


Course Description

The focus of this strategic management course is on business unit-level and corporate-level strategy formulation and implementation. This course is often referred to as a capstone or integrative course. This is because we will be studying concepts and cases that focus on entire companies and their environments.



You will be expected to understand the fundamentals of all the functional areas you have studied -- accounting, finance, marketing, organizational behavior and quantitative methods -- and to apply your knowledge in these areas to identify the relevant issues in the cases. The cases are presented from a general or senior management point of view, a perspective you are expected to keep throughout the semester.


Management 642 will also help you develop a specific set of tools and models for analyzing business situations. You will be expected to be able to correctly identify and apply an appropriate model for analyzing and solving problems.


Course Objectives

To prepare students to conduct business in the dynamic international arena. Specifically, the course aims to help students:


1. Develop an understanding of the basic concepts of business strategy & policy and be able to apply those concepts to the management of a total enterprise in an international business environment.


2. Be able to model the political, economic, social , cultural and competitive forces that determine the "playing field" for a business involved in a particular industry.


3. Develop and apply appropriate models and tools to exploit opportunities and solve problems in ways that lead a firm toward sustainable competitive advantage.


4. Develop an understanding and sensitivity to the unique ethical issues that arise in the conduct of forming and implementing strategy.


5. Understand the relationship between total quality programs and initiatives and competitive advantage.


6. Develop and apply models and tools for assessing and firm allocating resources in ways that lead to competitive advantage.


7. Understand the role of leadership in forming and implementing strategy and be able to apply leadership principles in these areas.


8. Provide a "practice field" for integrating cross-functional concepts to the solution of actual management problems.


9. Sharpen your strategic thinking and critical thinking skills.



10. Further develop your written and oral presentation skills in a management environment.


11. Develop an awareness and appreciation of the dynamic changes that are taking place in strategic management theory.


12. Learn how to "continue learning" about strategic management.


Sources of evaluation

Grades will be developed from 4 sources: a mid-term exam; a final exam; a semester team project; and preparation and participation in class meetings including in-class presentations & hand-ins.


Preparation &


Attendance at class sessions is essential to your success in this course. Much of the material will be presented through case studies and small group exercises. In addition to the class participation requirement in the grading scheme, lectures will routinely contain information that is not contained in the textbook and that will appear on the exams. Students are responsible for obtaining class notes from their peers for any missed lectures. Each student who maintains a high level of preparation improves the quality of the course for all students. Students who miss three class periods will have their grade dropped a minimum of one full letter grade, e.g., B to C.


Class presentations, hand-ins, preparation and participation greatly influence your grade. There are several elements to this component.



First, there will be hand-in assignments for several class sessions. The assignments are typically two or three typed pages. On occasion, they will be as simple as bringing an overhead to class with two to three discussion questions.



Second, class participation will be evaluated by your peers in regard to both quantity and quality. Please come to class prepared to offer your insight.


Finally, you will be asked to present a summary of your project to the class. This presentation will be evaluated as class participation (not as part of your project).


While the professor recognizes the legitimate demands placed on your career by your present employer, those demands need to stop at the classroom door. Therefore, you are not permitted to take cellular phone messages in class or to leave class to manage "urgent" business. You, and your peers, require your undivided attention each class period. There will be a brief break each evening for those who must maintain contact with their business.



The mid-term will be an in class exam. The exam will require you to integrate material from the text and lectures with information gained from your team project. The mid-term will be a closed-book essay exam. The questions will be similar to the end of chapter discussion questions. Students who study the discussion questions each week and then review their answers should be well prepared for the mid-term exam. The final exam will be comprehensive, covering the entire semesterís material.


Semester Project

The semester project focuses upon learning how to practically transfer the latest developments in strategic management theory into practical applications. For the semester project, students will work in teams of three to four students. Each team is required to develop a plan to help a publicly traded firm successfully enter a new foreign market.


A detailed project guide is included in this syllabus to assist you in developing your project


Grading Assignment

% of Grade
  Mid-term exam

25 %
  Semester project

30 %
  Final Exam

20 %

In-class presentations,

preparation & participation

25 %

Grades will be assigned on the following scale

Letter Grade Scale

------------------ -------------

A 92% - 100%

B+ 90% - 91.9%

B 82% - 89.9%

C+ 80% - 81.9%

C 72% - 79.9%

D+ 69% - 71.9%

D 62% - 68.9%

F <62 %

Academic Misconduct All University, School of Business and departmental policies on academic honesty will be strictly enforced.

