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The dynamics of strategy

If you’re currently engaged in strategic decision-making, or will be in the future, or just want to learn more about strategy, this module will stimulate your imagination and inform your judgement. An understanding of the frameworks of strategy and an ability to use them imaginatively will help your organisation survive in the longer-term and perform its role more effectively. You will not be expected merely to ‘learn’ the frameworks, but to critically analyse and comment on them, sometimes in collaboration with fellow students. The module will also help you contribute to and better understand the dialogue of strategy at a variety of levels in your organisation.


BB835 is a compulsory module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

The module provides a general introduction to strategy, some definitions of strategy and a discussion of the role of strategy in organisations. You will look at a detailed historic background to the subject of strategic management and explore both where some of the best-known strategy frameworks came from and in what situations they can be applied effectively. It is as important to understand when a particular framework will not be useful, as to know when it will. You will use the strategy process framework as the conceptual backbone of this module and the four ‘pressures’ (globalisation, industry dynamics, risk, and ethics and corporate responsibility) that will provide the key external context variables throughout the module.

There are no recipes for managing a successful organisation. However, there are actions that you can take as a manager that are more likely to help your organisation to survive and prosper. Strategy is the process of developing and implementing such actions, and as such is critical to the relative success of an organisation in its business context over time. This applies to organisations in all industries and in all parts of the world, regardless of the way strategy is undertaken. Therefore, whether you work in commercial or not-for-profit (NFP) organisations, manufacturing, services, information industries, the armed forces, government or ebusiness all these organisations compete for resources such as finance or for people with relevant managerial experience.

The frameworks and themes presented in this strategy module are designed to be relevant for managers everywhere. For example, although there are obvious basic structural and cultural differences between commercial and NFP organisations, we consider such differences to be less great than a decade ago. Both types of organisation now often operate globally; both are subject to financial and political risk; both now are judged by their ethical practices as well as their operational efficiency.

Strategies exist for different levels within the organisation: for individual business units; at the corporate level; at the multidivisional level; and at the international level. What kinds of organisation structure are most helpful for delivering particular types of strategies and for responding to continuous change? When do mergers make sense? Do you understand when cooperative rather than competitive strategy may be the strongest option? What internal capabilities would be needed to make a strategic alliance work with organisations that may be your competitors in other areas? How do any of these factors change when the strategy is for a multinational corporation operating in a number of countries? These questions show how deeply context affects strategic decisions, for example how key issues like globalisation and government policies affect the strategy process. Strategies are therefore each essentially unique in content and in practice for each organisation.

Supporting learning activities and materials
The module consists of seven online units that form the core of your learning. The units are complemented by other media including extensive web-based materials, day schools, online collaboration tools, a four-day residential school (or online equivalent), student and tutor group forums, access to extensive online library facilities and feedback on marked assignments. The units provide much of the basic knowledge and understanding you need on this module. However, you will also apply that knowledge to real-life examples and case-study situations, carry out your own online research and continuously reflect on and challenge your understanding of strategy. An online learning guide will direct you through this process of learning and reflection. Through your work on the units and your discussions within your tutor group you will develop an informed perspective on what strategy is and what it has to offer to you as a manager and to your organisation. There is also a printed book of recommended readings, which will be referred to in the units.

You will learn

This module will help you develop the skills and techniques to be able to operate in a strategic environment and to contribute to the strategic dialogue and decision-making within your organisation.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your assignments, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. You can contact your tutor by telephone, email or via your tutor group forum on the BB835 website.

The website provides access to forums including your tutor group forum where you will regularly meet with your tutor and fellow members of your tutor group forum to discuss elements of the module, including management implications at the end of each unit – an integral component of your studies – which lead to the assessed elements.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Residential School

There is a four-day residential school which puts your module study into a real-life context. Satisfactory participation in either the compulsory four-day residential school, or in the 21-day online equivalent is required. The school is an opportunity to meet other managers and tutors and to work in small groups on strategic management  issues.

Both versions of the residential school (face-to-face and online) have been devised to deliver the same essential learning outcomes. Feedback from previous MBA students suggests that those who have attended the face-to-face school have particularly valued the face-to-face contact and the networking opportunities available. The cost of the residential school (excluding travel) is included in the module fee.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
Embedded residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Future availability

The dynamics of strategy starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2019 when we expect it to start for the last time. A replacement module is planned for May 2020. 


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    This is a compulsory module of Stage 2 of the MBA (Master of Business Administration) (F61) and will be the first Stage 2 module that you study. Please see MBA (Master of Business Administration) (F61) for full details of the entry requirements for this qualification. It is designed to be studied before Corporate finance (BB831).

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    02 Nov 2019 Apr 2020 £2985.00

    Registration closes 17/10/19 (places subject to availability)

    November 2019 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Future availability

    The dynamics of strategy starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2019 when we expect it to start for the last time. A replacement module is planned for May 2020. 

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Residential school

    This module includes one or more compulsory residential schools. You must pay for your travel to and from the venue. If you can't attend the residential school, an online alternative is available.

    Study materials

    What's included

    Online study units and other web-based materials, including the BB835 website, study guide and online discussion forums. There is also a printed book of recommended readings. In addition, you have university library access, published articles, case-studies, podcasts, interviews and activities to help you develop your strategic thinking.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.