Strategic Formulation for Competitive Advantage
Popovich 204, Tuesdays – Thursdays 9:00 – 11:30
Fall 2013, Term I, 19 August – 10 October
Terance J. Wolfe, Ph.D.
Office Hours:
Bridge 307-F
By appointment
Course Overview
This course is designed to get you to think about the organization as a whole; in
particular, from the vantage point of the general manager or chief executive officer
responsible for managing across all areas of organizational operations. As such, the
course focuses on the formulation of management strategy; especially as it is affected
by external opportunities and threats, and internal strengths and shortcomings. A basic
premise of this course is that strategy does not exist independently of the strategist.
Therefore, the course presents you with the opportunity to examine the influence of your
style, knowledge, values, attitudes, and competencies on your personal predispositions
towards policies, and individual and organizational courses of action.
Objectives. The purpose of this course is to focus on the theory and practice of
strategy formulation. The major objectives for the participants are to:
1. Develop individual skills in strategic analysis, assessment, and evaluation.
2. Understand your personal style and functional organizational orientation as they
affect your approach to strategy formulation.
3. Examine the dynamic relationships between the organization and its resource,
technological, market, social, political, and economic environments.
4. Further an appreciation for the role and complexity of the position and
responsibilities of general management.
5. Encourage you to take an integrative, holistic perspective on management and
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Course Format
The course is designed around a series of lectures and integrative applications of
strategy concepts to real world cases (including a team project). In a given class
session, you can expect any combination of lecture, class discussion, case analysis,
and/or quizzes. Quiz dates and topics are identified in the Schedule of Sessions.
Students are expected to have read the assigned material and to be fully prepared for
class discussions. Some class time may be provided for small group discussions, but
you should expect to meet face-to-face or virtually outside of class with other team
members to prepare some case discussions as well as your team project assignments.
Cases and Team Projects
We will analyze ten (10) Harvard Business School case studies in class. The cases
selected will introduce you to a variety of industries, companies, managerial styles, and
organizational and strategic issues which will broaden your understanding of strategy.
Plan to be well-prepared and expect to be cold-called for your analysis of case material.
Learning from cases involves four parts:
Your own preparation and analysis of the case.
Class discussion of cases, during which other views and potential solutions
are presented and discussed.
Your active participation in class discussion, which entails not only holding
and demonstrating a point-of-view, but also engaging in constructive
discussion to further understand the nuances and complexities of a case.
My feedback and comments on the class discussions.
In addition, each student will participate on a term project team. Each team will conduct
a comprehensive strategic analysis (CSA) of an assigned publicly traded company. The
companies selected will represent four different industries (to be determined). Each
industry group will have three “players”. The requirements of a “comprehensive
strategic analysis” will be described in class.
Team participants will function as consultants charged with the responsibility of
formulating an appropriate strategy given the company’s current circumstances. There
will be several project-related deliverables distributed throughout the term. They will
require that you meet together in study teams between class sessions to formulate the
issues in your comprehensive cases.
Course Materials
Text (required):
Grant, R.M. (2013) Contemporary Strategy Analysis, 8th ed. Wiley.
ISBN 978-1-119-94188-0. Referred to as “G” in the Class Schedule (pg 13)
Course Reader – articles and cases. Available on-line at Harvard Business School
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Summary of Class Requirements
In addition to the assigned readings, please come to class prepared to:
1. Complete a quiz on the assigned reading material
2. Submit a completed three-four page strategy application synopsis for two of the
assigned cases of your choosing. The synopsis must include your assessment
of the strategic situation based upon your application of appropriate course
concepts, as well as your specific strategic recommendations. See guidance
3. Participate in a meaningful way to class discussions
4. Apply course concepts to your assigned team project in collaboration with your
other team members
By the conclusion of this course (October 7), in cooperation with your other team
members, you will complete a comprehensive strategic analysis of your assigned
company, submit a written assessment of your analysis and strategic recommendations,
and make an “industry-level” in-class presentation with two other teams.
