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1. the risks and opportunities confronting strategic leaders in a changing world

Strategic leadership in a changing world c/w 2   Assignment Brief


Module Title:

Strategic leadership in a changing world 2019/20

Module Code:


Assignment Format & Maximum Word count

Draft/provisional. Individual assignment. Individual portfolio which comprises two separate  essays. 2,000 words each essay (there is no plus or minus 10% “rule” on this module. The limit is 2,000 words for each essay (see below for further details)

Assignment Weighting:


Coursework Submission:

One electronic copy (you submit the two essays as one document) via the usual assignment mechanism on Studynet on or before  24th April 5pm 2020.Also, you MUST submit an IDENTICAL paper copy to the designated 6BUS1059 assignment hand -in box at the coursework point (bottom floor of HBS) on or before 28th April 1.30pm.

Coursework return Date returned to students:

Four weeks (eg 20 working days (when the university is open) (Monday to Friday are defined by the university as working days) after the hand in of the identical paper copy.

Module leader  


First marker  

Tutorial team-all scripts will be marked by staff who teach on this module.

Internal Moderator

Approved yes

Module Board name

HR & Strategy

External Examiner


Module Board date

Early June 2020


Assessment Criteria

Learning Outcomes: Knowledge and Understanding tested in this assignment:

1. the risks and opportunities confronting strategic leaders in a changing world; 2. the challenges facing organisations in times of economic growth and recession; 3. theoretical approaches to the evaluation of an organisation`s strategic position, choices and implementation of options for change; 4. the distinctions between differing change contexts and styles of leadership.


Learning Outcomes: Skills and Attributes tested in this assignment:


5. research, diagnose and analyse a complex range of strategic problems; 6. critically evaluate strategic concepts and theory, decision-making and planning, using practical examples of strategic leadership and change processes.


Transformational Opportunities

Opportunity for students to develop skills with regard to considering how organisations go about/should go about their strategic thinking/implementation.


Feedback /Marking criteria for this Assignment


Performance will be assessed using the combined HBS Grading Criteria and Mark scheme (see below)

Guidance for improvement will be given in writing on the Assessment Feedback Form within 4 weeks of submission (see above).


 Late assignments are subject to the following Business school regulations: For each day or part thereof and up to five days after the published deadline, coursework relating to modules at 0,4,5 and 6 submitted late (including deferred work but with the exception of referred work) wil have the numeric grade reduced by ten grade points until or unless the numeric grade reaches or is 40.Where the numeric grade awarded for the assessment is less than 40 no lateness penalty will be applied.

Plagiarism offences will receive standard penalties.


Detailed Brief


General instructions for BOTH essays :

Do note the importance of accessing the “live” c/w 2 FAQS. You need to access these on a regular basis (see below for further information re the c/w 2 FAQS).

Do note there is a word count for this coursework. This could appear to be insufficient to answer this question well. However, markers/examiners are fully aware of the word count and bear its limitations in mind when marking your work. Despite the word count it is possible to obtain an extremely high grade in this strategy assignment.

In terms of a “structure” for this assignment there are different ways to structure the essays. You may recall the following two paragraphs were written in the assessment brief for your c/w 1. Word for word was written:

 “Strategy as a subject is famous for the disagreements/arguments between the major thinkers. Indeed, such is the level of disagreement amongst strategists that Bob De Wit (Strategy Synthesis, fifth edition, page 2) says of his own book     “In a book entitled Strategy, it seems reasonable to expect Chapter 1 to begin with a clear definition of strategy that would be employed with consistency in all subsequent chapters…Yet, even a quick glance through current strategy literature indicates otherwise. There are strongly different opinions on most of the key issues, and the disagreements run so deep that even a common definition of the term “strategy” is illusive”.

