Core courses and electives
The Oxford MBA comprises eight core courses designed to develop your understanding of business. You will be immersed in fundamental business principles, from accounting to marketing and from strategy to organisational behaviour. These core foundations of business incorporate cross-cutting themes relating to the world-scale challenges shaping today’s business environment. Our core courses combine a mix of case studies, practical learning, and real-world applications, empowering you to go on and become a global leader.
You will have the opportunity to choose four electives in Hilary term, six in Trinity term, and two in the Long Vacation. Expand on the fundamental business principles learned in your core courses by focusing on areas of business and society relevant to your goals and interests. Whether you want to focus on Business in China or Negotiations for your career post-MBA, or you’re simply interested in learning more about Artificial Intelligence & Advanced Analytics in Marketing, Advertising & Retail, our extensive catalogue of electives has something for everyone.
Examples of electives available to Oxford MBA candidates include:
Artificial Intelligence & Advanced Analytics in Marketing, Advertising & Retail, Business History, Business in China, Capitalism in Debate, Corporate Turnaround & Business Transformation, Corporate Valuation, Entrepreneurial Finance Project, Entrepreneurship Project, Financial Crises and Risk Management, Financial Management for Banks and Insurers, Global Opportunities and Threats, Global Strategy, Global Sustainable Business, Impact Investing, Leadership: Perspectives from the Humanities, Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring, Negotiations, Political Economy for Business Leaders, Politics, Economics and the Context of Business in Africa, Project Management, Regenerative and Circular Economy: How to do Business in a Climate Emergency, Reputation and Leadership, Strategy & Innovation, Supply Chain Management, The Nature of the Corporation, Trust in the Digital Age
International electives include:
Electives on offer are subject to change from year to year depending on demand.
Background: Financial statements are fundamental data for all organisations. In the last few years, financial reporting requirements have changed significantly across the globe, with many companies now publishing their annual accounts according to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). An understanding of financial reporting using IFRS is a prerequisite for understanding the financial success and financial stability of these companies. While it is not necessary for you to become a technical accounting expert, some technical and institutional knowledge of accounting is essential for leadership roles in any organisation.
Objectives: There are two primary objectives for the course. The first is to build your understanding of the subject of accounting. We can define accounting as the process of identifying, measuring and communicating economic information, with the purpose of informing decision-making relating to the financial performance and financial position of an organisation. At the heart of accounting is a model for recording and presenting economic information, which is summarised in a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. The starting point in understanding accounting is grasping how this model works. A deeper understanding of accounting then requires an appreciation of both the strengths and limitations of accounting data. The second objective is to build your understanding of financial reporting more broadly, including areas such as financial statement analysis, corporate valuation models, investor relations, audit and governance.
This course will enable you to:
- read and interpret financial statements, and understand the 'language of business' that is used in the business media and elsewhere
- perform financial analyses of companies, for example for the purposes of financial management and control, or for investment or credit decisions
- evaluate your own organisation’s reporting policy and strategy.
In the current competitive environment, it is important to understand the relationships between different business factors, to forecast trends, to appreciate the risks arising from management actions, and to optimise investment strategies. Decisions are often taken under considerable uncertainty and time pressure. Therefore, managers need to be able to grasp the range of uncertainty rapidly and make rational decisions, which are both flexible and robust. This course aims to enhance your ability to apply modern decision technology and statistical methods to decision-making. It is a practical course, which uses Excel to illustrate how to apply the methodologies introduced. The course is multidisciplinary with links to accounting, economics, finance, marketing and operations management.
Business Finance is concerned with measuring the value that investments create for investors, and with understanding the way that this value is shared amongst the various claimants on the firm’s profits. At the end of the course, students should have a good understanding of portfolio management and its relationship to the corporate cost of capital; they should be able to value new investment opportunities, and to price basic derivative securities; finally, they should understand some institutional features of the bond market and the market for initial public offerings.
