Basic Strategy in Context: European text and cases

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John Wiley & Sons, Jun 8, 2010 - Business & Economics - 352 pages
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Basic Strategy in Context centres on real-world firms and managers by giving each chapter’s cases a higher weighting in importance and explanation than is normal. Given this emphasis on real-world as opposed to theoretical treatment the book enables the solving of practical business problems like those below. This emphasis on reality is cemented by the book’s treatment of diversity as being the norm highlighted through European business cases from different countries. Giving example answers and links from case to theory rams home further the expected usefulness of the book to students about to enter industry. Often theory and cases are treated as different and separated topics; we believe that our integrated didactic treatment is quite unique. Finally we use the basic theories of strategy and then show how these mainly simple concepts can be extended to solve tricky business problems anywhere in any industry.

Here is a sample of specific practical problems to which this book can show solutions:

Why are resources important and how are they leveraged? Using the case of a British failure (Railtrack) we show the fatal consequences of neglecting existing resources, and then in a completely different country and industry (Carlo Gavazzi Space in Italy) how resources can be utilised from outside the firm to achieve leverage.

Given our emphasis on diversity we highlight successful change in a foreign and inflexible environment (Japan and Carlos Ghosn). But can change be planned? Sometimes events or luck sabotage the best intentions as shown in the Samsung case.

The book differentiates itself from the competition in four ways:

  1. Cases form the highlight of the book. Taking European and some international cases as the starting point, the objective is to link themes or topics to a description of their effect on the firm. The linkage will occur at the relevant point in the case, not in a separate section or in another book. The author team has used several longitudinal cases spread over a 15-20 year period. The longitudinal cases are supported by some new, non-longitudinal cases selected from award winning cases associated with the LRP Journal and the Gate2Growth Academic Network. We feel such an emphasis on cases is a novel feature.
  2. The theory is explained using a range of modern didactic methods not usually found in competitive offerings. Examples include colour coded and highlighted links from the theory to the case, questions inside each theory section with model answers and unanswered questions to test the student’s grasp of the concepts.
  3. The book features a mixture of cases from short specific to academically challenging ones. Too often, superficial cases are placed at the end of chapters in strategy theory books. They are picked to emphasize the topics of the preceding chapters. The result is spoon-feeding, with little need or motivation to provoke individual thought or learning. The cases in this book are comprehensive, approximately 20 pages in length, with ample quantitative and qualitative data, thus forcing a modicum of effort from the student.  Shorter cases are also included for ease of understanding and instructor flexibility.
  4. Another differentiating feature is the emphasis on diversity hence the use of European as opposed to US based cases.

"Thomson and Baden-Fuller have crafted a highly original and practical strategy textbook covering a wide range of strategic issues, debates, and frameworks. Their work contains a thorough overview of the strategy field, appealing cases of European firms such as Abrakebabra and Your cup of tea, as well as insightful treatises on the Brent Spar ignominy and the weapon industry. The clever combination of mini-cases, theory, questions and full-fledged cases, and a clear overall structure ensure that students obtain a representative image of strategy as it plays out in the 21st century."
Paul W.L. Vlaar, Associate Professor, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics and Business Management


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This explanation of how the name Abrakebabra was invented is false and untrue of the facts of the case study. The name was invented by trying to amalgamate the familiarity of the word 'magic' with kebab as I wanted to have kebab, if at all possible in the name. Alikebaba was a contender (as in Ali Baba and the forty thieves) as was many others with Middle Eastern influences, but as soon as I thought of the word 'abracadabra' I knew immediately I was onto something and as soon as I wrote down ABRAKEBABRA I felt that that was the best name out there and without doubt it was the one. I immediately went into Deveneys Off Licence where Graeme Beere was at the time and I said 'This name will have you competing with the likes of McDonald's', which up to that point had never been mentioned by Graeme. As for the explanation of the reasoning behind the colours chosen... green was for freshness (not Patriotism), red was represented because it was fast moving and vibrant, and white represented cleanliness. The song by Steve Miller was a side show that came subsequent to the developing of the name and logo of which I also invented by utilising a little used/known typeface at the time called Algerian and incorporating the palm trees at either end of the name containing the five syllabic name neatly and kept with the obvious which encapsulated the overall image at one glance. A very good friend called Joe Lahart came up with the words of the radio commercial to be run on Radio Nova which was basically the same music as the number one hit called Abracadabra by Steve Miller. The reason why the record company did not sue is probably due to the fact that there was only one outlet opened at the time and that was in Rathmines and felt their client would not do as well out of subsequent publicity as the protagonist might. The strap line 'Magic Food - Fast Service' was also invented at the same time as the name. My name is Donal McDonald. 08/08/12. 


What is Strategy?
Analysing the Internal Environment
The External Environment
Stakeholders and Corporate Governance
Strategic Direction
Focus Differentiation or Low Cost
Mergers and Acquisitions
Knowledge and the Learning Organisation
Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship
Integrative Case


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About the author (2010)

Although Prof. Neil Thomson has been Professor of International Business at the University of Applied Sciences, Nürnberg, Germany since 1999 and lived in Germany from the early 1980s, he is British by birth. He has a PhD from City University in London, MBA from Cornell University, USA, and a BSc from Bradford University, GB. He has extensive industrial experience in the oil industry and consulting, as well as a spell working for the US Government as a financial controller. He has several articles published in the LRP journal.

Prof. Charles Baden-Fuller is Centenary Professor of Strategic Management at the Cass Business School, City University London. He is Editor-in-Chief of the LRP journal and a member of the European Academy of Management EURAM. He is author of many influential journal articles and co-author of Rejuvenating the Mature Business and Strategic Innovation.

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