Rotman School of Management

Main Content

Strategic Management

Business Government Relations

Instructor

George Fleischmann

Target Audience

Students interested in understanding how government action impacts business across a wide spectrum of the economy. 

Course Mission

To help students appreciate how to interact and dialogue with officials and politicians when dealing with government policies, programs, and/or regulations which impact businesses/companies that they may be representing. To provide students with an understanding of government structure and policy development, how it differs between Canada and other countries, and what the impact on business is in each of these countries. 

Course Scope

This course will initially provide a basic understanding of the operation of the Canadian federal government. A comparison between the Canadian, U.S. and U.K. government systems, and their impact on business/ government interaction in each country will also be offered. The spectrum of government policies and instruments affecting business and company operations will also be reviewed.

The business/government interface will be explored in several sectors including finance, health care and retail. Senior executives from these and other business sectors will review the impact of government on their operations, and will provide specific illustrations based on their experience. 

International Business

Instructor

T. Amburgey

Target Audience

We are told that globalization is “changing the face of competition” in many industries, but what does this really mean for managers as they formulate and implement strategy? How can we effectively analyze the competitive structure of global industries and translate that analysis into winning strategies? This course is designed to immerse you in the challenges faced by managers venturing into overseas markets in response to (or in anticipation of) increased global competition. 

Course Mission

Through a combination of case discussion, readings, lectures and role play simulations you will develop your ability to pursue managerial action that is responsive to the evolving global business environment, and to the often-conflicting demands of multiple stakeholders such as local and overseas employees, customers, joint venture partners, governments, and non-governmental organizations. 

Course Scope

The course is organized around several themes: First, we look at the newly-internationalizing firm, identifying the circumstances in which venturing overseas makes sense, and when it may not be a wise strategy. Next we explore the essential strategic and organizational challenges encountered by international managers; for example, how to build competitive advantage in international markets, how to balance the benefits of global integration against the need to respond to local differences, and how to promote innovation in a global network. We also confront the recent trend towards international collaboration and outsourcing, and examine both the potential and limits of these strategies for international firms. Finally, we examine how international differences in social and legal conditions affect strategic choices, and how non-market strategy can be used to strengthen performance in global markets.
In place of a final exam, the course concludes with an extended case analysis and negotiation simulation exercise. This exercise involves the renegotiation of an actual international joint venture agreement. The aim of this exercise is for students to analyze how a particular international joint venture fits into the partner firms’ evolving global strategies, to determine what this means for the desired scope and structure of the joint venture, and then to play this analysis out in a “live” negotiation setting. 

Entrepreneurship

Instructor

Becky Reuber

Target Audience

Entrepreneurship has been called the “engine of the economy” and, indeed, there is persuasive evidence that new firms contribute disproportionately to innovation and job creation. Entrepreneurs and their firms are celebrated by the media and their communities. But what does it take to start a business? This course will let you be an entrepreneur – for at least a term.

Course Mission

The objectives of the course are to sharpen your ability to: determine if you could (or should) become involved in a business start-up; recognize and analyze new venture opportunities from the viewpoints of the entrepreneur and potential stakeholders; anticipate problems faced by new ventures so they can be managed through advance planning; prepare a cohesive, concise and effective business plan for a new venture. After completing the course, you will be able to develop business plans for diverse reasons, such as new product introductions, feasibility studies and new market analyses. 

Course Scope

This is a highly experiential course where you will be able to apply and integrate your entire business education and experience to a practical project. Taking a real world, hands-on approach is the most effective way to understand the entrepreneurial process. Working in small teams, you’ll develop a business plan for launching a new venture. You will pitch business concepts, research the market for your product or service, prepare marketing and launch plans, and develop financial projections. You need to be able to interact with the business community and potential customers, work effectively in teams, and participate actively in class discussions and exercises. 

Narrative and Management

Instructor

Sandford Borins

Target Audience

Students interested in how, as managers, they can use narrative as an effective mode of communication about themselves and their organizations.

Course Mission

  1. To develop the student’s skill in telling his/her story: understanding, analyzing, and creating narratives that help communicate, persuade, and lead
  2. Using the analysis of professionally authored management narratives (movies, biographies, histories, novels) to understand and model narrative and other essential management skills.

Course Scope

The course begins by introducing a conceptual framework based on the study of narrative in humanistic disciplines such as literature and film studies, applied to narratives about managers and organizations. We will also introduce Erikson’s psychosocial model of the human life cycle. We apply these concepts to a variety of managerial and organizational narratives presented in the media and online.

Students will develop their own narrative skills by telling their own stories in written and oral presentations in weeks 4 and 9 of the course.

We will also discuss professionally authored narratives dealing with the following management topics: technological entrepreneurship (Startup.com, The Social Network), managerial ethics (Enron, Inside Job), whistle-blowing (The Insider), front-line innovation (Waiting for Superman), and crisis decision making (Thirteen Days, The Fog of War).

Health Care Topics in Transformation

Instructor

Will Falk

Target Audience

This course is open to all 2nd year Rotman Students and is an eligible course in the Rotman School of Management’s major in Health Sector Management. The course will help prepare students for leadership roles in healthcare management, the life sciences, insurance, government, entrepreneurship, venture capital and health sector consulting.

Course Mission

The course is a practical course in current topics in healthcare transformation. We will take a global perspective on healthcare transformation and apply lessons from other jurisdictions to the Canadian model. The course is lead by an Accenture Managing Partner and strategy consultant who is actively involved in the reality of making change happen within healthcare systems. Students will learn hands-on problem-solving, and analytic and strategy consulting techniques. It will not, however, overlap with the field-based course Health Care Consulting.

