BSc Management (Accounting and Finance) / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Advanced Strategic Management

Course unit fact file
Unit code BMAN31731
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This advanced course uses insights from the behavioural sciences to understand and improve the strategic management of organizations. Students take a behavioural perspective to look at interesting questions such as: Why do executives frequently make such poor judgments (e.g., Enron, Lehman Brothers, Royal Bank of Scotland)? Do managers act ‘rationally’, and does it matter? Why are strategic decisions so difficult, and how can managers make better ones?  How are successful firms like Intel able to reinvent themselves constantly while others fail to change with the times? We use case studies of contemporary business organizations to examine these questions.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Foundations of Strategy and Innovation BMAN24442 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Business Analysis BMAN24630 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
BMAN24630 (ITMB students) is a pre-requisites for BMAN31731 for ITMB students. BMAN24442 is a pre-requisite for those registered on BSc Mgmt/Mgmt (Specialism), IM and IMABS.

Pre-requisites: BMAN24442 OR BMAN24630 (ITMB students ONLY)

Pre-requisite course units have to be passed by 40% or above at the first attempt unless a higher percentage is indicated below.


This course takes a behavioural perspective on strategic management.  The course aims are:  

·         To provide an appreciation of the major behavioural (i.e. cognitive, emotional, and social) challenges associated with the strategic management process

·         To analyse the behavioural microfoundations of organizational strategic adaptability, from opportunity recognition to effective strategic decision making and managing strategic transformation

·         To introduce students to a range of concepts, tools, techniques and processes designed to understand and enhance strategic thinking and behaviour, with a view to faciliating strategic adaptation in organizations

Learning outcomes

·         Use behavioural theories and concepts to analyse the major enablers of and barriers to strategic adaptation, including those associated with sensing and shaping opportunities and threats, seizing opportunities and managing strategic transformation

·         Critically evaluate the various tools and techniques available for overcoming cognitive, emotional and social barriers to strategic adaptation

·         Assess behavioural factors when designing structures and processes that influence the dynamic capabilities of organizations


•    Introduction: A behavioural perspective on strategic management
•    Executive perception and the cognitive foundations of competitive advantage
•    Sensing, shaping and selling opportunities and threats 
•    Top management teams and the composition of executive groups
•    Flexible strategic thinking
•    Strategic decision making 1: Rational and behavioural perspectives
•    Strategic decision making 2: Cognition and emotion in strategic choice
•    Strategic transformation 1: Promises and processes of strategic transformation
•    Strategic transformation 2: Escaping the identity trap

Teaching and learning methods

The course uses a mix of traditional lectures and interactive workshops. Weekly workshops provide a forum for preparing a case analysis of a real world strategic problem facing a chosen firm or industry, which forms the bulk of the course assessment. The workshops are important and are unlike a typical seminar – you will need to do bits of work to prepare and work actively with colleagues and the lecturer while in class. Full instructions are posted for each workshop on Blackboard. We also hold a guest lecture to explore and understand behavioural strategy ‘in action’.

Lecture Hours

11 x 1.5 hour lectures (16.5 hours)

Workshop Hours

10 x 1.5 hour workshops (15 hours)

Private Study Hours

Students are expected to undertake a considerable amount of private study (equivalent to 168.5 hours). This is an advanced final year course. It will be difficult to attain first-class and even upper second-class (2:1) grades without demonstrating evidence of significant and fruitful private study. This includes reading articles/chapters ahead of lectures, preparing for workshops, and researching and writing the coursework assignments.

Total Study Hours

200 hours (16.5 lecture hours + 15 workshop hours + 168.5 private study hours)

Virtual Learning Environment: Blackboard

The course VLE in Blackboard is a key resource. Its contents include:

·         Instructions for workshops

·         Guidelines for the assessed coursework

·         Lecture slides (released prior to each lecture)

·         Links to the electronic reading list

·         Additional readings/resources of interest

Employability skills

The course is designed to help students understand the human forces behind the success (and failure) of business organizations. The ideas covered in lectures and workshops combined with the coursework assignments provide the foundation for developing strategic analysis skills, including: diagnosing enablers of and barriers to strategic change, designing effective strategic decision processes, applying tools and techniques to enhance opportunity recognition and development.

Assessment methods

The course is assessed via two pieces of written coursework (100% coursework); there is no examination. Full details and instructions for the assessments are released on Blackboard.

Coursework and Feedback Schedule

Please submit all coursework electronically via Blackboard. Blackboard gives instructions. Submissions must be received prior to 15:00 on the date of submission. Assignments received after this time will be treated as late and penalised accordingly (see below).

Assessment (weighting)

Deadline for Submission

Feedback Release Date

Method of Feedback

Individual essay analysing a strategy case (30%)



Written feedback for individuals comprising annotated comments on essay via Turnitin, summary evaluation, and numeric grade. Generic feedback for the class uploaded to Blackboard.

Individual case study (70%)





Written feedback for individuals comprising annotated comments on case via Turnitin, summary evaluation, and numeric grade. Generic feedback for the class uploaded to Blackboard.

