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2010/2011  KAN-SOL_OS40  Business Strategy

English Title
Business Strategy

Course Information

Language English
Point 7,5 ECTS (225 SAT)
Type Mandatory
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course Period Autumn
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Study Board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course Coordinator
Peter Karnøe
Main Category of the Course
  • Organization
Last updated on 29 maj 2012
Marking Scale 7-step scale
Exam Period Autumn Term
Individual oral exam based on a group project (4-5 students, max. 15 A4 pages), cf. the General Degree Regulation § 27 S. (4). The duration of the individual oral exam is 20 minutes (including assessment). The assessment is a total evaluation of the project and the individual oral exam. The exam is internal and will be graded by a teacher and an internal examiner, cf. the General Degree Regulation §25 S. (1) no.2. Submission of the project to the secretariat is regarded as examination registration and must take place in October 2010. The regular exam will take place in November 2010. The make-up/re-exam takes place in January/ February 2011. If a student is ill during the oral exam, he/she will be able to re-use the project at the make-up exam. If the student was ill during the writing of the project and did not contribute to the project, the make-up/re-exam project can be written individually or in groups (provided the other students are taking the make-up/re-exam). If the student did not pass the regular exam a new or revised project, confer advice from the examiner at the regular exam, must be handed in to a new deadline specified by the line secretariat. The re-exam is an individual oral exam based upon the same group report as for the ordinary exam, with a 3-page supplement
Prerequisites for Attending the Exam
Course Content

Aim of the course
The aim of this course is to introduce the student to a set of innovative management practices for business development and strategic management. The course provides students with an overview of different perspectives in the field of strategy but makes a distinct move from the traditional linear causality models of strategic management to more complex models that focus on strategy as a process, facilitating analysis of ‘how’ organizational strategies emerge. The notion of emergence emphasizes the processes whereby issues and activities become strategic and how strategic decisions shape actions in the organization in relation to perceived environmental changes.

The overall ambition of this course is to stimulate students to learn about and make use of innovative management practices for business development and strategic management. This is crucial for the ability to understand and practice strategic management and business development.

Specifically, the course presents three schools of strategic management and business development and discusses their underlying assumptions about which actions, methods and tools provide the ‘best practice’ for business.
Each theory is viewed as a ‘tool’ which students can use to study strategic management in practice as well as to practice management.

Design and Planning School
This school presents the orthodox language of strategy with analysis, objective setting, rational choice, planning and control systems, all activated and directed from top management in a coherent and logical fashion.

Cultural-institutional School
This school emphasizes that strategic thinking and decision making is not context-free but based on the basic assumptions, beliefs and mental models, and ’how we do things around here’.

Complex Responsive Process School
This is a radical behavioural approach in the sense that it preserves the context-sensitivity from the cultural school, but also points attention to politics, tensions, paradox and local action. Emphasis will be given to understanding organizations as complex responsive processes; i.e. as ongoing processes of action and communication. From this perspective, strategy is the evolving pattern of collective and individual identities emerging from people’s interactions. Fabricating and organizing strategies in relation to environmental changes takes place in local interactive settings. This perspective suggests new roles and boundaries for participation in strategy-making and proposes new analytical tools for managing under conditions of uncertainty and unpredictability.

While the more conventional theories of strategic management maintain the methodological position that managers are able to stand ‘objectively apart’ from the organization and devise ways of controlling it, the theory of complex responsive processes see managers/leaders as ‘participant inquirers’ that are part of the processes through which strategies are fabricated and gain effect.

The course moves away from taking strategies and intentions as given and view them as emerging in the context of people trying to organize things. Therefore, we will look at how each of these three theoretical schools view such things as intentions, control, profits and budgets, mission-vision-strategy, set direction and creativity that are supposed to guide the practice of managerial action. Particularly, the course will address this in a context of a managerial attention to the balance between exploitation and exploration of resources, competences, mental models and meaning/identity that shape business development.

Finally, the course focuses on the role of tools and models in analysis and how numbers are used in decision making. Tools and models have a different status in the three schools. From the rational perspective, where tools are seen as neutral descriptors and objective decision points, we move towards to a constructivist position where they are seen as performing realities – fabricating ‘facts’- that serve as input for managerial discussion and sense-making.

The overall ambition of this course is to stimulate students to learn about and make use of innovative management practices for business development and strategic management. This is crucial for the ability to understand and practice strategic management and business development.

Overlap with Managing Organizational Identity (OI)
This course of Business Strategy overlaps naturally with OI in three ways:
In aiming to understand how organizational identity is explicated and used as an internal resource for management to develop certain policies and organizational architectures that stimulate local action.
In viewing identity as an asset and liability in terms of business renewal.
In that two of the three models of the OI course overlap with two of the schools of strategic management (Design Planning School, Cultural-institutional School), while the third school has minor overlap (post-modernism – Complex Responsive Processes).


The total reading is about 800 pages.
In terms of level of difficulty about 400 pages are considered relatively easy reading, whereas 400 pages are on a higher and more difficult level.

Johnson, G., Scholes K., and Whittington R. (2005). Exploring Corporate Strategy – Text, 7th edition. FT Prentice Hall.
Mintzberg, H. Ahlstrand, B. & Lampel, J. (1998). Strategy Safari – A Guided Tour through the Wilds of Strategic Management. Prentice Hall.