MBA Course Download/ Summary
To download MBA course tasters please click here.
Why do consumers purchase one product rather than another? You have to confront the issue of why consumers would purchase your product rather than a competitors'. Factors such as market positioning, branding, consumer loyalty and segmentation determine the success or failure of products in highly competitive markets. Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to manage products successfully in competitive markets. The marketing process involves market analysis and the development and implementation of a marketing programme. To be a successful marketer you need to understand not only the factors, which influence buying behaviour but be able to bring products to market in an effective manner.
It is often wrongly concluded that economics is irrelevant to running a business. In fact, economic factors affect businesses and decision making at three levels. At the macro level, factors such as the business cycle, interest rates and exchange rates directly affect product demand and cost of production. At the market level, the type of competition determines profitability and business strategy. At the company level, efficiency principles have a direct bearing on business success, principles such as marginal analysis, opportunity cost and profit maximisation. If you ignore economic principles, you will be unable to figure out likely changes in market conditions, you will be unable to understand competitive forces and you will have little idea of how to allocate resources efficiently.
We all work in organisations and hence probably think we know a lot about them. But in fact most of us are unaware of the factors affecting the organisation we think we are familiar with. The effectiveness of an organisation is dependent on the motivation and behaviour of the workforce. But an organisation is a continually changing entity as it reacts to ongoing changes in the competitive environment. To capitalise on the capabilities of the workforce and develop an adaptive organisation it is necessary to provide appropriate incentives, develop effective teams, design an attractive job environment and manage the dynamics of organisational change. One of the major outcomes of understanding the principles of organisational behaviour is a higher degree of self realisation of how we relate to other members of the organisation.
Human Resource Management
Human resource management (HRM) is concerned with the effective management and utilisation of human resources in organisations. For most organisations, human resources are their greatest assets and their optimal utilisation is the key to competitive advantage in today's increasingly harsh economic environment. Moreover, because effective HRM is now so crucial for success, many organisations now regard it as the responsibility of all managers, not just specialists in personnel management. By the end of this course, you will understand HRM from a strategic perspective and an operational perspective. Strategically, HRM policies and activities are designed to support and reinforce more general business strategies and objectives. Operationally, HRM is concerned with the design and implementation of procedures to optimise the day-to-day management of people in organisations.
Implementing organisational change can be visualised as a project with time, cost and quality trade-offs. Project management tools and techniques are essential in keeping change processes on track. If you don't realise that organisational processes are actually projects, you may get nasty surprises when things turn out unexpectedly. Rigorous project management techniques will not solve all problems but they do clarify the process of achieving the project's goals.
The major problem facing chief executives is to make sense of a spectrum of information and apply appropriate tools and techniques in driving an organisation through a complex and continually changing competitive environment. The complexity of real life can be structured as a process involving objective setting, analysing competitive positioning, choosing a strategy, implementing it and adapting to feedback over time. Clearly all of these steps are crucial and organisations succeed or fail depending on the robustness of their strategic processes. This means that there are no easy answers to strategic problems and the solutions offered by business gurus can be seen for what they are: popular appeals to intuition which are largely devoid of any conceptual or empirical basis. Strategic planning is above all about thinking effectively and using the strategic process approach requires a sound understanding of other disciplines.
This elective is about strategic choices. It looks at alternative directions (e.g. vertical moves, new markets and technologies, international expansion) and alternative means for pursuing these directions (e.g. internal expansion, acquisition, alliance). Competitive strategy develops a set of analytical approaches and tools to help formulate and evaluate these strategies topic by topic. It aims to provide a unified and integrated framework to assist strategy formulation.
What do profit and loss accounts and balance sheets tell you? They are valuable sources of insight into the financial strength of competitors but you have to know what you are looking for; in fact, many managers are unaware of the financial position of their own organisations. How much should you charge for your products? To decide this you have to know how much they cost and this is notoriously difficult to determine. An understanding of financial and management accounting techniques, and their strengths and weaknesses, is essential for effective decision making.
Different investment projects generate different cash flows and different levels of risk. The problem is that choices have to be made among competing uses for funds because businesses typically face constraints on the availability of capital. Financial tools make it possible to reduce a bewildering array of cash flows spread over a variety of time periods to a single set of numbers: the net present values. These tools enable the efficiency principles of economics to be applied in a rigorous manner. Financial concepts also provide the link between company operations and capital markets: it is impossible to understand the behaviour of the stock market without a grasp of the principles of financial analysis, quality trade-offs to be made and project management tools and techniques are essential in keeping change processes on track. The fact is that most managers are unaware that many of the dynamic processes at work in the organisation are actually projects and are therefore subject to many nasty surprises when things do not turn out as they expected; the application of rigorous project management techniques will not solve all problems but they will clarify the process of achieving what you set out to achieve.