MBA@UNC Electives

The core content of MBA@UNC’s curriculum is further complemented by a series of electives. A list of the MBA@UNC electives is shown below. Electives offered every semester will vary.

  • Business Innovation and Technology Management
  • Perhaps the most difficult task for organizations is to discover market opportunities that are “undiscoverable” for other firms in the industry. For example, the launch of iPod and iMac by Apple is a leap in innovation that may not be achievable by firms that narrowly define the competitive space to that of simple “personal computing”. As evidenced in many industries, technology, innovation, and competitive advantage are a powerful trio. Yet, it is sometimes difficult to bring discipline to the process of innovation, R&D spending, and technology investment. Clearly, business leaders must be prepared to assess coming waves of technology, their impact on business process, and their impact on relationships with suppliers, customers, and competitors.

    This course provides a strategic perspective of technology/innovation management and its impact on the competitive positioning of the firm. We will examine tools and techniques that help leaders understand emerging trends and the opportunities/threats they may present to prevailing business models. We will also examine how organizations design and implement creative responses to the marketplace. You will use these techniques and become an active participant in the innovation process. No matter how creative or (non-creative) you may consider yourself, the techniques of this course will help you become a more effective manager of business innovation.

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  • Consulting
  • Consulting is a course designed to provide MBA students with immediately usable tools for any team problem solving situation. The core consulting skill training will focus on the all-important “TAP” skills (teamwork, analysis, and presentations) and will introduce the TEAM FOCUS framework which covers the following aspects of team problem solving – Talk, Evaluate, Assist, Motivate, Frame, Organize, Collect, Understand and Synthesize. We will also cover a few of the most critical high level functional frameworks used by top consulting firms today. The course is geared toward any students considering a career in consulting (or other team oriented career track).

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  • Corporate Finance
  • Corporate Finance is a more advanced course in corporate finance theory and policy. The aim of the course is to rigorously analyze the major issues affecting the financial policy of a modern corporation, such as the choice of its capital structure, dividend policy, share issuance and repurchase and corporate governance system. We will critically discuss costs and benefits of the strategies available to a firm’s top management to address these issues effectively.

    The course will also examine private equity and venture capital, and the process of raising capital through IPOs and SEOs. The course will conclude with a discussion of the role of corporate financial risk management. Classroom presentation will be mainly theoretical, but will illustrate the main concepts with examples drawn from the real world. Exposition will be analytical, and a working knowledge of basic mathematics and statistics is assumed.

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  • Corporate Strategy
  • This course covers the fundamentals of corporate-level strategy as opposed to business-level strategy. “Business-level” (business) strategy deals with achieving and sustaining a competitive advantage in a discrete and identifiable business. “Corporate-level” (corporate) strategy deals with the way a company creates value through the selection of a portfolio of businesses and the configuration and coordination of these businesses.

    The primary way in which corporate strategy ultimately creates value is through increasing the ability of businesses in the portfolio to create and sustain a competitive advantage. For example, sharing manufacturing activities may reduce costs. Alternatively, sharing a strong brand may increase differentiation while reducing overall marketing costs. Hence there is a very close relationship between business and corporate strategy. The major topics we will cover are diversification (related and unrelated), vertical integration, restructuring, synergy, alliance strategy, and global strategy. We will be introducing a variety of tools to help us analyze these topics.

    The primary objective of the course is to introduce you to the primary decisions, tools, and concepts of corporate strategy. By the end of the course you should be able to understand how multi-business firms can create and destroy value; be able to engage in a thoughtful discussion of corporate strategy with senior executives; be able to identify opportunities to improve corporate strategy; understand and be able to analyze the major benefits and risks of various diversification strategies; understand the economic and organizational realities behind the term “synergy” and be able to identify and analyze synergy opportunities; understand the role alliances play in corporate strategy and be able to analyze the major tradeoffs between alliances and acquisitions; understand the role a particular business plays in a corporate strategy; and understand the nature and strategic implications of both regional/global rationalization and local responsiveness in global strategy.

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  • Derivatives
  • The course provides an introduction to the primary instruments of the derivative securities market. Emphasis will be placed on real-world applications of theoretical (or conceptual) material discussed in class. After developing the ideas of static and dynamic arbitrage, the course applies the basic concepts to different business settings, from capital budgeting to risk management. The course is particularly important for anyone going into finance, but stress will be given to topics that are of relevance for general managers. Topics covered include no-arbitrage-based pricing; binomial option pricing; the Black-Scholes model; practical issues with the Black-Scholes model; the pricing of futures and forwards; hedging with derivatives; portfolio insurance; equity and debt as options; and real options.