The first part of the course lays the foundations for this discussion by examining the measurement of risk and return, and by understanding how investors can build portfolios so as optimally to trade risk off against return. This provides us with a benchmark for evaluating fresh investment opportunities. The second part of the course shows how this is accomplished, by valuing the cash flows that an investment is expected to yield over its life. The course then discusses the various sources of funds, and the ways that financing patterns might affect the value of an underlying investment. Finally, the course discusses the fixed income market, derivative securities, risk management, the separation of ownership and control, and the market for initial public offerings.
By completing the entrepreneurship project you will develop a complete business plan and present it to a panel of invited venture capitalists and other practitioners.
If you already run a business this is a great chance to develop new products or business models in a safe environment.
The goal is for completed plans to be attractive to the professional investor. This means that the numbers must add up, patents must be in place, the competition must have been understood and a winning strategy developed. It is often said that investors care more about the management than the plan – in this case, the management will be you.
Firms and Markets
The first part of the Firms and Markets course applies the principles of microeconomics to business decisions. Microeconomics studies the behaviour and interaction of producers, consumers and other economic agents. In this course we will focus on the choices of firms and the implications for industry dynamics. The course covers the building blocks of supply and demand, competition and monopoly. In addition, we discuss the important managerial topics such as pricing methods, strategic interaction between firms and auction design. Students without any economics are recommended to invest a substantial amount of time ensuring that they have grasped this basic material.
In addition to mastering the basics of microeconomics, students will learn how to use these ideas to address managerial problems. During the course students will analyze a number of case studies, as well as conduct an in-depth industry study.
The second part of the Firms and Markets course is an application of the principles of microeconomics, to macroeconomic problems: the analysis of the national and the global economy, with special emphasis on the role of governments and central banks. The teaching will assume that, by now, students have a solid base in microeconomics, as taught in the first part of the course. By the end of the course we expect that students will be able to understand the policy debate, critically assess the various arguments, and understand the implication of policy to business decisions. The teaching will be both analytical and applied.
Marketing plays a critical strategic role in all firms. The marketing function has responsibility for generating and growing demand for a firm’s brands, products, and services in the marketplace in a manner that delivers superior value to both the firm and its customers. This is all the more important in today’s technology-enabled, fast-paced, always-on and on-demand market environment where customers have increasingly high expectations of firms and firms in many established industries face new competitive threats from innovative and radically new business models. Moreover, due to these market conditions and new technologies, marketing has become an increasingly digital and technology-enabled field. Thus, the future of marketing looks very different.
This course provides an in-depth introduction to contemporary marketing, with a focus on what matters for the future of marketing. Students will be taken through key stages of developing a value-creating marketing strategy and cover topics such as market analysis, consumer behaviour, digital marketing, customer value analysis, product development and innovation, social media marketing, and retail marketing.
The course’s ultimate aim is twofold. First, to instil in students 'marketing thinking', which emphasises a customer-centric view of business because delivering superior value to customers increases long-run firm value. Second, to equip students with future-oriented marketing knowledge that will prepare them as the business leaders of the future. The specific course objectives are:
- Understand what marketing is and why it is a critically important part of any business
- Appreciate changes that have taken place both in the marketplace (eg with consumer behaviour) and in marketing practice (eg due to technology and digital marketing), and what these changes imply for marketing strategizing)
- Critically analyse a firm’s marketing actions, identify problems, recommend feasible improvements, and develop a strategic marketing plan
- Know fundamental principles of marketing, including segmentation, targeting, positioning, and customer value
- Appreciate the various aspects of the marketing process (eg customer insights/research, product launches, innovation and product development, retail, digital, social media) and the key considerations for each one.
Leading individuals, teams and organisations is the central task of management and critical to performance, whether you are in a start-up, global corporation, public service or social enterprise. This significance is constantly growing as an increasingly complex and volatile economic and geo-political context calls for strong, responsible leadership. Yet, leadership is as difficult as it is critical, thanks to the complexities of human nature and the challenges that arise when people work together.
