SM9636: Select one of the companies on the official list for your assignment and create a written strategic analysis that informs the reader about how the company can create (or retain) sustained competitive advantage into the future. Strategic Management for Sustainable Leadership assignment

SM9636: Select one of the companies on the official list for your assignment and create a written strategic analysis that informs the reader about how the company can create (or retain) sustained competitive advantage into the future. Strategic Management for Sustainable Leadership assignment

Module / Subject / School:

SM9636 Strategic Management for Sustainable Leadership

Northumbria University


Assessment Guidance
We will provide you with an official list of companies for your semester on this module (it will be released in the third week of the semester). You must select one of the companies on the official list for your assignment. No other companies will be allowed. Using any company that is not on the official list will result in zero marks.

Company – Apple Inc.

You will create a written strategic analysis (structure outlined below) that informs the reader about how the company can create (or retain) sustained competitive advantage into the future. The majority of your analysis will be based on the theory and techniques taught as part of this module. Your structured report will contain expert opinions from authoritative sources (all referenced and cited in the APA style) that you will use in your strategic analysis.

Your strategic recommendation will refer back (by page number) to your analysis and the collected expert opinions. Your Strategic Recommendation will contain various suggestions and some consideration will be given to ways in which future success can be achieved in a sustainable business environment.

Assignment Structure

Your assignment will contain the following sections (in the order shown). Mark range allocations are shown
in the marking scheme on pages 7-8 of this brief. To save words, you only have to use the numbered section and title words shown in capitals (below); you do not have to use the prompting questions (shown in italics).
What is contained in the document? Why should someone read it?
This should be a brief (maximum 100 words) introduction to the company and highlighting your key recommendations. Please note that the introduction is not given any marks. We restrict it to 100 words so that you do not waste valuable words from your assignment word-limit on a protracted introduction.
It is best practice to write the introduction last.
What measures should be used to assess the relative success of your chosen company?
Financial and non-financial metrics should be suggested (with a preference for any data that are ‘benchmarked’ against direct competitors). Show example data for the company in question (in tabular or graphical form) that ideally spans four or five financial years to the present day.
Include in this section a brief discussion concerning the difficulties in determining and measuring business success (cite some of the key authors that have written about this subject).
What do experts suggest as the reasons for this company’s relative business success?
An outline of 6 to 10 business reasons behind the success stated in a simple, straightforward way with a brief (4 or 5 sentence) explanation of each reason. Each reason should be sub-titled in this section (i.e. 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 etc.). Cite the expert source(s) that have the opinion that you are listing. Do not speculate yourself in this section; just collect and sort the opinions of third-party experts. Do not rely solely upon the company’s own website or its publications. All company “jargon” and “acronyms” must have a brief explanation in brackets at the point of their first usage; thereafter they can be used without explanation.

4. STRATEGIC ANALYSIS (AVC+VRIN) (This part can be in a table, and the words will not be counted to total word count. This is to free up more words in the other sections without limiting those analysis – see table sample page 4)
What are the possible internal success factors and where might they be located in the company’s activities?
This will be a detailed dual analysis of the company’s strategic capabilities starting with an Adapted Value Chain (AVC) and followed by a VRIN evaluation. This section carries the most marks. To score well in Section 4, you must also synthesise the AVC with the VRIN. This is achieved by demonstrating clear linkages between the two so that you can answer the two questions “What internal factors are contributing to future success?” (using VRIN); combined with, “Where are they happening within the activities of the company?” (using the AVC to show location, or locations).
The synthesis of AVC and VRIN is an iterative process (multi-pass), so we only need you to show the end result.
How is the current leadership guiding towards success? Is there a leadership legacy from a predecessor?
An evaluation of the contribution of leadership to the company’s success, basing this on appropriate leadership theory (as taught on this module). A wide range of topics will be acceptable including (but not limited to):
o Leadership Attributes or Styles
o Organisational Culture
o Decision-making Theory
Which particular strategic factor of this company deserves closer scrutiny?
A detailed analysis and interpretation based on one additional topic area from the following list:
o Business Strategy (consistent with strategic capabilities)
o International Strategy
o Innovation Strategy
o Collaboration Strategy (alliances, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions)
o Sustainability (can the company gain competitive advantage this way)
Choose just one of the above to demonstrate your ability to conduct more in-depth research on one aspect of the company’s future.

With page referencing to your previous sections, can explain your strategic recommendation for this company?
In this section, you make your strategic recommendation (which might encompass more than one particular suggestion to the company). Using the SAFe criteria (from your textbook); consider how Suitable your suggestions are to achieve the desired outcome of Sustained Competitive Advantage. Further estimate how Acceptable your suggestions might be to key stakeholders, and finally comment on the Feasibility of your suggestions.
Your recommendation must also demonstrate an awareness of future Sustainability issues.

What we score:


Our Writer’s Comment 

This assignment tests students on their understanding of the concepts.

Based on the assignment requirements provided, here are some comments to help students score well on this assignment:

To score well in this assignment, it’s essential to follow the structure and guidelines provided.

  1. INTRODUCTION: Keep your introduction brief (maximum 100 words) and highlight the key recommendations for the company. This section doesn’t carry marks, so use it wisely to set the context for your analysis without wasting valuable words.
  2. MEASURES OF SUCCESS: Provide a mix of financial and non-financial metrics to assess the company’s relative success. Include data (tables or graphs) for the company spanning several financial years. Discuss the difficulties in determining and measuring business success, referring to key authors who have written about this topic.
  3. REASONS FOR SUCCESS: Outline 6 to 10 expert-suggested reasons for the company’s success, each supported by a brief explanation. Sub-title each reason (e.g., 3.1, 3.2) and cite the authoritative sources behind each opinion. Avoid speculation and rely on third-party expert opinions, not solely on the company’s publications.
  4. STRATEGIC ANALYSIS (AVC+VRIN): Perform a dual analysis using Adapted Value Chain (AVC) and VRIN evaluation. Clearly link the internal success factors (VRIN) with their locations within the company’s activities (AVC). Show the synthesis of AVC and VRIN to demonstrate internal factors contributing to future success.
  5. LEADERSHIP CONTRIBUTION: Evaluate the leadership’s contribution to the company’s success, using appropriate leadership theory taught in the module. You can explore leadership attributes, styles, organizational culture, or decision-making theory as long as it aligns with the company’s success.
  6. STRATEGY FOCUS: Select one strategic factor to analyze in-depth from the provided list. Conduct thorough research and interpretation on the chosen topic, providing relevant insights to showcase your understanding of the company’s future.
  7. STRATEGIC RECOMMENDATION: Make your strategic recommendation, referencing the previous sections. Ensure your recommendation aligns with the SAFe criteria: Suitability, Acceptability, and Feasibility. Consider future sustainability issues while providing actionable suggestions to achieve sustained competitive advantage.

Incorporate expert opinions and authoritative sources throughout your analysis, and reference them using APA style. Remember to synthesize information, provide evidence for your claims, and use tables and graphs to support your findings. Staying within the word limit is crucial, so be concise and focused in your writing. Good luck!

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Sample Assignment

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