This course focuses on the evolution of industries and how it affects competitive and corporate strategy. The traditional view on the creation and maintenance of competitive advantage is that competition drives companies to outperform rivals and capture greater shares of existing market space. In overcrowded industries, differentiating brands becomes increasingly harder. To stay ahead in dynamic competition necessitates innovative thrust, the development of a unique set of skills to deliver value for customers also in the future and, last but not least, the ability to critically review the current business model at all times to discover new market spaces. Successful strategic management requires managers to anticipate change and proactively influence the market environment.Therefore, it is key to understand the drivers of industrial change and how core activities, assets and relationships with customers and suppliers are changing. Instead of optimizing the status quo (a given business model), firm strategy (that is, its plan to be profitable) needs to be aligned continously and consistently with the industry's change trajectory.
The main emphasis will be on understanding the workings of different industries and of specific companies within those industries -in the end, we all work for (or will work for) companies and make decisions for them. We will also discuss business models and the concept of business model innovation.
At the beginning and at the end of a topic, the instructor will present some its key aspects. Students will be able to derive from these the main learning goals of each subject.
This course is based on case studies, which have to be prepared before each session and are then subjected to a free in-class discussion. It is essential that you come to class prepared to present your points of view as well as to listen and elaborate on the points of view expressed by other students.
You will learn in direct proportion to your dedication to essentially three activities:
" Reading of the bibliography
" Case preparation and group discussion.
" Presentations of your analysis of cases and participation in discussions during class
You are expected, before each session, to go through the readings and to thoroughly analyze the case -for which you will attempt to apply the readings- and to discuss your work within a small group of your choice. The instructor will be available to help the groups in this process. Each group will be required to make an appointed 10-minute max presentation of their analysis at the beginning of each session.
" Individual Class Participation (10% of total grade). The objective of giving little weight to your participation in the class discussion is to get you engaged in it and learn without fear of being penalized if you say something that is not that brilliant.
What will be valued most is that you show a positive attitude through your interventions towards advancing the discussion in a substantial way, whatever that is within the learning objectives of the course.
Your contributions will be positively evaluated if they:
Are relevant - Do your comments speak directly to the issues, principles and concepts being addressed? Do they reflect your reading and thinking about the case's issues, principles and concepts? Are they related to other participants' contributions and reflect active listening of their comments? Are they precise and focused?
Allow making progress - Do your comments allow the discussion to go forward? Do they elaborate on the issues, principles and concepts under discussion? Do they take the discussion to new pastures?
Are based on facts - Do your comments use specific facts of the case, as well as the issues, principles and concepts used in the course? Do they reflect your personal experiences related to these aspects?
Are logical - Is your reasoning coherent and logical? Does it reflect an adequate use of the issues, principles and concepts on which the course is based?
Are original - Do your comments go beyond the obvious? Do they open up new perspectives on the subject at hand?
Students who persistently attempt to dominate discussion, discourage or intimidate other participants, or otherwise diminish the value of the class, will be penalized.
" Group Presentations (30% of total grade). Some previously designated groups will be asked to make short presentations at the beginning of every class. If you are in one of those groups, please come to class with some material -Power Point presentation, for example- to make a maximum 10 minute presentation and give me a hardcopy version of your slides (you may want to include one/two A4 page analysis as well).
" Final Written Exam (60% of total grade). The exam will consist of specific questions on your analysis and action recommendations for a case that will be duly assigned, which you will have analyzed previously. I will provide more information on this during class, if you so desire.
" Michael E. Porter, Competitive Advantage, 1985
" Anita M. McGahan, How Industries Evolve, 2004
" Additional material -like discussion cases and other readings- will be provided as downloads on myWHU.
" Preparation questions will also be posted on myWHU.