Robert M. Grant's Contemporary Strategy Analysis

Strategy was my favorite core course for the Fall 2 term at Fuqua. If you have a science background, then you're probably like me and have never been exposed to these frameworks. Taking the course has allowed me to clearly understand why companies do the things they do when I read about them in the news. The partnering and M&A sections were especially useful for understanding the recent trends in pharma and biotech.

Formally taking the course has given me a more comprehensive and disciplined understanding of business strategies that I had only developed intuitively over my short career thus far.

Realizing that this course would be central to my MBA objectives, I made a commitment to read the textbook, Contemporary Strategy Analysis by Robert M. Grant before each class. I was surprised at how useful the text would become. Here's a summary of why I think this book would be useful for people who want to skip the MBA or would like some pre-MBA reading:

Very well written

Unlike many texts, I found this one to be very easy to read. It is written in a very conversational tone but also succinct and to the point. Reading the text felt like someone was giving a talk or seminar and did not feel dry at all. Many of the chapters are quite long and the book is dense with 460 pages, so being easy to read really helps. I found that it was easier to understand than academic papers published on the same topics.

Great use of examples

The book explains concepts through real-world examples. This is great because while concepts can be hard to understand on their own, examples are easy to relate to and visualize. The examples are mostly well-known brands and most readers will know what the companies do. There are also "Strategy Capsules" scattered in each chapter that provide more depth to the relevant strategies with companies as examples.

Comprehensive material

The book contains the majority of frameworks we had discussed in class. We also read academic papers and I found the text to contain the vast majority of topics. The 8th Edition was published only in Jan 2013 so it is quite up-to-date.

Good to have around

Each chapter has great visuals that summarize the key takeaways in each chapter. One thing I found helpful this term was reading the text and then going over the graphs and charts right before class. It is imaginable that this book would be useful to have around on a bookshelf to look things up. This is likely more useful in an academic sense, though.

Pick up the 8th Edition of the book here.
Visit the book's official site here.

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