Few would argue that business schools should offer courses that engage students and provide authentic learning environments. Acadia University’s fourth-year Corporate Strategy course is a good example of how this can be accomplished. Teaching undergraduate business students how to analyze an industry or competitive environment has long been a staple of this capstone course for the BBA program. If you are or have been a fourth-year student at another undergraduate business school, you probably have the names of the textbook authors memorized. This is not the case with Corporate Strategy at Acadia. Textbooks went out the door in this class years ago to be replaced by government, commercial and non-profit databases like CIPO, EDGAR, SEDAR, USGS, USPTO and FactFinder. Rather than authors’ names, brand names such as Hoovers, Value Line, CSR Hub, Patent Genius, and Similar Web replace will be recognized.
Evidence Based Learning
Students are trained to analyze companies and industries using the same information as graduates in the work force. They learn how to identify common industry risk factors using company SEC 10K filings. They also learn industry profiles can be quickly accessed using numerous commercial databases including that of Value Line. These fourth-year learners are also introduced to company efforts to protect intellectual property by exploring patent summaries accessed through Google Patents or the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Census data from Statistics Canada and the U.S. Census Bureau enables market segmentation decisions to be made based on actual, easy-to-access data. Country and minerals profiles of the U.S. Geological Survey offer students a means to understand the mineral strengths and shortcomings of some countries. Finally, examining national culture differences using Dutch scholar Geert Hofstede’s country comparison tool enables students to quickly grasp challenges of doing business abroad.
Teaching students to use evidence from free online databases is a signal contribution to the Bachelor of Business Administration program of Acadia University of Dr. Conor Vibert, Professor of Business Strategy and Co-Founder of Casenet.ca. His style of teaching, a variant of the flipped classroom, not only helps to better prepare students for the challenges of entering the work force, it also sets them up to succeed in the final compulsory course of their business program, Strategic Issues, one where they use case method to analyze real business decisions of real managers.
About the Manning School
Founded in 1957, the Manning School at Acadia University is home to over 600 students from over 20 countries. With 23 faculty members from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, the Manning School offers small classes that encourage concentrated interaction between students and faculty. Our students have opportunities to learn outside the classroom through co-op placements, projects with local enterprises, and international exchanges. Firmly rooted in a rich institutional legacy that personifies the very essence of a liberal education, the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program at Acadia is challenging and flexible, allowing students to explore a broad range of interests and producing well-rounded graduates who are well-positioned to pursue varied professional opportunities. Our graduates work in leadership roles across Canada and around the globe, with many having made their Acadia BBA degree a pathway to prestigious graduate programs.