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2023/2024  KAN-CCMVV5037U  External Growth Strategies

English Title
External Growth Strategies

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course First Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 80
Study board
Study Board for cand.merc. and GMA (CM)
Course coordinator
  • Francesco Di Lorenzo - Department of Strategy and Innovation (SI)
Main academic disciplines
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Organisation
  • Strategy
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 15-02-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
The goal of this class is to establish a strong link between theory and practice, in particular learning theories and applying them in contexts to grasp the essence of their foundations and to explore useful applications.

To be awarded the highest mark (12), the student, with no or just a few insignificant shortcomings, must fulfill the following learning objectives:
  • Understand the main theoretical assumptions and rationales behind external corporate strategies and diversification
  • Analyze the competitive landscape in relation to an industry and/or market.
  • Understand and apply growth strategy models to specific cases and discuss the implications.
  • Reflect on value creation and synergies of external growth strategies both at the individual operation level and at the corporate level.
Course prerequisites
No strict prerequisites. It would be ideal to have some familiarity with basic strategic management concepts.
External Growth Strategies:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance, see also the rules about examination forms in the programme regulations.
Individual or group exam Individual oral exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 2-5
Size of written product Max. 25 pages
The length of the paper depends on the group size, such as:
2 people = 10 pages
3 people = 15 pages
4 people = 20 pages
5 people = 25 pages

The max pages does not include exhibits or appendixes.
Assignment type Project
Release of assignment Subject chosen by students themselves, see guidelines if any
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
No regulation
Description of the exam procedure

The group assignment aims to generate a team-based dynamic during which students have to collectively organize and apply contents from the course discussed previously in class and available in the course material.


Ideally, each group will perform a strategic analysis of a case (which they will pick and I will advice on), applying frameworks and tools in order to provide a conclusive assessment of the specifc case from a "External Growth Strategies" perspective.


Skill developed: team-working, simulation of real business situations on decision making, delivery-minset developmemt, writing.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach
Course Description

The course aims to provide knowledge about how firms use external growth strategies to fulfill their corporate goals. In particular, Alliances and Acquisitions have characterized the economic scenario in many industries, not only at the level of industrial dynamics, but also when looking at financial markets. During the ’80s and the ’90s waves of alliances and acquisitions depicted most of the global industries, in particular high-tech industries, as valid (and preferred) alternatives to organic growth. Yet, more than 50% of such agreements fail in generating corporate value. As strategic responses to increases success chances of external growth, corporations have mainly focused on: i) set up venture capital funds (i.e. Corporate Venture Capital funds – CVC) ii) international expansions in new geographies and, iii) redesign corporate diversification approach towards value creation.


Recent studies show that managers do not distinguish clearly under which conditions they would need to consider the most appropriate mode for external corporate growth. In particular, alliance or acquisitions as alternative options are still a black box for most of the firms. And, this could likely explain part of the performance implications of these complex strategies. Therefore, this course will bring together perspectives from Marketing, Finance and Entrepreneurship into the main domain of Strategy, in particular Corporate and Competitive, to more deeply understand rationales and mechanisms related to external corporate growth strategies.


Ideally, the course will be based on the following main questions:

  • In which businesses should a corporation compete?
  • Which activities should be carried out inside the firm’s boundaries and which should be outsourced?
  • How does the institutional context affect a firm’s diversification and organization?
  • What are the most appropriate mechanisms for growth in different settings (i.e. mergers, acquisitions, alliances, equity investments)?
  • How do M&As create/destroy value?
  • What might influence the choice between organic and external growth?
  • What is an alliance? What is an acquisition? How does a manager choose between and alliance and an acquisition?
  • What are the performance implication of alliances and acquisitions? How do we measure the performance of an alliance or an acquisition?
  • How do alliance and acquisition matter for innovation?
  • What is the role of alliances and acquisitions for corporate international expansion?
  • How corporate entrepreneurship in the form of corporate venture capital contribute to the corporate growth?
  • What are the competitive implications of corporate venture capital?


The main objective of this course is to familiarize students to the matters that impact a firm's choice of strategy, scope, and organization. The course builds on classical and recent theoretical contributions in the fields of industrial organization and organizational economics. Along with these theoretical perspectives, the course ultimately is designed to focus on the essential issues and problems of corporate strategy as experienced by managers.



Course Contents, Topics and Structure

  1. An introduction to Diversification Strategies
  2. Corporate Scope: Horizontal vs. Vertical Integration
  3. Corporate Development I: Cooperative Strategies
  4. Corporate Development II: Acquisitive Strategies
  5. Corporate Development III: Alliances vs. Acquisitions
  6. International Corporate Growth
  7. External Growth and Innovation Strategies
  8. Growth through Entrepreneurship I: Corporate Intrapreneurship
  9. Growth through Entrepreneurship I: Corporate Venture Capital
Description of the teaching methods
The course aims to be an ideal balance between case-based and research-driven teaching. In this regards, theories and concepts related to corporate growth strategies, corporate entrepreneurship, competitive dynamics and international strategy will be presented, discussed and analyzed. In order to reach this goal, economics, finance and management journals such the Journal of Financial Economics, Strategic Management Journal and Harvard Business Review will be used. Yet, case-based approach plays a fundamental role in this course. So, the course draws extensively on real corporate cases and to apply the explored theories of growth and better connect them to real-life situations.
Ideally a lecture will have the following components:

• Theoretical and conceptual discussion of external corporate growth strategies.
• Discussion of a business case to learn how to apply tools and framework previously discussed.
• Exercises related to the case performed in class by small group of students.

In order to unleash the full learning potential of this course, students are expected to read carefully the business case assigned to each session before coming to each specific class session. This will be fundamental to obtain: i) rich and deep class discussion on the case ii) productive small group exercise iii) ease to focus on the application iv) create an interactive atmosphere in class. These four main benefits of readings cases before coming to class will increase chances to create a more effective understanding and assimilation of the course contents.
Feedback during the teaching period
The faculty will be available to students (individually and in groups) for on demand meetings regarding any aspect of the course.
Student workload
Class attendance 33 hours
Group work (individual effort) 30 hours
Preparation for individual oral exam 60 hours
Preparation for lectures (incl. reading) 83 hours
Further Information
  • Highly interactive course in class
  • Most of the work is performed in class
  • Sessions are a mix of frontal teaching, class case discussion, small groups exercise.
  • Examination is about apply concepts discussed in class
  • Group work is relevant to the learning experience.
Expected literature

Academic readings, business cases and press articles will be used. Also, self-prepared material by the faculty on real life cases.


Ideally, one or two short readings per topic.


Book of reference (no need to acquire it): 

Grant, R. Contemporary Strategy Analysis (from 7th edition onward)

Last updated on 15-02-2023