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Strategy Execution - (B-M)

Primary objective of the class: learn how to ask the right questions about strategy execution More specifically, you should learn how to ? 1. test the strategic foundation for strategy execution 2. focus everyone's attention on your strategic agenda 3. facilitate the behaviors needed for a successful implementation 4. develop your company's ability to adapt to change
Course code
Course type
MSc Course
Weekly Hours
FS 2024
Prof. Dr. Utz Schäffer
Please note that exchange students obtain a higher number of credits in the BSc-program at WHU than listed here. For further information please contact directly the International Relations Office.

Strategy execution matters. In a lot of cases, it is the critical bottleneck to successful strategic management. However, the task is complex and off-the-shelf theories and techniques tend to fall short of corporate reality.

Therefore, this class discusses the key challenges in strategy implementation by asking the eight questions stated below. Additionally, management control systems associated with each of the questions will be presented.

Part One: Build a strong foundation for strategy execution:
1. Allocating resources to customer: Who is your primary customer?
2. Prioritizing core values: How do your core values help to execute strategy?

Part Two: Focus everyone's attention on your strategic agenda:
3. Creating accountability: How do you manage performance?
4. Controlling strategic risk:What strategic boundaries have you set?

Part Three: Facilitate the behaviors needed for success:
5. Spurring effort and innovation: How do you generate creative tension?
6. Building commitment: How do you foster collaborative behavior?

Part Four: Focus on your company's ability to adapt to change:
7. Adapting to change: What strategic uncertainties keep you awake at night?
8. Leading change: How can leadership make a difference?

We will discuss these questions based on several teaching cases (Sydney IVF, Citibank, Volkswagen, Henkel, Hydro One, GE). In the process, we cover aspects of capital budgeting, value statements and beliefs systems, boundary systems and risk management, diagnostic control systems (such as the balanced scorecard) and performance measurement, accountability issues, stretch goals, performance rankings and compensation issues, and last but not least interactive control systems.

Date Time
Tuesday, 05.03.2024 08:00 - 11:15
Tuesday, 12.03.2024 08:00 - 11:15
Thursday, 14.03.2024 08:00 - 11:15
Tuesday, 19.03.2024 08:00 - 11:15
Thursday, 21.03.2024 08:00 - 11:15
Tuesday, 26.03.2024 08:00 - 11:15
Monday, 15.04.2024 09:45 - 11:15
Tuesday, 16.04.2024 08:00 - 11:15
Wednesday, 24.04.2024 15:00 - 16:30
Drawing on various theories from the field of management, students will be enabled to recognize success factors and pitfalls regarding the execution side of strategic management.
Simons, R. (1995): Levers of control: How managers use innovative control systems to drive strategic renewal. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Simons, R. (2005): Levers of organization design: How managers use accountability systems for greater performance and commitment. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Secondary literature:Will be announced and made available in class.
Interactive lectures, case assignments and in-class case studies, guest speakers
Case Assignments (30%), Final Written Exam (70%)

For Module Retakes: 100% Oral Examination

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