Corporate Strategy (Fall Semester 2020)

ECTS 6 (= 4 SWS) 
Coach Prof. Dr. Artur Baldauf, Dr. Simone Schweiger
Assistant Dr. Jessica Villiger, Johannes Brieler
Location Room 001, Engehaldenstrasse 8
Target Group MBA students (basic course, Basisveranstaltung) / lic.rer.pol. students (optional course) 

Credits acknowledged

For students specializing in management: In core subject (Kernbereich)
For students of other specialties: In elective subjects (Wahlbereich)


Due to a team learning approach, students are required to register over KSL. Registrations will be accepted from August 20 until Sep 20 in KSL. We are unfortunately not able to cancel or add registrations after the registration period has ended.

Students will be split into groups and thus we cannot accept any cancellations of the registration later than September 23th. If students cancel their registration later than September 23th they will receive a grade 1 from this course.

There is compulsory attendance for selected classes of this course. Please refer to the course schedule for detailed information. Absence must not exceed two of such classes in order to receive an overall positive evaluation.

In case of illness or other reason for absenteeism in these sessions, please inform the teaching assistant in advance and be prepared to provide a written confirmation.


The basic course “Strategische Unternehmensführung” (Strategic Management) or an equivilant bachelor level course held at other universities must have been completed.


The course will be held in English, and students are expected to give their presentations in English. Questions in the written exam will be in English. Answers can be in either English or German. 

Teaching Approach and Performance Evaluation

Individual Performance

 Final Written Exam 80%

Team Performance

Case Study (case analysis presentation and discussion) 20%

Individual Performance

There are two opportunities for taking the Corporate Strategy exam (see dates and registration period from the course schedule below).

Exam duration is 90 minutes and will consist of open and multiple choice questions. You need at least 50 % of the points to pass the exam.

In the theory part, you will be confronted with questions referring to concepts covered in the lectures and in the textbook. In the multiple-choice part, you will be confronted with questions that cover theoretical concepts you have learned in the lecture as well as practical questions. If you answer a multiple-choice question incorrectly, your overall score will be diminished by the number of points assigned to this question. If you decide not to answer a multiple choice question, you will receive zero points for this question.

In the case study part, you will be confronted with a company case in which you should transfer the knowledge you have gained in the lecture, the text book, the guest lectures, the case studies, and the team work presented.

Should you decide not to take the exam this semester, you may keep your case study and team grade for the next semester. In this case, contact the course assistant.


Team Performance

Every student attending the Corporate Strategy lecture has to be part of a team presenting a case study. Depending on the size of the class, teams are composed of 4-6 students. Students need to allocate to groups by themselves and have to sign in to their preferred team, topic and cases study session on ILIAS by 21st of September 11:00 a.m. The final team formation will be announced at the lecture on 24th of September.  

While we encourage all members of a group to participate in the work of both the team presentation as well as the case study, you are free to decide who will work and/or present the team project and case study. It is not obligatory that the whole group or each team member respectively is presenting (but attendance in class is required from everyone during presentation time).


Case Study

The goal of the case session is that students analyse the corporate strategy of a corporation. Hence, students select a company and reflect upon what the corporation’s core competences are and how they strategically employ them throughout their organization.

The students will assign themselves to one of the four sessions. First, students present their analysis and then engage in a discussion session. The presentation should include 4-8 slides (15 minutes). Note: There is a 15-minute discussion after each presentation. Students are expected to also ask questions to the other presenting teams and to be ready to argument for their own analysis of the value creation and strategic plan.¨

There are going to be two dates, where the case sessions will take place (mid-term and final-term session).

Beside the presentation, students are also expected to hand in a document of 5 pages, where they describe the rationale behind their case study analysis.

The grade will be based on the case analysis but also on the activity in the discussion (evaluation criteria will be available on ILIAS).

Detailed information regarding the case study and team project will be provided in the first lecture “Introduction to team assignments”.

