Syllabus, MAN 6721.C056, Summer 2018, PMSM HR

Basic information

  • Instructor: Robert Cascio, Ph.D.
  • Email: robertcascio@knights.ucf.edu – This is the best way to reach me
  • Mobile phone: 407-538-1000 – Note: please use email for routine and non-urgent matters
  • Course name: MAN 6721 – Applied Strategy and Business Policy
  • Course webpage: webcourses and www.robertcascio.com
  • Office: BA1-309H (main campus), the Downtown Executive Development Center (EDC), or other mutually convenient location
  • Office hours: Before or after class is ideal. I do use the 15 minutes before class to get all the material loaded on the computer for the evening’s session. Please email me in advance to confirm. We can also make an appointment to meet on or off campus as needed.

Course materials

  • Textbooks:
    • 1. Required – Strategic Management (Third Edition / 2016) by Frank T. Rothaermel; digital, loose leaf, and book versions available; Hardcopy: ISB10 1259420477, ISBN13 9781259420474; Looseleaf: ISBN10 1259760618, ISBN13 9781259760617.
    • 2. Required – The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO’s Strategies for Defeating the Devil’s Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization by Tom Kelley & Jonathan Littman (ISBN 978-0385512077 among others). Hardbound, digital and audio versions available.
  • Required: Harvard Business Publishing, Coursepack, provided by EDC
  • Access to Internet and Webcourses for assignments and examinations during class time.  Ideally this would be a laptop, however a tablet or mobile phone will also be acceptable. There is a mobile app for Canvas for most tablets and smartphones. You will need to be able to input up to 6 sentences worth of information into Webcourses and other webpages during class on several occasions in order to participate in surveys, discussions, and feedback exercises during the course session. You will need to have a laptop or a tablet with a keyboard for the final exam.

Course objectives

  • Students will gain a thorough understanding and application of the strategic management process and develop foundational knowledge regarding its benefits and effective utilization for a variety of different firms (large / small, low-tech / high-tech, etc.).
  • Students will be exposed to various areas of expertise that are required to operate a business unit successfully.
  • Students will apply course information to their personal career strategy.
  • Students will have multiple opportunities to practice what you have learned using appropriate research and analysis tools in a variety of business scenarios.
  • “I want you to get the best possible course experience and have a competitive career advantage after successfully completing this course.”

What you can expect from me

  • Come prepared to every class with a class agenda and discussion topics.
  • Design the class so you can accomplish the objectives listed in the syllabus and apply material directly in your current or future employment.
  • Consider that it is not always the student’s fault if the material is not understood.
  • Create a mutually respectful classroom environment for effective debate and conversation.
  • Recognize that sometimes I may conduct the course incorrectly, and I should not get defensive when you question or critique my style.

What I expect from you

  • Please upload a current picture to webcourses if you haven’t done so already.
  • Come prepared to every class by reading, reviewing, and studying chapters and other information to be covered, as well as previously covered material.
  • Complete all work on time with proper thought.
  • Consider that it is not necessarily the instructor’s fault if you don’t understand the material.
  • Treat others with respect and remain focused and engaged in class. Recognize that peer learning is critical in graduate programs.
  • Ask questions when you don’t understand. Asking questions is a sign of maturity, not ignorance.
  • Understand that I am not trying to “nit-pick” when I grade exams, assignments, or presentations. The professional business discipline requires detailed feedback and performance evaluation for mastery.

Learning outcomes

  • Students will possess knowledge of competitive strategy, including its creation and management within organizations.
  • Students will produce professional written and/or oral communications related to competitive strategy.
  • Students will make decisions based on ethical knowledge.
  • Students will apply the appropriate information technologies to specific case example situations.
  • Students will demonstrate an awareness of elements and environment in which successful corporate strategy can flourish.
  • Students will demonstrate critical thinking skills by analyzing organizational problems, applying proper logic, assessing the quality/validity of data, and formulating valid conclusions based on their analyses.

