This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Ricardo Alonso MAR.6.30


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Management. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. This course is available with permission to General Course students.

This course has a limited number of places (it is capped). Students who have this course as a compulsory course are guaranteed a place. Places for all other students are allocated on a first come first served basis.


Students should have completed (i) Economics A (EC100) or Economics B (EC102) or Microeconomics I (EC1A1/EC1A3) in combination with Macroeconomics I (EC1B1/EC1B3), (ii) Quantitative Methods (Mathematics) (MA107) or equivalent and Quantitative Methods (Statistics) (ST107) or equivalent, and (iii) Economics for Management (MG207) or Microeconomic Principles I (EC201) or Microeconomic Principles II (EC202) or Microeconomics II (EC2A1 and EC2A3).

Course content

The first half of the course studies how firms compete with each other. More specifically, we will study strategic situations (competition and rivalry, competitive advantage (sources and sustainability), entry and entry deterrence, product differentiation, the role of information in markets, etc.) and formulate decision models of these situations. While the modelling and predictions are based on game theory, we will contrast our findings to real life games according to the growing empirical evidence.


The second half of the course studies how firms organize and the challenges they face in doing so. More specifically, we study the way managers interact with the different constituencies inside the firm- workers, board members, and other managers- and how those interactions shape the actual design of organizations. It presents, again with a heavy emphasis on the evidence, how the need to motivate organizational members and to coordinate their actions shape the provision of incentives, the allocation of authority, the ownership structure, acquisition and diffusion of knowledge, and patterns of communication. 


Beyond the emphasis on the content of the course, the course also aims to be a course where students learn to think critically and analytically. Students will learn to identify trade-offs in how firms behave and the way they organize themselves, and critically evaluate the sources of those trade-offs by appealing to simple models of individual behaviors. Students will learn to read the primary literature, discuss papers in class, interpret the evidence etc. Students will learn to ask questions such as: What is the evidence? What evidence would convince me of the opposite hypothesis?



Teaching hours will be commensurate with a usual full unit undergraduate course.

This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas and Lent Term, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Formative work such as problem sets and mock exam questions will be set.

Indicative reading

The basic readings for the course will be the lecture notes written by Dr. Alonso. These lecture notes can be complemented with the following additional readings:

  • Thinking Strategically: Competitive Edge in Business, Politics and Everyday Life, WW Norton, 1993, by Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff
  • The Art of Strategy, WW Norton, 2008, by Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff.
  • Games of Strategy (WW Norton, 3rd edition, 2009) by Avinash Dixit, Susan Skeath and David Reiley.
  • Economics of Strategy (5th Edition) David Besanko, David Dranove, Mark Shanley, Scott Schaefer. (2009)
  • An Introduction to Game Theory (Oxford, 2003) by Martin J. Osborne
  • Strategic Management, Garth Saloner, Andrea Shepard and Joel Podoldny, Wiley, 2000
  • The Modern Firm: Organizational Design for Performance and Growth, John Roberts 2007.
  • Build, Borrow, or Buy: Solving the Growth Dilemma (Harvard Business Press 2012) Laurence Capron and Will Mitchell


Exam (60%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.
Continuous assessment (30%).
Group project (10%) in the LT.

For the project students will be required to work in groups. 

4 in-lecture multiple choice quizzes (weeks 5 and 11 of the MT and weeks 15 and 21 of the LT)

For the continuous assessment students are required to attempt at least 3 out of 4 in-lecture assessments. Students who attempt all four (4 out of 4) will achieve a mark based on their three highest scores. Students who attempt three in-lecture assessments (3 out of 4) will receive a mark based on the scores in these assessments. Students who attempt less than three in-lecture assessments will receive a mark of 0 for each missed assessment and will receive an overall mark based on their scores in the best three assessments, including any zeroes. Students who fail to attempt any in-lecture assessments (0 out of 4), will be awarded a Zero Incomplete for the whole course and cannot be awarded the degree until they submit the work at resit.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2021/22: 158

Average class size 2021/22: 16

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness