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Welcome to

Syllabus B189 — Spring 2017

RoomBBC 103
Day Thursday
Time 6pm-8:45pm
Instructor: Simon Rodan
Office: BT 457
Office Hours: Thursday 4:30-5:45pm
Skype: simonrodan

Course Description

Integrative capstone seminar analyzing inter-relationships of managerial decisions/actions within and between the firm and its environment. Applies multi-disciplinary techniques to diagnose and recommend actions appropriate to specific company situations, using case method.

Prerequisites: COMM 100W or ENGL 100WB or LLD 100WB. The course is restricted to graduating seniors only.

You are expected to remember and apply the fundamental ideas, techniques and approaches from your accounting (B20 and B21), finance (B170), marketing (B130), orgnizational behaviour (B160) and operations management (B140) classes.

Program Level Learning Objectives

  • To sharpen students' ability to think critically, logically and strategically.
  • To diagnose business situations from a strategic perspective.

Course Learning Objectives

By the end of the course students should be able to demonstrate an ability to:
  • Apply the following strategic analyitical perspectives to unfamiliar business situations
    • Value-price-cost framework
    • The Resource Based View of the firm
    • Industry and competitive analysis (Porter’s 5 forces model)
    • Generic strategies
    • Economies of scale, experience and learning
    • Diversification
    • Transaction costs economics and vertical integration
  • Apply the knowledge, tools and techniques you have studied in your courses in marketing (130), operations management (140), accounting and finance (20, 21), and management (160 or 161a/161b) in the context of a business simulation.

Required Reading

There are two required readings for this course.

The first is Rothaermel, Frank, Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases, 3rd Edition. This is a version of the book customized for this class. It is significantly cheaper than buying the complete book (we will be using only a small proportion of the cases in the complete book and removing them from the custome text reduces the costs significantly).

Follow this link to buy the book

The second is a collection of handouts, “Supplemental Readings in Strategy” which you can download here.


Class contribution (10%) At the end of the semseter, I make an assessment of the contribution you have made to the plenary class discussions. I tend to ask questions of the class as a whole and will rarely call on you individually to answer a question; so it is up to you to volunteer information. At a minimum, you must show that you have prepared for the class. Beyond knowing basic facts about the case, I will look for your ability to think logically and to connect the different theories we look at to the case material.

Exams (35%) There is one mid-term exam and a final which will respectively count for 15% and 20% of your course grade. The exams will generally require either short answers or a single short essay based on a 3-4 page fictional case. Spelling and grammatical errors will reduce your grade.

Simulation (40%) Your grade in the simulation exercise will be based on:

  • your financial achievement in the simulation based on the z-score or pro-score metrics (15%),
  • the quality of your business plan, in partucular its coherence and the clarity of the writing (10%)
  • the accuracy of your team’s sales forecast (5%)
  • your final presentation (10%). In your presentation you should explain:
    • the strategy you adopted and how you translated your chosen strategy into your operational decisions
    • the targets you set out in your business plan and your achievement against them

Peer 360 evaluation (15%) 4 times during the semester you will be asked to make an assessment of your team members’ contributions. Each assessment counts for 5% and the best 3 out ot 4 will be used in calculating your grade. You must complete your evaluation for your team’s assessment of your performance to be counted towards you grade.

Grading scheme

I do not use a fixed scale to assign final letter grades. Since exams may vary in difficulty from semester to semester and I often introduce new ones, a fixed scale would be unfair. My approach is to determine the grading scale approximately based on the highest and lowest total scores for the semester’s work. This means you are not penalized if I set a particularly hard exam. This is not a forced curve, but the ends of the scale are determined by the range in perfomance across all the evaluation dimensions mentioned above. Differently abled students should contact me if these evaluation procedures are not appropriate.

Following a recent change in university policy, there are no extra credit assignments.

