Global Business Challenges/ Future Business


This course (Global Business Challenges) aims at characterizing the threats and opportunities faced by firms in relation to their nonmarket environment, that is, developments in technology, income and lifestyles, international markets, emerging economies, government policy, and the behaviour the different stakeholders of the firm, including media, social activists and internal stakeholders. These different elements share the fact that they are largely external to the firm and beyond its control-, and their impact on firm performance is not easily mediated by explicit markets, that is, through prices or contracts.

The course will contrast, and draw analogies between the behaviour of business firms and the nonmarket environment, including the behaviour of private political actors and governments. Teaching will draw on analytical tools from management and economic science, text and video case studies, as well as use of illustrations from cinema, literature and forms of artistic expression. There will be presentations by professionals in the areas of relevance to the course, with the aim of motivating and increasing student awareness of the relevance of the nonmarket environment of firms.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

José Manuel Albuquerque Tavares


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language




The course relies mostly on specific case studies and a diverse array of media materials that will be made accessible to students.

Teaching method

Teaching will integrate concepts from management and from economics to class, analyse, and draw lessons from a variety of case studies that are illustrative of opportunities in the non-market environment. The course will combine analytical tools and traditional case studies with video case studies and illustrations from literature, cinema, and other media. In terms of specific teaching methods, students will be exposed to a varying set of:

1. Case studies - exploring a set of important and diverse situations, developed by top business schools and consulting firms, and providing opportunity for an in-depth discussion of complex issues on the creation of future value;

2. Video case studies - short videos, at most 15 minutes long, that require an immediate and interactive response, providing a real-life situation where logical and persuasive argumentation is key;

3. Call to concepts - clear presentation of important concepts from economics and management that have a bearing on developing a corporate non-market strategy, providing a strong background of clear, logical thought to further strategic insights;

4. Empirical exposure - ways to use and analyse data in novel and creative ways, so to extract valuable strategic insight from hard evidence.

Students will be asked to form groups in order to produce an original and valuable future strategy for a real, existing, international corporation. The group will prepare and deliver two class presentations, of 20 minutes each. The first presentation will be a comprehensive summary of the corporation´s nature and activities and current challenges to company performance; The second will propose and argue for a specific nonmarket strategy, concentrating on one or (at most) two relevant future nonmarket issues.

Each group will be asked to produce a final written report, due by the exam date, no more than 10 pages long. The report will incorporate all the presentations material in a comprehensive proposal for a future strategy, specific to the corporation under study. All class material can and should be used to formulate and support the nonmarket strategy. The objective is to provide a framework for a competitively superior fit between the organization and its future and nonmarket environment likely to foster future firm performance.

The group project tests the creative application to real corporations and real world situations of all the tools and thinking acquired in class. In class presentations and in the final report, groups are strongly encouraged to use standard tools of business analysis and apply them to the corporation´s specific nonmarket environment. Those include, but are not limited to, SWOT analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, PEST analysis - Political, Economic, Social, and Technological Changes, Porter´s 5 Forces, as well as tables, graphs, statistical applications, photographic and video sources, etc. Creativeness in applying these and other analytical tools will be highly rewarded. Grades are awarded on the basis of illustrative and motivational power, as well as depth in the use of analytical and logical tools.

Evaluation method

The group presentations and the final report will account for 40% of the course´s grade. A final exam will test at an individual level the basic understanding of concepts and issues addressed in the course, with a weight of 50% in the final grade. Class participation will account for 10% of the final grade.

The required reading and the case studies should be read before class. The student will benefit from reading the background reading before the final exam. Video case studies do not require prior preparation.

Subject matter

Lecture 1
What About the Future?

1. Case Study - "The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends", Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jonathan Woetzel, McKinsey, 2015 "A Fresh Look at Strategy Under Uncertainty: An Interview", The McKinsey Quarterly, 2008

2. Video Case Study - Ian Goldin "Navigating our Global Future"

3. Required Reading - "Transformation", Chapter on "Unprecedented Disruption", Boston Consulting Group, 2014

4. Background Reading - "Business and Society in the Coming Decades", Kathleen McLaughlin and Doug McMillon, McKinsey and Company, 2015 "Four Principles for the Open World", Don Tapscott, TED talks
Lecture 2
Market and Non-market

1. Case Study

2. Video Case Study - Overture to "The Simpsons" - Ranking non-market issues in developed and developing economies. Michael Sandel "Why We Shouldn´t Trust Markets with Our Civic Life"

3. Required Reading - "What Every CEO Needs to Know About Nonmarket Strategy", David Bach and David Bruce Allen, Sloan, MIT, 2010

4. Background Reading - "Business and its Environment", David Baron, Prentice-Hall. Chapter 1, Market and Nonmarket Environments, and Chapter 2: Integrated Strategy. Lisa Gansky "The Future of Business is the "Mesh""
Lecture 3 and 4
Data and Stories

1. Case Study

2. Video Case Study - "How Data Will Transform Business", Philip Evans, TED talks

3. Required Reading - "The Surprising Math of Cities and Corporations", Geoffrey West, TED talks

4. Background Reading - "The Shapes of Stories", Kurt Vonnegut. "Are We in Control of Our Own Decisions?", Dan Ariely, TED talks
Lecture 5 and 6
Income and Growth

1. Case Study - The Evolving World Income Distribution, Xavier Sala-i-Martin "Global Growth: Can Productivity Save the Day in an Aging World?", McKinsey Global Institute, 2015

2. Video Case Study - "Progress is Not a Zero-sum Game", Robert Wright, TED talks

3. Required Reading - "A Tale of Two Chinese Consumers", Jeff Walters and Youchi Kuo, BCG Perspectives, Boston Consulting Group, 2015

4. Background Reading - "Asia´s Rise - How and When", Hans Rosling, TED talks. "Urban World: Mapping the Economic Power of Cities", McKinsey, 2011
Lecture 7 and 8

1. Case Study - "Urban World: Mapping the Economic Power of Cities", McKinsey Global Institute, 2011

2. Video Case Study

3. Required Reading - "Global Growth: Can Productivity Save the Day in an Aging Wold?", McKinsey Global Institute, 2015

4. Background Reading - "Global Aging: How Companies Can Adapt to the New Reality", Boston Consulting Group, 2011. "Urban World: The Global Consumers to Watch", McKinsey Global Institute, 2016. "Urban World: Cities and the Rise of the Consuming Class", McKinsey Global Institute, 2012
Lecture 9

1. Case Study - "Manufacturing the Future: The Next Era of Global Growth and Innovation", McKinsey Global Institute, 2012

2. Video Case Study - "What Will Future Jobs Look Like?", Andrew McAfee, TED talks

3. Required Reading - "The Eight Essentials of Innovation", Marc De Jong, Nathan Marston, and Erik Roth, McKinsey, 2015

4. Background Reading - "Service 2020: Megatrends for the Decade Ahead", Economist Intelligence Unit, 2011. "Accelerated Innovation: The New Challenge from China", Peter J. Williamson and Eden Yin Sloan Management Review, MIT, 2014
Lecture 10 and 11
Ongoing Globalization: Trade, Investment, Emerging Markets

1. Case Study - "Harnessing the Power of Shifting Global Flows", Jacques Bughin, Susan Lund, and James Manyika, McKinsey Global Institute,2015

2. Video Case Study - Television appearances by Ralph Nader, Youtube

3. Required Reading - "Strategies that Fit Emerging Markets", Taran Khanna, Krishna G. Palepu, and Jayant Shina, Harvard Business Review, 2013

4. Background Reading - "The Global Power Shift", Paddy Ashdown, Ted Talks