The full-time MBA program at GISMA Business School not only features a rich core curriculum, but also a series of electives to provide added educational value. During the 11-month program, a total of at least 20 credit hours, i.e. a minimum of ten electives, must be covered. The choices vary each year, with certain electives being offered on a regular basis (see below). One elective which is highly recommended for all MBA students - the “Consulting Project” - is available every year, and extends over two modules.
Electives offered on a regular basis:
Student Consulting Projects (4 credit hours)
Under the supervision of a professor, small teams of five to seven students provide consultancy services to real companies, helping them master real challenges. By working closely with actual business organizations, classroom learning and newly acquired skills can be applied to the fullest. Teamwork plays a pivotal role in the success of the project, as do presentation skills when participants present research findings and recommendations to the company’s management. This highly recommended elective takes place over two modules.
Managing Corporate Culture (1 credit hour)
With the growth of international activities, managers are faced with the task of coping with diverse cultural issues and leadership challenges. This course is designed to help students to better understand fundamental aspects of cultures and their impact on individual and organizational performance; to gain sensitivity regarding leadership requirements in a cross-cultural corporate environment and to address typical cross-cultural management challenges through analyzing selected cases.
Advanced Financial Management (2 credit hours)
This course provides added insight into corporate financial management, covering topics such as venture capital and private equity, leasing, initial public offerings (IPO), mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance. A number of case studies are used to illustrate the theoretical principles involved.
International Negotiations (1 credit hour)
The right corporate decisions can only be made when based on a thorough understanding of organizational interrelationships, hierarchical structures, individual creative potential, personal biases and group processes. This course examines promising negation strategies.
Product Design and Pricing (1 credit hour)
The course provides students with state-of-the-art management techniques to identify markets, develop new product ideas, measure customer benefits, and profitably design new or reposition existing products. Successful product design requires understanding not only what creates value for customers, but also how that value can be quantified and transformed into profits. Being a key lever of profitability in product design, we will look behind the power of smart pricing – a decision area that most executives name as their major challenge and major weakness.
Entrepreneurship (2 credit hours)
This course draws on actual cases to illustrate the critical steps involved in founding a new business, such as conducting feasibility studies and drafting a business plan. Students learn about the challenges faced by start-ups and become familiar with the kind of entrepreneurial practices common in established companies.
Global Strategy (2 credit hours)
This course concentrates on the dynamics of global competition, explaining the analytical approaches used by globally operating companies to create and implement appropriate strategies. The main emphasis is on: a) the challenges involved in managing a company across international borders; b) ways in which companies can create a competitive edge in cross-border business activity; c) promising strategies for entry into foreign markets; d) mission-critical awareness of prevailing political, cultural, social and institutional factors in certain countries.
Strategic Cost Management (2 credit hours)
This course explores how controlling data can be used as input for corporate strategy-building. The course begins with a consideration of how such information is gathered and communicated. The course uses current literature and case studies to expose students to a wide array of management topics, initiatives and situations.
Managerial Communication Skills (2 credit hours)
This course presents the fundamentals of management communication and interaction. Students gain hands-on experience with a wide variety of communicative approaches and styles. The guiding principle of the course is: “Communication goes farther than information.” Every participating student holds at least one (videotaped) presentation in front of the class.
Leadership (2 credit hours)
In today’s business world, the concept of “leadership” is closely intertwined with a wide array of related topics, for example group dynamics, political science, religion and corporate assessment. This course examines leadership both in corporate terms and vis-à-vis human resources. It addresses the issues of what leadership is, what factors contribute to successful leadership and whether leadership is something that can be learned.
Project Management (1 credit hour)
The course provides an introduction to the different phases of managing projects from conception to termination with particular emphasis on planning, scheduling, resource allocation, monitoring and control. It also provides a working knowledge of a project management software. Other topics such as risk management, conflicts in managing projects and projects in international settings will also be discussed. The students will work in teams to demonstrate use of project planning tools and methodology.
How to design a factory (1 credit hour)
The role of factories has dramatically changed in the past. They have to be highly adaptable regarding product mix, local content, volume, exchange rate and logistic performance. A systematic approach is offered how to design a factory step by step, illustrated by real life examples. A laboratory tour exemplifies important features of modern factories and their facilities. Exercises deepen the understanding of the design steps.
International Marketing (2 credit hours)
At the beginning, the Big Mac was a tremendous failure in Argentina . Why? Simply because the company thought it could sell the same hamburger everywhere...even in the land of barbecue. As a beer brand manager, should I try to position the product the same way all over the world? Which are the different understandings of the "brand promise" outside its home market? Which are the challenges faced by marketing managers of a car designed by German engineers, produced by Mexican labor and sold to meet the American consumer needs? The main goal of the course is to familiarize students with common issues facing International Marketing managers of a wide array of industries and countries.
Brand Management (1 credit hour)
This course is designed to provide an understanding of how to manage a brand, product, or product category. The course will be less concerned with the process of collecting and analyzing data, but rather more focused on what do with such data. Even the most skillful marketer cannot make customers buy things that they don't want.
Hence, this course will focus on issues related to customer behavior and customer decision making, with an emphasis on how to utilize such customer-oriented knowledge, especially as it relates to developing ideal forms of advertising and communications, product and/or service adjustments or extensions, and appropriate decisions related to distribution and pricing – all of which must be concerned both with customer acquisition and retention.
