Strategic Management – an MBA course at Said Business School

A core course taken in the first term
8 lectures
Examined by case study (20%) and examination (80%)

Pre-course thoughts
Welcome to the big picture. I read Jack Welch’s autobiography recently, and I suspect this is an introduction to the stuff he seemed to spend his time thinking about. Which companies to buy, which industries to be in, whether a merger is a good idea, that kind of thing. How to secure a rate of return better than the industry average I think is what it all boils down to.

I think I’m going to like strategy. It seems like my kind of thing, big ideas, long-term goals and a bit of the vision thing. Of course in these .com crash days vision isn’t the commodity it once was but hey, these things go in cycles.

Post course thoughts
I was on the money about this one, the above summary was pretty accurate. We did industry analysis, we did risk analysis, we did different methods of evaluating strategic decisions, resource based theories, core competences stuff and all kinds of good things.

A couple of things got my back up, but only in a good way. I’m not convinced by shareholder value, it’s a mantra that underpins a lot of strategic thought and it’s wormed its way into the heart of financial and economic thinking as well. I don’t buy shareholder value, I think it’s bad for society and I’m not sure that many firms really behave like that anyway.

Oh, and I didn’t like the insistence on knowing who thought of the theories and when. Yes a general sense of chronology and development is useful, but it’s not essential. What’s essential is knowing what the questions are and having a way to answer them. Knowing that the five forces model is Porter (HBR, 86) doesn’t make it about right or useful (although it may not be either), it just wastes my time.