Course Information

MHR 848 (Technology Strategy & Innovation Management MBA Elective Course)

Technology Strategy & Innovation Management provides students with a strategic perspective on management in technology intensive environments.  These settings offer a different set of challenges than described in the other strategy courses.  There is often more complexity, greater uncertainty, and an increased importance on knowledge and information based assets.  These environmental differences pose some interesting challenges when assessing the sources of competitive advantage.  Although tradeoffs remain the key to competitive advantage, they are now of a different sort.  We now need to consider how to evaluate investment proposals with extremely large (and uncertain) terminal values, how to estimate demand for new (and unknown) products and services, how to manage organizations to simultaneously explore new opportunities and exploit existing advantages, and whether and when to shift from “old” to “new” sources of advantage.  The overall objective of this course is to emphasize how general management decisions may contribute to the creation and appropriation of economic value through innovation. 

MHR 838 (Advanced Competitive Analysis MBA Elective Course)

        The objective of Advanced Competitive Analysis is to improve your ability to analyze a firm and its strategy in a more realistic setting than is possible using the case method.  While many MBA level business courses offer insight into the basic ingredients of a good strategy, few students leave there MBA education adequately prepared to undertake the tasks associated with rigorous strategic analysis.  Often this lack of preparation is due to difficulties students have translating the insights presented in conceptual lectures or “pre-packaged” case discussions to ill-structured, real world business problems. 

        Advanced Competitive Analysis provides students with the opportunity to identify and analyze data from “real-world” firms.  Through this process, students may learn how to efficiently sift through the massive amounts of publicly available data in order to identify the information that is most accurate and relevant, how to assess the relationships among key variables highlighted by management theory, interpret those relationships in specific economic and social contexts, and develop educated opinions regarding the viability of a firm’s strategy.  Ultimately, the course provides an opportunity to join insights from one’s coursework with field data in an effort to make well-grounded and insightful recommendations as to how a business actually is or should be competing. 

MBA 805/806 (Business Solution Teams MBA Elective Course)

        Business Solutions Teams (BST) is a two-quarter sequence course designed to provide students with the opportunity to gain experience diagnosing and solving real world business problems.  The course mirrors the approach taken by leading consulting firms in stressing an analytical, data driven problem solving approach.  Students in the course systematically analyze the situation facing their client, define the focal problem, generate alternative recommendations that might address this problem, and communicate actionable steps that may guide implementation of these recommendations.  Successful projects defend their recommendations by carefully testing their assumptions and propositions with evidence from primary and secondary data.  Through this process, BST provides students with the opportunity to gain experience analyzing business situations faced by clients, to apply the theories and models discussed in the classroom, to develop relationships with clients, and to make recommendations to those clients. 

MBA 980 (MBA Core Business Strategy Course)

        Strategy Formulation and Implementation concerns the pursuit of sustainable competitive advantage through the identification, evaluation, and creation of business and corporate strategies. In contrast to most courses in the business school which build on theories which suggest that, on average, differences in firm behavior and performance will be relatively short-lived, the field of business and corporate strategy is built on theories which suggests that performance differences among firms may be large and long lasting.  Further, the strategy field argues that it is the essential responsibility of management to discover and implement these sources of sustainable superior performance.

        The primary emphasis of this course is business strategy, the pursuit of competitive advantage in a single market or industry.  There are two reasons for this emphasis.  First, business-level strategy skills are the fundamental building blocks for strategic analysis at all levels of the organization.  Second, research in the field of strategic management has indicated that the greatest portion of a firm’s profitability (upwards of 45 %) is associated with the conception and implementation of business strategies. Moreover, as our economy transitions from one where competitive advantage is based on the possession of physical assets (i.e., capitalism) to one where competitive advantage is based on the possession of knowledge-based assets, the importance of strategic thinking has been pushed further and further down the organization hierarchy. As a result, functional specialists and mid-level managers—the starting positions of many MBAs— are more and more frequently being challenged to think strategically. Thus, a practical objective of this course will be to cultivate your ability to make well-grounded, theoretically based recommendations as to how a business actually is or should be competing rather than statements of ‘intuition’ or popular practice.

MBA 981e (MBA Core Corporate Strategy Course)

The objective of this course is to develop an understanding of how corporate strategy may lead to the creation and persistence of competitive advantage.  In contrast to the core strategy course, which is designed to address how firms develop competitive advantage in a single market through the exploitation of unique market positions, this course will analyze how advantage can be created through the configuration and coordination of activities across multiple markets.  Specifically, we will examine how firms may develop competitive advantage through vertical integration, outsourcing, and joint ventures as well as through related and unrelated diversification. 

There are a number of reasons why a student should be interested in corporate strategy.  Nearly all large- and many medium-sized firms operate in multiple markets and are therefore implementing some kind of corporate strategy.  These firms have undergone enormous change in the last thirty years.  The merger and acquisition booms of the sixties and eighties extended the scope of many existing corporations.  New forms of organization, such as the LBO partnerships of the eighties, provoked a debate about the efficacy of corporate hierarchies.  More recently, capital market pressures have forced many organizations to reassess their portfolio of businesses, level of overhead, and the way they coordinate and control their business activities.  In response to these pressures a variety of new institutional arrangements, such as joint ventures, strategic alliances, and virtual firms, have come into prominence.  Regardless of your chosen career path, it is likely that at some point you will either work for, help to establish, or compete with a firm implementing some kind of corporate strategy. 

MHR 808 (Managing the Diversified Firm MBA Elective Course)   

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