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Basic Strategy in Context: European text and cases

Basic Strategy in Context: European text and cases

Neil Thomson, Charles Baden-Fuller

ISBN: 978-1-405-16108-4

Jun 2010, Wiley-Blackwell

422 pages

Select type: Paperback

Out of stock



Basic Strategy in Context centres on real-world firms and managers by giving each chapter’s cases a higher weighting in importance and explanation than is normal. Given this emphasis on real-world as opposed to theoretical treatment the book enables the solving of practical business problems like those below. This emphasis on reality is cemented by the book’s treatment of diversity as being the norm highlighted through European business cases from different countries. Giving example answers and links from case to theory rams home further the expected usefulness of the book to students about to enter industry. Often theory and cases are treated as different and separated topics; we believe that our integrated didactic treatment is quite unique. Finally we use the basic theories of strategy and then show how these mainly simple concepts can be extended to solve tricky business problems anywhere in any industry.

Here is a sample of specific practical problems to which this book can show solutions:

Why are resources important and how are they leveraged? Using the case of a British failure (Railtrack) we show the fatal consequences of neglecting existing resources, and then in a completely different country and industry (Carlo Gavazzi Space in Italy) how resources can be utilised from outside the firm to achieve leverage.

Given our emphasis on diversity we highlight successful change in a foreign and inflexible environment (Japan and Carlos Ghosn). But can change be planned? Sometimes events or luck sabotage the best intentions as shown in the Samsung case.

The book differentiates itself from the competition in four ways:

  1. Cases form the highlight of the book. Taking European and some international cases as the starting point, the objective is to link themes or topics to a description of their effect on the firm. The linkage will occur at the relevant point in the case, not in a separate section or in another book. The author team has used several longitudinal cases spread over a 15-20 year period. The longitudinal cases are supported by some new, non-longitudinal cases selected from award winning cases associated with the LRP Journal and the Gate2Growth Academic Network. We feel such an emphasis on cases is a novel feature.
  2. The theory is explained using a range of modern didactic methods not usually found in competitive offerings. Examples include colour coded and highlighted links from the theory to the case, questions inside each theory section with model answers and unanswered questions to test the student’s grasp of the concepts.
  3. The book features a mixture of cases from short specific to academically challenging ones. Too often, superficial cases are placed at the end of chapters in strategy theory books. They are picked to emphasize the topics of the preceding chapters. The result is spoon-feeding, with little need or motivation to provoke individual thought or learning. The cases in this book are comprehensive, approximately 20 pages in length, with ample quantitative and qualitative data, thus forcing a modicum of effort from the student.  Shorter cases are also included for ease of understanding and instructor flexibility.
  4. Another differentiating feature is the emphasis on diversity hence the use of European as opposed to US based cases.

"Thomson and Baden-Fuller have crafted a highly original and practical strategy textbook covering a wide range of strategic issues, debates, and frameworks. Their work contains a thorough overview of the strategy field, appealing cases of European firms such as Abrakebabra and Your cup of tea, as well as insightful treatises on the Brent Spar ignominy and the weapon industry. The clever combination of mini-cases, theory, questions and full-fledged cases, and a clear overall structure ensure that students obtain a representative image of strategy as it plays out in the 21st century."
Paul W.L. Vlaar, Associate Professor, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics and Business Management

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Chapter 1 Introduction

1.1 Introduction

1.2 For the student: how to use the book

1.3 For the lecturer: resources

1.4 Introductory case: learning goals and objectives

1.5 Preliminary concepts

1.6 Trial case: Abrakebabra

1.7 Keyed links between case and example answers

Chapter 2 What is Strategy?

