Strategic Thinking: Building & Sustaining Competitive Advantage

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth


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About the course

Today, the word strategy is ubiquitous across all modern industries. But a quick history lesson reveals its military origins, where the use of strategy literally changed the map of the world and was responsible for the rise and fall of many nations and its people. It rose out of the need to defend against one’s enemies. Fast forward from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, written in 400 B.C., and we find powerful global forces at play—from fast-moving technologies to unprecedented growth in emerging markets—that require a different kind of strategic mindset to win.

Long term success is guaranteed only to those who define and execute a sustainable strategy for winning profits. The market aims to drive your profits to zero. It’s the job of the strategist to defend—and grow—into profitable territory.

Developed originally through the Tuck MBA curriculum, this course provides a set of practical frameworks for evaluating a broad range of strategic problems. An interactive, case-based approach equips participants with tools that lead to winning strategies. If you are a direct contributor or responsible for the strategic direction of your company, this course is for you.


Module 1 - Industry: Analysis and Positioning

Key Concepts:

  • Porter’s 5 Forces framework to evaluate industry competition
  • Three main types of competitive conditions
  • The role of supplier and buyer power in determining value appropriated


  • Using the 5 Forces framework to evaluate industry competition

Module 2 - Capabilities: Assessment and Management

Key Concepts:

  • VRIN (Valuable, Rare, Inimitable, Non-Substitutable) framework for analyzing resources and capabilities
  • Evaluating potential new market positions

Case studies:

  • Ryanair: How a small newcomer positioned itself to gain a competitive edge against much bigger rivals
  • Ducati: How the Italian motorcycle producer built its turnaround strategy by leveraging its unique strategic capabilities


  • Identifying your firm’s capabilities based on the VRIN framework

Module 3 - Organization: Ownership Logic and Platforms

Key Concepts:

  • Organizing productive activity and organizational form based on:

– Transaction costs – Comparison between ownership and contracts – Comparison between firms and platforms – Firm-platform spectrum

Case studies:

  • Disney-Pixar: Why Disney acquired Pixar Animation for a nosebleed price of 46 times earnings
  • Online-Dating (e-Harmony,, Tinder, and TrulyMadly): Why e-Harmony has struggled to gain a strong foothold in the Indian dating market


  • Analyzing where your firm is on the Merchant Platforms Spectrum and exploring opportunities along that spectrum

Module 4 - Novelty: New Technology and Response

Key Concepts:

  • The causes and impacts of creative destruction, and how it shapes a company’s strategy
  • Analyzing the threats to your business and how to respond to those threats

Case studies:

  • Kodak vs. Fujifilm: How Fujifilm was better prepared than Kodak to handle the threat of digital disruption


  • Evaluating the threats to your firms, and how best to respond to those threats with a successful strategy

Module 5 - Society: Social Assessment and Alignment

Key Concepts:

  • Analyzing the transformation of firms from being just players to becoming rule-makers in their field
  • Linking of climate change and sustainability to your business

Case studies:

  • DuPont: How DuPont used its regulatory strategy to transform itself from a player to a rule-maker in the chemicals market


  • Evaluating whether your company faces an information asymmetry or a collective threat problem

Module 6 - Putting It All Together

Key Concept:

  • Integrating the ICONS framework to analyze existing companies


  • Using the ICONS framework to analyze Tesla


Emeritus follows a unique online model. This model has ensured that nearly 90 percent of our learners complete their course.

Orientation Week

The first week is orientation week. During this week you will be introduced to the other participants in the class from across the world. You will also learn how to use the learning platform and other learning tools provided.

Weekly Goals

On other weeks, you have learning goals set for the week. The goals would include watching the video lectures and completing the assignments. All assignments have weekly deadlines.

Recorded Video Lectures

The recorded video lectures are by faculty from the collaborating university.

Live Webinars

Every few weeks, there are live webinars conducted by Emeritus course leaders. Course leaders are highly-experienced industry practitioners who contextualize the video lectures and assist with questions you may have regarding your assignments. Live webinars are usually conducted between 1 pm and 3 pm UTC on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Clarifying Doubts

In addition to the live webinars, for some courses, the course leaders conduct Office Hours, which are webinar sessions that are open to all learners. During Office Hours, learners ask questions and course leaders respond. These are usually conducted every alternate week to help participants clarify their doubts pertaining to the content.


The Emeritus Program Support team members will follow up and assist over email and via phone calls with learners who are unable to submit their assignments on time.

Continued Course Access

You will continue to have access to the course videos and learning material for up to 12 months from the course start date.

Assignments/Application Projects

Assignments are given out weekly and they are based on the lectures or tutorials provided. They need to be completed and submitted as per the deadline for grading purposes. Extensions may be provided based on a request sent to the support team.

Discussion Boards

It is an open forum where participants pin their opinions or thoughts regarding the topic under discussion.

Case Studies

These are real world scenario-based assignments involving an up-close, in-depth, and detailed examination of a subject of study, as well as its related contextual conditions.

Emeritus Program Support Team

If at any point in the course you need tech, content or academic support, you can email program support and you will typically receive a response within 24 working hours or less.

Device Support

You can access Emeritus courses on tablets, phones and laptops. You will require a high-speed internet connection.

Emeritus Network

On completing the course you join a global community of 5000+ learners on the Emeritus Network. The Network allows you to connect with Emeritus past participants across the world.


Career capital

  • Professional acceleration through our enriched leadership toolkit
  • Learn while you earn
  • Get noticed. Get ahead.

Social Capital

  • Build new networks through peer interaction
  • Benefit from diverse class profiles

Brand Capital

  • Certificate from Emeritus in collaboration with Tuck School of Business At Dartmouth

Intellectual Capital

  • Global Business Education
  • Rigorous and experiential curriculum
  • World-renowned faculty
  • Globally connected classroom: peer to peer learning circles
  • Action learning: learning by doing


Andrew King

Professor Andrew A. King is a leading authority on environmental performance and innovation. His research established whether and when firms can find ways to profitably reduce their impact on the environment. His empirical tests of the efficacy of industry self-regulation helped change both priva...

Videos and materials

Strategic Thinking: Building & Sustaining Competitive Advantage at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

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Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

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