NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Fall 2010

Instructor Details

Dunbar, Roger



Wednesday 2 – 5 pm

7-19 Tisch Hall


Course Meetings

MW, 8:00am to 9:15am

Tisch T-UC24

Final Exam:

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


Course Description and Learning Goals

Organizations face many management and leadership issues. This course introduces you to the processes used to manage them. In particular, we’ll discuss how management involves formulating strategies to provide firms with sustainable competitive advantage within an industry, implementing organizational structures that execute these strategies effectively, and selecting and rewarding employees so they are productive, motivated, and satisfied within these work environments. The assumption is that as firms accomplish these tasks consistently well over time, they generate profits, contribute to society, and beat the competitive odds stacked against them. Over the semester, we will examine examples of the best and worst management practices. Our goal is to understand how successful organizations are built, how they are managed, and how they can rebound after facing adversity.

Why is studying management important? Scholars, executives, and consultants have studied and written about organizing and managing for centuries and so a well-rounded business education should include exposure to these accumulated ideas. Over the years, we have learned that there seem to be better and worse ways to organize. A choice of a better way can have untold benefits in terms of output and quality of life measures. We need an idea, therefore, of the practices that work and the practices that often fail. Such an understanding is complicated as there are many different managerial beliefs and not all are supported by empirical evidence. Evolving technology has recently further opened up new possibilities. Yet as most people agree that “human elements” impact organizational success and failure, we need ways to distinguish the desirable and undesirable. There are usually several ways of organizing that will work well in a particular situation and there are also other ways that will almost certainly generate predictable issues and problems. Managers want to be able to distinguish approaches that are likely to be effective and the contexts where different options are more likely to work.

Conceptually, the course has three components. The first emphasizes “strategy” focusing on the managerial problem of how to define a business and identify a set of strategies that will position a firm for marketplace success. The second concerns the managerial issue of organizational design, what structures should be adopted, and how managerial design decisions affect overall organizational performance. An important consideration is how organizational designs and a firm’s competitive strategy should be aligned. The third part of the course is more directly people focused and considers how to design employee jobs
that are motivating and satisfying, how to evaluate employees, and how to attract and retain the employee talent a firm needs to be successful.

The course will introduce you to analytical frameworks that will help you understand and manage each of these organizational challenges. These frameworks provide a basis for evaluating organizations and their dynamics. A second objective is for you to learn to use theories and frameworks to analyze problems and develop solutions. Problem solving skills are best developed via practice. The course will rely heavily on case studies to provide opportunities to work on actual managerial problems. You are expected to carefully analyze all of the course cases, prepare your thoughts on them, and participate in the discussions we will have about them in class. My hope is that by the end of the semester, you will be able to see many organizational and managerial issues and solutions you had not seen before and that you will have many more ideas about how it would make managerial sense to move forward in a particular situation.


Course Outline

GENERAL STRUCTURE: The course meets in Tisch UC24, MW, from 8:00 – 9:15am. Most classes will consist of a short introductory statement about the material and ideas to be discussed that day, followed by a detailed analysis of an assigned case or cases that illustrate concepts and models presented in the readings. The primary vehicle for learning is the case analysis. You are expected to read each case and the assigned reading material and to be prepared to discuss them during the appropriate class session. This means having in mind things you found interesting about the case, questions it raised for you, ideas about how the concepts in the readings relate to the case or questions about how they relate. Learning from cases is an ongoing process that I hope we will all get involved with and help each other to deal with the issues raised.

CASES: We will use cases extensively to illustrate how to apply conceptual frameworks and arguments to actual business situations. We will delve into most cases together in an open class discussion. Most of the cases must be purchased electronically through Xanedu and the Stern Bookstore. The Xanedu website is www.xanedu.com. You will need to register as a student and then purchase a key to unlock the course pack for our course: C50.0001.01. The “Smile Factory” case by John Van Maanen is also included in the electronic course pack from Xanedu. Three cases (Southwest Airlines, Aquarius Advertising, and Acetate Department) are available in the course documents section of our Blackboard site.

READINGS: There is no course text. Instead, readings in strategy, administrative science and organizational behavior have been selected to supplement what you will learn via our case discussions. Articles from the Harvard Business Review and other journals and periodicals are provided in the course documents section of our Blackboard site. We will use case materials as the primary learning vehicle and I will then introduce and discuss concepts via the case discussions and sometimes in short lectures and via slides. Use the readings to further elaborate and review the concepts. A complete list of the course readings is included below.

LECTURES AND SLIDES: Mini-lectures before and/or after class discussions will set the stage or summarize course concepts. The slides I use will be posted on our course Blackboard site. I intend to try to post these slides before the class where I use them so that you can have an idea in advance concerning how I see what we will be discussing.


Required Course Materials

Articles from Journals and Periodicals (all available on Blackboard):
Porter, Michael “What is Strategy?” Harvard Business Review, 1996, #96608
Brandenburger, Adam & Nalebuff, Barry “The Right Game: Use Game Theory to Shape Strategy, Harvard Business Review 1995, #95402
Porter, Michael “How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy” Harvard Business Review, 2008, #R0801E
Fisher, C. D., Shaw, J.B. and Ryder, P., Problems in project groups: An anticipatory case study, Journal of Management Education, 1994, 18(3) 351-355
Barney, J.B. “Looking Inside for Competitive Advantage”, Academy of Management Executive, 1995, vol 9(4), pp. 49-61
Brandenburger, A.M & Stewart, H.W. “Value-based Business Strategy,” Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, 1996, vol 5(1), pp. 5-24
Hackman, J.R., Oldham, G., Janson, R., & Purdy, K., “A New Strategy for Job Enrichment” 1975. California Management Review, Vol. 17. No. 4.
Greiner, L.E. “Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow,” Harvard Business Review, 1998, #98308
Gladwell, Malcolm. “The Talent Myth,” New Yorker, July 22 2002, pp. 28-33.
Chambers, E. et al. “The War for Talent,” The McKinsey Quarterly, 1998 no. 3, pp. 44-57.

