business strategy



Assignment options
Choose ONE of the options below:
a) Mintzberg (1987) likens strategy in an organisation to personality in an individual. Consider why this might be, and any implications for our understanding of strategy, with reference to The Strategy Concept parts I and II and a maximum of TWO other relevant concepts introduced on the module.

b) Analyse the strategy of a company of your choice from the perspective of any ONE or TWO of the models or concepts introduced in lectures.
You are required to submit one hard copy and one soft copy (via the Turnitin drop-box in the KLE) by 1pm Monday 23rd November (see Module Guide – also on the KLE – for full details). You must include the Turnitin reference number on your hard copy cover sheet.
The word count target is 2000 (+/- 10%, excluding your references list and any appendices).
Proper and full Harvard referencing is essential.
Question-specific advice
a) These two articles were covered in Lecture 1, but you may find that the ideas resonate with other concepts introduced in subsequent sessions. Make sure that you are explicitly answering the question, not simply reproducing or paraphrasing Mintzberg’s work. Do your best to show that you understand what he is saying by – for instance – evaluating it (is it a good or bad idea, how useful is it, does it really help us to understand the nature of strategy?…) or pointing out any similarities you see with other ideas on the module.
Note: the inclusion of additional concepts is optional, it is entirely acceptable to concentrate your discussion solely on the Strategy Concept articles – this will give you the opportunity to achieve greater depth, whilst the addition of other concepts allows for comparison. Both approaches are valid: ‘different, but equal’.
If in doubt, discuss with me!
b) This is an opportunity to examine a real company of your choice and research their strategy with specific reference to your chosen topic(s).

If you choose one of the companies or industries examined in tutorials, you will of course be expected to use much more than just the case study material!
I strongly suggest that you start by choosing a company in which you are personally interested, and ask yourself the following questions to get you started:
• Can I find sufficient information about this company?
o Company reports?
o Academic sources?
o Quality media sources
• Do they explicitly state what their strategy is?
o If they do, do you agree that it is appropriate, and why?
o Do they appear to be doing what they claim to be doing?
o If they do not, why not?
• What are independent sources (academic, media…) saying about them? (See below).
Based on the above, you can then choose the model(s) and/or framework(s) you consider most appropriate to help you examine their strategy.
I suggest you start by reading the Chairman’s and Chief Executive’s statements in the company annual report (if appropriate and available). There is no need to read the entire report, the statements above (often referred to as ‘letter to shareholders’ or ‘Chairman’s report’) should be adequate, unless you need more detail in specific areas such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports etc. You might also like to look back at previous years’ reports – is their strategy consistent, or has it changed. Why?
I also suggest that you look at quality media such as good newspapers (eg the Financial Times, Telegraph, Independent, Guardian) and periodicals (such as The Economist). Access to their sites (which are searchable) is free via the Library electronic sources.
Beware! You will find many ready-made answers to this kind of question on the Web, particularly on sites such as scribd, ivythesis and studymode. Do not be tempted to use them! Use only legitimate academic sources, quality newspapers, periodicals and media, and material taken from your chosen company itself – particularly the Annual Reports where available.
As always, if you have any concerns or need clarification of what is required, please ask me! Consultation hours 11-1 Mondays, or you can book an appointment: