Applied Corporate Strategy Assessment: Strategic Analysis Report

Applied Corporate Strategy Assessment: Strategic Analysis Report

The module is assessed (100%) by an individual Strategic Report (maximum 3,000 words) involving an in-depth, strategic analysis of a large organisation. The subject of the report will be decided by the module convenor but students will be able to choose from a list of several examples.

 

Instructions for assessment

This assignment is focused on the selected organisation, its industry and business environment. By week 2 you will be given a list of organisations (cases) to choose from. Please choose one case (featuring an organisation) for the purposes of this assignment.

Formative work in weekly seminars will guide students through analytical techniques and processes required to complete the task.

The Strategic Report should address the following:

 1) Carry out external analysis (business environment and industry) to identify a set of Opportunities and Threats and assess industry attractiveness. (30%)

2) Analyse the resources and key competences of the organisation to identify a set of Strengths and Weaknesses and identify core competences (key factors that may give the company its competitive advantage). (30%)

3) Evaluate the given strategy(as per chosen case)using SAFe criteria. (30%)

A further 10% is available for clarity, structure, grammar, correct Harvard referencing and overall professional presentation showing clear report style.      

Please note that the emphasis is on application! This assignment is not about general (or critical) discussion of strategic models. You are asked to apply these models to the case chosen. Appropriately referenced data should be used in support of your arguments and discussion.

The report should not exceed 3,000 words + 10%.  Appendices are allowed outside this limit but NO MORE than 6 pages.

How will we support you with your assessment?

There will be weekly references to the assessment task in seminars and weekly activities in those seminars will be helpful in creating “scaffolding” for eventual submission.

The formative mini-casework in seminars will be of direct help in the application of relevant strategic tools. There will be regular Q&A sessions linked to the assessment report and in the final weeks of teaching there will be an opportunity to review and reflect upon work from previous cohorts.

How will your work be assessed?

Your work will be assessed by a subject expert who will use the marking scheme indicated below.  Feedback will be given in the Turnitin/Grademark system with script comments plus overall points. When you access your marked work it is important that you reflect on the feedback so that you can use it to improve future assignments.

In this Strategic Report, high marks come from using strategic concepts and analysis from the module clearly applied to the organisation. Harvard referencing, a professional report style plus appropriate diagrams/tables are also required. Outline marking expectations are as follows:   

Q1: (30%) External analysis.

Discuss the business environment and identify a number of Opportunities – Os and Threats – Ts (we expect 6 issues from business environment to be discussed in total each of which concluded as an O or a T). Please note that there is no need to address each factor (if for example there are no important legal or technological issues do not discuss these factors). Your task is to identify and discuss 6 most important issues in your opinion. Demonstrate how an issue is an Opportunity or a Threat.

Industry analysis (5 Forces) should be applied to assess industry attractiveness (each force should be discussed and assessed as High, Moderate or Low and industry attractiveness should be assessed having these forces in mind).

Please make sure that you use appropriately referenced data (charts, figures, quotes etc) to support your arguments. Also, note that this is an external analysis so it is not about the firm but about issues in that industry (in context).

Q2: (30%) Internal analysis.

Identify and discuss organisation’s unique resources & distinctive capabilities (at least 6 Strengths and Weaknesses should be covered in total). Discuss resources (what a company has) and competences (activities) separately.

While addressing unique resources (physical – e.g. retail outlets, manufacturing facilities, products etc.; human – e.g. people and teams crucial for successful strategic development; intangible – e.g. brands, links to external stakeholders etc. and possibly financial) make sure that each is discussed separately and concluded as an S or a W.

While discussing distinctive competences construct Value Chain for the organisation and within list a number of specific and distinctive activities for your organisation. Demonstrate how unique capabilities link to competitive advantage (each distinctive competence from Value Chain should be “pushed” through VRIO to identify Core Competences for the organisation). Once you identify one (or two at most) core competence provide a discussion about these below Value Chain or VRIO (what is the activity and how does it contribute to firm’s competitive advantage). Note that all competences listed n value chain (and VRIO) should be company’s Strengths (Weaknesses could be discussed in a descriptive fashion separately). Again, use properly referenced data to support your arguments. This question is about the company (internal analysis).

