MBA Corporation Strategy

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Introduction


In strategy implementation, one of the most important outcomes of the strategy process is the alternative choices that emerge as a result of these processes. Stonehouse et al (2000, pg.120) note that a formulating and implementing a business strategy has the central objective of ensuring sustainable competitive advantage. The choice on whether to follow a multi-country strategy or a global strategy should be informed by which of the two strategies will result in competitive advantage. Stonehouse et al (2000) further expand the meaning of competitive advantage by stating the following, “It implies that a strategy will lead to superior performance in an industry and secondly, that the superior performance can be sustained over time (i.e. not just for a limited period of time)” (Stonehouse et al, 2000 pg 120). The choice of strategy largely depends on the kind of products or services that the company is selling and also the markets that the company wants to gain competitive advantage from.
Some products or services require consideration of cultural or regional practices for them to be successful, while others can be successful and competitive in every region or country without the need for much change in the product or service or in the strategy employed from country to country. A global strategy is more suited in an environment where the company has very few factors that it needs to respond to in a local market in its product design or services, while a multi-country strategy is probably a must for products that require the company to aligned its products or services to the local market in order to gain competitive advantage. The choice is then between applying a localized or multi-country strategy and a global strategy. The approach to strategy for the products mentioned is discussed below.

Strategy choice for personal computers

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The personal computer (PCs) market has exploded globally as with the advent of the information age. In addition rapid advancement in emerging markets and developed economies has seen both home use and business use of personal computers expanding at an exponential rate. Competition has emerged for personal computers from the introduction of notebooks.

The PC market is one in which brand names can sell very well if they can penetrate the market using a low cost strategy. Since generally PCs are used for the same purposes both in the business and home environment throughout the globe, this product is well suited for a global strategy. Customers in the PC market throughout the globe are concerned mostly about reliability of the product and its compatibility with different operating system. The possibility of building a strong brand name based on reliability and compatibility exists in the PC business. As a PC is mainly just the hardware, its compatibility with different software platforms will allow for local customization within each country for unique software. Another key aspect is that the PCs can have capability of being upgraded for example having the possibility of replacing processors or adding processors, memory cards and the hard drive.  The PC business is one in which the hardware components can be develop in one part of the world and be manufactured in another part. This is true for companies such as Dell which have large manufacturing plants in China and Mexico while research and development is done mostly in the USA. By employing a global strategy in the PCs market, a company gains competitive advantage on a global scale by being able to leverage on the supply chain processes to deliver to the market on a global scale PCs to meet their needs. It is a strategy that local managers can easily adhere to and implement successfully.

Washing Machines

Washing machines come in different sizes and have many different uses. Due to the different levels of development in different regions in the global environment, a global strategy is less likely to succeed in the washing machine business. A good example is that in most homes in North America they are washing machines while hand washing is quite common in developing countries. The use of washing machines is mostly used for industrial purposes such as in the hotel industry in most developing countries. The market in these developing countries is not only smaller but requires certain kind of products. In that case my approach to strategy would be to implement the “localized multi country strategy” (Thompson, Strickland and Gamble, 2008 pg.223). This is because in some markets issues such as energy costs, energy efficiency and environmental friendliness are very important, while in other markets, providing a low cost product that meets the customer's requirements is the most important issue. If we view for example the North American market, providing a low energy consumption product that is environmentally friendly can be a huge competitive advantage in both industrial washing machines and home washing machines. Customers might actually be willing to pay much more for an efficient product and sometimes there is legislation that compels customers to buy products within certain energy use thresholds. While a market such as South Africa has two segments of the market, an urban sophisticated market and a rural market that is less sophisticated. While the same strategy might apply in the urban areas as in North America, this same strategy may not win competitive advantage in rural areas mostly because traditionally they have had no use of a washing machine. Applying strategies such as developing a solar powered washing machine that uses less water might be a winning strategy in such market as often there is no electricity or running water to sustain a washing machine.

An online MBA degree (Global)

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An online MBA degree gains competive advantage from a global strategy. This is because it is a post graduate degree course and those enrolled in it have prior qualifications and experience in the different regions that they are working in. The importance of maintaining uniform standards throughout the global market is critical and so is the need to build a reputation for consistent high quality learning for an MBA. Using any other strategy except a global strategy may result in a compromised qualification as certain changes to the programme to fit local environments might be viewed as making the qualification inferior. Selling the online MBA on a global scale does increase its brand in the market. Only minor adoptions can be made and these can include, ensuring that the students use local case studies in applying theory to practice. Beyond that a consistent strategy throughout the world will build a global brand for the MBA and increase its competitiveness. This could have been different if it was another area of study such as Law which differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. However an MBA is a more general programme that applies theory to practice. Sustaining competitive advantage for an online MBA requires a global strategy.

Conclusion

While the above considerations have been made, there is also room to apply variations of the above strategies for each of the products. A global strategy can be employed but however consideration and adjustments for the local or regional market might need to be made from time to time to maintain competitive advantage. Hence while in some cases a global strategy has been recommended there also scope to consider some “strategic posturing options” (Thompson, Strickland and Gamble, 2008 pg.220) which can result in a bit of flexibility in applying strategy by either combining or segregating the strategies based on the market conditions existing at any point in time. This will help in applying the company's dynamic capabilities and ensuring that it is ahead of the market.

References

Stonehouse, G., Hamill, J., Campell, D., and Purdie, T., Global and Transnational Business: Strategy and Management. [E-Book] John Wiley & Sons (UK): Books24x7. Available at: http://common.books24x7.com/book/id_2990/book.asp  [accessed August 29, 2009]

Thompson, A, A., Strickland, A, J., and Gamble, J,E., (2008) Crafting and executing strategy: The quest for competitive advantage: Concepts and cases, 17th Ed New York: McGraw Hill Irwin