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  • Entrepreneurship I
  • Courses in entrepreneurship have gained popularity in business schools everywhere, but it is not clear just what should be taught and how. In contrast to accounting, for example, entrepreneurship lacks a defined technical base or discipline. Moreover, individuals and organizations ranging from street vendors to transnational corporations all espouse entrepreneurial activity, which suggests that the topic should permeate all of business education. What can the focus of a special course in entrepreneurship possibly be?

    The mission adopted for the course is to prepare MBA students to start and nurture their own businesses. The mission is based on the premise that student interests lie mainly in starting and building ventures in which they have a significant equity stake. Business schools admit students with great talent and high long-term expectations of responsibility, autonomy, and financial reward. Historically, some MBA students have had an innate desire to run their own businesses, but even those who didn’t often turned to entrepreneurship after they confronted the realities of a pyramidal corporate world. Of the many that started in large corporations, only a few could rise to the top. The rest were subject to implicit or explicit up-or-out policies or shunted to positions that could not satisfy their natural ambition and drive.

    Today, many MBAs are skeptical of long-term careers in large corporations. They belong to a culture that celebrates entrepreneurial individuals. They are also older and more cognizant of the realities of corporate ladders, and they may have directly witnessed the effects of downsizing. Therefore, although only a handful of MBA students start businesses right out of school, a large proportion expects to do so some years later. The course seeks to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will support and enhance their entrepreneurial activity.

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  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Financial Statement Analysis is an applied perspective on analyzing financial statements. There are three main skills students will learn upon completion of this course:

    1. Earnings management – how and why managers can move earnings up and down using accounting tricks, and how to detect and adjust for this.
    2. Profitability analysis – how to decompose a firm’s overall profitability into its key elements in order to tell whether the firm is really making money or losing money, where this is happening, and why it is happening.
    3. Statement analysis – how to pull apart a firm’s financial statements and footnotes so that its major business activities and results are clearly visible.

    Financial Statement Analysis is designed to be particularly useful for finance-oriented students looking at consulting, corporate finance, entrepreneurship, general management, and investment and marketing careers.

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  • Fixed Income
  • The objectives of this course are to describe important fixed income securities and markets and develop tools for valuing fixed income securities and managing interest rate risk. The course will cover traditional bonds, the term structure concepts, as well as more recently developed fixed income derivatives. The course is rigorous and quantitative. Students are expected to understand and apply quantitative methods. Examples illustrate important real-world applications of the theory.

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  • Global Marketing
  • This course examines specific issues involved in developing and executing marketing strategies on a global scale as opposed to a domestic scale. The course is intended to provide a thorough understanding of global marketing strategies, including:

    • Fundamental trends underlying convergence of world markets.
    • Pitfalls and challenges of entering other countries.
    • Ways to design global marketing strategies.
    • The impact of organization structure, management processes, culture, and people on global marketing strategy implementation.
    • The important and unique role emerging markets play in global marketing strategies.

    The course will help you achieve your career goals as you work – as virtually all of you will – in or with companies that are active in the international marketplace as well as domestic companies who face active international competitors.

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  • Global Supply Chain
  • Increases in product variety and customization in the past few years have posed challenges to firms in terms of delivering products to customers faster and more efficiently. With the prevalence of the usage of the Internet for business, electronic business transformations are occurring in every business. One of the fundamental enablers for electronic commerce is effective supply chain management. Thus, supply chain management has become the focus of attention of senior management in the industry today.

    This course considers management of a supply chain in a global environment from a managerial perspective. The focus is on analysis, management and improvement of supply chain processes and their adaptation to the electronic business environment. The course is divided into six related modules, namely, Inventory and Information Management, Distribution and Transportation, Global Operations, Supplier Management, Management of Product Variety and Electronic Supply Chains. Several new concepts including Prognostic Supply Chains, Build-to-Order, Collaborative Forecasting, Delayed Differentiation, Cross Docking, Global Outsourcing and Efficient Consumer Response will be discussed. The course will focus on traditional supply chain concepts and also introduce students to changes in supply chain management practices due to the emergence of the Internet. Analytical and simulation approaches utilized in industry will also be introduced. At the end of the course, a student will have the necessary tools and metrics to evaluate a current supply chain and recommend design changes to supply chain processes.

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  • Independent Study
  • One of the most valuable opportunities available to you is the chance to embark on a major project that will have an immediate impact on your company and career. Working with a faculty member as your advisor, you may choose a project that will allow you to make a substantial contribution to your organization. Projects can take many forms; for example you may choose to create a business plan, take advantage of a business opportunity, or solve a problem facing your organization.

