The basic structure of the course is as follows:

  • Weeks 1-2: Introduction. What is Strategy? Mission, Vision and Coherence. Writing a deck
  • Weeks 3-6: Industry Analysis: Porter’s five forces, cost leadership versus differentiation strategies, and value chain analysis. Game theory
  • Weeks 7-10: Developing internal capabilities and the resource based view.
  • Weeks 11 & 12 are about putting it all together
    • Week 11: Syndicate project presentations
    • Week 12: Feedback on syndicate projects and discussion of previous exams. Wrap-up

Each reading has one, two or three stars next to it. This indicates how important that article is: arrowarrowarrow

Weekly Schedule (Check Regularly for Updates!)

Week Dates


Readings and Cases

Optional & Fun

31 Jan &

1 Feb

What is Strategy?
Course Overview

Lewis, “The Case Study Method of Learning”.arrow

Richard Koch, Introduction to The Financial Times guide to Strategy, 2nd Ed.arrow

Case: Argyle Diamonds


  • Video: The Oppenheimer Diamond Empire & Artificial Scarcity (1994) img
  • Discovery and Mining of the Argyle Deposit img
  • Optional: Ghemawat, “Competition and Business Strategy in Historical Perspective”, HBS Press, 1997.
2 7 & 8 Feb

Vision, Mission and Articulating your Strategy

Collis + Rukstad, Can you say what your Strategy Is, HBR, April 2008arrowarrowarrow

Thompson & Strickland, "Establishing Company Direction", Chapter 2 of Strategic Management Concepts and Cases, pp 31-41 only.arrowarrow

The McKinsey Mind, Chapter 1. arrow

Case: Narayana Hrudayalaya Heart Hospital. An older version of the case is available online at the hospital's website. img

  • Steve Jobs discusses the path dependent nature of his becoming a CEO img
  • Jeff Bezos, Amazon img
  • Akamai: From Theory to Practice img
Industry Analysis
3 14 & 15 Feb

Industry Analysis - Porter's Five Forces

Grant, “Industry Analysis: The Fundamentals”, Chapter 3 in ‘Contemporary Strategy Analysis’, 6th Edition.arrowarrowarrow

Ghemawat & Rivkin, “Creating Competitive Advantage”, HBS 9-798-062.arrowarrowarrow

Case: Crown Cork & Seal Company, Inc (HBS 378-024)


  • Video interview with Michael Porterimg
  • CCS website img
4 21 & 22 Feb

Competitive Positioning via Cost Leadership

Besanko, et al., Strategic Positioning for Competitive Advantage, Chapter 11 in Economics of Strategy, 4th Edition. Only pages 343 – 378.arrowarrow

revisit Ghemawat & Rivkin from last week. arrowarrowarrow

Optional: Argote & Epple (1990), article in Science on Experience Curves.arrow

Case: Honda A. HBS-9-384-049(1989)

Optional: Quantitative Exercise - Learning curves (download from LMS) img




  • Honda adverts img img img
  • Honda CB350 img
  • Recent Honda ad (The Cog)in which 2 of only 6 existing hand-made Accords are taken apart and used img.
  • Honda Choir: original img vs spoof img

Optional Articles:

  • Wikipedia on Learning and Experience Curves. img
  • Economies of Scale: see Sharon Oster's book on Modern Competitive Analysis.
5 28 Feb & 1 Mar

Competitive Positioning via Differentiation

There is only 1 new article and 1 case this week. This should give you a bit of time to spend on getting started with your syndicate assignment.

Review Besanko (from last week), section on Differentiation arrowarrow

N.Kumar (2006), Strategies to Fight Low-cost Rivals, Harvard Business Review Dec 84(12):104-112. arrowarrow

Case: Ducati: In Pursuit of Magic (A). IESE Case 168 by Mitchell & Cassiman





  • Ducati Legacy img
  • Don't try this at home! img
  • Ducati Financials 2001 img
  • Ducati info on Wikipedia img

Advanced: Saloner, Shepard and Podolny book: Appendix of Chap. 7, A model of product differentiation.

6 7 & 8 Mar

Game Theoretic Approach

Joshua Gans, Game Theory Chapter 5. imgarrowarrowarrow

Brandenburger and Nalebuff, "The Right Game: Use Game Theory to Shape Strategy", Harvard Business Review (July-Aug 1995).arrowarrow

Case: Google, Inc. HBS-9-910-036(2009).

Optional: Google's Innovation Machine, HBR April 2008arrow





  • Erhun & Keskinochak (2003), Game Theory in Business Applications, Stanford Working Paper, pp 1-35 only. img
  • Traveller's Dillema, Scientific American, 2007.
  • img
  • Boeing/Airbus Example by Nicholas Economides img
  • Ramon Casadesus-Masanell: interesting examples (Wintel, itunes vs filesharing, microsoft vs opensource) img

Game Theory and Strategy:

  • Core Economics img
  • War Games And Business Strategy ( img
  • Bob Gibbons (MIT): img
  • Intro by Dixit and Nalebuff img


Resources and Capabilities.
7 14 & 15 Mar

Resource Based View - Internal Competencies and Capabilities


Hoskisson, Hitt and Ireland, "The Internal Organization", Chapter 4 of Competing for Advantage. arrowarrowarrow

Stalk, Evans and Shulman, Competing on Capabilities: The New Rules of Corporate Strategy, Harvard Business Review (1992). arrowarrow

Case: Wal*Mart Stores, Inc. HBS-9-794-024.


