Course Syllabus

GRBA853 Strategic Management and Business Policy

Spring B 2020

 Instructor Contact Information

Tawnya Means

Tawnya Means, PhD

Assistant Dean, Assistant Professor of Practice




As you near the end of your MBA program, you have learned quite a bit in various functional areas such as accounting, finance, economics, marketing, organizational behavior, supply chain and human resource management, and business analytics. Each of these courses individually has provided you with information and opportunities to apply that functional knowledge, mostly independently of other topics. You may even have had opportunities to apply what you have been learning on the job in your current career or an internship. This course will give you opportunities to integrate knowledge that you have learned previously, which will give you a deeper appreciation of how the functional areas you studied before come together.

Strategic management concepts help explain why some firms outperform others. Strategy is the task of the general manager and upper-level management teams; it relates to both business- and corporate-level decisions that are aimed at sustaining competitive advantages over rivals. Many critical decisions made by management will stretch beyond specific functional areas of expertise and the comfort zone of the people involved. Companies need managers who are skilled at thinking in an integrative manner and also skilled at making decisions based on this thinking (Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, Charles Burck; 2002). Through this course, you will improve your skills in thinking strategically from the perspective of a senior executive in the way that you identify strategic challenges, analyze the competitive and firm environment, formulate alternative courses of action, convey your strategic thinking to others, and justify your recommendations in ways that are firmly grounded in strategic theory and supported by strategic logic. Senior managers have daily responsibilities for examining critical assumptions, discerning hidden values, evaluating evidence, accomplishing actions and assessing conclusions. You will practice these skills as an essential component of this course.

To accomplish these goals, we will use a combination of textbook and case readings, discussions, and simulation to explore the basic direction and goals of an organization, the environment, industry and market structure, and organizational strengths and weaknesses. This is a fully online course, with all work completed online. Included in the course are several synchronous meetings. These online web meetings will help us to connect to each other and make sure that everyone has what they need to be successful in the course.


In a traditional MBA strategy course, it is expected that you will integrate your prior coursework in the MBA program. This type of course is built to help you see how all the separate business disciplines fit together, and how you should act as a manager. However, as the focus is typically on the formulation-implementation and internal-external environment frameworks, this type of course focus leads to students who can relate to the theoretical concepts (seeing how seemingly unrelated concepts overlap, e.g. relating accounting or finance skills to organizational behavior or marketing) and applied integration skills (making links between component parts of a business and understanding how those impact the financial success of the whole firm, e.g. using information from financial statements to guide decision making and strategic positioning), but provides little opportunity for developing practical integration skills (leveraging both the theoretical and applied knowledge and skills in the reality of a complex organization, e.g. actual experiences in making decisions at various levels of the organization in environments that are not overly simplified and include consideration of the human impact). Practical integration (or how to actually implement a strategic plan) is highly valued by employers. Managers regularly find themselves making critical business decisions that go beyond their functional area of expertise and challenge their comfort zone. Decisions in the real world are messy, ill-defined, and have far-reaching effects on multiple levels. The activities in this course will go beyond conceptual to provide you with an integration of the theory and the practice to be successful.

Course Description in Catalog

Development and implementation of corporate strategies and policies. Interrelationships between the external and internal environments of the organization (including functional areas) are stressed through identification, analysis, and implementation of solutions to strategic situations facing varying types of organizations. Policy cases, live cases/industry analyses, and an executive-level simulation game. Bridging the gap between management theory and practice.

Prerequisites: Admission to the MBA, MPA, MABA, MAIAA program or permission of the MBA Director.


This course is configured to give you a combination of theoretical, analytical, and practical information and experiences. The overall goal of this course is to integrate your previous coursework and be prepared to make decisions as a manager.