MGT 642
Tentative Assignment Schedule
Subject to change

Date Topic Assignments

Introduction to course, instructor, requirements

Overview of strategic management - four tests of effective strategy, Review case study methodology;

Team project assignments


Complete student background form, assign project teams, Review Barney chapter 1, Review: "A framework for student case preparation"



What is performance; the relationship of performance to strategy; measures of performance

(as for all classes, bring a calculator to class)

Case: Western Region Network Television (WRNT)

Read Barney chapter 2, Review case, prepare a written answer to the question: What measures of performance were present in the WRNT case? How did the choice of measures influence the company? (Be specific, support your answers). Should WRNT be improved and kept or divested?

Evaluating Environmental Threats; the Structure-Conduct-Performance model; Porterís industry structure (the I/O model);

Case: Raffles Hotel


Read Barney Chapter 3;. Prepare an outline answer on an overhead to questions 1-2, or 3-4, or 5-6 (assigned in class). Read the case and answer: What threats exist for Raffles (use the models in this chapter)? What should Raffles do to gain and sustain competitive advantage?



Evaluating environmental opportunities; neutralizing threats; first mover advantage; opportunities and industry structure; limitations of the S-C-P model Case: Little Tykes


Read Barney Chapter 4, and chapter 4 appendix. What opportunities exist for Little Tykes (use the models in this chapter)? Map the strategic groups in the toy industryÖwhat is Little Tykes position based on your strategic group analysis?



Evaluating firm strengths and weaknesses: resources and capabilities; theories of distinctive competence; Assumptions of the resource based theory of the firm; the VRIO framework; Value-chain analysis

Case: Outback Steakhouse


Read Barney Chapter 5, and Chapter 5 appendix. Study the Outback Steakhouse case. Prepare a written answer to the questions 1) develop a value chain diagram for Outback Steakhouse 2) perform a VRIO analysis, 3) based on 1 & 2 above, what are Outbackís chances to sustain competitive advantage?



Part II. Business Strategies

Competitive strategies (basis-direction-method); generic strategies; cost leadership; sources of cost advantage; value of cost advantage

Case: Lincoln Electric


Read Barney Chapter 6, Read the Lincoln electric case and write an answer to the question: 1) to what extent will Lincoln Electric be able to sustain cost advantage?



Competitive Strategies: Product Differentiation; bases of differentiation; sustained advantage;

Case: Polaroid and the family imaging market

Read Barney chapter 7, Answer in writing questions 1 & 2 (p. 254) as applied to the Polaroid case. Be prepared to discuss all the strategy implications of the case.



Midterm Exam


Be prepared to answer questions drawn from chapters 1-7



Cooperative strategies: Strategic Alliances

Economic value of alliances; alliances and sustained competitive advantage

Case: Morton-Meese


Read Barney Chapter 9, Study the case in the framework of chapter nine, prepare a written answer to the question: What negotiating position should Morton take with the justice department.




Global Strategies

The value of global strategies, access to markets, cost reduction, economic, political and cultural factors,

Case: Nypro, Inc. Strategy for Globalization


Read Barney chapter 14, based on your analysis of the chapter, prepare a response to two questions about Nypro.


Types of diversification, value of diversification, sustained competitive advantage

Case: Novell: Expanding the Network


Study Barney chapter 11. Have your team prepare a set of recommendations for Novell; be prepared to discuss review questions 1, 3, 4.



Organizing to implement diversification

Structure, process and control systems.


Read Barney Chapter 12,



Mergers and Acquisitions

The value of M&A strategies, types of relatedness, Lubatkinís typology, sustained competitive advantage

Case: Dibrell Bros.



Review Barney chapter 13, be prepared to discuss the Dibrell case in light of chapter 13.

The strategic management of non-profit organizations.

Case: The Alabama Symphony Orchestra: Encore or Finale?


Read handout. Using the tools you have been developing this semester, analyze the symphony orchestra. Prepare a brief outline of the strategic agenda you would have them follow if you were named CEO.


12/2 Presentation of projects

Written projects due. Prepare a 20-25 minute presentation to introduce the class to your assessment tools.