Course Assignments and Grading
You will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
Attendance and punctuality
Class participation
Quizzes (n = 6, drop 1; net =5).
Written case synopses (n = 2; 10% each)
Comprehensive Strategic Analysis and in-class
1. Class Participation (15%)
Being here, being “present”, and being on time are key. It is a measure of
courtesy and a sign of respect for the instructor and your classmates to attend
and to be on-time. Being “present” also means NO electronic devices beyond
accessing case material.
Participation in class discussions involves active participation that contributes
to the class. Active participation means asking questions, answering questions,
making observations, commenting on other students’ comments, or challenging a
view. The second requirement is that what you say actually makes a contribution
– merely repeating comments made by other students or telling the class that
you agree with what someone else said does not count. Your comments should
move discussion forward. Talking for the sake of talking, talking just to be
recognized, is a waste of all of our time. Please self-monitor.
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2. Quizzes (25%)
There will be six quizzes scheduled throughout the semester (check Schedule of
Sessions below for specific quiz dates). There is no midterm or final exam.
Each quiz is worth five percent of your total grade. The lowest quiz score will be
dropped. If you miss a quiz, that’s the one that gets dropped – no exceptions. If
you miss more than 1, you are SOL.
Quizzes focus on your knowledge of key course concepts as presented in the
required text/readings assigned for that week or as reviewed in class. As a rule
(there may be exceptions to this rule), quizzes will have twenty questions.
Questions will be objective in nature – that is, true – false, multiple choice, fill-inthe-blank, or matching. Quizzes will always be given promptly at 9:00AM (or
maybe between 8:50 – 8:55). If you think you will need more time, arrive early!
Late arrivers will not be given a time extension. In general, quizzes will take
about 20 minutes. Thus, papers will be collected by 9:20 – regardless of your
arrival time. There are NO make-ups for quizzes.
3. Case Synopses (20%)
Each student will submit two (2) three-four page case synopses. Each synopsis
is worth ten (10) percent of the total grade. Case synopses are due at the start
of class. Submissions received after 9:05 will be penalized.
A written case synopsis will have the following format:
a. Which strategic management concepts are useful in the analysis of this
b. Why do you think each of your selected concepts is useful for
understanding this case?
c. What strategic understanding did you develop as a result of this case
d. Based upon your analysis, what specific strategic recommendations would
you make for the situation presented?
e. A case synopsis must be submitted through the “Turnitin” function in BB.
4. Written Comprehensive Team Strategic Analysis (40%) – due October 7
Each participant will work with her/his team to complete a comprehensive
strategic analysis of an assigned company and industry. This analysis will
constitute 40% of the total grade. There are several goals for this assignment:
To provide each student with the opportunity to participate in a
comprehensive strategic assessment.
To familiarize each student with the various concepts, tools and
techniques of contemporary strategy analysis and their application to a
real situation.
To provide a personal and, therefore, meaningful application of the
framework of strategic analysis.
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Guidelines for the comprehensive strategic assessment will be discussed during
the first week of class.
The target length for the paper is 20 – 30 pages of 12 point, double-spaced,
paginated text excluding bibliography and appendices.
Final written strategic analyses for each team are due on October 7.
Each “industry” (comprised of three teams each) will be responsible for a seventy
(70) minute presentation and discussion on October 7. Presentation times for
each Industry will be determined by a draw from a hat.
The 70 minutes should be structured approximately as follows:
Macro-environmental forces impacting industry
10 minutes
Industry structure and challenges
10 minutes
Review of each competitors SWOT, key success
factors, distinctive competencies, key strategic
issues, recommended strategies
34 minutes (8.5
Questions and discussion
16 minutes
A copy of the “industry-level” powerpoint presentation is also due on October 7.
Term Project Grading Components .
Instructor Evaluation – 20%. Twenty (20) percent of total grade; fifty (50) percent
of team project grade. Each team member will receive the same grade.
