Assessment 2- Strategic Appraisal Guidelines 2021-22
The second assignment of this module should be written and submitted individually to the Strategic Appraisal submission point on the module Moodle site by 10th January2022, 11. 30pm.The word count for this essay is 4000 (excluding references).
Assessment 2 brief:
The second assignment of this module is a Strategic Appraisal to be undertaken on a given real company – (Tesla). Please refer to the module Moodle site to access the link to the relevant case study. The link will be available not earlier than teaching week 6, due to the Sequential-Learning process of teaching taken at this module: students are required to engage with relevant theory before staring working on this assignment.
Please note: if an alternative company or case is taken for Strategic Appraisal, the submission will be given 0 mark.
You will be expected to apply the strategy tools/theories/models you have learned throughout the module. This will include: 1) the analysis of the external and internal environment of the company; 2) the identification and evaluation of its main strategic options for growth, and 3) recommendation for further development of the company.
You may include appendices (not more than 5 pages) at the end of your report to provide supporting data/evidence of research, but all essential information should be included in the main body of your work. Please note evidence of additional researched material, mechanical structure and soundness and how well the different sections are linked and integrated within the overall report will be greatly appreciated. A good report emphasises clear, concise writing with focused and solid content. This is crucial since report writing skills are essential to any strategic management exercise.
The purpose of the assignment is to draw out the key strategic issues and challenges encountered in running the company; apply the relevant models/frameworks; rationalise and justify the key decisions taken; describe and discuss the underlying strategic principles. You would need to carry out additional relevant research to inform your analysis and findings. Please present your analytical frameworks in a table format in order to save enough space for your written discussion and evaluation.
The suggested format for this report and a possible approach to the word count allocation could be found below:
The report should be clearly structured and follow logically. A contents page should be included which should adequately set out the structure of the report in a systematic way.
INTRODUCTION AND COMPANY BACKGROUND (150 words)
State clearly what the report is about and provide a brief overview of the company to set the context for the case. You need to explain: the purpose of the report; what is the core business of the company do; what industry does it operate in; what are its geographical markets; what are the company’s mission, vision and values?
PART I: External Analysis (900 words)
Part 1 requires an analysis of the external environment using appropriate strategic models and frameworks, which will be discussed during the weekly workshops. In particular, the external analysis will require two main parts and corresponding tools:
Finally, deriving from the external analysis, you should then identify the main opportunities and threats present in the company’s environment (partial SWOT analysis, should be presented in a table format).
PART II: Internal Analysis (900 words)
Part 2 entails the internal analysis of the company under investigation using appropriate strategic models and frameworks. In particular, the internal analysis will require three main steps and corresponding tools:
Finally, deriving from the above-mentioned three steps, you should then identify the main strengths and weaknesses of the company (partial SWOT analysis, should be presented in a table format).
PART III:Company’s Business Strategy and Business Model (300 words)
Description of the company’s Business Strategy in terms of Porter’s Generic Strategies model or Bowman’s Strategy Clock model.
In this section you also need to provide a brief explanation of the company’s Business Model in terms of value creation, value configuration and value capture.
PART IV: Issues & Challenges and Strategic Options for Growth (800)
In this section you will need to summarise the main issues and challenges faced by the company, which should logically follow from the previous steps of your analysis.
Based on that you need to generate a number ofstrategic options that the company could pursue in response to the identified issues and challenges in order to continue to grow. Strategic options should be generated with the use of the Ansoff matrix or the TOWS Matrix models (table format).
PART V: Evaluation of the Strategic Options for Growth and Implementation (800)
In this section you should provide a specific suggestions to the company based on evaluation of strategic options identified previously through the application of theSFA framework (table format) and select the best one. Please explain your choice and discusswhatresources needed to implement the strategic option chosen effectively.
Provide a brief summary of the major findings arising out of your analyses and leading on to YOUR final strategic recommendations for the company’s ongoing health. What problems will the company face in order to sustain a competitive advantage over its rivals?
REFERENCE LIST (Alphabetical order and Harvard style. It is not included in the word count)
APPENDICES (Not included in the word count)
It is essential to include relevant academic literature into discussion, inform sources with in-text citations and provide reference list by following Harvard referencing style - please click on the icon below to read the guide to the Harvard referencing system.
