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The Operations & Technology Management Specialisation

What is operations & technology management?

A company's Chief Operating Officer (COO) is responsible for 'getting things done' - for organising the firm's people and resources to achieve organisational goals. Firms that excel at getting desirable things done quickly, efficiently and effectively, while responding to developing technology, changing customer needs and shifts in the competitive and regulatory landscape take a leading position in their industry. 

To achieve operational excellence, companies need reliable internal processes, they need partners and they need to generate and leverage good ideas. These fundamental and interrelated building blocks of the field are also called process management, supply chain management and innovation management. In a nutshell, the academic discipline Operations and Technology Management (OTM) is concerned with the study of the fundamental principles that underlie the effective and efficient design and management of organisational processes, reliable partnerships and intra- and inter-organisational innovation capabilities. 

The field is diverse and inherently multi-disciplinary, drawing on and applying fundamental insights from economics, industrial engineering, psychology and human behaviour. In addition, OTM requires a solid understanding of other organisational functions, especially strategy, marketing and some aspects of finance.

Within the wider academic community, the Operations subject group at the School has a leading reputation in three areas, in which they recruit, train and place PhD students: 

  • innovation, entrepreneurship, and new product development,
  • managing healthcare organisations and systems
  • managing risk, uncertainty and complexity

The faculty in the Operations subject group cover a broad range of methodological expertise which they apply in their research and in which they train their masters and PhD students, including mathematical modelling, data analytics and econometrics, and behavioural laboratory and field experiments. 

All faculty members in the Operations subject group are committed to rigorous and impactful research. As an integral part of their research, they leverage long-standing relationships with other research groups at Cambridge Judge Business School and the wider University, with academic partners and PhD students at other universities around the world, as well as with a wide range of organisations in the private and public sectors, with a strong focus on the healthcare, life sciences, insurance and financial services industries. You can find more information on the research in the group on the faculty webpages of the Operations subject group.

The modules

The typical course of study of the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations within the OTM specialisation includes the following modules:

Econometrics I

This course introduces you to the variety of quantitative research methods available for applied research in management and economics, providing you with sufficient background to choose techniques and methods suited to different data-sources and models. The focus is on the way techniques relate to theory, and on the insights that can be drawn from their application. We are concerned with the interpretation and appraisal of results, and emphasise applied work.

Topics covered include:

  • The paradigm: underlying "structure" and "true" models of phenomena
  • Probability distributions
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Estimators and their properties
  • Testing hypothesis
  • Confidence intervals
  • Simple and multiple regression
  • Properties of regression coefficients
  • Transformation of variables
  • Linearity, nonlinearity and categorical variables
  • Simultaneous equations
  • Time series models
  • Stationary and nonstationary processes
  • Estimation

Econometrics II

Given the extensive availability and use of individual-level data sources for applied quantitative analysis, it has become increasingly important to understand the techniques available in applied research, their relation to theory, and what insights can be drawn from the estimation of models.

Many of these methods move beyond the standard tools of econometric analysis, in order to exploit the richness or structure of large sources of either cross-section or longitudinal data, or to compensate for some partial observability of data, or to build complexities in decision-making into an empirical study.

This course provides you with sufficient background to choose techniques suited both to the data-source and the model. There is an emphasis on the interpretation and critical appraisal of estimates, as well as on applied work, exploiting the availability of computer techniques for solutions.

Topics covered include:

  • Binary choice
  • Multiple choice and ordered response models
  • Limited dependent variable techniques
  • Duration and survival models
  • Panel data estimation methods
  • Nonparametric and semiparametric regression methods
  • Count data models

You must have taken the Econometrics I course if you wish to take this course.

Fundamentals of Competitive Markets

You are introduced to the foundations necessary to conduct research in the three areas of marketing, operations, and finance with a view to developing your own skills as researchers in these areas and in business in general. This course covers standard models of:

  • individual choice under certainty and uncertainty
  • production theory
  • general equilibrium
  • monopoly pricing, price discrimination
  • information economics
  • behavioural economics

The course will give you some fundamental knowledge of competitive markets, enabling you to leverage your course knowledge to do original research and write papers in your chosen field of research in a business school.

Operations Management

This is a seminar-style course to explore research in the area of Operations Management (OM). OM focuses on the effective planning, scheduling, and control of manufacturing and service entities. As such, it is concerned with decisions and execution of processes that enable the firm to compete profitably and deal with rapidly changing environments. Achieving operations excellence is one of the most essential strategies to improve efficiency and to gain competitive advantage. 

