STRATEGIC REPORT BRIEFING
You are a newly graduated management consultant who is required to research and write a strategic report about a real life organisation – the organisation is “Airbnb”. Your consultancy company works closely with universities. For this reason your manager instructs you to write a report using a given structure and style that would appeal to both academics and business people.
The analysis should demonstrate your ability to apply strategic management skills and knowledge to a real life situation. The Airbnb live case study consists of information presented on Blackboard and additional research that all students undertake and share throughout the module.
Assessment weighting: 50% of the final module mark.
Word count: 2000 words (+/-10%) excluding front cover, executive summary, table of contents, references at the end, appendices, tables and figures.
The assessment format is a report (not an essay). You will need to use analytical headings and sub-headings.
- A professional looking front cover (excluded from the word count).
- Executive Summary. Please do not call it an abstract (excluded from the word count).
- Table of Contents (excluded from the word count).
- Analysis of the external environment
- Analysis of the internal environment
- The Strategic Analysis
- Analysis of the business (competitive) strategy
- Analysis of the corporate strategy
- Analysis of ethical issues and leadership
- References (excluded from the word count).
- Appendices (excluded from the word count).
Please feel free to use different headings and subheadings. Your final structure will depend on your research.
On successful completion of this assessment you should be able to:
- Evaluate the strategies that managers use to help organisations adapt in an uncertain or complex global environment.
- Critically evaluate the internal environment of companies through modern tools and dynamic concepts.
- Critically evaluate alternative policies and strategies a company may adopt to meet stakeholder needs and mitigate risk within changing external environments.
- Develop appropriate criteria to evaluate strategic options within a range of situations in conditions of limited knowledge or uncertainty.
- Understand the importance of and demonstrate strategic corporate social responsibility in the formulation and implementation of the strategic management process.
|Analysis of external environment||10%|
|Analysis of internal environment||10%|
|Analysis of business and corporate level strategies||40%|
|Analysis of ethical issues and leadership (may include culture)||20%|
|Presentation, structure and clarity of writing||10%|
|Research, referencing and quality of sources||10%|
How to approach the assessment task:
What to include in different sections of the report?
Make sure that you include information about your university, school, the module name and number, your ID number, word count, date of submission. Make sure that the cover page looks professional. It creates a good first impression for your paper.
Please do not call this section ‘abstract’. Abstracts and executive summaries are very similar, although a convention is that abstracts are written mainly for academic papers and executive summaries are written for business reports.
The executive summary must be inserted before the table of contents. It should be no more than one page in length and it will be excluded from the word count, so please be analytical about it. If the executive summary looks professional it will help to impress your reader / marker.
Here you need to include all the major points from every part of your report, including the main findings and conclusions. Again, this is not an introduction, it is an executive summary, i.e. it is a condensed summary of the whole report. People usually read executive summaries in order to decide whether or not they want to read the whole report. Therefore, don’t keep the reader wondering about the report’s conclusions or recommendations. You are not writing a detective story.
Write an introduction for sign posting purposes. Explain the purpose and the structure of the report, and briefly introduce the organisation that you will be analysing. Since you have a limited word count, the introduction should be very small – about one paragraph. The introduction is different from the executive summary and the conclusion because it does not include the summary of the findings and conclusions. Leave those for the conclusion and the executive summary!
- External environment analysis:
To save on the word count we suggest that you present the analysis of the internal and external environment in the form of figures, such as mind maps, or tables. You will need to discuss this with your seminar and module leaders, so that they could advise you on the appropriate format. Please do not write long sentences in the tables or figures.
To analyse the external environment of the case study organisation you are asked to use two theories: a 5 Forces analysis for the micro external environment, and a PESTEL analysis for the macro external environment. This means that your figures or tables should summarise the findings for both the PESTEL and the 5 Forces models for the industry, and not for a specific organisation.
Specify the geographical area of the industry that you are focusing your analysis on. You may consider the external environment in a global context or within a context of one country. The decision is yours.
- Internal environment analysis:
Again to save on the word count summarise your analysis in the form of tables / figures. Then write short conclusions that summarise your key arguments at the end of the section.
To analyse the internal environment we expect you to use the resources and capabilities theory (R+Cs or else the Resource Based View of the Company) and/or Value Chain. You can mention both or just one theory however you will need to reference the theories that you use. We advise you to use one theory.
If you use RBV we would like you to present the key strategic resources. Please see examples of resources and capabilities in the lecture slides. To analyse the organisations financial resources you must mention some key financial indicators for that organisation. You will need to state clearly what are the core capabilities/competencies of the organisation and why they are core. An example could be: does the organisation’s level of financial control and or use of economies of scale derive competitive advantage? Is this a core capability within the organisation?
As for the Value Chain analysis you don’t need to describe in detail every single activity. If you want to or have done so, please use appendices and tables to save on the word count. Here, you will need to show those linkages (combinations of primary and support activities) that either increase the customer value or reduce the operating cost. You can conclude this section by explaining what competitive advantages are created for the organisation and how.
If you are using both theories the outcomes of Resources + Capabilities and Value Chain should agree.
Make sure that the summaries of the external and internal analysis are short, concise and are presented as key points in a form of clear figures or tables. Do not use too many descriptive sentences.
- The strategic analysis
This section can be divided into three sections: the analysis of business (competitive) level strategies; the analysis of corporate level strategies; and the evaluation of the future strategies.
Identify, evaluate and justify the competitive level strategy of Airbnb. Consider theories, such as cost leadership, differentiation, hybrid or Blue Ocean.
Identify, evaluate and justify 2 or 3 (maximum) corporate level strategies of Airbnb. These could be growth: e.g. market penetration, market development, product development, vertical/horizontal integration, related / unrelated diversification. Here you can use the Ansoff’s matrix/directional policy table (it is essentially the same). Of course there are also turnaround corporate strategies (e.g. downsizing, liquidation, divesture etc.) and stability strategies (no-change strategy, pause, etc.) to consider.
You can identify/record several strategies but please use the terminology and reference properly every concept.
As a final point in your analysis suggest / recommend future strategies. You can suggest either sustaining the existing ones, or developing the existing ones, or developing new strategies.
Choose two (advisable) or three (maximum) Airbnb strategies to evaluate them according to certain criteria. These can be: suitability – acceptability – feasibility, that is SAF (highly recommended, simple and straightforward).
Or it can be:
- SAF (preferably – as said above)
- STAIR model
- SUITS model
- RACES model
- or any other properly referenced model.
You don’t need to use more than one of the above theories.
- Analysis of ethical issues and leadership:
In this question you are required to identify one, two or three key issues that impacted Airbnb’s ethical image. How does the public perceive the organisation? You will need to apply theories related to both organisational ethics and leadership. In addition to that you may also choose to apply organisational culture concepts if relevant. We want you to demonstrate an application of relevant theories.
This section is more flexible about which theories you would like to use. You can use theories studied in other modules as well if they are appropriate. After all this module integrates the knowledge and skills that you have learnt in your previous years of study (see the module aims in the module handbook).
Emphasise and summarise the most important ideas presented in the report. Do not just summarise all of your findings. Focus on the existing strategies of Airbnb (business and corporate level), how leadership, ethics and other issues can affect the organisation’s future strategy and what should be a future strategy.