Business Policy and Entrepreneurship

Lecturer: Nick Potter

Introduction and Aims

In recent years the term “Business Policy” has largely been replaced by “Strategic Management”, although both terms can be used interchangeably. There are two compulsory modules in the second year of the MBA programme which are concerned with Strategic Management. The title “Business Policy” has been retained only to distinguish the first year from the second year modules, so that this module is really an introduction to Strategic Management.

The first part of the module aims to instruct in the basic techniques of Strategic Analysis. These techniques taken together in sequence comprise the Strategic Audit, which is a systematic analysis of an organisation and its environment with a view to devising future direction. At this stage, more emphasis is placed on a logical, consistent and structured analysis than on some of the more complex issues arising from case studies. When basic techniques have been mastered and understood, you will be ready for the more in-depth case studies, special topics and other issues examined in the second year of the programme.

Developing strategies in a real business requires integration of the organisation’s functions as well as environmental analysis. Therefore even in this first course, techniques and concepts used in other courses and relating to functional disciplines, such as marketing and accounting, need to be incorporated. Many of the strategic techniques can and should be applied to business start-ups. Right at the beginning of the course you will generate business ideas in your groups in consultation with staff. You will then apply the strategic techniques in sequence, step-by-step, as they are taught, to these business ideas in order to examine their feasibility.

Introduction and Aims Continued

The second part of the module provides an introduction to the nature, functions and problems of the small firm, with special reference to entrepreneurship and issues involved in starting a small business. Small firms are economically important as a source of employment and growth, but many fail relatively quickly. The motives of the founders not only drive the formation but also often prove to be the source of later problems. Entrepreneurial characteristics and behaviour are examined together with problems of ownership, writing a business plan and managing subsequent growth.

The link between the two parts of the module is your own Business Proposal. You are asked to generate TWO ideas for a business start-up. Each group will be a business and you need to invent an appropriate company name and, initially, two business ideas, which may be a products or services. The groups will be the same as those for Marketing and you will be allocated to your groups in December 2012. In session 1 you are asked to make a short (5 minute maximum) presentation of your business ideas. Therefore you must meet in your groups before the module begins. (Break-out rooms can be booked through the MBA office.) One or two people from each group should make the presentation. You will receive initial feedback on these proposals to prevent wasting time on unrealistic fantasies!

In sessions 2-5 lectures will be provide the strategic framework that you will use: first, to analyse the (macro- and micro-) environment of your business and then to assess its resources and capabilities before developing appropriate strategies. Following the second presentations in week 5, you will be guided through the concepts and methods necessary for the business plan that forms your assignment.

The assignment will be assessed on a group basis. Working in groups is essential in business and is an important part of your business education. When you receive the full module handbook it will contain forms for you to complete and details of how to fill them in and submit them at the end of the module. They ask for your opinion of the contribution of yourself and of other members of your group. It will be important to keep records of group meetings: dates, who attended, what work was allocated to individuals and whether such work was produced adequately and on schedule. Meanwhile, if you feel some group members are not contributing then you must let us know as soon as the problem becomes evident. Anyone unwilling to contribute to group work may be subject to disciplinary measures.

Learning by doing is vitally important in this course. The central theme is to apply components of the analytical framework identified in lectures to the conception and planning of a new business as the group assignment.

Objectives and Learning Outcomes

On completion of the module students will be expected to:

  • Support judgements concerning trends in environmental variables and their impact on the organisation.
  • Understand and utilise basic analytical techniques including PEST, Porter’s Five-Forces, stakeholder analysis, competitor and internal analysis.
  • Summarise and interpret the information in an appropriate situational summary.
  • Understand the specific nature, function and problems of small firms.
  • Understand the principal causes of early small business failure.
  • Know the sources of small business funding and their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Apply this insight to the creation of a business plan for a start-up enterprise and present coherent verbal and written reports on the work done as a team.

Module Assessment

Continuous Assessment: Assignment to count for 100% of total mark