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Course Syllabus BPS 6310.

521 Summer 2006 -1-

BPS 6310.521
Tuesday 6:00pm – 10:00pm SOM Building Room 2.904

Professor Michael D. Oliff 972-883-4118

Office: SOM 1.707 Hours: Before or after class or by appointment
Graduate Assistant:

Text: Dess, G.G., Lumpkin, G.T. and Taylor, 2006—Strategic Management: Creating
Competitive Advantages, McGraw-Hill/Irwin. (Soft back version)
BPS 6310 Readings Packet: Michael D Oliff, Available at Campus Books

Note: This is a demanding course. If you are unable to commit approximately two hours
of work outside of class (on average) for every hour in class (or eight hours per week),
please drop the course.

Course Overview

The primary thrust of this course is general management. It will be different from most of
the courses you have had in functional subject areas (e.g., accounting, marketing) in the
MBA program because you are required to use a wide range of business knowledge and
exhibit diverse skills. Therefore, it will be demanding and challenging because you must
perform in topic areas where you have both strengths and weaknesses.

This course has historically been referred to as “Business Policy” and its sole purpose
was to help the student “integrate” the knowledge he/she had developed in other courses
in the undergraduate business program. Business policy traditionally had little content of
its own. However, in recent years it has become increasingly apparent that general
managers (including top executives) not only apply knowledge from a wide variety of
functional areas (e.g., accounting, marketing, finance), but also perform activities that
require knowledge and skills not addressed in those areas. Therefore, it has become
acknowledged that there is a unique body of content material that is not taught in
functional area business courses that should be taught in a course such as this. Topics
such as the nature of managerial work, strategy formulation and implementation, and
organization design are examples. Also, the development/refinement of skills in oral and
written communication and the enhancement of conceptual/integration skills are major
course objectives.

Professor Michael D. Oliff Wk: 972-883-4118 Cell: 972-998-7536
Course Syllabus BPS 6310.521 Summer 2006 -2-

Course Objectives

The course has multiple objectives that include the following:

1. Developing a general management orientation, becoming able to analyze broad,

organization-wide problems.

2. Integrating the business skills you have already developed and knowledge you
have obtained. In the immediate future this should give you a better understanding
of how your position(s) relate(s) to the overall performance of your organization.
Also, much of this course is structured to simulate the job that many of you may
have or will have in the near future—an executive responsible for helping to
develop/implement recommendations on the strategic issues that face your

3. Developing skill in using your knowledge to solve the actual problems that are
being experienced by today’s organizations.

4. Improving skills in oral and written communication.

5. Developing an awareness of the literature of business policy/strategic

management and how it applies to contemporary organizations.

By the end of this course, you should be able to (1) analyze a particular business
situation, (2) identify the significant problems, and (3) propose and justify explicit
solutions that are realistic, effective, and efficient.

Overall, it is extremely important to keep up with assigned material. The course will
cover a large amount of material and I will bring in a wide variety of subject matter
outside of the assigned chapters. I will spend only a relatively short amount of class time
addressing reading materials. Thus, it is vital to carefully read and make summary notes
of the chapter materials and other materials in advance of class to get the most out of the

Achieving the Objectives

You will be required to complete three activities in order to achieve the identified

1. Contribute to in-class discussions of chapters, cases, readings, and outside lecture

material by exhibiting (a) an understanding and articulate analysis of the
information presented and (b) skills in the prerequisite course areas required for
registration. A portion of the total effort in this course will be directed toward the
preparation of “mini-cases” and cases for class discussion. For each case, key
questions will be posed in advance to guide your preparation.

Professor Michael D. Oliff Wk: 972-883-4118 Cell: 972-998-7536
Course Syllabus BPS 6310.521 Summer 2006 -3-

Attendance is required at all class sessions. That being said, at times, professional
and personal emergencies may arise which may prevent one from attending class.
Please contact me in advance (via telephone or, preferably, e-mail) if you must
miss a class. No “no-shows” please.

Everyone is expected to be thoroughly prepared, intellectually engaged, and

contribute substantially to class discussions. “Participation and contribution” is
a meaningful portion of the total course grade – 30%. Please bring a passport
photo with your name, phone contact and email address. We will use nameplates
to accelerate our familiarity.