Prerequisites and other requirements

  • Graduate student standing
  • Desire to learn; openness to criticism, peer evaluation, and continuous feedback
  • All faculty members are required to document students’ academic activity at the beginning of each course. In order to document that you began this course, please be sure to complete the first assignment in webcourses as shown on the course schedule. Failure to do so will result in a delay in the disbursement of your financial aid.

Methodology

  • Class discussions facilitated by the instructor
  • Instructor experience summaries
  • Simulations of strategic situations, with course participants acting in different personas in the strategic process
  • In-class exercises to access your level of preparation and to lead into discussions of course material
  • Written assignments
  • Oral presentations
  • Final exam

Academic honesty

  • The University is committed to maintaining a fair academic environment for all students.
  • As part of that effort, a policy of academic honesty is strictly enforced.
  • Any conduct compromising this policy will result in academic and/or disciplinary action.
  • Any student who violates or assists in violating these standards will be pursued through the Office of the Dean of Business Administration and the Dean of Students.
  • Source: The Golden Rule Student Handbook

Classroom behavior

  • Courtesy and respect will be shown to all students, guests, and the instructor at all times.
  • No disruptive behavior: disruptive latecomers, leaving early on a routine basis, reading for pleasure, working on outside assignments, or excessive talking. Violators will be asked to leave the class and may be further penalized.
  • Mobile phone usage, including text messaging, is permitted during class breaks. Please silence and keep mobile devices out of sight during class exercises in order to keep everyone engaged and focused on the course material.
  • Laptop or tablet use is encouraged in the classroom for taking class notes. Inappropriate laptop use, such as Internet surfing, checking e-mail, instant messaging, playing games and working on unrelated assignments to name a few, will result in a reduction in your participation score.
  • On-time arrival to class and engagement in class discussion are critical for a full understanding of the material, an interesting class, and a satisfactory participation score.

Academic expectations

  • Be prepared to work outside of your comfort zone as you are pushed to expand your business acumen.
  • Prepare for assigned readings prior to the class discussion and for in-class exercises.
  • Attend each class and participate. Be on time to class every day.
  • All material presented in class may be incorporated into exams, exercises, or other forms of evaluating student performance.
  • Each student is responsible for staying current on any changes to the syllabus or announcements made in class.
  • Be sure to check webcourses regularly (twice a week or so) for updates.
  • All assignments or an equivalent make-up assignment must be completed to pass the course with a C or better. Late assignments will receive no points, however certain assignments may be eligible for 50% of the point value depending on the specific circumstances (assignment has not been graded, assignment has not been discussed in class, student’s first time late submission, etc.)
  • Students should thoroughly rehearse presentations outside of class prior to delivering them.

Contacting the instructor

  • Ask your questions in class whenever possible. I have arranged the class to have sufficient time for them. Other students can then benefit from the discussion.
  • Secure at least 2 student emails and phone numbers in order to be able to discuss course assignments, activities, and general assistance easily between class sessions.
  • If you have a general course-related question, please be courteous enough to review the course webpages (main page, syllabus, schedule, etc.) and webcourses before contacting me.
  • Grade / Missing Points Questions – if you have a question about grades or missing class activity / quiz points, contact me by email or in person to discuss; be sure to do any necessary research first.

