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Corporate Strategy (Essay Sample)

Corporate Strategy Take-away test 16–17 January 2012 DEADLINE: 11.00 a.m. Tuesday 17 January 2012 All questions carry equal marks Questions asking to look at specific sources/writers aspect on topics. If you choose any questions not giving specific sources/writers try to use John Kays school of thought as your main influence. The suggested minimum length for your answers is around 750 words for each question. Accurate citation and referencing in Harvard style is required. Provide one bibliography only for all three questions, at the end of the file. This paper contains NINE questions Answer THREE questions only (1) (i) Explain the following concepts: (a) tacit knowledge (b) idiosyncratic knowledge (c) path dependence. (ii) Discuss the ways in which writers such as Kay and Penrose combine them to create a theory of competitive advantage. (2) Prahalad and Hamel's notion of ‘core competence' has been criticised as referring to nothing more than ‘pools of functionally specific technical skills'. To the extent that this critique has force, can consideration of organisational and social capital help to rebut it? Explain your answer. (3) ‘Despite appearances, Porter's thinking on competitive advantage has not significantly evolved beyond the structure-conduct-performance paradigm.' Evaluate this claim. (4) Distinguish between the learning curve and the experience curve, and discuss how they may be the source of sustainable competitive advantage. (5) Show how the existence of L-shaped long-run average cost curves can give rise to entry-deterring strategic behaviour. Discuss whether such curves are pre-requisites for successful deterrence. (6) Explain and evaluate the claim that while a firm's growth rate is necessarily constrained, its size is not. (7) Evaluate the portfolio theory of company diversification. (8) Nonaka and Takeushi (1995) suggest that knowledge creation and conversion can be categorised into four modes; outline their system, and consider which mode or modes are more likely to be sources of sustainable competitive advantage. 9) What is an ‘entrepreneurial' firm? Discuss Michael Best's attempt to explain the success of entrepreneurial firms as the outcome of innovation and technology management. source..
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Question 1 (I)
(a) Tacit Knowledge
This is a term that is used to refer to common knowledge that is possessed by everyone. It is found in the public domain. The mode of transfer of this knowledge is the continuous interaction between individuals. In the business world this refers to common knowledge in a particular market.
The online business dictionary describes tacit knowledge as a vast, hidden and unwritten resource. It is only seen or witnessed during shared activities .The larger part of what one knows s tacit knowledge and its application changes from scenario to scenario. This concept of tacit knowledge was fronted in 1966 by a Hungarian philosopher-chemist called Michael Polanyi. This was in his book entitled "The Tacit Dimension;.
An example of tacit knowledge in the mobile phone market is the fact that a mobile phone should enable its owner to make calls, receive calls, send text messages and also receive them. For this reason a customer is aware that all mobile phones in the market have the above mentioned functionalities.
(b) Idiosyncratic knowledge
This refers to knowledge which is restricted to an individual or to a specific select group. Unlike Tacit knowledge, idiosyncratic knowledge is not in the public domain. The select group in which idiosyncratic knowledge may be found might be a company (Andreu et al 2008). In business terms, idiosyncratic knowledge is often replaced interchangeably with the term ‘firm-specific knowledge`. This is to suggest that this kind of knowledge is confined to a firm. For this reason, idiosyncratic knowledge varies from firm to firm.
Again we can draw examples from the mobile phone market. The manufacturers of blackberry handsets have a profound understanding of what a techno-savvy businessman expects in a mobile phone. In the case of apple computers, the people who work for its branding division know how to make a mobile phone attractive to a fashion-conscious person. The kind of knowledge found in these two firms is what is called idiosyncratic knowledge.
(c) Path dependence
This is a theory that states that all the decisions an individual makes are influenced directly by influences (s) he has made in the past. This applies regardless of the relevance of the previous decisions that had been made.
It originated in 1985 when it was suggested that ‘a few minor random shocks along the way could alter the course of history` (Scott 2006). Some people opted to summarize it even further by stating that the whole idea is that history matters.
An example that can illustrate this theory is a soccer match. As much as victory and defeat are pegged on the strengths and weaknesses of the teams, chance also plays a major role. An unintended tap on the ball can very easily turn the tide and hand victory to the presumably ‘weaker team`.
(ii) Competitive advantage
In general, this term is used t...
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