2. Complete a “GROUP CASE ANALYSIS” Assignment. Due: July 17

3. Complete a “FINAL EXAMINATION”. The final examination will consist of

approximately 75 multiple-choice questions and three out of four integrative essay
questions. Due: August 1.

Overview of the Group Assignment

Please make a copy of your written assignment for yourself. I will keep the original in my
files. You also need to submit a “soft” copy via email. We will use a team formation
exercise on day one to help you “self-select” into your groups.

Assignment: Industry and Company Analysis (oral and written

Select a publicly listed company and primary industry in which it competes. The
following two sections, “Industry Analysis” and “Company Analysis” contain suggested
topics. You should address and analyze what issues are most important for your
organization and industry. However, each group must include a five forces analysis,
value chain analysis, strategic intent analysis and financial analysis (as a minimum, a
ratio analysis). Each part of this assignment (Industry and Company) should be
approximately 12-15 double-spaced pages each—excluding tables, charts, figures, etc.
which are considered an important part of the assignments. Also, include a list of
references for each section. Key: analyze and synthesize and minimize description and
restatement of facts.

Note: Only a maximum of two groups may analyze a given industry and only one
group may analyze a given company. “First come, first served!”

Professor Michael D. Oliff Wk: 972-883-4118 Cell: 972-998-7536
Course Syllabus BPS 6310.521 Summer 2006 -4-


The industry analysis includes two interrelated parts. The first part provides a broad
overview of the industry, its boundaries, and its evolution over time, with particular
emphasis on the key dimensions that have shaped its condition in the last ten years. It
establishes who the participants in the industry are, the nature of the markets, key
strategic issues for the industry, growth rates, profitability, market shares, the products,
financial trends, takeovers, the uncertainties in the environment, the distribution channels,

The second part of the report analyzes the current state of the industry in terms of the
“five forces” framework proposed by Porter. In addition, the key points to be developed
are the nature of competition, various segments in the industry, the general environmental
trends that affect the industry, diversification efforts by participants and probably likely
scenarios for the future.

To summarize, the industry analysis includes issues such as the following:


• The boundaries of the industry

• The competitors, their market shares, and segments they focus on
• The products
• Other elements of the task environment
• The value-add chain and how individual firms vary


• What are the ways to compete?

• Historically, which of these have been most successful?
• What distinctive competencies are required in the industry?
• What are the key forces that drive competition and determine average


• Demographics
• Technology
• Political, social, and economic trends
• Internationalization


• Describe bases for clustering

• Identify “strategic groups”

Professor Michael D. Oliff Wk: 972-883-4118 Cell: 972-998-7536
Course Syllabus BPS 6310.521 Summer 2006 -5-

• Name key firms or SBUs in each strategic group

• Indicate direction of movement


• Key opportunities (in terms of products, vacant market niches, etc.)

• Key threats (in terms of new entrants, product life cycle, product
obsolescence, substitute products, etc.)
• Key issues/choices facing the members of the industry


The company analysis, in keeping with the pattern that we followed for industry analysis,
consists of two interrelated parts. The first part should provide a broad overview of the
firm, its evolution over time with particular emphasis on it strengths and weaknesses, its
financial performance, its product lines, its distinctive competencies, its structure, its
culture, and key executives who have shaped the company’s policies in the last ten years.

The second part of the analysis identifies the current strategy at corporate, business, and
functional levels, labels these strategies, and identifies any changes in strategy in the 10-
year period. Further, the report analyzes the company’s performance in the light of the
strategy followed and your own evaluation of the current strategy. The report concludes
with the key issues that the company is currently facing. The insights developed from the
industry analysis should be of particular help in identifying the key issues/choices that the
company is faced with, recommended actions, and implementation considerations.

