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The Operations & Technology Management specialisation

What is operations & technology management?

Chief Operating Officers (COOs) are responsible for ‘getting things done’ – for coordinating people, information and resources within and outside an organisation to achieve the organisation’s goals. Marketing promises quality to customers, finance promises return on investment to shareholders – the COO is responsible for keeping these promises. Organisations 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, organisations need reliable internal processes, they need an effective ecosystem of external partners, and they need ways to generate and leverage new ideas. In a nutshell, the academic discipline Operations and Technology Management (OTM) is concerned with the study of the fundamental principles that underlie the 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 insights from economics, operations research, industrial engineering, psychology and sociology. In addition, OTM research has overlaps with other organisational functions, such as strategy, marketing, organisational development, and financial management.

All faculty members in the OTM subject group are committed to rigorous and impactful research. We 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 range of organisations in the private and public sectors.

You can find more information on the research in the group on the faculty webpages of the Operations & Technology Management subject group.

Curriculum

Each student must take nine modules in total.

Core modules

The core modules for the OTM specialisation of the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations are:

This module has two parts. In the first part, you learn how modelling frameworks (as introduced in the prerequisite courses) are used in published papers, for example, queuing models in healthcare operations or game theory in supply chain management. The second part of the module introduces you to the peer review process and specifically the writing of referee reports and the response to such reports.

This course consists of two equally weighted parts. In the first part, you are introduced to mathematical modelling paradigms. Mathematical modelling is a core “language” of the field and many of its insights are captured succinctly in mathematical formulae or propositions. It is therefore important for you to become conversant.

The goals of the first part of the Introduction module are (i) to enable you to appreciate the gist, if not the detail, of modelling papers in the operations and technology management (OTM literature and (ii) to introduce you to the mathematical modelling language at a level that enables you to learn more details from textbooks or take more advanced graduate courses in the university if and when required for your own research. This first part of the module is a natural methodological complement to the econometrics modules of the MPhil programme, which cover empirical methods.

The second part of this module teaches you how to write a convincing OTM research proposal with the goal of developing an academic paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal of the field. What makes a good research question? What is a suitable research method for the question at hand? How does the proposed research relate to management practice? How does it relate to and extend the existing academic literature? You explore these questions using published papers as case studies, and you practice the writing and presenting of research proposals, which will prepare you for the PhD continuation process. This second part of the module also teaches you how to read and evaluate academic papers in an efficient manner and what distinguishes OTM papers from papers in cognate disciplines (eg economics or marketing).

The Classics module introduces you to landmark papers and books that have shaped the operations and technology management (OTM) field. The purpose of the module is to enable you to position your own research within the existing body of literature. We take a broad view of the OTM field and also cover aspects of cognate fields (industrial engineering, economics, sociology, psychology) that are relevant to current debates in OTM.

You are introduced to the foundations necessary to conduct research in the three areas of marketing, operations & technology management, 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 gives 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.

This is the first in the sequence of Econometrics modules designed for Research MPhil students who intend to use econometric methods in their PhD research at Cambridge Judge Business School. It is taught in Michaelmas Term.

This introductory module develops your capability in using linear regression and associated statistical techniques to examine causal relationships from primarily cross-sectional, observational data. By the end of the module you are to specify, estimate, test, interpret, and critically evaluate single equation regression models, with applications in subject areas of management, finance, and business economics.

The module is followed in Lent Term by Econometrics II, training you in methods and applications of Micro-econometrics. A further module on Time Series Econometrics is offered as an elective in Easter Term.

To carry out empirical research that has the potential to make an original contribution to knowledge in management, finance, business economics and similar fields, it is necessary to exploit the richness and structure of longitudinal as well as cross-sectional, individual-level data on the behaviour of individuals or firms. It is necessary to become competent in an array of micro-econometric techniques that help researchers to build into the design of their studies, a variety of complexities (in decision-making, for example) and also compensate for partial observability that is inherent in research data.

This module introduces you to research-level micro-econometric methods. It provides the background required to confidently choose techniques and methods suited to different types of data-sources and models. The focus is on how techniques relate to theory, on the insights that can be drawn from their application, and critical interpretation and appraisal of results.

You must have taken the Econometrics I course to take this course. A further module on Time Series Econometrics is offered as an elective in Easter Term.

This module 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 (such as a pilot study on the basis of limited data). Our goal is to familiarise you with the faculty members’ current research and bring you closer to the frontier of knowledge. The module can prepare you for the individual research that you will undertake in PhD studies, and can indeed become the starting point of future PhD research.

Electives

The elective modules for the OTM specialisation of the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations are:

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

This course helps you understand a variety of predominantly quantitative research methods, as well as their embeddedness within various research designs. The course is divided into two independent content blocks, parts I and II, and is designed in such a way that part II can be attended without having attended part I previously. Upon completion you’ll have a good understanding of various research 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, among others:

Part I

  • Research design
  • Experimental & quasi-experimental design
  • Survey design & analysis
  • Mediation & moderation

Part II

  • Multilevel design & analysis
  • Social network design & analysis
  • Big data research design & analysis
  • Meta-analysis

The course increases your understanding of organisational research methods and your sensitivity to the practical problems in conducting organisational research, and enables you to apply organisational research methods to your own research projects and interests.