 Arguable, the two most famous strategists are Michael Porter and Henry Mintzberg. They seem to disagree on almost everything in the world of strategy (Porter arguing strategy should be a logical and analytical subject and Mintzberg countering by arguing that strategy is often “messy”, partially/wholly emergent and non-linear etc).Indeed, some strategists go as far as to say “chaos” (eg Stacey) is the best way to describe what often, in reality, happens in organisations. Some strategists embrace what could be termed an unstructured and “chaotic” attitude to the formulation or organisations strategies. They support “organised chaos”. Others disagree and call for structure and planning as the best way to undertake an organisations strategy formulation.

Specific instructions for  ESSAY One


Essay question one (worth 35% of the total module mark)


Choose ONE of the following three organisations:


 Sainsbury’s or


 Topshop or


 Nissan Motor corporation


Write an essay (using module tools/frameworks/concepts/perspectives) that critically evaluates the strategic issues and options facing your organisation of choice on 31st March 2020.

Possible STRUCTURE for essay one. One POSSIBLE (stress POSSIBLE) structure for Essay one is as follows: In terms of how many words to use for each section then in a subject such as strategy it is difficult to give an answer that is "fair" to all strategists. However, POSSIBLE/MAYBE 5% of your words on the introduction,10% of your words on the position analysis (the position analysis is sometimes called a “situational” analysis).The position/situational analysis will enable you to locate issues. Possible 35% on the strategic issues/critically evaluating the strategic issues .You would possible look to have three issues. Possible 45% of your words on the creation of strategic options (you may possible use the Ansoff matrix to help you create possible options)/evaluation (possible using SAF model) of strategic options. You would possible have three options and the options would link to the issues. You do not have to give a recommended option but you can if you wish. Possible 5% on your conclusion. Please note, in giving the above advice I have attempted to be fair to the different perspectives/strategists mentioned above. An obvious area of debate is how many models/theories to use in your essay? Different strategists would give different answers to that question! It is your choice regarding how many models/theories to use but do remember to justify that choice/number in your answer. You may POSSIBLE consider using 6 tools/concepts/perspectives models etc in essay one.

As regards the options and issues you locate etc that obviously, depends upon the organisation you choose and the circumstances your organisation is in before and up to 31st March 2020. In terms of topics/syllabus for essay one then the lecture and seminar topics/syllabus such as environment, resources and capabilities, stakeholders and governance, history and culture  could be useful for your BRIEF position analysis. For other parts of the essay you say also use those topics but may also wish to consider International issues/theory etc, Innovation and entrepreneurship issues/theory etc, mergers and acquisition issues/theory etc, Organisational issues /theory etc, strategic development process issues/theory etc, Leadership issues/theory etc, resources and capabilities issues/theory etc, environment, theory/issues etc, strategic purpose theory/issues etc.  As you can see these possible topic areas straddle topics/work undertaken in semester A and semester B.

Your work is to be up-date up until 31st March 2020.You are not allowed to use “information” on your organisation of choice that occurs/is produced after the 31st March 2020 e.g. any changes/issues/events/information/environmental or internal changes concerning/affecting the organisation that occur after 31st March 2020 CANNOT be used.


Word count limit: 2,000 words (there is no plus or minus 10 per cent “rule” on this coursework) The maximum amount of words allowed for essay one is 2,000. ALL WORDS COUNT, EXCEPT FOR THE FRONT PAGE (on which you must put your srn (not your name), name of the module, word count, title of coursework, my name (Keith Seed) as module leader.  You only need to have one front page for this portfolio) AND THE END OF ESSAYS LIST OF REFERENCES (using University of Hertfordshire’s version of the Harvard system of referencing). You will have a list of references at the end of your essay one and a list of references at the end of your essay two.

You are not allowed to have any appendix

You are allowed to use secondary research (using publicly available sources e.g. the company’s annual report, investment analysts’ reports and any other material available free of charge in IH databases or on the internet).

You are NOT allowed to use primary research (i.e. questionnaires, interviews or any information obtained privately from company employees or on pay-per-view internet sites). You are NOT allowed to email the company asking for information.


The combined grading and marking scheme criteria for c/w 2 are in a separate document entitled “Combined grading criteria and marking scheme for c/w 2 6BUS1059 2019-20”. These criteria will be used to mark both essays.

