Strategic management

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Instructor: Nguyen Van Thang (Ph.D.)

April 2016

Table of Content

About the instructors 2


Tentative Class Schedule 4


Case 1: Mismanagement Closes a Bookstore 5

Case 2: How One Small Store Thrives Among Giants 7

Case 3: China's real estate bubble 9

6 nghịch lý trên thị trường bất động sản Việt Nam 14

Case 4: Video: Howard Schultz: The Star Of Starbucks 16

Reading 2: Starbucks đang bị "tín đồ" cà phê Việt xa lánh? 20

Reading 3: Starbucks in Vietnam 25

Starbucks in Vietnam: Guide for analysis 30

Case 5: The Toyota Production System – Example from NUMMI’s Plant 38

Case 6: Samsung 41

Case 7: The Design Company (E company) 45

About the instructors

Nguyen Van Thang, Ph.D.
Ph.D., University of Oregon (USA), 2002

MBA, Boise State University (USA), 1995

B.A., National Economics University (Vietnam), 1989
Research Interest

Interfirm Trust, Entrepreneurship, International Management

Dr. Nguyen Van Thang is the Director of the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, National Economics University, Vietnam. His research has been published in world-class journals such as Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of World Business, Journal of Business Venturing, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Journal of International Management, and Human Resource Management Review. Some of his works have also been presented at major international conferences such as Academy of Management Meetings, Academy of International Business conferences. He is a member of the Academy of Management. Dr. Thang received his Outstanding Reviewer Award from Management Education Division, Academy of Management, 2004, and a NEU Research Excellence Award, 2009.
Dr. Nguyen Van Thang has taught Strategic Management for Henley, Boise, and NEU MBA programs. He was a visiting professor at the University of Macau (2005-2007), and visiting lecturer and taught Small Business Policies class at the Washington State University (Fall 2004). He also taught Management for undergraduates at the University of Oregon during his Ph.D. program. Relatedly, he has participated in a number of training and consulting projects for organizations in Vietnam.



Thang V. NGUYEN, Ph.D.

Office: 102, Building #14

Tel: 0985489976



  • Strategy: A view from the top, by de Kluyver, C. A. and Pearce, J., 2003, Prentice Hall, NJ.

  • Collections of cases and video transcripts.

Objectives of the course:

After finishing this course, participants will be better able to:

  1. Understand key concepts on strategy

  2. Conduct strategic analysis for various types of organizations

  3. Generate and evaluate strategic choices for various types of organizations

To accomplish these objectives, active preparation and participation of the students are critical. The course will include class and small group discussions, short lectures, video and text cases, and a team project. It is absolutely essential for participants to do required readings and cases before the class. Attending class will help you learn the material and prepare for the exam/assignments. Please arrive on time for class as a courtesy to others; late arrivals are disruptive.


Grades will be based on performance on the final exam, a team project, an individual writing assignment, case preparation notes, and participation.

  • Exams (60 points): There will be a midterm (20%) and final exam (40%). Students arriving later than 15 minutes after the scheduled start of the exams will not be permitted to take the exam. If you are unable to take the exam, you MUST notify me in advance either by e-mail or phone. University guidelines governing any form of academic cheating or dishonesty will be strictly enforced.

  • Team Project (30 points). Teams of 3-4 members will be assigned by the instructor during the second week of the course. Each team will need to complete a project consisting of a report (no more than 15 pages, double-spaced) and a presentation in class. Separate instructions on the team project will be posted on class web.

  • Participation (10 points). This accounts for attendance and participation in class discussions. Marks weigh not only on quantity but also on quality of the participation. All students are required to participate in discussions of classes and groups.

Tentative Class Schedule



Readings and cases


Introduction to the course

What is strategy?

Chapter 1: What is strategy?

Case 1: Mismanagement closes a bookstore


Competitive advantages: Strategic positioning

Chapter 4: Formulating business unit strategy

Case 2: How one small store thrives among giants?


