Case Study Background & Questions
Read carefully the case information on Google which is contained in the following two sources:
Johnson G, Whittington R, & Scholes K (2011) Exploring Strategy, 9th edition, FT Prentice Hall, Chapter 12 Strategic Development Processes, page 426-428: Google: who drives the strategy? (digitised copy available online) http://globalonline.napier.ac.uk/mediastore/enu/lsdm/pdf/ft-johnson-bk12.pdf
2. Grant R (2013) Contemporary Strategy Analysis, 8th edition, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Case Study 20 available online: Google Inc.: Whatâ€™s the Corporate Strategy? (Available here: Grant Case 20: Google)
Both sources cover the strategic development of Google from start-up, to stock market listing (IPO), to market dominance in internet search. Source 2 finishes in early 2012 and updates developments beyond the end date of source 1 (2010). For example, we see in source 2 how Larry Page, one of the founders, replaces Eric Schmidt as CEO in 2011. Schmidt took up the post of Chairman of the company and would continue to act as an advisor to the founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Both sources provide insights into the leadership and management practices within Google. Source 1 places more emphasis on how this approach affects the strategic decision-making process, whereas source 2 explores the content of its strategy, questioning its corporate level strategy and how it relates to its strategic direction and mission.
Part A of your coursework assessment requires you to answer two questions:
As a strategy consultant to Googleâ€™s triumvirate, advise them on the relevance of its current mission and its effectiveness in achieving a â€œsense of missionâ€ (Campbell & Yeung, 1998). Based on your critical assessment, please suggest what changes, if any, you would recommend to the Google executives.
Evaluate Googleâ€™s strategic-decision making process and its significance for developing innovation capabilities, taking into account the choices and key actions of its strategic leadership which support the capability development process.
Both questions are equally weighed and you should review how grading is allocated in the Coursework Feedback Sheet on page 4.
Presentation and Submission Date
The assessment in Part A is a case analysis and you should note that case analysis is not a conceptual explanation or discussion but the application of concepts and frameworks to interpret the case information, analyse key events and statements, and reach evaluative judgements. The concepts and frameworks are covered in the workshops and prescribed reading and the guidance below gives you a few pointers on how you need to use this knowledge to answer the questions. In developing your analysis and arguments, you should use supporting evidence from the information contained in the case studies.
Your answers must only be derived from the information on Google contained in the two case study sources listed above. You are not required to consult other sources on Google or go beyond the end date of the second case study. The reason for this is that your analysis and evaluation is being assessed at this point in the organisationâ€™s development and not in the light of subsequent events. As a result you should not include references on Google from the internet or other sources.
In terms of presentation, introduce each question indicating how you will structure your answer and conclude each answer with reference to your preceding arguments and the task required by the question. Do not present your answer in rigid report format but you may wish to divide your answer into sections which reflect the major elements of your analysis. The combined word count of your answers to both questions must comply with the following guidance:
Minimum Length: 2000 words
Maximum Length: 2500 words
Submission deadline: Friday 1st May 2015, 11.59pm (UK time)
You need to use this cover sheet for your assignment.
The word limit excludes appendices and bibliography. Where a submission exceeds the stated word limit the maximum grade awarded will be P1. Appendices can be useful to provide additional information from your analysis but you must incorporate the key analytical arguments into the main body of your answer.
The assessment feedback sheet at the end of this section gives the marking criteria for the overall case analysis. Remember, in writing your solution to the questions you must not describe what the case says but use the concepts to analyse the information and use the evidence/facts in the case to support your analysis.
Question 1 asks you take the role of a Strategy Consultant working for Google and
discuss the mission and leadership approach at Google in order to evaluate how it achieves a sense of mission. You need to evaluate Googleâ€™s mission based on the companyâ€™s recent expansions and strategic developments, express and justify your opinion on its relevance.
To answer the question you are advised to use the Ashridge Sense of Mission model which is part of your prescribed reading for unit 2. The elements of strategic leadership and the differences between transactional and transformational approaches are included in the readings and you should be able to relate these to the innovative context at Google.
Specifically you should apply and discuss the four elements of mission (Ashridge model) to Google. When considering purpose and strategy, you should evaluate the issues raised in case source 2 on questions surrounding Googleâ€™s corporate level strategy and â€œidentityâ€. In doing this avoid being overly descriptive of the content of Googleâ€™s strategy as you will soon exceed the word limit. Attempt to develop arguments and, if necessary, include supporting details in appendices. You must also address the central issue in the question of how the fifth element, a sense of mission, is achieved through the alignment of the employeesâ€™ personal values with those of the organisation. In doing this, consider the role played by the leadership and management approach at Google to integrate the elements of mission, especially the behavioural standards and values of the organisation, with those of the employee.
To answer question 2 you will draw on your learning on strategic decision-making and your prescribed reading from Johnson et al, chapter 12. You will need to examine the leadership of the company based on both cases and how decisions are taken then relate these to the major approaches, especially planned and incremental, to develop arguments and reach conclusions on how strategic decision-making is practised in Google by its strategic leadership in the development process of innovation capabilities. Once you have identified its approach with supporting evidence, you should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this approach as part of your critical assessment.
Coursework Assessment Feedback
Date of Submission:
Part A: Google Case Study
Presentation of analysis, use of appropriate concepts, and depth of understanding of the issues raised in the case. (10%)
Critical assessment of Googleâ€™s mission and how it achieves a sense of mission with recommendations for change. (35%)
Evaluation of Googleâ€™s approach to strategic decision-making in developing innovation capabilities drawing on key actions and choices of its strategic leadership. (35%)
Ability to reach coherent and logical arguments from the analysis, supported by case evidence. (20%)
(F1 â€“ F5)
Marginal Pass (P1)
N.B. the percentages are shown as indications of the relative importance of each section and should not be taken as a precise indication of the marking scheme.