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  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Developing Economies
  • In this course, we explore how innovation and entrepreneurship (e.g. opportunity identification, evaluation, and exploitation) create individual and social wealth in developing country settings—while often simultaneously addressing major social problems. This course is about identifying opportunities and constraints that typify this context so that you can enter or return to a developing country to establish a venture—or lead and fund people who do so. It is also about using the power of business to fight poverty and other social problems. While many themes will surface, my objective is to help you learn more about business model variations and unique partnerships and how both play a critical role in venture success. Secondarily, we will discuss funding mechanisms.In an effort to innovate how we teach and present this course, we have filmed two cases and several guest speakers on location in Ethiopia. However, the topics in this course and the lessons from it absolutely relate to locations worldwide. We will work together to understand the similarities and differences between Ethiopia and other developing countries in Asia, Latin America, South America, Africa and elsewhere.

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  • Investments
  • The objective of this course is to undertake a rigorous study of the theory and empirical evidence relevant to investment management. It will introduce you to the characteristics of various financial securities and discuss the risks and rewards associated with them. Topics covered include optimal portfolio selection and asset allocation, the theory of asset pricing models, market efficiency, behavioral finance, as well as techniques for evaluating investment management performance.

    The course is fairly quantitative. Students who master the course material will acquire the analytical tools and theoretical concepts necessary for making good investment decisions and understanding the paradigms by which financial securities are valued.

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  • Leading from the Middle
  • MBA programs spend a great deal of time talking about and learning how senior leaders in the organization make decisions (both financial and strategic). This is a great and needed focus. But, rarely does one start out at the top. In fact, most MBA students will graduate and be placed right in the middle of the organization (either as an individual contributor or as a manager of others). The ability to effectively understand larger organizational dynamics and “get things done” in the middle – managing and aligning multiple stakeholders to make good decisions and implement these decisions without drama – is key to rising to the top.

    In other words, leading from (in) the middle is about “getting things done” (i.e. implementing decisions and initiatives) within the broader organizational context. In order to do this, it is critical to understand how organizations do “their work” so that you know how to effectively engage various systems and people to accomplish “your work.” This course is about how things get done within organizations and how you can improve your ability to get things done as a middle manager.
    Broadly defined, organizations do “their work” using a combination of formal and informal processes or systems:

    • The formal organizational structure which divides the work into jobs, teams, departments, units; attaches metrics/incentives of success to the different component tasks; manages the interface and coordination of these components; puts in place supporting systems such as information technology, etc.
    • The informal system of comprised of a common vision, organizational culture (and subcultures) and the use of informal influence and power where individuals use their knowledge of the formal structure and culture to build networks, coalitions, allies and so forth to successfully implement decisions and strategic initiatives.

    This course is designed to help you understand the broader organizational context in which you are operating and the influence of this context on decision making, networks, and power and influence. The course is designed to have a mix of teaching methodologies including behavioral simulations/exercises, computer based simulations, cases, (some) lecture, and an ongoing integration of your experiences into the classroom.

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  • Managerial Accounting
  • Managerial accounting provides information for decision making, product–costing, and planning-control-evaluation activities. This course takes the perspective of both the user and the preparer of accounting information. The emphasis is on the fundamental concepts and the strategic importance of accounting data to managerial activity with special consideration given to the underlying accounting procedures and the underlying accounting processes.

    During this course, you should specifically: develop an appreciation for the role of accounting data in decision making, product-costing, and planning-control-evaluation activities; embrace an understanding of the data accumulation process in order to facilitate effective communication between managers and accountants; master specific techniques for using a myriad of accounting information in multiple situations; and internalize contemporary concerns with respect to U.S. productivity and the world economy along with implications for information systems.

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  • Managing Innovation
  • This course is intended to introduce you to management models and make you think deeply about how to manage innovations in the 21st century organizations, especially in an economically challenging environment. The objective is to examine how the most innovative organizations around the globe excel at exploring, executing, and exploiting innovations with an eye towards superior performance. The major topics in the course include: cultivating a culture for innovation, instilling appropriate structures to foster innovation, leveraging creative human capital, and designing “open” innovation processes.

    We will look at innovation from both an intra- as well as extra-organizational perspective. The aim is to help you as managers lead your organizations and people within to continuously develop and commercialize innovations. The course is pertinent for general managers, consultants, marketing managers as well as operations managers.

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  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Mergers & Acquisitions have a dramatic impact on most corporations. Many managers will either directly or indirectly face the challenges brought on by these changes in corporate structure. These mergers that induce change provide an opportunity for gaining insight into key corporate issues.

    The objective of this course is to learn the financial techniques to analyze the valuation and structuring of corporate mergers and acquisitions, with an application of financial theory to solve a set of case studies in strategic decision areas. Students will form study groups to examine and analyze assigned cases for class discussions.

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  • Modeling
  • The purpose of this course is to provide exposure to a number of different modeling techniques that are used in operations management, developing your skills both in building models and interpreting the output of these decision tools. Although the emphasis of this course is on operations, the tools that we will discuss have practical applications in a wide variety of functional areas, including marketing, finance and human resource management. The objective is not to create expert mathematicians; we will discuss the theoretical underpinnings of these techniques only as needed. Rather, the emphasis is on assessing the applicability of these tools in practical situations.

