This essay exam is open book/open note. You will have one week to answer four of the following six questions as thoroughly as possible. You have until midnight on October 27 to turn in your answers.
The length of the answers will vary. You will have to use your own best judgment. The information you add to your essays must be relevant to the question. Points will be deducted for answers that go too far beyond the scope of the question (in other words, please avoid padding your answers). Include enough basic information (such as definitions and explanations) that someone who is not a masters-level business student steeped in management jargon will be able to understand both your premise and your argument.
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Answer four of the following six questions as thoroughly as possible.
1. What are the key assumptions of the I/O model (and, by extension, Porter’s Five Forces model)? Are you comfortable with these assumptions? Is there one assumption that limits the applicability of the model to organizational competitiveness?
2. Michael Porter emphasizes the importance of trade-offs and choices in strategy – that what a company chooses to not do is as important as what a company chooses to do. Using one of the cases we’ve covered so far, discuss how the focal company in that case achieved competitive advantage through not doing certain activities practiced by industry incumbents.
3. Using either the Five Forces model or the Resource-Based View’s model explain why benchmarking and/or pursuing best practices may not be the best way to craft strategy.
4. Do you agree with Unilever’s push to integrate all of its disparate brands under one corporate-level brand? In corporate strategy we need to be aware of synergy – when strategic business units held by one corporation are worth more together when held by a corporation or more as the sum of individual businesses. Would unifying Unilever’s brands create marketing synergy? Why or why not?
5. Take one of the cases we’ve read so far and apply Dixit and Nalebuff’s mapping out of decision trees to the strategy you recommended for that case. Along with one focal competitor, take your tree out three steps from the situation at the end of the case through two additional strategic steps.
6. Apply Equilibrium Theory to one of the cases we’ve read so far. Is there a case where the totality of strategic choices two companies had made led to a potentially stable outcome?
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