skip to navigation skip to content

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.
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.

The modules

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

Area specialisation modules:

Organisations & Strategic Innovation

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.

Organisation Theory

This course focuses on the foundational theories, central debates and key texts that help us conceptualise organisational dynamics. It provides you with advanced reading, writing and interpretation skills relating to, for example, organisational identity, organisational control and theories of entrepreneurship. It is based around intensive seminar-based sessions in which key articles are closely read and discussed. Having completed the course, you will be equipped to interpret and problematise scholarly material relating to the organisation of innovation in a creative and critical manner.

Marketing Strategy

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.

one of the following two courses, depending on year:

Organisational Behaviour (2021/22)

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.

Seminar in Strategy Content (2022/23)

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.

Methods/statistics modules:

Econometrics I

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.

Econometrics II

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.

Organisational Research Methods I & II (biennial content)

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.

You are expected to determine your coursework plan at the start of the academic year, upon consultation with the programme director and the Strategic 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.