Course Scope

Healthcare is a service industry in the middle of a major transformation based on the application of new models of care, new inventions and new information systems. These knowledge-based investments are leading to decreasing costs at the individual unit level but total system costs continue to increase at faster than the rate of inflation. Typical explanations for increasing total costs – such as demographic factors, new product substitution, and population growth – only explain part of the situation. This course seeks to reexamine costs, prices and value in the healthcare sector.

The course will use global frameworks for evaluating value including Porter and Teisberg’s “Value-based Competition” to examine how to transform the healthcare system and unlock the possibilities that are implicit in the large investments in new inventions and new technologies. In an empirical project we will examine individual procedures, diagnostic processes, and treatments to see how costs are falling (or rising) and whether prices are reflecting cost changes. Current data from Ontario will be made available by the instructor for study of well-defined procedures, treatments and/or diagnostic. These data will be supplemented by some independent research and international data. Each individual student project will look at costs and prices for only one procedure, treatment or diagnostic. Results will be aggregated in classroom discussion.

In addition to the broad impacts of costs and prices, health system transformation is also occurring at a structural level. Major themes in transformation will be examined in the later part of the course and applied with the value-based competition and other frameworks. Group projects will be organized around one of these cross-cutting structural themes Questions covered could include such topics as:

  • Regionalization vs. Programmatic/Disease organization
  • Globalization of academic medicine and the delocalization of health treatment
  • The genomics revolution in care
  • Managing across the continuum
  • Pricing/auction methods in a payer-provider split
  • The introduction of new technologies

The main lecturer will occasionally be joined by a small number (3-5 approx) of industry leaders who will join the classroom discussion in tightly integrated presentations on several of these topics.

Pharmaceutical Strategy

Instructor

Will Mitchell

Target Audience

The course is relevant for students who plan to work for pharmaceutical companies or at other points along the healthcare value chain in Canada or elsewhere, including healthcare suppliers, academic partners, distributors, providers, policy makers, and/or consultants. 

Course Mission

The course will provide institutional background about global pharmaceutical firms and the pharmaceutical value chain, as well as current strategic and policy challenges and opportunities that people face along the pharmaceutical global value chain. We concentrate on factors that are critically important for pharmaceutical firms and other stakeholders, including research intensity, extensive and complex marketing investments, close ties to the health care system, and the critical role of government regulations and policy. During the course, we will consider the perspective of established firms as well as new entrants and potential entrants to the industry.

We take a strategic perspective on the industry, focusing on critical decisions that managers and other actors must take as they carry out their day to day jobs, seeking to gain both short term performance and long term competitive advantages. The course begins with an introduction to pharmaceutical pipelines. We next examine key aspects of the pharmaceutical commercialization process, including pricing, reimbursement, promotion, differences among market segments, and competition between generics and proprietary products. We conclude by considering the management of inter-firm relationships such as pharmaceutical alliances and acquisitions. Throughout the course, we will consider the industry's strategic responses to recent developments including the growth of managed care, global competitiveness, proposed regulatory reform policies, and increasing government cost containment policies in Canada and abroad. 

Course Scope

We will cover companies and other institutions along the pharmaceutical value chain in the developed markets of Canada, elsewhere in North America, Europe, and Japan, as well as companies and strategies of pharmaceutical firms based in emerging markets of Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and elsewhere in the world. 

Business Strategy by Firms Based in Emerging Market Economies

Instructor

Will Mitchell

Target Audience

The course is relevant for students who plan to work for or compete with businesses that operate in emerging markets, as well as for students who plan to work as consultants in emerging market contexts. We will examine businesses from the perspective of firms based in emerging markets. In turn, the concepts in the course will be relevant for students who manage such businesses as they build on their home bases to expand around the world, as well as for students who will manage businesses that compete with emerging market firms, whether in Canada or other home markets or in global markets. The core point, from whichever perspective, is to understand the dynamic nature of competitive strategy in contemporary emerging markets. 

Course Mission

The course focuses on strategies that firms based in emerging market economies around the world are adopting in order to compete in their home markets and, increasingly, in regional and global markets beyond their boundaries. By emerging market economies, I mean countries that have established a moderate degree of market-based commercial infrastructure such as labour markets, legal transparency, capital markets, external supply chains, and physical infrastructure. These markets – ranging from the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, to myriad countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East – are now the most dynamic economies in the world. Quite simply, this is where the growth is.

Firms based in these countries are adopting strategies that partly reflect what we have come to think of as traditional business strategy, but also incorporate important elements of strategy that arise from the distinct conditions of the emerging market context in general and of their home countries in particular. The course explores similarities and key differences of business strategy in these emerging market environments. 

Course Scope

We will explore multiple factors that create differences in both kind and intensity of strategies in emerging markets. Four dominant issues arise at the centre of the factors: Dynamic competitive advantage, complex management of resources, inherent uncertainty, and political strategy. In turn, these issues lead to a range of questions involving value chain positioning, supply chains and human resources, cost structure pressures, business model innovation, and other dimensions of strategy. We will explore how firms based in emerging markets around the world have developed strategies to deal with these issues, sometimes successfully, other times struggling to compete effectively at home and abroad.

In order to capture the pragmatic, action-oriented nature of strategic management, I teach this course through the case method, supplemented with readings, lectures, and discussions. Our objective is for you to develop your personal synthesis and approaches for identifying and solving the key problems that you face as business managers. 

