Business Strategy
Dr. Kristl Davison, University of Mississippi

In my classes I use Bloomberg Businessweek articles to supplement the textbook and other teaching materials.  Typically, I examine the emailed Instructor's Guide to see if there are any articles relevant to the courses I teach.  I also go through the hard copy of the magazine to see if there are additional relevant articles that I can incorporate into my classes.  I am frequently updating the articles that I assign in my classes, and adding new ones as the semester progresses.  Questions from these articles also frequently appear on exams in the courses.

I have added the following new articles to MGMT 371 (Principles of Management) this year to enhance the students' learning:

  • Weinstein's (2009) "We Need an Ethics Czar" discusses how to promote ethics in organizations.
  • Bakers' (2008) "Managing by the Numbers" discusses how teams can be composed based on database of skills and other characteristics.
  • Coy et al.'s (2010) "The Disposable Worker" addresses trends in hiring that causes more employees to be contingent workers. 

In MGMT 494 (Compensation), I supplement the lectures with recent articles from BBW to keep students abreast of current national trends and legal and political issues relevant to the field of compensation, especially as they relate to issues of benefits, CEO pay and unemployment.  For example, I use the following new articles:

  • "Investor 'Say on Pay' Is a Bust" (2011) deals with the shareholders' voting on executive compensation.
  • Innovations in health care and health insurance are discussed in "The Doctor Will See You Whenever You Want" (2011) and "The Simplest Rx: Check on Your Patient" (2011)
  • "To Boost the Economy, Help the Self-Employed" (2011) addresses issues of taxation and health care coverage for self-employed individuals.

In MGMT 582 (Employee Relations), I will use the following recent articles this semester:

  • "The Supreme Court Gets the Wal-Mart Ruling Right" (2011) focuses on the class-action sex discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart.
  • "The Gender Gap in Government Job Cuts" (2011) discusses layoffs in the public sector.

Additionally, in the spring of 2012, I plan to use BBW articles in a new way in my MGMT 493 (Strategic Management) courses.  I plan to assign students difference topics from the course (e.g. Ethics, Corporate Governance, Corporate Strategy, etc.) and then require them to find a BBW article from the last year that is relevant to the topic.  Students will be required to present a short summary of the article to the class and explain how it applies to the course material for the topic.  I believe that this will help students to understand how the course material is applies in actual businesses.  

In sum, I use a variety of Bloomberg Businessweek articles to help illustrate management principles in my classes. I use some of these articles as part of my lectures, some to start class discussions (e.g., by posting several relevant questions from the article on slides), and some as cases or case supplements. In particular, I have found the use of Bloomberg Businessweek articles as cases/examples and as starting points for class discussions to be helpful in enhancing student understanding of course concepts. However, I have also used some of the shorter articles to increase student knowledge of terms and concepts, as well as to elicit their current knowledge of the material.  I find that students’ responses to the questions about Bloomberg Businessweek articles indicate their understanding of how the course material can be applied to real-world situations.

Dr. Rich Gentry, University of Mississippi

The biggest problem I normally run into when teaching strategy is the difficulty of getting students to monitor the realities of the outside world.  Strategy is a class about critical thinking, and too often students avoid engaging in analysis of any fashion.  Typically, I confront that by telling stories in a way that is humorous and hopefully gets students to think about the outside world and events by focusing on issues they have shared a laugh about.  

This semester, I am adding to that approach by introducing Twitter (@OleMissStratF10).  I realize that most faculty hate all forms of electronic communication, but the reality is that students demand a lot more stimulation than they ever have in the past.  They cannot allow a free moment to creep into their lives, so they find things to stimulate and entertain themselves when they are in a down mode.  Unfortunately, for many of us, down modes often occur during lecture.    Students begin to drift at random times.  In the past, a student would have gone off into day-dreaming and the professor would have been relatively unaware of the student having slipped.  Now, because the students have mechano-electric devices, their lack of attention and constant thumb-clicking is easier to monitor.  The problem with these devices is that they allow students an easier path to drift down, and it is more difficulty to get them back into the present if they are latched onto a Facebook post or a Twitter feed.

Instead of fighting it in class, I have decided to wage a war to get their attention at all hours of the day.  I realized that students were drifting not just in my class, but in everyone's class, on the bus, in the movies, and when getting dressed in the morning.  There is little to no time during the day when I do not have the opportunity to grab their attention for a little while.  Sure, their best friend maybe withdrawing BFF status, but the nature of managerial behavior or compensation or industry boundaries.  I won't have their attention for long, but I can raise their awareness of important issues and terminology at almost anytime during the day.  

This is where Bloomberg Businessweek fits into my plan.  For starters, I will use their access to BBW articles as the foundation of my posts.  The BBW Resource Center as well as the more information front-page will help me quickly find articles that students might like.  I will also reinforce their awareness of the importance of business publications (BBW, Fortune, the Economist, etc.) by requiring students to submit a one-paragraph statement about a particular article in a business publication at four times during the semester.  I will call on the students to discuss their article, and we will use these examples to build out the course content.  There is not enough information in a typical article for a full-class case, but BBW articles are the same length or longer than most of the cases that students read in their textbooks.  So, the reading should not be too much more demanding.  

After I have gotten good at using Twitter as a teaching tool through the fall, I am going to require students to Twitter to post their own articles to a course account every week and as well as follow the discussion and repost or "re-tweet" one article a week.  Hopefully, this broad-based exposure will enhance their absorption of a critical perspective on business trends, ethics and events.  


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