NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Spring 2013

Instructor Details

Guth, William


MW 1pm-3pm or by appointment

KMC 8-90


Clair Harlam



KMC 7-100


Course Meetings

MW, 3:30pm to 4:45pm

KMC 4-120

Final Exam:

Schedule exceptions
    Class will not meet on:
    Class will meet on:


Course Description and Learning Goals


            The ISP course focuses on the impact of variation in the economic, political, legal, social, and cultural contexts of nations on the competitive business strategies of local and multinational firms.  The course will start by developing concepts and tools useful in evaluating and formulating the competitive business strategies of firms.  We will then develop a general framework for country analysis useful in identifying the opportunities, challenges, and risks a particular country presents to both firms headquartered in that country, and to multinational firms currently or contemplating competing in it.  We will then spend classroom time applying the strategy concepts and tools, and the framework for country analysis to a number of different firms in a number of different industries in a number of different European countries.

The course will then proceed with a visit to Barcelona, Spain during which students will be able to observe directly how the Spanish economic, political, legal, social and cultural context  impacts how business is done there compared to in other countries, particularly in comparison with the U.S.  While in Barcelona, students will participate in presentations and discussions of developments and trends in European countries and companies and participate in a visit to a host company that they are researching where they will meet with senior managers to discuss strategic opportunities and challenges.  In addition, students will have time on their own to explore the history, cultural sites, and local customs of Barcelona and Spain.

The course will culminate in a school-wide competition among student teams from all sections of the International Study Project course.  The competition will require that each team prepare and present a report that diagnoses the major longer-term performance opportunities and challenges facing the company visited, and makes strategic recommendations to its management addressing those opportunities and challenges.


Course Outline

				International Study Project /Europe/Sections 3 and 4
				Schedule of Classes, Topics, Assignments
				Spring, 2013

Class #








Introduction to the Course – Why Study how Countries Differ?

Read:  Course Syllabus

Part 1 – The Impact of Country Differences




Impact of Country Differences on Firm Strategy

Prepare for Discussion:  ISPE:  Wal-Mart in Europe

Preparation Questions: 

1. Why would Wal-Mart’s management believe it would be successful in Germany?

2.What is your evaluation of its approach to entering the German market?

3.Why are its operations in Germany not yet profitable?

4.How has the highly regulated German retail environment impacted Wal-Mart’s strategy?  Who benefits from these regulations?  How?

5.What should Wal-Mart do now?




-International Strategy for Competitive Advantage 

-Profiting from International Expansion: economies of scale and scope versus local responsiveness

-Location-bound versus non-location bound firm specific advantages

Read:  CCB: Chapter 12, “The Strategy of International Business”

Read:  Guth, W.D., New Avenues for Growth: Challenges of Five Major Trends in the Global Environment (on Blackboard)

Optional:  Lecture 1 and Lecture 2, Strategy Concepts and Tools (Guth), videos on Blackboard (very useful if you haven’t had significant exposure to strategy concepts and tools in MOA or other classes).






-Leveragability of intangible versus tangible assets across national boundaries

-Rich, Poor and Developing Countries-Strategic Challenges for Companies

Read:  Collis & Montgomery, “Competing on Resources”, HBR (July-August 2008) – Bobst Library 

Read:  Ramamurti & Singh, Chapter 13, “What we have learned about emerging market MNE’s” – Bobst Library




Class #





Part 2 – Analyzing Country Differences




-How Countries Differ: Political, Economic, Legal Systems

Read:  Abdelal, R., The Promise and Perils of Russia’s Resurgent State, HBR (Jan.-Feb., 2010) – Bobst Library

Read:  Ghemawat, “Distance Still Matters: The Hard Reality of Global Expansion’, HBR (Sept. 2001) – Bobst Library




-How Countries Differ: Societies and Cultures

Prepare for Discussion:  Denmark:  Globalization and the Welfare State










The Macro and Microeconomics of Country Competitiveness

Theories of the Economic Growth of Countries

Read:  Chapters 1.1, The Global Competitiveness Report, 2012 -2013, available at http://www.weforum.org

Read:  Porter, M. & Rivken, J., Prosperity at Risk, Jan. 2012 (on Blackboard)

Group Report Due:  Industry Structure and Attractiveness and Company Questions





-Regional Trading Blocs – The EU

-Challenges for Western European Countries

Read:  European Union: The Road to Lisbon

Country/Economy Profiles, Spain, Italy, France, Germany), The Global Competitiveness Report, 2012-2013,





Country Economic Development Strategy

Prepare for Discussion:  Finland and Nokia:  Creating the World’s Most Competitive Economy


Part 3 – Assessing Location Advantages/Disadvantages for Local Companies





- Country competitiveness – advantages and disadvantages

 -Country factors impacting competitive advantages of company

Prepare for Discussion: Spain: Can the House Resist the Storm?

Read. Country Report: Spain - The Economist Intelligence Unit, Oct., 2011










Class #









Evaluating strategic impact of geographic expansion alternatives

Prepare for Discussion:  ZARA: Fast Fashion

Individual Country Competitiveness Report Due


Part 4 –Assessing Country Advantages/Disadvantages for Company Geographic Expansion











Assessing country attractiveness for foreign direct investment

Read:  CCB 2:  Entry Strategy and Strategic Alliances

Prepare for Discussion:  Indesit Company: Does Globalization Matter?






-Overcoming company resource and location disadvantages

Prepare for Discussion:  UTV and Disney: A Strategic Alliance (A)



Depart 3/15 - Return 3/21





Debrief country/company visit in class

Overview of presentation competition

Individual Report Due:  5 Major Learnings from Trip





Team Meeting:  Group Project Proposal Development









Company Strategy Analysis Practicum-

Developing strategic recommendations to management

What’s the strategic situation?  What’s the strategic problem?  How do I go about solving it?

Prepare for Discussion:
Grolsh: Growing Globally

Group Project Proposal Due





Mid-term Quiz

Team Meeting:  Consultation with Instructor






Team Meeting:  Consultation with Instructor






Team Meeting:  Presentation Preparation






Team Meeting:  Presentation Preparation






Team Meeting:  Presentation Preparation






Team Meeting: Presentation Preparation






Team Meeting:  Presentation Preparation



Class #









Team Meeting: Presentation Preparation






Class Competition:  Team Presentations

Team Company Presentation Slides Due by 6:00 PM on Tuesday, April 24





Class Competition:  Team Presentations






Class Competition:  Team Presentations






Regional Playoffs and Global Championship






Final Course Project

Individual Report Due:



Required Course Materials


1.      ISP Europe,  a common custom textbook for all ISP/Europe sections (CCB), ISBN 9781121781108 (Print version available in bookstore), and ISBN 9781121781078 (ebook version available at www.mhhe.com)  consisting of  Chapters 12,and 14  from Hill, C.W.L., International Business 8E

I.                    Coursepack (CP) at HBS Publishing -

a.       Wal-Mart in Europe – HBS 9-704-027

b.      Denmark: Globalization and the Welfare State – HBS 9-709-015

c.       Finland and Nokia:  Creating the World’s Most Competitive Economy – HBS 9-702-427

d.      European Union:  The Road to Lisbon – HBS 9-711-032

e.       Spain: Can the House Resist the Storm – HBS 9-709-021

f.       Zara: Fast Fashion – HBS 9-703-497

g.      Grolsch:  Growing Globally – HBS PG0-001

h.      Indesit Company: Does Global Matter? – HBS 9-308-071

i.        UTV and Disney: A Strategic Alliance – Ivey 910M43

which are available at: https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/access/17184619

Library links to additional readings are identified in the Schedule of Classes, Topics and Assignments that follows.


ISP Common Readings:  All ISP instructors

All ISP instructors for all 15 sections of ISP have agreed to assign the following readings:

1.  Ghemawat, "Distance Still Matters:  The Hard Reality of Global Expansion," HBR, (2001)
2.  Collis and Montgomery, "Competing on Resources," HBR
(July-August, 2008)
3.  Chapter 12, "The Strategy of International Business", from Hill, C.W.L.,International Business 9E_
4.  Chapter 14, "Entry Strategy and Strategic Alliances," from Hill, C.W.L., International Business 9E
5.  Ramamurti, R, and Singh, J.V., Chapter 13, “What we have learned about emerging market MNE’s”, in Emerging Multinationals in Emerging Markets

6.  The Global Competitiveness Report, 2011-2012, World Economic Forum

All but the readings from the Hill book, International Business, are available through Bobst Library for download.


Assessment Components


Assignment                                                                        Weight
Individual – 60% of total
1. Class & trip participation                                               15%
2. Country Competitive Advantage Report                       15%
3. 5 Learnings from trip (ungraded assignment)
4. Quiz                                                                                15%
5. Final Individual Report                                                  15%
Group  – 40% of total                                         
1.Industry Structure and Attractiveness,
    and Company Questions Report                                     15%
2. Presentation                                                                    25%

Points earned for each segment of the course will be summed to obtain a total score for the course. Students will be rank-ordered based on this total score to determine their course grade, guided by the Stern Grading Guidelines for Core Courses at the Undergraduate College - 25-35% A's - awarded for excellent work,  50-70% B's - awarded for good or very good work, and 5-15% C's or below - awarded for adequate or below work


1. Class and Trip Participation: (15%)

Class attendance is expected throughout the course including (1) the final competition (Friday afternoon, 5/10) and (2) the class competition days (5/1, 5/6, 5/8). There is also a mandatory travel

orientation and ticket distribution meeting for the trip on Wednesday, February 20 from 5:45 pm-7pm, at Paulson Auditorium, Tisch Hall. You are expected to attend all of these events. 