We have designed this course to help you meet these challenges in three ways. It will help you:
- understand what drives yourself – and others – to develop an effective, personal leadership style
- apply and evaluate frameworks for managing individual, team, and organisational performance
- reflect on these leadership frameworks and skills in the context of your own experience
These aims are immediately relevant for a lot of activities and assessments during the MBA, such as work in your study teams, group assignments, the Entrepreneurship Project, to name but a few. In short, the better you understand yourself, the team members around you, and the best ways of getting the most out of everyone, the more fruitful your year at Oxford Saïd will be. Beyond ‘unlocking’ value in the MBA itself, though, Organisational Behaviour will prepare you for your next management challenge, and many more after that. To prepare you for that journey, the course is structured around the organisational lifecycle from ‘start-up’ to ‘grown-up’ with a strong focus on your personal leadership development.
The course does not attempt to give you a definitive set of tools and policies. There is seldom a single ‘right’ answer to the complex organisational questions that confront executives in their day-to-day work. There are, however, plenty of wrong answers. It is our aim to sharpen your sense for what works when.
Why are some organisations more successful than others? This is the fundamental question of strategy. This course will help students understand the origins and causes of variation in organisational performance. We examine strategy for the single-business organisation (competitive strategy) and the multi-business organisation (corporate strategy), recognizing the range of criteria for defining ‘success’. We will also cover some of the basics of global strategy and innovation. The course extends students’ existing background and awareness of the problems involved in managing an organisation by providing readings, analytical tools and case discussion of fundamental strategy issues.
Overall, the course aims to help students develop the following skills:
- The ability to apply strategy theory and frameworks critically to the analysis and diagnosis of strategy problems.
- An understanding of strategic options in a variety of contexts, including single-business, multi-business, non-business and global contexts.
- The capacity to formulate and defend arguments in support of strategy proposals, using theory and evidence.
Technology and Operations Management
The operations function of the firm covers all aspects related to the delivery of the product or service the firm offers; it not only determines the cost base, it also generally accounts for the largest proportion of working capital requirements, and determines quality and service level for the customer.
This course will introduce the key concepts of operations and process management, develop understanding of their relevance to organisational effectiveness, and show how operations can nurtured as a source of ongoing competitive advantage. We will cover the main concepts of process improvement, including Lean Thinking and Quality Management, and review these in the context of the wide firm.
At the end of this course, you should be able to:
- Identify the importance of operations management for manufacturing, service, and not-for-profit organizations;
- Apply operations management ideas and techniques to identifying, analyzing, managing, and designing or improving processes and systems;
- Understand the subject from the various perspectives of the CEO, the entrepreneur, the investor, the customer, and the consultant.
- Describe how operations management can be used to develop strategic advantage
Choose from a wide range of electives, allowing you to truly focus on topics that are specific to meeting your career goals.
The list below is an example of electives offered to previous MBA cohorts. Please note all details are subject to change.
Artificial Intelligence & Advanced Analytics
In Marketing, Advertising & Retail
Previously known as 'Marketing Analytics', the purpose of this course is to examine applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics (using machine learning and statistical methods) to business challenges in the domains of marketing, advertising, and retail management.
Students will gain exposure to:
· Explanations of the underlying technologies and technical principles associated with AI and advanced analytics
· Real-world examples, case studies, and guest speakers that will focus on how various kinds of organizations can use AI and advanced analytics to solve problems and generate value
· Challenges associated with the development and implementation of advanced analytics-based systems in marketing, advertising and retail, including data infrastructure, governance, and ethics
This course is designed for students who wish to better understand contemporary changes in the global economy, using the Institutional History of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Industrial Revolutions. Students will gain an understanding of how dynamic leaders built lasting institutions during periods of dramatic change in the world economy, by using the material fabric of Oxford (museums, libraries, colleges, businesses, transport networks, etc) to understand global trade and commerce. Students will also learn how case studies (and historical narratives) function as inspiration for organisational change.
