Curriculum: The Competitor
Nine Organizational Perspectives courses form the heart of the Yale SOM integrated core curriculum. Each course approaches managerial problems from the viewpoint of a key internal or external organizational role, rather than a single academic discipline. SOM students learn that solutions require a broad view of the issues and an ability to synthesize competing points of view to come up with the most effective ways to lead organizations.
The Competitor Perspective focuses chiefly on the entities outside a company that managers must understand in order to succeed. Today’s competitive environment is multi-layered, encompassing not only the market but political, cultural, and legal dimensions. The Competitor course draws on material from economics, accounting, marketing, organizational behavior, and politics.
The Competitor course is taught primarily through cases, which provide students with opportunities to analyze many different situations where organizations must compete against or cooperate with each other. In the second week, students studied the case of Walmart and Target, two companies that appear to be quite similar but actually occupy distinct niches in the retail sales environment. The case was prepared specifically for the course by the Yale SOM case research and development team. Students were asked to digest a large amount of raw data — the companies’ SEC filings, analyst reports, media accounts — and then go to the stores and analyze how the two businesses cater to their core audiences. In class, students had to articulate the many differences between Walmart and Target and explain the strategies each company employs to differentiate itself from the competition.