Portfolio Management (1 credit hour)
The objective of this course is to provide students with a sound understanding of portfolio theory and asset pricing models. A strong knowledge of portfolio theory is essential for our understanding of asset pricing models that are used in investment and capital budgeting decisions, and in portfolio performance measurement. The major topics covered will include: risk and return, optimal portfolio selection, and asset pricing models. The main emphasis of the course is on common stocks, especially portfolios.
This course is quantitative and relies on the economic theory and analytical tools developed throughout the course. Students are expected to have basic understanding of economics, statistics, linear algebra, and calculus. The knowledge of a spreadsheet package such as Excel is also assumed.
Managing Organizational Change (1 credit hour)
This course provides an introduction to the different managerial challenges in managing organizational change such as envisioning change, implementing change, managing the resistance to change, and sustaining change. Students will analyze these challenges through readings and case studies that describe a range of organizational settings (services, manufacturing, multinational), change types (response to a crisis, proactive, continuous), and outcomes (successful, failed, and hard-to-tell change initiatives).
Mergers & Acquisitions (1 credit hour)
Mergers and acquisitions represent significant changes that involve the entire enterprise. As such, this course allows us to pull together material covered in previous finance courses, while also linking financial decision-making with the overall strategy of the firm and dabbling in law, accounting and organizational behavior. This course focuses on the major aspects of mergers. We will cover the reasons (both good and bad) that transactions are done, the mechanics of the transactions, the valuation of the firms involved, various aspects of deal structure, and the roles of the parties involved.
Developing Leadership (1 credit hour)
This elective deals with developing a leadership model of the future. Taking on a structural perspective of leadership the elective addresses a selected set of topics that allows companies to produce a pipeline of consistently excellent managers. Based on an analysis of current leadership skill requirements the elective looks at approaches to attract, identify and manage talent. Special emphasis is given to performance management and management development. The elective employs case studies, discussions and lectures.
Smart Decision Making (2 credit hours)
Decision-making is the most important activity by which we control our professional and personal lives. Many people don’t realize that decision-making is a skill that can be learned, practiced and improved upon like any other skill. This course is meant to motivate people to view decision making as something positive and to help them make better decisions throughout their lives.
Based on principles of rational decision-making, the science of decision analysis draws on economic theory and probability theory to devise models and tools for smart decision-making. These models are fairly straightforward and intuitive. However, implementing these models and tools often runs against important and real psychological biases that prevent us from making smart choices. This course presents the key ideas from both the science of smart decision-making and the art of implementing them into useful strategies.
Team Effectiveness (2 credit hours)
Technologies, products, and services are becoming increasingly complex - so complex, in fact, that in many cases they can no longer be fully comprehended, mastered, or improved, let alone newly developed by individuals. To remain successful in a hyper-competitive environment, companies must bring together experts with complementary skills, knowledge bases, and abilities. Given the right conditions, teams can not only perform more work than individuals working independently, but, by leveraging synergies, also better and more innovative work. Nevertheless, this is much easier said than done. In this course we will examine why teams often disappoint and what active steps must be taken to bring to fruition their full potential.
Service Operations Management (1 credit hour)
Services are the largest and fastest growing segment of our economy. However, managing services is particularly challenging due to their intangible nature, perishability, high levels of customer involvement, and high interdependence of operations and marketing decisions. This course provides special concepts and analytical tools for effectively and efficiently managing service operations in face of these challenges. In particular, we will look at critical management decisions such as customer-oriented service process and product design, service pricing and revenue management, service capacity management, service network design, service scheduling, etc. Applications cover cases from a broad range of service industries, like transport and communication, retailing, hotels and restaurants, professional services, and e-services.
International Marketing Dealing with Cultural Diversity (1 credit hour)
This course takes place at the ESCP-Europe in Paris during the break between module 3 and 4. Cultural diversity is a major challenge in management, especially in Europe: trade barriers have disappeared, cultural barriers have not. Therefore, companies willing to expand in Europe need to observe and understand the dominant cultural traits for each region and perceive the main differences that should be considered for the design of a marketing plan.
This course comprises two parts. In part one, the focus is placed on European cultural traits to provide the participants with a better understanding of consumer behavior and values as well as business attitudes in the region. In part two, a series of case studies are discussed to analyze marketing strategies implemented in Europe in order to identify success factors.
Business between the EU and South America (1 credit hour)
This course takes place at the ESCP-Europe in Madrid during the break between module 3 and 4. It explores the ways cultural similarities have allowed Spain to be the bridge between countries in the European Union (EU) and countries in South America in developing business relationships. The background of the Spanish economy in transition at the end of the 20th century and its relationships within the EU and in the global market will be addressed. Spanish business strategies within the Latin American market will be discussed, as well as the Spanish cultural diversity. Company visits and case studies of companies that have developed successful business relationships are also included.
Global Manufacturing Internship – Worldwide Quality Leadership in India (1 credit hour)
This course is offered in cooperation with TVS Motor Corporation, India. Teams of 2-3 students work jointly with mentors from the corporate sponsor to engage in manufacturing management problem solving projects. The trip involves specific small projects for different student teams. The projects require participants to understand the processes of manufacturing, logistics, supplier management, market segmentation, etc. in India. Students are exposed to best practices of the Deming award winning TVS Motor Co.
Tsinghua University, China (1 credit hour)
In spring GISMA students have the opportunity to take part in an exchange program with Tsinghua University in Beijing. They will be joined by students from Purdue University. The exchange program is being offered on an elective basis.
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