Course 2010-2011 a.y.


M - IM

Department of Management and Technology

Course taught in English


Go to class group/s: 31
M (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07) - IM (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Course Objectives

The aim of this course is to prepare students for a future position in a large, diversified company that operates across national borders. Students study the nature of the problems and challenges confronted by managers responsible for corporate strategy and the skills needed by them to function effectively as strategists and organization builders. In particular, the course addresses the challenges of formulating and implementing strategy in companies that are active in multiple businesses. The goal is to challenge conventional wisdom on the limits of international expansion, the importance of cultural and institutional distance, the nature of economies of scale and scope, the existence of first mover advantages, the logic behind the global value chain configuration, the speed and timing of market entry, and the organizational architecture. The course does not focus on causes and performance consequences of cross-border consolidation. Instead, it puts the reader in the driver’s seat of a firm on its journey towards international markets and examines the actual strategies of the firms involved in cross-border consolidation. The course does not only provide students with a "toolkit" which they might be able to draw upon in case they are faced with general management responsibilities (and it might happen sooner than they think). Furthermore, students develop the skill to detect and understand specific approaches to strategy in various business environments.

Course Content Summary

This course is based on the Oxford University Press Book Building an International Financial Services Firm written by Markus Venzin. The structure of the course follows the one in the book. However, class discussions are not limited to the financial services industries, but include detailed analysis of firms from a variety of industries. The participants are then forced to actively think through the most fundamental strategic decisions involved in internationalization moves:

  • Do we have to grow?
  • If yes, should we grow by product diversification or by international expansion?
  • If we opt for international expansion, when is the right time to start that process?
  • If the right time is now, which markets we should target?
  • How should we enter these markets: through acquisitions, organic growth, or strategic alliances?
  • In addition to the mode of entry decision, what should be the speed of foreign market penetration?
  • Should we adapt our competitive positioning to the local market conditions? If yes, how?
  • What impact does an increased international presence have on our existing functional strategies?
  • How should we design our organizational architecture to reap profits from an international presence?

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

  • 60% written exam;
  • 40% team assignment.


  • MARKUS VENZIN, Building an international financial services firm: How successful firms design and execute cross-border strategies, Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Additional readings, cases and slides will be made available via our weblearning platform.
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)
Last change 23/06/2010 11:49