Please clear class absences for job interviews and personal circumstances with me in advance via email.   Unexcused absences will be noted and will affect your participation grade.

Attendance during the school trip to Barcelona is a very important component of the learning

process in this course. For those who have obtained permission to miss the trip, you will be

given a make-up assignment. In addition, you are expected to do additional research work on your group project so that there is an equitable distribution of work among the members of your group.

During the trip, you are required to adhere to the Code of Conduct listed below:


ISP Travel and the Stern Undergraduate Code of Conduct

While on the ISP trip, you will have a significant amount of time on your own to explore the

history, cultural sites, and local customs of Barcelona. During this unsupervised time, you are

expected to behave in a manner consistent with the Stern Undergraduate Code of Conduct.

Behavioral violations include, but are not limited to, physical assault, harassment (including

sexual and verbal), and property damage.

Accusations of behavioral violations will be investigated by faculty and administrative staff

accompanying  you on the trip, and may result in you being immediately sent home to prevent

further damage. In all cases, behavioral violations will be reported to the Office of Academic

Affairs for further investigation and determination of sanctions by the Honor Committee.

Failure to attend and actively participate in the scheduled events while on the trip is also a

violation of the Code. Frequent failure to attend and actively participate while on the trip may

result in as much as a two-letter reduction in the course grade.



2. Country Competitive Advantage Report: (15%)

This report asks you to compare the firm you will visit in Barcelona to a competing firm headquartered in a different country to identify what differences, if any, between the two countries make a difference in the competitiveness of the two companies. The ISP course is premised on the idea that location matters, and that managers must understand if, when, and how differences between the economic, social, political, and cultural conditions and dynamics of countries matter for firms.  This is meant to be a challenging assignment.  Additional guidance will be provided in class.  Suggested length is 5-7 typewritten pages, doublespaced, 12 point Times New Roman or comparable font.  Report due See Appendix for further general guidance on written assignments.

This report are due in class on Wednesday, 3/6. (Please submit a hard copy of all reports in class on the due date.  Prior to that, please submit all reports to Turnitin Assignments on Blackboard.)


3. Learnings from trip 
Write 1-2 pages on 5 important insights/observations you made on the ISP trip that you regard as “learnings” – that is, 
things you would not have known about doing business in Spain if you had not made the trip to Barcelona.  
This is an ungraded assignment that will only affect your grade if you don’t hand it in.
Report Due:  Monday, 3/25

4. Quiz: (15%)

The quiz will be held in class on Wednesday, 4/3.  The quiz will be a combination of multiple-choice and short-answer type questions.  More details on the quiz will be provided in class.


5. Final Report: (15%)

Write a report on your company that 1) compares, contrasts, and critically evaluates the

recommendations of three (3) of the teams in your section in terms of their potential impact on firm

performance, their impact on the firm’s competitive position and risks, their use of competitively

valuable firm resources, and their “affordability” in terms of the cash flows and debt capacity of

the firm, and 2) presents an integrated set of strategic recommendations that you would make to

management based on the above comparison, contrast and evaluation.  

In choosing the three (3) presentations to evaluate, you should select those you believe best maintain and/or improve your company’s strategic situation.  These presumably would be among the stronger presentations in class, though the strategic fit of the recommendations they make when put together may be even more important.  If two or more sets of presentation recommendations happen to be similar and you believe they meet the strategic needs of the company, naturally choose the strongest set of recommendation.

This report is due in class on Monday, 5/13.  Suggested length is 8 typewritten pages [excluding appendix], double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman or comparable font.



Please form groups of 5 members (ideal target size) by the dates mentioned in the class schedule.  If you are not able to find a group, you will be assigned to a group that has less than 5 members.  Since group activity is a substantial component of this course, it is recommended that you find group members with whom you share a good group dynamic. It is also required that each group has no more than one person who is not going on the trip.


1. Industry Structure and Attractiveness and Questions for Management: (15%)

In a short report: (1) outline industry structure and main competitors in the industry; (2) evaluate the attractiveness of the industry in Hungary, (3) identify competitive issues facing the company (its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), and (4) list and justify FIVE questions you will consider asking the senior management of your company (explain why your group thinks each question is important to the strategic direction of the company in a paragraph or two).

Suggested length is 6-8 typewritten pages, double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman or

comparable font.

ONE hard copy of this report is due in class on Monday, 2/20.