Do also note if you require any coursework guidance you must contact me (Keith Seed) (you are not to contact any other teachers re c/w guidance). I will not read a draft (or indeed any) of your work but I am very happy to discuss with you your main ideas/thoughts re c/w 2. I have two office hours per week (though like c/w 1 when the hand in date is imminent I will be extending my office hours to 4 hours per week).I can also see students immediately after either of the two identical strategy lecture’s. DO NOTE C/W 2 FAQS will operate and you are expected to access these on an ongoing basis. To obtain the c/w 2 FAQS click on “units” on the module canvas site homepage.Then click on “Frequently asked questions c/w 2 (essay one) 6BUS1059” or “Frequently asked questions c/w 2 (essay two) 6BUS1059” As student questions arise during the coursework (and during the module) the c/w 2 FAQS are amended and/or added. I write a few of my own before the coursework commences but once the coursework commences the questions are added to/amended by me as/when I receive legitimate questions about c/w 2.

Word count/essay writing etc for essay one: There is a strict 2,000 word limit on the essay. The word count does NOT include title page and end list of references. It does include the in-text references. There is no 10% plus or minus word count rule for this coursework. The word count is 2,000 words. Markers/examiners are aware of word count regulations and realise the limitations a word count places on a students work and mark accordingly. Although the word count may appear to be low to you it is possible to obtain an extremely high grade in this c/w 2.In terms of any general academic skills for c/w 2 you are advised to visit the case website or go in person to their office (bottom floor of HBS). We on this module do not teach generic academic skills. Particularly useful on the CASE website is the section called “Academic Writing” (it includes sections entitled “Essays, Reports, Reflective Writing and Posters” (within that section is a very useful subsection called “essay writing skills”) and “Harvard referencing”). You must follow those guidelines in your courseworks APART from the advice on the CASE website re “diagrams”. You are allowed to use “diagrams” in your work but all words/numbers that are in or associated with the diagram/figures/drawings/tables etc are counted in your word count. A “number” counts as a word  eg “5 forces” would have the same word count as “25 forces” (eg it is two “words” etc). Do also note the CASE website discusses bibliographies and end List of References. Do note you are NOT to produce bibliographies in your courseworks for this module .You must provide two separate Lists of References (eg one for each essay). Do also note your essay is not to have bullet points, underlinnings, sub headings, headings etc.  If you go over the word count the marker/examiner will penalise you and make an “academic judgement” on how much advantage you obtained by going over the word count. Based on that “academic judgement” the marker/examiner will institute a penalty. You will not be penalised for going under the word count.

Presentation: Work must be submitted as an MS Word document. Page borders are not permitted. Work should be in a size 12 Arial font.

Referencing: Referencing is of vital importance in order to avoid the serious academic offence of plagiarism. This is defined in University of Hertfordshire Policies and Regulations as ‘the representation of another person’s work as the student’s own, either by extensive unacknowledged quotation, paraphrasing or direct copying’. UH Business School reserves the right to use electronic means to identify plagiarism and collusion. Wherever possible we prefer you to develop your own ideas and to express them in your own words. You must use the UH version of the Harvard referencing system (this is the one published on the CASE website) to acknowledge all of your sources of data AND all of the theories, models and frameworks.  A complete list of references must be included at the end of your essay. Where you use direct quotes or show diagrams, keep them short and ensure you explain their contribution to your argument. Do note we on this module will not teach or advise you how to Harvard reference. All questions concerning Harvard referencing must be directed to the CASE Unit. At the time of writing this assessment brief the CASE Unit provide a “67 point” (eg 67 different scenario’s on referencing) guide to Harvard referencing.

In terms of any technical issues re canvas (how to access documents, technical skills re canvas, how to access and play audio and video podcasts etc you need to contact   [email protected]. )  We on this module are academics and are not technicians. We cannot offer any technical advice/expertise. You must contact the UH helpdesk or [email protected]   

You should aim to have a minimum of 10 sources (online or in print) in your essay one. It is expected you would refer to between 10-25 different sources in essay one. You will not be penalised if you have more than 25 references in essay one.

