PhD Program in Strategic Management

University of Pittsburgh's Katz Graduate School Strategic Management PhD Program Video

Students in strategy study the problems and issues facing general managers who must formulate and implement strategies for organizations in uncertain and ambiguous environments. Seminars cover theory and empirical findings related to strategy formulation and implementation, and are intended to familiarize students with the variety of research perspectives relevant to the strategy field. In addition, each faculty member leading a course will ask participants to build upon extant research to develop their own research topics as a first step toward publishing articles.

Strategic Management PhD Program Curriculum

Eight research seminars form the core of the strategy doctoral student curriculum. These seminars immerse students in the issues and frameworks occupying scholars in the field of strategy, as well as introduce them to the methodological aspects of empirical research. The seminars leverage the current strengths and interests of the strategy faculty, including strategic planning in turbulent contexts, social networks and their impact on competitive advantage, surviving and profiting from radical technological change, and competitive intelligence processes. In addition, we encourage students to explore course options in other departments within the University of Pittsburgh and at Carnegie Mellon University, including Economics, Sociology, and Psychology, as well as more industry-oriented departments and areas such as telecommunications and health sciences.

Strategy majors may elect to minor in a complementary area of study found within Katz or in another University department. Students select a minor that supports their research interests and can provide additional training not available through the strategy major. For example, a research interest in social networks can be combined with a minor in sociology for a more rigorous disciplinary grounding.

Requirements for a Strategy Major

A minimum of eight strategy (and related) courses are necessary to fulfill the requirements of a major in strategy. In addition, a minimum of four research methodology courses, plus a course in microeconomics, are required. Students typically pursue three courses per semester for six semesters prior to taking their comprehensive exams.

These are the strategy core courses:

  • Strategic Management Systems
  • Research in Competitive Strategy
  • Foundations of Strategy Research
  • Research in Corporate Strategy
  • Strategic Management and Policy Workshop Strategy
  • Theory Development in Management

Requirements for a Strategy Minor

A minor in strategy requires the completion of three strategy courses, which must include:

  • Foundations of Strategy Research, plus any two courses from the following list:
    • Strategic Management Systems
    • Research in Competitive Strategy
    • Research in Corporate Strategy
    • Theory Development in Management

Seminar Abstracts and Syllabi

  • Strategic Management Systems
    This course will introduce and develop on the theory and practice of planning for organizations as a whole—defining the organizational vision, mission or concept of business, determining long-term objectives, developing organizational strategies, and translating these into goals and programs of actions. The subsystems that comprise a corporate strategic planning system will be examined in detail. Each student will work with the instructor toward the middle of the course on identifying and researching a subsystem of particular interest, with a view of subsequent presentation of such research to colleagues in the course. The course will end with a review of the current literature in the area with the intent of identifying and, perhaps, developing preliminary definitions of research possibilities that are of topical relevance and of special interest to students.
  • Research in Competitive Strategy
    This course draws on a growing body of theoretical and empirical research which examines relationships between an organization’s environment, its strategy, and performance outcomes. Topics include theoretical concepts of the environment and their empirical counterparts, market definitions, strategic alliances, competitive information flows, competitive interactions and responses, industry evolution, and the role of environmental analysts. Special attention is given to competitive intelligence processes. There is an explicit balance of theoretical and practitioner material. The course complements the Research in Corporate Strategy seminar by focusing on business level competitive dynamics.
  • Foundations of Strategy Research
    This course introduces students to the origins and objectives of the strategy field, and covers predominant theories guiding research in the area. The readings (and therefore our discussions) are organized around the following topics:
    - Current and enduring issues (e.g. drivers of firm performance, determinants of firm boundaries) and theoretical debates in the strategy field
    - Industry perspectives on strategy (e.g., including structure-conduct-performance theory, game theory, ecological/evolutionary theories, Austrian economics)
    - Theories of the firm (e.g., transaction cost, agency/property rights, resource-based, knowledge/dynamic capabilities perspectives) and their implications for strategy research.
  • Research in Corporate Strategy
    In this course we will focus on a core subfield of strategy—corporate strategy—which has the following defining question: "What businesses should the firm compete in, and how should resources be allocated across those businesses?" Corporate strategy comprises an interrelated set of three key phenomena and associated research; value creation (e.g., diversification and vertical (integration), scope (e.g., mergers and acquisitions), and execution (e.g., role of the corporate office). While corporate strategy is often studied purely as a "content" field, we will adopt an integrative content-process orientation in this course.
  • Strategic Management and Policy Workshop
    This summer workshop provides a systematic forum for the presentation and development of students with the opportunity to develop, execute and present an empirical study. Several previous workshop studies have eventually resulted in "A" journal publications.
  • Theory Development in Management
    The development and analysis of theory is a critical skill for academic scholars to develop. In this course we will explore the components of a theory, discuss the latest developments in theory development, and apply theory analysis to the field of strategic management. The course is designed to complement research design and statistics courses.

Strategic Management PhD Placements

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