2. Presentation: (25%)

Each group will make a presentation in class on the company it visited.  These presentations must be limited to no more than 15 minutes.  2 minutes will be allowed for Q&A.  The presentations will take place on 5/1, 5/6, 5/8.  A winning team will be selected for each section.  That team will then compete in a Regional Playoff on Friday morning, 5/10.  Winners of the three Regional Playoffs will compete in a Global Competition on Friday afternoon, 5/10.  A general outline for your presentation is given below (you will be provided with additional guidance in class):

Outline your company's strategic situation, i.e., its strengths/advantages over competitors, and

the major challenges and weaknesses it will have to overcome in the next few years. Develop

a strategic plan for the next 3-5 years to maintain and or improve the firm's performance.

Specifically, what significant changes in the firm’s geographic scope, product scope, product

development policies, marketing policies, operations policies, finance policies, organization

structure, and/or human resource management policies would you recommend?

The presentation slides are due by 6 PM on Tuesday, April 30.  In order to ensure that those who are scheduled to present later do not garner an unfair advantage, all presentations slides must be submitted before the deadline. Presentation order will be determined randomly. Each team should bring sufficient number of slide handouts for the rest of the class, including the TF and me.

Team members will have an opportunity to evaluate each other at the end of the course, and

those who do not meet team responsibilities will receive lower grades on team projects. Peer

evaluation forms will be available to ensure fair evaluations of team contributions.



General guidelines for written assignments


Document criteria

• Line spacing: at least 2 spaces between lines

• Font: 12 point

• Margins: 1.0” all around

• Cover page with course name, professor’s name, your name and assignment name

• Number all pages, excluding cover page

• Put your name on each page (pages sometimes become detached)

• Staple pages together; please DO NOT use paper clips or binders

• Include separate bibliography page citing all published materials you used in your analysis

Information Search

You should be able to find a large number of sources of information about the country, industry and company you are studying at the NYU Library and on the internet.  For particularly larger public companies, their websites are usually the easiest places to find relevant financial data, and announcements of major management decisions.

Be careful when considering the use of “second-hand” conclusions, i.e., conclusions drawn by authors without explicit reference to the data on which they claim to be drawing those conclusions. If you can’t find the data on which the conclusions are supposedly drawn, at least check other sources to see if there is widespread consensus on the conclusion.

IMPORTANT:  Keep a list of the sources of information you used in your research for a written assignment so that you can compile a bibliography.  Each assignment must contain a

bibliography of your sources.


Evaluation criteria

“A” work on written assignments generally has the following characteristics:

• Answers all of the questions asked and every component of the questions.

• Utilizes appropriate concepts, tools and/or frameworks that are relevant to the assignment.

• Provides conclusions that follow logically from the data used and its analysis.

• Utilizes the appropriate unit of analysis when applying frameworks. For example, when

  conducting an industry analysis, you should analyze the industry as a whole unit rather than a

  specific company within the industry.

• Makes explicit the data and other evidence used to draw conclusions

• Makes explicit any assumptions that have been made in the analysis

• Uses sound grammar and sentence structure

• Provides an overall logical flow with appropriate use of section headings

• Uses language appropriate for the target audience

• Provides appropriate citations and references to sources of material used in the analysis.


Group Projects

Guidelines for Group Projects

Business activities involve group effort. Consequently, learning how to work effectively in a group is a critical part of your business education.

Every member is expected to carry an equal share of the group’s workload. As such, it is in your interest to be involved in all aspects of the project. Even if you divide the work rather than work on each piece together, you are still responsible for each part. The group project will be graded as a whole:   its different components will not be graded separately. Your exams may contain questions that are based on aspects of your group projects.

It is recommended that each group establish ground rules early in the process to facilitate your joint work including a problem-solving process for handling conflicts. In the infrequent case where you believe that a group member is not carrying out his or her fair share of work, you are urged not to permit problems to develop to a point where they become serious. If you cannot resolve conflicts internally after your best efforts, they should be brought to my attention and I will work with you to find a resolution.

You will be asked to complete a peer evaluation form to evaluate the contribution of each of your group members (including your own contribution) at the conclusion of each project. If there is consensus that a group member did not contribute a fair share of work to the project, I will consider this feedback during grading.



At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter.  In general, students in undergraduate core courses can expect a grading distribution where: 

Note that while the School uses these ranges as a guide, the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well you actually perform in this course.



The process of assigning grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. Students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and are discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.

If you believe an inadvertent error has been made in the grading of an individual assignment or in assessing an overall course grade, a request to have the grade re-evaluated may be submitted. You must submit such requests in writing to me within 7 days of receiving the grade, including a brief written statement of why you believe that an error in grading has been made.


Professional Responsibilities For This Course



In-class contribution is a significant part of your grade and an important part of our shared learning experience. Your active participation helps me to evaluate your overall performance.
You can excel in this area if you come to class on time and contribute to the course by:




Classroom Norms


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 


Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. 


Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


Printer Friendly Version