Essay one clarifications will be posted on the module website if/when any issues need clarifying re the assignment and these will be via the c/w 2 (essay one) FAQS/lecture slides/canvas etc. See above re c/w 2 FAQS. The c/w 2 FAQS override any previous information/advice given re c/w 2. DO NOTE THERE ARE TWO SEPARATE C/W2 FAQS OPERATING- C/W FAQS FOR ESSAY ONE AND C/W FAQS FOR ESSAY TWO.

Specific instructions for Essay two

You must start your essay two on a separate page from your essay one.

Essay question two (worth 35% of the total module mark)

Critically evaluate how useful the models/concepts/tools/perspectives you used in essay one were when you applied them to your chosen organisation. Using your essay one organisation as an example (or ,if you prefer using another (or more than one) organisation (s) (not necessarily ones in the three organisations mentioned in the essay one question) critically evaluate the debate between the intended/deliberate perspective and the emergent perspective. Using leadership theory what type/style of leader do you feel is likely to be most successful in an organisation?

Possible structure for c/w 2. As stated above for essay one different strategists would advise different possible structure’s. However, you may consider the following POSSIBLE structure: You will, as this is an essay, have an introduction and a conclusion. Your introduction would probable see you use 5% of your words. Then, as for the rest of the essay as regards the part of the question that says “Critically evaluate how useful the models/concepts/tools/perspectives you used in essay one were when you applied them to your chosen organisation” you would look to critically evaluate each model etc you used.  You would be looking to give your informed opinion and looking to have some academic underpinning in your answer (eg possible some analysis from an academic/thinker on the model).  You may POSSIBLE have used, say, 6 models/tools/perspectives/concepts, in essay one. If so, you would look to evaluate each model This section of your essay 2 would possible see you using 30% of your word count. As regards the second part of the essay question you would possible use 30% of your word count. In this section you would be looking to consider how influential are the top executives/senior leaders in organisations? You would be considering to what extent the plans/thinking of the top executives account for what actually occurs in organisations? You would probable be looking to consider the debate between the likes of Michael Porter (the design/rational/intended/deliberate view of strategy) and Henry Mintzberg (the more “messy” and emergent view etc) etc. As regards the third part of the essay question you would possible be looking to use 30% of your words. There is,obviously, a lot of leadership theory available for you to draw on. You will be using your informed opinion to integrate that theory with an organisation (or if you wish more than one organisation).You would have a conclusion and the conclusion would possible be 5% of your words count.

In terms of the referencing/sources, word count, presentation, regulations on appendix (you are not allowed any appendix), use only of secondary data for essay two these are identical to essay one.

Do note c/w 2 (essay two) FAQS will be created and these will be added to/developed as the module/time progresses. C/w 2 FAQS override any previously published information/advice regulations.

The same word count, layout advise etc given for essay one applies to essay two. You are not allowed any appendix for essay two or essay one.

Mark scheme:



Presentation and Structure etc


Harvard Referencing etc


Content etc


Business Application/Integration of literature etc


Analysis etc







Research: To develop and support your research and academic skills for the coursework assignment, investigate the excellent resources on Studynet .Purely as an example go  to Online Library à My Subject Toolkit – Business à Specialist Databases à Nexis UK. Nexis is excellent for access to quality national and international business newspapers for up-to-date business news and reports on industries and companies. Other reliable and recommended databases, found on the same Studynet webpage as Nexis include Business Source Complete, Mintel, FAME and Keynote which provide financial reports and industry reports. Further support for using these sources is available from CASE. You are welcome to reference videos and other similar resources. Preliminary research by the module leader has proven that ample evidence is available for the purposes of this project.

Appendices: You are NOT allowed any appendices in either of your essays.

Writing Style and Presentation: The essay should be written in fluid prose. Do not use lists and bullet points (see above). Write in the third person.

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