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Leading Strategic Decision-Making Part A & B

Part A

In Part A, we assess learning outcomes related to topics 1, 2, 3, 7 & 10 by providing you with case study information on the leadership and strategic development processes which operate within the innovative context at Twitter. The purpose of this brief is to provide you:

  • Details of the coursework assessment: background to the case and questions
  • Information on presentation and submission date.
  • Guidelines to assist you in answering the questions
  • The assessment marking criteria and feedback sheet for Part A

Case Study Background & Questions Read carefully the case evidence on Twitter which is contained in the following three sources:

1. Mark, K. & Parker, S. (2011) Twitter extracted from Ireland, R.D., Hoskisson, R. E., & Hitt, M.A. (2013) The Management of Strategy: Concepts and Cases, 10th International Edition, South-Western, Cengage Learning, pages 371-377

2. Twitter (2013) Annual Report 2013, Twitter, Inc.

3. Twitter (2014) Annual Report 2014, Twitter, Inc.

4. Twitter (2016) Annual Report 2015, Twitter, Inc.

Each source covers a distinct period of Twitter’s strategic development from start-up to the stock market listing (IPO), to growth within the internet information provider industry.

  • Source 1 provides a case analysis of Twitter’s strategic development at startup (2006-2011).
  • Source 2 reports on Twitter’s strategic position having achieved an initial public offering (IPO) in 2013.
  • Source 3 reports on Twitter’s proposed growth directions and future strategic choices in 2014-2015.
  • Source 4 reports on Twitter’s current strategic position and outlines the current risks related to Twitter and its industry in 2015-2016.

All sources provide insights into the leadership, strategy and innovation practices within Twitter. Source 1 critiques Twitter’s origins, current business model and future strategic choices, whereas sources 2 and 3 provide a corporate account on Twitter’s mission, values, along with the content and direction of their previous strategy. Source 4 provides a corporate on Twitter’s current strategic position and warns of the risks the business currently faces. Your analysis of the Twitter Annual Reports should, therefore, be particularly critical in order to answer the below questions.

Part A of your coursework assessment requires you to answer two questions:

Questions

Part A

1. Using the Ashridge Sense of Mission Model analyse the case evidence to interpret whether Twitter’s strategy shows signs of a weak or strong sense of mission. 

2. Using relevant strategic decision-making theory, analyse Twitter’s existing strategic decisions to interpret if Twitter has pursued a deliberate or emergent strategy. In your answer, discuss to what extent you believe Twitter has built and sustained a long-term competitive advantage.

Both questions are equally weighted and you should review how grading is allocated in the Coursework Feedback Sheet.

Presentation and Submission Date The assessment in Part A is a case analysis and you should note that case analysis is not a conceptual explanation or discussion but the application of concepts and frameworks to interpret the case information, analyse key events and statements, and reach evaluative judgments. The concepts and frameworks are covered in the workshops and prescribed reading and the guidance below gives you a few pointers on how you need to use this knowledge to answer the questions. In developing your analysis and arguments, you should use supporting evidence from the information contained in the case studies. Your answers must only be derived from the information on Twitter contained in the three case evidence sources listed above. You are not required to consult other 3 sources on Twitter or go beyond the end date of the fourth source (2015-6). The reason for this is that your analysis and evaluation is being assessed at this point in the organisation’s development and not in the light of subsequent events. As a result, you should not include references on Twitter from the internet or other sources. In terms of presentation, introduce each question indicating how you will structure your answer and conclude each answer with reference to your preceding arguments and the task required by the question. Do not present your answer in rigid report format but you may wish to divide your answer into sections which reflect the major elements of your analysis. The combined word count of your answers to both questions must comply with the following guidance:

Minimum Length: 2000 words 

Maximum Length: 2500 words

Guidance Notes The assessment feedback sheet at the end of this section gives the marking criteria for the overall case analysis. Remember, in writing your solution to the questions you must not describe what the case says but use the concepts to analyse the information and use the evidence/facts in the case to support your analysis.

Question 1 asks you to critically review if Twitter has achieved a strong sense of mission. The question specifically asks you to use the Ashridge Sense of Mission model which is part of your prescribed reading for unit 2. Specifically, you should apply and discuss the four elements of mission (Ashridge model) to Twitter. When considering purpose and strategy, you should analyse the case evidence on mission, values, and strategy. When doing this avoid being overly descriptive on the content of Twitter’s strategy as you will soon exceed the word limit. Attempt to develop arguments and, if necessary, include supporting details in appendices. More crucially, you must address the central issue in the question of how the fifth element, a sense of mission, is achieved through the alignment of the employees’ personal values with the organisation’s identity and values. In doing this, consider the role played by the leadership and management approach at Twitter – particularly discussed in sources 2, 3, & 4 – to integrate the elements of mission, behavioural standards, and values of the organisation, with those of the employees. You will also need to evaluate Twitter’s mission based on the company’s recent expansion and 4 strategic developments to express and justify your opinion on whether Twitter has achieved a strong or weak sense of mission.

To answer question 2 you will need to write a short essay by drawing on your learning of strategic decision-making theory and your prescribed reading from Johnson et al, chapter 12. Initially, you should commence your research by reading and examining the case evidence in order to identify a list of Twitter’s strategic decisions. Once you have identified a list of these decisions in chronological order, your essay discussion should focus on how this decision-making relates to deliberate and/or emergent forms of strategy development. When doing this avoid being overly descriptive on the content of these decisions. Instead, you should ensure that the use the relevant theory to structure your discussion of case evidence. To develop your arguments further, a brief distinction between deliberate and intended strategy would be useful, followed by an in-depth discussion on which approach most closely resembles Twitter’s strategic development. To reach conclusions on Twitter’s competitive advantage, you should consider the sources of their competitive advantage (e.g. cost leadership, differentiation, focus, etc.) and whether this has been sustained (e.g. through various types of isolating mechanisms). See Grant (2012), Chapter 7 and Unit 7 on Strategic Decision Making in Innovative Contexts for further guidance.