2.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

2.2 Preliminary concepts including a working definition of business strategy

2.3 Mini case: Mannesmann

2.4 Discussion of mini case

2.5 Main case: Fionia Bank – a regional savings bank from Denmark

2.6 Case analysis and theory section

2.7 Further student tasks and example answers

Chapter 3 Analysing the Internal Environment

3.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

3.2 Preliminary concepts

3.3 Mini case: Railtrack Plc

3.4 Discussion of mini case

3.5 Main case: Carlo Gavazzi Space

3.6 Case analysis and theory section

3.7 Further student task and example answer

Chapter 4 The External Environment

4.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

4.2 Preliminary concepts

4.3 Mini case: José Bové – French resistance against “malbouffe

4.4 Discussion of mini case

4.5 Main case: Your Cup of Tea in Budapest

4.6 Case analysis and theory section

4.7 Further student tasks and example answers

Chapter 5 Stakeholders and Corporate Governance

5.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

5.2 Preliminary concepts

5.3 Mini case: Shell Brent Spar

5.4 Discussion of mini case

5.5 Main case: the DaimlerChrysler takeover

5.6 Case analysis and theory section

5.7 Further student tasks

Chapter 6 Ethics

6.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

6.2 Preliminary concepts

6.3 Mini case: Marta Andreasen EU whistleblower

6.4 Discussion of mini case

6.5 Main case: Shell shock – why do good companies do bad things?

6.6 Case analysis and theory

6.7 Further student tasks

Chapter 7 Strategic Direction

7.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

7.2 Preliminary concepts

7.3 Mini case: Samsung Motors Inc.

7.4 Discussion of mini case

7.5 Main case: GKN

7.6 Case analysis and theory section

7.7 Further student tasks

Chapter 8 Focus – Differentiation or Low Cost

8.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

8.2 Preliminary concepts

8.3 Mini case: Swatch

8.4 Discussion of mini case

8.5 Main case: Ryanair – the low fares airline

8.6 Case analysis and theory section

8.7 Further student tasks

Chapter 9 Change

9.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

9.2 Preliminary concepts

9.3 Mini case: PUMA

9.4 Discussion of mini case

9.5 Main case: Chiquita Bananas (CBI)

9.6 Case analysis and theory section

9.7 Further student tasks

Chapter 10 Mergers and Acquisitions

10.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

10.2 Preliminary concepts

10.3 Mini case: Singcontrol

10.4 Discussion of mini case

10.5 Main case: Santander is coming to town – the acquisition of Abbey National by Grupo Santander

10.6 Case analysis and theory section

10.7 Further student tasks

Chapter 11 Control

11.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

11.2 Preliminary concepts

11.3 Mini case: Nick Leeson

11.4 Discussion of mini case

11.5 Main case: Abrakebabra from Ireland

11.6 Case analysis and theory section

11.7 Further student tasks

Chapter 12 Knowledge and the Learning Organisation

12.1 Learning goals and objectives

12.2 Introduction

12.3 Mini case: the Beer Game

12.4 Discussion of mini case

12.5 Main case: Siemens ShareNet – five steps to creating a global knowledge-sharing system

12.6 Case analysis and theory section

12.7 Further student tasks

Chapter 13 Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship

13.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

13.2 Preliminary concepts

13.3 Mini case: Unilever Liquid Gold – innovation on a European scale

13.4 Discussion of mini case

13.5 Main case: UniBrew – how do established companies deal with radical innovation projects?

13.6 Case analysis and theory section

13.7 Further student tasks

Chapter 14 Culture

14.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

14.2 Preliminary concepts

14.3 Mini case: Starbucks in France

14.4 Discussion of mini case

14.5 Main case: goodbye Deutschland – a case study of Wal-Mart’s failure in Germany – everyday low crisis

14.6 Case analysis and theory section

14.7 Further student tasks

Chapter 15 Leadership

15.1 Introduction, learning goals and objectives

15.2 Preliminary concepts

15.3 Mini case: Alain Perrin and Cartier

15.4 Discussion of mini case

15.5 Main case: Carlos Ghosn and Nissan

15.6 Case analysis and theory section

15.7 Further student tasks

Chapter 16 Integrative Case

16.1 Learning goals and objectives

16.2 Introduction

16.3 Main case: Samsung

16.4 Case analysis with Questions around main topics of the preceding chapters with model answers

16.5 Further student tasks


The target market is undergraduate students completing a course in strategic management. The undergraduate students will probably be in the final year of a bachelor in business degree. There may also be some demand among graduate students at the beginning of a Masters course. As the author is a professor at a continental European university, he feels it is necessary to point out that there is a widespread demand, beyond the traditional Anglo-Saxon countries, for English language business and case books. The book is targeted at European not American users.