The Grey Chronicles

2009.April.15

Business Policy: A Reflection, Part I



When I took the course in Business Policy in 2006, instead of a final examinations, the lecturer required us for a case analysis plus a course synthesis. I was assigned the IBM Corporation for the case analysis and submitted a five-page course synthesis on my experience while taking this course. As required, included in the course synthesis was a critique of the course content, the individually-assigned topic presentation, the various case analyses presented and personal impact of the course. Here’s an excerpt of the latter paper:


Course Content

Strategic Management is an art and science of formulating, implementing, and evaluating cross-functional decisions that enable an organization to achieve its objectives. Strategic Management aims to integrate management, marketing, finance and accounting, production and operations, research and development, and computer information systems to achieve organizational success. As such, “Business Policy” integrates materials from all business courses and thus, Business Policy becomes the capstone course in business administration.

The apparent course objective was to help us students become cognizant of the fact that the subject tackles the various principles and theories from previously undertaken courses and to apply these strategic management concepts respectively to assigned business policy cases. Our responsibilities, as students, then were to review all concepts learned from the preparatory core subjects, read the required text, and apply these concepts to the best of our abilities.

Personally, I tried to do the latter activities religiously with the hope that all my colleagues did the same and with the belief that as Business Policy is an experiential course, everybody else learns from everybody else’s experience. Unfortunately, the latter was not the case; some of my colleagues share their experiences only when queried, asked, or prompted.

Maybe I was more fortunate than my colleagues, having taken a similar Business Policy course nine years ago, a short but fruitful one-year stint as Business Strategy Analyst of a multinational corporation, in addition to being an Engineering Management Trainee for two years plus almost 15-year working experience from National Steel Corporation (NSC), but I did looked forward to learning new concepts and emerging trends in strategic management to augment what I had previously learned, individually researched, voraciously read, and unwittingly or vicariously gained from actual experience.

Nine years ago, when I took the Business Policy course, the emphasis was more on the analyses of the external (economic conditions, political conditions, legal environment, technology, competition and markets) and internal factors (human resources, facilities and equipment, financial resources, customers, products and services, technology, suppliers and distributors) affecting the firm. Corporate Culture and Corporate Social Responsibility were accentuated as important guides to corporate strategy formulation. The SWOT matrix was discussed at length and the other matrices were sparingly mentioned.

About most of what I learned nine years ago in Business Policy, such as the myriad of components of strategy formulation, implementation, and evaluation, invariably remained the same but the precious new concepts and emergent trends I learned from the present course are what I will cherish and someday apply to actual work situations.

These concepts and trends are, to name a few: a) the emergence of information systems usage in strategic management, to wit: a wealth of strategic information, such as economic, social, political, technological and competitive databases and indices, unpublished dissertations and theses, are more available and accessible online than ten years ago, plus several software applications originally meant for other uses are now being applied to strategic management; b) the business application of Porter’s Value Chain, which although published in late ’80s but only gained ardent following in the ‘90s; e.g., the application of supply chain concept to the business model of the firm, or the fusion of the value chain to the various business strategies; c) the prominence of the Competitive Profile Matrix [CPM], whereby in the 1990s it was only one of the components in the External Factor Evaluation [EFE], however, with the advent of firm’s concept of Competitive Advantage, the CPM is becoming an essential, but separate, tool in strategic management; d) the rising emphasis on the natural environment as a strategic issue after the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997; and e) the implication of globalization to business environment, more so now that I work for a multinational corporation and after undergoing the most trying personal experience during the NSC’s privatization then its subsequent liquidation, an impact of globalization of the steel industry. Last but not the least, the course methodically, graphically and specifically facilitated the construction and development of EFE, IFE, CP, Space, BCG, IE, and QSP matrices, which unfortunately was not the focus of the course nine years ago, except for SWOT, now known as TOWS/PEST, matrix.


Notes:

Annotations: The difference between my colleagues between then and in 2006 was most of my colleagues then had work experience in their respective fields: manufacturing, banking and finance, education, among others. In 2006, a number of my colleagues were recent graduates of baccalaureate degrees without actual work experiences.

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