Evaluation and final grades

  • Often an exercise will be given to assess your preparedness for class or your understanding of material.  They will cover the material that has been covered in class or is scheduled to be covered in class for that day and are designed to enhance the classroom discussion and other experience of peer to peer learning. Be sure to read and study the chapters before coming to class.
  • Certain assignments or other point-valued activities may be eligible for make-up from one class session, but for only 50% of the possible points.
  • Attendance is critical in this course because a large percentage is participation and peer to peer learning; missing more than 2 courses will reduce your course grade. Students who have conflicts with the dates published in this syllabus should drop this course.
  • Students have 2 weeks from the time an assignment or exam grade is posted to seek corrections or review before it is considered final.
  • Students will be evaluated based on their performance on the following activities:
    Description Points Percent
    Chapter Presentation (Team) 25 5%
    PICK ONE: 10-K Project OR Industry Analysis Project (Team) 75 15%
    Company Strategic Analysis Project (Team) 100 20%
    Assignments  75 15%
    Class Attendance. Involvement Participation / Peer Reviews / Team Member Evaluations 100 20%
    Final Exam 125 25%
    Total 500 100%
  • Letter Grades
      • A means excellent, superior, and outstanding. These are typically earned by the top 10 to 15% of the class.
      • B means very good, above average, and above expectations. The majority of the class typically falls here as this is a graduate course and graduate students often do “very good” work.
      • C means fair, average, and following the directions and requirements. While most graduate students do perform above average work, that is not always the case and in some situations not possible for the student given their work or personal circumstances. This is the grade you would earn if you just complete everything in the course with normal / average / expected effort.
      • D means poor, below-average, and not completely following directions or requirements.
      • F means failure or not following the instructions or requirements at all.
  • Students are expected to achieve their desired grade through sufficient performance on assignments and exams.
  • They should not expect to be able to improve grades through re-doing assignments, extra credit, or negotiations with the instructor.
  • Grade haggling is unprofessional and disrespectful and will not be entertained. Receiving objective and honest feedback about your performance is very valuable and should be viewed as such.
  • Grades will only be changed to correct calculation or input errors.
  • Final grades will be assigned based on the following point scale.
    Final Grade Points
    A 470 or more
    A- 450
    B+ 435
    B 415
    B- 400
    C+ 385
    C 365
    C- 350
    D+ 335
    D 315
    D- 300
    F 299 and below

 Study hints

  • Translate ideas into your own words and summarize every couple of pages in the chapters in a bullet point or two.
  • Review and summarize course notes and key ideas as soon as possible following each class period. This facilitates the movement of knowledge from short-term to long-term memory.
  • Try and find inconsistencies or errors in the text; tell me if you feel there is an error.
  • Link the material to previously learned material or your current work.
  • Consider audio-taping class lectures for additional review.

Participation and class attendance

  • Attendance and meaningful participation are mandatory. Meaningful means there is clarity, relevance, and importance to the discussion. Attendance will be taken at the end, middle, or beginning of class. Class attendance is a necessary, but insufficient condition for participation; in other words, missing more than 2 classes will lower your participation score, but good attendance does not mean you are a meaningful contributor. I will be looking to see if you are prepared, a good listener, and an effective communicator. Participation is not about just “air time” or the “space” you take up. I will use the following scale:
  • 90-100%/100% = outstanding contributor – consistent, high-level involvement with depth and original thinking and insight
  • 80-89%/100% = good contributor – consistent contribution through asking and answering questions
  • 70-79%/100% = satisfactory contributor – periodic contributions to class discussion
  • 50-69%/100% = below-average contributor – sporadic contributions to discussions, passive audience member, if called upon fails to demonstrate familiarity with the material
  • Learning names is an important skill. You are encouraged to learn the first names of all students in the class and reference them by name in class discussions. Please place your name card where the instructor and other students can view it to facilitate the name-learning process. The instructor will provide easy strategies for you to do so that you can apply in a variety of settings. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, class seating chart or other methods to learn student names. I also strongly encourage the use of LinkedIn in order to maintain professional connections with your peers and other business-minded individuals that you come in contact with.

Team project details

These assignments represent a significant opportunity for your team to be both challenged and rewarded for your efforts as a result of your work. Approach these assignments as ones that will define and showcase your abilities within your professional graduate program and let your best work come forward.

Presentations are evaluated on the following key dimensions: (1) quality of information presented (good, factual, timely, appropriate for the project and for the audience, etc.), (2) presentation skills (quality of the delivery, transitions between sections and speakers, well rehearsed versus an impromptu discussion that is unpolished, etc.), (3) appropriate charts, graphs, other illustrations, and relevant video utilizationed, (4) effective use of time allotted (was the class time well utilized considering the value of the audience’s time, and (5) quality of the presentation slide layouts and handout (professional, polished, legible, consistent style, easy to follow, etc.). I will have every team provide feedback about the presentations you watch in order to ensure that every class member gets robust feedback about their presentation abilities.

