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Strategic Management in Global Environment

MGT523 Strategic Management in Global Environment

Group Project Winter 2020

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS

Please read the instructions below. Failure to comply with the instructions will result in a penalty ranging from 5% to 100% of the grade

  1. Use this document as a template for your response. In other words, type your student information and your answers into the document.
  2. Each group will submit a soft copy (on Blackboard only) on February 10, 200. [There will be a 20% penalty for every day late. No submissions will be accepted after February 12th].
  3. The teams can have 3 to 5 participants.
  4. Your answers must be based on the company you have selected to analyze.
  5. This GP carries a 20% weightage towards the final grade.
  6. Please use Times New Roman, font size 12 and a line spacing of 1-1.5.
  7. The length of this project should be up to 30 pages.
  8. If you use text from the textbook/case study, please make sure you paraphrase it in a way that fits with your overall discussion. Please put an appropriate citation to make it explicit that you are using information from the sources. If you think the text fits into your discussion without paraphrasing, please cite it in a way that makes it clear that this is a direct quote (e.g. indent a paragraph containing text or put a sentence in quotes)
  9. Please use your own thinking/writing to answer the questions.

GROUP PROJECT DESCRIPTION

1. Overview

The Group Project (GP) involves students making operational and strategic decisions. Students will act as a team of top managers when making these decisions. The strategy project is an integral part of a strategic management course.

This project has proved to be one of the best experiential learning experiences for the COBA students, where they should develop strategic management skills. During the project, students should carry out a rigorous analysis of a real-life company.

The GP is the final deliverable of the MGT523 Strategic Management in a Global Environment Course and allows you to immediately apply everything you have learned in the classroom. It is a comprehensive and demanding exercise that is carried out over the winter term. The goal of the project is to address and analyse an issue of particular strategic importance of a company from an executive management viewpoint.

2. Learning Objectives

The most important learning objectives of the group project are as follows:

  • To give students an opportunity to apply concepts and theories of strategic management in “real world”.
  • To introduce students to practical matters of strategy formulation and implementation.
  • To give students an opportunity to establish concrete relationships between the concepts and methods studied during the program and current real-life strategic and managerial issues.
  • To expose students to the complexity, serendipity and artistic side of strategic management and competition.
  • To help students to analyze, evaluate and create strategies (including green strategies).
  • To help students to develop both written and oral skills when presenting the results of their work.

3. Assignment Strategy

PHASE 1: CHOOSE ONE CASE COMPANY

  1. Choose one company of the list below. Each group should analyse and present a different company. Based on that, you need to email the name of the company to me – do some information research before you select the company. Sometimes spending 30 minutes doing research will save you a degree.
  2. Companies are available on a firstcome, firstserved basis with NO repeats!

i. Ember (https://embertech.com/)

ii. Lumoid (https://lumoid.com/ )

iii. DoorDash (https://www.doordash.com/)

iv. SmartThings (https://www.smartthings.com/)

v. Tesla Motors (https://www.tesla.com/)

vi. GoPro (https://gopro.com/)

vii. Munchery (https://munchery.com/#sthash.6ws5Sb2t.dpuf)

viii. Cruise (https://www.getcruise.com/)

ix. Juicero (https://www.juicero.com/)

x. Shyp (https://www.shyp.com/)

xi. Doordash (https://www.doordash.com/)

xii. Instacart (https://www.instacart.com/)

xiii. Fitbit (https://www.fitbit.com/home)

  • After selecting your company, you should visit its web site (I have included all the web sites above) to get market reports of this company. Secondly, go to article databases such as Infotrac. Emerald, Proquest and etc to find articles on the company. Vast majority of articles will not be usually academic, but practical. Lastly, do some Google search, BBC news and, of course, visit the company’s web site.
  • When writing a company-based report you would usually be expected to concentrate on practical side rather then on theory. Good solution may be for you to give practical analysis – but refer to the theory on the appendix.
  • Also, please remember, that each company has its history, therefore when, for example, suggesting a new strategy for the company – always firstly analyse previous strategies on that organisation, because it is possible, that whatever you suggest may have already been used by the company.

PHASE 2: ANALYZING FIRMS PERFORMANCE AND ISSUES

Firm and Industry Performance: Analyze focal firm’s performance against industry average and its key competitors. Has the company done well? Has it done better than industry average? Has it done better than the key competitors?

