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MBA ELECTIVE COURSE Strategy, Risk and Uncertainty
MBA 811-001 Mod IV, 2013 9:30 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays McColl 2575 Professor Rich Bettis McColl 4419B Email: r_bettis@unc.edu Assistant: Ann Ravenscraft (Suite 4600) Office Hours: Drop By or By Appointment

Course Overview, Philosophy, and Objectives: This course is designed as an elective for MBA and EMBA program participants that have already studied the required introductory course in strategy. It deals primarily with two highly related sets of issues: (1) How can we think about and do strategy in a world that is inherently uncertain; and (2) how can we understand and deal with the difficulties/limitations that managerial (human) cognition places on learning and adapting in an uncertain world. As you will see these two sets of issues are closely related. We live and manage in a highly turbulent, fast-paced world where risk and uncertainty permeate all important decisions. Nobody enjoys being faced with uncertainty. It makes us all feel uncomfortable. I makes us feel a lack of control. Some managers prefer to retreat to certainty, or more specifically the illusion of certainty. Such managers want to believe that the future can be forecast with enough precision to identify the “right” or “optimal” strategy. Others prefer to abandon analytical rigor entirely. These managers trust in intuition or experience to identify a workable strategy. Both approaches are likely to result in significant strategic errors and destruction of value. The course will develop tools, concepts and approaches for dealing with risk and uncertainty in both strategy and in strategists (and managers). Most of these will be widely used or best practices. Some will be based on recent research that is starting to diffuse into current managerial practice. Specifically, the learning objectives of the course are as follows: 1. Participants will develop an understanding of the nature of risk and uncertainty and how to deal with these factors in making strategic decisions.

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Strategy, Risk and Uncertainty MBA, Mod IV, 2013 March 15, 2013

Prof. Rich Bettis

2. Participants will gain an understanding of different types of uncertainty and how to deal with them analytically. 3. Participants will gain an understanding of the cognitive limitations and biases that can cause managers (all humans) and organizations to deal poorly with uncertainty and risk. Approaches to overcoming these limitations will be discussed. 4. Participants will learn how to frame possible solutions for dealing with strategic uncertainties in terms of (a) shaping or adapting; (b) timing resource commitments; and (c) focusing or diversifying. 5. Participant will develop an analytical toolkit for dealing with uncertainty. 6. Participants will be able to have thoughtful discussions strategy under uncertainty with senior executives. 7. Participants will develop a baseline understanding of relevant recent research that is starting to diffuse into managerial practice. Course Materials: • • Hugh Courtney, 20/20 Foresight: Crafting Strategy in an Uncertain World. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. 2001. Course packet plus various handouts.

Honor Code Integrity is one of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s core values. According to our statement of core values “we hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards.” Violations of the honor code are totally inconsistent with this core value and are simply unacceptable in any form. Any violation of the honor code will result in an F in the course, regardless of any other grades received for the module. In this class, an honor code violation would occur if you gave or received help on the Individual Case Analysis. An honor code violation would also occur if any assignment contained plagiarism. According to the university honor code, plagiarism is defined as “the intentional representation of another person’s...
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