Peer Evaluation (1) – 7.5%. Team Project Member (7.5%). A challenge of team
assignments is to monitor equal contributions to team performance. To control
for this, each team member will complete an anonymous peer evaluation of each
of her/his other members. Peer evaluations of team members will represent
7.5% of each individual’s total grade, and 18.75% of each individual’s team
project grade. Peer evaluations have a “forced-distribution” such that all team
members cannot receive the same grade. The number of “A’s” available to each
team is limited. See attached peer evaluation form.
Peer Evaluation (2) – 5%. Industry Group Member (5%). To ensure each team
within each industry cooperates in the development of the final company/industry
presentation, each team within an industry will do a peer evaluation of all the
team’s within its industry. Peer evaluation of industry members account for five
(5) percent of each individual’s total grade, and 12.5% of each individual’s team
project grade. Each team member will receive the same grade.
Class Rankings – 7.5%. Each team presentation will be ranked by the rest of the
class from 1 (most effective) to 12 (least effective). The team ranked most
effective will receive an A+; the team ranked least effective will receive a B-. The
remaining teams will be distributed in between. Seven-and-a-half (7.5) percent of
your total grade, and 18.75% percent of your group grade, will be assessed
through class rankings. Each team member will receive the same grade.
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Academic Integrity Policy
The Marshall School is committed to upholding the University’s Academic Integrity code as
detailed in the SCampus Guide. It is the policy of the Marshall School to report all violations of
the code. Any serious violation or pattern of violations of the Academic Integrity Code will result
in the student’s expulsion from the degree program.
It is particularly important that you are aware of and avoid plagiarism, cheating on exams,
fabricating data for a project, submitting a paper to more than one professor, or submitting a
paper authored by anyone other than yourself. If you have doubts about any of these practices,
confer with a faculty member.
Resources on academic dishonesty can be found on the Student Judicial Affairs Web site
( The “Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism” addresses
issues of paraphrasing, quotations, and citation in written assignments, drawing heavily upon
materials used in the university’s writing program. “Understanding and avoiding academic
dishonesty” addresses more general issues of academic integrity, including guidelines for
adhering to standards concerning examinations and unauthorized collaboration. The “20052006 SCampus” ( contains the university’s student conduct code.
Students with Disabilities
Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register
with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for
approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to
me (or to your TA) as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.
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 Be fully prepared – ALL THE TIME: Readings & Cases
 Expect to be cold-called
 Class begins at 9:00, ends at 11:30 with one fifteen (15) minute break (~10:15)
 Do not be “coming and going” while class is in session
 ALL electronic devices should be closely monitored for class activities
QUIZZES (25%) (n = 6)
 Twenty questions, objective – multiple-choice, true-false, matching, fill-in-blank
 Begin at 9:00 (or 8:50/8:55); end at 9:20. NO EXCEPTIONS, NO MAKE-UPS.
Lowest quiz score will be dropped. If you miss a quiz, that’s the one dropped!
August 22
Q1: Porter article, Grant – C1, C2, C16
August 29
Q2: Grant – C3, C4, C12
September 5
Q3: Grant – C5, C6, C7
September 12
Q4: Kim & Mauborgne article; Grant – C8, C10
September 24
Q5: Grant – C9, C11, C15
October 1
Q6: Grant – C13, C14
CASE SYNOPSES (20%) (n = 2)
 Three-four pages each (see format, page 4)
C1: August 27
C2: September 3
Wal*Mart Stores, Inc
C3: September 10
De Beers and the Global Diamond Industry
C4: September 12
The US Wine Industry
C5: September 17
How Apple’s Corporate Strategy Drove High Growth
C6: September 19
Walt Disney Company: Entertainment King
C7: September 24
Disney and Pixar: To Acquire or Not to Acquire
C8: September 26
Philips vs Matsushita
C9: October 1
General Mills
 20-30 page team paper plus appendices
 “Industry-level” multiple team presentations
 Intermediate deliverables (bullet-point format)
September 3
Current (T0) statement of industry, vision, mission, strategy
September 17
Macro-scan, five forces, key success factors (KSFs)
September 24
Internal value chain
October 1
S W O T, Key strategic issues (KSI’s)
 Final Deliverables
October 7
All presentations
October 7
Written team project – ALL teams
October 7
Powerpoint decks for each “industry-level” presentation
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The Comprehensive Strategic Assessment (CSA) team term project will cover four
industries and twelve companies (3 companies for each industry).