Business in China
China is one of the most dynamic and rapidly changing business environments in the world today. The size of the domestic marketplace makes it a magnet for foreign business, but it has proven time and again to be an immensely difficult place in which to do business. It is a country in which the business landscape is in a constant state of flux; it is simultaneously undergoing an economic, legal, social and technological transformation. The purpose of this course is to provide a framework for understanding these changes and develop the tools needed to do business in this challenging environment. It is useful not only for those interested in doing business in China, but also for those who are interested in understanding one of the most important drivers of the global economy.
Each week of the course will address a major component of China’s business environment from both a foundational perspective and from a practical perspective. Topics will include the historical relationship between China and foreign business, the relationships between the government and business, the process of economic reform and development, the challenge of reaching the Chinese consumer, the legal context and the competitive challenge that is emerging from China. In each week the readings will include background readings that provide context, readings that focus on the lessons for foreign business and concrete case studies. The intent is to provide you with a rich understanding of today’s China and the knowledge needed to do business in China.
Capitalism in Debate
The role of business in society is changing. While we do not know what the future of capitalism might be, we can see ways in which it can and must change, and we have an obligation to our students, and to the wider world, to equip Oxford MBAs as best as we can for the challenges of the 21st century.
There are three broad themes that make up the course:
- Role of Business – such as shareholder capitalism, political economy, governance, institutions, how capitalism functions and varies, purpose, alternative conceptions of the corporation.
- Sustainability – such as debates over sustainability, climate change, accountability and corporate reporting, and engaging with NGOs, supply chain and other stakeholders.
- Impact – such as business and society, social capital, measurement of performance, social entrepreneurship, renegotiating boundaries of business and society.
In the first theme, we aim to educate with respect to the institutions of capitalism, stimulating reflection upon the role of business in society.
In the second theme, we lean towards management practice, asking what is demanded of a transition from business models of the past to the sustainable business of the future.
In the third theme, we focus on impactful organisational forms and financing.
Regenerative and Circular Economy
How to do Business in a Climate Emergency
The objectives of the course are to:
- Understand how the collaborative economy (also commonly referred to as the ‘sharing economy’) is disrupting business models across sectors, changing how we live, work, bank, travel, learn and consume
- Learn about how the best known start-ups in the space, namely Airbnb and Uber, have scaled so fast, and understand the challenges they face in taking on legacy industries
- Understand the next wave of ventures such as The Food Assembly, Transferwise and UpCounsel, and how they apply collaborative principles in ways that are set to change industries from food to banking to professional services
- Explore the impact the collaborative economy has on the foundations of society; including the future of work, how we think about trust, and the design of regulatory structures
- Discuss the challenges incumbents face in terms of internal capabilities and culture that may hold them back in the collaborative era and discuss how might they respond
- Acquire practical knowledge of the unique challenges and opportunities of building start-ups in the space
This course pairs academic readings, cases (including Airbnb) and frameworks with pragmatic, real-time input from successful entrepreneurs around the world. Monday classes will be focused on understanding key principles that underpin the collaborative economy and will be explored through readings, visualized concepts, debates and video material. Wednesday classes will be focused on practical learning on the unique opportunities and challenges of building businesses in the collaborative economy. In each Tuesday class, we’ll be joined by a guest entrepreneur to draw lessons from how they have built their own ventures.
Corporate Turnaround & Business Transformation
In this course we will be considering the ways in which corporations and public sector organisations attempt to change when they hit trouble. We will look at both successful and unsuccessful cases, and examples from large and small organisations. We begin by thinking about what leads to corporate difficulties in the first place, and consider the way in which turnaround can be designed, enacted and sustained. This is a field in which there are no ‘magic bullets’, but we hope the material covered will help develop your thinking and help you to reflect on your own experiences.
Managers of firms have many responsibilities. A critical one is ensuring that the firm makes appropriate investment and financial decisions. This course focuses on how to make good decisions. While the course deals with the mechanics of corporate valuation, it is also a course on how to create (and destroy) corporate value.
Doing Business in Africa
The objective of this course is to learn about what the growth prospects in Africa are and what business opportunities Africa presents. The course will also explore the long-term drivers of change in Africa, including the physical, human, global, technological, and institutional and private sector influences. The course is an opportunity for those with an interest in Africa to increase their understanding of how business operates on the continent and access professional and personal resources.
