NX0474 - Strategic Management for Competitive Advantage

What will I learn on this module?

This is a 40-credit core module running in the first semester of the MSc Business with programme and is developed for those of you who have little or no prior business and management subject experience. The aim of the module is to introduce you to the main business functions – Finance, Marketing, HRM, Operations – and show how each can contribute to the competitive advantage of a firm and hence enable the firm to achieve its strategic objectives. The content of the module comprises six key parts which are listed below.

Business Simulation
Introduction to the module; The Business Simulation – introduction, decision-making, group work and allocation of roles, group presentation – annual report to shareholders; Round-up to the Business Simulation and summative assessment guidance.

Developing a Business Plan; The Business Environment; The Competitive Environment; Organisational Objectives; Competitive Strategy; Functional Strategy; Strategic Capabilities; Responsible Decision-making; Evaluating Company Performance.

Financial Management
Cost behaviour and product costing; Cost classification and product costing; Pricing decisions and costing; Behavioural Aspects of Budgeting; Cash Budgeting; Integrated Performance Measures; Balanced Scorecard.

Operations Management
Role of Operations Management; Operations Strategy; Resource planning and capacity management; Quality Management; Global supply networks; JIT and Lean Management; Supplier selection and procurement; Benchmarking and Inventory Management.

Human Resources Management
Understanding HR and its contribution to Business Strategy; Human Resource Planning and Measures; Recruitment, Selection and Retention; Compensation and Benefits; Training and Development; Productivity and Performance Management; Employee Relations; Motivation and Employee Engagement.

Marketing Management
The Role of Marketing; Market Segmentation & Positioning; Buyer Behaviour/Consumer Behaviour; Pricing Strategy; Collecting Information and Forecasting Demand;
New Product Development; Channel Management and International Marketing; Integrated Marketing Communications.

How will I learn on this module?

Critical reflection on knowledge, experience and practice underpins the learning and teaching philosophy along with the explicit development of competence. This is key to your learning on the module. To put this in place, the module will be taught by lectures and seminars covering the key business functions and a business simulation exercise.

The module is supported by a teaching and learning plan, which outlines the formal sessions, together with the tutor-directed study and independent reading. An interactive approach to lecture sessions will draw upon the directed learning undertaken and your own experiences. Throughout, the emphasis will be on high levels of your participation, both individually and within small groups or teams. You can therefore expect the reflective-practitioner approach to learning to be embedded in all workshop/seminar sessions through undertaking activities which facilitate you to apply theory to ‘real-life’ situations, critically analysing and making recommendations for appropriate ways forward for the organization/individual.

Directed learning will centre upon a range of activities including pre-reading, preparation for interactive activities and use of the discussion board on the e-learning platform. Independent learning will centre upon you identifying and pursuing areas of interest in relation to the subject area or by providing deeper/broader knowledge and understanding of the subject through a range of learning activities that might include extended reading, reflection, research etc.

From the middle of the module until its end, you will work in teams running a start-up organisation which is new entrant into an existing market by means of a business simulation. The decisions made over a time-frame of four rounds (each representing one-year of operations) will draw upon the four key business functions aligned to the strategy set in place for their organisation.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Support will be provided to you by a member of academic staff leading the module and a set of subject experts leading the lecture inputs on Strategy and the four key business functions. A team of academic staff are facilitating the business simulation groups, which provides a closer, more personal academic support.

The eLP will house lecture and seminar materials relating to the module supported.. The module uses commercially developed business simulation software that permits you during the business simulation (game) to enter decisions via a PC either remotely or within the University, which can then be quickly processed on-line by the tutor so that you have timely access to the outcomes of your business decisions. The use of the software is fully supported by a comprehensive range of materials which are housed on the eLP for your reference.

You will be provided with a wide-ranging electronic reading list that comprises of various journal papers, conference papers and text books that cover Business Strategy and the four key business functions of finance, marketing, operations and HRM,.

The module assessment consists of several inter-related tasks which will be distributed throughout your teaching semester. This will encourage your active participation in the learning process throughout the semester. The eLearning portal will be used to permanently host these tasks after release to ensure that you can access the information required at all times. Your work on these tasks will be the pre-work for a 2-hour open notes examination at the end of the module.

The module will be assessed by three assignments. One assignment is group based and two are individually based. The group assignment is based on an initial business plan for the company, with the substantive individual report being a critical evaluation of company performance and associated decision making. The final individual assignment assesses issues relating to sustainability, CSR and ethical policies for an organisation selected by you based on secondary research. The group assessment is included for three reasons. Firstly, the role of the assessment is to ensure the teams in the business simulation are readily prepared for the exercise and have fully considered the necessary aspects of decision-making in an integrated way. The second reason for its inclusion is to provide you with early feedback on their understanding of the module content and expectations of the group exercise and thirdly, to ensure the teams allocated to the business simulation exercise can work responsibly together to provide tangible outputs.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• Understand the and critically evaluate the wider impact of individual or organisational decision making on social and environmental contexts. [MLO1]
• Acquire, interpret and critically apply knowledge of international business, management and organisational functions. [MLO2]

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• Demonstrate their ability to work in diverse groups and teams. [MLO3]

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

How will I be assessed?

The module will be assessed by three assignments. One assignment is group based and two are individually based.

Assignment A (20%)
Group assignment (1,500 words, 20% weighting): each team will submit an outline business plan for their company. This will assess MLO2 and MLO3.

Assignment B (60%)
Individual assignment: (5,000 words, 60% weighting): a critical evaluation of the performance of the company including the extent to which the company achieved the strategic objectives set out in the business plan, thus integrating the strategic management aspect of the module with each of the key business functions together with an evaluation of the effectiveness of decision-making in the team. This will assess MLO1, MLO2 and MLO3.

Assignment C (20%)
Individual Assignment: (1,500 words, 20% weighting): a critical evaluation of the sustainability, CSR and ethical policies of one of the major automobile manufacturers. This will address MLO1.





Module abstract

You will learn about the role of the four key business functions - Finance, Marketing, HRM, Operations throughout the course of the module, alongside the development of an understanding of the overarching principles of setting and executing an organisational strategy. The latter will consist of developing a business plan, assessing the business and competitive environment, defining and evaluating competitive strategy. Within the setting of these strategic objectives, you will understand how the associated responsible decision making will impact on both internal and external stakeholders, and by doing so, will gain an understanding of the concept of responsible decision making, as well as being able to assess and risk evaluate innovation and measure company performance.

From the middle of the module until its end, you will work in teams running a start-up organisation which is new entrant into an existing market by means of a business simulation. The decisions made over a time-frame of four rounds (each representing one-year of operations) will draw upon the four key business functions aligned to the strategy set in place for your organisation.

Course info

Credits 40

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years full-time (with study abroad in second year)

Department Newcastle Business School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Fee Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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