1055 Block Seminar: Strategy as Practice - Critical Thinking, Problem Formulation, and Biases
Univ.Prof. Dr. Phillip C. Nell
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
09/01/23 to 09/08/23
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Subject(s) Master Programs
Day Date Time Room
Tuesday 09/26/23 09:00 AM - 05:00 PM D2.0.326
Tuesday 09/26/23 01:00 PM - 05:00 PM TC.3.07
Wednesday 09/27/23 01:00 PM - 06:30 PM TC.3.07
Wednesday 09/27/23 01:00 PM - 06:30 PM D2.0.326
Thursday 09/28/23 02:30 PM - 06:00 PM TC.3.07
Thursday 09/28/23 02:30 PM - 06:00 PM D2.0.326
Friday 09/29/23 09:00 AM - 05:00 PM TC.4.16
Friday 09/29/23 09:00 AM - 05:00 PM D2.0.326

Around the world and also within the CEMS institutions, most courses on strategy and strategic management adopt a rational, analytical perspective. Students learn theories that explain why some firms are better than others, why they differ, and what strategic actions can be used in which kind of situations. The underlying idea is that the combination of sufficient and relevant information as well as the appropriate analytical tools and processes enable us to optimize strategic decision-making.

However, an increasingly influential stream of research called “behavioral strategy” uses insights from the behavioral sciences to understand and improve the strategic management of organizations. This research has shown that important strategic mistakes may be driven by logical fallacies and cognitive biases. This is based on the fact that decision-makers suffer from bounded rationality and tend to use cognitive shortcuts which might guide them in the wrong direction—and this despite proper analytical tools and the availability of relevant information. Yet, under certain conditions the use of cognitive shortcuts may also be conducive to faster and more efficient strategic decisions.

Learning outcomes

This course adopts a behavioral perspective and focuses on the way “strategy” is crafted and carried out in practice. The seminar will thus help the participating students to:

• Recognize and understand the nature of logical fallacies and biases that influence their own rational processes, and decision-making

• Recognize the potential usefulness of cognitive shortcuts in strategic decision-making

• Understand the influence of cognitive biases in strategy

• Learn and be able to apply tools that help alleviating the influence of these biases


Particularly, the seminar seeks to develop your capabilities in the following areas:

• How to formulate strategic problems

• How to facilitate strategy processes on the group level

• How to improve strategic decision-making

• How to cope with uncertainty

The learning experience will be enriched by:

• The involvement of a number of practitioners from top level corporate partners

• An excursion

• Group experiments and simulations


Attendance requirements

This course is organized as a face-to-face module. There is no online or hybrid setup.

Students failed the course if more than 20 % of total class time is missed. In any case, missed class time is taken into account in the participation grade.

Teaching/learning method(s)

The course method blends lectures, discussions, exercises, and presentations.

Furthermore, please note the following

• Substantial classroom discussion is encouraged and expected

• All students are required to work on group assignments during the seminar

• The readings (cases and articles) will be sent to the students. They need to be prepared before the actual start of the seminar




The final grade will be based on participation and active involvement in class as well as a final reflection essay on your key learnings.

Please note: there are a number of required readings and case studies for nearly all sessions. Please prepare thoroughly. With regard to the case studies: there are usually no specific assignment questions. That means that defining and formulating the problem or issue is part of the assignment.

For all case studies and readings: please be prepared to present your thoughts with 1-2 slides or on a flipchart/white board in class. You do not have to hand in these slides. However, you might be picked at random to present during the sessions.

In detail, the assessment is based on:

• the quality of the in-class comments and presentations (25%). By quality in this context we mean the clarity and persuasiveness of each bit of the contribution as well as the clear link to established theory. This includes coherent argumentation as well as the logical structure (mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive).

• the quantity of the comments and presentations (25%).

• the final reflection paper (50%). Here, the quality of the reflection and depth of discussion will be assessed. The paper has to be handed in on the first Sunday right after the course. Latest my midnight. 



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Availability of lecturer(s)

upon request via email.

For academic /content questions:

For organizational questions:

Last edited: 2023-06-02