Feedback to Students on Progress

You will receive feedback on your performance on the first piece of coursework (the essay) to help develop the skills in theoretical analysis required for the case study. In addition, you will obtain formative feedback in the weekly workshops. For certain workshops, you are expected to undertake various tasks for your case study and bring pieces of completed work to class. This is your opportunity to gain feedback on how you are progressing and obtain advice on areas of improvement. Students can also obtain feedback in person from the course lecturer; please email to arrange a one-to-one meeting. In sum, feedback includes:

  • Informal advice and discussion during lectures and workshops
  • Online exercises and quizzes delivered through the Blackboard course space
  •  Responses to student emails and questions
  •  Written and/or verbal comments on assessed coursework
  • Generic feedback posted on Blackboard regarding assessment performance

Marking scheme

Please see the generic marking scheme in Appendix 1, which guides marking for the essay. A bespoke marking scheme for the case study report is posted later in Blackboard.

Penalties for Exceeding Assignment Word Limits

Submissions that exceed the stated word limit by more than 10% will be penalised accordingly. The greater the excess, the greater the penalty.

Penalties for Late or Non-Submission of Assignments

Unexcused late submission of assessed work will be penalised in order to avoid the unfair advantaging and disadvantaging of students. Please see Appendix 2 for further details.

Feedback methods

Methods of Feedback from Students/Course Evaluation

Students evaluate this course using the end of course evaluation questionnaire. Informal feedback will be elicited from students during lectures and workshops. Please comment on problems or areas of improvement at any time, by email or orally to the lecturer. 

Recommended reading

There is no single textbook for behavioural strategy. This is an advanced final year course and students are expected to read widely around each substantive topic covered in the lectures. For this reason, the lecture schedule lists core and supplementary readings associated with each topic. However, the books listed as course texts below are useful for background on strategic management and behavioural science – the two pillars of the course.

To attain high grades, students must understand and apply the course literature. The case study in particular requires you to read the literature as you progress through the course, so that your case analysis has strong conceptual foundations. Also, you will need to read various pieces from the list to prepare for the weekly workshops (separate workshop instructions are available Blackboard). 

Mintzberg, H., Ahlstrand, B., & Lampel, J. 2009. Strategy Safari, second edition. London: Prentice Hall.

Provides a readable and insightful overview of the schools of thought that dominate thinking and practice in strategy. In particular, chapter six (‘The cognitive school’) explains how the core ideas of this course lie at the centre of a comprehensive understanding of strategy. If you read this chapter and contrast it with the other schools, then you will have a grounded picture of where behavioural strategy sits.

Hodgkinson, G. & Healey, M. (2018). The psychological foundations of strategic management: beyond cold cognition. In D. S. Ones, N. Anderson & H. K. Sinangil, The SAGE handbook of industrial, work and organizational psychology (pp. 275-305). London: SAGE Publications Ltd doi: 10.4135/9781473914964.n14

A contemporary review of research in behavioural strategy, focussing on developments in the last ten years.

Kahneman, D. 2011. Thinking: Fast and slow. London: Allen Lane.

A compelling story of how the architecture of human cognition controls thinking in domains from medical judgment to business decision making. Argues convincingly for the dual systems view of ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ cognitive systems, which underpins the heuristics and biases research programme that led Kahneman to a Nobel Prize in 2002. If you want to understand where behavioural strategy (also behavioural economics, behavioural finance, etc) came from and why it matters, then start here.

Finkelstein, S., Hambrick, D. C. & Cannella, B. 2008. Strategic Leadership: Theory and Research on Executives, Top Management Teams, and Boards. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Reviews theory and research on how top executives influence organizational performance, focussing on top management teams and the influence of values, personality, motives, and demography. Provides a sophisticated overview of the ‘upper echelons’ view of firms, but does not cover the full course curriculum.

Duhaime, I. M., Stimpert, L., & Chesley, J. A. 2012. Strategic thinking: Today’s business imperative. New York: Routledge.

One of few general texts that attempts to integrate standard ideas from business strategy (e.g. industry analysis, competitive positioning, resources, capabilities) with principles of managerial and organizational cognition (e.g. mental models, managerial beliefs). Some chapters have a stronger behavioural flavour than others

Hodgkinson, G. P. and P. R. Sparrow (2002). The Competent Organization: A Psychological Analysis of the Strategic Management Process, Open University Press, Buckingham.

The most detailed insight into the subfield of the psychology of strategic management. It is technical in style, being written primar

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 16.5
Seminars 15
Independent study hours
Independent study 168.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christopher Golding Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Pre-requisite course units have to be passed by 40% or above at the first attempt unless a higher percentage is indicated below.

Pre-requisites: BMAN24442 Foundations of Strategy and Innovation OR BMAN24630 Business Analysis (ITMB students only)

Co-requisites: None

Dependent courses: None

Programme Restrictions: BSc Management and Management (Specialisms), BSc International Management, BSc International Management with American Business Studies and BSc ITMB.

For Academic Year 2023/24

Updated: March 2023

Approved by: March UG Committee

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