This course introduces students to a broad range of foundational concepts, problems, strategies, and analytical methods in the operations function of a firm. Topics include problems and issues confronting operations managers such as optimal timing and sizing of capacity expansion, inventory management, and incentives. The course material also provides exposure to conceptual, analytical and empirical research and informs the students about a suite of methodological options that ought to be considered while building their subsequent research. This course covers a mix of qualitative concepts and quantitative methods such as linear programming and dynamic programming.

one of the following two courses, depending on year:

Mathematical Models of Operations Management (2017/18)

Mathematical modelling techniques are an invaluable complement to econometrics in the methods toolbox of operations management researchers. The mathematical modeller makes simplifying assumptions about the world and then uses mathematics and logical thinking to predict consequences of these assumptions as mathematical propositions with mathematical proofs. Optimisation theory and techniques are absolute essentials for formulating and analysing mathematical models for operations management problems. Linear programming is the simplest optimisation problem in which both objective function and constraints are represented by linear functions of decision variables. Nonlinear programming extends linear programming to nonlinear objectives and constraints. Dynamic programming provides a set of general methods for making sequential, interrelated decisions under uncertainty. Game theory is the study of strategic decision making between several decision makers which originated in economics and has found many applications in operations management. Inventory management is about specifying the size and placement of stocked products. Supply chain contracting can enhance supply chain efficiency in a disintegrated system that contains self-interested players such as suppliers, manufacturers, distributes and retailers. 

The course consists of both lectures of exploring analytical tools and seminars of discussing seminal papers in the related areas, and:

  • gets you acquainted with the most important research in Operations Management
  • provides you with tools necessary to model, formulate and analyse the problems with practical backgrounds
  • stimulates your research ideas through paper discussions
  • explains key results and identify managerial insights

Mathematical Foundations of Operations Management (2018/19)

Mathematical modelling has played a key role in both solving operations management problems and providing managerial insights. Mathematical tools such as dynamic programming and queueing theory are used to study fundamental research questions arising in process optimisation and supply chain management. Dynamic programming provides a set of general methods for making sequential, interrelated decisions under uncertainty. Queueing theory deals with the study of waiting lines in traffic control, call centre and hospital management, and booking and service systems. Revenue management is a set of analytical tools for extracting the maximum revenue by selling the right product to the right customer at the right price at the right time. Supply chain management is a set of approaches utilised to efficiently integrate different entities in an interconnected network of suppliers, manufacturers, distributes and retailers. 

The course consists of both lectures of exploring analytical tools and seminars of discussing seminal papers in the related areas, and:

  • gets you acquainted with the most important research in Operations Management
  • provides you with tools necessary to model, formulate and analyse the problems with practical backgrounds
  • stimulates your research ideas through paper discussions
  • explains key results and identify managerial insights

one of the following two courses, depending on year:

Managing Innovative Organisations (2017/18)

In the last two decades the innovation and new product development (NPD) processes have received much attention as key determinants of firm competitiveness and success. While it is obviously the case that innovation is a topic that spans across functional and disciplinary boundaries within academia, different disciplines approach the various challenges through diverse methodological lenses. The operations perspective has naturally focused more on the innovation process through optimisation, empirically based as well as experimental tools. This seminar intends to give to future researchers an overview of some of the topics that have acquired special attention within the areas of innovation and NPD. A dominant characteristic of these topics is their cross-functional nature, which is reflected in the highly interdisciplinary mix of papers presented throughout the seminar.

Process Perspectives on Innovation Management (2018/19)

Over the past two decades the topics of innovation and new product development have become synonymous with firm competitiveness and sustainable growth. Through a seminar-style course we explore fundamental aspects of the process that governs innovation and the development of new technologies, products and/or services. Therefore, we address research questions that require understanding of the firm objectives but emphasise the execution aspects. Topics include but aren't limited to:

  • innovation as a search process
  • resource allocation and project valuation
  • project prioritisation and portfolio selection
  • project management under risk
  • process challenges at the "fuzzy" front-end of innovation
  • new product experimentation and testing
  • management of cross-functional project teams
  • the collaboration and coordination challenges in innovation processes

Athough there's no methodological focus for the different studies discussed during the seminar sessions, several of the sessions will expose you to a few rare (for the OM/MS community) methods and techniques.

one of the following two courses, depending on year:

Quantitative Marketing Models (2017/18)

This seminar-based course is an overview of quantitative modelling approaches to research on marketing problems. Three major areas are covered:

  • empirical modelling (econometrics)
  • analytical modelling (game theory/industrial organisation)
  • experimental economics/behavioural game theory

In each session you're required to read, analyse and comment on selected papers surrounding the key themes of that session. At least half of every session will be devoted to student presentations and group discussion.

Having completed the course, you'll possess some basic knowledge of quantitative modelling in marketing. You'll also be able to leverage your course experience to develop an in-depth understanding of relevant topics of interest that'll help you pursue a research career in a business school.

