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The fascinating world of strategy – from its origins and development as a subject to the controversies that dominate contemporary strategic debate – is introduced in this course. It’s relevant to anyone interested in how organisations and individuals make sense of the world and strive for success. You’ll develop skills in clear thinking, independent enquiry and collaborative working as you analyse and apply the ideas and approaches that have done most to influence how strategy is conceived and carried out in today’s organisations, whether commercial or not-for-profit, locally, nationally and internationally. You’ll take part in an online collaboration with other students for a month during the summer.
Modules at Level 3 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared
What you will study
Strategy is the way in which organisations and individuals orient themselves towards what they see as success in their various fields of endeavour. Traditionally this has been taken to involve formal sequences of analysis, planning and choice, and implementation of coordinated activities in pursuit of deliberate goals. Other schools of thought have argued that the wide gap between intention and achievement means that the study of strategy should focus on how winning strategies actually emerge almost in spite of such processes. As the world grows more complex from rapid change in technology, lifestyles, markets and politics, it becomes increasingly difficult for strategists to interpret and exploit opportunities for long-term advantage with any certainty. Strategy is thus a dynamic and controversial field, but an understanding of it, and the ability to critically apply strategic thinking, is more important than ever in the twenty-first century work environment.You will learn
Critical thinking skills: the course encourages you to adopt a critical perspective from the outset – not only supporting your detailed familiarisation with a range of theories and models, but also requiring you to take account of the circumstances and contexts in which these theories and models have been developed and applied. This is by no means a negative exercise in being wise after the event about ideas that have had their day; instead, the thorough grounding that the course offers will equip you with the skills to evaluate and select from a diverse body of knowledge guided by its appropriateness to the situation in question. This is a very important benefit from the point of view of how the course will enhance your employability. The challenges of contemporary management in whatever field necessitate precisely this kind of critically informed decision-making, rather than a sole reliance on established modes of thought.Vocational relevance
Professional and key skills: In common with the other courses in the Business Studies programme, the course uses The Open University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) with a particular focus on facilitating collaborative learning. Employers consistently give high priority to the skill of team-working when asked what they look for in graduates, and the course aims to give you ample opportunity to develop and demonstrate this vital professional accomplishment both face-to-face and online. Four of the six tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) include important elements that require you to work with one or more colleagues, culminating in an extended group project in the second half of the course where you will carry out joint analysis of a major case study. This mode of study has the additional benefit of helping to address the potential isolation of being a distance learner, and allows you to learn with and from like-minded students supported by an expert tutor. The assignments will develop and demonstrate your skills in analysis, problem-solving, decision-making and information literacy.
Knowledge and Understanding of Strategy: There are six blocks in the course, covering a total of thirty-two weeks’ study time:
Block 1: Introducing Strategy starts by examining some common definitions of strategy and teasing out their assumptions and implications. After an overview of the course content and structure, supported by appropriate activities, you will be introduced to the fundamental skill of critical thinking and invited to see strategy as a social process that includes you both as learner and practitioner.
Block 2: The Historical Context embarks on a journey through the development of modern strategic thought. Along the way it offers some suggestions as to why one particular approach to strategy, based on economic rationality, has become so widely accepted and persistent. At the same time it will open up questions about the efficacy and continuing relevance of this approach, and outline some of the most influential criticisms which have been made of it.
Block 3: The Strategy Toolkit deals in detail with a battery of models and concepts espoused by strategists working broadly within the economic rational tradition. It examines the ways in which organisations make sense of their external and internal environments, and discusses the strengths and limitations of each technique. Stakeholder management will also feature, leading to a consideration of the wider context (ethical, political and international) in which strategy takes place. An exploration of strategic decision-making follows, relating the ways in which organisations make sense of their environments to how they select strategy to further their competitive and corporate aims.
Block 4: Collaborative Analysis will extend your own analytical and decision-making skills, as you work with other students online on a case-based task. (It centres on a major case study, and you will require regular access to the internet from 9 June to 6 July 2012, a fact you may want to consider when making holiday or travel plans.) The block is activity-based and develops a combination of skills that are highly relevant to employability – team-working, information literacy and problem-solving. It presents an opportunity to relate theory to practice in a way that will increase your grasp of the debates around strategy and develop your confidence to engage in them. In addition, material developed in Block 4 contributes towards your mark for TMA 05.
Block 5: Strategy Implementation seeks to demystify what in many respects is the least well-understood aspect of strategy – putting plans into practice. Key influences on implementation are examined, including the enabling (or blocking) role of culture, and how leadership affects the enactment of strategy. This block will also take account of a major focus of contemporary research, ‘strategy as practice’ – the close analysis of what people do – in order to examine precisely how strategy ‘happens’ in organisations.
Block 6: Where Next for Strategy? – as a dynamic field, strategy needs to be able to address the challenges of an increasingly unpredictable world. Complementing the historical perspective with which the course began, this final block looks at some of the directions in which contemporary strategic thinking is bound, including complexity theory, which seeks to understand how organisations can co-evolve harmoniously and successfully with their continually changing environments.
The focus throughout the course on developing skills (cognitive, practical and professional) closely reflects the Quality Assurance Agency’s benchmark statement expectations for business studies and clearly expresses the course’s intention to enhance the employability of its students. Although it has a significant theoretical component, the course’s emphasis on practical application of strategic models also supports employability across a range of sectors.Entry
This is a Level 3 course. Level 3 courses build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at Levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably at the OU.Outside the UK
The course is aimed at those who want a general overview of how modern organisations approach and carry out strategy.
Although there are no formal entry requirements, it would be beneficial to first study Business organisations and their environments (B201) and Business functions in context (B203) because these courses introduce issues and themes that are developed in this course. Having said that, the course contains in-context study skills support designed to help you get the most out of the activities, assignments and study materials supplied.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.
This course is relevant to business students in both a UK and a non-UK context.Regulations
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.If you have a disability
Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.
If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:
Course books, study guide, other printed materials, website with audio resources.
You will need a computer with internet access to study this course which includes online activities. You can only access these using a web browser with Flash and Java.
You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.
Teaching and assessment
Support from your tutor
You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material. They will mark and comment on your written work, and you can ask them for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the course.Assessment
Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.
The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.Future availability
You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.
There is also an assessed online collaborative activity - centred on a major case study - that takes place between mid June and early July.
The details given here are for the course that starts in February 2013. In 2014 we expect it to be available twice, in February and October. We then expect it to be available once a year, in October.Students also studied
Students who studied this course also studied at some time:
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