For each project, the rubric indicates exactly how your project will be evaluated and scored. You must submit all your presentation and assignment documents via webcourses, one submission per team. Also, you must provide me with a printed copy of your slides (6 per page black and white are fine as long as they are legible) and a printed executive summary. Finally, provide a one-page (front or front and back) handout / outline for me and for each audience member at the time of the presentation.

  • Chapter Presentation

You will be given the opportunity to select a favorite chapter from either the Rothaermel textbook, the  Kelley book, or a scheduled case study to present a key learning objective to the class. You will prepare an 6-to-10-minute presentation of this most important topic, followed by a question and answer session of 5 to 10 minutes. Use illustrations, videos, examples from your work, role plays, a short class exercises, class polling, etc. to make your presentation engaging and memorable. It is not expected or possible to cover substantial material in this short time. Rather, I want your team to decide what you believe is the most important element for the class to focus on and retain from the material. You will be scored on the quality of the presentation (see details above), quality of the audience handout (well organized, easy to follow, valuable to audience / student, ties directly to the presentation), and your ability to convey your message. Conveying your message means that you are successful in assisting students to learn and retain the most important elements from your presentation. See rubric in webcourses for specific weights and a bit more detail.

SELECT ONE TO PRESENT: A, B, or C

  • (A) The 10-K project presentation

Your team represents a consulting firm and will have the chance to showcase your research, analysis, and presentation skills with the 10-K Project. This project involves selecting a firm from the list of available choices that your team is interested in learning a little more about, digging into the business analysis section of its 10-K (the annual report required by the SEC of all publicly traded firms), and applying what you discover there to the final project strategic analysis as well as the topics discussed in class. This is an opportunity to take a first look at some real-world information and see how it maps onto an industry analysis and comprehensive strategic firm analysis. The presentation will be between 8 and 12 minutes. You will submit presentation slides with detailed endnotes / references, a 200-to-400-word executive summary, and an appendix. You will use this same company for the industry analysis (although you don’t submit this one if you do this project), and the final project. The company must be publically traded and have at least 2 direct competitors in one of their primary industries so that you will have what you need to complete the final project. You will be evaluated on the quality of your analysis, conclusions drawn, and your presentation. See rubric in webcourses for more grading specifics.

  • (B) Industry analysis presentation (a team project)

Your team represents a consulting firm that has been asked to provide an analysis of a specific industry for a firm  from the list of available choices, with respect to its current, real-world situation. A significant portion of class material and activities will be oriented toward learning how to perform quality industry analyses. This effort will culminate with an 8-to-12-minute presentation by your team to the rest of the class with detailed endnotes / references, a 200-to-400-word executive summary, and an appendix.

The goal of this project is to conduct a competitive analysis of an industry. The presentation should be 8 to 12 minutes and cover several sections. There will also be a 200-to-400-word executive summary. It begins with an introduction, followed by specific sections: 1) The Industry’s Dominant Economic Features, 2) Porter’s Five Forces, 3) The Drivers of Change in the Broad Environment & Impact They Will Have, 4) Companies in the Strongest/Weakest Positions, 5) Key Success Factors for Competitive Success, and 6) Analysis and Summary: Industry’s Attractiveness and Prospects for Long-Term Profitability. You are free to select the industry of your choice, but be sure that you have access to all of the information that you will need to complete not only this assignment, but also the 10-k project (which you will not submit if you present this project) and the final strategic firm analysis project; you must select your company from this industry for the final project.

Your analysis and presentation will be graded from the perspective of an executive (your employer) reviewing a presentation, not just as an instructor reviewing a student’s report. It must be professional in all respects. See rubric in webcourses for more grading specifics.

  • (C) Quantitative research study

If your team is particularly interested in strategic or consumer research, we can discuss a research project instead of A or B. The advantage includes a strong likelihood of future publication opportunity as an acknowledged research contributor or co-author. The minimum requirements include:

  • A research hypothesis — what you expect to find out with the study
  • Quantitative data collected of 100 observations or more with 2 dependent and 4 or more independent or control variables. This data can be:
    • Primary — collected by your team through individual online survey (Qualtrics, Google Survey, Survey Monkey, etc.), or
    • Secondary — collected from already published information
  • Abstract with findings
  • Presentation with all above information and results, conclusion, and managerial implications
  • I will assist you with the data analysis

If you are interested, please discuss with me as early as possible. This is limited to a maximum or 3 teams, first come first served.

