Posted: September 2nd, 2015
Basing your arguments on the academic literature that you have studied for this unit, write a report on the ways three different organizations have been able to obtain sustained competitive advantage in their markets. Your report should discuss the following points about each of the three organizations:
1. Evidence that the organization has a sustained competitive advantage
2. Theoretical analysis of the reasons for the achievement of sustained competitive advantage.
Your discussion is to be based on three suitable published case studies. This means case studies published in the academic literature – for example, the series of case studies in the textbook or in equivalent textbooks. You may not use Yahoo! as one of the case studies and short articles in newspapers, magazines, website opinion pages and the like are definitely not acceptable, although such materials may be used to supplement the published case study and your analysis. All sources must be properly referenced. If in any doubt about the suitability of a case study, seek an early ruling from your tutor.
This is a substantial piece of scholarly work and will require extensive engagement with both unit theory and at least three detailed case studies.
1. Choose your three cases. They all need to be published cases in academic sources (e.g. textbooks, journal articles). It is obviously important that each case represents an instance of a company achieving sustained competitive advantage (check your materials to be clear about what that means).
2. Analyze and locate evidence. Begin to analyze each case in terms of the two questions – particularly question one. It is vital that you respond to both questions, but the evidence for sustained competitive advantage is more likely to be in the case material itself. It is in this part of the process that you might bring in supplemental material from company documents/websites, media analysis and so on. Be sure to reference all sources properly. You need to try and show clear and where possible objective evidence of sustained competitive advantage.
3. Analyze and explain. You need to move from the presentation of evidence for sustained competitive advantage to explaining how the company/organization was able to achieve that through its strategies. This part of the assignment requires you to consider any aspect of the strategy process and/or any aspect of the organizations’ strategics that you think has enabled them to sustain their competitive advantage. You will need to show that you understand relevant theories and concepts from the course and that you can apply them to an analysis and assessment of different companies’ strategic actions and performance. Consider using different models and theoretical perspectives (for example in relation to the readings for topic two) to make your analysis. For example, you might find that one successful organization has executed strategy by applying a rational positioning approach in a disciplined manner whereas another successful organization has executed a successful strategy by consistently exploiting valuable resources as suggested by the RBV. You may find an opportunity to critique various concepts and theoretical positions through seeing how they apply or don’t apply to your case organizations. Evidence that you understand and can use tools of strategic analysis will add value.
4. Compare and contrast. You have been examining the strategic performance of three different companies. It is likely that they will each have pursued somewhat different strategies, strategic actions and strategic processes. You should compare and contrast these differences. Make an effort to explain why the differences occurred and if possible assess the relative merits of them.
5. Write up. On completing your analysis, you obviously need to write it up. You should respond to this task in essay format, although headings and subheadings should be used to help readers understand the structure of your paper. A possible structure might be:
a. An introduction which both sets up the task and the rest of the essay, and introduces the core concepts that the task is designed to deal with – competitive advantage for example. You might also take this chance to scope the work – for example the time frame that will be used to assess competitive success for the case organizations.
b. Description of the three cases. Describe each case, each organization and the sources of your information.
c. Evidence of Sustained Competitive Advantage. Marshal all the evidence that you can that you think reveals that each organization has sustained competitive advantage.
d. Analysis and Explanation. Provide a detailed analysis of how each organization achieved its success in strategic terms.
e. Comparison. Compare and contrast the three cases and their pathways to success.
f. Conclusion. Summarize the key points and what can be learnt from the overall analysis.
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