What I Didn't Learn in Business School by Jay Barney Paper

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What I Didn’t Learn in Business School: How Strategy Works in the Real World A Book Report
By: Kaitlin Bauer
What I Didn’t Learn in Business School: How Strategy Works in the Real World A Book Report
By: Kaitlin Bauer
08
Fall
08
Fall

1. What lessons do you learn from Justin’s experience in terms of the limits of some of the core strategy frameworks you learned in theory (examine for example, Michael Porter’s Five Forces and the challenges Justice faced in applying it, value chain analysis, the Resource Based View) Some of the concepts/models that are applied to strategic problems vary in meaning depending on the setting one is in whether it be in the actual real world or in the classroom. These concepts applied like the five forces framework or present value analysis are just “tools” and its up to the individual to determine how it should be used. As senior director, Ken McCombs states, “You can use a hammer exactly the way it’s designed to be used, but instead of building something beautiful or durable, you can build a pile of junk. It’s not the tool, it’s how the tool is used; it’s the skills, interests, and motives of the person using the tool that determine whether the outcome of an analysis is reasonable.” (Barney 53). Basically, these “tools” have to be applied appropriately in order to identify and develop an effective final strategy/overall result. An example of this would be in regards to the concept of core competency. In business strategy courses, this term is used in so many different ways, its actual meaning gets lost. Justin has a difficult time throughout the book adapting his understanding of business concepts to their real-world application. In a way, he looks more into situations as if he were “cracking the case” opposed to figuring out real world situations. This seemed to be a theme of the book that Justin uncovers as he continues on his journey with HBS. According to Justin, the more valuable, rare, and difficult to imitate the activities your involved in are, the more likely those activities would contribute to a firms core competencies as seen within the VRIO framework (81). By being able to do this shows a huge breakthrough point for Justin because towards the beginning of the book, he was struggling to determine whether core competencies allow firms to expand and navigate through new potential markets. As the book progresses, it starts to show how Justin is now able to determine what the real definition of core competency is as well as other concepts he had learned in school. To Justin, understanding the true meanings behind concepts was a breakthrough in thinking. “Core competence wasn’t just a buzz word for Justin now. VRIO or the other concepts was no longer just a lecture he has heard but are now tools that can be used to examine real-world strategies” (81). As many say, he is now applying the knowledge he acquired from business school and is now applying those concepts to everyday business situations. An example of this situation is closely embodied in Justin and Vivek’s conversation in regards to how technologies alone are not considered core competency but it's the actions taken to exploit these technologies that make them considered a core competency. If these technologies are considered rare and hard to imitate, they can sometimes be a source of sustained advantage (146). As you can see through this example, Justin has learned the true meaning behind the word of core competency and how it is used within the real world. Throughout the business school, we have learned the importance of utilizing strategy frameworks, which have been drilled into our heads in order to evaluate potential business decisions. The frameworks like Michael Porters Five Forces Analysis, NPV analysis, and VRIO among many others have deemed to be extremely useful and beneficial in organizing and arranging information provided for situations that can eventually lead to a...
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