MA Political Economy (Standard Route) / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Analysing Companies

Unit code BMAN72201
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Alliance Manchester Business School
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

The course is designed to allow students to develop and apply techniques of financial analysis to firms and industries, paying particular attention to the ways that companies interact with the external environment. First, it helps to develops understanding of the concept of a business model which allows consideration of both opportunities and constraints that arise from the product and the capital markets. Second, it provides relevant context by analysing corporate performance in an era of shareholder value where investors (especially institutional investors, activist hedge funds etc.) are more demanding. Third, it introduces the importance of narrative or stories in understanding both how companies present their strategy and achievements, as well as how these are interpreted by external commentators like analysts and journalists. Altogether, this course provides an up-to-date overview of how many companies face multiple and complex problems in developing strategy and delivering improved performance. In addition to the difficulties many firms face in competitive, mature or highly regulated product markets, firms now encounter increased pressure to deliver higher returns to shareholders, as well as being the target of campaigns for shareholder value from hedge funds and other activist investors.

Pre/co-requisites

BMAN72201 Programme Req: BMAN72201 is only available as a core unit to students on MSc BASM and as an elective to students on MA Political Economy

Aims

  1. To explore the concept of business model as a way of understanding the opportunities and constraints faced by companies of different kinds in delivering financial performance.
  2. To introduce literatures on shareholder value and financialisation to understand how capital market pressure for financial results, which originated in the US and UK and is now widespread and has an impact upon strategic choices open to management
  3. To provide practical exercises on firms and business sectors which both test understanding and require students to apply concepts and demonstrate skills with company-based case material.

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course, students should be able to:

1.   Analyse company financial performance, understanding how revenues, costs and the external business environment contribute to understanding business models.

2.   Explain and use case material to illustrate how increased pressure from the stock market requires firms to produce a narrative of corporate purpose and corroborating financial numbers.

3.   Appreciate the significance of capital market actors in the development and presentation of business models.

Assessment methods

Group written coursework (30%) 2,000 words.

Two-hour (seen) examination (70%).

Feedback methods

Written and/or verbal comments on non-assessed work during the semester and on assessed coursework.

Informal advice and discussion during lectures and seminars.

Response to student e-mails and questions from a member of staff including feedback provided to a group via an online discussion forum or in office hours/student meetings.

Generic feedback posted on Blackboard regarding overall examination performance.

Recommended reading

A full reading list with week-by week readings will be provided at the start of the course. As background reading, the following will be useful:

Froud, J., Johal, S. Leaver, A and Williams K. Financialization and Strategy (2006) London: Routledge

Rosenzweig, P (2007) ‘Misunderstanding the nature of company performance’, California Management Review, vol.49, no.4, pp.6-20.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 118

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Julie Froud Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Informal Contact Methods

Office hours

Drop in surgeries (extra help sessions for students on material they may be struggling with)

For the first two weeks, follow up work after seminars to provide further opportunities to develop knowledge and skills that will be used later in the course.

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