Q3: (30%) Strategy Evaluation

Evaluate the given strategy – please see “Cases for the assignment” on moodle) using the three SAFe tests:

Construct TOWS populating Os, Ts, Ss and Ws fully (all Os and Ts obtained from Q1, all Ss and Ws obtained from Q2). Place the strategy you are evaluating in one of the inner sections and try to associate it to one or more internal and one or more external items while addressing Suitability (e.g. if you place a strategy in S-O quadrant identify appropriate S or Ss combined with O or Os while contemplating this strategy).

Construct Power/Interest matrix with a number of relevant stakeholders, then choose two stakeholder groups that will be affected with the strategy and for each discuss if the strategy you are evaluating is acceptable not and why.

While addressing Feasibility, comment on financial resources and skills required for implementation of the strategy being evaluated.

Note that it is a specific strategy that is evaluated!  

PRESENTATION: (10%) We expect a professional report with clear report style (not an essay) e.g. frontsheet, contents, clear sections, tables & diagrams and relevant Harvard referencing. The word count should not be exceeded by more than 10%.

(In addition to marker feedback, a full marking rubric will be available within the Turnitin submission system for student consideration.) 

Marking and feedback process

Between you handing in your work and then receiving your feedback and marks, there are a number of quality assurance processes that we go through to ensure that students receive marks which reflects their work. A brief summary is provided below:

  • Step 1 – The module and marking team meet to agree standards, expectations and how feedback will be provided.
  • Step 2 – A subject expert will mark your work using the criteria provided in the assessment brief.
  • Step 3 – A moderation meeting takes place where all members of the teaching and marking team will review the marking of others to confirm whether they agree with the mark and feedback.
  • Step 4 – Work at Levels 5 and 6 then goes to an external examiner who will review a sample of work to confirm that the marking between different staff is consistent and fair.
  • Step 5 – The Office process your mark & feedback & it is made available to you.