The industries and companies include the following:
Petroleum and Coal Products
Royal Dutch Shell, Holland
All Nippon Air, Japan
Sinopec, China
Lufthansa, Germany
British Petroleum, UK
US Airways, US
Fast Fashion
Hennes & Mauritz, Sweden
Merck, US
Zara/Inditex, Spain
Novartis, Switzerland
The Gap, US
Sanofi, France
A “good” CSA will take into account, and answer as appropriate, the issues posed by
these questions.
To Be Distributed
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For your case write-ups, answer questions a, b, c, and d on page 4 of the syllabus.
In preparation for in-class case discussions, review and be prepared to discuss the
following questions.
Case 0: APPLE INC IN 2012
1. Historically, what have been Apple’s competitive advantages?
2. Analyze the personal computer industry. Historically, why did Apple struggle in PCs?
3. How sustainable is Apple’s competitive position in PCs, MP3 players, and smartphones?
4. What are Apple’s long-term prospects for the iPad?
5. What advice would you offer Tim Cook, the new Apple CEO and Steve Jobs’ successor?
1. Describe the competitive environment of ECCO and determine how well ECCO is
positioned (vis-à-vis the competitors) to take advantage of changes in the industry.
2. Analyze ECCO’s global value chain. How well does this configuration match the drivers
in this industry?
3. ECCO has a fully-integrated vertical value chain. What are the pros and cons of this
strategy? What economic and strategic factors should be analyzed to answer this
4. Is ECCO following the inside-out or outside-in strategic perspective? What are the
implications of this choice, and how can ECCO increase their sales/marketing efforts?
5. How is family ownership affecting ECCO? Comment on the corporate ownership
structure and its implications for strategy-making and implementation. What alternatives
1. What are Wal-Mart’s sources of competitive advantage in discount retailing?
2. How sustainable is Wal-Mart’s position in discount retailing in the future?
3. How effective do you believe Wal-Mart’s diversification into the food industry will be?
4. What risks does Wal-Mart face?
5. What strategic advice would you give Glass & Soderquist in order for them to sustain
and improve upon Wal-Mart’s phenomenal success?
1. Discuss the potential profitability within each stage of the diamond value chain, taking
into consideration how recent forces have changed the potential profitability. For each
stage in the chain, consider the following:
a. How intense is the competition?
b. How substantial are the barriers to entry?
c. What is the likelihood of substitutes being developed?
d. What is the bargaining power of the suppliers?
e. What is the bargaining power of buyers?
2. What were the key mechanisms De Beers used to manage the value chain in the past?
Did De Beers increase profitability for all participants, and did it increase consumer
satisfaction above the levels that might have existed without De Beers’ leadership?
Were De Beers’ activities good for everyone?
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3. What were the most important new forces that limited De Beers’ ability to control the
value chain?
4. Discuss the role of governments in altering industry structure. Consider the role of
competition policy and antitrust agencies.
5. Evaluate the decision of De Beers to adopt its new strategy. Will the new role be better
for De Beers? Will the new role be better for society?
6. Is the diamond industry structure unique in the opportunities it offers for collusion and
price maintenance? Compare De Beers’ market leadership with that of OPEC in the oil
sector, or Wal-Mart in the retail sector. Are there lessons that other business sectors
can learn from De Beers?
