Competitive and Organizational Strategy

STR 401. Managerial Economics. 3 credits

The primary objective of the course is to train students to think in economic terms, to identify the relevant economic issue in a given situation, to separate the relevant from the irrelevant, and to analyze the implications of alternative actions. Another objective is to provide an increased understanding of markets. The course presents the basic analytical tools of microeconomics, particularly as those skills are relevant to managers. Important economic concepts used in subsequent courses, such as opportunity costs and a Nash Equilibrium, are covered. Applications of marginal analysis are stressed.

STR 403. Organization and Strategy. 3 credits

The course teaches how to approach and solve a large range of organizational problems from an analytical-economic perspective that is grounded in agency theory. It discusses in detail the assignment of decision rights (including centralization vs. decentralization of decisions), performance measurement, and incentives and rewards. These are the three elements of 'organizational architecture', the central framework of the course. Applications range from job-level incentive problems to broader questions about organizational structure and the boundaries of the firm (e.g., vertical integration). Throughout, the course emphasizes the complementarity of organizational policies and the importance of alignment between a firm's internal organization and its strategy.

STR 421. Economics of Competitive Strategy. 3 credits

Competitive strategy deals with the most significant decisions that companies make in the marketplace, including entry into a market, product positioning, pricing, investments, technology choice and acquisitions. This course provides tools and concepts for analyzing these decisions and for designing business strategies that help firms make above-normal profits in the long run. Throughout the course, there is an emphasis on how firms interact with existing or potential competitors and other parties in the market. The tools and concepts used to understand this interaction are partly those of the traditional field of Strategic Management, but more importantly those of modern microeconomics, especially the field of Industrial Organization. The first half of the course looks at the 'big picture' and covers industry analysis, value creation and competitive advantage, and integration and diversification decisions. The second half of the course focuses on strategic interaction among firms, and covers specific topics such as the dynamics of price competition in oligopolies, commitment strategies of firms, entry and exit, networks and standards, and technological competition. The course is largely case-based. About one third of all classes are lectures; the other two thirds are case discussions.

STR 422. Game Theory for Managers. 3 credits

This course develops game-theoretic tools that can be used to provide both quantitative and qualitative prescriptions for profit-maximizing behavior in a variety of strategic settings. The basic concepts are introduced through applications to strategic settings that one encounters in typical business situations. However, the game-theoretic concepts themselves are quite general, as the goal of the course is provide students with both an understanding of these concepts, and a tool kit with which to evaluate a broad range of strategic problems. The set of strategic problems specifically discussed includes the pricing of new and existing goods in the presence of substitutes and complements, determining advertising and R&D expenditures, analyzing market entry, exit, and entry deterrence opportunities, and evaluating bargaining and auction environments. Extensive use is made of examples from both private- and public sector analyses of strategic interactions among firms.

STR 423. Pricing Policies. 3 credits

This course prepares future managers to analyze the environment in which their firm operates in order to arrive at an appropriate pricing policy for their products or services. Topics include (i) relevant costs (i.e., which costs are relevant for pricing decisions), (ii) elasticity of demand, and (iii) market segmentation (e.g., through the offering of a product line, or by means of bundling, tying, menus of two-part tariffs, quantity discounts, and other direct and indirect means of price discrimination). The course will also cover essential pricing analytic tools such as break-even analysis and economic value analysis, and it will provide a solid introduction into the pitfalls of pricing in a competitive environment and how to anticipate competitor responses. Lastly, the course will cover the legal aspects of pricing as appropriate.

STR 424. Human Resource Strategy. 3 credits

This course analyzes human resource management from an economics perspective. It focuses primarily on the implementation of compensation and incentive structures in organizations. Topics include: selection and hiring of employees, measurement and appraisal of employee performance, promotion-based incentive systems, managing work-force diversity, employee relations, and the coordination of human resource policies and business strategy.

STR 427. Organizational Behavior. 3 credits

This course presents behavioral concepts that influence individual, group, and organizational effectiveness. Particular emphasis is given to motivation, culture, globalization, leadership, group dynamics, communication, organizational structure and change. Students develop ways of thinking about organizational problems to increase individual and organizational effectiveness. Multiple stakeholder perspectives and systemic approach to organizational problems are emphasized.

STR 429. Advanced Competitive Strategy. 3 credits

This course builds on STR421 to train students in conducting and communicating strategic analysis. The course provides an end-to-end methodology for evaluating and developing business strategy. Students learn and practice framing an unstructured strategic challenge, constructing workable questions, collecting and evaluating the required evidence and formulating strategic recommendations. The course is split between work on a quarter-long project, lectures, and case studies.