Course Description

Most industrial activity in developed countries is carried out by large corporations that compete in more than one market. Some well-known Swiss examples of companies include Nestlé, Novartis, UBS, Valora etc. Due to the dominant role these firms play in economic activity, it is likely that most students, regardless of their chosen career paths, will at some point either work for, advice, or compete with, a multibusiness corporation.

The nature of these large corporations has undergone enormous change in the past forty years, affecting both their scope and their structure. The merger and acquisition booms of the sixties and eighties extended the scope of existing multibusiness corporations. More recently, capital market pressures forced every corporation to reassess its portfolio of businesses, level of overhead, and the way it coordinates and controls its multibusiness activities. New forms of corporate organization, such as the LBO partnerships of the eighties, provoked a debate about the efficacy of corporate hierarchies. In addition, new institutional arrangements, such as joint ventures, alliances and franchising have come to prominence.

Key Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course students are able to:

  • explain how a corporation creates economic value through its multimarket activity
  • explain how a corporation should be structured and managed to realize the benefits of its multimarket activity
  • discuss why certain corporate activities should be undertaken inside the corporation, rather than accessed through contracts, joint ventures or other institutional arrangements
  • analyze the corporate strategy and corporate level decisions of a company through a given case study and discuss it in front of class
  • identify elements of the corporate strategy triangle on the basis of an example of a Swiss company and present their findings in front of class

Course Material

Course materials will be available on ILIAS during the semester. 

Recommended reading

To be able to transfer your theoretical strategy knowledge to current phenomena in real practice, we highly recommend that you expose yourself to qualitative print material such as: Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), Finanz und Wirtschaft, Economist, Bilanz

  • Collis, David & Montgomery, Cynthia. 2005. Corporate Strategy: A Resource Based Approach, 2nd edition, Irwin/McGraw-Hill. This book is out of stock! Therefore, we provide this book in a binder at Ms. Rüfenacht’s office (122) for you to copy.

Find a complete list of required readings on ILIAS.

Additional reading

  • Besanko, David & Dranove, David & Shanley, Mark & Schaefer, Scott. 2009. Economics of Strategy, 5th edition, John Wiley & Sons.

  • Hitt, Michel A. & Ireland, R. Duane & Hoskisson, Robert E. 2006. Strategic Management Concepts, 7th edition, Cengage Learning

Tentative Course Overview (subject to change)

Date Time                Topic  Room 
Session 1

Sept 17


Attendance for all students required 

Course Overview & An introduction to Corporate Strategy

Introduction to team assignments

001, Engehalde 8            
Sept 21
11:00 Allocate to teams (ILIAS)  
Session 2
Sept 24
8:00-11:00  Resources and Rents I
001, Engehalde 8             
Session 3
Oct 01
8:00-11:00    Resources and Rents II
Session 4
Oct 08

Scale and Scope Recap within an Industry

001, Engehalde 8
Session 5
Oct 15
8:00-11:00 Diversified Expansion
001, Engehalde 8
Session 6
Oct 22
8:00-11:00 Organizational Limits to Firm Scope
001, Engehalde 8
Session 7
Oct 29


Mid-term Presentations:

Case study session 1

Case study session 2

001, Engehalde 8
Session 8
Nov 05

Managing the Multi-business Corporation (Part 1)

Attendance for all students required

Guest Speaker: TBA
001, Engehalde 8
Session 9
Nov 12
Managing the Multi-business Corporation (Part 2)
001, Engehalde 8
Session 10
Nov 19
Corporate Governance

Attendance for all students required

Guest Speaker: TBA

001, Engehalde 8
Session 11
Nov 26
Creating Corporate Advantage (Part 1)
001, Engehalde 8
Session 12
Dec 03

Creating Corporate Advantage (Part 2)
001, Engehalde 8
Session 13
Dec 10

Final-term presentations:

Case study session 3

Case study session 4

001, Engehalde 8
Dec 19 18.30-20.00 Exam (1st opportunity) Registration via KSL Main Building, Rooms 210,201
Feb 11 12.15-13.45 Exam (2nd opportunity) Registration  via KSL Main Building, Room 110