Final class session, project presentations, course evaluations, review strategy making process. Preview final exam


Read Chapter 1;




Final Exam



Learning from Case Studies
Prepared for Management 642 students by George Puia

The case study method is one of the primary teaching methods used in business policy courses internationally. In some programs, most notably Harvard in this country and the University of Western Ontario and Cranfield (U.K.) abroad, it is the dominant method employed. The following material was synthesized from an number of valuable sources on case research to provide you with some additional background on learning from case studies. (References are available upon request).

A case study in a strategic management course is different than a case history. A case history presents an historical account of some event. Typically in a case history, the analyst can read about the outcomes of a case, and then evaluate those outcomes. The case studies used in this course have been written for a different purpose, to help you develop your strategic thinking. In these cases, there are unresolved problems. Students are asked to 'play the role' of the top management team and make decisions based on the information that is available.

The cases you will be studying have been proven in the classroom. Most of them have undergone a rigorous examination and validation by anonymous reviewers prior to publication. (The most influential of these review bodies is NACRA: the North American Case Research Association). The cases you will study are "field" cases. That is, much of the information contained in the cases was developed from field interviews with the actual participants, not from reading press reports (information which has already been filtered by the journalist). Through the case study method, you will be exposed to the thoughts, ideas, strategies, visions and conflicts of actual managers attempting to solve very real problems.

Through the case studies analyzed in this course, you will be encouraged to develop the following skills:

1. Problem identification skills - real business problems do not come with convenient labels. Often there are problems contained within problems and each different problem may require a unique solution. You will develop your skill at identifying the critical issues that seem to be driving the success or failure of the firms you study.

2. General analytical skills - your case exercises will help you learn to handle complex information. You will be encouraged to classify, organize and evaluate information. You will learn to recognize noise, extraneous or unneeded information, as well as missing information.

3. Use of strategy models - The cases will provide a laboratory for you to apply many of the basic strategy models, including, but not limited to: the five forces model of competitive behavior, the value chain, stakeholder analysis as well as more common financial models and tests like liquidity, leverage, activity and profit measurements.

4. Creativity - Creativity is essential in providing alternative prospective solutions to policy/strategy problems. In addition to having strong analytical skills and a command of the basic models of strategy, a good strategist is also a creative problem solver.

5. Decision making skills - Ultimately, you will be required to make and defend decisions. In developing a greater understanding of the decision process, you will be encouraged to consider the long term impact of your decisions on all of the organization's stakeholders.

6. Communication skills - The case discussions will provide a forum for you to present your ideas. You will be encouraged to bring your own overheads, diagrams, notes, etc. to class to support the decision you have made. In addition, you will develop your skills at listening, empathizing, supporting, arguing and coalition building as you lobby for your ideas.

7. Self-awareness - Hopefully, the case study environment will provide a forum for you to better understand you own values, judgment and skills. You will be able to compare your performance on a regular basis with other students who are often at a similar stage of their career.

In order to fully develop your skills, the following guidelines are provided for the study of a business policy case:

1. Read the case before you study the case. Many of us read with a pencil and highlighter in hand, noting important points as we read. This method will greatly limit your success with case studies. It is very dangerous to make premature judgments as to what is important in a case study. Read the entire case to develop a sense of the whole before you attempt to make any judgments about the case.

2. Identify the symptoms that may indicate there is a problem. Be aware that cases, like real management problems, don't always provide the clearest of signals. Cases contain noise, excess information, and/or incomplete information that can mislead the reader. At this stage, begin to gather facts, assess financial information, analyze competition, etc.

3. Identify the problem or problems you feel need a solution. Be prepared to explain why you feel a given situation is a problem. Try to identify the critical issues that need resolution. If this problem were solved, what would happen to the company?

4. Generate alternative solutions to problems. Look for quantity as much as quality at this stage. Problem solving is a creative act. Don't slow your creativity by taking time to evaluate alternatives at this stage.

5. Evaluate your tentative solutions. Be aware of the implementation issues associated with each alternative, e.g., capital requirements, time to implement, politics, etc. Note the relationship between the proposed solution, the critical issues and the potential outcomes of the organization.

6. Write a brief summary of your proposed "best" solution. Seek for brevity and clarity in writing. Your ability to concisely summarize a problem, alternative solutions and your recommendations is a powerful skill.

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