06220416 - Competitive Strategy

Credit hour 3
Total number of hours 32
Number of hours for lectures 32


Mayrhofer Ulrike
Rodrigo Bandeira de Mello


Part 1 (Rodrigo Bandeira de Mello):
This course aims at providing both theoretical and empirical basis for reflecting upon strategizing and organizing under different institutional settings. Institutional variation entails different rules of game for business players around the globe. We will discuss how managers can make better informed decisions about sources of competitive advantage in the global landscape.

Part 2 (Ulrike Mayrhofer):
This seminar focuses on the international development of companies. Current challenges faced by companies for their internationalisation are explained. Internationalisation strategies are analysed and their implementation is discussed. The concepts and tools are illustrated by several case studies.

Part 1 (Rodrigo Bandeira de Mello):
Strategy and sources of competitive advantage: positioning and resource-based models
The institutional dimension of strategy

Part 2 (Ulrike Mayrhofer):
Understand current challenges faced by companies for their international development
Be familiar with major internationalisation models
Be aware of managerial implications associated with an internationalisation strategy

Part 1 (Rodrigo Bandeira de Mello):
The primary goal is to analyze the business environment and organizational setting in order to formulate strategy aiming at achieving global advantage. It is expected that course participants will be able: a) to identify the relevant sources of competitive advantage of a firm; and b) to analyze how institutional features affect the sources of competitive advantage.

Part 2 (Ulrike Mayrhofer):
Analyse the international development of companies
Elaborate an internationalisation strategy
Formulate recommandations for the implementation of an internationalisation strategy

The CSR dimension will be discussed in the case-studies.


Part 1 (Rodrigo Bandeira de Mello):

1. The concepts of strategy and competitive advantage. Sources of competitive advantage
What is strategy? Where do the sources of the superior sustainable economic profits come from?
How firms may deliver and sustain superior value to customers? How to identify key firm competences?

In-class group work:
Students will apply the models we discussed in class to selected companies.

Case Study: L'Oréal: Expansion in China
- Analyze to what extent the sources of competitive advantage of L’Oréal are valuable in China’s environment.
- What are your recommendations for L’Oréal in China?

2. The institutional dimension of competitive strategy.
What are institutions and how they affect strategy? How does political and cultural differences affect international strategy?

Part 2 (Ulrike Mayrhofer):
1. Identifying new business opportunities
2. Elaborating international business strategies
3. Choosing market entry modes
4. Organizing international activities
5. Managing the global value-chain



Part 1 (Rodrigo Bandeira de Mello):
  • Michael Porter, "What is Strategy?", Harvard Business Review
  • Khanna and Palepu, "Strategy that fits emerging markets", Harvard Business Review

Part 2 (Ulrike Mayrhofer):
  • Buckley, P. and Ghauri, P. (2015) (eds.), International Business Strategy. Theory and Practice, London, Routledge.
  • Daniels, J.D., Radebaugh, L.H. and Sullivan, D.P. (2014), International Business, 15th ed., Upper Saddle River, Pearson Education.
  • Meyer, K. and Peng, M. (2016), International Business, 2nd ed., Florence, Cengage : Thomson-Southwestern.

  • Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17(1).
  • Barney, J. and Hesterly, W. (2015). Strategic Management and Competitive Advantage: Concepts and cases, 5th Ed., Pearson.
  • Hall, P. and Soskice, D. (2001). Varieties of Capitalism. Oxford Press.
  • Porter, M. (1980). Competitive Strategy. Free Press.
  • Porter, M. (1996). What is Strategy?, Harvard Business Review, 74(6).

  • Mayrhofer, U. (ed.) (2013), Management of Multinational Companies: A French Perspective, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Mayrhofer, U. and Urban, S. (2011), Management international. Des pratiques en mutation, Paris, Pearson Education.


Continuing Examination
Nature of student work and proportion weight:
Part 1: Case-study on competitive advantage (50% of grade)
Part 2: Case-study on the internationalisation strategy of a company (50% of grade)

Additional Information


Part 1 (Rodrigo Bandeira de Mello):
This course adopts a participant-centered learning approach. Students are encouraged to actively engage in case study preparation and reading discussions. In addition, course sessions are based on strong interaction among participants in order to build a favorable momentum in the learning environment. Participants’ personal experiences, unique points of view, insights are more than welcome and will be valuable in class discussions. Selected readings from executive-targeted journals and case studies will be previously assigned for class discussion. Course slides and a list of suggested readings are also provided for participants.

Case study preparation

How should I prepare for the case discussions and presentation?
Students should be prepared for case discussions as assigned. They should carefully read the case text in order to frame the context and make a case to be defended in class. There is no unique right solution for any case, but rather a set of alternative analyses and course of action. The participants should be prepared to argue about their cases.

Remember that:
a) Case analysis should only be supported by existing facts. No extra information about the company is allowed. Please do not look up about the case in the internet. You will need only the information in the case text to make your arguments.
b) Use you past experience and knowledge to make sense of existing facts. This mixture between your perception and objective data will make your arguments non obvious and stronger.
c) Use theoretical concepts drawn from this and other courses to make sense of the data.
d) Avoid “copy and paste” text case in your answers.
e) Consider pros and cons of your suggested course of action.
f) Do not “bullet point” the whole answer. Try to develop a logical text flow.
Part 2 (Ulrike Mayrhofer):
The format of the class includes lectures, class-discussion, and case-studies. It is aimed to be interactive and the students are invited to participate actively.