Network and Digital Market Strategy

Instructor

Joshua Gans

Target Audience

This course is intended for those interested in pursuing or engaging with network and digital markets including, most notably, online ventures, e-commerce, media, and information platforms. Those wanting to engage in entrepreneurial start-ups on the Internet are particularly targeted. The course will also link to issues in public policy and regulation for network markets as part of introducing students to important non-market aspects of entrepreneurial strategy.

Course Mission

Some of the most dynamic firms in economies around the world are actively pursuing network or digital strategies. These include Apple, Google, Facebook, among others. There is sizeable entry of start-ups into this space and also a set of established firms (particularly, media companies) who are facing disruption as a result of digital technologies.

The goal of this course is to provide students with the tools to evaluate and formulate strategies in networks and digital markets. What choices do start-up firms face? How can they evaluate these choices in the face of uncertainty? How can start-ups be creative in their business plans to ensure diffusion and sustainable ventures? What are the roles of large-scale data gathering and business model experimentation? How should established firms facing disruption respond to new competitive challenges?

The outcome of this course will be a preparation for the tackling challenges in the digital economy using clear strategic thinking applying a variety of economic and game theoretic tools. The goal will be to allow students to become thoughtful participants in business level debates about strategy.

Course Scope

The course covers topics such as first mover advantages, network effects (particularly arising from social drivers), online pricing strategies, establishing online exchanges, digital market design, strategies for information goods, standard setting, privacy, intellectual property rights, online advertising markets and the elements of platform strategy. The subject matter will be a blend of economic theory and strategic thinking with current business cases for online, media and network companies. It will include a focus on current issues such as social networks, cloud computing and media content funding. In all cases, the role and incentives for innovation will be stressed.

Corporation 360°

Instructor

Sarah Kaplan

Target Audience

Students with the following interests should take this course:

  • Consulting
  • Strategic and general management
  • Business-government relations

This course qualifies for:

  • One of the four required courses to major in Consulting
  • One of the four required to specialize in Strategic Management.
  • It is part of the suite of courses offered under the “Integrative Thinking” rubric.

This course will be taught in the Fall 2014 as a full-semester course (once per week) and in the Winter Intensive as a 2-week course (4 days each week). (Note that the WIT version is not appropriate for students with other work or school-related requirements that would prohibit them from adequately preparing for the 8 intensive sessions.  We will do all of the work of a semester course across two weeks, which will by definition be extremely intensive.)

Course Mission

“Corporation 360” is a chance to analyze one firm from many perspectives (360 degrees). In business school, we tend to look at corporations in one facet or another by studying strategy, operations, marketing, organizational behavior, or finance. What new insights emerge when we examine one company from multiple perspectives? What can we learn through the intersections of the insights that come from each business discipline? And, further, what insights develop when we compare the corporation as an engine for creating and capturing private value (and thus providing returns to the shareholder) to that of the corporation as embedded in society and therefore affecting value creation (or destruction) at the public level. This intensive course takes one company and studies its many facets with the goal of developing an integrated understanding of both private and public value creation.

For Fall 2014 and WIT 2015, we will use Walmart as our case study. 

Warning! This is an advanced course aimed at students who want to move beyond tightly structured problems and explore the fluid and complex aspects of real-world decision-making. It will be taught using the case method which means the quality of the course will be highly dependent on the quality of the preparation of each student. There will be very limited lecturing as most of the issues and answers will be uncovered through discussions and debates structured and guided by the professor. Do not take this class if you plan on sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the ride.


Course Scope

This course will examine the case of one corporation from multiple perspectives. We will review many of the subjects covered in your core coursework, showing how we can mobilize the concepts and tools you have learned during the MBA to evaluate how a company creates and captures value for its shareholders. We will discuss the tensions that arise for the manager when attempting to manage across these different functional requirements. In doing so, we will always consider the corporation in society, studying the impact of its choices about labor management, globalization, location, sourcing and other issues on social welfare. At the end of the course, we will take the perspective of the leaders of the corporation and seek to understand how they can make important strategic choices for their company in the face of the many challenges and obligations we uncover in the course.

Course sessions include: strategy, suppliers and supply chain, human resources, marketing and consumers, globalization (including legal and ethical implications), store operations, impact on communities, sustainability, charity as a part of strategy, future growth.

The sessions will involve a combination of guest lectures, discussions of the readings, videos, role playing and debates about important topics. Students will be expected to be actively engaged in debating the issues.  

Health Sector Strategy and Organization

Instructor

Brian Golden

Target Audience

This course is open to all 2nd year Rotman Students and is a required core course in the Rotman School of Management’s major in Health Sector Management. This course aims to improve your ability to formulate and implement strategy in the healthcare delivery sector. The course will help prepare students for leadership roles in healthcare management, the life sciences, insurance, government, entrepreneurship, venture capital, and health sector consulting,
Numerous guest speakers will participate in the course. They will be selected from a group of hospitals CEOs, physician leaders, health care consultants, health care managers and senior government officials. 

