Solved: Application of Strategic Management Skills and Knowledge

Assessment summary: You are a newly graduated management consultant who is required to research and write a strategic report about a real life organisation. Your consultancy company works closely with universities. For this reason your manager instructs you to write a report using a given structure and style that would appeal to both academics and business people. The analysis should demonstrate your ability to apply strategic management skills and knowledge to a real life situation. The case study consists of information presented on Blackboard and additional research that all students undertake and share throughout the module. Suggested structure:
  • A professional looking front cover (excluded from the word count).
  • Executive Summary. Please do not call it an abstract (excluded from the word count).
  • Table of Contents (excluded from the word count).
  • Introduction
  • The Strategic Analysis
    • Analysis of the external environment
    • Analysis of the internal environment
    • Analysis of the corporate strategy
  • Analysis of ethical issues and leadership
    • Strategic leadership and culture
    • Analysis of CSR and ethical issues
  • Conclusion
  • References (excluded from the word count).
  • Appendices (excluded from the word count).
Analyse the corporate level strategies, including the external and internal environment etc. of Amazon and Whole Foods merger. Also, analyse the ethical issues and leadership, including CSR, culture etc. Learning outcomes: On successful completion of this assessment you should be able to:
  1. Evaluate the strategies that managers use to help organisations adapt in an uncertain or complex global environment.
  2. Critically evaluate the internal environment of companies through modern tools and dynamic concepts.
  3. Critically evaluate alternative policies and strategies a company may adopt to meet stakeholder needs and mitigate risk within changing external environments.
  4. Develop appropriate criteria to evaluate strategic options within a range of situations in conditions of limited knowledge or uncertainty.
  5. Understand the importance of and demonstrate strategic corporate social responsibility in the formulation and implementation of the strategic management process.
The executive summary must be inserted before the table of contents. It should be no more than one page in length and it will be excluded from the word count, so please be analytical about it. If the executive summary looks professional it will help to impress your reader / marker. Here you need to include all the major points from every part of your report, including the main findings and conclusions. Again, this is not an introduction, it is an executive summary, i.e. it is a condensed summary of the whole report. People usually read executive summaries in order to decide whether or not they want to read the whole report. Therefore, don’t keep the reader wondering about the report’s conclusions or recommendations. You are not writing a detective story. Introduction: Write an introduction for sign posting purposes. Explain the purpose and the structure of the report, and briefly introduce the organisation that you will be analysing. Since you have a limited word count, the introduction should be very small – about one paragraph. The introduction is different from the executive summary and the conclusion because it does not include the summary of the findings and conclusions. Leave those for the conclusion and the executive summary!
  1. Strategic analysis:
To save on the word count we suggest that you present the analysis of the internal and external environment in the form of figures, such as mind maps, or tables. You will need to discuss this with your seminar and module leaders, so that they could advise you on the appropriate format. Please do not write long sentences in the tables or figures.
  1. 1 External analysis:
To analyse the external environment of the case study organisation you can use a 5 Forces analysis for the micro external environment, and a PESTEL analysis for the macro external environment. This means that your figures or tables should summarise both PESTEL and 5 Forces about the industry, not a specific organisation. Since the module is called Global Strategic Management consider the external environment in a global context, and not only within a context of just one country. Although you might focus more on one country but relate it to global trends. Be explicit in your executive summary about the level to which you are making your external environmental analysis. NOTE: The micro environment (5 forces) is the industry /market environment. And for this aspect it is up to you to decide which geographical area to focus into. You just mention it in the beginning of this section (e.g. Europe, or UK, or USA, or Global market)-really up to you. PESTEl =macro environment. These are the macro trends (broader trends that might affect the industry of Amazon Whole Foods. You don't need to mention all of the possible macro trends-only the ones you think mostly relevant.             1.2 Internal analysis: NOTE: You need to focus into Amazon Whole Foods as one company/after the merger. So when you talk about the company (as seen below) you need to refer to (the SBU of) Amazon Whole Foods. Whole Foods acquired by Amazon now seem to have some extra resources and capabilities compared to before the merger. Your focus and analysis is after the merger. To analyse the internal environment we expect you to use the resources and capabilities theory (R+Cs or else the Resource Based View of the Company) and/or Value Chain. You can mention both or just one theory however you will need to reference the theories that you use. Again to save on the word count please summarise your analysis in the form of tables / figures. If you use RBV we would like you to present the key strategic resources. Please see examples of resources and capabilities in the lecture slides. To analyse the organisations financial resources you must mention some key financial indicators for that organisation). You will need to state clearly what are the core capabilities/competencies of the organisation and why they are core. An example could be: does the organisation’s level of financial control and or use of economies of scale derive competitive advantage? Is this a core capability within the organisation? If yes, is this a cost leadership or differentiation strategy or a combination of both (therefore a hybrid strategy)? In this way you are describing the organisations business level strategy this is required for the last question. As for the Value Chain analysis you don’t need to describe in detail every single activity. If you want to or have done so, please use appendices and tables to save on the word count. Here, you will need to show those linkages (combinations of primary to support activities) that either increase the customer value or reduce the operating cost. You can conclude this section by explaining what competitive advantage(s) are created for the organisation and how. The outcomes of Resources + Capabilities and Value Chain should agree. Make sure that the summaries of the external and internal analysis are short, concise and are presented as key points in a form of clear figures or tables. Do not use too many descriptive words. NOTE: FOR THE ABOVE TWO SECTIONS YOU CAN USE TABLES TO HEAVILY REDUCE YOUR WORD COUNT . As said in the previous section, after the tables have short conclusions with your key arguments/conclusions for every part 1.3 Analysis of a corporate level strategy in a global context: Identify the corporate level strategies. These could be growth: e.g. market penetration, market development, product development, vertical/horizontal integration, related / unrelated diversification. Here you can use the Ansoff’s matrix/directional policy table (it is essentially the same).  