The module is assessed (100%) by an individual Strategic Report (maximum 3,000 words) involving an in-depth, strategic analysis of a large organisation. The subject of the report will be decided by the module convenor but students will be able to choose from a list of several examples.
Instructions for assessment
This assignment is focused on the selected organisation, its industry and business environment. Please choose only one organisation for the purposes of this assignment.
Formative work in weekly seminars will guide students through analytical techniques and processes required to complete the task.
The Strategic Report should address the following:
1) Carry out external analysis (business environment and industry) to identify a set of Opportunities and Threats and assess industry attractiveness. (30%)
2) Analyse the resources and key competences of the organisation to identify a set of Strengths and Weaknesses and identify core competences (key factors that may give the company its competitive advantage). (30%)
3) Evaluate the given strategy(as per chosen organisation)using SAFe criteria. (30%)
Please see pages 2 and 3 for more information and guidance.
A further 10% is available for clarity, structure, grammar, correct Harvard referencing and overall professional presentation showing clear report style.
Please note that the emphasis is on application! This assignment is not about general (or critical) discussion of strategic models. You are asked to apply these models to the case chosen. Appropriately referenced data should be used in support of your arguments and discussion.
The report should not exceed 3,000 words + 10%. Appendices are allowed outside this limit but NO MORE than 6 pages.
How will your work be assessed?
Your work will be assessed by a subject expert who will use the marking scheme indicated below. Feedback will be given in the Turnitin/Grademark system with script comments plus overall points. When you access your marked work it is important that you reflect on the feedback so that you can use it to improve future assignments.
In this Strategic Report, high marks come from using strategic concepts and analysis from the module clearly applied to the organisation. Harvard referencing, a professional report style plus appropriate diagrams/tables are also required. Outline marking expectations are as follows:
Q1: (30%) External analysis (not about organisation)
Discuss the business environment and identify a number of Opportunities – Os and Threats – Ts (we expect 6 issues from business environment to be discussed in total each of which concluded as an O or a T). Please note that there is no need to address each factor (if for example there are no important legal or technological issues do not discuss these factors). Your task is to identify and discuss 6 most important issues in your opinion. Demonstrate how an issue is an Opportunity or a Threat.
Industry analysis (5 Forces) should be applied to assess industry attractiveness (each force should be discussed and assessed as High, Moderate or Low and industry attractiveness should be assessed having these forces in mind).
Please make sure that you use appropriately referenced data (charts, figures, news, quotes etc) to support your arguments. Also, note that this is an external analysis so it is not about the firm but about issues in that industry (in context).
Q2: (30%) Internal analysis (about organisation)
Identify and discuss organisation’s unique resources & distinctive capabilities (approximately 10-12 Strengths and Weaknesses should be covered in total). Discuss resources (what a company has) and competences (activities) separately.
While addressing unique resources (physical – e.g. retail outlets, manufacturing facilities, products etc.; human – e.g. people and teams crucial for successful strategic development; intangible – e.g. brands, links to external stakeholders etc. and possibly financial) make sure that each is discussed separately and concluded as an S or a W. Identify and discuss 5 to 6 resources in total.
While discussing distinctive competences construct Value Chain for the organisation and within list a number of specific and distinctive activities for your organisation (5-6 in total). Demonstrate how unique capabilities link to competitive advantage (each distinctive competence from Value Chain should be “pushed” through VRIO to identify Core Competences for the organisation). Once you identify one (or two at most) core competence provide a discussion about these below Value Chain or VRIO (what is the activity and how does it contribute to firm’s competitive advantage). Note that all competences listed n value chain (and VRIO) should be company’s Strengths (Weaknesses could be discussed in a descriptive fashion separately). Again, use properly referenced data to support your arguments. This question is about the company (internal analysis).
Q3: (30%) Strategy Evaluation
Evaluate the given strategy – please see “Cases for the assignment” on moodle) using the three SAFe tests:
Construct TOWS populating Os, Ts, Ss and Ws fully (all Os and Ts obtained from Q1, all Ss and Ws obtained from Q2). Place the strategy you are evaluating in one of the inner sections and try to associate it to one or more internal and one or more external items while addressing Suitability (e.g. if you place a strategy in S-O quadrant identify appropriate S or Ss combined with O or Os while contemplating this strategy).
Construct Power/Interest matrix with a number of relevant stakeholders, then choose two stakeholder groups that will be affected with the strategy and for each discuss if the strategy you are evaluating is acceptable or not and why.
While addressing Feasibility, comment on financial resources and skills required for implementation of the strategy being evaluated.
Note that it is a specific strategy that is evaluated!
PRESENTATION: (10%) We expect a professional report with clear report style (not an essay) e.g. frontsheet, contents, clear sections, tables & diagrams and relevant Harvard referencing. The word count should not be exceeded by more than 10%. (In addition to marker feedback, a full marking rubric will be available within the Turnitin submission system for student consideration.)
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