Skip to main content

University of Exeter Business School

Managing Competitive Strategy

Module titleManaging Competitive Strategy
Module codeBEMM068
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Mr Alex Janes (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In this module you will explore strategy and strategic management from a range of different perspectives. In the current business climate there are many significant issues which organisations and their leaders must navigate successfully to survive and prosper. You will have the opportunity to discuss these sources of dynamism and disorder and to think about how strategy has changed over time with many competing theories and schools of practice emerging to provide solutions to the wicked problems facing strategists. If you aspire to a senior management role, to run your own enterprise, or to work in consultancy, this module will help to prepare you to think strategically and to be able to appreciate the long term view necessary to set the direction for and successfully lead an organisation in the 21st century.

The module focuses on case method for a majority of the time – so you will be working on a variety of case studies applying theory to real world organisations, diagnosing their problems and discussing the actual decisions facing senior managers in those companies as they search for the best solutions. The skills you gain from this are highly valued by employers and provide a good preparation for some styles of interviews and assessment centres used to recruit graduates.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aims of this module are to:

  • Enable you to critically evaluate different approaches to strategy
  • Give you practical experience of working in a team to diagnose strategic problems, generate potential solutions to those problems and decide on a course of action
  • Explore the role of strategy at different organisational levels and in a range of industries/contexts
  • Enable you to discuss the impact of contemporary and future developments on the long term direction of organisations – such as artificial intelligence (AI), circular economy business models, and global events like the Covid-19 pandemic

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Diagnose an organisation’s situation by critically analysing its external and internal environments, taking into account context in the choice of tools and frameworks used
  • 2. Apply a range of module theories and frameworks for describing and setting an organisation’s direction
  • 3. Evaluate a range of strategic options using objective criteria to support and justify recommended decisions and use these skills in case study discussions and simulations
  • 4. Actively and critically use module concepts to manage the delivery of an organisation’s strategy
  • 5. Critically assess a range of strategic theories and models in terms of their validity and usefulness for managers
  • 6. Explain how dynamism and disorder are changing the field of strategy for managers

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Develop strategic analyses based on case material, desk research and research in the marketplace
  • 8. Explain the difference between complex but tractable problems and truly wicked or soft problems
  • 9. Reflect on own knowledge of discipline combining practical and theoretical elements to develop own understanding of the field

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Carry out independent study/research and case study analysis
  • 11. Reflect on, and amend, personal learning strategies for specific learning tasks
  • 12. Work effectively in a group

Syllabus plan


  • What is Strategy and why is it important for Managers?
  • Unifying module framework – the 6Ds of Strategic Management
  • Wicked problems and endless solutions – why strategy requires a different way of thinking.


  • Analysing the macro-environment
  • Assessing industries, arenas and competitors
  • Evaluating an organisation’s internal environment
  • Summarising the organisation’s situation – identifying critical issues and assessing their impact.


  • Developing the mission, vision, values and strategic objectives for organisations
  • Managing stakeholders


  • Deciding where to compete
  • Deciding how to compete
  • Deciding who to work with
  • Evaluating and choosing between different options
  • Decision making processes – from deliberate to emergent strategy


  • Developing organisational plans to include realistic, measurable targets and key performance indicators
  • Managing change
  • Balancing organisational alignment with the strategy against agility to respond to change
  • Identifying and managing appropriate resources to deliver the plan
  • Accurately monitoring and measuring outcomes and evaluating results

Dynamism and Disorder:

  • The importance of context in strategic management
  • Coping with different levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity
  • The rise of high-velocity/hypercompetitive environments

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities11Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activities14Seminars
Guided independent study125Reflection, reading and preparation for tutorials, workshops and assessment

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Tutorials and case workshop requiring preparation Notes for workshops 1-1,200 words equivalent per workshop1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9,10,11Verbal and peer feedback in tutorial/workshop

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group report on case study303500 words (per group of 5 students)1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10,12Comments on paper and group feedback from module team
Individual case analysis papers702 x 1,200 words1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10,11Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group report on case studyIndividual paper on separate case study (1500 words)1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,10Referral/deferral period
Individual case analysis papers2 x 1,200 word individual analysis case papers1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9,10,11Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Core Text for the Module:

  • Thompson, A. Strickland, L., Janes, A., Sutton, C. Gamble, J., and Peteraf, M., (2017) Crafting and Executing Strategy: The quest for Competitive Advantage, 2nd International edition, McGraw-Hill, Maidenhead

Supplementary Reading:

A range of articles from Strategic Management Journal, McKinsey Quarterly, Harvard Business Review, Long Range Planning and other relevant journals will be set as reading to help deepen your knowledge of various topics – links will be posted to ELE to access these via the e-library system.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages

Indicative learning resources - Other resources


Key words search

Strategy, Strategic Management, Competitive Strategy, Corporate Strategy

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date