Syllabus query

Academic Year/course: 2017/18

27322 - Strategic management

Syllabus Information

Academic Year:
27322 - Strategic management
Faculty / School:
109 - Facultad de Economía y Empresa
228 - Facultad de Empresa y Gestión Pública
301 - Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Humanas
448 - Degree in Business Administration and Management
454 - Degree in Business Administration and Management
458 - Degree in Business Administration and Management
First semester
Subject Type:

1.1. Introduction

Strategic Management is a compulsory course that is given in the first semester of the third year. It is an introductory course to the strategic management of a firm and its general objective is to study the firm and its management from an overall viewpoint. It does not focus on specific functional areas (e.g. operations, marketing, finance and accountability…) as other courses do, but on the firm as a whole.

1.2. Recommendations to take this course

This subject constitutes a first approach to the strategic management of a firm. Although there are no previous requirements for studying this subject, the students should be familiar with the basic concepts of subjects from the area of Management and Organization that have been previously given in the Degree of Administración y Dirección de Empresas (i.e. Essences of Management, Internal Organization and Management). Additionally, students are strongly recommended to attend the lectures on a regular basis and to participate in the different activities that will be carried out in them.

1.3. Context and importance of this course in the degree

Strategic Management is a course included in the block Fundamentals, Strategies and Resources of the Firm –defined in the study program of the Degree of Administración y Dirección de Empresas. This subject is based on Essences of Management, as well as on other more specific courses that analyse different functional areas of the firm (e.g., operations, human resources, marketing and finance and accountability). Top management should be able to integrate this knowledge in order to make the best decisions and develop the activities of the firm in the most efficient way, with the main aim of maximizing firm value.

1.4. Activities and key dates

The activities and key dates will be communicated via the Universidad de Zaragoza e-learning platform (moodle2). The timetable of assessment activities can be consulted in the webpage of the centres where the course is taught.

2.1. Learning goals

The coordination of interdependent activities within the firm corresponds to top managers, who are responsible for the long-term survival of the firm, fix the organizational objectives and determine how to achieve them. The basic functions of executive management include internal design and resource allocation, the integration of activities from different departments, the continuous adaptation to environmental changes, and the design of firm strategy. Top managers should be able of take charge of all activities related to efficiency (have resources been correctly allocated?), efficacy (have the planned objectives been achieved?) and effectiveness (have objectives been defined adequately?)

2.2. Importance of learning goals

Strategy has an increasing importance for firms because of the uncertainty that exists in the environment where they carry out their activities. Consequently, an adequate identification and formulation of strategy are necessary. This is an important challenge for the organization and is critical to its survival and success.

Any firm that aims to maintain high profitability rates in the long term needs a deep understanding of the characteristics and structure of the markets in which it operates. It is also important to know the key elements that determine competition in those markets. This knowledge should be combined with a diagnosis of the firm’s internal strengths and weaknesses because building sustainable competitive advantages is only possible by combining the internal (resources and capabilities) and external (markets) dimensions of the organization adequately.

Strategic Management offers students the key concepts and tools to make the best strategic decisions in accordance with the dynamism and fast evolution of this field of management. Strategic Management is about how to manage organizations to achieve and maintain business success through the identification of factors that determine performance and through the implementation of a strategy to obtain the best result. Consequently, the contents of this course are of great interest to the student because it offers a good approach to these key aspects.

3.1. Aims of the course

The student, in order to pass the course, will have to show her/his competence in the following skills:

  1. Understand the concept of competitive advantage, adequately use various indicators that measure value creation within a firm, and understand the role of strategy in this process. More specifically, distinguish between economic and accounting profit, identify the levels of strategy and the most important decisions within them.
  2. Value the potential profitability that an industry offers according to the analysis of a set of basic dimensions.
  3. Make a diagnosis of the internal situation of a firm, identify its strengths and weaknesses and identify the resources and capabilities that are a source of sustainable competitive advantages.
  4. Explain the generic basic strategies, their sources and how they help to generate value from their execution.
  5. Identify the main growth strategies, know their main characteristics, and be able of formulate a corporate strategy based on the specific circumstances of the firm.

3.2. Competences

  1. Making decisions and managing business organizations.
  2. Knowing the operations of all the functional areas of any company or organization and having the skills to perform any task within these areas.
  3. Evaluating the situation and the previous evolution of firms and organizations, and being able to acquire the relevant knowledge for taking informed decisions successfully.
  4. Elaborating and writing comprehensive management projects for companies and other entities.
  5. Issuing reports about specific market situations, industries, organizations, companies and their functional areas.
  6. Understanding and applying professional criteria and scientific standards to the solution of economic, business and organizational problems.
  7. Problem-solving capability.
  8. Organization and planning capabilities.
  9. Analysing and searching for information from different sources.
  10. Decision-making capability.
  11. Motivation towards excellence.
  12. Adaptation capability to new situations.
  13. Ability to put theoretical concepts into practice.

4.1. Assessment tasks (description of tasks, marking system and assessment criteria)

The student will prove that she/he has achieved the expected learning results by means of the following assessment tasks:

- An active attitude in class discussions and, at the beginning of the practical sessions, the handing in of the exercises or activities that had been previously indicated by the teachers. These practical sessions will be devoted to exercises related to program chapters, and to the presentation and discussion of recommended readings.

