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The dynamics of strategy

If you’re currently engaged in strategic decision-making, or will be in the future, this module will stimulate your imagination and inform your judgement. An understanding of the frameworks of strategy and an ability to use them imaginatively will help your organisation survive in the longer-term and perform its role more effectively. You will not be expected merely to ‘learn’ the frameworks, but to critically analyse and comment on them, sometimes in collaboration with fellow students. The module will also help you contribute to and better understand the dialogue of strategy at a variety of levels in your organisation.

To count this module towards the MBA (F61) you will also need to study Corporate finance (B831) which is available for the last time in May 2013. If you have any queries about your study programme for the MBA please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

What you will study

The module provides a general introduction to strategy, some definitions of strategy and a discussion of the role of strategy in organisations. You will look at a detailed historic background to the subject of strategic management and explore both where some of the best-known strategy frameworks came from and in what situations they can be applied effectively. It is as important to understand when a particular framework will not be useful, as to know when it will. You will use the strategy process framework as the conceptual backbone of this module and the four ‘pressures’ (globalisation, industry dynamics, risk, and ethics and corporate responsibility) that will provide the key external context variables throughout the module.

There are no recipes for managing a successful organisation. However, there are actions that you can take as a manager that are more likely to help your organisation to survive and prosper. Strategy is the process of developing and implementing such actions, and as such is critical to the relative success of an organisation in its business context over time. This applies to organisations in all industries and in all parts of the world, regardless of the way strategy is undertaken. Therefore, whether you work in commercial or not-for-profit (NFP) organisations, manufacturing, services, information industries, the armed forces, government or ebusiness all these organisations compete for resources such as finance or for people with relevant managerial experience. The frameworks and themes presented in this strategy module are designed to be relevant for managers everywhere. For example, although there are obvious basic structural and cultural differences between commercial and NFP organisations, we consider such differences to be less great than a decade ago. Both types of organisation now often operate globally; both are subject to financial and political risk; both now are judged by their ethical practices as well as their operational efficiency.

Strategies exist for different levels within the organisation: for individual business units; at the corporate level; at the multidivisional level; and at the international level. What kinds of organisation structure are most helpful for delivering particular types of strategies and for responding to continuous change? When do mergers make sense? Do you understand when cooperative rather than competitive strategy may be the strongest option? What internal capabilities would be needed to make a strategic alliance work with organisations that may be your competitors in other areas? How do any of these factors change when the strategy is for a multinational corporation operating in a number of countries? These questions show how deeply context affects strategic decisions, for example how key issues like globalisation and government policies affect the strategy process. Strategies are therefore each essentially unique in content and in practice for each organisation.

The module consists of seven online units that form the core of your learning. The units complement other media including extensive web-based materials, day schools, online collaboration tools, a five-day residential school (or online equivalent), student and tutor group forums, access to extensive online library facilities and feedback on marked assignments. The units provide much of the basic knowledge and understanding you need on this module. However, you will also apply that knowledge to real-life examples and case-study situations, carry out your own online research and continuously reflect on and challenge your understanding of strategy. An online learning guide will direct you through this process of learning and reflection. Through your work on the units and your discussions within your tutor group you will develop an informed perspective on what strategy is and what it has to offer to you as a manager and to your organisation. There is also a printed book of recommended readings, which will be referred to in the units.

Vocational relevance

This module will help you develop the skills and techniques to be able to operate in a strategic environment and to contribute to the strategic dialogue and decision-making within your organisation.

Residential school

During the latter part of the module, there is a five-day residential school that covers this module and elements of {Corporate finance [B831]} which puts both modules into a real-life context. Satisfactory participation in either the compulsory five-day residential school, or in the 21-day online equivalent is required. The school is an opportunity to meet other managers and tutors and to work in small groups on strategic management and corporate finance issues.

Both versions of the residential school (face-to-face and online) have been devised to deliver the same essential learning outcomes. Feedback from previous MBA students suggests that those who have attended the face-to-face school have particularly valued the face-to-face contact and the networking opportunities available. The cost of the residential school (excluding travel) is included in the module fee. 

Entry

This module is a compulsory module of stage 2 of the MBA (F61) and will be one of the first Stage 2 modules that you study. Please see MBA (F61) for full details of the entry requirements for this qualification.

The module requires 300 hours of study over 12 months. It is designed to be studied alongside {Corporate finance [B831]} which you study simultaneously for the first six months of B835.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Qualifications

B835 is a compulsory module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service before registering.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

Study materials

What's included

Online study units and other web-based materials, including the B835 website, study guide and online discussion forums. There is also a printed book of recommended readings. In addition, you have university library access, published articles, case-studies, podcasts, interviews and activities to help you develop your strategic thinking.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2008 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.7 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information (including details of the support we provide).

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your assignments, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. You can contact your tutor by telephone, email or via your tutor group forum on the B835 website.

The  website provides access to forums including your tutor group forum where you will regularly meet with your tutor and fellow members of your tutor group forum to discuss elements of the module, including management implications at the end of each unit – an integral component of your studies – which lead to the assessed elements.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details can be found in the facts box above. You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

After you have successfully completed both this module and {Corporate finance [B831]} you will have gained 450 study hours. You then complete this part of the MBA by taking a three-hour examination covering both these modules. This exam takes place at the end of B835. On passing this examination you will gain 45 credits.

Future availability

The details given here are for the final module start in May 2013. To count this module towards the MBA (F61) you will also need to study Corporate finance (B831) which is available for the last time in May 2013. If you have any queries about your study programme for the MBA please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Distance learning

The Open University is the world's leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you're at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you'll be supported throughout your studies - your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information about distance learning at the OU read Study explained.