  • Wal*mart- High Cost of Low Price img
  • Wikipedia: Wal-mart img
  • Google Finance: Wal-mart img
  • Wal-mart Investor Information img

Optional: Peteraf (1993), The Cornerstones of Competitive Advantage: A Resource-Based View, Strategic Management Journal Vol 14(3), pp 179-191.

Optional: Ethiraj, et al., Where do capabilities come from and how do they matter? Strategic Management Journal 2005.

8 21 & 22 Mar

Mapping Capabilities and Sustainability

Read: Porter, M.(1996), What is Strategy? Harvard Business Review, p 61-78.arrowarrowarrow

Kim and Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy: HBR, Oct 2004 Article and Chapter 2 of their book.arrowarrowarrow

Robert S Kaplan and David P Norton, "Having Trouble with your Strategy? Then Map It", Harvard Business Review, Sep-Oct 2000.arrowarrow

Case: IMAX: Larger than life. IVEY 909M19-PDF-ENG.

  • Optional: How to Design a Winning Business Model, HBR 2011.
  • Optional: McGahan, 1999. Competition, Strategy and Business Performance. California Management Review.
  • Optional: Helfat, et al., 2007. Dynamic Capabilities, Chapter 4
  • Optional: Strategy Maps: A Step-by-Step Guide, Journal of Business Strategy 2006(3), pp 12-19.


9 28 & 29 Mar Resources & Capabilities

Doug Dow - Guest speaker

Coyne, K.P. (1997), Is Your Core Competence A Mirage? McKinsey Quarterly, pp 40-56.arrowarrowarrow

Saloner, Shepard & Podolny, “Strategic Management”, 2001, Chapter 3, pp39-63. arrowarrow This article helps you to integrate lessons learnt in the first 8 weeks.

Case: Southwest Airlines 1993(A).

  • Optional: Doug Dow, “An Introduction to the 5C's”. These are powerpoint slides, not an article.
10 No session on 4 & 5 Apr. Review on 9th instead  

Review Session by Teaching Assistant, Woody Lo will be held on 9th April at 1pm at MLR3. It will last 90mins.


  • The Coherence Premium, HBR. arrowarrow
  • Hamel & Prahalad, “Strategic Intent”, HBR, 1989.arrow
11 11 & 12 Apr

Knowledge as a Strategic Capability

Read: Gans and Stern (2003), "The Product Market and the 'Market for Ideas': Commercialization Strategies for Technology Entrepreneurs", Research Policy 32(2)imgarrowarrow

Case: David Weston and Kwanghui Lim, Blackberry, IPRIA/WIPO Case 2008. img




BlackBerry vs NTP

  • BlackBerry Parodyimg
  • Crackberry img
  • ieee articleimg
  • CNN article img

Intellectual Property

  • IP Australia: intro to patents, trademarks, designsimg
  • Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia (
  • WIPO img

He, Lim and Wong (2006), "Entry and Competitive Dynamics in the Mobile Telecommunications Market", Research Policy, 20th Anniversary Special Issue of "Profiting from Innovation" by David Teece. Earlier version (IPRIA) img

Syndicate-based Case writeup due on FRIDAY 15 April at 5pm.
12 18 & 19 Apr

Syndicate Assignment Discussion

Presentation and discussion of Syndicate Assignments.

  • Each syndicate will discuss the report written by another syndicate.

Readings to help you get started with your syndicate assignment:

  • Chapter 1 from The McKinsey Mind.
  • The McKinsey Way (not the same book). A summary is available here.

Deadline to submit your entry for the Best Strategy Application Contest.

13 28 Apr

Summary and Review.

A review session will be held this week, covering a course summary and how to approach the exam. This should help you revise for the final exam. The session will be held on Thursday afternoon 28 April at 1:15-4:30pm (FT) and THR evening 28t April at 6pm-915pm (PT). Venue: CUB (FT) and MLR3 (PT).

  • Past exam questions are on the LMS and Strategic Thinking. Please review them.
  • Case: Target (last year's exam)


  • Mintzberg, “Crafting Strategy”, HBR, 1996.arrow
  • Revisit: The Coherence Premium, HBR. arrowarrow
  • Revisit: Hamel & Prahalad, “Strategic Intent”, HBR, 1989.arrow

Voting for the contest entries

Q&A on topics covered this semester; thoughts on the syndicate assignment

Exam: Tuesday 3rd May at 2pm. Both PT & FT students will be taking the exam at the same time.
It starts 2pm with 15 mins of reading time. Writing time of 2 hrs starts at 2:15pm