This course is a critical examination of strategic management and organizational change concepts, and the relevant tools and techniques. It is a course in how to conduct strategic analysis and plan organizational change.
An examination of basic strategic management concepts, the tools and techniques of strategic analysis and the links to management issues in adapting organisations to meet changed circumstances and requirements.
At the completion of the report student should be able to:
- Critically analyse concepts and theories relevant to strategic management and organizational change.
- Explain and evaluate processes of strategy formulation and implementation, and processes for organizational change.
- Apply appropriate methods of strategic and organizational analysis.
Assignment One: Strategic Analysis
Word Count: 2000 – 2500
NOTE: There are no extensions to this deadline. If your work is not handed in on time it will not be marked and will receive a zero grade.
The purpose of your report
The aim of this assignment is to help you learn to address the issues of strategy in the context of an industry. You are to produce a report demonstrating your ability to offer a strategic analysis of an organization and its industry. An assessment or evaluation of a situation means that you examine the various aspects of it and reach a judgement. It is more than describing or listing. Your report should also demonstrate your knowledge of and ability to apply the various strategic management concepts and models available to assess an organization and an industry.
Instructions – READ THESE BEFORE YOU START YOUR ASSIGNMENT!
You are to select a New Zealand based organization of sufficient size (more than 20 employees) and complexityfor your analysis. Your choice may be an independent subsidiary of a multinational but it must function autonomously from its headquarters and be able to formulate its own strategy. A branch or subsidiary of Westpac Bank for example would not be acceptable as it follows the strategy of its head office in Australia. Your chosen company needs to be easily identifiable as a reasonably significant player/competitor in its industry. Be careful of organizations like Fonterra, Air New Zealand, Carter-Holt Harvey and so on. These are multi-divisional corporates and operate several independent Business Units, but whose strategy is ultimately tied to one Head Office or Corporate strategy. Follow the guidelines for your report set out below once you have made your choice.
- Your report starts with the usual cover sheet and an Executive Summary – the Exec Summary is the last thing to be written in a report and summarises all the information contained in it. It also includes any assumptions and limitations encountered during the analysis.
- Table of Contents – this is self-explanatory, however, students do forget sometimes to put in the page numbers for the various headings! Check your work before you submit it!
- Introduction – The introduction outlines and describes the business your selected organization does. It provides context and should cover the first element of your audit, namely, the Industry Analysis. Questions to cover are, but are not limited to, the following – What industry sector is it? How large is this industry? Is it consolidated or fragmented? What are the key drivers in the industry? Where is the organization placed on the industry lifecycle curve? How dynamic is the industry? What position does the organization occupy in the industry’s market? Who are the big players that dominate this industry? What are the key issues arising at this time with respect to your selected organization and its industry? Etc. Do not confine yourself to the above questions – describe your industry as thoroughly as you can with points that are relevant from a strategic perspective. A stranger, reading your report for the first time should have an immediate general grasp of the industry your selected organization operates in and a broad understanding of some of the issues.
- Macro-environmental analysis – We use a tool for this which is called a PESTEL analysis (evolved from a PEST and PESTE analysis). The acronym stands for Political; Economic; Social/Demographic; Technological; Environmental and Legal; all elements that have a direct or indirect influence on the performance of the organization you are analysing. It is possible to tabulate your analysis and place this in the appendices, however, key issues in each of the dimensions need to be highlighted and discussed in the report, particularly if they have a strong direct influence on the business at present or at some near future stage. You are going to need to look at your organization from a holistic perspective and understand how it operates in the context of the wider environment in order to do this analysis.
- Competitive analysis – There is a tool for this analysis as well, Porter’s Five Forces. Refer to your readings and texts on this analysis and what output you are attempting to convey. Some elements of your industry analysis and macro-environmental analysis will be relevant here but it focuses mainly on your competitors and their position in the market relative to your own. Again, a full analysis can be attached in the appendices but I would expect a discussion of key issues that directly influence the organization to be put into the report itself.
- SWOT analysis – Many students, and large organizations for that matter, make the mistake of thinking a SWOT analysis of their organization is all that is necessary to formulate a strategy. This is not only naive, but also a fundamentally flawed approach to strategy formulation. The SWOT analysis is a summary instrument that highlights the opportunities and threats emanating from the previous three pieces of analysis. The analytical component of a SWOT is embedded in the internal analysis of the organization where you are trying to solicit what the strengths and weaknesses of your selected organization are. You need to find and isolate the distinctive competencies of your selected organization and list its major weaknesses. A VRIO/VRINE analysis is also useful for this purpose. Note too that a strength can also be a weakness – for example, if you are married to the Chairman’s son/daughter and you’re ‘good’ with the ‘old man’ that could be a strength, however, if your relationship is taking strain (because you disagree with his/her strategic direction) you might want to reflect on how ‘good’ you are with the ‘old man’! The final SWOT analysis is used as a strategic decision making information source that highlights the most important issues to be addressed by the strategy.
