Sample Business Studies Paper on Strategic Management for Sustainable Leadership

Instructions on Assessment:


The Assignment Task:

You MUST choose one company from the official list of companies provided on your eLP for this semester. Explain how successful you think that company is, and discuss the strategic reasons behind that success.

Your explanation will include analysis of the contribution made by the leadership of the company, and will go on to suggest strategies and/or actions for ensuring future success in a sustainable manner.

You should read the Guidance on pages 2-4 and the Marking Rubric on pages 7-8 of this brief to understand how you should approach the assignment and how marks will be allocated.



Format for Submission:

  • The assignment should be written in Arial, 11pt, left-justified, 1½
  • DO NOT put Your Name (or any Tutor’s Name) anywhere on your assignment. Every page should be numbered (in header or footer) and show your student
  • DESIRABLE – Please leave approximately 5cm of ‘white space’ at the end of each section. This is the space for your marker to write feedback comments about the preceding section. Please note that we may not use all of the 5cm – it depends what type of feedback we think is needed for each answer. If you do not leave space; we will be forced to leave a marker icon, and list the feedback comments at the end of the document.

All academic and other sources must be cited and included ONCE in a single reference list at the end of the document.

  • The VRIN Summary Table (Barney, 1991) is usually shown in journals and textbooks with ticks and We require you to use the letter “Y” for “Yes” and the letter “N” for “No” (please do not use a font that includes ticks or crosses as they are not visible in the marking software and just appear as location boxes).


Assessment Guidance

Full Assessment Guidance will be given in Assignment Lecture 01, 02 and 03 (please make sure that you review this material).


The Module eLP will also provide a download link to “SM9636 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)”. This is an evolving Word Document containing answers to the most common student questions regarding a Core Level 6 Assessment in Business Strategy.


We will provide you with an official list of companies for your semester on this module (it will be released in the third week of the semester). You must select one of the companies on the official list for your assignment. No other companies will be allowed. Using any company that is not on the official list will result in zero marks.


You will create a written strategic analysis (structure outlined below) that informs the reader about how the company can create (or retain) sustained competitive advantage into the future. The majority of your analysis will be based on the theory and techniques taught as part of this module. Your structured report will contain expert opinions from authoritative sources (all referenced and cited in the APA style) that you will use in your strategic analysis.


Your strategic recommendation will refer back (by page number) to your analysis and the collected expert opinions. Your Strategic Recommendation will contain various suggestions and some consideration will be given to ways in which future success can be achieved in a sustainable business environment.


Assignment Structure

Your assignment will contain the following sections (in the order shown). Mark range allocations are shown

in the marking scheme on pages 7-8 of this brief. To save words, you only have to use the numbered section and title words shown in capitals (below); you do not have to use the prompting questions (shown in italics).


What is contained in the document? Why should someone read it?

This should be a brief (maximum 100 words) introduction to the company and highlighting your key recommendations. Please note that the introduction is not given any marks. We restrict it to 100 words so that you do not waste valuable words from your assignment word-limit on a protracted introduction.

It is best practice to write the introduction last.


What measures should be used to assess the relative success of your chosen company?

Financial and non-financial metrics should be suggested (with a preference for any data that are ‘benchmarked’ against direct competitors). Show example data for the company in question (in tabular or graphical form) that ideally spans four or five financial years to the present day.

Include in this section a brief discussion concerning the difficulties in determining and measuring business success (cite some of the key authors that have written about this subject).


What do experts suggest as the reasons for this company’s relative business success?

An outline of 6 to 10 business reasons behind the success stated in a simple, straightforward way with a brief (4 or 5 sentence) explanation of each reason. Each reason should be sub-titled in this section (i.e. 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 etc.). Cite the expert source(s) that have the opinion that you are listing. Do not speculate yourself in this section; just collect and sort the opinions of third-party experts. Do not rely solely upon

the company’s own website or its publications. All company “jargon” and “acronyms” must have a brief explanation in brackets at the point of their first usage; thereafter they can be used without explanation.




