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Strategy (minor)


Admission requirements

3rd year bachelor students


This course focuses on a critical managerial challenge; how to deal with competition and cultivate a sustainable competitive advantage in the marketplace. Through lectures, case study seminars, readings, and group assignments, students learn about foundational theories and frameworks from the strategic management literature. Students learn to use these theories and frameworks to answer questions such as: why are some firms more successful than other firms in a specific industry? How do I assess the competitive advantage a firm has over other firms in a market? How can managers harness industry dynamics to strengthen a firm’s competitive advantage? What is the role of organisational design in a firm’s competitive advantage? And what are the challenges associated with capitalising on intellectual assets (as opposed to physical assets)? The emphasis of the course is on industrial sectors that intersect with research agendas of Leiden’s Faculty of Science and LUMC, such as the life sciences, ICT, high-tech electronics, and instrumentation sectors.

This course is intended for anyone interested in working in industry as an entrepreneur, manager, consultant, analyst, or investor. Moreover, the course will provide an analytical background for scientists, engineers and medical doctors with an interest in understanding industrial aspects of their academic work. The course emphasises small-scale, interactive teaching that focuses on real-life case studies.

Topics covered:

  • Students will learn about frameworks and concepts that are useful for conducting market and industry analyses. These include the concepts of competitive advantage, economies of scale/scope, network economies, complementary assets, Porter’s Five Forces Framework, Value Chain/System analyses, and SWOT analysis.

  • To conduct organisational design analyses, students will learn about competing demands of organisational exploration and exploitation, dynamics capabilities, and the ARC framework.

  • To assess strategies for securing and exploiting a firm’s intellectual capital students will learn about intellectual property protection, the dynamics of markets for knowhow, and platform versus product strategies for commercialising R&D.

Course objectives

This course provides students training in the use of key concepts and frameworks for formulating and implementing corporate strategies with an emphasis on firms in technology-intensive industries. At the end of the course students will be able to:

  • conduct analyses of industry structure and competitive dynamics;

  • assess a firm’s competitive (dis)advantage in an industry vis-à-vis other firms;

  • design business models around the commercial exploitation of a a firm’s intellectual capital (e.g. patents, trade secrets, copyright, tacitly held knowhow);

  • formulate recommendations about optimising a firm’s organisational design for its position in the marketplace.


Semester 1:

  • Course: September 4th – October 1st 2018

  • Exam: October 4th 2018, 14:00 – 17:00 hrs

  • Retake: January 25th 10.00 – 13.00 hrs

Please check the latest version of the schedule on the SBB website.

Mode of instruction

The course emphasises small-scale, interactive teaching that focuses on real-life case studies. Students will be debriefed, in hindsight, on what really happened.

Course load

  • 9 3-hour seminars

  • 2-day business game

  • Case preparation before each seminar

  • Final 3-hour exam

Assessment method

Class participation (20%)

Students are expected to actively participate in case discussions in class. Each session, two students are assigned the role of assessor. These students will aid the lecturer by noting down the number of contributions that students make and assessing the contributions’ relevance and value. The lecturer determines marks for class participation based on these assessments and the lecturer’s own assessment of students.

The marking range for participation is 0 to 3 points per session. A score of 0 is the default for students who do not show up for class without a valid reason. Participation points are translated into marks on a 1-10 scale (0=1, 1=5, 2=7, 3=9) and averaged out at the end of the class to calculate the final participation mark.

Group assignments (30%)

Students are assigned to groups, which are announced on Blackboard. Students are required to submit a total of 8 group assignments. These group assignments should be written in the format of a one-page memo that addresses a question about the case study that is discussed in class the next day. Group assignments should be submitted by midnight the day before the class via Blackboard.

Group assignments are marked on a 0-3 scale. A score of 0 is the default for groups which do not submit their group assignment (on time). Group marks are translated into marks on a 1-10 scale (0=1, 1=5, 2=7, 3=9) and averaged out at the end of the class to calculate the final group assignment mark.

Final exam (50%)

The final exam will be an open book exam based on a case study – i.e. students are allowed to consult their lecture notes and study pack during the exam. Students are not allowed to consult any communication-equipped electronic devices during the exam. The case study that is the subject of the exam will be distributed during the final class. During the exam students will be asked to assess various aspects of the competitive environment and strategic choices the firm in the case faces, very much like during the case discussions of this course.

In order to pass students must have a total grade of at least a 6 (six). The final grade is rounded off to the nearest half or integer.


Yes (students will be enrolled in Blackboard one month before the start of the course).

Reading list

A study pack with course readings and case studies can be purchased at the start of the course. More information will follow on Blackboard after registration.


Students have to register for the course in uSis. The registration in uSis for 2018-2019 will open two months before the start of the academic year. Click here for instructions.

This course is part of the SBB minor. If you would like to follow this course as an elective, please contact the programme coordinator to discuss the possibilities.