- Conclusion – This is a short summary of your findings highlighting the key opportunities and threats and giving some guidance regarding how the strengths of the organization can be used to capitalise/minimise them. You also need to point out the weaknesses and give a broad outline as to how they can be dealt with. Do not make specific recommendations or any reference to solutions!
Tips for completing the audit:
FIRST AND FOREMOST! ! IN ADDITION TO THE REQUIRED TEXT YOU NEED TO REFERENCE FOUR OTHER STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT TEXT BOOKS. YOU CANNOT COMPLETE THIS ASSIGNMENT BY ‘GOOGLING’ IT! STUDENTS WILL BE PENALISED IF REFERENCE MATERIAL IS SOURCED SOLELY OFF THE INTERNET!
- Refer to the texts chapters provided as well as any other source material and ensure you are familiar with the tools used for this assignment.
- If you state that something is the case about your chosen industry or organization you need to back it up with relevant authority – remember to reference it!
- Develop a programme for completing this assignment – you only get one opportunity as there are no extensions.
- Do not speculate! If you are unsure whether something is or isn’t the case then go find out and provide confirmation of your information, otherwise exclude it from your analysis.
- References to industry authority, texts, journals and industry publications are welcome if they are used to back up the assertions you make in your report. You need to start reading outside your regular targeted material and this evidence attracts marks.
The Learning Outcome/s being assessed through this assignment are drawn from the LOs for this course. They are the ability to:
- Critically analyse concepts and theories relevant to strategic management.
- Explain and evaluate the processes of strategy formulation, implementation and control.
- Apply appropriate methods of strategic analysis.
Your report must demonstrate your mastery of the theoretical material, and the ability to integrate information from different sources.
Specifications for your report
The total reportshould not exceed 2500 words (6-8 pages at 350 words per page). This quota excludes contents page, tables, figures, appendices, and title page, but includes the introduction and conclusion. Do not exceed the maximum length of 2500 words. Your ability to be concise yet informative is one of the criteria of assessment. Breaking the word limit will incur penalty.
Advice on writing your report
There are five stages.
- Write a plan
Using the structure shown above, you should be able to plot a plan in outline form.
- INDUSTRY: In the briefest way note down the main industry, key drivers andwhere the industry sits on the life-cycle.
- COMPETITORS: Note the main competitors in the industry.
- ORGANIZATION: Your analysis should show the influence that previous evaluations, i.e., industry and competitive analysis, have on the organization.
Following a broad plan will make it easier to write a draft. Write at least one or two drafts. Few people are good enough writers to be able to produce a well-structured report/essay in one sitting. Try to write as quickly as you can. Don’t think about sentence structure, grammar or spelling at this stage.
Take a break between writing the draft and writing the final version. This will allow you to disengage from your own writing and evaluate it critically. The things to look out for when revising your draft are:
- Has the question been answered?
- Are the central ideas clearly expressed and well supported by your main points?
- Is there a logical thought flow from beginning to end?
- Is it about the right length?
Before you write your final version there are some things you should check first.
- Does each paragraph have a topic sentence and a single subject?
- Does sentence length vary?
- Is your spelling correct?
- Have you avoided using sexist language?
- Have you used the first or third person correctly and consistently?
- Are your quotes or citations properly integrated into your work? Have you distinguished between your ideas and the ideas of other writers?
- Write final version
You are now ready to write a final version. It will need to be edited when you have finished. Check that you are within the word limit. Proofread your work for spelling errors, punctuation and readability.
Please check to make sure you have included the following important elements.
- Briefly details the context and subject of the report
- Defines the objectives of the report
- Outlines the scope of the investigation
- Indicates the broad conclusion reached by the report
- Comments on any limitation of the report and assumptions made.
- Explains your conclusions
- Presents evidence for your conclusions
- Has appropriate paragraphs with headings
- Cites any theoretical arguments which support your position.
- each paragraph relates to the topic
- ideas proceed logically
- terms which have a special meaning are defined
- statements are supported
- information comes from a range of different sources
- use someone else’s idea is acknowledged with reference (APA style)
- References in the text are in the List of References?
- an author’s name in the List of References is cited the report
- Relates to the objectives detailed in the introduction
- Is short but identifies major issues.
- Are in APA style
- Provide detailed information for specialised people
- Relate clearly to the report
- Are listed in the contents
- Are numbered and have a title.
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