Strategic Management for Competitive Advantage
You will participate in a business simulation exercise (“Business Game”) based on the European Car Industry. The purpose of the exercise is to give you the opportunity to use the learning from the four functional areas (marketing, finance, human resources and operations management) to simulate the setting up and running of a business which is competing for market share.
In Week 5, you will attend an introductory lecture which will explain the objectives of the simulation and the process for making decisions. In the seminars, which begin in Week 6, you will be divided into teams of 5-6 students. Each team has to set up a car manufacturing company, design two cars and sell these to the market. The teams within each seminar group will compete with one another for market share. The objective for each team is to maximise the shareholder value of their company at the end of four decision rounds – Week 11.
Information on the market together with cost data will be posted on Bb in Week 5. Each team should read this information carefully and use it to establish a business strategy. In Weeks 7 to11 the teams will make a set of decisions each week to be submitted online. The results, in the form of computer-generated reports, will be available online later in the week.
The Business Game seminars in Weeks 7-10 will take the form of shareholder meetings. Each team will make a short presentation reviewing the performance of their company in the previous round and identifying key areas where the performance and management of the business can be improved.
In order to complete the assessment detailed below, it is essential that each student keeps a detailed record of the team meetings, the decisions made, the rationale for these decisions and their own role as a member of the team. Non-attendance at seminars will be penalised.
Each team will submit a group report on the Round 1 decisions with the following sections:
- Peer assessment form with the names and signatures of all team members (see final page of this brief). [10%]
- The team’s business plan for Round 1 (word limit 1,500 words) as follows: [60%]
- Mission statement – what is the purpose of your company?
- Business Objectives – measurable targets for the end of Round 4 (e.g. market share)
- Chosen market segments with brief descriptions of target customers and your marketing strategy
- Your competitive strategy – why will people buy your cars rather than those from other companies?
- The rationale underlying the choices of designs, options and R&D
- The rationale for the prices charged for each car
- The rationale for production/HRM decisions such as investment in automation
- An appendix containing minutes of the team meetings that took place up to the submission of the Round 1 Decision. These should show attendance, topics discussed, an outline of the team discussion of each topic, the decisions made (and how they were made) and actions agreed. As a guide, each meeting is likely to require at least one full A4 page. [30%]
Assignment B (60% of module mark)
Each student will submit an individual report (word limit 5,000 words). This report will consist of the following sections laid out EXACTLY as follows:
- Front page, with your name, ID, Seminar Group number, Team number and word count.
- Contents (with page numbers)
- Introduction: A brief (maximum 50 words) statement of the business objectives (from Assignment A) and a brief (maximum 100 words) summary of the company performance during the game and how far you succeeded in meeting the business objectives; a table showing total sales, total unsold stock, shareholder funds, closing bank balance and outstanding loan at the end of each of the four rounds. These figures should be in £m, to the nearest £1 million.
- Company Performance: A clear analysis and explanation (2000 words) of what happened during the game supported by graphs/tables of key financial and non-financial data for the company. [45%]
Guidance: It is important to show that you now fully understand what happened during the game – even if you didn’t understand during the game. To so do, you MUST start with the Round 1 forecast of key performance measures (KPMs), compare the Round 1 results with the forecast, explain the differences in detail, and the key issues that arose. Go on to explain the rationale for the Round 2 decisions, what these were, then present the Round 2 forecast. Follow this approach for all four rounds. You should then comment on the trends in KPMs over the game. The KPMs should include as a minimum production, sales, gross margin, unsold stock, post-tax profit, net cash position and market share. It is suggested that you discuss suitable KPMs with the tutors for each of the four functional areas. Effective comparisons with competitors (where possible) will earn additional marks.
5. Learning: A critical reflection (2000 words) on how the team used the financial, marketing, operations and human resources management material taught during the semester to make responsible business decisions affecting at least one stakeholder group internal to the organisation and at least one stakeholder group external to the organisation. [45%]
Guidance: For each of the decisions, explain how you made the decisions during the game. Looking back, discuss how you could have made better decisions by making better use of the material taught during the semester, particularly how the functions integrate and how the decisions act in the best interest of the individuals, groups or organisations affected.
Include citations within the text to refer to relevant readings covered in class.
6. Conclusion: An evaluation (150 words) of the extent to which your organisation met the key strategic objectives set out in part 3 above, with an indication for the reasons these objectives were fully met, partially met or not met at all.
7. Team Performance: A critical evaluation (700 words) of the performance of the team and a personal reflection on your role in the team [10%].
Guidance: Discuss, for example, the organisation of the team, the effectiveness of the decision-making process, and the roles played by individuals including leadership. How effective was your contribution to the team? What did you learn from the game about effective teamwork and decision making? What would you do differently if you played the game again? It is important to go beyond simply “telling a story” and to make use of relevant material from the Semester 2 Residential and the Developing Self module. Make use of the meeting logs that you kept during the game. Do not talk about the specific areas of contribution, e.g. how you made financial or marketing decisions, but how you developed as a team member and how you would approach a similar exercise differently should such an opportunity arise.
8. References: Remember that all sources cited in the assignment should appear in the reference list.
9. Appendices (not more than 6 pages). These should be used for supporting data and can include tables and graphs. However, Section 4 should include graphs of key data to support the explanation of performance. Key graphs and tables should appear in the body of your work.
Assignment C (20% of module mark)
Provide an individual (1500 words) critical evaluation of the organization sustainability and CSR, alongside the financial performance of a major international corporation of your choice.
Guidance: Refer to the lectures provided in the Strategy component of the module where you covered responsible decision making, considering areas such as the concept of the triple bottom line, expectation of the chosen organisation in terms of CSR and how these decisions are underpinned in terms of an organizational sustainability agenda. You should also consider how the company executes its Corporate Governance. In terms of financial performance, consider the key financial statements provided by the organisations and consider these in absolute terms alongside the use of a manageable number of financial ratios.
References: Remember that all sources cited in the assignment should appear in the reference list.
When submitting Assignments B and C, submit as two separate pieces of work.
Marks will be deducted for reports that do not conform to the structure above and which fall below the presentation and writing standards expected for a professional report.
Submission of Assessment:
Both assignments should conform to the following specification:
- Word-processed in Arial 11pt, 1½ spacing
- Each section should start on a new page
- Pages should be numbered
- Assignments B and C should be submitted as two separate documents.
All three assignments must be submitted online via the Turn-it-in submission link found in the ‘Assessment’ tab on the left hand menu of the module’s dedicated blackboard site. You should include the Seminar Group number and Team number on the form.
Word limits and penalties for assignments
If the assignment is within +10% of the stated word limit no penalty will apply.
The word count is to be declared on the front page of your assignment. The word count does not include:
|· Title and Contents page||· Reference list||· Appendices||· Appropriate tables, figures and illustrations|
|· Glossary||· Bibliography||· Quotes from interviews and focus groups.|
Please note, in text citations [e.g. (Smith, 2011)] and direct secondary quotations [e.g. “dib-dab nonsense analysis” (Smith, 2011 p.123)] are INCLUDED in the word count.
If this word count is falsified, students are reminded that under ARNA page 30 Section 3.4 this will be regarded as academic misconduct.
If the word limit of the full assignment exceeds the +10% limit, 10% of the mark provisionally awarded to the assignment will be deducted. For example: if the assignment is worth 70 marks but is above the word limit by more than 10%, a penalty of 7 marks will be imposed, giving a final mark of 63.