Class schedule

Jan 26, 2017 1. Introduction to the Course and the Simulation
Class agenda:
  • Purpose and learing goals
  • Information you will need
    • Text book - On-line, customized version of Frank Rothaermel’s book “Strategic Management 3rd edition Concepts and Cases”
    • Other required reading - accumulated handouts in “Supplemental Readings in Strategy”
    • Cases
  • Culminating Experience: The Business Policy Game Simulation
  • Sumitting assignments (Canavas)
  • Assignments and Exams
  • Grading
  • Teams
  • Introdution to the Business Policy Game
    1. Software interface
    2. Marketing mix
    3. Demand forecasting
  • Four ‘quick fire’ quarters
  • Decision Schedule
  • February 2nd, 2017 2. Generic Strategies, Scale and Learning
    Class agenda:
  • Lecture / discussion – Generic strategies
  • Lecture / discussion – Disaggregating the experience curve: Scale and Learning
  • Discussion – Businesses in the age of populism - The Economist
  • Discussion – Mini case - Threadless: Leveraging Crowdsourcing to Design Cool T-Shirts
    • What are the key features of Threadless’ business model?
    • How does each contributed to Threadless’ profitability?
    • Is this a source of sustained competative advantage? Why (or why not)?
  • February 9th, 2017 3. Foundational Corner-stones
    Class agenda:
  • In-class exercise – Balance sheet exercise ( download workbook here: Balance sheet exercise )
  • The Income ( ‘P & L’ ) Statement
  • Lecture / discussion – Economic Value Creation
  • February 16th, 2017 4. Industry and External Analysis
    Class agenda:
  • Lecture – Bertrand and Cournot
    • The Demand Curve
    • Bertrand’s model
    • Cournot’s model
  • External Analysis
  • February 23rd, 2017 5. Industry and External Analysis Continued
    Class agenda:
  • Case discussion – Exide case (just the first page...)
  • Negotiation exercise
  • Intorduction
  • March 2nd, 2017 6. Internal Firm Analysis - The Resource Based View
    Class agenda:
  • Internal Analysis
  • Case discussion – Airborne Express in 2002
  • Case discussion – Frank Rothaermel, Mini-case 13 "From Good to Great to Gone: The Rise and Fall of Circuit City"
  • March 9th, 2017 7. Internal Firm Analysis - The Resource Based View Continued
    Class agenda:
  • Case discussion – Nucor in 2001
  • Case discussion – Frank Rothaermel, Mini-case 8 "From Circuit City to CarMax"
  • March 16th, 2017 8. Business Models
    Class agenda:
  • Lecture / discussion – Business models
  • Case discussion – Frank Rothaermel, Case: "Barnes & Noble vs Amazon"
  • Case discussion – Dixons - Dealing with on-line retailing
    Focus on what Dixons did to combat the threat from on-line retailing.
    What were the key components of its strategy? What is the key to Dixons' new business model?
  • Case discussion – Stihl Chain Saws - Thriving Outside the Big Box
  • March 23rd, 2017 9. Mid-tem Exam
    Class agenda:

  • Mid-term exam
    2 ½ hours, open book
  • Assignment due – Forecasting assignment
  • April 6th, 2017 10. Innovation
    Class agenda:
  • Mid-term exam review - peer mentoring
  • Case discussion – Frank Rothaermel, Case 11 "Netflix"
  • Lecture / discussion – Innovation and Technology S-curves
  • April 13th, 2017 11. Decision Making and Corporate Governance
    Class agenda:
  • In-class exercise – Decision tree exercies exercise ( download here: Decision tree exercies )
  • Lecture / discussion – Decision making
  • Case discussion – Dixons - Dealing with on-line retailing
    Focus on what Dixons did to combat the threat from on-line retailing.
    What were the key components of its strategy? What is the key to Dixons' new business model?
  • Case discussion – Stihl Chain Saws - Thriving Outside the Big Box
  • April 27th, 2017 12. Diversification
    Class agenda:
  • Lecture / discussion – Diversification
  • Case discussion – First Grayhound, Then Grayhound Dial, Then Dial...
    If time permits...
  • Case discussion – Case "Sony vs. Apple: Whatever Happened to Sony?"
  • May 4th, 2017 13. Acquisition and Vertical Integration
    Class agenda:
  • Lecture / discussion – Acquisitions
  • Case discussion – The Hanson Trust
  • Case discussion – Honda and Triumph (pt 1)
  • Lecture / discussion – Vertical Integration and Transaction Cost Economics (TCE)
  • Case discussion – Swiss watchmakers - Time is money
  • May 11th, 2017 14. Network Externalities and Corporate Social Responsibility
    Class agenda:
  • Lecture / discussion – Vertical Integration and Transaction Cost Economics (TCE)
  • Case discussion – The Home Video Game Industry: From Pong to X-box
  • Lecture / discussion – Network Externalities
  • Case discussion – Case "Google Inc.: Figuring Out What to do with China"
  • Review of key ideas from this course
    • The Demand Curve, Monopoly and Oligopoluy Profit Maximization
    • Value Creation and Appropriation (VPC), Consumer and Producer Surplus
    • Industry Analysis - Porter's model
    • The Resrouce Based View
    • Generic Strategies
    • Diversification
    • Corporate Acquisitions
    • Cash flow valuation
    • Vertical Integration and TCE
    • Financial accounting (P&L, Balance sheet)
    • Network effects