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  • Negotiations
  • Negotiations offers a basic introduction to negotiation with a heavy emphasis on the development of practical skills. Among other things, this course seeks to develop student capabilities in (a) analyzing your negotiation style, (b) planning for negotiations, (c) dealing with strong emotions, (e) employing “principled” negotiation techniques, and (f) assessing negotiations.

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  • New Ventures Discovery
  • The goal of this course is to introduce the important tools and skills necessary to create and grow a successful new venture. The course is designed to simulate the real life activities of entrepreneurs in the start-up stage of a new venture. Students will develop an understanding of the elements required to start a new business and hear from successful entrepreneurs about their journey and then evaluate real business plans for entrepreneurs who are just starting their journey.

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  • Project Management
  • Gain exposure to the general concepts and tools needed to manage a broad range of business projects (M&A integrations, new product launches, geographic expansions, outsourcing initiatives, IT projects, etc.). This course is designed for general managers; you will learn basic qualitative and quantitative skills you can apply throughout your career.

    Most MBA graduates will spend a significant portion of their career taking part in and leading projects. The use of projects in organizations is only increasing. In many areas, ranging from consulting and investment banking to product development and service delivery, organizations deliver their primary output through projects. In other organizations projects are used to implement strategic decisions. Also, projects provide an opportunity for high-potential individuals to hone and prove their capability prior to taking on the responsibility of managing a larger business. While every project has its unique components, in many ways projects in organizations are quite similar. It is these commonalities that permit us to explore project management generally. In this course we will examine a range of contexts – e.g., outsourcing, product development, geographic expansion, construction, merger integration – to help students become familiar with the tools and concepts of project management. The objective of this course is to prepare students so that they have the ability to effectively take part in and lead projects. The goal is to equip individuals across any career concentration, rather than extend the expertise of project-management specialists. Therefore, this class will be highly interactive consisting of active case discussions each day that will be supplemented with short lectures when appropriate. We will cover both quantitative and qualitative aspects of project management.

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  • Real Estate
  • The Real Estate Process introduces students to the basic concepts of real estate. This course provides a background on the concepts of urban and spatial economics, analysis of markets, valuation, law, development, capital markets and investment analysis. It also familiarizes students with the vocabulary of real estate and exposes them to real-world decision making processes through a series of case studies. This course is designed to introduce students with an interest in real estate to the real estate asset class, as well as some important aspects of real estate analysis. In addition, the course is designed to incorporate current topics that are relevant to real estate decision makers in all aspects of the industry. During the course, we’ll look at decisions commonly made by developers, lenders, investors and other market participants. As such, the course is a survey course that covers a broad range of real estate topics.

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  • Services Marketing
  • Services can be defined as deeds, processes, and performances provided by firms and individuals to create customer experiences. Services dominate the U.S. economy: with only 13% of the GDP in manufacturing and 6% in agriculture, services are critical to your future, to the United States’ future, and to the success of world economies. Many of the most critical U.S. initiatives—overhauling the healthcare system, saving financial organizations, harnessing the speed of technology, and growing firms that depend on manufacturing—involve services. For this reason, services marketing is studied as a sub-discipline of marketing.

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  • Sustainable Enterprise
  • This course examines the origins, evolution, and current schools of thought around sustainable business practices. Study and discussion of sustainability as a theory of industrial development and accompanying models of commerce provides a context for understanding current models of business and its effects on other systems. The course also focuses on strategy, leadership, and innovation as applied to the Sustainable Enterprise. Through example as well as application of management theory, we will examine how today’s leaders are creating programs of transformation for competition in the “next” generation of industry and commerce.

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  • Taxes and Business Strategy
  • Most people feel that they would have an edge if they knew more about taxes, and they are right. Part of being financially savvy is understanding how taxation affects business decisions. When we examine real transactions and real companies in this class, you will see huge differences in taxes (and after-tax profits) depending on how things are structured.

    Most people also feel that taxes are incredibly complicated, and they are also right. That is one reason why tax knowledge gives you an edge, because most people are so afraid or baffled by taxes that they don’t know where to begin. Our job is to make it more understandable, to help you see through the thicket of details to the essentials, and give you an understanding of the fundamental principles of taxation and tax planning – those principles that apply today, tomorrow, and no matter what country you are dealing with.

    This course will give you a fundamental understanding of tax planning over the life cycle of a firm: starting with deciding which organizational form to use, forming a company and raising capital, operating a company, compensating employees, making distributions to owners, engaging in mergers and acquisitions, expanding across states and countries, and finally liquidating a company or bequeathing it to one’s heirs. We will make extensive use of real transactions to illustrate the impact of tax planning on earnings and cash flow.

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