1. What is expected in an assignment to get a First (70%)? Can we get a layout for a 1st and 2nd as examples (marking scheme)?
You are suggested to read the “Strategic Appraisal marking rubric” in the Module Handbook– you could also read it by clicking on the icon below. All the markers will follow this marking rubrics to mark this assessment.
2. Can we see an example of a good strategic appraisal?
We have an example or a report on another companies (McDonalds and GAZ) because students analyse different companies every year. Please click on the icons below to read the samples.
3. For this assignment, what frameworks are compulsory and what are optional (e.g. Porter's Five Forces)?
The module offers students a great variety of frameworks as it aims to offer a holistic view on strategic management. In this sense, we do not restrict students in the number of frameworks for their case analysis. However, considering the word limit, we strongly recommend focus on the highlighted 9 frameworks first (as suggested in the assessment 2 brief above) and if there is any space (and energy!) left some other frameworks can be applied too.
The last three lectures provide students with deeper knowledge of specific concepts that can be integrated well in the analysis. For example, systems and structures can be linked to the value chain (firm infrastructure/operations), leadership, culture and focus on sustainability – to resources, capabilities, and sources of firm’s competitive advantage; these also can be used to support arguments for selecting strategic options (SFA framework).
4. Should we include definition of each strategy and framework (theoretical literature)? How important is theory and explanation of each framework with a definition as opposed to a short citation outlining the framework (it will use word count)?
No need to explain frameworks (e.g. ‘PESTEL refers to political, economic blah blah blah…’). This is unnecessary and it ‘eats up’ valuable space. Theory explanation/description, however, should not be mixed with more specific theory use or discussion/reflection on theoretical concepts – the latter is actually required and this is why students are expected to integrate academic literature in their analysis.
5. Should we make reference to the pandemic or Brexit in the external analysis?
If you think this will be relevant for your discussion and each of these represent a major macro factor that have implications to the industry and the firm.
6. In the discussion on issues and challenges (Part IV) do we have to repeat conclusions from previous sections?
Absolutely not. If you read the brief (above) the purpose of this section is to summarise the main issues and challenges that are logically connected to your previous analysis. Please try to avoid repetitions. If you hesitate, just try to always write less of meaningful text, rather than produce more text that will be repetitive and descriptive.
7. Can we provide a recommendation of a problem that the firm faced during last few year but has resolved it in 2020?
Yes, if you think it could be resolved in any better way; this is a good opportunity to link case data with more recent sources and use those to your advantage.
8. In the discussion on strategic options for grows, should SFA be applied to those options that are developed be based on the TOWS or Ansoff?
Yes. The sections in the report should be logically connected to each other.
9. Do we only include tables, or we also have to provide a written discussion?
All tables should be accompanied by a written discussion. This is also explained in the assessment brief: ‘Please present your analytical frameworks in a table format in order to save enough space for your written discussion and evaluation.’ We also provide specific suggestions to the table format and the ways to represent your analysis at the last lecture (‘Module revision’).
10. Should we put all tables in appendix?
Appendix is usually used to provide a reader additional information that would support the discussion in the main body. We DO NOT recommend placing all key parts of the analysis in appendix; they should be in the main body.
11. Can we incorporate external material when building our models or can we only use the case material?
Yes, you can and, actually, you should. The purpose of this assignment is to undertake a Full Strategic Appraisal of a given real company culminating in the generation, evaluation and selection of strategic options for the firm in its efforts to continue to grow and develop. You would need to carry out additional relevant research to inform your analysis and findings.
It is also explained in the Module Handbook: ‘Please note evidence of additional researched material, mechanical structure and soundness and how well the different sections are linked and integrated within the overall report will be greatly appreciated. A good report emphasises clear, concise writing with focused and solid content. This is crucial since report writing skills are essential to any strategic management exercise.’
12. What kind of sources can we use? Can we use non-academic sources?
Yes, you can use reliable non-academic sources. Examples of reliable non-academic sources include government reports, reports from the big consultancy firms, business press (e.g. FT.com) and reputable newspapers and magazines. We, however, strongly recommend avoid such sources as Wikipedia, UK Essays and blogs – they are both non-academic and unreliable.
13. How many references required?
There is no any specific requirement for the number of references. But students are expected to use the case text, which should be referenced, and support their discussion with academic literature and external sources. Generally, we do not expect students to use more than 30 other sources.
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