Course Scope

Healthcare represents a huge and growing sector in all industrialized economies, is representative of the service and knowledge-oriented focus of the 21st century economy, and has significant and unique management challenges that have not been adequately addressed — in any jurisdiction on the planet!  Virtually all observers agree that the aging population and increased patient demand for new services, technologies, and drugs are contributing to the steady increase in healthcare expenditures, but so, too, is waste.   For instance, many types of medical errors result in the subsequent need for additional healthcare services to treat patients who have been harmed. A highly fragmented delivery system that largely lacks even rudimentary clinical information capabilities results in poorly designed care processes characterized by unnecessary duplication of services and long waiting times and delays. And there is substantial evidence documenting overuse of many services — services for which the potential risk of harm may outweigh the potential benefits

However much the healthcare delivery marketplace environment may resemble a business environment, careful analysis reveals that healthcare organizations are considerably more than mere businesses. Peter Drucker tells us that hospitals, for example, are the most complex form of human organization we have ever attempted to manage.   This complexity derives from, among other things, the confluence of professions (e.g., medicine, nursing, social work, pharmacy, nutrition, accounting, engineering, and physical therapy), numerous stakeholders with competing claims, perspectives and time horizons, underdeveloped information technology, and the incomplete knowledge of medicine.

This course aims to provide a framework for appreciating and managing this complexity.   The course is designed around the key challenges identified by The Institute of Medicine’s influential report Crossing the Quality Chasm (2000).  That report noted the need to address the following challenges in healthcare:

  • Redesign of care processes based on best practices
  • Use of information technologies to improve access to clinical information and support clinical decision making
  • Knowledge and skills management
  • Development of effective teams
  • Coordination of care across patient conditions, services, and settings over time
  • Incorporation of performance and outcome measurements for improvement and accountability

With these challenges in mind, this course provides an overview of the central issues in the management of healthcare organizations and healthcare systems. This includes developing a working knowledge of the key facts about our healthcare system.  Some of the issues we will examine are unique to the Canadian context (e.g., the role of government), and others transcend jurisdictional boundaries (e.g., stakeholder relations).  The topic areas to be covered in this course may shift in emphasis from time to time, based on current debates in the health sector.  In a typical term we will address topics such: as understanding the Canadian health sector (with comparisons to systems in other industrialized countries); comparing and contrasting various integrated healthcare delivery systems; the role of professions vs. occupations in healthcare organizations; the unique challenges of managing multiprofessional organizations, knowledge creation, management and diffusion in healthcare organizations; patient-centred care; issues related to patient safety and quality improvement; and managing change and transformation in healthcare organizations and systems.

The course will not directly explore two important segments of the health sector --- medical devices and bio-pharma.  However, students who wish to work in these industries will need to have a strong working knowledge of the healthcare delivery sector.  When feasible and appropriate, guest speakers from the healthcare sector will be invited to join our class.

Corporate Strategy

Instructor

Ajay Agrawal

Brian Silverman

Target Audience

This course is suitable for those pursuing careers in general management, strategy consulting, and corporate finance. 

Course Mission

In Corporate Strategy, we extend the analysis of business level strategy from RSM 1301 to the corporate or multi-business level. 

Course Scope

We address questions such as: What strategic factors influence the optimal size of the firm in terms of scale and scope? How might corporate managers employ diversification strategies that create more value than that which investors could accomplish by diversifying their portfolios? How might multi-business unit firms identify potential threats with respect to weaknesses relative to single-business unit competitors? How might corporate managers exploit commitments in one business area to benefit another? What types of pricing advantages might multi-business firms exploit over single-business competitors? How might multi-business units influence coordination strategies with other firms, such as those associated with setting technical

standards? How might multi-business unit firms exploit particular demand-side features, such as network effects and positive feedback? To what extent are clever strategic tactics congruent with the overall welfare for humankind? We will explore such questions through the lens of economic theory, apply the concepts in the context of case analyses, and discuss implications for corporate strategy. 

Competition and Strategy in Creative Industries

Instructor

Ajay Agrawal

Target Audience

This course is suitable for those planning careers in general management, strategy consulting, venture capital, and government/policymaking. It is also suitable for those interested in leadership positions in creative industries.

Course Mission

The central objective of this course is to draw basic and nuanced economic insights from the setting of creative industries that are generally applicable to strategy and competition. For the purposes of this course, creative industries are those that are either heavily science- or arts-based, where creative talent is a key input, ideas and intellectual property are key assets, and novel goods and services are key outputs. Since many traditional “humdrum” industries are adopting certain characteristics of creative industries to increase their competitiveness, insights from the creative industries examined in this course will have increasingly broad applicability.

Course Scope

We address questions such as: What makes people creative? What motivates creative people? Why might the careers of creative people be particularly subject to path dependency? Why do fixed costs play such a critical role in influencing firm strategy in creative industries? What types of metrics are used to measure performance in creative industries? How are milestones and options used to mitigate risk in creative industries? What is the logic of payola-type payments to the gatekeepers of creative industries? What is the purpose of patents and copyrights? How can these intellectual property protection mechanisms be used strategically? Under what conditions might agency issues be problematic in creative industries? What strategies might firms employ to deal with such problems? What is the distinction between the product market and the market for ideas? What are the key factors that influence whether firms should compete in one market versus the other? Under what circumstances might large firms be disadvantaged relative to smaller firms in terms of being creative?

Strategic Change and Implementation

Instructors

Brian Golden
Bill McEvily

Target Audience

The perspective taken in this course is that all managers require the conceptual frameworks and action skills to enact change and implement strategy. What differs, however, is the extent to which these skills are necessary at various stages in one’s career. Most obviously, students interested in a consulting career (as an external or internal consultant) should benefit greatly from this course. However, other students who will be expected to enact change without formal authority (e.g., brand managers; project leaders) are also expected to benefit from this class. 