The overarching aim of this course is to gain insights into which opportunities exist on the continent, what challenges may impact those opportunities, and understand where future growth will come from.
The learning outcomes are as follows:
- Assessing Africa’s growth performance and prospects over the next 50 years
- Develop an understanding of service delivery, technology and doing business in Africa
- What is the infrastructure gap, financing and business opportunities in Africa
- Understanding the dynamics of Africa’s middleclass, and the opportunities they offer
- Gain insight into the regional and global integration of markets in Africa and the economic complexity
- The role and impact of inclusive business and BEE in South Africa
- Know what the business opportunities are in financing infrastructure
The course is delivered during the Easter break in South Africa. Many of the sessions will include guest speakers and company visits. The session will include a mix of presentations, discussions/Q&A, and interactive group work.
Entrepreneurial Finance Project
The last decade has witnessed an explosion of entrepreneurial activity world-wide. As the interest in starting business continues to grow, especially among the younger generations, so does the interest in experimenting with alternative financing models. Whilst he second half of the 20th century witnessed the rise of the US venture capital industry, the 21st century has brought about a proliferation of investment models globally.
In this class students will learn the conceptual foundations for understanding main challenges of financing entrepreneurs, sometimes taking the investors’ and sometimes the entrepreneurs’ perspectives. Students will become familiar with the terminology and institutional background of the industry, and learn about the underlying economic issues. While this course does not aim to provide a comprehensive treatment of financial valuation techniques, it will discuss many of the financial trade-offs that arise in the context of private investment deals, both in terms of valuation and contractual structures. It will also relate these financial trade-offs to the broader strategic decisions made by entrepreneurs and investors. The course is primarily based on a mix of case studies, lectures and a variety of interactive exercises.
The main purpose of this course is to:
- Introduce students to the topics of entrepreneurial finance
- Expose students to the variety of challenges faced by different types of entrepreneurs, in the process of seeking funding for their entrepreneurial ventures
- Challenge students to understand the alternative ways that different investors with different investment models use for sourcing deals, writing contracts or managing portfolios of entrepreneurial investments
- Integrate theoretical and applied perspectives for understanding more deeply the practice and structures of entrepreneurial finance
The course is designed for a variety of student interests. It directly addresses the concerns of students wanting to become entrepreneurs in the near or more distant future. It provides tools to those students who want to be active on the investing side, such as working for accelerators, angel groups, venture capital firms or corporate venture organizations. It will also be useful to anyone who expects to be interacting with entrepreneurs and private equity investors, be it as suppliers, accountants, strategic partners, consultants, customers or other. Finally, this course is meant for anybody with a curious mind and a willingness to combine serious analysis with creative thinking.
Financial Crises and Risk Management
The course will develop the analytical tools necessary to understand crisis prevention and management, and risk management. The properties and characteristics of risk management techniques will be analysed and related to corporate and sovereign default risk, hedging and trading strategies, regulation and assessing financial stability and systemic risk. Emphasis will be put on applying these techniques on problems emerging in the marketplace.
Financial Management for Banks and Insurers
In this course you will:
- Understand financial market products, dynamics and key participants in the context of trading a securities portfolio
- Explore different trading styles, investor bases and risk parameters
- Design and build an investment portfolio with cash securities and apply leverage and fees
- Identify 3 different trade strategies using derivatives (curve trade, relative value trade and options trade)
- Understand the moral hazard risk in financial markets
Fintech: Present and Future: London
The objective of this course is to learn how Fintech is changing areas such as mobile payments, money transfers, loans, fundraising and even asset management. It will look into how the established financial firms will be rethinking their strategies and how their structures fit within this new market environment. Building on our knowledge of the finance, technology and entrepreneurship space, and the relevant courses eg Entrepreneurial finance, Entrepreneurship project, Strategy and Innovation, etc. the course will focus on the impact of technology: how finance is currently run and what is changing the way companies do business. The disruptive technologies are undeniably altering how small companies and consumers interact and do business, as well as how companies market their products and services, and cultivate long-term relationships with their clients. The overarching goal of this course is to gain insights into what these 'disruptions' are, how consumers and companies are responding, and where opportunities lie for the future.
