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 e-business 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.
Supporting learning activities and materials
The module consists of seven online units that form the core of your learning. The units are complemented by other media including extensive web-based materials, day schools, online collaboration tools, a four-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.
You will learn
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.