External Analysis: Analyze external environment of the firm over a period covered in the case. How did the industry and its attractiveness evolve? Why so? Identify key external challenges/factors that industry faced over time. How did they affect industry? What has been the nature of rivalry? (PESTE-Chapter 4)

Internal Analysis: Analyze firm’s internal environment. Identify key challenges facing firm in the past. Why are these key challenges? How did they affect Firm? What are the firm’s key resources/activities/functional expertise? How have this resources/activities/functional expertise affected firm’s relative performance? (Long-term & short-term) Quantitative data

Critical assessment of Strategy: Critically analyze firm’s strategy and competitive advantage? What has it been? Has it enjoyed competitive enjoyed? Suffered from disadvantaged? Has it been sustainable? Why so? Has it planned strategy implementation well? Has it been doing a good job of evaluation and control?

Key lessons learnt from the past: What are the key sources of competitive advantage in this industry? What are the key factors likely to affect industry and firm’s performance in future?

PHASE 3: DEFINING THE CURRENT ISSUE(S) AND PROBLEM STATEMENT

What are the main strategic issues company is likely to face going forward? The problem statement should be a clear, concise statement of exactly what needs to be addressed. Asking your team the following questions may help:

  • What appears to be the problem(s) here?
  • How do I know that this is a problem? Note that by asking this question, you will be helping to differentiate the symptoms of the problem from the problem itself. Example: while declining sales or unhappy employees are a problem to most companies, they are in fact, symptoms of underlying problems which need to address.
  • What are the immediate issues that need to be addressed? This helps to differentiate between issues that can be resolved within the context of the case, and those that are bigger issues that needed to addressed at a another time (preferably by someone else!).
  • Differentiate between importance and urgency for the issues identified. Some issues may appear to be urgent, but upon closer examination are relatively unimportant, while others may be far more important (relative to solving our problem) than urgent. You want to deal with important issues in order of urgency to keep focused on your objective. Important issues are those that have a significant effect on:

1. profitability,

2. strategic direction of the company,

3. source of competitive advantage,

4. morale of the company’s employees, and/or

5. customer satisfaction.

The problem statement may be framed as a question, e.g.: What should Mr. Adel do? or How can Mr. Kamal improve market share? Usually the problem statement has to be re-written several times during the analysis of a case, as you peel back the layers of symptoms or causation.

PHASE 4: ANALYZING INFORMATION

In analyzing the case data, you are trying to answer the following:

  • Why or how did these issues arise? You are trying to determine cause and effect for the problems identified. You cannot solve a problem that you cannot determine the cause of! It may be helpful to think of the organization in question as consisting of the following components:
    • resources, such as materials, equipment, or supplies, and
    • people who transform these resources using
    • processes, which creates something of greater value.
  • Now, where are the problems being caused within this framework, and why?
  • Who is affected most by this issues? You are trying to identify who are the relevant stakeholders to the situation, and who will be affected by the decisions to be made.
  • What are the constraints and opportunities implicit to this situation? It is very rare that resources are not a constraint, and allocations must be made on the assumption that not enough will be available to please everyone.
  • What do the numbers tell you? You need to take a look at the numbers given in the case study and make a judgment as to their relevance to the problem identified. Not all numbers will be immediately useful or relevant, but you need to be careful not to overlook anything. When deciding to analyze numbers, keep in mind why you are doing it, and what you intend to do with the result. Use common sense and comparisons to industry standards when making judgments as to the meaning of your answers to avoid jumping to conclusions.

PHASE 5: GENERATING ALTERNATIVES

This section deals with different ways in which the problem can be resolved. Typically, there are many alternatives. Things to remember at this stage are:

  1. Make suitable assumptions: Managers often work with incomplete information by making assumptions about future. Assumptions relate to key external and internal factors. These assumptions are based on historical data and do not represent blanket wishful thinking, however. When you make assumptions, explicitly state them and offer rationale as to why these assumptions make sense.
  2. Be realistic! While you might be able to find a dozen alternatives, keep in mind that they should be realistic and fit within the constraints of the situation.
  3. The alternatives should be mutually exclusive, that is, they cannot happen at the same time.
  4. Not making a decision pending further investigation is not an acceptable decision for any case study that you will analyze. A manager can always delay making a decision to gather more information, which is not managing at all! The whole point to this exercise is to learn how to make good decisions, and having imperfect information is normal for most business decisions, not the exception.
  5. Doing nothing as in not changing your strategy can be a viable alternative, provided it is the best alternative. You will need to defend this like any other recommendation, based on the facts.
  6. Avoid the meat sandwich method of providing only two other clearly undesirable alternatives to make one reasonable alternative look better by comparison. This will be painfully obvious to the reader, and just shows laziness on your part in not being able to come up with more than one decent alternative.
  7. Keep in mind that any alternative chosen will need to be implemented at some point, and if serious obstacles exist to successfully doing this, then you are the one who will look bad for suggesting it.

