Monday, May 26, 2014

Business Strategy

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Foundations of Business Strategy
Learn how to analyze an organization's strategy and make recommendations to improve its value creation by building your strategist's toolkit.
In this course, we will explore the underlying theory and frameworks that provide the foundations of a successful business strategy.  We will develop your ability to think strategically by providing you the tools for conducting a strategic analysis. Strategic analysis is critical for analyzing the competitive context in which an organization operates and for making reasoned and reasonable recommendations for how that organization should position itself and what actions it should take to maximize value creation.  Aspiring managers, entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, analysts, and consultants all may find value in mastering these fundamentals.

Subtitles for all video lectures available: Portuguese (provided by the Lemann Foundation), English

Course Syllabus

Week One: We will introduce the concept of strategic analysis plus explore the impact that competitive markets have on business success.  Will include a case discussion of Google.

Week Two: We will explore how industry structure impacts competitive outcomes and learn how to analyze industry forces.  Will include a case discussion of the microbrew industry.
Week Three: We will learn how to analyze firm capabilities and how they may provide competitive advantage. Will include a case discussion of Apple. 

Week Four:  We will learn how to analyze competitive dynamics; the interplay between businesses as industries evolve. Will include a case discussion of the game player industry.
Week Five: We will combine our learnings to date to determine how an organization best positions itself competitively to create value.  Will include a case discussion of Piaggio.
Week Six: We will extend our analysis to consider how businesses compete in multiple markets and will learn how to analyze firm scope.  Will include a case discussion of Disney.

Recommended Background

No background is required; all are welcome!

Suggested Readings

We will be referencing readings in the book The Strategist's Toolkit, which was created specifically for this course by the instructor.   Course participants will be given complimentary access to select chapters from the book. You may purchase the book in its entirety from either or or Darden Business Publishing. The book is available in both print and electronic forms. 

Course Format

The class is divided into weekly modules.  Each weekly module consists of an introductory video, a reading from the strategist's toolkit, a series of video lectures, a quiz, and a case where will apply our toolkit to a business to illustrate points in the lectures.  The course will culminate in your submission of a strategic analysis of an organization of your choosing.  This will serve as your final exam.


  • Will I get a certificate after completing this class?
    Coursera will issue a Statement of Accomplishment if you meet the grading policy course requirements.
  • What resources will I need for this class?
    For this course, all you need is an Internet connection, copies of the cases (which will be provided for free), and the time to read, discuss, and analyze business strategy.
  • What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class?
    The ability to think strategically about leading businesses as well as organizations that you may be involved. 
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