What are the possible internal success factors and where might they be located in the company’s activities?

This will be a detailed dual analysis of the company’s strategic capabilities starting with an Adapted Value Chain (AVC) and followed by a VRIN evaluation. This section carries the most marks. To score well in Section 4, you must also synthesise the AVC with the VRIN. This is achieved by demonstrating clear linkages between the two so that you can answer the two questions “What internal factors are contributing to future success?” (using VRIN); combined with, “Where are they happening within the activities of the company?” (using the AVC to show location, or locations).

The synthesis of AVC and VRIN is an iterative process (multi-pass), so we only need you to show the end result.


How is the current leadership guiding towards success? Is there a leadership legacy from a predecessor?

An evaluation of the contribution of leadership to the company’s success, basing this on appropriate leadership theory (as taught on this module). A wide range of topics will be acceptable including (but not limited to):

  • Leadership Attributes or Styles
  • Organisational Culture
  • Decision-making Theory


Which particular strategic factor of this company deserves closer scrutiny?

A detailed analysis and interpretation based on one additional topic area from the following list:

  • Business Strategy (consistent with strategic capabilities)
  • International Strategy
  • Innovation Strategy
  • Collaboration Strategy (alliances, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions)
  • Sustainability (can the company gain competitive advantage this way)

Choose just one of the above to demonstrate your ability to conduct more in-depth research on one aspect of the company’s future.




With page referencing to your previous sections, can explain your strategic recommendation for this company?

In this section, you make your strategic recommendation (which might encompass more than one particular suggestion to the company). Using the SAFe criteria (from your textbook); consider how Suitable your suggestions are to achieve the desired outcome of Sustained Competitive Advantage. Further estimate how Acceptable your suggestions might be to key stakeholders, and finally comment on the Feasibility of your suggestions.

Your recommendation must also demonstrate an awareness of future Sustainability issues.


Notes on the Assignment Structure:

ALL sections should cite sources of research data and theories/concepts on which your analysis isbased. The only exception to this are the suggestions contained in your strategic recommendation that you make in Section 7; these should be YOUR original ideas and therefore citations are not expected. However, we do expect you to refer to elements of your previous analysis (by page number) to support your arguments.

All cited sources should be listed in APA format in the References section at the end of yourassignment. Cutting and pasting material directly from sources without citation is Plagiarism.

Cutting and pasting material directly from sources with citation is Poor Scholarship.

  • Short quoted extracts from cited sources are permissible – use double quotation marks”” and citation that includes the page number of the cited document.

The vast majority of your assignment word count should use your own words or paraphrase reputable sources. Large and frequent amounts of direct quotation text will be included in the wordcount.



Mapping to Programme Goals and Objectives



Module Level Objectives:

Knowledge & Understanding:


MLO-1: Know how leaders and various stakeholder groups measure and appreciate business success.


MLO-2: Understand how to critically evaluate endogenous and exogenous strategy perspectives for a sustainable business environment.


Intellectual / Professional Skills & Abilities:


MLO-3: Develop Desk Research skills in preparing and writing a thoroughly researched and compelling strategic argument for a company.


MLO-4: Ability to critically analyse business strategies and present suitable, feasible, acceptable and sustainable recommendations to business leaders in a succinct manner.




Programme (Level) Learning Outcomes that this module contributes to:

Knowledge and Understanding:


Assess knowledge of contemporary professional practice in business andmanagement informed by theory and research.


Critically apply knowledge of business and management to complex problems in or relatedto professional practice in order to identify justifiable, sustainable and responsible solutions.


Intellectual / Professional Skills and Abilities:


6.3.2    Critique their personal skills and attitudes for progression to post-graduate contexts including professional work, entrepreneurship and higher level study.





Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity):

6.1.3     Appraise an awareness of the cultural and ethical contexts in which internationalbusiness operates.


6.2.2     Critique creative and critical thinking skills that involve independence,understanding, justification and the ability to challenge the thinking of self and others.