Once the alternatives have been identified, a method of evaluating them and selecting the most appropriate one needs to be used to arrive at a decision.

PHASE 6: Key Decision-Criteria

A very important concept to understand, they answer the question of how you are going to decide which alternative is the best one to choose. Other than choosing randomly, we will always employ some criteria in making any decision.

PHASE 7: RECOMMENDATIONS, CONCLUSION, REFERENCES & APPENDICES

What are your recommendations for these firms? How would you change their strategies? What recommendations do you have for implementation?

References: You should cite all external sources in your text by using APA format. It is a good idea to start your references section at the beginning of the writing process and add to it as you go along. It will be a tedious and time-consuming task if left until you have completed the main body of the text. If you do leave it until the end, the time spent on compiling the reference section is time that would have been better spent on checking and amending your report.

Appendices Supplementary material at the end of a book, article, document, or other text, usually of an explanatory, statistical, or bibliographic nature. In general, appendices should be kept to the minimum. If they are so important that your reader’s understanding of the points you are making in the text makes their inclusion in the report necessary, then they should be in the main body of the text. If, on the other hand, the material is ‘interesting to know’ rather than ‘essential to know’ then it should be in the appendices.

4. Proposed Structure of the Written Report

1. Title page

1.1. Company name

1.2. Class code and class name

1.3. Full names and student ids of group members

1.4. Instructor name

1.5. Semester and year

2. Automatic Table of Contents

3. Executive summary

3.1. Summarize your entire report in one page or less

4. Analyzing firm’s past performance and issues

4.1. Firm and industry performance

4.2. External analysis

4.3. Internal analysis

4.4. Critical assessment of strategy

4.5. Key lessons learnt from the past

5. Identifying current issues

5.1. Phase 3: defining the current issue(s) and problem statement

5.2. Phase 4: analyzing information

5.3. Phase 5: generating alternatives

6. Solving future problems

6.1. Phase 6: key decision-criteria

6.2. Phase 7: recommendations

7. Conclusion

8. Appendices

Bibliography-References

5. Notes on Written Reports

Always remember that you will be judged by the quality of your work, which includes your written work such as case study reports. Sloppy, dis-organized, poor quality work will say more about you than you probably want said! To ensure the quality of your written work, keep the following in mind when writing your report:

1. Proof-read your work! Not just on the screen while you write it, but the hard copy after it is printed. Fix the errors before submitting.

2. Use spell checker to eliminate spelling errors

3. Use grammar checking to avoid common grammatical errors such as run on sentences.

4. Note that restating of case facts is not included in the format of the case report, nor is it considered part of analysis. Anyone reading your report will be familiar with the case, and you need only to mention facts that are relevant to (and support) your analysis or recommendation as you need them.

5. You are highly encouraged to use tools, framework and theories covered in this course to conduct analysis and synthesis and develop arguments. Clearly identifying and correctly matching theoretical basis while building arguments will help in securing good grades.

6. If you are going to include exhibits (particularly numbers) in your report, you will need to refer to them within the body of your report, not just tack them on at the end! This reference should be in the form of supporting conclusions that you are making in your analysis. The reader should not have to guess why particular exhibits have been included, nor what they mean. If you do not plan to refer to them, then leave them out.

7. Write in a formal manner suitable for scholarly work, rather than a letter to a friend.

8. Common sense and logical thinking can do wonders for your evaluation!

9. Proof-read your work!

6. Grading Criteria

There’s no such thing as “the correct answer” to a case study question. Several answers. Generally, the instructors’ use the following criteria when assigning a grade to a response:

1. The overall quality of a response’s content

a. Does your response actually address a question?

b. How effective is your solution?

c. How original is your response?

d. Does your response contain sufficient details?

2. The degree to which a response shows understanding of concepts, frameworks and theories covered in the course

a. Does your response actually use a concept, framework, or theory covered in this class?

b. Does your response get into specifics of a concept, framework, or theory?

3. The degree to which a response is logically coherent

a. Is there a line of thought that flows through your response?

b. Are you claims supported/illustrated with facts, examples, or illustrations?

c. Is your response well-structured?

Solution:

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