  • Company strategic analysis (a team project)

Your consulting team will also prepare a comprehensive strategic analysis of a specific firm from the list of available choices in presentation form. The firm will be the same firm as your 10k Analysis Project or will operate in the industry from your Industry Analysis Project. This analysis will result in an 8-to-12-minute presentation with detailed hyperlinked footnotes and references, a 200-to-400-word executive summary, and an appendix. You will address the key strategic issue(s) for the firm and present your recommendations to protect stakeholder interest for the next 5 to 10 years of operation.

Using current data and assessing their current situation and strategic needs, your presentation will cover several sections. It begins with a very brief introduction, followed by sections titled: 1) current company mission and strategy, 2) smart (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and relative, time-limited) SWOT analysis, 3) sustainable competitive advantage, 4) issues and problems, 5) strategic recommendations, 6) financial analysis, and 6) fallout. See rubric in webcourses for more grading specifics.

Your goal in this assignment is NOT to present everything you researched; nobody wants to sit through a series of consecutive analyses. You don’t need to try to convey all of that during the 8-to-12-minute presentation. Rather, your goal will be to quickly (i.e., less than a minute) summarize the firm’s situation and then move directly into what you learned from the analysis, and what strategic initiative(s) you recommend to the top management team at the company. For example, which aspects of the SWOT analysis present the greatest challenges? What sustainable competitive advantage will we build (or build upon)? What is the most opportune strategic initiative available to us right now? Do we have the capacity to execute on it? How will we make it happen? Again, don’t try to present your entire analysis or your score will suffer, instead provide insights about the firm and its best strategic options for maximizing stakeholder value.

End-of-semester peer evaluation

Your team will self-manage the process by which the various research, writing, and analysis tasks are handled. It is not likely that everyone on the team will have an equal hand in each section of each assignment. However, it is expected that by the end of the course, all team members will have contributed fairly equally to the overall output of the team’s projects.

Group work is often either the highlight or the nightmare of your course experience. Developing the skills to work in a group is a key part of being able to successfully implement strategy – whether it’s your own company, or you are working for someone else. Therefore, we will discuss some effective team-building strategies as we go through the course, as well as deal with non-performers if appropriate. Note that at the end of the semester, a for-credit peer evaluation will happen, which will allow you to assess the relative contribution you and your teammates have made to the team projects. So if your semester is a little more flexible in the early weeks, you might contribute more then. If it’s more flexible later on, you might contribute more on the final project. But by the end of the semester, everyone should have found equivalent ways to contribute. While I recognize that you cannot please everyone that you work with, your particular project grades can be substantially impacted positively or negatively based on the overall feedback from your team members. While a team project is worth a given number of points, each team member may receive a grade that is higher or lower than project grade based on the feedback received from other team members.

Students with disabilities

  • If you need accommodations in this course because of disability, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make me aware of this as soon as possible so that I may assist you.

Changes

  • Changes to the syllabus may be made to reflect the needs of the class.
  • Any changes will be announced in class and/or online.
  • Please check the course webpage between classes for updates and other helpful information.

Class schedule

Final comments

  • Like me, I recognize that you have substantial responsibilities other than this course.
  • In order to grasp this material, however, you must spend significant time and energy in reading and preparing for each course session and completing the assignments and projects.
  • My responsibility as your course instructor is to ensure that you master (hence the program name, Master of Business Administration) the material and have the ability to apply these important principles.
  • Based on my years of teaching experience, but moreover from the the feedback of previous class participants, I have chosen material, assignments, and projects that I believe will provide the richest and most valuable course experience with the least amount of effort. Your feedback during and at the end of the course will continue to enhance this process.
  • Please understand that I am here to assist you in whatever way possible to balance the pressures of this course with your work and family life.

Copyright and instructor use of student assignments. The instructor may choose to use assignments or examples from this course for various other purposes, including other classes, research studies, and activities. Unless a student requests otherwise in writing, it is understood that this is acceptable for all class participants.