Global Strategy

CEMS401 Global Strategy

Spring 2024

Autumn 2024
  • 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.

    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 4-5 students. The term papers apply theories and frameworks derived from the classes to specific challenges faced by real-life business companies. Finally, the term paper provides concrete strategy recommendations (including an implementation plan) on how to tackle these challenges.

  • 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, such as choice of market, choice of partners, entry mode, 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 analysing real-life business companies, 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:

    Students work in teams (4-5 students). During the semester, these teams develop a term paper as a main deliverable summarizing the findings of their group work and outlining strategy 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. At the end, the student groups will present their findings to the class.

  • 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 actively participate in class discussions, including team presentations and discussion of case material. In addition to regular attendance, all students shall be actively involved in the development, submission, and final presentation of their group’s term paper. 

    Each student group is required to submit and present two interim status reports on their term paper. In addition,each student group is required to provide two peer-reviews of other groups' status reports in written form.

  • Assessment

    Term paper: 50% (group-level, groups of 4 - 5 students)

    Home exam: 50% (individual-level, 4 hours)

    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. A list will be published upon course start. Students are responsible for retrieving the articles. Instructions and details for retrieving the case texts will be provided in due time.

  • Permitted Support Material

    Dictionary: one bilingual dictionary permitted


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Autumn. Offered Autumn 2023.

Course responsible

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

Associate professor Björn Schmeisser, Departement of Strategy and Management