Course Scope

Middle and Senior Managers are increasingly responsible for rapidly managing and resolving competing claims for the organization's limited resources (financial and human). Doing so requires advanced capabilities at managing cross-functionally and between business units. Critical, therefore, are the sophisticated leadership and action skills required to translate one's technical knowledge into effective actions in order to implement strategy. Equally important are the "systems" managers must design, maintain, and update in order to facilitate the implementation of the firm's strategy.

A fundamental objective of this class is to align strategic vision, organizational structure, task, people, reward, and control subsystems. That is, at one level this course is about the interactive relationship of strategic intent and strategy implementation.

Our perspective in this course is that of the general manager whose responsibility is the long-term health of the entire firm or a major division. General managers, from our perspective, are managers who are in the position to make strategic decisions for the firm. Note that such managers are not "generalists" in the sense that they need to know a little bit of everything, but not very much of anything. To be effective, general managers need to have in-depth understanding of the generic problems in all the relevant functional areas. Furthermore, they must be able to deal with problems and issues at the level of the total enterprise and its relationships with relevant external environments. 

Not For Profit Consulting

Not offered in 2014 - 15

Instructor

Vince Brewerton

Target Audience

Students interested in learning more about the not-for-profit and social enterprise sectors, interested in making a positive impact on a not-for-profit organization, and conducting a real consulting engagement from the contracting stage through to final report presentation.

Course Mission

The course has three objectives:

  1. To help you develop a better understanding and appreciation for the social economy/not-for-profit sector and the issues leaders are facing as they try to effect change.
  2. To help you articulate your personal values and understand how they affect the actions you take in business/consulting situations.
  3. To help you develop your consulting skills by applying and reflecting on them as you work on real consulting engagements with real impact.

Course Scope

The course examines the characteristics of the social economy/not-or-profit sector in Canada and the challenges of leading and managing sector organizations. It will also explore developments in outcome and impact measurement, organizational alliances, consulting processes, as well as some new models of philanthropy.

Canadian Business History in a Global Context

Instructor

Joe Martin

Target Audience

Students interested in anticipating the future direction of Canadian Capitalism. The Course is about Canadian Business History in a Global context. The purpose of the course is to help students think historically about future decisions. 

Course Mission

The main objectives of the course are to help students understand the evolution of business in a Canadian context as well as to give students insights from the lessons of the past. As George Santayana wrote, “those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.”

In analyzing business in Canada special attention has been paid to what Joseph Schumpeter called ‘creative destruction’. The Stern School of Business ‘Diamond of Sustainable Growth has also provided a useful framework for Case analysis. The Diamond covers public policy; the financial system, entrepreneurs and professional managers.

Attention is paid to major issues such as the battles between Free Trade and Protectionism and between those who are pro Foreign Direct Investment and those who are against.

Particular attention is paid to long term shifts both within and without Canada – from Quebec City to Montreal to Toronto and now to Calgary; from France to the UK to the US and now to China and India.

Outside speakers include the five individuals who gave $3 million to get the course going. 

Course Scope

The Course is divided into three Parts, beginning in the mid-19th century and ending in the early 21st. Each Part begins with an overview of the time period, where both the general conditions are examined as well as specific corporate developments. After the Overview there are three or four original Case Studies illustrative of the particular time period, written specifically for this course. 

Management Consulting

Instructor

Beatrix Dart
Scott Rutherford

Target Audience

The Fundamentals of Management Consulting is primarily targeted at students who plan their summer internship in a consulting or strategic decision-making environment, or who wish to attend project-related courses (such as in not-for-profit or healthcare consulting) as electives. However, the concepts of the course are broadly applicable across business functions and industries, and are not only relevant to consulting, but also in corporate strategy assignments or business development challenges.

Course Mission

Strategy consultants help organizations analyze and solve some of their most challenging business problems. These problems are typically ill-defined and cross-functional, with clients frequently holding conflicting views on the situation.

This course will help students to develop a set of structured problem-solving, communication and influencing skills that will help to bring clarity and structure to the business problem and identify appropriate solutions.

Course Scope

The emphasis in this course is on developing problem-solving skills, with additional focus given to communication and influencing skills. It will be organized around the phases of a typical consulting engagement: problem definition, problem structuring, data gathering and analysis, recommendations development and presentation. Students will learn and practice specific consulting tools and principles associated with each of these five phases, such as issue trees, hypothesis-driven problem solving, interview guides, and client communication.

The course emphasizes hands-on practice and will involve a combination of mini-cases, role-play, and lectures. Guest speakers from the consulting industry will help to round out the consulting picture.

Technology Strategy

Instructor

Mike Abramsky

Target Audience

The course is intended for those interested in senior roles in technology firms or technology divisions of larger companies, creating (or investing in) technology startups or companies, technology strategy consulting, or analyzing technology companies in capital markets. 

Course Mission

Rapid technological innovation is a source of competitive advantage – and disruption for companies and industries. Effective technology strategy can create and sustain competitive advantage, displace incumbents, defend and create new markets. While most evident in high-technology industries – mobile communications, hardware, software, services, online, networks, cloud, biotechnology – technology strategy can be pivotal to success in other industries such as publishing, manufacturing, healthcare, education, financial services. This course will study the development of technology strategy as a key part of business strategy; analyzing both successes and failures in the context of the ecosystem of customers, competitors, suppliers, etc.

