Assignment instructions – Part A
In Part A, we assess learning outcomes related to Units 1-5 by providing you with case study information on the leadership and strategic development processes which operate within the innovative context at Unilever.
The purpose of this brief is to provide you with:
- 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 the feedback sheet for Part A.
Case Study Background & Questions
Please read carefully the case evidence on Unilever, which is contained in the following sources:
1) Case Study: Unilever (“Paul Polman: turnaround and development of strategy at Unilever”, pp.750-757) in Exploring Strategy: Text and Cases, by Johnson, G., Whittington, R., Scholes, K., Angwin, D., and Regner, P. (2017),11th Edition, Pearson Education.
2) Corporate Website: https://www.unilever.co.uk/
The case study gives you background information and overview of the company as well the opportunities and challenges it has faced in recent years. The corporate website has information on the company history as well as some key facts and figures. The 2020 annual report provides financial information about the organisation and its current strategic direction. Since the case study has been published a few years ago, you should be using the corporate website and annual report to access updated information. You should be using these sources in combination to answer the Part A of this assignment.
Part A of your coursework assessment requires you to answer two questions using a report structure. Both questions are equally weighted, and you should review how grading is allocated in the Coursework Feedback Sheet.
1) Analyse Unilever’s business strategy using Porter’s Generic Competitive Strategies framework. Use the data and information from the case study, corporate website, and the latest annual report.
2) Critically evaluate Porter’s Generic Competitive Strategies framework by identifying its advantages and limitations, and then develop three recommendations on how its limitations might be overcome. Use academic sources to support your arguments.
The assessment in Part A is a case analysis and you should note that a case analysis is not a conceptual explanation or discussion, but rather the application of concepts and frameworks to interpret the case information, analyse key events and statements, and reach evaluative judgements. The concepts and frameworks are covered in the lectures, tutorials 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 study, corporate website and the latest annual report.
Your answers must take into account the three sources listed above. The case study is the primary source of information. The corporate website should be used to obtain updated information. The annual report gives you an overview of the efforts undertaken by the organisation during its last financial exercise. The core textbook and academic sources should be used as well to critically analyse the framework. The e-library should be used to source academic journals for the critical analysis in Question 2. You may use secondary sources in addition to these recommended sources if you wish, but the case analysis must be based primarily on the recommended sources.
In terms of presentation, you should introduce each question by stating how you will structure your answer and conclude each answer by referring to your preceding arguments and the task required by the question.
Do not present your answer as a rigid, “bulk” report; instead, you are encouraged to structure your answer into sections with suggestive headings and sub-headings that reflect the key elements of your analysis.
The combined word count of your answers to both questions must be 2,000 words and comply with the guidance below:
– Introduction and background section: 200 words;
– Question 1: 800 words;
– Question 2: 800 words;
– Conclusion: 200 words.
The word count limit for Part A does not include the cover page, reference list and appendices. This is subject to a ±10% allowance to the allocated word count.
Where a submission exceeds the stated word count limit (allowing for the +10%), the maximum grade awarded will be P1. Appendices can be useful to provide additional information from your analysis, but you must incorporate the key analytical arguments into the main body of your answer.
Useful Guidance Notes
The assessment feedback sheet at the end of this section presents the marking criteria for the overall case analysis. Remember, in writing your answer to the questions, you should not reproduce or describe what the case already says, but rather use the concepts to analyse the information and draw on the evidence/facts provided in the case to support your analysis.
Question 1 requires you to apply the Porter’s Generic Competitive Strategies framework to determine the organisation’s business strategy to evaluate its competitive advantage. This question is the precise application of a framework to develop an analysis specifically for the company. You are encouraged to use diagrams and tables to illustrate your analysis. You should use headings and sub-headings to structure your answer. Please note that the tables and diagrams are included in the word count.
Question 2 requires you to reflect on and analyse the framework. The aim is to identify the benefits and limitations of the framework, not the organisation. At the PG level, you should be able to critically analyse a framework and objectively assess its contribution as well as its limitations. You should use academic sources to support your arguments. You should use headings and sub-headings to structure your answer.