Specifically, course objectives include that students will:

  • Recognize the relationships between management theories that underpin successful strategy execution linked to effective practices
  • Explore the organizational context and managerial decisions that are interdependent and critical to implementation of strategies and policies in an organization
  • Apply various decision-making styles in multiple contexts that take a number of factors into consideration
  • Realize how decisions impact individuals and teams in the organization
  • Align decisions to a specific strategy and then evaluate the future of the firm relative to rivals
  • Use financial and operational data from a firm to make decisions
  • Communicate strategic messages with others in a clear and concise manner

In addition to these course level objectives, the MBA program has aligned this course with the following two learning outcomes:

  • Graduates will be competent communicators, producing high quality written business documents.
  • Graduates will be collaborative, effectively working as a part of a team.

You will be required to work on assignments as an individual and as part of a team. You will be required to participate in an online business simulation and use other technological tools effectively to communicate and get work done online.

 Required Materials

Go to and click the Sign Up button. Click on Register Now and complete your registration. The industry ID to use this term is C117114. You will purchase all the course materials during the registration process. The charges for the simulation, CompXM exam, and the Strategic Management 3rd Edition eText by Frank Rothaermel are bundled together for $144.98.

Topics and Due Dates

Course Topics and Assignment Due Dates.docx

Warning: All assignments are due on the date and time specified unless prior arrangements are made for extenuating circumstances. Late work is only accepted with prior approval.


Course Activities Details.docx

All assignments are graded based on specifications within each assignment instruction page.

Grading Scheme

The following grading standards will be used in this class:

Grade Range
A 100 % to 94.0%
A- < 94.0 % to 90.0%
B+ < 90.0 % to 87.0%
B < 87.0 % to 84.0%
B- < 84.0 % to 80.0%
C+ < 80.0 % to 77.0%
C < 77.0 % to 74.0%
C- < 74.0 % to 70.0%
D+ < 70.0 % to 67.0%
D < 67.0 % to 64.0%
D- < 64.0 % to 61.0%
F < 61.0 % to 0.0%


Canvas Information

All course content, grades, and communication will reside in Canvas for this course. For Canvas, passwords, or any other computer-related technical support contact the IT Help Center.  Phone: 402-472-3970 | Website:  | Submit a support ticket: 

 Course and University Policies

Accessibility Support

The University strives to make all learning experiences as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience barriers based on your disability (including mental health, chronic or temporary medical conditions), please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options privately. To establish reasonable accommodations, I may request that you register with Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). If you are eligible for services and register with their office, make arrangements with me as soon as possible to discuss your accommodations so they can be implemented in a timely manner. SSD contact information: 232 Canfield Admin Bldg.; 402-472-3787.

Academic Honesty

Academic honesty is essential to the existence and integrity of an academic institution. The responsibility for maintaining that integrity is shared by all members of the academic community. The University's Student Code of Conduct addresses academic dishonesty. Students who commit acts of academic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary action and are granted due process and the right to appeal any decision.

College of Business students are held to the standards set by the UNL Student Code of Conduct. In the Student Code of Conduct, acts of dishonesty are specified as, but not limited to: cheating, fabrication or falsification, plagiarism, abuse of academic materials, complicity in academic dishonesty, falsifying grade reports, impermissible collaboration, or misrepresentation to avoid academic work. The penalties for academic dishonesty will be severe and may range from receiving a failing grade on the test or assignment, failing the course in which academic dishonesty took place, or the possibility of expulsion from the university.

Writing Support

The UNL Writing Center can provide you with meaningful support as you write for this class as well as for every course in which you enroll. Trained peer consultants are available to talk with you about all forms of communication, including lab reports, presentations, research papers, cover letters, and application essays. You can visit at any stage of the process, from brainstorming and organizing ideas through polishing a final draft.  The UNL Writing Center is located in 102 Andrews Hall, with evening hours in the Adele Hall Learning Commons and other satellite locations. You can schedule 25- and 50-minute appointments any time by visiting For more information about the Writing Center, including hours and other locations, please visit

Course Summary:

Date Details Due