Of course there are turnaround corporate strategies (e.g. downsizing, liquidation, divesture etc.) and stability strategies (no-change strategy, pause, etc.). You can identify/record several strategies but please use the terminology and reference properly every concept. As a final point in your analysis suggest future strategies. You can suggest either sustaining the existing ones, or developing the existing ones, or developing new strategies. Choose two (advisable) or three (maximum) strategies to evaluate them according to certain criteria. These can be: suitability – acceptability – feasibility, that is SAF (highly recommended, simple and straightforward). NOTE: If you also want to refer to the busines/competitive strategy of Amazon Whole Foods (e.g. differentiation, or low cost, or hybrid) you can do so. You will not lose points for this Or it can be:
  • SAF (preferable)
  • STAIR model
  • SUITS model
  • RACES model
  • or any other properly referenced model.
You don’t need to use more than one of the above.
  1. Analysis of ethical issues and leadership:
In this question you are required to identify one, two or three key issues that impacted the image of the company, either internal or external. How does the public perceive the organisation? You will need to apply theories related to organisational ethics, corporate governance, CSR, stakeholder analysis. Discuss reputation and apply management, leadership, organisational culture and decision-making concepts if relevant. Not all of the above theories are required. We want you to demonstrate an application of relevant theories. This section is more flexible about which theories you would like to use. You can use theories studied in other modules as well if they are appropriate. After all this module integrates the knowledge and skills that you have learnt in your previous years of study (see the module aims in the module handbook). Conclusion: Emphasise and summarise the most important ideas presented in the report. Do not just summarise all of your findings. Focus on what the organisations existing strategies (business and corporate level), how leadership, ethics and other issues can affect the organisation’s future strategy and what should be a future strategy. How will the presentation, structure and clarity of writing be assessed? What do we mean by presentation? Please make sure that your paper looks professional. Use the same font size throughout the report, preferably Arial or Times New Roman 12. Use 1.5 or double spacing between the lines. Remember that your readers (markers) will be looking at computer screens for a long period of time during the marking period. Whilst singe spacing might look nice, it is actually not easy to read on a screen. Make sure that you use page numbers. Table of contents – it would be easier for you to use an auto function in MS Word (in Document Elements). In this case make sure that you headings and subheadings are identified as appropriate styles in MS Word. Westminster Harvard Referencing style – make sure that all the comas, full stops, capital letters and page numbers are in appropriate places. Do not confuse it with Chicago and other similar referencing styles. Using an appropriate referencing style demonstrates an attention to detail, which is a rare and valuable skill when applied properly. How do we assess your clarity of writing? Remember how to structure paragraphs. The first line of a paragraph should introduce the main idea of the whole paragraph. The subsequent sentences should have a nice flowing logic and expand on the idea presented in the first sentence. Do not jump from one thought to another within the same paragraph. Try to keep your sentences as short as possible. Report and essay writing styles are different. Please make sure that you do not write an essay with a few headings. Proofread, proofread and proofread again! Make sure that you do not have grammar and spelling mistakes. References: This is not a bibliography. It is a list of all and only those sources that you have referenced inside the report. Do not include literature sources that are not referenced inside the report. Use the Westminster Harvard referencing style. Appendices: This section is not essential. Please do not put any important information in the appendices, as it is not marked. Use it for additional purposes only bearing in mind that most people briefly scan appendices and do not read them in detail. How to apply theories in the analysis? You are not required to analyse any theory. Briefly explain a theory in one or two lines and apply it to the analysis, i.e. use it as lens or framework for the analysis of your research findings. Use appropriate references. You are not expected to reference the main textbook only. If you want to use a theory that is mentioned in the textbook try to find the original sources and reference it (for example Porter, 1985). How many references to use? We will be assessing the quality of your references, not the quantity. For example if you use 20 or 30 references from unreliable sources this will be considered as poor research skills. Whereas if you use 10 to 15 good quality references you will receive a much higher mark. What do we mean by good quality sources? The most reliable sources that we suggest to use in this report are academic books, academic journal articles, business reports and information written and published on official organisations’ sites, and information available in databases, such as Mintel. Certain sources are clearly unreliable. These include Wikipedia, Businessballs, various blogs etc. However some sources are in the middle ground. These include certain blogs and websites written by experts, news articles, YouTube and other videos produced by academics and business experts. Please use any sources with caution and assess their reliability before referencing them. If in doubt speak with your seminar leader or post a question on the discussion board Piazza.