Global Strategy

CEMS401 Global Strategy

Spring 2022

Autumn 2022
  • Topics

    What do Uber, Amazon and eBay have in common in their struggles to expand their business models to new foreign markets? Why do even large multinational corporations with already established operations worldwide find it difficult to navigate the challenges that arise when entering new markets, particularly emerging or low-income markets at the "bottom of the pyramid"? How can these firms successfully compete in the global marketplace and manage geographically dispersed operations to achieve and maintain competitive advantage on a local and global scale? How can they design business models that are not only profitable but also sustainable in the sense that they take seriously and deliver on the social and environmental responsibilities that come with operating across-borders? As future leaders, it is vital to understand how to take advantage of the manifold opportunities presented by ongoing globalization of markets, while at the same time being aware of and able to address the various challenges that this brings for firms of all sizes and the societies they are embedded in.

    Against this background, the purpose of this course is to identify, discuss, and find answers to some of the major strategic issues and challenges managers face in the global marketplace, particularly when venturing into and operating across different foreign markets and local contexts. The objective is to advance a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to strategize and compete around the globe - for both young entrepreneurial start-ups with (typically) platform-based business models and the more mature and larger multinational corporations pursuing (typically) more traditional business models. Overall and as a common frame, the course focuses on the key question in global strategy and strategic management: "Why are some firms more successful internationally than other firms?". To address this question, the course draws on received theories in the field of international business, global strategy, and business models, complemented by first-hand insights from industry experts and practitioners that we invite for guest talks.

    In the end, this course seeks to give students not only command of relevant theoretical perspectives but enable them to apply these perspectives and frameworks to real-life business situations. Students will achieve this through their work on a term paper that they develop in groups of 3-4 students in close collaboration with partner companies. The term papers come as business project reports that relate theories and frameworks derived from the classes to specific challenges these companies face in their efforts to expand internationally, and finally provide concrete strategy recommendations (including an implementation plan) on how to tackle these challenges. To secure high standards not only in terms of practical relevance but also academic rigor, each group has the opportunity to get feedback on their term paper from an academic advisor at assigned times during the semester.

  • Learning outcome

    After finishing the course, the student should have:

    Knowledge in

    • Global context of strategy: recent dynamics in global markets and the global economy, impact of the external environment (formal and informal institutions) on the strategic choices and international operations of firms
    • Global strategy: have an in-depth understanding of the core challenges when "going international" (choice of market, choice of partners, entry mode,) and "being international" (coordinating foreign subsidiary roles, achieving global competitive advantage as a group of foreign subsidies)
    • Business model innovation and internationalization: understand the concept of business model innovation and how this is relevant in the context of value creation across borders (e.g., digital platforms, e-businesses)
    • Social entrepreneurship: understand how social value creation can be integrated into the business model for operating in low-income markets (bottom of the pyramid)

    Skills in

    • Internationalism: The ability to critically reflect on, and analyze, core questions in international strategy (e.g., conduct foreign market analysis and choice of entry mode). This includes discussing both challenges and opportunities that managers face in an international business environment.
    • Responsible citizenship: The ability to identify and reflect on central ethical challenges in the international business environment and identify possible actions that firms may take to responsibly respond to such challenges.
    • Reflective critical thinking: The term paper challenges students to apply theory to solve complex, real-life business challenges.
    • Business-embeddedness: By working closely with a company, students learn how to apply theory to practice and identify managerial challenges when it comes to international expansion.

    General competence in

    • Advanced research ability, problem solving, and critical reflection
    • Planning and executing project work in an international team during the length of the semester
    • Communicating findings of the project in a clear and engaging manner

  • Teaching

    Lectures : In-class lectures will provide students with a solid theoretical foundation of global strategy, and will cover topics such as international expansion; cross-border competition and the role of strategy; institutional context; business model innovation, digitalization and the effects on internationalization of firms; sustainability and social value creation.

    Students are expected to take an active role in their own learning experience, come to class prepared, and contribute to a positive and open learning environment in class.

    Term paper: In collaboration with a company seeking to expand into new markets, teams of students will work on a real-life business challenge and develop a term paper as main deliverable summarizing the findings and outlining recommendations (e.g., analyze foreign market entry, recommend entry strategy, identify issues of sustainability and recommend suitable course of action). Through this work, students learn to connect theories and frameworks covered in the lectures with real-life issues of international expansion. As a team, students will work closely together in their groups to develop the term paper. They are supported by an academic mentor, who will provide guidance and advice to increase academic rigor of the paper. In addition, a company representative will provide first-hand information on the challenge the company is facing and secure practicability and relevance of the final outcome. At the end, the student groups will present their findings to the class and to company representatives.

  • Restricted access

    This course is only open for CEMS students.

  • Required prerequisites

    Basic knowledge about strategic management fundamentals, gained in a Bachelor course on Strategic Management on topics covered by standard textbooks, such as:

    • Jay B. Barney: Gaining and Sustaining Competitive Advantage (2007, 2010); or
    • Grant, R. M. (2021). Contemporary strategy analysis. John Wiley & Sons. (or earlier editions)

  • Credit reduction due to overlap

    CEMS401 Global Strategy replaces INB422C International Strategy and thus cannot be taken in combination with INB422C International Strategy.

  • Compulsory Activity

    Students will be expected to be prepared for, and active, in class discussions, including team presentations and discussion of case material.  Class attendance is therefore mandatory (absence from three lectures will result in having to write an essay, and absence of four lectures in being excluded from the course). In addition to regular attendance, all students must be actively involved in the development, submission, and final presentation of their group’s term paper. A final requirement for course approval is having regularly taken part in and achieved a minimum score in the online quizzes that follow the lecture sessions, assessing some basic knowledge on the topics covered in the respective lectures.

  • Assessment

    1. Term paper - 70% (group-level, groups of 3 - 5 students)
    2. Online quizzes - 30% (individual-level)

    Online quizzes come in a multiple-choice format and follow lecture sessions. These quizzes are meant to test knowledge and understanding of some global-strategy fundamentals that were discussed during the respective lectures. Students will be given several questions that need to be answered by choosing among provided answering options, whereas multiple correct answers might be possible. These quizzes constitute an individual-level grading component and will contribute in total 30% to the final grade.

    The course approval is valid only for the semester in which the student participated in the course.

  • Grading Scale

    A - F

  • Literature

    The required readings in this course will consist of a selection of articles and case study texts. A list will be published upon course start. Students are responsible for retrieving the articles and cases, some of which may require payment. Instructions and details for retrieving the case texts will be provided in due time.


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Autumn. Offered Autumn 2022.

Course responsible

Associate professor Tina Saebi, Department of Strategy and Management (Maine course responsible)

Associate professor Bjørn Schmeisser, Departement of Strategy and Management