Syllabus: Period 5 Element and Session Essay

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Ram Shivakumar Competitive Strategy 42800
Winter 2015


A. Administrative Information

Contact Information
Office Hours:
Postal Address:

Harper Center 337
By appointment
(773) 702-4885 (o) & (630) 660-4752 (m)
Booth School of Business
University of Chicago
5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

B. Materials
Besanko, D., D. Dranove, M. Shanley and S. Schaefer, Economics of Strategy (6th edition), Wiley,
Articles and Cases


C. Course Overview

This course introduces the concepts, models and frameworks used to formulate, assess and refine any firm’s business strategy. The goal is to enable you to think strategically:

to identify the central questions that a firm must answer

to apply the appropriate concepts, models and frameworks that address these questions

to assess the influence of the economic, social, political & technological forces buffeting the firm

to identify the capabilities that the firm must acquire/develop

D. Course Requirements and Grading

Your grade in this course will depend on 4 components:

Case Analysis (20%)

Mid Term Exam (20%)

Group Presentation (20%)

Final Exam (40%)

Case Analysis (20%)

We will discuss several cases over the course of this quarter. You are required to submit a write-up for 4 case write-ups:

Case write-ups are to be submitted in groups

Your write-up should contain no more than 1 written page and 1 exhibit page

The syllabus lists some questions for each case. Answer only the bold-faced typed questions 

See the document, “Guidelines for Case Writing”


Mid Term Exam (20%)

The mid-term exam is a closed-book exam that will be held in the first half of session 6.

Company Report (20%)

Your task is to analyze a firm (and the industries and markets in which the firm operates) of your choice. More specifically, your project should:

Describe and critique the firm’s strategy
Assess how the firm can develop and sustain a competitive advantage
Evaluate the environment in which the firm operates
Analyze the horizontal and vertical scope of any firm
Assess the organization’s structure & culture and its decision-making capabilities
Recommend an alternative strategy (or course of action)

Here are some important guidelines and deadlines:

The project must be completed in groups

Group presentations will take place in session 9

You must notify me of the firm you propose to analyze by the end of session 6

Additional information on the project is provided in a document titled “Guidelines for Company Report” that is posted on the chalk site.

Final Exam (40%)

The final exam is a closed-book exam that will be held in session 11.


E. Honor Code

Students are expected to adhere to the Booth honor code and to Booth standards of scholarship and are required to sign the following honor code pledge on each case as well as the take-home exam.
“I pledge my honor that I have not violated the Booth honor code.”

F. Class Schedule

Session #



Session 1

January 2


Session 2

January 3

Competitive Advantage

Session 3

January 16

Market & Industry Analysis I

Session 4

January 17

Market & Industry Analysis II

Session 5

January 30

Corporate Strategy I

Session 6

January 31

Mid Term Exam + Corporate Strategy II

Session 7

February 13

Game Theory

Session 8

February 14

Influencing Games

Session 9

February 27

Group Presentation

Session 10

February 28

Playing Games

Session 11

March 14

Final Exam


Session 1: Strategy

What is Strategy?
The Customer Value Proposition
The OES Framework

Readings: Besanko, D., et al, pages 1-8, pages 437-447


Cohan, W., “The Rise and Fall of Jimmy Cayne,” Fortune, August 18, 2008
Gucci Group

Study Questions

(1) What is strategy? Why is it important?
(2) How can you tell whether a firm has a good strategy or a bad strategy?
(3) Why did Bear Stearns succeed for some many years and then