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LD0474 Strategic Management for Competitive Advantage

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Question:

You will participate in a business simulation exercise (“Business Simulation”) 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 Busines Simulation seminars, 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.

Information on the market together with cost data will be posted on Blackboard in Week 5.  Each team should read this information carefully and use it to establish a business strategy.  On 20 and 27 Nov 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.

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.  

Assignment A (20% of module mark)

Each team will submit a group report on the Round 1 decisions with the following sections:

1.Peer assessment form with the names and signatures of all team members (see final page of this brief).  [10%]

2.The team’s business plan for Round 1 (word limit 1,500 words) as follows: [60%]

a.Mission statement – what is the purpose of your company?

b.Business Objectives – measurable targets for the end of Round 4 (e.g. market share)

c.Chosen market segments with brief descriptions of target customers and your marketing strategy

d.Your competitive strategy – why will people buy your cars rather than those from other companies?

e.The rationale underlying the choices of designs, options and R&D

f.The rationale for the prices charged for each car

g.The rationale for production/HRM decisions such as investment in automation

3.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:

1.Front page, with your name, ID, Seminar Group number, Team number and word count.

2.Contents (with page numbers)

3.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.

4.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%].

This assessment will contribute directly to the following Postgraduate programme goals and objectives.

Goal One: To develop the skills necessary for employment and career progression

1. Demonstrate awareness of personal strengths and weaknesses and the ability to engage in continuing self-development.

2. Demonstrate the development of inter-personal and intra-personal skills.

3. Demonstrate competence in contemporary analytical and ICT applications.

Goal Two: Be culturally and ethically aware

1. Demonstrate their ability to work in culturally diverse groups and teams and make appropriate and personal contribution to team effectiveness.

2. Reflect on their own ethical values.

3. Understand the wider impact of individual or organisational decision making on social and environmental contexts.

Goal Three: Have developed leadership and management capability

1. Analyse and communicate complex issues effectively.

2. Demonstrate decision making, problem solving and project management skills.

Goal Four: Have developed and applied knowledge of international business and management theory

1. Acquire, interpret and apply knowledge of international business, management and organisational functions.

2. Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of innovative and contemporary research on the business and management community.

3. Acquire, interpret and apply specialist functional knowledge in relation to their programme of study (specialist programmes only).

Goal Five: Have developed a range of research skills and project capabilities

1. Plan and complete a major piece of research or project on a contemporary business, financial, management or leadership topic.

2. Demonstrate skills of analysis and synthesis in the application of research methods to the exploration of contemporary business and management issues.

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