International Business Strategy Hill

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International Business Strategy

FALL 2010

Course Outline

1. motivation and description of the course

Companies today confront an increasing array of choices regarding markets, locations for key activities, outsourcing and ownership modes, and organization and processes for managing across international borders. This course focuses on the international dimensions of strategy and organization, and provides a framework for formulating strategies in an increasingly complex world. The goal of this course is to provide the foundations for taking effective action in the multi-faceted world of international business.

2. course structure

The structure of this course follows a logical sequence where first the international environment is analysed in relation to the international strategies of firms. Next, we study the optimal scope of the firm across geographic markets, and whether a firm should diversify – or expand its scope across different geographic markets. Such a scope economy can either be demand side, when the firm can replicate a strategy that works well domestically in a country that was previously missing that product or service, or supply side, when a firm seeks to exploit a valuable resource from within a new market. In the first case, a firm arbitrages a product or a strategic capability into a new market whereas, in the second case, it arbitrages the factor cost advantage of a new market. We will also see that in order for the firm to extend the scope of activities under its own management to a foreign country, there has to be some market failure present preventing that firm from simply licensing or selling its valuable resource to an indigenous firm – or buy it from an indigenous firm in the case of supply-side scope economies. As most cross-border expansion of significance currently occurs through M&A or alliances, we look at the particular challenges such operations entail for the firm. Finally, we examine how the off-shoring of activities may help firms to better compete in the global economy.


The course proceeds through a combination of lectures, readings, and making use of the case method. You should have completed the set readings prior to a class and be prepared to answer the case questions in class. This means that you should have read the assigned case for a class and be prepared to answer the questions on that case. Some classes have Optional Readings, which are simply listed in case you have particular interest in reading further on a topic.

Case analysis involves an enhanced role for class discussion, supplemented by lecture material. Generally, the goal of class discussion is to arrive at a collective analysis of the issues presented by the materials. Analysis of international strategy issues is not accomplished through the routine application of formulas, but rather through reasoned analysis under conditions of limited information, uncertainty, by individuals and groups from different backgrounds and with particular schemas and ways and structures of organizing knowledge.

With a case, you should be able to identify the key issues, problems, and opportunities facing the central protagonists, to articulate and evaluate alternative approaches to tackling the problems, and to describe the course of action that you recommend and the reasons for your recommendation. Case selection criteria in part includes variation across contexts and you should be able to port and apply the frameworks, concepts and tools from one case, context and part of the course to another.

Course Readings

The principal textbook for the Course is:

Hill, Charles W.L.2011. International Business: Competing in the Global Marketplace. NY: McGraw-Hill International Edition (Eighth Edition). Readings from this textbook are supplemented by cases and other readings.

3. assessment

Individual grades for this course have two components:

- Class attendance + assignments(25%)...
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