Strategic Changemaking

Academic Program: 
Course Description: 

ATTN: This is an intensive-weekend elective. Actual classes will be held over one weekend only. As described below, the significant Groundwork Project, completed in groups, is required before that weekend. Because of the weight of this project in the final course grades, students who register for this course after June 3, 2018, must be aware that their final grade may be very seriously and adversely affected because of the late registration (and the inability to fully contribute to the the Groundwork Project). Because of the central importance of the Groundwork Project for the course academic objectives, no makeup assignment can be arranged. If you thereby consider registering late, it is advisable to instead take this course during the next academic year. 

This course explores an important trend and development which may require us to redefine the domain and applicability of strategic management in the twenty-first century: The traditional boundaries of “sectors” are blurring. Techniques and approaches of strategic management can increasingly be applied to any type of organization. Modern executives and entrepreneurs are no longer constrained to leading business enterprises. Increasingly, they become universal Strategic Changemakers with careers spanning conventional boundaries. This course will explore this potentially fundamental development and how it provides opportunities for course participants.

There are key forces at work promoting this unprecedented career portability of strategic managers. To begin with, after the 2008-2009 financial crisis, we are witnessing a significant expansion of the role of governments into what had been known as the private sectors and into the global economy itself. Gigantic bailouts and rescue packages transformed some of the world’s largest companies, including General Motors or AIG, into, effectively, state-owned enterprises. Even more long lasting may be the consequences of a renewed tightening of regulatory control over the private sector, including in industries such as energy or financial services. Outside the Western world, nations such as China or Turkey, have endorsed a seemingly successful national macro-strategy of achieving high growth rates by having economies tightly managed by governmental decision makers. These worldwide forces are also certainly found in Central and Eastern Europe, were the borderline between the private and the public sector has traditionally been, to put it mildly, fuzzy. It is striking that this reemergence of the role of government as an important economic actor takes place after attempts over more than three decades of thinking and discussion to replace an old architecture of bureaucratic state, classically analyzed by Webber, with a new architecture, commonly referred to as New Public Management. The essential idea behind this no longer “new” approach has been about smartly introducing managerial models that proved successful in the business sector into the operations of the government.

A somewhat similar force is also noticeable in the nonprofit world. Successful businesspersons, such as George Soros, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or politicians such a Bill and Hillary Clinton, have set up large nonprofit organizations that are often organized in a distinctly more business-like, or entrepreneurial way, than many of the nonprofits of the past. Nonprofit service providers, including cultural and educational institutions, “commercialize” their activities by relying more on fees and creative cooperation with business partners than on diminished endowments or dwindling governmental support. To that, add the entire category of social enterprises that purposefully combine features of for-profit and nonprofit entities, occupying the space between the two previously clearly demarcated sectors.

Another force in play is an attempt to apply entrepreneurial thinking and methods, learned in the world of startups, VCs and the culture of booming entrepreneurial ecosystems, like Silicon Valley, Route 128, Cambridge, UK, across modern the spectrum of organizations endeavor so that now we have the emergence of social entrepreneurship, the entrepreneurial state, etc.

In short, we are witnessing an unprecedented proliferation of methods, approaches, and styles of business management throughout all sectors of our economy. And the careers of leaders reflect this new phenomenon, as they move, in the course of their career, between business, nonprofit, and governmental jobs. Perhaps the most well-known case in point here is Michael Bloomberg. A highly successful founder and long-time CEO of Bloomberg L.P., Bloomberg was a conspicuous (if controversial) three-term Mayor of New York City, being also deeply engaged in the nonprofit and advocacy work through his Bloomberg Philanthropies Foundation. Bloomberg’s career may be indicative of the emergence of portable, all-purpose managers who can apply most effective techniques of organizing and leading productive and innovative human activity in any sectoral context. 

This elective, given over a single intensive weekend, explores the opportunities and challenges of such new developments resulting in a model of a portable, cross-sectoral Strategic Changemaking. The goal is to challenge participants into deep reflection on how the managerial skills they have acquired throughout the EMBA program can be utilized in a wide variety of contexts.