Marking Grid

Applied Corporate Strategy10085 (80-89)75 (70-79)65 (60-69)55 (50-59)45 (40-49)35 (30-39)25 (20-29)0
External analysis (30)Work of outstanding quality. All appropriate models correctly applied and an in-depth discussion provided. Outstanding conclusion clearly linked to the analysis. Outstanding use of data in support of arguments.High quality work. Most appropriate models correctly applied and an excellent discussion provided. Excellent conclusion well linked to the analysis. Excellent use of appropriate data. Most data was properly referenced.Quality work. A number of appropriate models applied reasonably well and a very good discussion provided. Very good conclusion linked to the analysis. Very good choice of data from generally reliable sources.Sound work. A number of appropriate models applied reasonably well and a good discussion provided. Good conclusion reasonably well linked to the analysis. Good choice of reasonably appropriate data from reliable sources.Fair work. Some appropriate models applied reasonably well and a satisfactory discussion provided. Satisfactory conclusion. An attempt made to link it to the analysis. Some use of data but more data or more reliable data (from better sources) would have been better.Basic work. Some appropriate models applied (not clearly understood). Adequate discussion provided. Adequate conclusion. Limited linkages to the analysis made. Sufficient data used to support arguments but much more data (or data from better sources) required for a better mark.Inadequate work. Very few appropriate models applied (most of them misunderstood). Inadequate discussion provided. Inadequate conclusion. Very limited or no linkages to the analysis made. Little data used to support arguments. Much more reliable and properly referenced data from reliable sources required for a better mark.Poor work. Some useful elements but overall a rather poor analysis carried out. Poor discussion provided. Poor conclusion. Some useful elements but largely no linkages to the analysis provided. Very little or no data used to support arguments.No attempt to include any relevant material.
Internal analysis (30)Work of outstanding quality that is fluent, extremely well structured and question focussed. The organisation’s resources clearly analysed and well discussed with unique capabilities identified and analysed using Value Chain, VRIN and other tools. Outstanding use of data in support of arguments. Overall an outstanding demonstration of knowledge and analysis.High quality work. Resources clearly analysed using Grant with unique capabilities identified and analysed using Value Chain, VRIN and possibly other tools. Extensive use of data in support of arguments. Overall a complete demonstration of knowledge and analysis.Quality work. Resources well analysed with unique capabilities identified and analysed using Value Chain and possibly VRIN and other tools. A very good use of data in support of arguments. Overall a focussed and robust analysis.Sound work. Resources fairly well analysed with unique capabilities identified. Value Chain and other tools possibly used. Overall a sound section.Fair work. Resources basically analysed with a patchy attempt to identify unique capabilities. Value Chain and other tools possibly missing. Overall a fair section.Basic work. Resources basically analysed with some attempt to identify unique capabilities but lacking Value Chain or other tools. Limited use of data in support of arguments. Overall only a basic section.Inadequate work. Resources weakly analysed and only a poor attempt to identify unique capabilities. There is no application of Value chain or other tools. Rather limited (or missing) use of data in support of arguments. Overall a weak section.Obviously poor work. Resources superficial plus a poor attempt to identify unique capabilities. No depth of knowledge or analysis. Poor or missing use of data in support of arguments. Overall an obviously failing section.No attempt to include any relevant material.
Evaluation (30)Work of outstanding quality that is fluent, extremely well structured and question focussed. There is an outstanding discussion about how the evaluated strategy addresses strategic position discussed earlier and affects key stakeholders. Strong links between evaluated strategy and the business environment and industry clearly established while addressing suitability. Key stakeholders identified with the Power/Interest matrix or similar and their needs and reactions to the evaluated strategy clearly discussed while addressing acceptability. The feasibility test justifies the strategy from the perspective of resources and competences (capabilities). The tests are used with outstanding knowledge and insightful discussion.High quality work with an excellent discussion about how strategy addresses strategic position discussed earlier and affects key stakeholders. Sound links between evaluated strategy and the business environment and possibly industry clearly established while addressing suitability. The acceptability test identifies key stakeholders and discusses their reactions to the evaluated strategy. The feasibility test justifies the strategy from the perspective of resources and competences. Strong knowledge demonstrated while using these tests.Quality work with a sound analysis/discussion. Links between evaluated strategy and the business environment and possibly industry clearly established while addressing suitability. The acceptability test identifies key stakeholders and some of their reactions. The feasibility test covers the strategy from the perspective of resources and competences. Sound knowledge demonstrated while using these tests.Sound work with a fair analysis. Some links between evaluated strategy and the business environment and possibly industry established while addressing suitability. The acceptability test identifies key stakeholders but the discussion about their reactions to the evaluated strategy is limited. The feasibility test shows some grasp of resources and competences in relation to the evaluated strategy. The tests are used with reasonably sound knowledge.Fair work with a reasonable analysis. Limited links between evaluated strategy and the business environment established while addressing suitability. The acceptability test identifies key stakeholders without their reactions to the evaluated strategy. The feasibility test shows only a fair grasp of resources and competences in relation to the evaluated strategy. The tests are used with reasonable knowledge.Basic work with only a superficial grasp of analysis. Rather limited links between evaluated strategy and the business environment established while addressing suitability. The acceptability test identifies key stakeholders without much discussion about their needs or reactions. The feasibility test shows only a very fair grasp of resources and competences in relation to the evaluated strategy. The tests are used with some knowledge.Inadequate work with a poor grasp of analysis. The suitability test is not linked to the environment. The acceptability test identifies key stakeholders only and the feasibility test is probably not understood. The tests are used with little knowledge.Obviously poor work with no grasp of the 3 tests. Suitability, Acceptability and Feasibility are not understood.No attempt to include any relevant material.
Presentation and layout (10)Outstanding presentation reflecting professional norms. Outstanding, clear, concise English with faultless grammar and spelling.Excellent presentation reflecting professional norms. Excellent, clear, concise English with faultless grammar and spelling.Very good presentation reflecting professional norms. Very good, clear, concise English with almost faultless grammar and spelling.Good presentation reflecting professional norms. Good, clear, concise English, possibly with an occasional spelling mistake.Satisfactory presentation reflecting professional norms. Satisfactory English with a few spelling or minor grammatical mistakes.Presentation which adequately reflects professional norms. Reasonable English but containing mistakes in grammar and spelling.Presentation which displays little more than cursory to professional norms. Understandable, but containing many mistakes in grammar and spelling.Difficult to understand in places. Containing many mistakes in grammar and spelling.Poor presentation.