- Development of a group project that consists of an in-depth analysis of a firm. Students will have to apply concepts from the course to obtain a detailed knowledge of the chosen industry. These projects will be carried out, preferably, in groups of three or four people. Students that decide to carry out this project will have to receive the approval of their teachers with respect to the firm selected and to hand in, on the date indicated, a preliminary proposal (around 3 pages) that explains the main objectives and the analysis to be carried out.

- Final exam - on the date approved by each centre during the exam period in the academic calendar. This exam will have a theoretical-practical approach. The student will have to demonstrate her/his knowledge of the concepts from the programme and to interrelate them. The exam will, in general, consist of questions of intermediate length that require the student to know and apply the knowledge accumulated during the course to the analysis of real situations.

Assessment criteria:

The student will be able to pass the course in either of the two sittings. For both of them, she/he will have to demonstrate the achievement of the learning results and skills through a global evaluation. The final mark of the course will be distributed in the following way:

-          Active attitude in class discussions and the handing in of the exercises proposed in the practical sessions (10% of final mark). Students choosing this option will have to hand in all the exercises proposed on the date indicated. This date will be announced in class and published in the moodle2 platform at least five days in advance.

-          In-depth analysis of a firm in groups of 3-4 people (25% of final mark).

-          Final exam (65% of final mark). Students choosing this option will have to obtain at least 4 points out of 10 in the final exam in order to be able to compute the course activities’ marks.

In the evaluation of each assessment activity, the students will have to demonstrate that they know, understand and are able to use the concepts and tools explained in class in different real situations. Moreover, their capability to apply, integrate and synthesize the knowledge acquired will be evaluated.

5.1. Methodological overview

Following the programme and achieving the learning outcomes will require continuous work from the student during the course based on the following activities:

-          Regular attendance to classes

-          Reading and studying the bibliographic material for each chapter

-          Regular and detailed answers to the exercises and practical cases that the teachers will propose during the course

-          Carrying out a group project that analyses in depth the situation of a real firm or industry that will be chosen by the students with the approval of the teacher

-          Asking about doubts and difficulties that arise in their study of the course contents.

To progress better, the student should carry out a preliminary reading of the bibliographical material for each chapter prior to its presentation in class and a more detailed reading after the class and during the process of doing the exercises and the project.

5.2. Learning tasks

The learning activities of the course are the following:

-          Theoretical sessions: 30 hours.

-          Practical sessions: 30 hours.

-          Problem-based learning/ICT learning/Seminars/Tutorials/Individual learning of the student: 90 hours.

5.3. Syllabus

Part I. Concept of Strategy and Strategic Management

1. Competitive advantage and value creation

2. Strategy: concept, elements and typologies

Part II.  Strategic analysis

3. The firm and its environment

4. Structure and evolution of the industry

5. Internal analysis of the firm: the theory of resources

Part III. Strategy formulation

6. Competitive strategy

7. Corporate strategy

5.4. Course planning and calendar

The calendar of sessionscan be foundon the website of the centre; the presentation of works and other activities will be communicated to the studentsthrough the e-learning platform of the Universidad de Zaragoza (moodle2).

5.5. Bibliography and recommended resources

[BB: Bibliografía básica / BC: Bibliografía complementaria]

BB Casos de dirección estratégica de la empresa / Luis Angel Guerras Martín, José Emilio Navas López (editores) ; autores, Álvarez Sescun, Emilio... [et al.] . - 5ª ed. Cizur Menor (Navarra) : Cívitas, 2014
BB Grant, Robert M. : Dirección estratégica : conceptos, técnicas y aplicaciones / Robert M. Grant ; traducción, Zulima Fernández, José Daniel Lorenzo Gómez, José Ruiz Navarro . - 8ª ed., 4ª ed. en Civitas Madrid : Thomson Civitas, 2014
BB Guerras Martín, Luis Ángel : La dirección estratégica de la empresa : teoría y aplicaciones / Luis Ángel Guerras Martín, José Emilio Navas López . - 5ª ed. Cizur Menor (Navarra) : Aranzadi, 2015
BB Navas López, José Emilio : Fundamentos de dirección estratégica de la empresa / José Emilio Navas López, Luis Ángel Guerras Martín . - 2ª ed. Cizur Menor (Navarra) : Aranzadi, 2016
BC Barney, Jay B.. Strategic management and competitive advantage : concepts / Jay B. Barney, William S. Hesterly . - 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson educación, cop. 2012
BC Economics of strategy / David Besanko ... [et al.] . 6th ed. Hoboken (N.J.) : John Wiley & Sons, cop. 2013
BC Fernández Sánchez, Esteban. Dirección estratégica de la empresa : fundamentos y puesta en práctica / Esteban Fernández Sánchez . - [1ª ed.] Madrid : Delta, cop. 2005
BC Johnson, Gerry : Dirección estratégica / Gerry Johnson, Kevan Scholes , Richard Whittington . - 7ª ed., [reimp.] Madrid [etc.] : Prentice Hall, D.L. 2011
BC Rothaermel, Frank T.. Strategic management / Frank T. Rothaermel . - 2ª ed., International student ed. New York : McGraw-Hill/Irwin, cop. 2015
BC Ventura Victoria, Juan. Análisis estratégico de la empresa / Juan Ventura Victoria Madrid : Paraninfo, cop. 2008