Environment Analysis

Team project assignment

Chapter 2: Change and uncertainty in the external strategic environment

Case 3: China's real estate bubble


Practice of environment analysis

Case 4: Starbucks (Video + readings)


Midterm exam


Internal analysis

Chapter 3: Leveraging internal resource and change drivers for competitive advantage

Case 7: The Design Company


Balanced Scored Card

Chapter 3: Leveraging internal resource and change drivers for competitive advantage (Balanced Scorecard)

Case 11: Samsung tries to snatch Sony's crown


Organizing for success

Chapter 9: Strategy implementation and control

Case 10: Toyota Production System



Chapter 8: Formulating global strategy

Case 14: Out of India (video)


Team project presentations

Team project report due


Case 1: Mismanagement Closes a Bookstore

This summer (2004), one of the biggest and most successful independent bookstores in the US, Ruminator Books, in St. Paul, Minn., closed its doors after 34 years. David Unowsky, founder and owner, admits he made some fatal misjudgments in the past several years. "We sowed the seeds of our own demise," he says.

Ruminator began in 1970 as Hungry Mind, a 1,200-square-foot store with a single aisle choked with stacks of books. The initial investment was $12,000. Two years later, the store captured a huge, steady piece of business, becoming the exclusive textbook vendor for nearby Macalester College. In the following two decades, Hungry Mind grew steadily, finally renting 7,800 square feet in a building also owned by the college.

The good years were very good. Until Hungry Mind opened, Minnesota had been a "flyover" state for authors on publicity tours. In 1990, a popular restaurant moved in next door, and before and after dinner, customers browsed the store. Hungry Mind encouraged them to linger. "It was one of the first bookstores I'd ever encountered that had a couch," says David Houghtby, a longtime neighborhood resident.

Superstores Arrive

All around the Twin Cities, meanwhile, competitors were popping up. "In the early 1990s, the number of book superstores in our area went from zero to 22," says Mr. Unowsky. Yet those were also Hungry Mind's golden years, with sales rising 20% annually. The store employed 26 people, most of them salaried, and offered paid vacations, health insurance, maternity and paternity leaves and a retirement plan. A new computer system gave the store better inventory control, quickly showing which books were selling and which weren't.

Hungry Mind's reputation, which extended far beyond the neighborhood, attracted customers who drove miles to take advantage of the store's large and eclectic inventory. "Book buyers would come in expecting us to have everything," says Tom Bielenberg, who worked at Hungry Mind for 28 years. "They would expect our inventory to match up head to head with the chains." That was impossible: Barnes & Noble [a big book store in US] stores range in size from 25,000 to 67,500 square feet.

The restaurant closed. Yet even as sales flattened in the late '90s, Mr. Unowsky decided to expand again. He moved the textbook business to another location in St. Paul, and in 2000, he opened a satellite store in a new building in Minneapolis.

The Minneapolis store, situated in a remote section of the city with little foot traffic, was "a money pit," says Mr. Unowsky. "It was beyond my level of competence. I wasn't wired to run two bookstores." Furthermore, a costly new computer system that was supposed to network the two stores never worked properly. "We could go all day and not sell two books," adds Mr. Unowsky, whose losses mounted to $500,000 before closing the store in the spring of 2003. "It was a harsh time," he says. "It was hard for me to accept the failure."

More Debt, No Cash

Worse, because Mr. Unowsky had never banked any cash during his peak years, he had financed his new operations with loans. With a heavy debt load, and flat or declining sales, the store very nearly closed in 2000. Then Mr. Unowsky got a reprieve from an unexpected source: An online learning company wanted to buy the name "Hungry Mind." Although he won't disclose the price, Mr. Unowsky describes it as "a fairly large amount of money." He also concedes that the rule of thumb for companies changing their name is a loss of as much as 20% of business.

The sale of the name gave Mr. Unowsky some breathing room, but by 2003 he owed his landlord, Macalester, some $600,000. He also owed money to so many vendors that some stopped shipping to him. "I remember when they used to have all sorts of fiction, literary criticism, books on religion, all sorts of poetry books," says Brigid McDonough, a St. Paul lawyer. "But I went in there before they closed and there was nothing. There was just no inventory."

Eventually, in the spring of 2003, Macalester told Mr. Unowsky that unless he was able to recapitalize and pay his debts, the college would take possession of the store and its inventory. With Mr. Houghtby's help, Mr. Unowsky came close to raising enough money, but negotiations with the college broke down, and the lease was terminated this past July. Mr. Unowsky, who also declared personal bankruptcy because he had charged $100,000 on his personal credit cards to keep the store running.

Discussion Questions

Using what you learn in the planning section to explain:

  1. Why did Hungry Mind succeed in its early years of operation?

  2. Why did it fail later?

  3. What do you learn from the case?

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