TEACHING NOTES. This document describes an experiential learning approach to teaching strategy in an undergraduate business program.
Think like a CEO: Experiential and Collaborative Learning in a Strategic Management Context
This document describes an experiential learning approach to teaching strategy in an undergraduate business program. Students work in teams to draft a strategic report for an organization of their choosing. They are immersed in a semi-structured learning environment and asked to develop emergent strategies to deal with issues they identify themselves. With this approach, students experience the uncertainty and stress felt by an executive who must develop and defend a strategy without being sure what the most pressing issue is or how to choose among several equally plausible solutions. This method has been tested in 14 classes with 126 teams over a five-year period. Student feedback during this test period has been overwhelmingly positive.
This capstone strategic management or business policy course introduces many innovations for undergraduate students in their senior year. First, it focuses on the executive level of an organization, something far removed from their personal experience. Second, it focuses on the integration and synthesis of several functional perspectives. This differs markedly from the vast majority of their courses, which focus on the students’ own competence areas. Finally, it presents several equally plausible solutions to complex and ill-defined problems, frustrating students accustomed to finding a single correct answer at the back of their textbook. For all these reasons, this capstone course must develop students’ frame-breaking skills to identify and tackle strategic problems, enabling students who are used to dealing with analysis and specialization to acquire broad synthesis skills.
Main themes covered
Strategic analysis; strategic synthesis; role of top management team
Concepts and theories related to the case
Experiential learning; Strategy as synthesis; Strategic analysis; Frame breaking
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