This course is a four-day field trip to London. London is currently leading the way in financial services and houses a fast-growing technology entrepreneur community working in these industries. The best way to learn how things are changing and to develop skills in evaluating new opportunities and challenges is to be where the action is, and to meet business leaders and entrepreneurs who are doing it. The course uses a mixture of discussions, readings, exercises, and, most importantly, meeting companies and executives who are facing new challenges in digital and social marketing on a daily basis.
- Be equipped to understand and experience innovation in the financial sector.
- Learn first-hand how emerging technologies are disrupting existing marketplaces and financial services.
- Gain insights from business leaders and entrepreneurs about how they are responding to challenges associated with digital transformation in the industry.
- Learn more about career paths in financial services and build their professional network.
The principal aim of this course is to provide managers and entrepreneurs the tools needed to evaluate the opportunities and risks of global expansion and to successfully implement a global strategy. Although levels of global economic integration have increased dramatically over the last three decades, the global economy is far from being perfectly integrated, and the differences between national markets remain critically important. These differences are often the result of non-market factors (such as culture, politics, regulations, and institutional structures) and success in a global economy requires managers to consider both the market and non-market environments in which firms function. Any firm exploring the potential of global markets must consider the ways that the global economy is being shaped by local, state, regional and international actors and the technological, political, and social developments that are likely to define their future.
Building on the first eight weeks of the core Strategy course, Part I of Global Strategy will provide cognitive frameworks for assessing and implementing a global strategy, both in evaluating whether or not to expand globally and addressing the organizational challenges of implementing strategies across international borders. In Part II we apply these key concepts to challenges from the fastest growing and arguably most challenging part of the global economy—emerging markets. Finally, in Part III we consider the role for corporate diplomacy in an increasingly volatile global environment. We will learn the basics of scenario planning, consider state-owned enterprises and privatization, and tackle the reputational challenges for companies operating in multiple, possibly conflicting regulatory regimes. The future business leaders the tools needed to evaluate the opportunities and risks of global expansion and to successfully implement a global strategy.
Global opportunities and threats: Oxford (GOTO)
An action-oriented problem-solving community geared towards addressing some of the most complex issues that the world faces today - this course is unique to Oxford. It gives you two critical things:
- Access to Oxford’s most famous pedagogic institution: the tutorial. Oxford tutorials have sharpened students’ thinking, analysis, critique of evidence and powers of persuasion for centuries.
- Allows a critical analysis of the global opportunities and threats that will be, or already are, part of the business landscape for the coming few years.
Global Sustainable Business
Students will focus on two key frameworks throughout this elective:
Intersection of sustainability and strategy
- How can sustainability help businesses find new customers and retain existing customers?
- How can sustainability help businesses streamline operations and reduce costs?
- How can sustainability help businesses manage risks?
Fundamentals of sustainability challenges
- What does sustainability actually mean?
- When do the actions of businesses materially contribute to solutions?
- What role does collaboration between business and other actors—civil society, governments—play in constructing solutions?
This course aims to to explore the range, nature, and institutional structures of impact investing:
- Supplyside, demandside, intermediaries
- Policy context
- Impact metrics
Students will also learn to workshop specific deal structures and emerging instruments
- Mixed income models
- Structured finance
- New legal forms
Leadership: Perspectives from the Humanities
Humanities scholars have been thinking about leadership for nearly 3,000 years; we can probably learn a thing or two from them. And Oxford has been a centre for the study of the humanities for nearly 900 years, so there are few better places to draw on the richness and depth of scholarship into how leadership works. The work of historians, philosophers, classicists, as well as the study of literature and artefacts from diverse cultures and traditions, can shed light on most challenges that concern business school students, in ways that will complement other courses. Unique to Oxford, this elective’s course leaders and the University’s humanities scholars will offer insights into the nature of leadership in different contexts.