1. How attractive is this industry?
2. Following the logic of competitive strategy, should a company enter this industry? If yes,
what should its strategy be?
3. Following the logic of competitive strategy, what strategy should an established player
4. What are the factors the competitors in this industry compete on and invest in? How
long has the industry competed on these factors?
1. See questions at end of case (page 5)
1. Why has Disney been so successful for so long?
2. What did Eisner do to rejuvenate Disney? Specifically, how did he increase net income
in his first four years?
3. Based upon the case information, has Disney diversified too far in recent years?
4. What strategic advice would you give Eisner as he looks to the future?
1. Which is greater: the value of Pixar and Disney in an exclusive relationship, or the sum
of the value that each could create if they operated independently of one another or
were allowed to form relationships with other companies? Why?
2. Assuming that Pixar and Disney are more valuable in an exclusive relationship, can that
value be realized through a new contract? Or is common ownership required (i.e., must
Disney acquire Pixar)?
3. If Disney does acquire Pixar, how should Bob Iger and his team organize and manage
the combined entity? What challenges do you foresee, and how would you meet them?
1. How did Philips become the leading consumer electronics company in the world in the
postwar era? What distinctive competencies did they build? What distinctive
2. How did Matsushita succeed in displacing Philips as No. 1? What were Matsushita’s
distinctive competencies and incompetencies?
3. What do you think of the change each company has made to date – the objectives, the
implementation, the impact? Why is the change so hard for each of them?
4. What recommendations would you make to Gerald Kleisterlee? To Eumio Ohtsubo?
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1. Evaluate General Mills’ implementation of its diversification program. To what extent
can such a program be truly planned? How? How permanent can a strategy be in this
type of company? Why?
2. What are the main portfolio issues facing General Mills at the end of the case? What
should it do about these?
3. What kind of organization and control systems should General Mills adopt? Why? How
should it evaluate and reward managers in its various entrepreneurial endeavors? How
should it evaluate and reward managers in its more mature lines?
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Purposely Left Blank
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Peer Rating Form for Team Project
Project Name: ______________________
Rank order each of the members of your group INCLUDING yourself on each of the items
below (1 is best, 2 is next best, etc.). The Peer Evaluation counts towards each student’s final
grade. Use the back of this form for required comments. See guidance at bottom of this page.
Please list each of your group members below in alphabetical order by last name. Be sure to
include yourself.
Group Members:
Rating Criterion
Group Member
1. Quality of contribution to group discussions
2. Quality of contribution to writing the assignment
3. Quality of contribution to organizing the assignment
4. Quality of initiative when something needed to get done.
5. Reliability in completing assigned responsibilities
6. Amount of effort put forth.
7. Commitment to the group
8. Leadership, motivation provided to the group.
9. Emphasis on getting the task done.
10. Emphasis on cooperation and working well with others.
11. Would want to work with this group member again.
Assign an alphabetical grade to each member of the group based on your
OVERALL impression of her/his contribution to the group’s performance. You
may assign a group member any grade from 0 to A+. However, you cannot
assign A’s to more than 70% of your total group members.
A 4-person group cannot have more than three A’s, 5 persons = 4 A’s.
Failure on the part of each team member to observe this constraint will
result in each team member receiving a B.
On the following page, provide at least three directly observable behaviors that represent what you
believe each team member did well, AND at least three behaviors that you observed that represent areas
for improvement/development for each team member. This is NOT about personalities, but rather it is
about those behaviors that are in service and supportive of successful team work and those behaviors that
are not.