Game Theory & Information Economics (2018/19)

This course is for students who wish to pursue a research career in a business school and consists of a mix of lectures and seminar-based sessions in which you read, analyse and comment on selected papers. Following the course, you'll be able to leverage your course knowledge to do original research and write papers in your chosen field of research.

Topics covered include:

  • Static games of complete information (normal form games)

    • Modelling strategic interactions
    • Iterated dominance and rationalisability
    • Nash equilibrium
    • Application: imperfect competition
    • Mixed strategies

  • Dynamic games of complete information (extensive form games)

    • Extensive form and Nash equilibrium
    • Subgame perfect equilibrium
    • Application: product differentiation
    • Repeated games and one-step deviation

  • Static games of incomplete information

    • Motivation
    • Bayesian Nash equilibrium

  • Dynamic games of incomplete information

    • Perfect Bayesian equilibrium
    • Signalling

plus two electives normally chosen from the following list:

Organisational Research Methods

This course helps you understand a variety of quantitative research methods, as well as their embeddedness within various research designs. Upon completion of the course, you'll have a good understanding of various quantitative methods commonly used in management research, and will have applied this knowledge to your own research project. Specifically, the course covers the following content areas: 

  • Research design
  • Experimental & quasi-experimental design
  • Survey design & analysis
  • Mediation & moderation
  • Multilevel analysis
  • Social network analysis
  • Meta-analysis

The objectives of this course are to increase your understanding of organisational research method and your sensitivity to the practical problems in conducting organisational research, as well as to apply organisational research methods to your own research projects and interests.

Individual Research Project

This course is designed for you to conduct individual research under the supervision of SMO faculty members. Research projects can consist of a thorough literature review related to a specific research question, an in-depth critique of published papers, or a specific application of a research methodology. Our goal is to familiarise you with the faculty members' current research and bring you closer to the frontier of knowledge.

Consumer Behaviour (2018/19)

Consumer behaviour is the psychology of how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different marketplace alternatives. Consumer behaviour is an important research area within almost all marketing departments at top business schools (and business schools in general), and is also closely related to other fields both within and outside of marketing (e.g., marketing strategy, organisational behaviour, experimental economics, behavioural finance and accounting, sociology, and experimental and social psychology). Thus, an understanding of consumer behaviour is useful to researchers in a number of disciplines, in addition to those planning an academic career in consumer behaviour.

The course mainly consists of seminar-based sessions in which you read, analyse and comment on selected papers from various sub-areas of consumer behaviour, with a view to:

  • developing your own skills as researchers in these areas and in business in general
  • getting you to the point where you can review and write high quality papers in consumer behaviour
  • giving you an understanding of what it takes to publish consumer behaviour research in the top academic journals

Seminar in Strategy Content (2017/18)

This course provides a foundational survey of the key theories and empirical works that shape research on the content of strategic management - the relationship between the different strategies and resource and capability bundles firms develop, strategic positions they create, and their financial performance and competitive advantage. Building on strategic management, economics-based, and organisational theories, this course covers substantive research on the antecedents and consequences of competitive and corporate strategies undertaken by firms in connection with the changes and disruptions in the environment. The course involves active student participation in group discussions and critiques of the seminal classic contributions as well as latest research in various topics on the content of strategic management. It also involves you developing your own research ideas and proposals that build on some of the topics and theories covered.

Seminar in Strategy Process (2018/19)

This course provides a foundational survey of the key theories and empirical works that shape research on the process of strategic management - how strategic decisions are made and implemented. Building on behavioural and psychological theories, this course covers substantive research on the strategic processes such as strategic decision-making and implementation at the individual executives, groups (e.g. top management teams, middle managers) and the organisation as a whole (e.g. culture, corporate governance). The course involves active student participation in collective discussions and critiques of the seminal classic contributions as well as latest research in various topics on the content of strategic management. It also involves you developing your own research ideas and proposals that build on some of the topics and theories covered.

You are expected to determine your coursework plan at the start of the academic year, upon consultation with the programme director and the Operations & Technology Management specialisation faculty. In particular, your coursework modules can deviate from the above lists and can be selected from other research courses offered by CJBS or other University of Cambridge departments, upon approval by the programme director.

Closing dates

Deadline for applications: 29 Jun 2017
However we recommend you apply before December.

Cambridge Trusts funding deadlines are 12 October for US applicants, 7 December for applicants from all other countries.

Cambridge MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations alumnus Charles Ebert explains what drew him to the programme.

Watch the video

Scholarships

There are a number of scholarships available to MPhil in SMO students, ranging from University of Cambridge and College scholarships to corporate research funding.

Find out more about scholarships