Bard MBA

Strategy for Sustainability

Spring 2014
3 Credits

The key learning objectives for the course are:
  • Applying strategic frameworks for market, industry and competitive strategies
  • Learning key theories and concepts being applied in the area of stakeholder engagement and cross-sector partnerships
  • Exploring strategic trade-offs between growth and control
  • Understanding and applying stakeholder engagement frameworks from the perspectives of business, NGOs, governmental agencies and academia
  • Applying broader concepts of systems thinking, with potential environmental and social consequences of global development, to craft flexible long-term plans and scenarios
Student Outcomes:
The class is designed to help students apply strategic approaches and frameworks to identify and execute new market opportunities and cross-sector and stakeholder partnerships.

  • Kim, W. Chan and Renee Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy, Harvard Business School Press, 2005.
  • Bamburg, Jill, Getting to Scale, Berret Koehler, 2010.
  • Besanko, David, David Dranove, Mark Shanley and Scott Schaefer, Economics of Strategy, Wiley, 2009.
  • Additional readings will regularly be assigned from a number of other books, academic and journal publications including:
    • Buss, Richard, Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind (4th Edition), Prentice Hall, 2011.
    • Schoemaker, Paul J.H. “Scenario Planning: A Tool for Strategic Thinking,” Sloan Management Review. Winter: 1995, pp. 25-40.
    • Davenport, Thomas H. “Are You Ready to Reengineer Your Decision Making?” Sloan Management Review. October 2010.
The course will be a combination of lectures, case studies, group discussions, and student projects. Active participation in class discussions will be essential. Grading will be determined by participation in in-class exercises, case analysis, group presentations, completion of homework, and exams.

Course Outline:
The Bard MBA curriculum is modular, with each module topic corresponding to a residency. The outline below provides the Strategy for Sustainability set of topics for each of the semester’s modules, with each set of topics corresponding to three to four weeks of conventional instruction.






Competition and Cooperation.  One foundation of the sustainable business case is to exploit the opportunities that arise from cooperation around the shared vision. This means partnerships and networks. But what about competition? Here we introduce simple game theory to understand the dynamics of competition and cooperation, and also to learn how evolutionary psychology is providing new insights into the opportunities for and limits to cooperation. We will also examine normative theories for management’s role in the firm.

Decision making:




Strategic frameworks. We focus on strategic frameworks and analytical tools including strategy canvas, four actions framework, SWAT, competitive analysis, etc. We will also focus on the need for developing flexible plans and scenarios in a business environment changing more rapidly than ever before.


Getting to Scale

Networks and Partnerships. We examine strategies for identifying new partners and networks for market growth, including NGOs, academia, etc. We’ll also consider strategies and processes for stakeholder collaboration. We conclude with a discussion of the financing and management challenges faced by mission driven businesses as they seek to scale their impacts.


The Edge of Innovation

Reconstructing market boundaries. We focus on approaches to redefining traditional perceptions of industry and market opportunity and boundaries. We will examine new business models developed by new and existing players in multiple industries.


Celebrating Success

Keep finding the path. Strategy is a map to take people where they otherwise would not go. Here we focus on bootstrapping towards a vision, inspiring people to work with you as you travel to a high point, to a low point, to the next high point—on the journey to sustainability.