This course focuses on some key theories and central debates that help us conceptualise the relationship between information systems, innovation, and strategic change. The main texts will draw from information systems, sociology, sociology of technology, and organisation theory. The course examines three key themes:

  • The role of new information technologies in processes of innovation and strategic change within and between industries
  • The role of information systems in enabling innovative work practices and the organisational issues involved in implementing and using technological innovations
  • The relationship between information technology and processes of globalisation

This course surveys the major theoretical perspectives and issues studied in strategic management research, particularly as it relates to the underlying strategic and organisational processes.

Strategic management or simply strategy is currently one of the liveliest areas in all of the social sciences, in part because of the importance of understanding how to best position organisations and get ahead of competition and in part because of the challenges to traditional theory that have emerged over the past 20 years. Strategy deals with charting the future directions of the firm and implementing these directions to maximise the long-term profits. Accordingly, strategic management and processes address the resources, capabilities and strategic positioning of the firm to create and sustain competitive advantage as well as the psychological and social challenges in implementing organisations’ strategies.

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.

This seminar-based module 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 module, 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 for a research career at a business school.

This seminar-based module is an overview of issues related to consumer behaviour research in marketing. The module includes readings on marketing research as well as cognate home disciplines such as psychology and behavioural economics. Two major areas are covered:

  • The information processing perspective
  • The behavioural decision perspective

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 module, you’ll possess some basic knowledge that will help you appreciate and conduct consumer behaviour research. You’ll also be able to leverage your learning experience to develop an in-depth understanding of relevant topics for a research career at a business school.

This course examines critical issues concerning digital and social innovation for organisations and the wider society. The module focuses on theories from organisation theory, IS, innovation and management to conceptualise digital and social innovation. Their role in enabling opportunities is discussed as well as the unexpected consequences of innovation for different industries and societies.

This course critically examines research that has been conducted in unconventional contexts and that investigates grand challenges, e.g. poverty, inequality, conflict and climate change. The major themes that are explored include gaining access to novel and unconventional research sites, field-level ethical and moral issues when investigating grand challenges, novel research methods, e.g. online/digital ethnography, the researcher-practitioner interface, theorising from data gathered from unconventional contexts, and publishing research conducted in novel and unconventional contexts and that investigates grand challenges.

In a large number of empirical contexts in finance and management, data are temporarily ordered in the form of time series. The Time Series Econometrics module introduces you to concepts and methods that are appropriate for empirical research in such settings, covering methods for exploratory time series analysis, estimation of dynamic causal effects and forecasting.

This research seminar helps you understand a variety of cutting-edge themes and topics in organisational behaviour (OB). The overarching question we address is how these aspects relate to individual, group and organisational effectiveness. Specifically, the course covers the following content areas:

  • Making a theoretical contribution to OB
  • Personality and values
  • Emotion and moods
  • Motivation
  • Work groups and teams
  • Leadership
  • Organisational culture and climate
  • Developing a research focus

The objectives of this course are to familiarise you with classic and current articles that have shaped the field of organisational behaviour, and to prepare you to develop and conduct organisational behaviour research yourself.

Taught by the Faculty of Economics.

An introduction to the behavioural approach to economics, we cover behavioural game theory, neuroeconomics, cognitive biases, decision-making heuristics, intertemporal decision making, addiction, and applications to labour economics and development. The course includes both theoretical and empirical material, but a recurring theme is the importance of experimental findings both in the laboratory and in the field.

Taught by the Faculty of Economics.

An exciting new research programme in economics examines the origins and the implications of networks. The lectures in this course provide a rigorous introduction to this research. To master the material, you’re encouraged to work out problem sets handed out during the course.

Topics covered include:

  • Network formation: strategic and random graph models
  • Games on networks
  • Networks and markets
  • Networks and politics
  • Shocks, contagion and resilience

Taught by the Faculty of Economics.

The Industrial Organisation course introduces you to the main debates, conceptual tools and empirical findings that are central to understanding British economics history during the Industrial Revolution.

Taught by the Faculty of Economics.

This course is on development economics and deals with the economic problems of poor countries. It considers some of the main theoretical and analytical issues in development economics as well as the historical development process of now-developed countries. The topics covered are growth, development, poverty, inequality, education, technology, innovation, mutual insurance, finance, savings, weather, climate, health, pandemics, representative democracy, religion, social capital and conflict.

Taught by the Faculty of Economics.

This course examines:

  • Least squares
  • Large sample analysis
  • Maximum likelihood
  • Test procedures
  • Time series
  • Estimation and tests
  • Nonstationary and cointegrated regression
  • Computer packages

Taught by the Faculty of Economics.

This course covers the standard economic models of individual decision-making with and without uncertainty, models of consumer behaviour and producer behaviour under perfect competition and the Arrow-Debreu general equilibrium model.

Prerequisites: A basic knowledge of economics and basic level of mathematical sophistication, particularly with respect to optimisation, will be assumed. You should be somewhat familiar with multivariable calculus, basic linear algebra and probability theory.

If your mathematical background is weak, you’ll probably want to do some reading and problems on your own. A good place to start is the mathematical appendix in Mas-Colell, Whinston, Green. Similarly, if you’ve not taken much economics before or want to brush up, you may want to look at an undergraduate microeconomics text. Among the good options are books by Nicholson, and by Pindyck and Rubinfeld.

It may be possible that your elective coursework modules can include modules from other research courses offered by Cambridge Judge Business School or other University of Cambridge departments that are not in the above list, upon approval by the Degree Committee.