Part B

In Part B, we require you to write an essay on the following topic.

Essay Topic

With reference to leadership literature and practical examples, critically evaluate the following statement: “Emotional intelligent leaders have the ability to inspire employees as they are more likely to be in tune and in sync with those around them”

Marking schedule for Part B

10% of the marks are allocated to the presentation of the essay. The student’s work should be typed with clear use of paragraphs and headings. Typographical and spelling errors should be avoided. 10% of marks are allocated to appropriate referencing of content. Students should familiarise themselves and make use of the APA referencing system and should cite and reference material properly. Students should make use of a range of resources (books, journal articles, etc) and the literature used should be appropriate to the arguments made. 60% of the marks are allocated to the analysis presented in the essay. Students should examine appropriate theoretical concepts and frameworks. Students should demonstrate an awareness of the wider context and present an in-depth discussion of current issues. Better students will demonstrate critical analysis skills and communicate their arguments in a clear and coherent manner. 20% of the marks are allocated to the conclusions drawn. The conclusions should identify the key themes or issues under consideration. Conclusions should be well supported by the analysis and highlight the significance of arguments, evidence, and insights.

To complete this assignment, review the Leading Strategic Decision-Making document.

Sample Paper Preview

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Question 1

Using the Ashridge Sense of Mission Model analyze the case evidence to interpret whether Twitter’s strategy shows signs of a weak or strong sense of mission.

Introduction

The Ashridge Mission Model aims at facilitating the development and assessment of an organization’s mission (Campbell & Yeung, 1991). Based on this model, a mission comprises of four elements, namely, purpose – the reason for the existence of the company, strategy – company’s competitive edge and distinguishing capabilities, values – defines what the organization believes in, and behavior standards – behavior patterns and policies that support the characteristic value system and competence. Campbell and Yeung (1991) emphasize on the importance of this model as it enables organizations to uphold their purpose, establish an effective strategy that supports the accomplishment of organizational objectives, instill values that protect the organization and its employees and consumers, and protect the reputation and behavior standards of the organization. A strong mission only exists if the components of the model are closely related and reinforce and resonate each other. Thus, this section will seek to construe whether Twitter’s approach exhibits indications of a weak or solid sense of mission based on the Ashridge Mission Model.

Purpose

Twitter, Inc.’s mission purposes at positioning Twitter as the leading global social media stage with the where people can freely share information. As such, the company has positioned itself as the “pulse of the planet” as regards the sharing of ideas and information. Twitter has created a firm organizational purpose targeted at buttressing its sense of mission to drive the company towards accomplishing its objectives. The company offers a platform where people can swiftly have access to what is trending and what others are talking about throughout the world by providing a suitable platform where users can access shared ideas and information in real time (Twitter, 2017). Twitter offers an unsurpassed social media platform for events such as sports, breaking news, politics and entertainment happening across the world (Twitter, 2017; 2018). Normally, Twitter is always the first media platform where one can get news of events happening in various parts of the world (Twitter, 2017). Additionally, most mainstream media outlets always use Twitter as the initial platform for transmitting their news in real-time even before reporting the news items through their customary means.

Question 2

Using relevant strategic decision-making theory, analyze Twitter’s existing strategic decisions to interpret if Twitter has pursued a deliberate or emergent strategy. In your answer, discuss to what extent you believe Twitter has built and sustained a long-term competitive advantage.

Introduction

Strategic decisions are the cornerstone of success at the organizational level. Every organization seeks to make the right decisions that will steer the organization towards the attainment of specific organizational goals. At times, the decision-making process can be a daunting task if the right approaches and processes are not adopted, the outcome of the process may be disastrous for an organization. Thus, the fear of generating wrong decisions has driven organizations in using scientific approaches to decision-making. There are various decision-making theories that often guide the organizational decision-making practices. However, for the scope of this section, we will examine how Twitter has adopted the rational decision-making model in generating its strategic decisions. In so doing, we will interpret whether Twitter has pursued a deliberate or emergent strategy in its existing strategic decisions.

Overview of Decision-Making Theory and Strategies

According to Turpin & Marais (2004), the rational decision-making model involves arriving at strategic decisions in a systematic way by following four major steps including (1) gathering relevant information; (2) analyzing the information; (3) evaluating the information; (4) generating a rational decision based on the information. For every decision-making theory that any particular organization adopts, there are two major decision-making approaches, which can either be an emergent or deliberate strategy. Mintzberg & Waters (1985) describe a deliberate decision-making strategy as a top-down style to strategic planning within an organization which is developed based on an organization’s vision and mission and aims at realizing the organizational purpose. Similarly, Mintzberg & Waters (1985) describe an emergent decision-making approach as the strategic process of recognizing certain unanticipated outcomes arising from strategy execution and determining effective ways of integrating the unexpected outcomes in the future corporate plan of the company via the adoption of a bottom-down style to management. Generally, the emphasis of the deliberate decision-making strategy is to position the company at a competitive advantage while that of the emergent decision-making approach is to enhance a company’s flexibility so the company can reap the benefits of the ever-changing business environment.

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