Students should leave the course with a sophisticated understanding of:

  1. The role of technology strategy in an organization,  and its effects on developing and sustaining competitive advantages;
  2. The variety of principles and tactics employed by high profile historic technology firms and their degree of success or failure in driving new growth or adapting to industry change;
  3. Means to assess, develop and evolve a technology strategy for a firm (or analyze existing strategies in place in evaluating a firm’s strengths and weaknesses) in the context of its industry, including competitors, suppliers, customers, etc.
  4. Business model implications of strategic technology priorities, including investments (IT, R&D, patents, etc.), targeted productivity/efficiency or new business outcomes, and related impact on growth, profitability/margins, etc.  
  5. Organizational and cultural issues to consider in developing and executing technology strategy for small to large companies

Course Scope

This course will study the development of technology strategy as a key part of business strategy; analyzing both successes and failures in the context of the ecosystem of customers, competitors, suppliers, etc. 

Game Theory and Competitive Strategy

Instructor

Mike Ryall

Target Audience

This course aims to improve your strategic decision-making ability in competitive situations. In competitive situations, determining the best course of action, requires you to think through your opponents’ options, their aims and the way they will act or react ... all the while knowing that they will be doing the same in order to outdo you. The course will be of particular interest to students in innovation and entrepreneurship and consulting. It may also interest to marketing and finance students interested in understanding interfirm rivalry. This course complements other strategy electives including Corporate Strategy, Cooperative Strategy, and Technology Strategy. 

Course Mission

Our goal is to become better strategic decision-makers, and to develop a systematic and coherent approach to problem formulation, judgment, and strategic decision-making when faced with competitive challenges. 

Course Scope

To help us arrive at good strategic decisions, we will concentrate on an analytic method derived from game theory, starting with basic assumptions and principles and moving to increasingly advanced and complex applications (our approach will be nontechnical, but resources are available for those so inclined!). Game theory helps put structure to competitive situations, identify alternatives, and choose among them. A game- theoretic approach is most useful in complex environments where there is a mixture on conflict and concurrence of interests, and the situations, motives and decisions of rivals are unknown at the time a decision must be made. Our basic approach will be to take break the complexity down into pieces, use game theory tools (as well as good judgment!) to analyze the pieces, and then reassemble the pieces into a logically coherent understanding. Many classes will be organized around strategic games in which you are the players. At intervals, we will consider psychological factors that either impede or contribute toward our efforts to make good strategic decisions. And we will link our methods with real world applications, testing for ourselves the limits and pitfalls of this mode of strategic thinking. 

Venture Capital

Instructor

Brian Silverman

Target Audience

Students interested in Innovation & Entrepreneurship and those interested in institutional investing, private equity and the financing of entrepreneurial ventures will appreciate this course.

Course Mission

This course seeks to train students to recognize and evaluate investment opportunities, and to understand the structure and dynamics of the venture capital industry.

Course Scope

This course covers all aspects of nurturing entrepreneurial ventures from the point of view of the venture capitalist, including raising funds, forming limited partnerships, selecting and valuing potential investments, writing term sheets, choosing syndicate partners, monitoring investments and managing ‘exit’ events. In addressing these issues, it draws on recent research in competitive strategy, organization theory, financial economics and economic sociology. Though built on rigorous theory and evidence, the focus of the course is nonetheless highly practical.

Health Care Consulting: Field Application Project

Instructor

Linda Blair
Zayna Khayat

Target Audience

This course is a recommended and qualifying course in the Rotman School of Management’s major in Health Sector Management (and the Rotman Consulting Major). This course aims to improve your ability to formulate and implement organizational strategy and improve performance in healthcare and life sciences organizations in the public and private sectors. The course will help prepare students for leadership roles in healthcare management and consulting. Consequently, students interested in consulting careers, even outside of healthcare, will develop critical skills for the next stage of their career.

Students are strongly encouraged to complete the fall course Health Sector Strategy and Organization prior to taking Health Care Consulting. Those students who have not completed Health Sector Strategy and Organization will require permission from the instructor in order to enrol. 

Course Description

This course is intended to provide a field application experience as part of your overall Rotman learning experience.  As such, the course has several objectives: 

  • To encourage you to use the mix of functional skills and tools you have learned in previous Rotman courses in the first year and the second year fall semester. 
  • To take those skills and tools from their abstract presentation or artificial case study settings and use them in a real (and important) management setting in a real organization. 
  • To show, in way that cannot be done in the classroom, how knowledge must be adapted to fit real problems or opportunities.
  • To expose you to the craft and process of management consulting.
  • To further develop your leadership and team effectiveness skills. 

This course will provide a supervised experience in the art and science of (a) shaping client-defined issues in ways that make them tractable and (b) applying new ideas effectively in complex organizational settings.  The field application takes the form of a consulting project, but this is not primarily a course in how to do garden-variety consulting.  For those who have not had the consulting experience yet, it will, of course, provide the basics.   But it will also give you experience with techniques, approaches, and coping mechanisms for problem solving in unstructured, sometimes ambiguous, and imperfect situations, especially when you have to influence a situation by expertise and persuasion rather than having direct control over it, and within a confined time frame. You will, in other words, be confronting the reality that most managers and consultants face most of the time. 

Course Structure

The client engagement is the heart of the course, and you will be involved in helping to shape its direction and content as well as carry it out and effectively engage your clients with your findings and recommendations.  The course is structured to maximize your learning about both the content of the project itself and about how to work effectively in a project-oriented, team-based environment.  The most important elements of the course structure are:

1)    A “tutorial” approach to your teams’ initial work plan development, problem diagnosis and problem solving, management of client-team and within-team issues, and final presentations.

