Business Strategy




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Who should attend

  • Senior business leaders
  • Executives
  • Directors
  • Managers
  • Entrepreneurs

About the course

Created by Cornell University, this Business Strategy certificate will help you understand the world of business better. This flexible online certificate program addresses strategic business questions such as:

  • How do you assess the future profitability of a market?
  • Who will claim the money in that market, not just today but tomorrow?
  • What determines the economic power of different players in the supply chain, and what can firms do to increase their own power?
  • How can game theory be used to anticipate and control the actions of rivals and partners?
  • When will a merger or acquisition truly benefit a firm, and when will it instead be a costly distraction for management?

Using insights gained from the courses, you will confidently answer these questions and consider the issues facing some of the smartest leaders from companies around the globe.

Consisting of six two-week courses, this online business certificate program covers industry and competitive analysis, firm positioning options and tradeoffs within markets, effective internal organization and structuring, game theory for business decisions, and tactical pricing and product-line schemes. Each course features videos with Cornell University faculty author Justin Johnson, Ph.D as well as other industry business experts to enhance your learning experience.

The courses within the certificate introduce you to a way of thinking about the world that clarifies the complex strategic relationships and power structures of industry. They present a vast number of detailed real-world examples involving firms and business strategy that will help you see the world differently. And they provide practical, skill-building exercises designed to help you be more successful in developing business strategies.

  • Competitive Advantage and Profitability

This course introduces you to the tools and frameworks used in market evaluation and assessment of the competition. As you explore MBA-level business concepts and practices, you'll learn what makes a particular business profitable and how it achieves competitive advantage in a given market. You'll dig into real-world case studies and gain a more nuanced understanding of business and organizational mechanics. Your grasp of the essentials will prepare you to think practically about developing a competitive, profit-driven business strategy.

  • Strategic Positioning in Markets

How do you define the vertical market you're in? How big is your potential reach? Who are the other players and what kind of threat do they represent? Is your business structured to be profitable?

Central to your business strategy is identifying your strategic position. Strategic positioning is essentially how your firm "stacks up" to the competition and helps to define the scope and scale of your business. To survive and thrive you need accurate data-driven models for self-assessment and competition analysis.

This online course will cover product or service differentiation and help you stake your claim in a particular market segment. You'll delve into fascinating case studies from fashion icon Gucci to jewelry giant Zales and review several of the greatest do's and don'ts in the history of strategic positioning.

  • The Strategy of Mergers and Acquisitions

In this online course, you will see how mergers and acquisitions can shake up entire industries, such as the disastrous AOL/Time Warner merger or the Sirius/XM satellite radio takeover. You'll also study how niche industry maneuvers can escalate into full-blown monopoly cases, such as the Whole Foods/Wild Oats debacle. You'll learn why some businesses openly court corporate takeovers, while others resist M&A to the bitter end. Every business strategy should account for the eventual possibility of merging with another company or acquiring a competitor.

  • Managing Supply Chain Threats and Opportunities

One way to grow and take market share away from the competition is through a merger or acquisition. Vertically integrating your supply chain (assuming control over previously outsourced processes, such as parts manufacturing) is another way to control costs, increase efficiency and ensure quality in order to grow business, but vertical integration is not suitable for every business.

In this online course, you will learn about supply chain challenges and compare and contrast the "manufacture in-house versus buy from outside vendor" approaches. You'll use MBA-level models for reviewing case studies. You'll explore and critique real-world business maneuvers to identify pitfalls and drawbacks and make smarter choices in your own strategy formulation.

The course The Strategy of Mergers and Acquisitions is required to be completed prior to starting this course.

  • The Application of Game Theory to Business Strategy

The introduction of Game Theory to business is a natural, as it serves to answer the central question "what are my opponents thinking and what is their next move?" Chess masters know how to think a few moves ahead, and put themselves "in the shoes" of their rival.

Known as "Allocentrism", the Game Theory approach can give your business an advantage and allows you to find synergies, even with your competition, counterintuitive as it seems. Learn to get inside the motivations and strategies of your rivals, exploit their weaknesses and bring more value to your business proposition. Discover how to "change the game" and turn the odds in your favor.

  • Strategic and Tactical Pricing

In this online course, you will review the fundamental elements of pricing, including cost issues and monopoly pricing. See how nuanced approaches to price discrimination such as discounts and linear tariffs can influence pricing decisions and positively influence the bottom line.

Learn competitive techniques like targeted discounts, poaching, and the value of upgrades and trade-ins in pricing models. Understand how the role of product line choices and competitive product lines can keep other firms out of your market and positively influence your market share.


  • Use structural analysis to discover why some industries are more profitable than others; evaluate how an industry will respond to changes in the market environment
  • Identify threats to profits and potential remedies to those threats
  • Evaluate a firm’s positioning strategy and use strategic consistency to strengthen a firm’s position in the market
  • Recognize the many risks of and alternatives to mergers and acquisitions
  • Recognize the two classes of potential gains associated with a merger
  • Use vertical relations management to improve efficiency and increase market power
  • Critically evaluate a proposal to manage vertical relations
  • Learn about Game Theory and how it applies to business
  • Understand the basics of price discrimination and important cost issues


  • Business Strategy Certificate from Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
  • 48 Professional Development Hours (PDHs)
  • 24 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) toward PHR recertification
  • 12 Business Management and Strategy credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification
  • 36 Professional Development Credits (PDCs) toward SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP recertification


Justin Johnson

Justin Johnson received his PhD from MIT and is currently a professor of economics at Cornell University''s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. He teaches business strategy to the School''s MBA and Executive MBA students. He has worked with eCornell (a Cornell University subsidia...

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Business Strategy at eCornell

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