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Leading Strategic Decision Making

Assessment Brief

Assessment Breakdown

The Assessment consists of two parts:

Part A, which covers the Strategy-related Units, namely the Units 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Part A accounts for 50% of your module grade and must be submitted on the dedicated Turnitin link, in week 9 (17 March 2023).

Part B, which covers the Leadership-related Units, namely the Units 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Part B accounts for 50% of your module grade and must be submitted on the dedicated Turnitin link, in week 13 (28 April 2023).


Please note that in order to pass the module, you need to pass both coursework components, Part A and Part B. Please note that in order to pass the module 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:

3) 2020 Annual Report:

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.

Assignment instructions - Part B

For Part B, you are required to write an essay on a specific leadership topic indicated below. Background: Leader-member exchange (LMX) theory posits that in organisations, managers and leaders develop distinct relationships with their employees at the dyadic level. For example, with some subordinates, supervisors have so-called ‘high quality’ working relationships.

Essay Topic

In your essay, answer the following question: "To what extent is LMX theory still relevant in contemporary organisations?" In writing your answer, you should be using academic references on the LMX theory and provide one or two practical examples from the real world. For instance, you can focus on identifying the ‘ingredients’ of ‘high quality’ relationships, the factors that contribute to forming and maintaining effective leader-follower working interactions, and on addressing the wider implications of the LMX theory for workplace outcomes and organisational performance.

Marking criteria used for Part B and their weighting

- Presentation: 10% of the mark for Part B is allocated to the presentation of the essay. The overall clarity, structure, writing fluency, and ‘neatness’ of the essay (cover page, table of contents, page numbers included, clearly marked headings and use of paragraphs). Please avoid typographical and spelling errors. - Referencing: 10% of the mark for Part B is allocated to the appropriate referencing of content. You should be familiar with the APA referencing system (7th Edition, available on Moodle) and use it correctly by including references in the text. Use of a good range of academic resources (books, journal articles, publications by business practitioners, etc); the literature used should be consistent with the arguments being made. Avoid using websites as references. Use only credible, academic references.

- Critical analysis: 60% of the mark for Part B is allocated to the critical analysis presented and demonstrated in the essay. You must examine theoretical concepts and frameworks appropriately. You must demonstrate knowledge of the wider context and present an in-depth discussion of current issues related to the essay topic. Higher marks are awarded for the critical analysis skills demonstrated and for the development of sound, logical arguments communicated clearly and coherently.

- Conclusion: 20% of the mark for Part B is allocated to the quality of conclusions drawn. The conclusions should identify the main themes or issues addressed in the essay, be well presented, flow logically from the analysis, highlight insights, and formulate practical recommendations as appropriate.

Useful Guidance Notes on Part B

When writing your essay, you should refer to the relevant literature. Credible sources include textbooks, journal articles, or other relevant business publications.

The following databases may be particularly useful in finding relevant literature sources to help you develop your essay: - ABI Inform Complete (ProQuest), - Ingenta, - Science Direct, - Sage Online.

In particular, the following academic journals should be useful to you in relation to the assigned topic: - Leadership Quarterly (Available on Science Direct), - Leadership & Organization Development Journal (Available on ABI Inform), - Team Performance Management (Available on ABI Inform), - Journal of Management Development (Available on ABI Inform), - Group & Organization Management (Available on Sage Online), - Journal of Leadership Studies (Available on the e-library website, rubric “Finding


- Journal of Managerial Psychology (Available on the e-library website, rubric “Finding Resources”),etc.

In your essay, start with an introduction section, where you explain the purpose of the essay, how it is structured and how you will proceed. In the body of the essay, refer to the relevant theory and cite relevant academic research to support your arguments. All the works cited must be referenced using the APA Referencing system. In addition, please refer to the University guidance notes on the avoidance of Plagiarism.

Be sure to properly structure your essay and use appropriate headings: include an introduction, descriptive headings for each section, and conclusion/

recommendations for practice sections. Do not label the body of your essay as “main body”; instead, use descriptive headings which signpost the content of each section. Do not use footnotes in your essay.

Please use British English spelling in your writing: avoid “z’s” such as “organization” and use the standard British English spelling of “organisation”, “behaviour”, “centre”, etc.

Bullet points and numbered lists should not be used in your essay; instead, write in full sentences and develop your arguments using evidence from the academic literature. Please use “justify” alignment and one-and-a-half (1.5) or double spacing. Do not use single spacing. Use only the Times New Roman or Arial fonts, size 12.

Although we do not specify a particular number of references/citations to be used, you should include in your essay a minimum of 15 different academic sources such as textbooks and/or journal articles. Do not use websites as references because websites will not count among the minimum 15 academic sources required

Please answer the question posed. Your essay should not be a summary of various leadership theories.

In your essay, you must specifically address the topic and question posed.

The combined word count set for Part B is 2,000 words. This does not include the cover page, table of contents and reference list. There is a ±10% allowance to the allocated word count.

The following is an indicative structure for your essay:

- Introduction: 200 words - The content of the essay (the “body”) with descriptive headings for each section: 1,400 words - Conclusion/Recommendations for Practice: 400 words

Appendices should not be included in your Part B submission, as this is an essay. Where a submission exceeds the stated word count limit (allowing for the +10%), the maximum grade awarded will be P1.

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Detailed Marking Criteria

Part A marking criteria:

- Presentation of appropriate analysis, use of appropriate concepts and depth of understanding of the issues raised in the case (10%) - Application of the framework and evaluation of the company's competitive advantage (35%) - Critical analysis of the framework (35%) - Ability to reach coherent and logical arguments from the analysis, supported by case evidence (20%)

Part B marking criteria:

- Presentation of the essay. Clear use of paragraphs and headings and the text is free from typographical and spelling errors. (10%) - Referencing of content. Referencing throughout the essay with adequate citation support for arguments being made. (10%) - Analysis. Comprehensive examination of appropriate theoretical models. Strong arguments presented with critical insights and good communication skills in evidence. (60%) - Conclusions. Clear identification of key themes and issues. Synthesis of core arguments and formulation of insights and recommendations as appropriate. (20%)

Note: the percentages are shown as indications on the relative importance of each section and should not be taken as precise indication of the marking scheme.

Assessment Resources

Case Study: "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.

Corporate Website: Unilever UK and Ireland

2020 Annual Report: Archive of Unilever Annual Report and Accounts

Some Reading on Porter’s Generic Competitive Strategies framework:

Johnson et al. (2019) – Exploring Strategy – Chapter 7 – Business Strategy and Models (pp. 202-235) (VitalSource link) Alternative Library link (12th edition) Stonehouse & Snowdon (2007) Monahan & Rahman (2011) Ormanidhi & Stringa (2008)

This section contains some useful current articles and a handbook that may serve as a starting point for your essay. You will need to read much more widely than this, but this is good place to start. Please be aware that some of the links below may only be accessible via the virtual desktop service. If you are experiencing difficulty accessing an article, please try to access the article through the library search. Bauer & Erdogan (2015) Walumbwa et al. (2011) Fang et al. (2021) Liu et al. (2021) Tan et al. (2021)

Tan et al
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