2)    Use of course instructors.  Each team will have access to two instructors ― Linda Blair, (Principal, Deloitte Consulting) and Dr. Zayna Khayat (Adjunct Professor, Rotman School), and three co-instructors.

3)    An abridged series of class sessions designed to orient you to the course, our expectations, prepare you for the project, and introduce you to the core consulting skills you will use.

4)    Preparation of a Statement of Work that will lay out the scope of work, resources required, timeline, workplan and deliverables. An initial draft of the Statement will be submitted for feedback.  Each team will add a confidential note to the faculty that describes your hunches about possible hidden agendas, difficulties you think you may encounter in executing the project, and what resources you think you will need to successfully complete the project within the time frame.

5)    Preparation for and participation in weekly check-ins with your assigned course instructor to review progress on the project.  All team members must attend.

6)    A storyboard and “dry-run” of your final presentation of findings and recommendations to your client. All team members will receive feedback on content and presentation skills.

7)    Presentation of the project report to the client and final written report.

8)    A final wrap-up session with your classmates.


Case Analysis and Presentation

Instructor

Tim Rowley

Target Audience

For students interested in honing their skills in areas such as analysis and synthesis of information about management situations, formulating recommendations, developing implementation plays, and professional presentations. 

Course Mission

The specific course objectives are:

  • To increase your effectiveness in informal communication and formal presentations.
  • To better understand how to use business school models and tools.
  • To become a more complete business manager by combining expert analytical and presentation skills. 

Course Scope

This course provides second year students with the opportunity to hone their presentation and communication skills.  Students will enhance their abilities to (1) select the appropriate analytical models to match specific business problems, (2) presents effective presentations, (3) develop logical arguments to support their ideas.

The course pedagogy focuses on learning-by-doing.  Students will learn by regularly presenting their recommendations for business problems, reviewing peer feedback and receiving faculty coaching.  Student presentations will occur most classes and often involve video tape analysis.  

Management Consulting Practicum

Instructor

Scott Rutherford

Course Description

In this course students will be working on a real-life, real-time consulting engagement. The experience will help students understand the consulting process as well as develop a set of structured model-building, problem-solving, and communication skills that will help to bring clarity and structure to a business predicament and identify appropriate solutions.

This course uses a client project-based format to help students develop a deep client-orientation and client management skills. This course is meant to be a practical complement to RSM 2052 Management Consulting Foundations Course where the specific skills of consulting are developed in more depth.

The course is organized around the phases of a typical consulting engagement: letter of proposal (LOP), problem definition and structuring, data gathering and analysis, collaborative and integrative team-problem-solving, recommendations development and presentation. Throughout the course, students will grapple with helping a client start a shift from their current situation to a more desired situation. The capstone of the course will be a working session with executives of the client organization guided by the most powerful insights of the student presentations of the previous day.

Course Mission

The course is intended both for students interested in management consulting as a career, as well as those students interested in corporate problem-solving more generally. The learning objectives of the course include:

  • Approach and frame a consulting engagement
  • Engage with a client to understand their current and desired situations
  • Work with the client to develop an appropriate model of the problem to be solved
  • Specify and gather data to test the model and derive insights
  • Synthesize information into clear conclusions and recommendations
  • Facilitate a working session with the client to understand and develop ownership for the implementation of recommendations.

Leveraging Strategic Networks

Instructor

Bill McEvily

Target Audience

This course will be of particular interest to students in the Consulting, and Leadership & Change Management, Innovation & Entrepreneurship majors. This course is a complement to several other strategy electives including: Strategic Change & Implementation, Entrepreneurship, Network & Digital Market Strategy. 

Course Mission

Some see it as unpleasant and offensive, others view it as a necessary evil, and there are those that find it just plain baffling. Although the concept of networking is not new, the core principles that make this activity valuable to individuals, entrepreneurs, and organizations are often misunderstood. My purpose in this course is to cut through the clutter and help students gain a better understanding of how to create, use, and evaluate networks to generate value. To do so I will introduce students to some simple, but powerful principles that explain: how networks form, what benefits are associated with different positions in networks, and the social dynamics (e.g., reciprocity, trust, norms, reputation) upon which networks are based. As a result, students will gain valuable insights about developing a strategy for managing their own professional networks and will learn how to leverage organizational networks to achieve strategic outcomes. As a way of gaining insight into how networks operate, students will practice putting the network principles to use by: (1) conducting a self-assessment of their own professional networks, (2) considering how organizational networks influence strategic change and implementation, and (3) examining how companies are strategically leveraging (online and offline) social networks to create value. 

Catastrophic Failure in Organizations

Instructors

András Tilcsik

Target Audience

This course is for students interested in understanding what makes modern business organizations vulnerable to catastrophic failure and how strategic and organizational design choices can mitigate the risk of such failure. The course is particularly suitable to those with an interest in consulting, general management, leadership and change management, and health sector management. Students with an interest in public policy may also find the course rewarding.

Course Scope & Mission

Addressing the risk of catastrophic failure is a critical strategic challenge for business organizations. From Knight Capital’s trading meltdown to the collapse of Lehman Brothers to BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, numerous events in recent years have exposed the vulnerabilities of firms to catastrophic failure. Rooted in complex human, organizational, and systemic factors, such failures have the potential to severely disrupt and even bankrupt firms. Thus, business continuity planning and the protection of critical company assets from such failures are now seen as a vital part of any enterprise. This course seeks to train students to recognize the inherent vulnerabilities of business organizations to catastrophic failure, to understand why the risk of such failure represents both a profound challenge and a potential opportunity, and to become more effective decision-makers in general. To do so, we examine biases in human cognition that prevent managers from thinking effectively about the risk of catastrophic failure; consider why even small errors can have devastating consequences in complex systems; and examine how organizational barriers to learning and communication can set firms up for catastrophic failure. Throughout the course, we will consider opportunities for managers and consultants to manage these challenges.

