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The Strategic Management specialisation

What is strategic management?

Strategic management, or simply strategy, deals with those subjects that are of primary concern to senior management such as charting the future directions of the firm, making strategic decisions that have long-term impact and affect the firm as a whole, creating the appropriate infrastructure to implement these decisions and managing stakeholder relationships. It addresses the resources, capabilities, and strategic positioning of the firm to create and sustain competitive advantage and maximise long-term performance of the firm. Strategy informs us how top managers face the challenges and help their firms survive and succeed in today’s increasingly complex, interconnected, uncertain and rapidly evolving environments in the wake of globalisation and the information revolution. Strategy is an inter-disciplinary field of research that brings together theories from strategic management, economics, organisation theory, psychology and sociology.

Why the Strategic Management specialisation?

The Strategic Management specialisation of the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations, as an integral part of the Strategic Management PhD pathway, lays a strong foundation for the pursuit of that pathway. Several features make the Strategic Management specialisation unique:

  • Rigorous academic training: We work with you to develop an integrated and coherent programme of study that includes intensive seminars and workshops. The SMO Strategic Management specialisation will train you in the latest quantitative research methods and emerging thinking in strategy. 
  • Close research collaborations: The core feature of the programme is the close collaboration between our faculty and our research students. You will work with faculty on joint research projects for presentation at top international conferences and for publication in leading academic journals. 
  • Highly selective and global: The programme is highly selective. You will interact closely with outstanding fellow research students representing a wide variety of professional experiences, nationalities and ethnicities.
  • Connections with renowned scholars and schools around the world: Through our active research seminars and renowned visiting scholar programmes, you can interact closely and collaborate with leading strategy scholars from around the world.
  • State-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure: You will have access to comprehensive research databases, latest software and computer equipment and a fully equipped behavioural lab.
Christopher Marquis Professor Christopher Marquis is the Sinyi Professor of Chinese Management (starting January 2022). Prior to joining Cambridge, he worked for six6 years at Cornell University, and 10 years at Harvard Business School and has held visiting positions at Harvard Kennedy School, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Peking University, Fudan University, and Shanghai Jiaotong University. Marquis received a PhD in sociology and business administration from the University of Michigan. Professor Marquis’ current teaching and research is broadly focused on the two areas of social innovation and change and doing business in China. Under these themes he has examined entrepreneurship in China, the triple-bottom line and building sustainable businesses globally, and business competition in emerging markets. These research projects build on Marquis’ earlier research on how business can have a positive impact on society and in particular how historical and geographical processes have shaped firms’ and entrepreneurs’ social and environmental strategies and activities. His latest book, Better Business: How the B Corp Movement is Remaking Capitalism, focuses on the potential for stakeholder governance models to reform capitalism. He will also publish a new book Mao and Markets: The Communist Roots of Chinese Enterprise in 2022.
Yasemin Kor Professor Yasemin Kor is the Beckwith Professor of Management Studies. Her research focuses on the intersections of strategy formulation and renewal, top management teams and corporate governance. She studies strategy as a configuration of resources and capabilities that are uniquely assembled to achieve a purpose. In her research, she examines how organisations differ in ways in which they manage and govern their resources and capabilities. One of her current projects focuses on the organic food industry and examines how firms respond to the organic opportunity based on the CEO’s experience profile, including enriching experiences of the CEO. In another project, she examines the role of the independent board chair in achieving effective board governance. She enjoys doing research both on large corporations and entrepreneurial firms. She has done industry-based research on firms in medical devices industry and, biotechnology industry, professional services (law firms), food and beverage industry (conventional and organic food producers), transportation industry, and on social ventures.
Lionel Paolella Dr Lionel Paolella is University Lecturer in Strategy & Organisation. His research interests include strategy and economic sociology, organisation theory, categorisation, social evaluation and gender diversity. Lionel’s main line of research explores how market categories – a set of firms that share cognitive and cultural similarities – affect the social evaluation, the innovation and performance of organisations. He mainly uses quantitative methods.
Allègre Hadida Dr Allègre Hadida is a University Senior Lecturer in Strategy. She studies: (1) strategy and decision-making in temporary and agile organisations and in volatile environments, including digital music and online streaming; (2) general management and strategy in creative, arts and media industries – in particular, cinema, music, theatre, and heritage; (3) the impact and integration of new technologies on traditional arts organisations, including theatres and opera houses, and on audiovisual content production and diffusion; and (4) creativity and improvisation in organizations across sectors and beyond the creative industries.
Jochem Kroezen Dr Jochem Kroezen is a University Lecturer in International Business. His main research focuses on processes of institutional change. Current projects examine the revival of craft in organisational society, dynamics of business collective action, and mechanisms underlying socio-economic inequality. In his research, Jochem uses both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including meta-analysis and fsQCA. He has published on the revival of craft in beer brewing and on the alcohol industry’s collective response to increased attention to the issue of harmful alcohol use. Other ongoing projects that he is involved in include the use of history by Dutch craft brewery entrepreneurs, a meta-analysis of gender differences in academic research performance, gender (in)equality in professional tennis, the development of sustainable livelihoods in rural Indonesia, the legitimation of social enterprises in the Middle East, and schematic differences between market and professional institutional logics.

Curriculum

By default, a student on the Strategic Management specialisation of the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations writes a dissertation and takes six modules (five core modules and one elective), including strategy area specialisation courses and a methods/statistics course:

Area specialisation core modules

This course covers key theories in the field of strategy, innovation and organisations. We discuss the foundational theories, central debates and key readings that help us understand organisations and their strategies to survive and innovate through both technological and managerial innovations. Discussions include why managers adopt particular courses of action, how innovation is fostered, how are new markets created and how is strategy formulated. The field of innovation, strategy and organisations is inherently interdisciplinary, and so is this course. Accordingly, we not only discuss the underpinnings of research in innovation, strategy and organisations but also a host of related questions that have since become significant to understanding this body of research. The course is based around intensive seminar-based sessions. The format is group debates around contrasting perspectives related to the readings. The course enables you to critically interpret, analyse and problematise scholarly material and develop an understanding of how to make theoretical contributions in the field.

One of the following two courses, depending on year:

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 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.

Methods/statistics core modules

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 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.

Electives

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

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.

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 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 is a survey of three distinct yet related areas: marketing, innovation and emerging economies. Marketing is the study of the interaction between organisations and markets. Innovation is the study of the commercial exploitation by organisations of new ideas. Emerging economies, such as India and China, are the big economic phenomenon of the contemporary global scene and the theatre in which new opportunities for marketing and innovation are unfolding in real time. This course takes a strategic perspective on these topics, viewing them all from the perspective of the firm and its performance.

This course focuses on three elements of qualitative research methodology:

  • Research philosophy, in which you are introduced to some basic philosophical concepts and tools – particularly in the area of epistemology
  • Qualitative research methods, where we look at the principal types of qualitative data used in management research and the practical and epistemological issues associated with their collection, analysis and use
  • Research design, in which you will come to understand the links between theory, methodology and choice of research techniques; the principles and practice of research design and data access and collection using experiment, observation, interviews, surveys and archival and database retrieval; and issues of research validity, reliability, bias and ethics

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 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.

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

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.

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.

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.