Case Study Background & Questions

Read carefully the case information on Google which is contained in the following two sources:
1.    Johnson G, Whittington R, & Scholes K (2011) Exploring Strategy, 9th edition, FT Prentice Hall, Chapter 12 Strategic Development Processes, page 426-428:

Google: who drives the strategy?
2.    Grant R (2013) Contemporary Strategy Analysis, 8th edition, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Case Study 20 available online: Google Inc.: What’s the Corporate Strategy?
Both sources cover the strategic development of Google from start-up, to stock market listing (IPO), to market dominance in internet search. Source 2 finishes in early

2012 and updates developments beyond the end date of source 1 (2010). For example, we see in source 2 how Larry Page, one of the founders, replaces Eric Schmidt as CEO

in 2011. Schmidt took up the post of Chairman of the company and would continue to act as an advisor to the founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Both sources provide insights into the leadership and  management practices within Google. Source 1 places more emphasis on how this approach affects the strategic

decision-making process whereas source 2 explores the content of its strategy, questioning its corporate level strategy and how it relates to its strategic direction

and mission
1.    Using the Ashridge Sense of Mission Model as a theoretical framework, analyse the case evidence on whether Google has achieved a sense of mission through its

existing leadership.
2.    In a famous interview Eric Schmidt Executive Chairman of Google stated that “We don’t really have a five-year plan.”
Based on this statement, critically discuss Google’s approach to strategic decision-making and consider to what extent you think their approach is transferable to

organisations in other industry contexts.
Guidance Notes
You should note that case analysis is not a conceptual explanation or discussion but the application of concepts and frameworks to interpret the case information,

analyse key events and statements, and reach evaluative judgements. In developing your analysis and arguments, you should use supporting evidence from the information

contained in the case studies.
Your answers must only be derived from the information on Google contained in the two case study sources listed above.  You are not required to consult other sources

on Google or go beyond the end date of the second case study. As a result you should not include references on Google from the internet or other sources.
In terms of presentation, introduce each question indicating how you will structure your answer and conclude each answer with reference to your preceding arguments

and the task required by the question. Do not present your answer in rigid report format but you may wish to divide your answer into sections which reflect the major

elements of your analysis
Remember, in writing your solution to the questions you must not describe what the case says but use the concepts to analyse the information and use the evidence/facts

in the case to support your analysis.

Question 1 asks you to discuss the mission and leadership approach at Google in order to evaluate how it achieves a sense of mission. The question specifically asks

you to use the Ashridge Sense of Mission model. The elements of strategic leadership and the differences between transactional and transformational approaches are

included and you should be able to relate these to the innovative context at Google.

Specifically you should apply and discuss the four elements of mission (Ashridge model) to Google. When considering purpose and strategy, you should evaluate the

issues raised in case source 2 on questions surrounding Google’s corporate level strategy and “identity”.  In doing this avoid being overly descriptive of the content

of Google’s strategy . develop arguments and, if necessary, include supporting details in appendices. You must also address the central issue in the question of how

the fifth element, a sense of mission, is achieved through the alignment of the employees’ personal values with those of the organisation. In doing this, consider the

role played by the leadership and management approach at Google to integrate the elements of mission, especially the behavioural standards and values of the

organisation, with those of the employee.

To answer question 2 you will draw on your learning on strategic decision-making and your prescribed reading from Johnson et al, (2011) chapter 12.You will need to

examine the leadership of the company based on both cases and how decisions are taken then relate these to the major approaches, especially planned and incremental, to

develop arguments and reach conclusions on how strategic decision-making is practised in Google. Once you have identified its approach with supporting evidence, you

should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this approach as part of your critical assessment. To consider whether their approach is transferable you will need

to discuss the extent to which it is contextually specific to Google.
Please remember to structure your essay appropriate. You should use headings – and include an introduction, main body and conclusion/recommendations sections.
Presentation of analysis, use of   appropriate concepts, and depth of understanding of the issues raised in the case. (10%)
Evaluation   of Google’s mission and how it achieves a sense of mission through its   approach to leadership and management. (35%)
Critically   assessment of Google’s approach to strategic decision-making practised at   Google and its potential transferability to other organisations. (35%)
Ability to reach   coherent and logical arguments from the analysis, supported by case evidence.  (20%)

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