Eight sessions, each lead by a different humanities subject expert will be grouped into four modules:
- The world novel and human rights: Postcolonial literature
- Shakespeare’s Coriolanus on page, stage and film
- Christopher Wren in Oxford
- China’s past, present and future
- Philosophy of mind: Impediments to free choice
- Moral philosophy: Issues for the ethical leader
- Leading a performance: choral conducting
- Persuading your audience: rhetoric and speech making
Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring
This elective will examine mergers and acquisitions and the restructuring process. The purpose is to give you real insights into the takeover process its motives, strategy, regulation, integration, valuation, tactics, deal making, shareholder engagement and relationship to ownership around the world. The course will evaluate the success and failure of deals and establish what makes for success
The course will comprise case studies, lectures and each week there will be practitioner presentations by senior people from Deutsche Bank, Hermes, Legal & General, McKinsey, Rothschild and Slaughter & May.
This popular, practical elective teaches the principles of negotiation and how to improve your technique. Through simulations you will learn how to develop skills across different negotiation experiences and how to build your own personal style and capabilities.
- Claiming value
- Creating value
- Individual style
- Multi-issue negotiations
- Multi-party negotiations
- National culture
Political Economy for Business Leaders
This elective is designed to provide students with an understanding of:
- economic data and how to interpret it
- the link between economics and politics
- the influence of politics on business and the economy
- how to influence politics
You will learn the rules of economy, including what is GDP, how it is calculated, what its shortcomings and benefits are, and how to predict the future.
You will also learn the importance of politics and how to “play the game”, including how policy is formed, how to influence it, and why you don’t have to pay to play.
The course incorporates extensive use of case studies and real world examples to investigate:
- how governments form policy
- who needs to be influenced and when
- why policies change (and don’t change)
- why money isn’t a prerequisite for policy debate
The course is relevant to investment bankers, management consultants, business managers, professionals, entrepreneurs, NGO employees and social entrepreneurs.
Politics, Economics & Business in Africa
Africa continues to grow. Even as several countries on the continent suffer the economic effects of declines in commodities prices, others remain among the fastest-growing economies in the world. In 2018 - even as growth rates around the world slowed - Cote d’Ivoire and Ethiopia grew at nearly 8%. More than a dozen countries in Africa grew better than 5% in 2018. In some ways this growth story is an extremely optimistic one. A rising African middle class has demonstrated a taste for consumer goods; new technologies are creating rapid innovative shifts; and Africa’s population—currently more than a billion people—is booming and overwhelmingly young at a time when populations in other regions are shrinking and aging.
Yet, as recent economic shocks have demonstrated, Africa’s overall trajectory is far from fixed. Many economies on the continent continue to rely heavily on particular commodities such as oil, and in several places economic reform and development has proved frustratingly slow. The business and investment climates in African countries remain complicated, with inadequate institutions, poor infrastructure, rising inequality, and governments that continue to play a large and sometimes unpredictable role in the economy. The combination of high population growth, high formal sector unemployment, and poor investment in education threatens to make the continent’s burgeoning population a liability, rather than a boon, to development. Across the continent the scars of troubled histories, decades of mismanagement, and unresolved political questions loom large.
This course aims to provide students with an understanding of some of the key challenges and opportunities that managers, investors, entrepreneurs, and policymakers face on the continent, as well as to offer tools to analyse this complicated environment. The course will, among other things, use a systematic approach to analyse and address some of the most common challenges managers face in Africa: obtaining financing; managing human capital; dealing with infrastructural and institutional inadequacies; finding and analysing data; and understanding the political context. The objective is not only to help students see new opportunities, but to provide them with models and strategies for managing the challenges created by this complex environment.
The course is built around a set of case studies that highlight the on-the-ground experiences of firms and organisations currently doing business in Africa. These cases provide a granular picture of the business environment in key countries, as well as generalisable lessons and conclusions that are broadly applicable across the continent. The course is delivered by Professor Catherine Duggan.
