Course 2023-2024 a.y.


Department of Management and Technology

Course taught in English

Student consultation hours
Class timetable
Exam timetable
Go to class group/s: 13
BESS-CLES (7 credits - I sem. - OB  |  SECS-P/07)
Course Director:

Classes: 13 (I sem.)

Synchronous Blended: Lessons in synchronous mode in the classroom (for a maximum of one hour per credit in remote mode)

Mission & Content Summary


The course provides a comprehensive introduction to the economics and management of business firms. After an overview of the main theories of the firm, the course equips students with the main analytical tools used in managerial accounting. Then, the course provides a comprehensive analysis of corporate strategic decisions. The course blends theoretical and analytical approaches with real-life insights and applications from the business sector. Students are encouraged to take an active part in the learning process. The educational objectives of the course are the following: 1. Provide students with knowledge about the role and functioning of business firms in modern economic systems; 2. Gain knowledge on the main theoretical and analytical tools required for the economic analysis of firms' activities, and learn how to use them in practical situations; 3. Provide a comprehensive overview to the wide range of firms' strategic decisions.


  • The structure and governance of firms.
  • Theories of the firm: stakeholders and shareholders.
  • Agency and corporate governance mechanisms.
  • Learning to read financial statements (income statement and balance sheet). 
  • Measuring performance through financial ratios.
  • Strategic analysis and managerial decisions.
  • Economies of scale and production capacity.
  • Economies of scope and diversification decisions.
  • Vertical integration.
  • The competitive environment: market structures and industries.
  • Creating and sustaining the competitive advantage.
  • Organizations and values.
  • Organizational structures.
  • Leaders and top management teams.


Expected Teaching Plan

Class Hours Topic Reading
Agency and Stakeholder Theories
1 3 Intro, What is a firm? Slides
2 2 Firm objectives Slides
3 3 Corporate governance mechanisms Shleifer and Vishny (1997)
4 2 Case discussion: Patagonia Case study
5 3 Widely-held vs. closely-held firms Shleifer and Vishny (1997) 
Case discussion: Parmalat Case study
Financial Management
6 2 Understanding the purpose and the system of financial statements Walsh: 1
7 3 Learning to read a balance sheet Walsh: 2, 3, 12, Appendix 1
8 2 Understanding how the profit and loss account works Walsh: 4, Appendix 1
9 3 Exercise practice Exercises
Introduction to performance measurement Walsh: 5
10 2 Performance Measurement Walsh: 5, 6, 7
11 3 Understanding cash flows Walsh 8, 9, 10, 13
Evaluating asset structure and financial strength
Financial leverage and market to book
12 2 Exercise Exercises
First Partial Exam
Strategic Analysis
13 3 Economies of scale and learning Besanko: Chapter 2
14 2 Cost structure and break-even point Slides
15 3 Vertical integration Besanko: Chapter 3
16 2 Make-or-buy decision Slides
17 3 Alliances, joint ventures and contracting Besanko: Chapter 4
18 2 Exercise  
19 3 Market structure and industry analysis Besanko: Chapter 8
20 2 Case discussion: Delta Airlines Case study
21 3 Strategic positioning for competitive advantage Besanko: Chapter 9
22 2 Case discussion: Apple Case study
23 3 Strategy and structure Besanko: Chapter 13
24 2 Exercise  
Second Partial / General Exam

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Know about the role and functioning of business firms in modern economic systems.
  • Discern the most relevant tools in management accounting.
  • Understand the economic rationales behind a wide array of corporate strategic decisions.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Apply the theoretical notions of management to the analysis of practical business cases.
  • Assess the financial condition of firms (esp. performance and capital structure) by using analytical tools and methods from management accounting.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Exercises (exercises, database, software etc.)
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)


Class sessions will be interactive and will rely upon the ideas and examples provided by class members. A number of exercises, teaching cases, simulations, and practical illustrations will be used. Class will include

  • Face-to-face lectures.
  • In-class numerical exercises.
  • Case-study discussions.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  x x


Attending and non-attending students will be evaluated based on a written exam. To this end, students have two possibilities: 


1) Take the mid-term exam in October and the second partial exam in December or January. If students pass the mid-term, they are admitted to the second part. Please note that the two mid-terms will be equally weighted (50% each) to compute the grade of the written part. The second mid-term (December or January) can be taken only once. Students registered for the exam in December cannot take it again in January if they withdraw or even if they register for the exam and do not show up


2) Take one single exam (general exam) in January; students that fail to pass the exam in the two regular sessions can give again the general exam in any other of the scheduled dates later in the academic year (July or August). Students that have passed the mid-term exam in October may withdraw from the second part in December, by simply not registering for it – or not showing up on that day – and can directly take the general exam. Apart from this case, under no conditions, a passed exam (or part of it) can be taken again in order to improve the grade


In order to pass the exam, students should have:

1) A final grade of at least 18 as the weighted average of the two parts (written – either general or average of the two mid-term exams)

2) Students with less than 18 in the October mid-term exam will not be admitted to the second mid-term (and should take the general exam). Students with less than 18 in the second mid-term will fail even if the weighted average of the two mid-term exams is above 18


Non-attending students take the general exam in January. A final grade of at least 18 as the weighted average of the two parts (written – either general or average of the two mid-term exams)

Teaching materials


  • Besanko D., Dranove D., Shanley M., Schaefer S. “Economics of Strategy”. Wiley, 2016.
  • C. WALSH, Key Management Ratios, Prentice Hall, 2006.
  • Case studies from the Harvard Business School Case Library.
Last change 05/06/2023 10:29