Entrepreneurship for Social Ventures

Instructor

Laura Doering

Target Audience

This course is aimed at students who want to start social ventures, change an existing venture to become more sustainable, or simply learn about the principles of social entrepreneurship. 

Course Scope & Mission

In this course, students will learn how entrepreneurs create organizations that address social problems using innovative, sustainable approaches.  Students will examine a variety of social venture forms, and consider how such ventures can be evaluated, managed, and financed. 

“Entrepreneurship for Social Ventures” has three primary components.  First, students will discuss and debate the principles of social entrepreneurship and apply them to cases of for-profit, not-for-profit, and hybrid organizations.  Second, students will analyse how the goals, structures, practices of those ventures contribute to their success—or failure.  Third, students will design their own social ventures, evaluate their feasibility, and constructively critique ventures proposed by other student groups.

The course is hands-on and project-based. Those who enjoy critically discussing ideas, and then acting on those ideas, will enjoy this course. 

Strategy and Competitive Advantage

Instructor

Brian Silverman

Target Audience

The course is intended to appeal to those interested in managing large firms or entrepreneurial ventures, consulting to such firms, or evaluating them for financial institutions. Students with public policy interests may also find the course rewarding.

Course Mission

This course seeks to train students to be effective strategists.

Course Scope

This course focuses on the strategist as integrator. The strategist of a company crafts its long-term direction and has a view of the company that spans individual functions, products, and regions. For this reason, he or she has a unique opportunity – and a special responsibility – to make sure that the pieces of the firm work together in harmony. Among a company’s senior managers, the strategist is best positioned to ensure, for instance, that the company’s production and marketing choices are aligned, that old and new products complement one another, and that actions in one locale are consistent with moves in others.

The central goal of this course is to help you become a better integrator. Toward this end, the course offers three things. First, the cases are designed to give you practice with integration. Most of them focus on decisions whose ramifications span functional, product, and geographic boundaries. The exercises throughout the course give you further practice. Second, the course introduces tools and techniques that enable you to break a company into discrete parts, analyze the pieces, see how they fit together, and envision how they might come together differently. The tools and techniques should enhance the judgment you build up through practice (but should never replace that judgment). Third, the course offers concepts that strategists can use in their roles as integrators. The concepts focus on interactions among the decisions made in different parts of a firm. Interactions among decisions make the job of the integrate challenging in specific ways that you will come to visualize. Effective integrators recognize the challenges posed by interactions and, accordingly, adjust how they think about strategic problems, how they sequence their approach to making choices, and how they organize their firms.

Creative Destruction Lab Course - Enterpreneurship

Instructor

Ajay Agrawal

Target Audience

This course is primarily targeted at students who are interested in careers in strategy, entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial finance, new product development, and economic development policy. 

Course Scope & Mission

We study the process of commercializing technological innovation through a series of close interactions with real, early-stage technology ventures and their potential seed investors (“the G7”).  We apply basic economics and analytical tools developed in the first-year MBA courses to evaluate the size of markets, the attractiveness of industries, the sustainable competitive advantage of proposed strategies, the financing options and valuation of early-stage ventures, and the downside risks and upside potential of individual entrepreneurs and their vision for their companies; ultimately, we seek to develop the optimal strategy for a new venture.

The course involves working closely with new ventures seeking capital and with experienced entrepreneurs and investors.

Causal Modeling for Integrative Business Strategies

Instructor

Mike Ryall

Course Goals

1. Learn causal modeling methodology

2. Develop skill in the practical use of this approach in both qualitative and quantitative contexts

3. Integrate and apply disciplinary content (i.e., Finance, Strategy, etc.) to real world problems

Course Scope and Mission

Rotman is recognized as a leading center in Integrative Thinking education. A tangible selling point of this education, from the perspective of recruiters, is that our MBAs graduate with a superior ability to use models to solve real-world problems. This course is designed to nurture and extend students’ real-world modeling abilities. In management, understanding and exploiting causal structure is often the key to successful decisions.

For example, the modern marketing manager must choose among a host of possible interventions – traditional advertising, promotions, new media, social networking, the sales force, distribution channels, etc. – under conditions of limited resource availability. Which interventions should be undertaken for maximal effect? A little of everything? A lot of a few things? The answer lies in the links between the available interventions and their effects on: sales, costs, competitors, suppliers, each other and so on. Here, the relationship between action and consequence is a central concern. RSM2016 is about framing, analyzing and resolving issues of this kind.

The course will cover both qualitative and quantitative causal modeling. Qualitative models are useful for such applications as “back-of-the-envelope” analysis, organizing one’s thinking about a complex issue at the start of a substantive analysis, or responding to case questions in an interview setting. Quantitative models are useful when precise answers are required – for example, building financial statements for an entrepreneurial business plan or exploring “what-if” scenarios for a corporate strategic plan or consulting engagement.  Quantitative causal models are first developed for single decision maker analysis, then extended to analyze interactive decisions (game theory).

Students should be forewarned that, although only a basic understanding of probability and statistics is assumed, the course is heavy on quantitative analysis.

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