Global Strategy - extended

CEMS401A Global Strategy - extended

Autumn 2021

  • Topics

    There has been an explosive growth in the number of MNEs in recent years. Their contributions to the global economy are such that no student of business or economics can or should avoid thinking seriously about this phenomenon.

    In this course, we identify some of the most crucial challenges facing managers of MNEs. In the course we discuss how many of these challenges are unique to MNEs because of their geographically spread organizations that have to contend with cultural and institutional distances. We explore these challenges using an interactive approach whereby theory and cases are juxtaposed.

    The first part of the course introduces the MNE and key drivers for strategic decision-making. We define MNEs and examine the global leadership challenges facing their managers. We discuss why and how firms choose to internationalize, as well as the managerial challenges, such as the liability of foreignness, that firms face as they internationalize and enter new markets. This part of the course includes a discussion of international strategies in relation to external competitive pressures. We further explore subsidiary roles and subsidiary management as well as a particular kind of local adaptation: the bottom-of- the-pyramid markets. The course provides an overview and discussion of managerial challenges relating to the most international strategies and common operating modes that managers choose when they decide to enter and operate in foreign markets.

    The second part of the course deals with important characteristics of the external context for MNEs’ international operations. We introduce stakeholder theory as a framework to help managers identify and manage key relationships and discuss how managers can meet the challenges arising from external pressures to operate in a socially and environmentally responsible manner - corporate social responsibility (CSR). The course also introduces students to the concept of cultural distance and how this can be measured and the implication it has for managers in MNEs. Part of the external context of MNEs is the institutional context in which it operates. The course provides a thorough overview of two dominant strands of institutional theory rooted in economics and sociology, and we discuss how insights from these strands of institutional theory help managers address the challenges that arise due to the differences they face in home and host country institutional contexts.

    In the final part of the course we identify fundamental managerial challenges when transferring knowledge, practices and human resources across borders. The philosophy of the course is that theory should be illustrated by rich, in-depth cases. The course makes use of a range of cases that have, for the most part, been developed especially for the course. Students are assigned to case-groups each of which has the responsibility for presenting and leading the discussion of a particular case.

    Each student will also join a term-paper group preferably comprising three different nationalities. The term- paper will relate theory derived from the course to challenges confronting a particular MNE. Although the paper will be theory driven, part of the exercise is to provide solutions that might be applied by the MNE.

    Topics for the term paper may for example, include:

    • organizational structures;
    • cultural challenges;
    • knowledge management;
    • ethics and corporate social responsibility
    • MNE entry strategies

  • Learning outcome

    General learning outcomes:

    The focus of this course is the management challenges and opportunities that managers in in the global environment face and how they may be handled by multinational enterprises (MNEs). The course deals with topics such as: International competitive strategy and the challenges and opportunities that managers face in the global environment, international expansion, management of human resources, knowledge transfers, corporate social responsibility, culture and the institutional context in which MNEs operate. In particular, we focus on the managerial and social responsibility challenges that arise as MNEs operates across different cultures, institutional regimes, geographies and economic environment.

    After finishing the course, the candidate should have:

    Knowledge of:

    • International strategy: have an in-depth understanding of the core questions in international strategy (e.g. foreign market analysis, choice of entry modes, international entrepreneurship and specific opportunities and challenges for digital business etc.).
    • MNEs as socially responsible actors in a global context: have the ability to critically reflect on different solutions to managerial challenges including being able to discuss these challenges from a social responsibility perspective.
    • MNEs as an actor in a global environment. Have the ability to identify managerial challenges arising from MNE external environment e.g. stakeholders’ institutions and cultures (e.g. subsidiary roles, bottom of the pyramid, stakeholder analysis).
    • Managerial challenges when managing knowledge and human resources across borders: have knowledge of managerial issues related to knowledge transfer, transfer of HRM practices and expatriation (e.g. social capital theory, institutional theory and practices related to expatriation).

    Skills in:

    • Internationalism: Gain a deep understanding of how local, regional and global economic, social, political, cultural and institutional factors affect decision-making in international expansion.
    • Business-embeddedness: By analyzing case studies, students learn how to apply theory to practice and identify managerial challenges confronting MNEs
    • Responsible citizenship: Learn about the ethical challenges that MNEs face when operating in developing countries, especially bottom-of-the-pyramid markets.
    • Reflective critical thinking: The term paper challenges students to formulate and apply theory to solve complex business challenges.

    General competence making the candidate able to

    • Analyze and deal critically with various sources of information and theory
    • Work in multicultural teams and deal with unstructured problems solved under some time pressure
    • Communicate findings of cases and a project in a clear and engaging manner

  • Teaching

    This course is a combination of lectures and cases. Lectures will be delivered in class and in an on-line version. Case presentations will be in class with on-line participation from students unable to be physically present

    The course makes use of a range of cases that have, for the most part, been developed especially for the course.

    Students are assigned to groups, each of which has the responsibility for presenting and leading the discussion of a particular case and develop a term paper. The term-paper will relate theory derived from the course to challenges confronting a particular MNE

  • Restricted access

    This course is only open for CEMS students.

    Limited to the autumn semester of 2020, CEMS401 is open for INB students and can replace INB400 as mandatory course in the INB major. INB students can contact to apply for CEMS401, no later than September 1st 2020.

  • Required prerequisites

    Bachelor level strategy books such as Jay B. Barney: Gaining and Sustaining Competitive Advantage (2007, 2010).

  • Credit reduction due to overlap

    CEMS401 replaces INB422C, formerly replaced INB422. Students who have taken INB422C International Strategy or INB400 Global Strategy and Management cannot get credits for CEMS401

  • Requirements for course approval

    All students must be involved in one case presentation and one term paper. The course approval is valid only for the semester in which the student participated in the course.

  • Assessment

    Term paper 100 %.

  • Grading Scale

    A - F

  • Literature

    Gooderham, Paul, Grøgaard, Birgitte and Foss, Kirsten (2019). Global Management and strategy: Theory and Practice. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Autumn. Offered Autumn 2020.

Course responsible

Professor Kirsten Foss, Department of Strategy and Management