In this course, we will have a strong focus on the strategic. Though we will often delve in to project management tools and fundamentals, it will always be with the goal of developing big-picture managerial intuition—about a project’s role in the larger strategic aims of the organization; about how the project fits with other projects; about maintaining awareness of the customer; about navigating uncertainty; among many others. While every project has a unique context, there are important commonalities that span most projects. It is these commonalities that permit us to explore project management generally. In this course we will examine a range of contexts – e.g., outsourcing, product development, geographic expansion, construction, merger integration – in order to develop general capability in managing projects and the people who manage them.
The objective of this course is to prepare students so that they have the ability to effectively manage projects and groups of projects. The goal is to equip individuals across any career concentration, rather than extend the expertise of project-management specialists. We will cover both quantitative and qualitative aspects of project management.
Reputation and Leadership
The principal aim of this course is to provide students with an assessment of how reputations are created, sustained, destroyed and rebuilt. Over the last decade, reputation has become one of the top 10 risks evaluated by senior management. Companies that enjoy strong reputations gain competitive advantage in labour markets, financial markets, consumer propositions and supply chain effectiveness. Individuals with good reputations get paid more, and have more successful careers. Equally clear is the fact that individuals and companies that fail to understand reputation operate with a significant handicap in their chosen fields. Yet reputation is not the property of the individual or the corporation; by definition it consists of the perceptions held by others. This course aims to equip students with an understanding of how they as individuals and as managers should consider and engage with their reputations to achieve success in business.
Strategy and Innovation
Strategy and Innovation focuses on the interface of nascent markets, organisational capabilities for innovation, and the strategic management of emerging technologies. The class is not about a specific kind of technology or industry, nor is it only about commercial innovation. The course design and content welcomes students from a broad range of skill sets, career aspirations, and professional expertise who are interested in strategic management in fast-moving markets: People who want to start entrepreneurial ventures, who are interested in setting strategy in dynamic markets, who want to promote social and technology innovation, who will consult, and/or who will work in VC or PE.
The course introduces concepts and tools for assessing, analysing, and intervening in entrepreneurial and growth markets and in emerging industry spaces. The focus is on linking concepts with actionable skills. The reading and discussion grapple with fundamental questions:
- Why do successful incumbent firms often struggle or even fail over time?
- What is the impact of technological innovation on market dynamics?
- What to build, develop and curate nascent markets?
- How to analyse the (policy) arc from invention to impact?
- How to identify and improve the firm innovation system?
- How do challenger firms and technologies disrupt incumbent ecosystems?
- What can models of innovation offer for emerging services and digital industries?
Supply Chain Management
The aim of this course is for students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the key areas of supply chain management: the management of supplier relations, the control of information and material flows to avoid dynamic distortions, and the prevention and recovery from supply chain disruptions and breakdowns.
The Nature of the Corporation
The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the role of the corporation in contemporary society and the promotion of responsible business.
The corporation is one of the most important institutions in our lives. It clothes, feeds and houses us. It employs us and invests our savings. It is the source of economic prosperity and the growth of nations around the world. It is central to business school education and your future careers.
This course brings together material from many different parts of the MBA and MFE programmes to give students a thorough understanding of the purpose, objectives, ownership, governance, financing and problems confronting the corporation. Each week there will be presentations by some of the most inspirational leaders in business.
Trust in the Digital Age
To survive and thrive, an organisation needs trust in customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Trust is the social glue of business and society; its at the heart of almost every action, relationship and transaction.
But trust is undergoing a radical transformation in the digital age, with implications for how we live, work, bank and consume. Corporate, political and cultural leaders are concerned about a disturbing trend: The erosion of public trust in everything from governments to social media platforms and how its hampering innovation, employee loyalty and contributing to widening inequality.
This course gives students clear frameworks, best practices from entrepreneurs and practical tools to navigate a new era of trust. Students will learn how to be more trustworthy, learn about the currency of trust, and learn about emerging tech trust challenges.