Harvard Cases: (in electronic course pack):
People Express (A) #9-483-103
People Express March, 1984 #9-487-043
People Express May, 1985 #9-487-044
People Express Update 1/89 #9-489-022
Bittersweet Competition #9-794-079
Intel Corporation 1968-2003 #9-703-427
Intel Corp, 2005 #9-706-437
Wal-Mart Stores in 2003 #9-704-430
Steinway & Sons Buying a Legend #9-500-028
Progressive Corporation #9-797-109
Cola Wars Continue: Coke and Pepsi in 2006 #9-706-447
The Johnsonville Sausage Co (A), #9-387-103
The Johnsonville Sausage Co (B), #9-393-063
Mrs. Fields, Inc 1977-1987, #9-194-064
Mrs. Fields, Inc 1988-1992, #9-194-065
Lincoln Electric: Venturing Abroad, #9-398-095
SAS Institute (Stanford Case, rev Jan 1998), #HR6
Rob Parson at Morgan Stanley (A) #9-498-054
Rob Parson at Morgan Stanley (B) #9-498-055
Rob Parson at Morgan Stanley (C) #9-498-056
Massachusetts Financial Services #9-902-132
The Walt Disney Company: The Entertainment King #9-701-035
Van Maanen, John. The Smile Factory: Work at Disneyland, in Peter J. Frost et al (Eds),
Reframing Organizational Culture, 1990, Sage Publications, pp 58-76. ISBN-13: 978-0803936515

Non-Harvard Cases: (downloadable from our course Blackboard site)
Southwest Airlines
Aquarius Advertising
Acetate Department


Assessment Components

ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING: Grades in this class will be assigned on the basis of total points awarded to each student for completing work during the semester. Each student can earn up to 100 points for the class. Grades will be assigned based upon the class distribution of point totals at the end of the semester. Each student’s point total will have five components:
Team Case 1: 20 points
Team Case 2: 20 points
Exam 1: 20 points
Exam 2: 20 points
Class Contribution: 20 points

The first team case and the first exam will relate to strategy. You will choose teams around Feb 2 and a firm to study by Feb 4. Teams will present their analysis of firm strategy in class on Feb 25. I have several possibilities in mind as far as the team case is concerned and so we will discuss these in class and together come to an agreement about the assignment. The second team case will relate to organizational design and will be due March 25 when we will again discuss the content in class.
Students should select a case study team of 3-4 members. Each team will be responsible for the two written team case analyses. Paper length is not what determines the value of the analysis. In fact, in case analyses we prefer conciseness rather than length, and we prefer a clear line of argument with ideas that follow one another clearly in a related way. Case write-ups should be no longer than five double-spaced typed pages with 12-point font and one inch margins. Diagrams can supplement the text pages and there is no limit on the number of diagrams and appendices. The in class exams will occur on March 2 and April 27.

CLASS CONTRIBUTION: Case analysis requires class discussion and student participation to be effective. Each case discussion will usually start with a few “cold calls” about case facts and/or issues. Various classroom exercises and small group discussion sessions will also be used to elicit student involvement. The course Blackboard site also has a discussion forum. Participation in both forums is highly encouraged and discussion board participation will count toward class contribution points. We will depend on everyone’s active involvement to make the class successful. In order to participate intelligently, you must come to class well prepared. You must read the assigned cases prior to the class for which they are assigned, and you should be prepared to participate in class discussion. Comments, questions, and case insights are all valuable and desired. If you need to miss class, please email me ahead of time to tell me
you will be away and why. Attendance is monitored and absences will result in a reduced class contribution grade. Remember, everyone’s learning experience in this class depends on everyone’s active participation. Up to 20 points will be awarded to students for their class participation and contributions. Two out of the 20 points will be allocated based on participation in the Organizational Research Assignment. Details of this research participation requirement are provided at the end of the syllabus.
Polite and collegial behavior is important for maintaining a productive class environment. Cell phones should be turned off during the class period. Please don’t monopolize class discussion. Keep your points focused, succinct, and informative.

FINAL GRADES: Grades in a case-based class should reflect how well students develop as organizational analysts and problem-solvers. Your development in the course will depend on many factors, not the least of which is your diligence in preparing for and participating in class discussions, as well as the effort you devote to the various assignments. In UG core courses, the Stern School has the following guidelines for letter grades:
25-35% of students can expect to receive A’s
50-70% of students can expect to receive B’s
5-15% of students can expect to receive C’s

While the School uses these ranges as a guide, I will make sure the actual course grade distribution and your own grade depends upon how well you develop your organizational problem identifying and problem-solving skills over the semester.

STAYING IN TOUCH: I’m available to students throughout the semester. Email is the best way of getting in touch with me. Any email question will usually be responded to within 24 hours. Students can arrange to meet outside of class. Formal office hours will be maintained on Wednesdays from 2-5 pm in RM 7-19 Tisch. Office hour visitation is welcomed.


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.


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