STR 430. Health Care Strategy. 3 credits

This course applies the principles of organizational economics and strategy to the institutional setting of health sciences. The course focuses on the interdependence between the delivery, financing, and technology sectors of the health care marketplace. It discusses how management and strategy choices within each sector are responses to the unique institutional factors in the health care marketplace and how the strategies of each sector affect the behavior of the others. Students will leave the course with an ability to think productively about management and strategy challenges within each of the three health science sectors.

STR 438. B2B Pricing. 3 credits

Students will learn the major differences in pricing strategies between selling to consumers (STR 423) and to other firms, which then deal with consumers. The course starts by analyzing the pricing problem of a manufacturer selling to a retailer. We examine the issue of double marginalization, and learn how two-part tariffs get us out of this problem. We also examine different forms of contractual relations from vertical acquisitions to regular short-term contracts and potential issues with every form, touching on transfer pricing and outsourcing. In the second part of the course, we analyze a crucial concept of cost pass-through (how much a retailer should decrease the retail price in response to a decrease in the wholesale price) and the effect of manufacturer's advertising on the retailer and on the channel overall. This course is a natural continuation of STR 423 Pricing Policies for those who are interested in working in an industry where a significant portion of sales is done through independently-owned retailers, whether students are planning on working on the retailer side or on the manufacturer side of this industry.

STR 439. Advanced Pricing. 3 credits

This course builds on MKT 414/STR 423 to equip students with the skills to make profitable pricing decisions in complex business environments. Topics include: pricing with constrained supply and uncertain demand; markdown management; advance selling; pricing on the internet; selling through auctions; pricing in markets with (direct and indirect) network effects; and psychological aspects of pricing.

STR 440. Corporate Governance. 3 credits

This course builds on STR 403 Organization and Strategy to provide a more in-depth analysis of organizational choice and governance mechanisms. Topics include: the choice of organizational form; corporate charter (voting rules, anti-takeover provisions, and so on); proxy process; board of directors; ownership structure; banks and other financial institutions as organizational monitors; CEO selection, retention and succession; and governance in entrepreneurial firms. The class presents the important issues relating to these topics and examines the relevant empirical research. Emphasis is placed on how optimal practices can vary across industry, strategy, and country and on how they might evolve through time. The course complements FIN 411 (Investments) and FIN 423 (Corporate Financial Policy and Control) in helping students understand how corporate policies affect security prices and value.

STR 442. Property Rights and Law. 3 credits

Special topics are generally those, which are not well covered in the other courses, such as advanced pricing techniques, or they may deal with strategy in selected industries (e.g., financial services, high-tech marketing, etc.). The specific content of the course varies, depending on faculty interests.

STR 461. Strategy And Business Systems Consulting Practicum. 0 credits

This course provides MBA students with an introduction to strategy and business systems consulting. It is aimed at students who wish to explore career opportunities within the major consulting firms, but is also relevant for students considering a career as an independent consultant, or within a corporation?s internal consulting group. It would also help students become savvy consumers of consulting services. The course focuses on three areas: (1) The Business Systems Consulting Process: The creation of proposals, the winning of consulting engagements, and the preparation of contracts will be discussed. The typical stages of a consulting engagement (e.g. problem framing, analysis design, gathering data, interpreting results, and presentation of recommendations) will be examined, as will the management of different sorts of consulting projects. (2) Consulting Skills: The role of the consultant and the human dimension will be discussed (e.g. personal attributes of consultants, relationship building, and team building). Diagnostic tools, and data gathering techniques (e.g. questionnaires and interviews) will be presented. Frameworks for problem solving, and communicating recommendations will also be introduced. (3) The Consulting Industry: Students will examine several types of consulting (e.g. systems, strategic, operations, human-resource, and marketing) and the positioning of the major consulting firms. The career paths for MBAs entering the industry, and the skills and values necessary for success as a consultant will be scrutinized. A mix of cases, readings, lectures, class discussions, and guest speakers will be used to provide students the opportunity to learn about each of these areas. A project with a local company will provide a learning platform to integrate and practice the skills and knowledge learned.

STR 501. Organizational and Competitive Strategy Seminar. 3 credits

A continuation of AEC 501 and AEC 502.

STR 510. Research in Organizational and Competitive Strategy. 3 credits

This course provides a forum for discussing theoretical and empirical research on organizational and competitive strategy, and it contains the core material for preparing for a minor exam in STR. The course covers topics similar to those in STR 403. However, students study more advanced papers and analyze the material with more depth and rigor. Depending on the backgrounds and interests of the students, likely topics include: why firms exist; why organizations take the form that they do; the motivations for change within organizations; incentive problems and contracting; the factors that determine the allocation of decision rights within an organization; how agency problems are mitigated by the market for corporate control; the managerial labor market; compensation plans; the ownership structure of residual claims and the court system; and why 'hybrid' organizations such as franchises and joint ventures exist.