To summarize, the company analysis includes issues such as the following:


• Product lines
• The scope of the firm (geographic, target customers, technologies, etc.)
• The size of the firm (sales, assets, personnel, etc.)
• The firm’s distinctive competencies
• Key strategic managers
• The company’s culture and philosophy


• In various functions and value creating activities (finance, marketing,

production, R&D, etc.)
• In organization
• At various levels (top, middle, and lower)
• Incorporation of value chain concepts
Professor Michael D. Oliff Wk: 972-883-4118 Cell: 972-998-7536
Course Syllabus BPS 6310.521 Summer 2006 -6-


• See 3 and 5 under INDUSTRY ANALYSIS


• At corporate, business, and functional levels

• Their descriptions and label
• Sources of competitive advantage(s) and sustainability


• Match of strengths and weaknesses with opportunities and threats

• Product market choices
• Resource generation/allocation issues
• Potential/opportunities for value creation
• Personnel issues (including managerial succession)
• Stakeholder related issues



• Future expectations, trends and discontinuities

• Targeted Future Distinctive Competencies
• Goal consistency
• Strategic relevance
• Organizational capability
• Political feasibility

Each group is to provide a 20-25min presentation. All group members must participate in
“RIGOROUS” ASPECTS. The oral presentation (along with Power Point slides) will
count 50% of the assignment grade. (Do not solicit class participation/discussion during
the 15-20 minute presentation.)

Professor Michael D. Oliff Wk: 972-883-4118 Cell: 972-998-7536
Course Syllabus BPS 6310.521 Summer 2006 -7-


The three activities in which you will be participating will be combined to determine your
final course grade. Their respective weights are as follows:*

1. Class Participation/Contribution** 30%

2. Case Analysis – written assignment due July17* 35%
3. Final Examination – August 1 35%

Total 100%

* Peer Evaluations (to be completed at the end of the final class meeting).
** Students may earn a maximum of 5 “bonus points” for outstanding class

All group members are expected to do their fair share of work on the assignments.
Fortunately, in about 85 to 90 percent of the groups this is the case. Unfortunately, that
leaves (historically) approximately 10-15 percent of the groups in which inequities occur.
Since I do not know which groups have such a problem, I will use peer evaluations for all
groups. For such a system to work, everyone must be honest and fair. Additionally, if a
group member(s) is making only a nominal contribution and/or is overly difficult to work
with, the other group member(s) may expel them/her/him from the group and this
individual must complete the assignment individually within one week after the due date.


The university has policies and discipline procedures regarding scholastic dishonesty
Detailed information is available at Students are expected to maintain
a high level of responsibility with respect to academic dishonesty.

Students who violate university rules are subject to disciplinary penalties, including the
possibility of failure in the course and/or dismissal from the university. Since such
dishonesty harms the individual, all students and the integrity of the university, these
policies will be strictly enforced.

Professor Michael D. Oliff Wk: 972-883-4118 Cell: 972-998-7536
Course Syllabus BPS 6310.521 Summer 2006 -8-


All materials should be read and prepared individually before class.


Course Overview Objectives Chapter 1
Session 1 What is Strategy? Creating Value with Customers, 2003, MD Oliff
May 16 Team Formation No One’s Perfect but a Team Can Be, Belbin
The Context of Dominance
Analyzing the External Environment Chapter 2
Session 2 Creating Customer Value Nokia-Creating New Markets, UTD, 2004
May 23 Team Project Development
Session 3 Analyzing the Internal Environment Chapter 3 and 4
May 30 Team Project Development Wal-Mart – Strategy for the 21st Century

Session 4 Strategic Intent - Combining “Forces” Bally S.A. from Core Competencies to
June 6 and “Resources” to attack Chosen Markets Capabilities
Strategic Info. Mgt at Bally
Session 5 Business and Corporate-Level Strategies Chapters 5 and 6
June 13 Preliminary Team Project Reviews
Session 6 International Strategy Chapters 7 and 8
June 20 Wal-Mart – Strategy for the 21st Century
Nokia-Creating New Markets, UTD, 2004
Session 7 Strategic Implementation Chapter 9 and 10
June 27 Team Project Development Bahlsen GMBH., Developing KPI’s to Guide
Transformational Change, UTD, 2004
Session 8 Strategic Implementation Chapter 4 and 11
July 11 Sustaining Change/Stretch Culture CMB Packaging, IMD, 1992
Employee Value and Human Systems
2020 Framework for Future Dominance
Session 9 Case Presentations Presentations
July 18
Session 10 Case Presentations Presentations
July 25
Session 11 Final Exam
Aug 1

Professor Michael D. Oliff Wk: 972-883-4118 Cell: 972-998-7536