[Solution]Business Policy and Strategy

Business Policy and Strategy Assignment 3 In order to carry out this assignment, students must carefully read Thomas Friedman’s book, The World Is Flat. Introduction…

Business Policy and Strategy

Assignment 3

In
order to carry out this assignment, students must carefully read Thomas
Friedman’s book, The World Is Flat.

Introduction

To a
large extent, a significant component of business policy is strategic management. Many business
policy textbooks used in business schools are actually strategic management
texts.

At
UMT, we believe that business policy is larger than strategic management. We
hold that business policy has two distinctive features: First, it entails
integrating a wide range of business knowledge – finance, operations,
marketing/sales, IT, HR, and legal. Second, it looks at decision making from
the very highest levels of an enterprise. A little reflection shows that these
two features are interrelated: For decision makers at the top of an
organization to make good decisions, they need to be able to integrate a vast
array of knowledge.

Still,
strategic management as a discipline is important in business policy. With
strategic management, senior decision makers must take steps to assume a
long-term view of their enterprises and the environment in which they operate.
In order to do this effectively, they must establish a vision of where the
organization should be headed. This vision should enable top management to
formulate high level corporate objectives, and these in turn provide targets
toward which specific strategies are directed.

In
his book, The World is Flat, Thomas
Friedman takes a strategic view of where the world is headed. He states that we
have entered into a “flat” world, where all the rules are changing – social,
political, economic, and business. A significant feature of the flat world is
the absence of hierarchies. To a large extent, flattening is being driven by technological advances, particularly
in the areas of computers and telecommunications. But it also reflects dramatic
social changes – for example, in today’s flat world, knowledge is increasingly
free. Finally, flattening is being accelerated by political changes – for
example, with the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the outlook and energies of
former socialist countries have become decidedly capitalist and have led to the
ascendance of hitherto unproductive economies, e.g., in China, India, and
Russia.

Friedman
examines “ten forces that flattened the world,” reorganizes them as “three
convergences,” and defines “nine rules” that well-managed companies follow in
the flattened world.

Questions

Let’s say you are a senior
decision maker in a large computer design, manufacturing and sales company. How
do the “three convergences” affect you? (1-2 page response, single space)

Let’s say you are the head of
a management consulting company with headquarters in the Midwest.
You have 200 employees. About half of your consulting focuses on pure
management issues (e.g., business process reengineering, designing financial
systems) while half focuses on more technical matters (e.g., product design,
network configurations). Your core business occurs in the Midwest region, while
25% lies outside the Midwest in other parts of the USA. From time to time, you
work with international clients.

Use Friedman’s Nine Rules to describe
the direction your company should follow. Illustrate your points with specific
examples (2-4 pages, single space) [If you are reading Friedman’s older 2005
edition, it is okay to discuss the Seven Rules instead.]

Friedman is constantly
referring to Hewlett-Packard as an exemplar of a large, high tech company that
has been doing things right to survive and thrive in a flattened world. On
several occasions, he focuses on HP’s CEO, Carly Fiorina and describes her as
the ideal CEO in a flattened world. Yet even as Friedman’s book was going to
press, HP’s performance plunged, leading, ultimately, to the Board of Directors
firing Fiorina. By the outset of 2006, HP’s performance shot up again (under
new management). What does this tell you about what it takes to manage a large
company at the highest levels? Was Friedman wrong in his assessment of
Fiorina’s capabilities? Did events simply overwhelm Fiorina, so that we have a
good manager being forced to fall on her sword? Does Friedman’s glorification
of Fiorina suggest that his theories are just that – theories; and that they
can’t really predict what businesses will succeed and which will fail? Do you
have any other views of what’s happening here? (2-4 pages, single space)
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