Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module BUSI46S15: Competitive Strategies and Organisational Fitness

Department: Management and Marketing

BUSI46S15: Competitive Strategies and Organisational Fitness

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap
Tied to N2P109
Tied to N2P409
Tied to N2P309
Tied to N2P609
Tied to N2P909


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide a unified theoretical framework to analyse issues from diverse areas of management including issues of strategy, human resource management, marketing, and change management. The theoretical framework stems from Organisational Ecology but includes considerations from Institutional Theory as well as Transaction Cost Economics.


  • Selection and adaptation: The foundation of Organisational Ecology
  • Forms and populations
  • Emergence and demise of organizational forms
  • Legitimation and Competition, Density dependence and Density delay
  • Age-dependence of organisational Mortality Hazard
  • Markets and the Socio-Demographic (Blau) Space; Tastes
  • Organisational Niches
  • The dynamics of Niche-width
  • Resource partitioning
  • Organisational status, typecasting, middle status conformity
  • Cascading Organisational Change
  • The fog of change
  • Legitimating change, Leadership
  • Changing market position and organisational consequences
  • Organisational blueprints and employment relations

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Advanced understanding of the principles governing the behaviour of organisations, different aspects of their strategies, and the predictable consequences of these strategies on the viability of organisations, with particular attention to the consequences of organisational status and identity.
  • Critical understanding of the importance of market position, niche width and fragmentation of organisational niches.
  • Critical appreciation of the level of empirical support available, ranging from anecdotal evidence to dependable statistical proofs.
  • Advanced understanding of degrees of relevance of managerial issues that will assist in prioritising, both in evaluation and planning.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to consider complex managerial tasks and evaluate complicated situations from a consistent and homogenous perspective.
  • Ability to identify change opportunities, minimise the direct and indirect costs of reorganisations, and analyse the role of leadership in change management.
  • Ability to distinguish between empirically justified theory and managerial wisdom, and the recipes of management gurus, in the areas covered in the module.
Key Skills:
  • Written and oral communication; planning, organising and time management; problem solving and analysis; interpretation of data; computer literacy

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Learning outcomes will be met through a combination of lectures, seminars, and presentations and discussions on case studies, supported by guided reading. The summative assessment will be a comparative analysis of two or more cases to test students’ understanding of relevant concepts and skills and their ability to apply these to the analysis of relevant issues in different contexts.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 2 hours 18
Seminars 4 1 hour 4
Preparation & Reading 128
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Written assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written assignment: a comparative analysis of two or more cases 2,500 words maximum 100% Same

Formative Assessment:

Feedback will be provided on individual contributions to four case discussions

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University