Main topics:

  • Creating value across sectors – What are the similarities and differences in the definition of value in private, public, and nonprofit sectors? How useful and applicable is the concept of value and value-creation beyond the private sector? What is the evolution of this concept in response to major economic trends? In particular, how does it relate to the elevated role of knowledge-intensive organizations in modern economy? Can a portable manager whose career spans across sectors add something unique to the understanding of value and the culture of value-orientation of businesses, governments, and nonprofits?
  • Aligning strategies across sectors – What is the essence of strategic alignment and why does the concept of strategic alignment play such an essential role in managing modern knowledge-intensive organizations? How to use and apply in practice modern tools facilitating the design of aligned strategies: strategy maps, balanced scorecards? Specifically, how exactly should these tools be used in organizations of belonging to different economic sectors? Can a cross-sectoral manager develop portable strategic management skills that align business, governmental, and nonprofit organizations alike?
  • Purpose-driven organizations, leaders, and careers – Why has providing purpose and meaning in people’s lives become such an important aspect of value creation in today’s world? Why does deeper purpose (beyond paycheck) play an increasingly central role in recruiting, integrating, motivating, and leading teams of most talented people? How do these trends affect each of the three sectors? How can they affect each of the sectors? Can portable managers moving across sectors be particularly effective in responding to these new, nonmaterial needs of key organizational stakeholders of businesses, nonprofits, and governments? Is the career of a portable manager a potential path towards deeper professional fulfillment?
Learning Outcomes: 

Core Learning Area

Learning Outcome

manager’s mindset

Understanding the fundamental differences and an emerging blurriness between private, public, and nonprofit organizations, especially in their objectives, organizational cultures, and personnel self-selection. Understanding key managerial challenges stemming from those differences.

manager’s toolkit

Acquainting oneself with the most important instruments used in strategic planning and performance measurement in different types of organizations. Understanding why specificities of private, public and nonprofit sectors force us to adapt traditional managerial tools, or devise new ones.

Leadership skills

Ability to leverage understanding of the management across sectors gained throughout the course to become and effective, inspirational leader of and a change agent within a public organization.

Entrepreneurial Skills

Learn how apply entrepreneurial skills and orientation in diverse sectorial settings.


Regular and punctual attendance at every class session is a requirement of all degree programs at CEU DEB. Each class covers material not found in the readings. Furthermore, participation in class discussions is an important part of the learning experience for all students as well as a factor in grading. If illness or another unusual circumstance requires missing a class, please do your best to inform the instructor in advance. A grade of “AF” (Administrative Fail) may be assigned for failure to regularly attend a course, to drop the course in time, or to complete requirements on time.



  • 10% of your grade will be awarded for your individual preparation for our intensive weekend. It will be entirely based on the transparent self-assessment of the extent to which you acquainted yourself with the assigned readings. The self-assessment will be conducted via Moodle before the start of the intensive weekend.
  • 20% of your grade will be awarded for the initial version of the Group Groundwork Project, to be prepared before our intensive weekend. Each participant will be asked to join a project group no later than six weeks before the intensive weekend. Each group, in consultation with the Instructors, will choose a corporate, SME/entrepreneurial, governmental, or nonprofit organization and analyze its strategy using the tools shared and discussed with participants in advance. The results of this analysis will be presented in class during the intensive weekend. 


  • 20% of your grade will be your course participation. Active participation in class is crucial for the quality of the common learning experience. That is why it is particularly important to reward those participants who add a valuable contribution to our analysis of the topics. The grading of class participation will be based on the concept of 360-degree review. After our intensive weekend, each participant will be asked to evaluate the overall in-class contribution of her classmates. The final participation grade will be the average of all submitted classmates’ assessments.


  • 30% of your grade will be awarded for the final version of your Group Groundwork Project. Using the insights from the intensive weekend, each group will prepare a comprehensive proposal for making the organization chosen by the group more strategically aligned.
  • 20% of your grade will be a concise individual response paper offering reflection on the concept of purpose-driven organization and its relevance across economic sectors. The detailed instructions for the response paper will be given during the intensive weekend.

Weighting of the group grade:

Each Groundwork Project Group will receive a grade for the above-mentioned deliverables. An individual group member’s grade for all group assignments will depend both on the sum of (properly weighted) group grades for all the assignments and on the 360-degree evaluation conducted within the group. The evaluation should proceed as follows:

After completing all the assignments, each group member should fill in the Individual Report of the peer evaluation of all group members (which includes self-assessment), using an online form available on Moodle. After completing their forms, group members should organize a feedback session where they will give other group participant(s) feedback.

A final individual group member’s score for the Groundwork Group Project will be calculated as follows:

final group score x average percentage score from Individual Reports submitted x number of group members

If your score as calculated using the formula above exceeds the maximum number of points you can get for group work (i.e. 50), each additional point will count as 0.5 bonus point towards your final grade, up to 5 bonus points.

Academic Integrity

All students must adhere to the principles of academic integrity in all work done for this class and for other classes. Attempted cheating in any form, including plagiarism, is extremely serious and can result in dismissal from the school and university.



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