Individual Paper (20%)
Task: For the organization where you work (or an alternative approved by your professor), apply Barney and Hesterly’s (2015) ideas about strategy and their VRIO framework to identify the key internal factors that are likely to have implications for enterprise performance and strategic goal accomplishment. In Week One you looked at your organization’s mission, vision, values and key objectives and began the process of evaluating strategic alignment. Now you will take this a step further and examine more systematically the resources, capabilities, systems and processes, and other internal factors that are important for successful strategy implementation. Later in the semester, (in week 7) you will have another opportunity to apply what you have learned to your own situation but your focus will then be on external factors and forces and their implications for both your industry and your organization.
For this week 5 paper, submit your work in your assignment folder in the form of a 2,500 word (approximate) double-spaced APA formatted report. The title page, abstract, reference list, and appendices are not included in this word count. (Note: Supplementary information should be placed in Appendices rather than in the body of the paper.)
Scenario: To tackle this week’s assignment, assume you are in the role of an internal consultant who is able to couple your knowledge about strategy with the excellent research and analytical skills needed to fill any gaps. Imagine your boss, who knows you are taking this course and are almost finished your graduate management degree program, has asked you to put together a report that will help the executive team gain a richer understanding of the organization’s resources and capabilities and the extent to which these might be leveraged for competitive advantage. During this conversation your boss says, “The things you have been telling me about strategy and this VRIO framework have made me look at things differently and make me want to learn more about where we stand with respect to the value, rarity, imitability of our resources and capabilities, and whether we are organized as well as we should be. I want you to look at our current situation and share any recommendations you may have as a result of your analysis.” He adds, ” I know I can count on you for a strong objective analysis that relies on independently verifiable evidence. I think it will help you to be objective if you rely only on information that is publicly available rather than “digging around” in any of our confidential organizational documents. I hope I can use your report to put together a presentation for the executive team. If you do a good job with this it might also prove useful for a briefing for our Board. Remember, this is not something I want shared with others until I have a chance to read what you have found.”
As you leave this imaginary meeting with your boss, you take comfort in knowing that your report is actually just for your professor who is required to treat everything you will share as confidential. You also remind yourself that because this is for academic credit you will need to include and cite sources to relevant scholarly and professional work. These things said, you look forward to the opportunity to apply what you are learning to your own organization and practice using your “consultant’s eye.”
Below is guidance that should prove useful.
1. Begin your research process by clarifying your organization’s current corporate/enterprise-wide and business-level strategies. As you will recall, these are the prevailing shared assumptions (or theories) about how the organization will be able to achieve or maintain competitive advantage. This is something you began thinking about in week one. You may find this resource provides some useful reminders and additional guidance:
2. Recall from Barney and Hesterly’s Chapter 2 that you can apply the Resource-Based View (RBV) to help you identify both the tangible and intangible assets your organization may be able to use to accomplish its intended strategies. Here is a video of Jay Barney, our primary textbook author, explaining RBV:
3. Identify internal resources that are or may be critical for implementing the organization’s strategy and analyze the extent to which they are recognized as such. Preform a preliminary analysis of the extent to which the resources you identify qualify as valuable, rare, costly to imitate, and whether your organization has the capability to leverage them for competitive advantage. Note that, while there will be important differences, the criteria apply equally to organizations in the public, private, and non-profit sector. Your analysis will be preliminary because you will have an opportunity later to conduct a more comprehensive evaluation of your organization’s situation compared with its competitors, which will be part of your task in week 7. You will also think more about value creating options as you read additional chapters in our textbook.
4. Consider and discuss the things that may make your organization’s potentially valuable and rare resources and capabilities difficult for others to imitate. Use Value Chain Analysis to help you deepen your understanding of the relative value of the resources and capabilities you have identified. Seek objective and independently verifiable evidence of potential rarity of the resources and capabilities.
5. Analyze the extent to which your enterprise is organized and managed to fully exploit its key resources for competitive advantage. Consider, for example, whether the organization’s structure, size, operations, and key systems align with and are therefore likely to support successful accomplishment of the strategy.
6. Present a preliminary summary of your organization’s strengths and potential (or currently verifiable) competitive capabilities. Also summarize the organization’s weaknesses. (Note: You will have an opportunity to revisit and complete a full SWOT analysis, including threats and opportunities, as part of your week 7 paper.) Put your summary in a table and include a brief narrative explanation of your supporting rationale. You might find this resource helpful:
7. Extend your analysis to include a preliminary discussion and analysis of your organization’s business-level strategies. Consider whether you organization currently uses or might use a cost leadership strategy (gains an advantage by reducing or keeping costs lower than others). If you believe this is an intended strategy in your organization, look at how this is being achieved, whether it appears to be successful, and whether there are or may be associated risks/concerns. When analyzing your organization’s business-level strategies, look also at the extent to which product/services differentiation may be applicable and evaluate associated benefits and risks.
8. When analyzing business-level strategies, be sure to include an evaluation of the extent to which the organization has the resources and capabilities required for sustainable competitive advantage.
9. In your conclusion, include things you might suggest for your manager’s “worry list” based upon your analysis. Also include your preliminary assessment of whether your organization’s strategy qualifies as effective. This resource might be helpful in thinking about this:
10. Finally, include and appropriately support a set of preliminary recommendations for action. These should be shared only with your professor. You will have an opportunity to revisit these recommendations again in your week 7 report.
11. Remember to submit your paper to Turnitin in sufficient time to make any needed changes and meet the assignment due date. Do not post your final report in your assignment folder until all issues identified by Turnitin have been resolved
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