Peer Rating Form_Team Project
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Peer Rating Form for Team Project
Project Name: ______________________
Did Well (behaviors):
Area for improvement/development (behaviors):
Did Well (behaviors):
Area for improvement/development (behaviors):
Did Well (behaviors):
Area for improvement/development (behaviors):
Did Well (behaviors):
Area for improvement/development (behaviors):
Did Well (behaviors):
Area for improvement/development (behaviors):
Did Well (behaviors):
Area for improvement/development (behaviors):
Peer Rating Form_Team Project
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Schedule of Sessions and Readings
Topic / Assignment
Aug 20
Introduction/ Course Overview
G, Chapter 1: The Concept of Strategy
Porter, What is Strategy
Learning Style Inventory (LSI)
Completed and Scored Learning
Style Inventory
Aug 22
The Concept of Strategy
G, Chapter 2: Goals, Values and Performance
G, Chapter 16: Current Trends in Strategic Management
Case 0: Apple Inc in 2012
Quiz #1
Porter; What is Strategy;
Grant: C1, C2, C16
Discuss Apple Inc in 2012
Aug 27
External Analysis (1): Macro-Environment
G, Chapter 3: Industry Analysis: The Fundamentals
G; Chapter 12: Global Strategy and Multinational
Case 1: ECCO A/S – Global Value Chain Management
Case Synopsis #1
Aug 29
External Analysis (2): Industry Structure
G, Chapter 4: Further Topics in Industry and Competitive Analysis
Quiz #2
Grant: C3, C4, C12
Sept 3
Internal Analysis (1): Internal Environment
G, Chapter 5: Analyzing Resources and Capabilities
G, Chapter 7: Sources, Dimensions of Competitive Advantage
Case 2: Wal*Mart Stores, Inc
CSA: Current Industry, Vision,
Mission, Strategy
Case Synopsis #2
Wal*Mart Stores, Inc
Sept 5
Internal Analysis (2): Organization Design
G, Chapter 6: Organization Structure, Management Systems
Quiz #3, Grant: C5, C6, C7
Sept 10
Business-Level Strategy (1)
G, Chapter 8: Industry Evolution and Strategic Change
Case 3: De Beers and the Global Diamond Industry
Case Synopsis #3
De Beers
Sept 12
Business-Level Strategy (2)
G, Chapter 10: Competitive Advantage in Mature Industries
Kim & Mauborgne, Creating New Market Space
Case 4: Crafting Winning Strategies in a Mature Market: The US
Wine Industry in 2001
Quiz #4, Grant: C8, C10, Kim &
Mauborgne article
Case Synopsis # 4
US Wine Industry, 2001
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Topic / Assignment
Sept 17
Business-Level Strategy (3)
G, Chapter 9: Technology-Based Industries and Innovation
Kim & Mauborgne, Value Innovation
Case 5: How Apple’s Corporate Strategy Drove High Growth
Case Synopsis #5
Apple Growth Strategy
CSA: Macro-scan, five forces,
key success factors
Sept 19
Corporate-Level Strategy (1)
G, Chapter 11: Vertical Integration, Scope of Firm
Case 6: Walt Disney Company: Entertainment King
Case Synopsis #6
Disney: Entertainment
Sept 24
Corporate-Level Strategy (2)
G, Chapter 15: Mergers, Acquisitions, Alliances
Case 7: Disney-Pixar
Quiz #5, Grant: C9, C11, C15
CSA: Internal Value Chain
Case Synopsis #7
Sept 26
Corporate-Level Strategy (3)
G, Chapter 13: Diversification Strategy
Case 8: Phillips vs Matsushita
Case Synopsis #8
Philips vs Matsushita
Oct 1
Implementing Corporate Strategy
G, Chapter14: Implementing Corporate Strategy
Case 9: General Mills
Quiz #6, Grant: C13, C14
Case Synopsis #9
General Mills
Oct 3
No Class – Team Presentation Preparation
Oct 7
Team Presentations – ALL
Team Comprehensive Strategic Analysis Due – 5:00PM
“Industry-Level” Presentation Slides Due – 5:00PM
I1: 9:00 – 10:10
I2: 10:20 – 11:30
I3: 12:30 – 1:40
I4: 1:50 – 3:00
CSA = Comprehensive Strategic Analysis intermediate deliverables
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